As the growing extent and intensity of public opposition to the Obama Administration’s policies threaten to shut down its agenda, defenders of the Administration have resorted to systematic name calling. The most favored epithet is "racist." No less a personage than former President James Earl Carter last week alleged that most of the opposition to the Obama agenda is due to the President’s partly African origins. It is amazing that those same voters who cast their ballots for the President last year but are opposed to his agenda now suddenly have become transformed from public-spirited citizens into bigots.
Democrats have been calling Republicans racists for years, and it is as false as ever. It was the Republican party, after all, which brought about an end to slavery against powerful Democrat opposition. And it was the southern Democrats who maintained apartheid for a century after emancipation and who opposed civil rights legislation until President John Kennedy reluctantly supported Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s efforts to end segregation.
In fact, a greater percentage of Republicans than Democrats supported the omnibus Civil Rights Act of 1964, as such southern "liberals" as William Fulbright and Albert Gore, Sr., and former Ku Klux Klan member Robert Byrd, voted "no.".
Kennedy owed his election in the close 1960 contest to the heavy support of black voters in our largest cities, largely because he won the support of King over Republican Richard Nixon. This came at an opportune time, for growing numbers of suburban dwellers were supporting the Republican party.
In spite of the long history of Democrat racism, party leaders seized upon the opposition to the civil rights bill of the 1964 Republican presidential nominee, Sen. Barry Goldwater. Goldwater had a history of opposition to segregation in his home state of Arizona, having desegregated the National Guard. But he believed that the Constitution prohibited the federal government from regulating matters of state jurisdiction.
That vote won Goldwater only five southern states plus Arizona, as he lost to Lyndon Johnson in a landslide. But his opposition to the civil rights bill was enough to earn the racist tag for his party. When Richard Nixon picked a border state governor as his running mate in 1968, enabling him to win several southern states in a very close election, the racist tag stuck.
It is too bad that, in retrospect, Goldwater’s worst fears were vindicated, as the Great Society corrupted the principle of equality from opportunity to entitlement, with affirmative action, goals and timetables and even racial quotas–racial discrimination in reverse.
The same Lyndon Johnson who, as Senate majority leader in the 1950s watered down Republican-sponsored civil rights legislation, became a "born again" civil rights advocate when the electoral needs of his party dictated the shift. But the shocking–and revealing–fact is that there was no change in principle. Whereas Democrat racism once took the form of favoritism for whites, it easily slid over to favoritism for members of racial minorities.
As former President George W. Bush put it one of his 2000 campaign speeches, the Democrats now preach "the soft bigotry of low expectations." Instead of keeping blacks down by denying them the opportunity to advance of their own merits, Democrats now favor hiring or promoting employees, or admitting students, on the basis of their race or ethnicity.
In what black journalist and author Star Parker identifies as the "government plantation," having what used to be called in the slave and segregated South "one drop of Negro blood" makes all the difference. What previously closed doors for millions now opens them.
But it is a trap. Unearned advantages antagonize those losing out, even as the fact of favoritism is not lost on the supposed beneficiaries. "Soft bigotry" benefits only those who, like the slave masters and racists of old, determine who wins and who loses. The modern bureaucratic state, once thought to be based on merit, now teaches us every day that race trumps character.
When Democrats call their critics "racists," they are engaging in what psychologists identify as "projection." Painfully aware of their racist history, Democrats convince themselves that in their current pose as the friend of racial minorities they alone can be trusted with political power. They imagine that Republicans, who do not pose as friends but actually support equal rights, must be racists too unenlightened to appreciate Democrats’ allegedly good intentions.
Democrats believe that if they call Republicans racists long enough the people will forget about slavery and segregation. But the existence of the race-based government plantation gives the whole show away. Race is the Democrat calling card.