February 7, 2006
The Democrats' Own History With Race
NAACP Chairman Julian
Bond probably spoke for most blacks and liberals last week when
he said the Republican Party is equivalent to the Nazi Party.
Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side
by side," he told an audience at Fayetteville State University.
week, a new "scientific study" was released showing
that Republicans are racist by nature. "The study found that
supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger
self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals
did," The Washington Post reported.
For decades, it has
been a template of the major media that Republicans are the party
of racism. It repeats uncritically any charges of Republican racism,
no matter how unfounded. Democrats, on the other hand, are always
given a pass whenever they commit racist offenses. Even a cursory
review, however, will show that the media template is totally
contrary to history.
Slavery is the greatest
evil ever to beset black people in this country. In the decades
leading up to the Civil War, there was intense political debate
on what to do about it. The Republican Party was founded in 1854
for the express purpose of ending slavery. The Democratic Party,
by contrast, defended it to the bitter end.
Just to show how
far Democrats would go to defend slavery, it's worth remembering
what happened to Sen. Charles Sumner, Republican of Massachusetts.
After giving a speech denouncing slavery in 1856, he was viciously
beaten by Rep. Preston Brooks, Democrat of South Carolina, for
daring to question the right to own slaves. Being a coward, Brooks
waited until the elderly Sumner was seated alone at his desk in
the Senate and, without warning, struck him repeatedly with a
cane. It took months for Sumner to recover.
In 1858, Sen. Stephen
A. Douglas, Democrat of Illinois, debated Republican Abraham Lincoln
on the question of slavery. Said Douglas during one of those debates:
"For one, I am opposed to negro citizenship in any and every
form. I believe this government was made on the white basis. I
believe it was made by white men for the benefit of white men
and their posterity forever, and I am in favor of confining citizenship
to white men, men of European birth and descent, instead of conferring
it upon negroes, Indians and other inferior races."
So prevalent were
these views in the Democratic Party that Douglas was named its
presidential candidate in 1860. Amazingly, Southerners actually
viewed Douglas as being too moderate on the slavery issue and
instead voted for Vice President John C. Breckinridge, a slave-owner
who also ran as a Democrat, thus splitting the pro-slavery vote
and allowing Lincoln to win.
After the war, the
Democratic Party held a lock on the South for more than 100 years.
All of the "Jim Crow" laws that prevented blacks from
voting and kept them down were enacted by Democratic governors
and Democratic legislatures. The Ku Klux Klan was virtually an
auxiliary arm of the Democratic Party, and any black (or white)
who threatened the party's domination was liable to be beaten
or lynched. Democrats enacted the first gun-control laws in order
to prevent blacks from defending themselves against Ku Klux Klan
violence. Chain gangs were developed by Democrats to bring back
de facto slave labor.
Wilson, the second Democrat to serve since the Civil War, reintroduced
segregation throughout the federal government immediately upon
taking office in 1913. Avowed racists such as Josephus Daniels
and Albert Burleson were named Cabinet secretaries. Black leaders
like W.E.B. DuBois, who had strongly supported Wilson, were bitterly
disappointed, but shouldn't have been surprised. As president
of Princeton University, Wilson refused to admit blacks and as
governor of New Jersey ignored blacks' requests for state jobs,
even though their votes had provided his margin of victory.
When Franklin D.
Roosevelt had his first opportunity to name a member of the Supreme
Court, he appointed a life member of the Ku Klux Klan, Sen. Hugo
Black, Democrat of Alabama. In 1944, FDR chose as his vice president
Harry Truman, who had joined the Ku Klux Klan in Kansas City in
1922. Throughout his presidency, Roosevelt resisted Republican
efforts to pass a federal law against lynching, and he opposed
integration of the armed forces.
Another Ku Klux Klan
member, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, personally
filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for 14 straight hours
to keep it from passage. He is still a member of the U.S. Senate
today. As recently as the 1980s, Sen. Ernest Hollings, Democrat
of South Carolina, publicly referred to blacks as "darkies"
and Hispanics as "wetbacks" without suffering any punishment
from his party.
In short, the historical
record clearly shows that Democrats, not Republicans, have been
the party of racism in this country.
2006 Creators Syndicate