Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Barry Goldwater and the Brown decision

Kevin Williamson at National Review has a fine essay on the important role that Barry Goldwater played in desegregation in Arizona and in the United States.

First, Williamson reminds us of the Brown decision in 1954:

The Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education is one of the great landmarks of American history. It is also a good example of the fact that the law is not about the law. Maybe one in 500 college students ever has read the decision, and probably very few Americans could tell you much about the legal questions involved in Brown, but the moral question at the heart of the case — whether an apartheid regime of “separate but [formally] equal” would be allowed to stand in these United States — is well understood. It was well understood by the Court at the time, too: Remarkably, that contentious issue was settled in a unanimous decision. Even Hugo Black, a member of the Ku Klux Klan named to the Supreme Court by Franklin Roosevelt, was on board — but, in all fairness, Justice Black had not joined the Klan because he hated blacks: He had joined the Klan because he hated Catholics.

Black of course was the father of modern "separation of church and state" jurisprudence,  in which he employed the phrase he used in the KKK initiation oath when he was Kladd of the Klavern-- the initiator of new Klansman-- in Alabama.

"Separation of church and state" was the dog-whistle for anti-Catholic bigots. Still is.

Williamson recounts Goldwater's pioneering efforts in Phoenix to help blacks and advance integration.

He concludes:

Barry Goldwater was not the most important opponent of racial segregation in Arizona, nor was he the most important champion of desegregating the public schools. What he was was on the right side: He put his money, his political clout, his business connections, and his reputation at the service of a cause that was right and just. While he was doing all that, his eventual nemesis, Lyndon Baines Johnson, a low-rent practitioner of the most crass sort of racist politics, was gutting anti-lynching laws and assuring Democrats that he would offer those “uppity Negroes” “just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.” 
For more than a century, the Republican party had been the party of civil rights, of abolition, of emancipation, the party of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Barry Goldwater of Arizona and the NAACP did not represent a break from that tradition, but a continuation of it. 
It was a masterpiece of politics that allowed the Democrats to convince the electorate that they were the party of civil rights, that they had not until the day before yesterday been the party of lynching — even as that very same cabal of segregationist Democrats that had tried to block or gut every single significant piece of civil-rights legislation for decades, still led by a member of the Ku Klux Klan, remained comfortably entrenched in the Senate. To hear the story told today, you would almost think that it was the Republican Barry Goldwater, not the Democrat George Wallace, who stood in the schoolhouse door shouting “Segregation forever!” Goldwater believed that Title II and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were unconstitutional. How many Americans even know what is in those sections? About as many as understand the legal arguments surrounding Brown. 
The problem for Republicans is that reclaiming their reputation as the party of civil rights requires a party leadership that wants to do so, because it cherishes that tradition and the values that it represents. It is not obvious that the Republican party has such leaders at the moment. The Party of Lincoln seems perfectly happy to be little more than the Party of the Chamber of Commerce. We should not turn our noses up at commerce — though Napoleon meant it as an insult, it was Britain’s glory to be “a nation of shopkeepers” — but it was not commerce alone that freed the slaves or built the nation.

Please read the whole thing.

Republicans need to remind Americans that they, not the Democrats, are the party of racial equality and colorblind law. Democrats have a two hundred year history of race-baiting-- of using race to advance their politics.

We need policies that help minorities and all Americans-- policies that strengthen the family, make the streets safe, revive the economy-- and these policies need to be colorblind. There is much that needs doing, and we need to reject race-baiting and the policies of the Democrat party that destroy minority families, make minority streets into combat zones, and kill tens of millions of minority children in abortion clinics. 


  1. Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but not out of racial animosity. He believed that it exceeded the federal government's authority and he believed that it would be a source of endless litigation.

    And he was right on both counts. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a pretty awful piece of legislation.


  2. Commissar Boggs, Ministry of TruthMarch 26, 2014 at 7:19 AM

    It's always helpful to pay people to vote. My grandfathers often told of the days back in the 40s and 50s when Democrat Party election officials would buy black votes with a "pint and a poke": a pint of cheap whisky and a small bag, or "poke", of fried chicken. My home state was and is ascendant Democrat.

    There is simply no substitute for monetary handouts and the politics of envy. Republicans can't beat that on intellectual or moral grounds, because it's not an intellectual argument and obviously not a moral argument. Ironically, Democrats posture and wail about "greed" on Wall St (and are often right to do so, by the way), and then turn around and play to the greed of the less well off. Nothing particularly "racial" about it, it's about the same old class hatreds. It worked in Europe as well as it worked here. To quote George Papandreou, Socialist Prime Minister of Greece before Greece became a dependent of Germany, "The money exists, it is only that Mr [Kostas] Karamanlis [his opponent] prefers to give it to the few and powerful."

    Reminding blacks and other minorities about the racist history of the Democrats is useful from an educational perspective, but it won't change a thing on the ground on election day. Money talks much louder than history lessons. Besides, it's not a "black thing". It worked just as well with the Irish in New York. Tammany Hall, a Democrat machine, was all about class warfare and ethnic patronage.

    No, it's not about race at all. It never was about race. Race is a proxy to identify a class, just like the name O'Leary in New York or Kowalski in Chicago was a proxy to identify a class. In fact, the issue of race has become such a vanishingly small matter in modern American society that we now are hearing about racial "microaggressions" and "latent", or "invisible", racism.

    "Invisible", indeed. :-)

    The libertarian/conservative political movement in America needs to stop fighting the last battle. We won the last battle, but now that victory is helping us to lose the war.

  3. The name of the Party you keep referring to is the Democratic Party, not the Democrat Party. How can you expect to be taken seriously when you can’t even get the name of the party right?


  4. The notion that the Supreme Court's recognition of the constitutional separation of church and state in Everson is all Justice Black's doing as part of some KKK anti-Catholic conspiracy would be laughable if it weren't contemptible bigotry. It bears noting that all nine justices in the Everson case read the Constitution to call for separation of church and state, and indeed all of the parties and all of the amici curiae (including the National Council of Catholic Men and National Council of Catholic Women) did as well; no one disputed the principle, they differed only in how it should be applied in the circumstances of the case.