(EDITOR’S NOTE: This week’s column originally ran in a longer form on June 23, 2013, but concerns two subjects that are in the news this week — institutional racism and oppression of minorities in the United States — and how these are often twisted into weapons against Republicans when it is Democrats who bear most of the historic blame for them.)
One thing that’s incredibly tiresome about being a conservative is how people rewrite history so that they can pigeonhole you as a racist, a fascist or a dangerous radical.
The most common tactic is to claim that Republicans were the party of slavery and that they had opposed equal rights for blacks. This is, of course, untrue, but in a culture that devalues history and inflates the value of punditry, truth is whatever is repeated often enough in a chain e-mail.
An example of this kind of distortion occurred last week in response to Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory’s announcement that he was switching from the Democratic to Republican party. He pointed out that, “It was the Republican President Dwight Eisenhower who championed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, but it was Democrats in the Senate who filibustered the bill.”
This outraged many liberals, including blogger Sean McElwee, who writes for a website called “The Moderate Voice.” In his column, “Elbert Guillory’s Confused History,” he calls out the newly declared Republican for stopping his historical review with Eisenhower.
“After all,” he says, “it was Democrats that pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 through Congress...”
And thus, once again, the conservative voice is silenced — or at least slandered (I don’t think Sen. Guillory has any intention of keeping quiet!) — by distortions and outright lies.
Let’s revisit the historical record on those two landmark pieces of legislation that were supposedly pushed through Congress by Democrats. It’s not that hard to find out the truth — but sometimes it’s hard for “moderate” writers like McElwee to tell it.
A quick Internet search reveals the following: 69 percent of Senate Democrats supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but that margin of support was far surpassed by the Republican Party — where the bill had 82 percent support!
It was virtually the same story in the House, where only 63 percent of Democrats supported the end of Jim Crow laws, but fully 80 percent of Republicans did! Makes sense considering that Republicans were the party of Lincoln, abolition and emancipation!
By the following year, Democrats were starting to come along, and a larger proportion of them supported the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but they still trailed behind Republicans. In the Senate, particularly, Republican support (94 percent) far outweighed Democratic support (73 percent).
You could make the case that McElwee made an honest error, but maybe he was intentionally misleading his readers the same way he does by putting his column on a website called The Moderate Voice. His “moderate” voice in the last month has blasted Tea Party advocate Michele Bachman, touted the usefulness of gun-control laws, lamented the “manufactured Benghazi scandal,” and praised “affirmative action.”
Besides, no matter how many people point out his error, it is very likely no correction will be forthcoming because McElwee — like so many progressive authors — is writing about the world he wants to exist, not the one that does exist.
Maybe what really outraged McElwee is the fact that Sen. Guillory is not just conservative, not just Republican, but also a black conservative and that he is speaking out against what he calls “the illusion that ... [Democratic] policies are what’s best for black people.”
Guillory’s message continues:
“You see, at the heart of liberalism is the idea that only a great and powerful big government can be the benefactor of social justice for all Americans. But the left is only concerned with one thing: control. And they disguise this control as charity.”
You can find evidence of this throughout the progressive movement — from Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood who was an avowed racist and a proponent of eugenics “to assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit” — to Occupy Wall Street, which wants to create a benevolent society based on two concepts — redistribution of wealth and reinvention of human nature.
If you sense a disconnect between the two strains of progressivism — taking care of everyone’s needs on the one hand and eliminating the unfit on the other — then you are close to penetrating the legerdemain of misdirection that has kept so many enthralled to progressive rhetoric for so long.