It has always seemed unnatural and unwise to me whenever I hear someone who's been slandered by a particularly egregious lie reply that they're not going to dignify that accusation with a response.
For it has always been crystal clear to me that whenever your honor, integrity and reputation are called into question that you should be quick, thorough and – when circumstances demand – quite loud in defense of them.
Otherwise, people will assume that the accusation must carry some weight and the falsity levied against you just might end up sticking.
That's what has happened to the political party that I belong to – the Republicans. For decades the Party of Lincoln has been under almost constant assault for being "racist" and "openly hostile" to blacks.
However, nothing could be further from the truth – but you would never know it by the party's spineless, practically nonexistent defense of its record on race and civil rights.
From the days of Lincoln until the present, blacks have had no better friend, party-wise, than the Republicans. Since its inception in the mid-19th century, the GOP has built an exemplary record on civil rights, particularly if you want to use the Democrat Party as a comparison.
The party's first president, Abraham Lincoln, issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, the height of the Civil War, squelching any chance that the European powers of the day would intervene in the conflict in favor of the Confederacy. With the stroke of his pen, Lincoln destroyed the last real hope the Confederacy had for a victory.
Soon after the war ended, it was a Republican-controlled Congress that rammed through the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution that, among other things, abolished slavery, guaranteed equal protection and due process and addressed blacks' right to vote.
In the late 19th century, Democrat governors and Democrat-controlled state legislatures in the South couldn't pass Jim Crow laws fast enough. Those Democrats created a nearly century-long, legal racial caste system that relegated blacks to the lowest educational, political, economic and social strata. I have family members who grew up under Jim Crow. To hear them tell it, it weren't no joke.
And let us not forget that during the same period it was Democrats throughout the United States who organized and ran America's premier terrorist organization – the Ku Klux Klan.
And speaking of the Klan, remember the great Democrat President Woodrow Wilson? After a screening of D.W. Griffith's paean to the Ku Klux Klan, "Birth of a Nation," Wilson, turned-movie critic, said of the film: "It is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true."
Needless to say, the NAACP had a different outlook. After its viewing, the civil rights organization was mortified to the point of launching a nationwide protest in 1915 against the film. The group was equally appalled by President Wilson's comments and it launched a public protest against him.
Before we move on, one more thing about President Wilson. He was the president who led our nation into WWI with the ringing declaration that it was to make the world "safe for democracy." In Woodrow's mind, though, "democracy" applied to everyone except those annoying little dark-skinned people in America who are always clamoring for civil rights. In 1913, Wilson introduced segregation into the federal government.
Yes, dear readers, the man who is worshipped as the utmost "progressive" (where and by who have you heard that term used lately?) of his time allowed federal officials to segregate "toilets, cafeterias and work" areas of various federal departments.
It was left to Wilson's successor, Republican Warren G. Harding to scrap the segregation policy. And Warren G. didn't stop there. In 1922, Harding delivered a bold speech in Birmingham, Ala., (A Democrat stronghold that was later known by blacks as "Bombingham") in which he called for black equality. Up to then, no U.S. president had ever spoken so forcefully about civil rights.
Harding was elected in 1920. Funny thing about the Republican Party platform that Harding ran under. It called for federal anti-lynching legislation. Guess which party didn't? If you said Democrat, go to the head of the line.
Moving on, in answer to the burgeoning civil rights movement in the '50s, it was Democrat governors and Democrat-controlled state legislatures in the South that placed the Confederate battle flag on their state capitol flags. It's an issue that continues to inflame racial passions even today.
In 1957, Orval Faubus, the governor of Arkansas, called out his state's National Guard to prevent the integration of Central High School in Little Rock. In response, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent U.S. troops to the city to escort nine frightened black teens into the school past riotous mobs inflamed by Faubus' defiance of a federal court order. Faubus was a Democrat. Eisenhower was a Republican.
On June 11, 1963, Alabama Gov. George Wallace stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama to block its integration. Wallace was a Democrat. Now, I grant you, John F. Kennedy was the Democrat president who federalized the Alabama National Guard and ordered its units to the university to force its doors open to black students. But it's not generally known that the then-Sen. Kennedy – with an eye on the Democrat presidential nomination for 1960 – voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the law that really got the ball rolling on federal civil rights legislation.
And it was Kennedy's brother, Robert, who in 1964 assisted the FBI's efforts to destroy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by approving the wiretapping of the man considered the heart and soul of the civil rights movement.
And to think at one time you could find in black homes across the nation what I used to call the Black Person's Trinity: chintzy, black-velvet portraits of JFK, RFK and Dr. King painted side by side.
As far as other important civil rights legislation, the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would never have became law if not for Republican senators and congressmen whose overwhelming support offset extreme Democrat opposition.
Now honesty demands that I admit that I have never been in favor of affirmative action programs. As a black man I find them demeaning, and as an American, divisive. But that's an argument for another day. However, the fact remains that it was President Nixon who implemented the first affirmative action program with the Philadelphia Plan in the late 1960s. The plan required government contractors to set goals and timetables for hiring minorities. Nixon was a Republican.
Sure, some will say that it's all well and good to cite the historical record, but what about now? What have the Republicans done of late? I begin by pointing out that Democrats continue to demonstrate a curious affinity for standing in schoolhouse doors, especially when black children are involved.
But of late, Democrats are not trying to keep black children out, but in. In public opinion polls on school choice, blacks overwhelmingly favor vouchers to rescue their children from failing schools. No one knows better the damage that poor schools can do to their children's future and communities than blacks. Republicans are in favor of school choice. Democrats aren't.
Also in more contemporary times, President Bush appointed two blacks to the highest positions in government ever occupied by blacks in America. Today, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell are very powerful, influential members of the Bush administration. Powell, in fact, is fourth in the succession line for the presidency.
Oh, by the way, do you know who is third in line? Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Old "Sheets" himself. The same Byrd of the "white niggers" comments on March 5, 2001, and who was a member of the KKK. And Sen. Byrd was not just any old member. No, sir. He was a "grand kleagle" – a recruiter!
Does anyone remember the late war with Iraq? It lasted about a minute but you may have had a chance to notice that the vice chief of operations at Central Command was a brotha – Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks.
And let's not let the "fair and free" press off the hook. Back when Jim Crow and segregation were "the law of the land" in the South, the press served as cheerleaders for all those kind, compassionate Democrats as they lovingly lynched black people by the hundreds on a yearly basis.
Small wonder that the press behaved as badly as it did, though. The people who ran those papers, which proudly featured the brutalized and desecrated bodies of black lynching victims on their front pages quite frequently, were all Democrats.
Today, whenever a Republican says anything that can be twisted by Democrats and race hustlers to smack the least bit of racism, the press is quick to pounce on him like Jesse Jackson on a bag of stolen federal dollars.
The hypocrisy of the press on matters of race is appalling. Just take a walk into your average newsroom and tell me what you see? Wait, I'll save you the trip – a sea of white faces and sprinkled here and there, a black face or two. Or better still, tune in to any one of the numerous weekly Sunday news shows and what you'll find is overwhelming white.
Now here's a homework assignment – what political party do you think most of the members of the press belong to? Here's a hint – Democrat.
I need not end here. I could go on all day citing example after example on this matter (Does the name Bull Connor ring a bell, for instance? A Democrat. Hah!). But it would be heartening indeed if the next time accusations of racism are hurled against them, that Republicans would grow a spine and quickly, thoroughly and – when circumstances demand – quite loudly defend their honor, integrity and reputation.
Toogood Reports contributor and "Best of the Web" award-winning writer Perry Drake is a professional journalist in Plainfield, Ill. He is a great American conservative who writes with a unique perspective on the issues of the day. Perry is married and has two children. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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PCism in America
2 may 2002