Wednesday, November 14, 2007

St. Reagan, Race, and the Right

A very good piece by Publius, over at Obsidian Wings:

Others just flat-out ignore race and pretend that things like grinding poverty rooted in historical discrimination doesn’t exist. They squeeze the contradiction out from the ideal. Every now and then, though, the contradiction comes bubbling up to our gated-community eyes, Masque of the Red Death-style – just like it did in New Orleans. But that's the exception - many of us can go about our daily lives, blissfully ignorant.
The piece concentrates on David Brooks and many others in the Right who beatify our 40th President and dismiss the more seedy methods of courting the Southern electorate. Publius insists that the Right just needs to own up to the racist past and demonstrate that its current messages are not double-speak for more racist policies.

My problem is this -- while probably outside of the scope of the piece, Publius infers that it is primarily the Right that needs to come to terms with the past. Yet, the last time I checked, racism does not respect party lines or political ideologies.

LBJ, for example, was a racist and ardent segregationist who pushed Civil Rights for political reasons -- and his 'War on Poverty' left more black families destitute, living in urban squalor, and welfare dependent than any other program in U.S. history. So, I think there is plenty of reckoning to go around than to just place it on Reaganites.

Let us not forget FDR's internment of Japanese during WWII, JFK's wiretapping of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a subversive, and Sen. Robert Byrd's high position in the Ku Klux Klan -- hollow, after-the-fact apologies notwithstanding.

Racism is an American problem, not just a Republican one.

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