D’Souza: The Segregation Solution

From Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, pp 111-114


In addition to the Klan, another institution of white supremacy that the Democrats created across the South was state-sponsored segregation. This took longer; while the Klan was in full operation in the 1860s, segregation was institutionalized in the 1880s and comprehensively established only by the early twentieth century.

The Democrats did it because they knew they could get away with it. By the 1890s, the Democrats had consolidated their power in the South and the party was strong enough to prevent the federal government from intervening in the way it did during Reconstruction. Thus Republicans in the North were limited in what they could do. Northern Republicans knew that they could not perpetually rule the South; at some point, the southerners would have to govern themselves.

In 1896, the Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson affirmed the constitutionality of segregation. The Court considered a Louisiana railroad segregation statute that was euphemistically titled, “An Act to Promote the Comfort of Passengers.” A Democratic legislature passed the law, and a Democratic governor signed it.

Homer Plessy, a Republican who was seven-eighths white, refused to sit in the railroad compartment reserved for blacks and when he was cited for breaking the law, brought suit to challenge the constitutionality of the Louisiana statute. A largely though not exclusively Democratic Supreme Court upheld the law, with the sole dissent coming from Justice John Harlan.

Harlan famously stated that “our constitution is color-blind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.” 13 Here—in the Republican tradition of Frederick Douglass—is a further affirmation of the color-blind ideal, more than half a century before King’s “dream” speech. Harlan’s dissent is justly famous; less well known is the fact that he was a Kentucky Republican.

Gradually, Democrats in the South segregated everything. Hotels, taverns, and inns were segregated. Schools were segregated, as were public water fountains. Prisons were segregated, as were public theaters, public libraries, and public parks. Hospitals, jails, and cemeteries were segregated. Movie theaters and opera houses were segregated, and also the professions. Black barbers could only cut the hair of other blacks; black plumbers could only do repair work in black homes.

Let there be no doubt about this: all the Jim Crow laws mandating segregation were enacted by Democratic legislatures and signed into law by Democratic governors. Democratic judges upheld those laws, and Democratic sheriffs and public officials enforced them. Segregation was solely and entirely the handiwork of the Democratic Party. The party may as well have adopted the motto of Democratic segregationist Governor George Wallace who notoriously declared, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Over time, as racism became less defensible and fashionable, some Democrats insisted that segregation laws were not racist; rather, they were neutral on their face. After all, segregation laws merely separated the black world from the white world, while making no explicit statement about which one was better.

This “separate but equal” argument was concocted way back in the late nineteenth century. A Democratic majority on the Supreme Court declared in the Plessy decision that if blacks feel inferior as a result of segregation it’s because they choose to view it that way, not because of anything in the law itself.

Yet everyone, black and white, who lived under segregation, knew that it was an instrument of white supremacy. Separate was not equal. No one knew this better than the Democrats. In fact, the Democrats counted on their white supporters to see it that way. The whole purpose of stamping the black race with inferiority was to enable the Democrats to confer privilege on their white constituents. Yet notice how Democrats consistently claimed that these mechanisms of exploitation were “fair” and “just.”

The racist Democrat, James Vardaman, speaking on the floor of the Senate, admitted that “separate” didn’t actually mean “equal” and went on to explain why blacks should be given the same education as whites. “Educating the black man simply renders him unfit for the work which the white man has prescribed. The only effect is to spoil a good field hand, and to make an insolent cook.” 14

Segregation wasn’t limited to the South. Following his election, Woodrow Wilson mandated segregation for all the agencies of the federal government. This had never happened before. In a sense, Wilson was burying the ghost of Lincoln, who would have been apalled beyond measure. The black community was apoplectic. Black leaders like Ida B. Wells and Monroe Trotter Protested Wilson’s racism, but the Democratic president was unmoved.

Wilson indignantly told these black leaders that they had no reason to complain, because segregation was in fact beneficial to blacks. Wilson also echoed the argument from Plessy that segregation was just, since whites were being separated from blacks just as much as blacks were being separated from whites.

By now these themes should be familiar: oppression is good for you, and it also promotes social justice. The Democrats had been down this road before. Recall that Andrew Jackson told the Indians that it was good for them that the government was taking their land. Jackson also insisted that his land confiscations were Just – a term that he typically spelled with a capital letter. Of course knowing what we do about how Jackson and his cronies made off like bandits, we may be pardoned in sarcastically quipping that “justice” for Jackson actually meant “just us.”

Today, too, Democrats make the same bogus claims when they exploit people by taking their money and turning them into second-class citizens. Naturally Americans get upset about being demeaned and ripped off. The thieving Democrats then inform that that they should feel good about being stolen from, because in this way they are being cured of greed, selfishness, and materialism. Democrats also justify their confiscations in the name of “social justice.” Now, as in the past, the Democratic Party counts on its victims to be suckers.

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