5:00 PM | Posted in ,
The history of this country is rife with the oppression of one minority group after another and their stories are both powerful and a testament to the greatness of this country and how it has systematically tried to correct for its wrongs and finally live up to the charge it was given in the Declaration of Independence.

Unfortunately, there are those who lack the mental capacity to look objectively at this history and prefer to revise it in a variety of different ways to suit their narrow goals and ideologies. Revisionist history takes many forms but none are so foolish as the one taken on by local blogger, Psychomeistr. Today he is promoting an email from the National Black Republican Association demanding that the Democratic Party apologize for "150 years of racism". The email goes on to blame Democrats for all racism perpetrated in this country over the last century and a half while also claiming that it was in fact the Republican Party that promoted equality and fought against racism.

This is, without question, one of the most blatantly skewed and overly simplistic historical interpretations I have ever seen and only someone who refuses to remove their ideological blinders would see it otherwise.

Is the Democratic Party guilty of having a racist past? Absolutely, as they were the party of racism and segregation from antebellum through the first half of the 20th century. Is the Republican Party innocent of having a racist past? Absolutely NOT, as even Lincoln himself would have left slavery alone had the southern states remained in the union. Also, over the following century the Republican Party failed to act upon their agenda and all but abandoned the black community in the south for the sake of moving beyond reconstruction. Also, let it be noted that few people following the Civil War (whether Republican or Democrat) would have acknowledged an inherent equality between the races and even in the Republican north of the time racism was rampant.

Other, more specific problems persist in this email that need to be addressed:

WHEREAS, history shows that the Democratic Party through its racist agenda and "States' Rights" claim to own slaves, sought to protect and preserve the institution of slavery from 1792 to 1865, thus enslaving millions of African Americans, while the Republican Party was started in 1854 as the anti-slavery party, fought to free blacks from slavery and championed civil rights for blacks
The email brings up the fact that the justification of slavery was under the guise of states' rights. While this may be technically true, it is important to remember which political party has taken on the mantle of the states' rights plank in the past half century. Take a listen to any Republican from the last half century and you will find an increasing number advocating states' rights. Interestingly, this shift began taking place around the same time that the Democratic Party began tearing itself apart over the issue of civil rights. If the Republican Party would like to officially renounce their support of states' rights due to its checkered past they are free to do so but to use one of their current core beliefs as a club over the head of Democrats is dishonest at best.

WHEREAS, the Democratic Party enacted fugitive slave laws to keep blacks from escaping from plantations; instigated the 1856 Dred Scott decision which legally classified blacks as property; passed the Missouri Compromise to spread slavery into 50% of the new Northern states; and passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act designed to spread slavery into all of the new states
While the precursor to the Democratic Party was formed by Thomas Jefferson, the party that we know today was not solidified until the 1830s. To blame the Missouri Compromise, which was passed in 1820, on the Democratic Party of today is stretching the bounds beyond anything an honest historian would accept. Furthermore, it is clever of this group to use 50% when the issue at hand was only TWO states. If we want to be factually accurate, then we should be noting that the Missouri Compromise actually only involved ONE state and the issue was alleviated by the entrance of Maine in a later addition to the overall plan. Also, the compromise outlawed the spread of slavery north of the compromise line (36 degrees 30' north). This area encompassed all or most of the following states: Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, & Montana. So if we are crediting the Democratic Party with passage of the Missouri Compromise we also might want to acknowledge that they did make attempts at stopping slavery.

The Kansas Nebraska Act can be blamed on the Democratic Party and more specifically, Stephen Douglas but the problem is that it was only marginally about slavery. Douglas wanted to create new territories so that a railroad could be built across them benefiting Chicago and Illinois (you would think a former Chicagoan would know that). He knew that he would not be able to get the measure passed without bringing up slavery and therefore chose a handy dandy little method called popular sovereignty. You might recognize popular sovereignty given that it is currently used by the Republican Party to bring marriage amendments before the people in different states.

WHEREAS, with the party slogan: "Segregation Forever!," the Dixiecrats, who were Democrats, (a) formed the States' Rights Democratic Party for the presidential election of 1948; (b) remained Democrats for all local elections and all subsequent national elections; and (c) did not all migrate to the Republican Party as Democrats today falsely claim, but instead those racist Democrats died Democrats and had declared that they would rather vote for a "yellow dog" than a Republican because the Republican Party was known as the party for blacks
They did not ALL migrate to the Republican Party? This is wonderful phrasing because even if only ONE Dixiecrat remained in the Democratic Party it would render the sentence correct. However, the majority of the Dixiecrats DID migrate to the Republican Party as evidenced by their 1948 nominee, Strom Thurmond. Once again, the Democratic Party is portrayed as wholly evil while the Republican Party as wholly virtuous. If even one of those Dixiecrats converted to a Republican like Thurmond and like Helms, then we must also lay blame at the feet of the Republicans for accepting these individuals and embracing their racism.

Also interesting in this part is what is conveniently left out. At the 1948 convention, Hubert Humphrey advocated an end to segregation and this coupled with the executive order of Harry Truman desegregating the military forced the creation of the Dixiecrats.

WHEREAS, the Democratic Party supported the Topeka, Kansas school board in the "Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka", Kansas (a 1954 Supreme Court decision by Chief Justice Earl Warren who was appointed by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower) which declared that the "separate but equal" doctrine violated the 14th Amendment and ended school segregation
Given that Republicans are now heralding Earl Warren as one of their own I would like for them to start advocating for more justices in the same vein as Warren.

WHEREAS, it was Republican Senator Everett Dirksen from Illinois, not Democrat President Lyndon Johnson, who was key to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and Dirksen was also instrumental to the enactment of civil rights legislation in 1957 and 1960, as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which prohibited discrimination in housing
Again, a severe distortion of history as Dirksen was assisted by Hubert Humphrey in helping to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In the Senate, 46 Democrats joined 27 Republicans in passing the measure. To be fair, the Democrats held a 67-33 majority in the Senate at the time but the fact remains that without the vast majorities of Democrats the measure would never have passed.

WHEREAS, Democrats expressed little, if any, concern when the racially segregated South voted solidly for Democrats; yet unfairly deride Republicans because of the thirty-year odyssey of the South switching to the Republican Party that began in the 1970's with President Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy," which was an effort on the part of Nixon to get fair-minded people in the South to stop voting for Democrats who did not share their values, and who were discriminating against blacks
The "Southern Strategy", despite what this email would have you believe, was absolutely an attempt to get the racist white southern vote. In the words of Nixon strategist, Kevin Phillips, "The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans." Even former Republican Chair, Ken Mehlman acknowledged this fact and expressed his regret so why is this group still trying to deny these facts?

NOW, THEREFORE, for the documented atrocities and accumulated wrongs inflicted upon black Americans, we submit this petition to the head of the Democratic Party, Barack Hussein Obama, for a formal proclamation of apology for the Democratic Party's 150-year history of racism.
Is it mildly ironic to anyone that the National Black Republican Association would try to get an apology for the injustices of racism from the first black President this country has ever seen and one who represents the Democratic Party?

What is the point?

The point is not that Republicans are more racist than Democrats or vice versa. The point is that this type of revisionist history based upon ideology is both wrong and foolish. There is no purely non-racist political party and to try to claim as such is to continue to lie. I will grant that the Democratic Party has played a significant role in the travesty that was slavery and the subsequent oppression of black people in the first half of the 20th century. However, the Republican Party has fared little better in that time and paid no more than lip service to the mantle of Lincoln. The Republican Party played THE role in freeing this country from slavery and for that they deserve credit but to claim that they also played the primary role in the civil rights movement is to deny all available evidence. It has increasingly made itself into a racially pure party in the second half of the 20th century whether by chance or by choice.

So, I would encourage everyone to stop believing that their party is without blame of any kind and if you are going to use history, do it honestly. If the National Black Republican Association wants or needs an apology for 150 years of racism, I would encourage them to demand it of ALL white people rather than a single political party.
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3 responses to "Apparently It Is Revisionist History Day..."

  1. Leo Pusateri On November 22, 2008 at 10:19 PM

    Heh... You know, I could have sworn that an ex Grand Kleagle by the name of Robert "sheets" Byrd, a dixiecrat, still calls the democrat party his home.

    Hmmmmm.... Who's revising what?

  2. Political Muse On November 22, 2008 at 11:14 PM

    Is that really the best you've got Pusateri? That tired old line about how Byrd used to be a racist KKK member?

    THAT obviously proves your point that the Democratic Party is a bunch of racists. Unless of course you take a look at all the available evidence...

    I think it might be time to re-retire from the blogosphere because you continue to demostrate how little you have to offer and how much empty space you consume.

    The problem is that I already recognized that the Democratic Party has a checkered past with racism and I would not be bothered by a public apology for that racism. You, on the other hand, refuse to acknowledge the racism found in your own party and would throw a hissy fit if the party dared apologize for anything. So, you can continue calling Democrats racists, alienating minorities, and forcing them out of the Republican Party and I will welcome them with open arms into the Democratic Party.

  3. eric zaetsch On November 24, 2008 at 9:01 AM

    Beyond your analysis, what's that other screed to do with where we go from here, in terms of race, native language, gender questions - all that.

    It is hard to think in terms of owning another person - to be sold or traded like a Buick, or for a Buick.

    There is a lot more sense to looking to do things besides being dishonest about history, or more precisely, present implications to be drawn from history.

    History in Central Asia, and having Twenty First Century live and active pirates, all that is up for grabs, aside from history of race in the US.

    Also to weigh into things, Truman integrated the armed forces by executive order and Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act stating he realized it was according the vote in the south for half a century or more to the GOP.

    It happened. It's history.