Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Poor memory on race

Joel Himelfarb is either stupid, forgetful or he just doesn't care about the truth. Today in The Washington Times he writes that "when Jim Crow ruled the South, state Democratic Party machines saw to it that blacks were disenfranchised..." On the surface, this is a correct statement, but the problem is that, because of Democrats like Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson and the Kennedys, all those southern Democrats he's talking about became something different. They formed a group called the States' Rights Democratic Party -- more commonly known as "Dixiecrats." They opposed the Democrats' attempts at desegregation and found support among "the party of Lincoln" in the form of Barry Goldwater and his ilk. To say that Democrats are a racist party because there were (and probably are) racists in its ranks is akin to saying that the existence of Log Cabin Republicans make the Republican party gay.

Himelfarb also fails to mention that those racist southern Democrats eventually fled the Democratic Party and were welcomed with open arms into the Republican fold. Jesse Helms did it. Strom Thurmond did it. In fact, during the last presidential campaign, he accused Al Gore of trying to be Harry Truman, and released a statement on Bush Campaign stationery that read, "Mr. Gore, I knew Harry Truman. I ran against Harry Truman. And Mr. Gore, you are no Harry Truman." He ran against him on -- get this -- a pro-segregation platform.

So, Mr. Himelfarb, when you say that Democrats are racists, you should bring some context to what you're writing. We Democrats got rid of our segregationists. They're on your side of the aisle now.


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