Your Wonkette loves a fun fact, and Kevin D. Williamson’s most recent essay for the National Review Online is full of them! The funnest fact of them all is the core argument of the piece, which is that the GOP is the civil rights party, but there are lots more! For example, did you know that Frederick Douglass’ expression of Republican political identity is as “true and relevant” today as it was then? Your Wonkette has always thought so, what with Douglass’ concerns about the inherent moral depravity associated with vast accumulations of private property and his ties to Socialists and the fact that he received the Socialist Labor Party (née Equal Rights Party) nomination for VP. Just obvious, total Republican.
And! Did you know that no one seems to edit anything anything posted on NRO? As proof, I give you the clumsiest lede in the history of anything, possibly ever, which not only describes Jonah Goldberg’s recent book as an “illuminating catalogue” (within the context of a 93-word run-on sentence) but also follows that sentence with the completlely unironic use of the word “mountebankery.”
This magazine has long specialized in debunking pernicious political myths, and Jonah Goldberg has now provided an illuminating catalogue of tyrannical clichés, but worse than the myth and the cliché is the outright lie, the utter fabrication with malice aforethought, and my nominee for the worst of them is the popular but indefensible belief that the two major U.S. political parties somehow “switched places” vis-à-vis protecting the rights of black Americans, a development believed to be roughly concurrent with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the rise of Richard Nixon. That Republicans have let Democrats get away with this mountebankery is a symptom of their political fecklessness, and in letting them get away with it the GOP has allowed itself to be cut off rhetorically from a pantheon of Republican political heroes, from Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass to Susan B. Anthony, who represent an expression of conservative ideals as true and relevant today as it was in the 19th century.
Looks like somebody — we won’t say who (*cough* Kevin D. Williamson *cough*) — just discovered thesaurus.com! Anyway, (spoiler alert!) after 3000+ words explaining that not only were the Democrats super racist during the Civil Rights Era, Kevin D. Williamson concludes by arguing that they are STILL super racist because they support unemployment insurance and TANF, and that the GOP is actually the party of civil rights because they want to destroy Medicare. Today’s GOP, it turns out, is like Barry Goldwater in that it is NOT RACIST AT ALL, just principled and Communist-hating:
The Republican ascendancy in Dixie is associated with the rise of the southern middle class, the increasingly trenchant conservative critique of Communism and the welfare state, the Vietnam controversy and the rise of the counterculture, law-and-order concerns rooted in the urban chaos that ran rampant from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, and the incorporation of the radical Left into the Democratic party…Democrats might argue that some of these concerns — especially welfare and crime — are “dog whistles” or “code” for race and racism, but this criticism is shallow in light of the evidence and the real saliency of those issues among U.S. voters of all backgrounds and both parties for decades.
What can one say other than commend Kevin D. Williamson for having his finger on the pulse of the American zeitgeist, other than to postpone the lesson on misplaced modifiers and fix the above statement for him thusly: “white, male, probably heterosexual and most likely conservative U.S. voters of all backgrounds and both parties.”
For example, “[white, male, probably heterosexual and most likely conservative] voters of all backgrounds and both parties” absolutely agree that there was real “saliency” around the issue of crack, and that the “saliency” of THIS issue was disproportionate relative to, say, the saliency of the issue of cocaine, and that the comparatively harsh penalty meted out to (mostly black) crack users was reflective of the link between crack and “violent behavior,” which is not at all related to racism. And also that NO ONE SAID the Cadillac-driving welfare queen from Chicago’s South Side was a blah person, you racist.
The real racists are the Ron Paultards and lib-ruls who want to legalize marijuana, and we know that because President Johnson used the N-word in an unsourced quote when he tried to convince southern governors that funding Head Start programs, the Equal Opportunity Commission, and the Job Corps was a good idea.
Indeed, Democrats who argue that the best policies for black Americans are those that are soft on crime and generous with welfare are engaged in much the same sort of cynical racial calculation President Johnson was practicing when he informed skeptical southern governors that his plan for the Great Society was “to have them niggers voting Democratic for the next two hundred years.” Johnson’s crude racism is, happily, largely a relic of the past, but his strategy endures.
If only, as Kevin D. Williamson has argued, we would all heed Newt Gingrich’s advice and let poor black children become janitors instead of going to school, the Great Society would be truly realized.