Coulter: Civil Rights Chickenhawks

From Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama, by Ann Coulter

Chapter 12

Civil Rights Chickenhawks

A staple of Democratic campaigning is to accuse Republicans of being racists. Republican candidates can expect to have their entire life histories probed to find out if, as twelve-year-olds, they caddied at an all-white golf club or ever lived in a predominantly white neighborhood. When liberals can find no archaic restrictive covenant on some piece of property owned by the Republican, they invent stories about Republicans opposing civil rights, having a “despicable” history on race relations and pursuing an imaginary “southern strategy” to win racists over to their party.

Liberals’ neurotic obsession with this apocryphal “southern strategy”—it’s been cited hundreds of times in the New York Times—is supposed to explain why Democrats can’t get nice churchgoing, patriotic southerners to vote for the party of antiwar protesters, abortion, the ACLU and gay marriage. They tell themselves they can’t win the South because they won’t stoop to pander to a bunch of racists—which should probably be their first clue why southerners don’t like them.

The premise of liberals’ southern strategy folklore is the sophisticated belief that anyone who votes Republican is a racist. They are counting on no one noticing, much less mentioning, the real history of racism in this country.

The single most important piece of evidence for the Republicans’ alleged southern strategy is President Lyndon B. Johnson’s statement, after signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that “we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come.” That self-serving quote is cited by liberals with more solemnity than Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Johnson’s statement is of questionable provenance. The sole source for the quote is LBJ assistant Bill Moyers, whose other work for the president included hunting for gays on Barry Goldwater’s staff and monitoring the FBI’s bugs on Martin Luther King’s hotel room, then distributing the salacious tapes to select members of the Johnson administration and the press. 1 If this were my case-in-chief for an important point, I’d want better sourcing than a sanctimonious liberal fraud.

A source for information about LBJ who is not a partisan hack, dirty trickster and MLK-adultery publicist is Robert M. MacMillan, Air Force One steward during the Johnson administration. MacMillan reports that when LBJ was flying on Air Force One with two governors once, he boasted that by pushing the 1964 civil rights bill, “I’ll have them niggers voting Democratic for two hundred years.” 2

Regardless of whether Johnson actually said the Democrats’ passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had delivered the south to Republicans, who cares?

That’s not proof! Liberals always produce this quote as they’re brandishing a signed confession to the murder of Jon Benét Ramsey. We have the smoking gun! But LBJ’s statement was the opposite of a confession; it was a self-glorifying tribute to his own high principles. (These were principles of recent vintage: Johnson had ferociously opposed civil rights laws up until five minutes before he became president.)

Do you doubt that LBJ said it?

We’ll assume he said it.

Do you have some other explanation?

Yes. He was bragging about his bravery while simultaneously smearing Republicans.

How about this: When Bush attacked the Taliban, he said, “We just delivered the Northeast to the Democrats for a long time to come.” Would that be accepted as proof of the liberal Northeast’s complicity with al-Qaeda?

But that’s not the only problem with Johnson’s self-serving quote. Both parts of his analysis are false. First, the Democrats didn’t pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That bill, along with every civil rights bill for the preceding century, was supported by substantially more Republicans than Democrats. What distinguished the 1964 act is that it was the first civil rights bill that Democrats finally supported in large numbers. Congratulations, Democrats!

Second, that’s not what happened: The south kept voting for Democrats for decades after the 1964 act. The very year Johnson said it, even Goldwater couldn’t win the South. You don’t get a better test case than that.

Goldwater was one of only six Republican senators to vote against the 1964 act, on libertarian grounds, and the other five did so only because they supported Goldwater’s presidential nomination. 3 Although a much larger percentage of Republicans had supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act than Democrats—Republican leader Everett Dirksen publicly rebuked Goldwater for his vote4—Goldwater was the GOP’s presidential candidate that year.

Goldwater went on to win five southern states in 1964—Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. But he lost eight—North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas and Florida. That’s not a sweep anyplace except Chicago.

Democrats argue that it isn’t the number of states Goldwater won, but which states he won. Goldwater’s southern support came from the exact same states that Strom Thurmond captured when he ran for president as a segregationist “Dixiecrat” in 1948—Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina—with Goldwater adding only Georgia.

That would be a reasonable argument, but only if your entire historical knowledge begins and ends with 1948 and 1964. Far from preparing the GOP for a southern takeover, Goldwater’s 1964 campaign nearly destroyed the party and created no foundation at all—not even in the South. (That’s what purist libertarianism gets you.)

The southern states Goldwater won were the very states that Nixon and Reagan would go on to lose, or almost lose, in their triumphant elections of 1968 and 1980. On the other hand, Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton would do pretty well in the Goldwater states in their southern sweeps of 1976 and 1992.

Republicans did not flip the states Goldwater won. Those states went right back to voting for the Democrats for many decades to come. Republicans always did best in the southern states Goldwater lost, which happened to be the same ones Republicans had been winning with some regularity since 1928.

These are the facts:

In 1928, Republican Herbert Hoover won Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Texas and North Carolina. (See Appendix A for electoral maps.)

In the thirties and forties, FDR and Truman dominated national elections throughout the country, so there is little to be learned about southern voting patterns from those dark days.

In 1952, Republican Eisenhower won Virginia, Tennessee, Florida and Texas, losing Kentucky by a razor-thin 0.07 percent margin.

In 1956, Ike again won Virginia, Tennessee and Florida and added Texas, Kentucky and Louisiana.

In 1960, Nixon won Virginia, Tennessee, Florida and Kentucky.

You will note that 1928, 1952, 1956 and 1960 are years before 1964.

In 1968, Nixon won thirty-two states overall, including six southern states—all the usual Republican favorites: Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina. These were the exact same states Republican Hoover had won in 1928, plus South Carolina. Nixon lost Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi—four of the five states Goldwater had won.

Four years after Goldwater’s run, the segregationist vote went right back to the Democrats. Democrat Hubert Humphrey picked up about half of George Wallace’s supporters that year; Nixon got none of the segregationist vote, as the polls demonstrated. 5 Nixon’s early poll numbers were the same as his vote, whereas Humphrey miraculously gained 12 percentage points—just a little bit less than Wallace lost on Election Day.

Then, in 1976, despite Nixon’s malevolent plot to corral racist Democrats, Jimmy Carter swept the entire South. All eleven states of the Old Confederacy—except the great commonwealth of Virginia—flipped right back and voted Democratic. The electoral map of Jimmy Carter’s victory in 1976 virtually splits the country down the middle, with Carter taking the entire South, a few solidly Democratic northeastern states and his vice president’s home state of Minnesota and neighboring Wisconsin. On the entire continental United States, Carter did not win a single state west of Texas. Of 147 electoral votes in the South, Carter won 127 of them.

Was that because Carter was appealing to bigots? Or is it only appealing to bigots when Republicans win in the South?

In 1980, Reagan won a landslide forty-four states. Reagan crushed Carter in the southern states Republicans had been winning off and on since 1928—Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Kentucky. (Republicans had won at least four of those states in five previous elections—three predating Goldwater’s 1964 campaign—in 1928, 1956, 1960, 1968 and 1972.)

But despite it being a landslide election, Reagan still lost, or barely won, the Goldwater states, narrowly winning Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina6 and losing Georgia outright. Reagan prevailed in only one Goldwater state by a significant margin: Louisiana. But so did Eisenhower in 1956. Even in an election in which the Democrats carried only six states in the entire country, one of those six was a Goldwater state.

Noticeably, Reagan won among young southern voters—and lost among their seniors, i.e., the ones who had voted in 1948 and 1964. The segregationists never abandoned Democrats. Eventually, they died or were outvoted by other, younger southerners.

Extensive college polling in 1980 put Reagan in third place in the northeast, well behind John Anderson and Jimmy Carter. But at southern colleges, Reagan massacred both Anderson and Carter. Thus, Reagan won 14 percent of the student vote at Yale but 71 percent at Louisiana Tech University. 7 Are we supposing the LTU students were Goldwater men at age three? Dixiecrats before birth? No matter how you run the numbers, neither Nixon nor Reagan ever captured the Goldwater voters. Republicans certainly weren’t winning the Dixiecrat vote. Even in 1968, twenty years after Thurmond’s 1948 campaign, Nixon carried only one of Thurmond’s states, despite taking six southern states in all. After Thurmond’s presidential run, the Dixiecrats went right back to voting for the Democrats for another half century.

Of course, Nixon and Reagan did sweep the entire South in their 1972 and 1984 reelections. Also the Midwest, the Colorado Mountains, the windswept prairies, the Pacific Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. Nixon walloped his opponent, George McGovern, in every state of the union except Massachusetts. The same thing happened in 1984, when Reagan won forty-nine states, losing only his opponent Walter Mondale’s home state of Minnesota—and Dutch nearly took that. A political party that attributes such landslide victories to a secret Republican plan to appeal to racists has gone stark raving mad.

Revealing what intellectuals really thought at the time, as late as 1972, liberal luminary Arthur Schlesinger Jr. openly acknowledged in the pages of the New York Times that the segregationists would be voting for McGovern—not Nixon—writing that “voters hesitate between McGovern and George Wallace.” Note that he did not say voters hesitated between Nixon and Wallace.

So firmly were the segregationists in the Democratic fold, that Schlesinger went on to praise them for their integrity. The Wallace votes in the primaries, Schlesinger said, showed that voters cared deeply about—I quote—“ integrity.” 8 That’s what liberals said before they decided to do a complete historical rewrite.

And of course, McGovern gave an obligatory tribute to the segregationist Wallace in his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention that year. 9 This was in 1972, the exact midpoint between Goldwater and Reagan, when the imaginary “southern strategy” should have been complete, according to the fevered propaganda of the left.

It wasn’t until 1988, a quarter century after Goldwater’s run, that a Republican presidential candidate finally won all five of his southern states in anything other than forty-nine-state Republican landslides. Bush won only a forty-state landslide that year.

In addition to Goldwater’s states, Bush also won California, Maine, Vermont, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa and Delaware. And yet no one talks about Republicans’ secret strategy to appeal to Ben & Jerry’s lesbians to explain their Vermont triumph in 1988.

Four years later the South would flip right back and vote for Clinton, who carried six southern states, including two Goldwater states.

Not only that, but from the moment of LBJ’s woe-is-me prediction in 1964 that Democrats had lost the South forever, Democrats continued to win a plurality of votes in southern congressional elections every two years for the next thirty years, right up until 1994.10 Republicans didn’t win the Dixiecrat vote—the Dixiecrats died. If the Republicans were scheming to capture southern racists—of which there is no evidence—it didn’t work.

In presidential elections for forty years, between 1948 and 1988, Republicans never won a majority of the Dixiecrat states, except in two forty-nine-state landslides. Whatever turned the South away from the Democrats—their enthusiasm for abortion, gays in the military, Christian-bashing, springing criminals, attacks on guns, dovish foreign policy, Save the Whales/ Kill the Humans environmentalism—it wasn’t race.

By contrast, Democrats kept winning the alleged “segregationist” states right up to the 1990s. In 1976, Carter won all the Goldwater states. Even as late as 1992, Clinton carried two of the southern states won by Goldwater: Georgia and Louisiana.

Were these southerners voting for Goldwater out of racism, but supporting Clinton for other, noble reasons? If anything, it was the opposite. Clinton’s mentor was J. William Fulbright, a vehement foe of integration who had voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At his gubernatorial inauguration, Clinton publicly embraced Orval Faubus, the man who stood in the schoolhouse door in Little Rock rather than comply with the Supreme Court’s school desegregation ruling. 11 (That’s when Republican Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne to enforce civil rights in Arkansas.)

Goldwater didn’t vote against the 1964 act because he supported segregation—he had long since desegregated his family’s department stores, as well as the Arizona National Guard. He was a founding member of the Arizona NAACP. Goldwater voted against the 1964 act because he was a libertarian opposed to the act’s restrictions on private property, which he believed to be beyond Congress’s powers under the commerce clause of the Constitution. Unlike the Democrats who voted against the act, Goldwater had supported every other civil rights bill until that one. Much of this was finally admitted by the Washington Post—in Goldwater’s obituary. 12

It’s bad enough to cite some gaseous remark by a politician as if it proves something. But for liberals to keep citing Johnson’s self-serving blather when the subsequent facts completely contradict it requires either raw mendacity or Chris Matthews–level of stupidity.

Democrats have had a stronger hold on Massachusetts for the last half century than Republicans have had on the South. How do we know they’re not using code words to appeal to Puritan witch-hunters?

It’s amazing the lengths liberals have gone to in order to hide the truth.

In any discussion of who the segregationists were, liberals switch the word “Democrats” to “southerners.” 13 But it wasn’t southerners opposing civil rights; it was Democrats. The Civil Rights Act of 1957, for example, was supported by all forty-three Republicans in the Senate, but only twenty-nine Democrats. It was opposed by eighteen Democrats, including northerners such as Wayne Morse of Oregon, Warren Magnuson of Washington, James Murray of Montana, Mike Mansfield of Montana, and Joseph O’Mahoney of Wyoming. 14

There were also plenty of southern integrationists: They were Republicans.

When a Republican in the South was as rare as one in Hollywood today, these brave conservatives battled Democrat segregationists. But their lonely fight has been meticulously excised from the historical record by the left.

In 1966, pro-integrationist Republican Winthrop Rockefeller became the first Republican governor of Arkansas since Reconstruction, replacing rabid segregationist Democrat (and Bill Clinton pal) Orval Faubus. Rockefeller pushed for integration of the schools and appointed the first African American to a cabinet level position. Rockefeller’s win carried another Republican integrationist, Maurice Britt, into the lieutenant governor’s office.

Also in 1966, Republican Howard Baker ran on an integrationist platform, taking his campaign “directly to blacks” to become the first Republican senator from Tennessee since Reconstruction. 15 Years later, Baker would serve as the Republican majority leader in the Senate and President Reagan’s chief of staff.

Both Baker and Rockefeller won statewide southern elections as Republicans championing civil rights two years after Goldwater won his supposedly game-changing victory in four Dixiecrat states by sneakily appealing to racists.

Also in 1966, Republican and civil rights supporter Bo Calloway ran against a virulent racist Democrat, Lester Maddox, for governor of Georgia. While Calloway was in Congress backing Voting Rights Act of 1965,16 Maddox was in Atlanta, chasing blacks from his segregated restaurant with a shotgun. Maddox eventually closed the restaurant rather than serve black people.

In the governor’s race, Maddox was endorsed by future president Jimmy Carter. The vote was too close to call, so the Democratic state legislature gave it to Maddox. Calloway appealed, but the Supreme Court upheld the legislature’s decision—with the vote of former KKK member Justice Hugo Black—who was appointed by Democratic president Franklin Roosevelt.

Republican Charles Pickering of Mississippi spent the sixties literally risking his life to prosecute the powerful Democratic Ku Klux Klan. From its inception, the Klan was—as liberal historian Eric Foner writes—“ a military force, serving the interests of the Democratic Party.…” 17

Republican Spiro Agnew wasn’t in the South, but—again—not all segregationists were southern: All segregationists were Democrats. In 1966, Agnew ran against Democratic segregationist George Mahoney for the Maryland governorship. Four years earlier, as Baltimore County Executive, Agnew had enacted some of the first laws in the nation that outlawed race discrimination in public accommodations. 18 In a specific rebuke to fair-housing laws, Mahoney’s campaign slogan was “your home is your castle—protect it.” Running for governor, Agnew vowed to enact a state fair-housing law and to repeal Maryland’s antimiscegenation statute. He developed a close working relationship with black leaders, meeting with them frequently during the campaign and while in office.

Even back in the fifties, Republicans were battling Democratic segregationists in the South. Republican Horace E. Henderson took on the segregationist “Byrd machine” in Virginia by running for lieutenant governor as a pro–civil rights Republican— and losing. He brought a lawsuit to challenge the legality of the Democrats’ discriminatory poll tax, a position that prevailed in the Supreme Court.

There are more proabortion Republicans today than there were Republican segregationists in the twentieth century. The segregationists were Democrats, just as they are the proabortion party today.

When not calling Democrat segregationists “southerners,” liberals call them “conservatives”—much like the media label the most extreme Soviet communists or Islamic jihadists “conservatives.” Brave integrationist stances taken by southern Republicans, putting their lives in danger, are labeled “moderate” positions, even “liberal.” Liberals lie about history by manipulating words.

Thus, a Harvard Crimson article on Agnew’s strong integrationist views in the 1960s is titled: “Earlier Agnew Took Moderate Stances.” A Web site on American presidents amazingly refers to Agnew’s sterling civil rights record as “to the left of his Democratic challenger”—a segregationist. 19 Even David Hackett Fischer capitulates to the standard phraseology, writing: “Truman managed to be liberal on race and conservative on property.…” 20

Liberals simply take everything that is good in history—which they generally fought against at the time—and retroactively label it “liberal.” Everything bad—which they generally supported—is branded “conservative.” Reagan wanted to smash communism, Carter warned Americans not to have “an inordinate fear of communism.” 21 So in what Alice-in-Wonderland lingua franca are hardened communists “conservatives”? In another twenty years, history books will be describing Reagan’s aggressive posture toward the Soviet Union as the “progressive” stance and calling Jimmy Carter’s appeasement strategy the “conservative” position.

There is no sense in which race discrimination is “conservative.” Liberals were for race discrimination in the fifties; liberals are for race discrimination today. (As long as their kids still get into a good college.) There was never a period of time when race discrimination was a Republican policy, except maybe briefly when Nixon imposed affirmative action on the building trades doing business with the government in the sixties, but they deserved it. (A policy for which LBJ is showered with praise for thinking about—but never actually implementing.)

When journalists and historians are forced to admit some Democrat was a segregationist—something that often slips their minds—the news is delivered amid a blizzard of excuses.

The appalling civil rights record of liberal hero and lifelong Democrat Sam Ervin is explained away on Wikipedia: “Defenders of Ervin argue that his opposition to most civil rights legislation was based on his commitment to the preservation of the Constitution in its pristine formulation that he repeatedly stated encapsulated civil, human and equal rights for all. There is little if any evidence that he engaged in the racial demagoguery of many of his Southern colleagues.”

Ervin’s precious commitment to the Constitution seemed to leave him when it came to big, government-spending programs. As for racial pandering, Robert Caro reports that Ervin said of the 1957 civil rights act: “We’ve got to give the goddamned niggers something” and “We’re not gonna be able to get out of here until we’ve got some kind of nigger bill.” 22 This quote will surely be excised from future editions of Caro’s book.

The only reason anyone knows that recently departed Democratic Senator Robert Byrd was a member of the Klan is because conservatives kept screaming it from the rooftops in response to liberals’ monumental lies about who the segregationists were. Byrd was no mere segregationist; he was an officer with a racist vigilante group.

Liberal journalist John Nichols wrote fondly of the former Klanner in the Nation: “I covered Byrd during much of that last quarter century and, like the vast majority of his fellow senators, developed an appreciation for the sincerity of the man’s rejection of the past.” 23

The Washington Post lies outright, describing Senator William Fulbright (in their lingo) as “a progressive on racial issues.” Fulbright was a full-bore segregationist. He voted against the 1957, 1960, 1964 and 1965 civil rights bills. He was a signatory to the Southern Manifesto. 24

It helps that liberals refuse to learn any history and instead endlessly repeat popular liberal folktales.”

In November 2008, Adam Nossiter wrote in the New York Times that Virginia and North Carolina “made history last week in breaking from their Confederate past and supporting Mr. Obama.” 25

To review some first-grade history, the Confederates were Democrats and the Union, led by Abraham Lincoln, was Republican. Thus, to be “breaking from their Confederate past,” Virginia and North Carolina would have to vote for a Republican, not a Democrat. North Carolina and Virginia first broke “from their Confederate past” in 1928, when both states went for Herbert Hoover.

If Mr. Nossiter is rewriting history to switch sides in the Civil War, both Virginia and North Carolina have voted for Democrats for president more than a dozen times since the end of the war. Most recently, Virginia went for LBJ in 1964 and North Carolina voted for Carter in 1976.

If instead Nossiter is using “Confederate” to mean “segregationist” or “Barry Goldwater-supporting,” neither Virginia nor North Carolina voted for either Thurmond or Goldwater.

If Mr. Nossiter is referring to the fact that two southern states had miraculously voted for a black to be president, it was the first time for the rest of the country, too.

Moreover, if he thinks it’s amazing that two Southern states voted for any black person, then he must be unaware that the former Confederate states were the first to send blacks to Congress. This is missing from liberal history books because the dozens of black politicians elected to Congress after the Civil War were all Republicans. The first black governor in the country was P. B. S. Pinchback, acting governor of Louisiana in 1872. (The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson claimed in 2008 that “in the nation’s history we’ve had only two black governors—Douglas Wilder in Virginia and Deval Patrick in Massachusetts.” 26 He forgot Pinchback, a Republican.)

The first black lieutenant governor in the nation was Oscar James Dunn, elected in Louisiana in 1868, who was, of course, a Republican. Two years later, black Republican Alonzo J. Ransier was elected lieutenant governor in South Carolina.

The nation’s first black governor since Reconstruction was elected not merely in the South but in one of the two states Adam Nossiter specifically cited as “breaking from [its] Confederate roots” to vote for a black man. Virginia made Douglas Wilder the country’s first elected black governor in 1989.

What on earth is Nossiter talking about? What could he possibly mean by saying Virginia and North Carolina “made history last week in breaking from their Confederate past and supporting Mr. Obama”? Liberals have submerged themselves so deeply in their self-flattering fantasies about racist Republicans and heroic Democrats that it’s impossible to make any sense of what they say. They don’t read history books. Liberals only read books about cats.

One thing that’s clear is that Nossiter intended to praise Virginia and North Carolina for voting for Obama. He went on to explain that Obama’s victory in those states could be attributed to “an influx of better educated and more prosperous voters in recent years.” Liberals seem to imagine the entire South—the first region of the country to send lots of blacks to Congress—is an English-speaking Taliban in need of instruction by white liberals.

Most of the time, liberals are at least smart enough to steer clear of any details in order to avoid making inane statements, like Nossiter. Note the complete absence of facts in this outburst from Joe Klein: “Traditionally—at least since Nixon’s ‘southern strategy’—Republicans have been truly despicable on race, and there are more than a few stalwarts who continue to bloviate disingenuously in support of a ‘colorblind’ society, by which they mean a tacit relapse into segregation.” 27

I’m sorry—was Joe Klein some hitherto unacknowledged hero of the civil rights movement? Was he with King? Why does he get to play the Freedom Rider, while some thirty-year-old Republican is suddenly on Team Bull Connor? Contrary to Klein’s suggestion, it seems highly unlikely that Republicans are trying to bring back segregation inasmuch as that was a Democratic policy, never supported by the Republican Party. Having endlessly perseverated these nonsense fairy tales to themselves and the public, liberals turn around and race-bait Republicans to advance Democratic policies having nothing to do with blacks.

In 2002, liberals were exultant when Senator Trent Lott toasted Senator Strom Thurmond at his 100th birthday party, saying: “I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

Liberals leaped on the meaningless praise at an old-timer’s birthday party to remind everyone that Thurmond had run for president on a segregationist platform! This led to a new round of racism accusations against the Republican Party—which Thurmond joined sixteen years after his 1948 segregationist presidential run.

Assuming—contrary to common sense—that Lott was intending to praise Thurmond for his segregationist stance two decades earlier, what we had here was: one former Democrat praising another former Democrat for what was once a Democrat policy. The Lott incident reminded us that Republicans have to be careful about letting Democrats into their party.

In 1948, Thurmond did not run as a “Dixiecan,” he ran as a “Dixiecrat.” As the name indicates, the Dixiecrats were an offshoot of the Democratic Party. When he lost, Thurmond went right back to being a Democrat.

All segregationists were Democrats and—contrary to liberal fables—the vast majority of them remained Democrats for the rest of their lives. Many have famous names—commemorated in buildings and statues and tribute speeches by Bill Clinton. But one never hears about their segregationist pasts, or even Klan memberships. Among them are: Supreme Court justice Hugo Black; Governor George Wallace of Alabama; gubernatorial candidate George Mahoney of Maryland; Bull Connor, Commissioner of Public Safety for Birmingham, Alabama; Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas; and Governor Lester Maddox of Georgia.

But for practical purposes, the most important segregationists were the ones in the U.S. Senate, where civil rights bills went to die. All the segregationists in the Senate were of course, Democrats. All but one remained Democrats for the rest of their lives—and not conservative Democrats. Support for segregation went hand in hand with liberal positions on other issues, too.

The myth of the southern strategy is that southern segregationists were conservatives just waiting for a wink from Nixon to switch parties and join the Reagan revolution. That could not be further from the truth. With the exception of Strom Thurmond—the only one who ever became a Republican—they were almost all liberals and remained liberals for the rest of their lives. Of the twelve southern segregationists in the Senate other than Thurmond, only two could conceivably be described as “conservative Democrats.”

The twelve were:

  • Senator Harry Byrd (staunch opponent of anti-communist Senator Joseph McCarthy);
  • Senator Robert Byrd (proabortion, opponent of 1990 Gulf War and 2002 Iraq War, huge pork barrel spender, sending more than $ 1 billion to his home state during his tenure, supported the Equal Rights Amendment, 28 won a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and a 71 percent grade from the American Civil Liberties Union in 2007);
  • Senator Allen Ellender of Louisiana (McCarthy opponent, pacifist and opponent of the Vietnam War);
  • Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina (McCarthy opponent, anti-Vietnam War, major Nixon antagonist as head the Watergate Committee that led to the president’s resignation);
  • Senator Albert Gore Sr. of Tennessee (ferocious McCarthy opponent despite McCarthy’s popularity in Tennessee, 29 anti-Vietnam War);
  • Senator James Eastland of Mississippi (conservative Democrat, though he supported some of FDR’s New Deal, but was a strong anti-communist);
  • Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas (staunch McCarthy opponent, 30 anti-Vietnam War, big supporter of the United Nations and taxpayer-funded grants given in his name);
  • Senator Walter F. George of Georgia (supported Social Security Act, Tennessee Valley Authority and many portions of the Great Society);
  • Senator Ernest Hollings (initiated federal food stamp program, supported controls on oil, but later became a conservative Democrat, as evidenced by his support for Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the Supreme Court);
  • Senator Russell Long (Senate floor leader on LBJ’s Great Society programs);
  • Senator Richard Russell (strident McCarthy opponent, calling him a “huckster of hysteria,” 31 supported FDR’s New Deal, defended Truman’s firing of General Douglas MacArthur, mildly opposed to the Vietnam War);
  • Senator John Stennis (won murder convictions against three blacks based solely on their confessions, which were extracted by vicious police floggings, leading to reversal by the Supreme Court; first senator to publicly attack Joe McCarthy on the Senate floor; and, in his later years, opposed Judge Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court).

The only Democratic segregationist in the Senate to become a Republican—Strom Thurmond—did so eighteen years after he ran for president as a Dixiecrat. He was never a member of the terroristic Ku Klux Klan, as Hugo Black and Robert Byrd had been. You could make a lot of money betting people to name one segregationist U.S. senator other than Thurmond. Only the one who became a Republican is remembered for his dark days as a segregationist Democrat.

As for the remaining dozen segregationists, only two—Hollings and Eastland—were what you’d call conservative Democrats. The rest were dyed-in-the-wool liberals taking the left-wing positions on issues of the day. Segregationist beliefs went hand in hand with opposition to Senator Joe McCarthy, 32 opposition to the Vietnam War, support for New Deal and Great Society programs, support for the United Nations, opposition to Nixon and a 100 percent rating from NARAL. Being against civil rights is now and has always been the liberal position.

The media intentionally hides the civil rights records of lifelong, liberal Democrats to make it look as if it was the Republican Party that was the party of segregation and race discrimination, which it never was. If Senator Joe Lieberman ever becomes a Republican, someday liberals will rewrite history to accuse Republicans of being the party of partial-birth abortion. (Lieberman is a member of two of the world’s smallest groups: Orthodox Jews for Partial-Birth Abortion and Democrats for a Strong National Defense.)

Delusionally carrying on about the Lott contretemps at Thurmond’s birthday party, Newsweek’s Jon Meacham declared: “Trent Lott and the GOP grew up together in the South. They both have a painful secret.”

First: The Republicans most definitely did not grow up in the South. They only began to win a plurality of House votes there in 1994—coincidentally, about twenty years after the Democratic Party went insane. Reagan barely won Mississippi in his landslide election of 1980 and Mississippi didn’t elect a Republican governor until 1991.

Second, when Lott was growing up, he was a Democrat. He was a Democrat through college. He was a Democrat after college. Lott was a Democrat his entire life, until he ran for Congress in 1972—the year the entire country, except Massachusetts, went Republican. Indeed, until 1972, Lott had been the administrative assistant to a congressional Democrat. Then, the Democratic Party ran George McGovern for president as part of a strategy to turn the party into a group of far-left kooks from places like New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Lott became a Republican the same year that New York, California, Illinois and Minnesota became Republican, albeit more fleetingly.

Meacham also said Bush had distanced himself from Lott by “evoking Lincoln—the only port a Republican president has in this kind of storm.” 33 Liberals seem to think Meacham is an intellectual, so he must be a monstrous liar because that is preposterous.

Here are a few other “ports” Republicans have “in this kind of storm”:

Republicans passed the Thirteenth Amendment, ending slavery, with 80 percent of Democrats voting against it. Republicans enacted the Fourteenth Amendment, granting freed slaves the rights of citizenship—unanimously supported by Republicans and unanimously opposed by Democrats.

Republicans passed the Fifteenth Amendment, giving freedmen the right to vote.

Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, conferring U.S. citizenship on all African Americans and according them “full and equal benefit of all laws”—unanimously supported by Republicans, who had to override Democrat President Andrew Johnson’s veto.

Republicans passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867.

Republicans sent federal troops to the Democratic South to enforce the constitutional rights of the newly freed slaves.

Republicans were the first targets of the Ku Klux Klan, during Reconstruction.

Republicans continued trying to pass federal civil rights laws for a century following the Civil War—most of which the Democrats blocked—including a bill banning racial discrimination in public accommodations in 1875; a bill guaranteeing blacks the right to vote in the South in 1890; anti-lynching bills in 1922, 1935 and 1938, and anti-poll tax bills in 1942, 1944 and 1946.

A Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, invited Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House in 1901, making him the first black American to do so. 34

Republican party platforms repeatedly called for equal rights, demanding in 1908, for example, equal justice for black Americans and condemning all devices that disfranchise blacks for their color alone, “as unfair, un-American and repugnant to the Supreme law of the land.”

Republicans called for anti-lynching legislation in their presidential platforms throughout the 1920s, while the Democratic platforms did not.

Republicans demanded integration of the military in civil services in their party platform in 1940; again, the Democrats did not. 35

Republicans endorsed Brown v. Board of Education in their 1956 presidential platform; the Democrats did not.

Republicans sent the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock to enforce the Court’s school desegregation ruling to stop the Democratic governor from blocking the schoolhouse door.

Republicans fully implemented the desegregation of the military, left unfinished by a Democratic president.

Republicans introduced and passed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1957 opposed and watered down by Democrats. 36

Republicans reintroduced and passed another civil rights bill in 1960, maneuvering it past Democratic obstructionism, with all votes against the bill coming from Democrats.

Republicans created the Commission on Civil Rights. Republicans voted in far greater numbers for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than the Democrats, though this was the year Democrats finally stopped aggressively opposing civil rights bills.

Republicans effectively desegregated public schools throughout the nation in the first few years of the Nixon administration.

Republicans desegregated the building trades, introducing, for the first time, racial quotas and timetables for those doing business with the federal government.

Republicans appointed the first black secretary of state as well as the first black female secretary of state. Republicans appointed one of two black justices ever to sit on the Supreme Court, over the hysterical objections of Democrats


Meanwhile, the Democrats passed the Violence Against Women Act and think they’re civil rights champions.

Bill Clinton smeared the entire South in his comments on Lott’s toast, saying: “I think what they are really upset about is that he made public their strategy,” adding, “How do they think they got a majority in the South anyway?” Clinton won six southern states in 1992! How does he think he got that? His “role model” 37 was the segregationist Democrat J. William Fulbright, whom he worked for and called “my mentor.” 38

Fulbright voted against every important civil rights bill in the fifties and sixties. He signed the Southern Manifesto opposing desegregation in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. (Ninety-seven of the ninety-nine signatories to that document were Democrats.) Just three years after Fulbright opposed the Civil Rights Acts of 1965, Clinton was working on his reelection campaign. As president, Clinton invited Fulbright to the White House for a special ceremony to give the old segregationist the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Another segregationist, Albert Gore Sr. was in attendance. In his tribute, Clinton praised Fulbright for being “among the first Americans to try to get us to think about the people in Russia as people.” 39 The people in Russia! Alas, Fulbright was incapable of thinking about black Americans as people.

While exploding in a joyful frenzy about Lott—who was seven years old when Strom Thurmond ran for president as a Dixiecrat—the media were undisturbed by a former Ku Klux Klansman sitting in the U.S. Senate for more than half a century. He was a Democrat.

Democrat Bob Byrd had been a “kleagle” (recruiter) and “exalted cyclops” (head of the local chapter) of the Ku Klux Klan. But he got liberal insta-forgiveness. During his fifty-one years in the U.S. Senate, Democrats made Byrd secretary of the Senate Democratic Caucus (1967–1971), Senate majority whip (1971–1977), Senate majority leader (1977–1981 and 1987–1989) and Senate minority leader (1981–1987).

After World War II, which Byrd somehow managed to avoid despite being in his late twenties, he wrote to the Grand Wizard of the KKK saying the Klan was needed “now more than ever” and that he was “anxious to see its rebirth in West Virginia.”

He wrote another letter to a racist senator proclaiming that he—war avoider Byrd—would never fight under the American flag “with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.” 40

The uncomfortable fact of Byrd’s official positions with the Klan was always gently brushed over, when not completely ignored. The April 2003 Vanity Fair magazine paid homage to Byrd in a “Profiles in Courage” tribute written by former Clinton spokesman Dee Dee Myers, who quickly disposed of his Klan days, saying: “despite briefly aligning himself with racists a half-century ago…” On his death in 2010, Bill Clinton complained that newspapers had even mentioned Byrd’s “fleeting” membership with the Klan, which Clinton excused by saying, “He was trying to get elected.” 41

Less than two years after the hysteria over Lott’s toast to Strom Thurmond, one of Lott’s fiercest critics, Democratic senator Chris Dodd, made his own hail-fellow-well-met toast—to the former KKK kleagle Bob Byrd. On the occasion of Byrd’s seventeen thousandth vote in the Senate, Dodd said Byrd “would have been a great senator at any moment.… He would have been in the leadership crafting this Constitution. He would have been right during the great conflict of Civil War in this nation.”

During the Civil War?

The Hartford Courant defended Senator Dodd’s offensive gasbaggery about Byrd being “right” during the Civil War, saying Dodd’s civil rights record is “impeccable.” He “erred,” the Courant said. “He didn’t commit a capital offense” 42—unlike Trent Lott for his less egregious remark about a less egregious man.

At least Strom Thurmond did a complete about-face on his racial views when he became a Republican. Thurmond voted to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday and voted to confirm Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Byrd is the only senator to have voted against both blacks ever nominated to the Supreme Court: Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. He also voted against the appointments of federal judge Janice Rogers Brown and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Both are black women.

Apparently Nixon’s “southern strategy” didn’t work on Robert Byrd.

In addition to Senator Dodd’s fulsome praise, Byrd has been extolled by Senator Teddy Kennedy as having “the kind of qualities that the Founding Fathers believed were so important for service to the nation.”

Byrd’s extraordinary transformation from Ku Klux Klan kleagle to liberal profile-in-courage winner was mostly accomplished by the simple expedient of his switching from opposing the rights of blacks to opposing the rights of unborn babies. In 2007, NARAL Pro-Choice America gave Byrd a grade of 100 for his stellar service in the war against unborn babies. At least he’s consistent: Abortion is disproportionately performed on black babies. 43

Liberals have always been very picky about whose racist pasts could be mentioned. The most beloved Democratic president in the liberal firmament is Franklin D. Roosevelt, and he nominated a former Klan member to the Supreme Court. But the left’s secular religion holds that FDR was the gretest president who ever breathed, so that nasty business with the Klan was swept under the rug.

This is why liberals love the public schools: The populace has been so dumbed down that the Democrats can spout any counter-factual nonsense and people will believe it. With their infernal repetition, liberals spread amazingly self flattering myths and no one ever bothers to look up facts. The left’s victory will be complete when all high school seniors belive the Confederates were Republicans, like Adam Nossiter of the New York Times.




  1. Andrew Ferguson, Fools’ Names, Fools’ Faces (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1996).
  2. Ronald Kessler, Inside the White House: The Hidden Lives of the Modern Presidents and the Secrets of the World’s Most Powerful Institution (Simon & Schuster, 1995) at 33.
  3. E. W. Kenworthy, “Civil Rights Bill Passed, 73–27: Johnson Urges All to Comply; Dirksen Berates Goldwater,” New York Times, June 19, 1964.
  4. Ibid.
  5. At the beginning of the campaign, polls had shown Nixon at 42 percent, Humphrey at 29 percent, and Wallace at 22 percent. On election day, Nixon’s percentage remained virtually unchanged at 43.4 percent. Wallace lost nearly half his support and ended up with 13.5 percent of the vote. Humphrey picked up 12 percentage points—just a little bit less than Wallace lost—giving him 42.7 percent of the votes cast. Just four years after Goldwater’s run, the segregationist vote went right back to the Democrats. Patrick J. Buchanan, “The Neocons and Nixon’s Southern Strategy,” The American Conservative, December 30, 2002.
  6. In 1964, Goldwater won Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. In 1980, Reagan lost Georgia and barely beat Carter in Mississippi, 49.4 to 48.1 percent; Alabama, 48.8 to 47.4 percent; and South Carolina, 49.4 to 48.1 percent. See, e.g., “The Election of 1980,” American Presidency Project, University of California, Santa Barbara. Available at http:// www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ showelection.php? year = 1980.
  7. “Reagan Bush Youth Chairman Is LSU’s Homecoming Queen: Says Youth Will Vote Republican in Nov.,” The Morning Advocate, Folder, Louisiana Box 387, Research Unit, PP-RRL, Simi Valley, Ca.
  8. Arthur Schlesinger Jr., “How McGovern Will Win,” New York Times, February 11, 1968.
  9. George McGovern, Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, July 14, 1972. Available at http:// www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ ws/ index.php? pid = 25967# axzz1zoNNrGgk.
  10. Michael Barone, “GOP Poised to Reap Redistricting Rewards,” Creators Syndicate, November 7, 2010.
  11. Booknotes with Brian Lamb, Paul Greenberg, No Surprises: Two Decades Of Clinton Watching, July 7, 1996.
  12. Bart Barnes, “Barry Goldwater, GOP Hero, Dies,” Washington Post, May 30, 1998.
  13. See, e.g., Robert A. Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson, vol. 3: Master of the Senate (Vintage, 2003).
  14. These Democrats all voted against allowing a vote on Eisenhower’s 1957 civil rights bill. Caro at 905.
  15. Earl Black and Merle Black, The Rise of Southern Republicans (Belknap Press/ Harvard University Press, 2002) at 93; see also James Lee Annis, Howard Baker: Conciliator in an Age of Crisis (Madison Books, 1994) at 46.
  16. To Recommit H.R. 6400, The 1965 Voting Rights Act, Prohibiting the Denial to Any Person of the Right to Register or to Vote Because of His Failure to Pay a Poll Tax or Any Other Such Tax, 89th Congress July 9, 1965, roll call vote available at http:// www.govtrack.us/ congress/ votes/ 89-1965/ h86.
  17. Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877 (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2002) at 425.
  18. See, e.g., Jeffrey Leonard, “Earlier Agnew Took Moderate Stances,” Harvard Crimson, October 10, 1973; Associated Press, “George Mahoney, 87, Maryland Candidate,” New York Times, March 21, 1989.
  19. Spiro Agnew, “The American Presidents.”
  20. Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed, Kindle edition at 14311
  21. President Jimmy Carter, Address at Commencement Exercises at the University of Notre Dame, May 22, 1977, available at www.presidency.ucsb.edu http:// www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ ws/ index.php? pid = 7552# ixzz1zQzVHUF7.
  22. Robert Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson at xv.
  23. John Nichols, “Robert Byrd’s American Journey,” the Nation, June 28, 2010. Available at http:// www.thenation.com/ blog/ 36753/ robert-byrds-american-journey#.
  24. Donald Baer and Steven V. Roberts, “The Making of Bill Clinton,” U.S. News & World Report, March 22, 1992.
  25. Adam Nossiter, “For South, a Waning Hold on National Politics,” New York Times, November 11, 2008.
  26. Eugene Robinson, “Will Racism Keep Obama from Being President?,” Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, December 17, 2007.
  27. Joe Klein, “Powell’s Race Problem,” Newsweek, June 24, 1996.
  28. Naftali Bendavid and Stephen Miller, “Remembrances: A Strong Voice for the Senate, His State,” Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2010.
  29. See, e.g., Kyle Longley, Senator Albert Gore, Sr.: Tennessee Maverick (Louisiana State University Press, 2004) at 90–93 and 102.
  30. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Text of President’s Remarks in Tribute to Sen. Fulbright, U.S. Newswire, May 7, 1993.
  31. Caro, Master of the Senate at 548.
  32. Attacks on McCarthy weren’t run-of-the-mill Democratic blarney: Robert Kennedy worked for McCarthy and Senator John F. Kennedy refused to censure McCarthy.
  33. Meacham, “A Man Out of Time.”
  34. “The First President to Entertain a Negro, Booker T. Washington Dined,” Washington Bee, October 19, 1901. Available at http:// www.whitehousehistory.org/ decaturhouse african-american-tour/ content/ The-First-President-to-Entertain-a-Negro-Booker-T-Washington-Dined.
  35. For party platforms, see John Woolley and Gerhard Peters, the American Presidency Project, University of California, Santa Barbara. Available at http:// www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ platforms.php.
  36. Non-southern Democrats voting against Eisenhower’s 1957 Civil Rights Act: Senators Wayne Morse of Oregon, Warren Magnuson of Washington, James Murray of Montana, Mike Mansfield of Montana and Joseph O’Mahoney of Wyoming. Caro at 905.
  37. Baer and Roberts, “The Making of Bill Clinton.”
  38. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Text of President’s Remarks in Tribute to Sen. Fulbright, U.S. Newswire, May 7, 1993.
  39. Ibid.
  40. Joshua R. Preston, “Hoodwinked: Race and Robert Byrd Ku Klux Klan Inspired a Life in Politics,” Human Events, December 12, 2005.
  41. Eric Zimmermann, “Clinton says Byrd joined KKK to Help Him Get Elected,” The Hill, July 2, 2010.
  42. Editorial, Hartford Courant, April 16, 2004.
  43. See, e.g., Lynette Holloway, “Why Is the Black Abortion Rate So High?” The Root, December 20, 2010, available at http:// www.theroot.com/ views/ why-black-abortion-rate-so-high

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