Monday, February 25, 2013

Hoover's Switch: Conservatives And Racism



Conservative Sheeplets love to explain how color blind they are by invoking Abraham Lincoln and blaming the founding of the Ku Klux Klan on today's Democrats (their leadership knows better than this, as they have a slightly better grasp of the historical change in American political parties.  Today's Democratic Party is yesterday's Republican Party, today's Republican Party is the Tory faction of the pre-Colonial period, and on and on).

But our reprint of an article several years ago by Nathan at NathanNewman.org, "Hoover and the Roots of GOP Racist Politics," should remind us that the Emancipation Proclamation might not pass today if today's Conservatives have anything to say about it.  Today's GOP is not the party of Lincoln, and the article shows how Herbert Hoover was the cause of this change that led up to the editorial in the Conservative National Review in 1957 by Conservative spokesman William F. Buckley, Jr.:
"The Negroes would, according to democratic processes, win the election; but that is the kind of situation the White community will not permit. The White community will not count the marginal Negro vote. The man who didn't count it will be hauled up before a jury, he will plead not guilty, and the jury, upon deliberation, will find him not guilty. A federal judge, in a similar situation, might find the defendant guilty, a judgment which would affirm the law and conform with the relevant political abstractions, but whose consequences might be violent and anarchistic."
And now for a bit of 20th Century Conservative history:

"Occasionally, some people will paint Herbert Hoover as a good-hearted humanitarian who ended up a bit over his head when the Great Depression came. The rise of the New Deal was built on Hoover's incompetence, not his malevolence.



"Given (George W.) Bush's incompetence, that might be an encouraging start, but what's worth understanding is that Hoover represents how the roots of modern GOP racism go deeper. Reading a wonderful biography of,W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century 1919-1963 by David Levering Lewis, it's clear that Hoover marked the point where the GOP abandoned its last vestiges of concern for civil rights in favor of appealing to the racist white South.

"While the Republicans had ceased decades earlier to do much substantively for civil rights, blacks in the 1920s still retained elected positions within the Republican Party apparatus. The crisis point in relations of African Americans and the GOP came, evocatively, in the last great Mississippi flood disaster, the Great Flood of 1927, when a million and a half people were displaced from their homes. Check the link for details, but the outrage was that the relief effort was headed by Herbert Hoover, yet he turned a blind eye as tens of thousands of blacks were rounded up at gunpoint for forced labor. Black leaders, even those previously allied to the Republicans, denounced this treatment, but the response came in 1928.



"Pioneering the 'Southern Strategy' of coming decades, Hoover forced all southern blacks to surrender their positions so that the GOP could become lily white in the South. This would help Hoover's GOP break into southern states, as the party won Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida and Texas-- notably the first time a Republican had ever won in Texas. The purge of blacks from the party and this shift by the national GOP towards appealing to racist whites in the South so outraged black leaders that with the election of 1928 began the wholesale shift of black voters in the North towards the Democrats. While the Dem nominee Al Smith was a grave disappointment for black voters, Hoover's racist actions were the soil on which Roosevelt would build his outreach to black voters for the New Deal.

"The racism of the National Review three decades later in deepening the GOP alliance with the previously solid Democratic white South just continued the explicit alliance with racists begun by the national Republicans by Hoover. Roosevelt and even more decisively Truman would solidify that shift with a rejection by the Democratic Party of its own racist commitments in favor of racial equality.



"What's striking is the myth that the 'southern strategy' of 1968 was something radically new for the Republican Party. In fact, the GOP has spent most of the 20th century abandoning its origins at the party of Lincoln to build itself on the rock of southern racism. As Ezra Klein notes, the myths of black looters and rape -- promoted fervently among rightwing blogs and media -- were nothing more than the latent racist tropes of yesteryear. And such a convenient trope for a Republican Party desperate to shift blame onto the victims of that disaster.

"But the lesson of history is that to focus on the beginnings of Democratic losses electorally in the 1960s due to their (occasionally wayward) commitment to racial justice is misguided if you don't understand that there would have been no elections to lose if the party had not built the New Deal coalition based on the GOP's abandonment of its black supporters.

"Historically, the GOP made a fatal mistake under Hoover in abandoning racial justice as a formal commitment just as the civil rights movement was rising. The Dems made a lot of mistakes in the 20th century, but rejecting their racist past to champion civil rights was one of their greatest moral AND politically astute moves.



"It's a good lesson for Democratic moderates who want to bet on weakening such commitments as an electoral strategy. In a country where the percentage of white voters continue to decrease as a percentage of the population, betting against racial justice is a long-term electoral loser.

"Posted by Nathan at October 10, 2005 01:11 PM"

Nathan's article should help destroy the "Party of Lincoln" myth, and any attempt by the Klan to hide in the garb of the Tea Party should be exposed for what it is: the usual racism of the Southern States that led to the beatings and lynchings of the 20th Century by white Conservative Sheeplets of Dixieland.


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What Franklin once said about John Adams also describes John Scarborough today,
“...always an honest man, often a wise one, but sometimes and in some things,
absolutely out of his senses.”

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