When will liberals stop living in the past? Specifically, when will they accept that they aren’t all that stands between a wonderful, tolerant America and Jim Crow?
I was in the room when, during the Democratic convention, civil-rights hero John Lewis suggested that Republicans wanted to “go back” to the days when black men like him could be beaten in the street by the enforcers of Jim Crow. I thought it an outrageous and disgusting bit of demagoguery. The audience of Democratic delegates cheered in a riot of self-congratulation.
It’s bizarre. I spend most of my time talking or listening to fellow conservatives, and I never hear anybody talk about wanting anything of the sort. But to listen to liberals, that’s all we care about.
Toward the end of the presidential campaign, various liberal pundits — a great many of them born after the signing of the Civil Rights Act — thought it a brilliant and damning indictment to note that Mitt Romney ran strong in states that once constituted the Confederacy. When Barack Obama won, Jon Stewart conceded that at least Romney won “most of the Confederacy.”
These states committed the obvious sin of voting Republican while the president was black.
Just this week, in an essay for the New York Times, Adolph Reed attacked South Carolina governor Nikki Haley — the first female Indian-American governor in America — for appointing Representative Tim Scott to retiring senator Jim DeMint’s seat. Scott is a black man and a conservative Tea Party favorite.
So obviously, this is a very clever ploy to restore Jim Crow.
“Just as white Southern Democrats once used cynical manipulations — poll taxes, grandfather clauses, literacy tests — to get around the 15th Amendment,” Reed writes, “so modern-day Republicans have deployed blacks to undermine black interests.”
That’s it exactly. Indeed, that’s what the Tea Party was always about: undermining black interests.
When Herman Cain — another inconveniently black man — was the overwhelming preference among Tea Party activists for the Republican presidential nomination, a historian writing in the New York Times suggested that Cain could be seen as proof the legacy of the Ku Klux Klan lives on.
You know you’ve been pounding a square peg into a round hole for too long when you find yourself insinuating that a black man from Georgia represents the KKK tradition in contemporary politics.
More recently, liberal writers apparently convinced themselves that Republican opposition to Susan Rice becoming the next secretary of state was payback for the Emancipation or something.
“Angry over the reelection of the nation’s first black president,” vented a writer for The American Prospect, “a handful of old white senators — one of whom hails from the cradle of the Confederacy — launch hysterical and dishonest attacks on . . . a well-qualified African American woman.”
The Washington Post editorial board connected the dots, too, finding it important to note that of the Republican legislators expressing their reservations about Rice, “nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy.”
Of course, the same racist representatives of Dixie also thought it fine to confirm Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice for the same job.
It’s like a metastasizing cancer of delusion. Jim Sleeper, a lecturer at Yale and once a relatively sober-minded liberal writer, insists that opposition to gun control has something to do with the segregationist mind-set. Or something.
To watch MSNBC is to think the hosts see themselves as the official newsletter of the Underground Railroad.
Sure, there are racists in the Republican party. (There are some in the Democratic party, too.) And if you define racism as disagreeing with the Congressional Black Caucus or Barack Obama, the GOP is racist to the bone.
But the inconvenient truth is that conservatives are not only not racist, they aren’t a fraction as obsessed with race as liberals are.
Of course, that lack of obsession is no doubt itself proof of conservative racism. And why shouldn’t it be? Everything else is.
— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him by e-mail at JonahsColumn@aol.com, or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.