Department of Meaningless Historical Analogies: Civil War Edition (or, Racists Galore!)

Avatar

J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he studies literature and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

Related Post Roulette

26 Responses

  1. Avatar Jesse Ewiak
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ll be fair. The modern base of the Republican Party thinks that any Democratic Presidency is illegitimate and has basically thought that since the mid-90’s.

    I have no doubt that if Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Bill Richardson, or alternate-universe Matt Santos has won in ’08, they’d be doing the same thing to them.

    So, no, the modern Republican Party as a political organization isn’t racist. It’s just a cult.Report

    • Avatar Zach in reply to Jesse Ewiak
      Ignored
      says:

      I’m not so sure the rhetoric would be the same. Specifically the “take our country back” / “radical-in-chief” stuff. I don’t remember much like that with Clinton, but political rhetoric in this country has changed a lot in a decade.

      Specifically, I don’t think we would hear Hillary Clinton being called a food-stamp President, an anti-colonialist, and someone who’s variously trying to create some sort of stealth reparations (this has come up a few times; see the Pigford stuff). I don’t know whether Sonya Sotomayor would’ve been called a racist had she been nominated by Clinton. Note that Newt Gingrich is associated with three of four of these remarks, and he’s considered the brains of the operation.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Zach
        Ignored
        says:

        Oh, no doubt there’d be different tactics. For instance, if Hillary was POTUS, you’d suddenly hear all these stories about Bill really being the one in charge in meetings, insane amounts of overanalyzation of what she wore to this meeting or that meeting, and believe me, there’d be no grudging respect of her foreign policy.

        To be honest, I don’t think the political rhetoric has changed that much. Remember, the biggest talk radio host in the nation all but said the Clintons _killed_ somebody. What I think has happened is we now have a majority of Republican politicians who have gone through their political life in a world where liberals and Democrats are the enemy, unAmerican, and all the rest. Instead of throwing some red meat to the crazies to keep them quiet, the crazies are now being elected.Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Zach
        Ignored
        says:

        Gingrich fell from GOP grace c. 1998 to the relief of all. It’s the 21st century, dude. Slime machine needs updating.

        [You may have a point about “anti-colonialist.” But considering that’s what his father was—and vehemently—and BHO rose to stardom partially on his “Dreams From My Father” auto-hagiography, it’s not entirely unfair.]Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to tom van dyke
          Ignored
          says:

          Gingrich was getting 10-15% in national polls for the GOP Presidential race in _2012_ before his campaign imploded. He’s been pointed to numerous time by both current and former Republican political figures as one of the leading intellectuals in the party.

          This idea that Gingrich hasn’t been somebody in GOP circles is just that latest revision history from the GOP, like all these Tea Partiers who always hated Dubya’ spending.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Zach
        Ignored
        says:

        “take our country back”

        It’s not hard to imagine that rhetoric being used on a white candidate: http://ind.pn/9e4LZW

        But generally speaking, yeah, the nature of the criticism changes to suit the candidate. They wouldn’t call Barack Obama trailer trash, but they did refer to Bill Clinton that way.

        On the other hand, a lot of the criticisms that were waged against Clinton, if applied to Obama, would actually seem racist (“They only call him a womanizer because they fear the black man stealing the white woman.” “When they call him ‘slick’, they are playing in stereotypes of black charisma.” and so on.

        I am discomforted by a lot of the criticisms of Obama (in part because of the nature, in part because of the whole Respect The Office thing regardless of who the occupant is). But it’s more the nature of the criticisms than the ferocity that are racially tinged. It seems that every president is the most harshly criticized in history. Which is unlikely.

        Newt Gingrich is the brains of what, now?Report

  2. Avatar jakecollins
    Ignored
    says:

    Bill Maher has it right: Not all Republicans are racist, but if you’re racist you’re almost certainly a Republican.
    Sullivan’s historical analogy was stretched, but let’s not ignore the historical reality that Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” has yielded immense electoral returns.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco in reply to jakecollins
      Ignored
      says:

      let’s not ignore the historical reality that Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” has yielded immense electoral returns.

      Let’s ignore, because it is not a reality.

      Politicians run ad campaigns seeking votes. In Nixon’s case that meant ads featuring Roy Acuff singing campaign ditties. (“This time this time with leadership from Richard M. Nixon”). There is nothing sinister about that.

      The decomposition of the Democratic Party’s advantage in the South began around 1952 and was not fully complete until around 1994. No sort of racial mobilization had any hand in it. (Something you would surmise just by looking at the ads and public positions of Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush). What happened was the loss of a sense that a Democratic affiliation was incorporated into one’s identity as a Southerner, at which point (white) Southerners could and did distribute their support according to other sorts of interests and preferences. If anyone in Mississippi was expecting Republican pols to reconstruct Jim Crow, they were disappointed.

      Nixon’s campaign was not an important milestone in this process; Eisenhower’s was (he carried Southern states which had been solid for the Democratic Party for 70 years). Reagan’s was also a milestone of note. It was not an unusual opinion in the papers ca. 1976 that the Republican Party was doomed in part because it had failed to take advantage of the dissolution of the segregationist Democratic Party, leaving Jimmy Carter and William Waller and others to construct a non-segregationist regional party which had retained a sufficient bloc of support among all sectors in the South to continue to control the region. As late as 1975, there was not a single Republican in the Alabama legislature. The performance of Republican candidates in the South in 1980 contradicted this thesis.Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Art Deco
        Ignored
        says:

        Carter won every Confederate state in 1976. The timeline interferes with the thesis.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Art Deco
        Ignored
        says:

        Again, your rationalization has one little problem – people in Nixon’s own campaign team have admitted they campaigned on racial fear. Every white person in 1968 knew what Nixon meant when he said ‘law and order.’Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Art Deco
        Ignored
        says:

        The decomposition of the Democratic Party’s advantage in the South began around 1952 and was not fully complete until around 1994. No sort of racial mobilization had any hand in it. (Something you would surmise just by looking at the ads and public positions of Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush).

        I think the “decomposition” of the Democratic party in the South began at least 4 years earlier, with the “Dixiecrat revolt” over Humphrey’s/Truman’s* civil rights plank and (after the bolt from the convention) Truman’s desegregation of the armed forces.

        And Bush (I): Willie Horton. Even Lee Atwater admitted (later) that it had been racist.

        *It was moved by Humphrey. I know he wasn’t VP until 1965.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco in reply to jakecollins
      Ignored
      says:

      Bill Maher has it right: Not all Republicans are racist, but if you’re racist you’re almost certainly a Republican.

      Almost certainly not true in this messy world we live in. It also reflects the familiar nonsense that the only sort of contempt that matters in this world is that directed at the list of approved mascots within the Democratic Party. Partisan Democrats like Maher feel perfectly free to indulge in public contempt for a variety of communal groups, evangelicals foremost among them. The rest of us need not take seriously the pass you award yourselves.Report

    • Avatar Dan in reply to jakecollins
      Ignored
      says:

      name the president who said the following as if it were a bad thing. “there are universities in California that could fill their entire freshman classes with nothing but Asian Americans.” as if it were a bad thing.Report

    • @ Jake Collins

      “Bill Maher has it right: Not all Republicans are racist, but if you’re racist you’re almost certainly a Republican.”

      Spend some time in a blue collar bar below the mason Dixon line sometime. Every time you hear a joke about blacks ask the joke teller what party they belong to and then see if your theory holds true.

      As I’ve said many times – i have two people in my family that use the N word on a regular basis. Both of them have voted Democrat since Kennedy.Report

  3. Avatar jakecollins
    Ignored
    says:

    Also, why the defensiveness about the Southern accent?
    I have one, but I don’t fear being taken for an idiot… maybe JL Wall is thought stupid by Northerners because he says stupid shit?Report

    • Avatar J.L. Wall in reply to jakecollins
      Ignored
      says:

      I’m actually usually taken at first sight for a northern WASP rather than a Jewish Kentuckian; the second-most common question I get asked when first meeting someone (after, “There are Jews in Kentucky?”) is, “Why don’t you have an accent?”

      Why the defensiveness? Because I’m from there, and I don’t appreciate seeing Kentucky shoved into some neo-confederate mold because it makes for a snappy line. If that means I defend the deeper South along with it on any given day, then so be it.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to J.L. Wall
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m actually usually taken at first sight for a northern WASP rather than a Jewish Kentuckian; the second-most common question I get asked when first meeting someone (after, “There are Jews in Kentucky?”) is, “Why don’t you have an accent?”

        My wife and I get that *all the time* (about the accent, not Judaism). I have a bit of an accent (particularly if I am nervous or drunk), but not much of one and people are often surprised to hear where I come from.Report

  4. Avatar tom van dyke
    Ignored
    says:

    The South seceded from the Dem Party over Acid, Amnesty and Abortion, not race.

    BTW, of the Dixiecrats who filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964, only Strom Thurmond switched parties. The rest of the Dixiecrats [Byrd, Gore, Sr., etc.] remained Democrats in good standing until retirement and/or death.

    And the two Republican senators from Kentucky voted for it, in case you were wondering, which you weren’t, because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

    [Not you, Mr. Wall. Good catch on KY, and a very nice fisking here, and a tip o’brim atcha.]

    [As for the current crisis, the debt thing, the truth will out. We wouldn’t want to ascribe this to right-wing terrorism until all the facts are in.]

    [Heh heh.]Report

    • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to tom van dyke
      Ignored
      says:

      BTW, of the Dixiecrats who filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964, only Strom Thurmond switched parties. The rest of the Dixiecrats [Byrd, Gore, Sr., etc.] remained Democrats in good standing until retirement and/or death.

      Except for 1948. But otherwise, point taken.

      I think any argument about race and the Democratic/Republican alignment needs to take into account that things. move. very. slowly and incompletely.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to tom van dyke
      Ignored
      says:

      tom van dyke July 25, 2011 at 5:40 pm

      ” The South seceded from the Dem Party over Acid, Amnesty and Abortion, not race.”

      If we ignore everything prior to 1972, yes. In the real world, no.

      As for the Dixiecrats, they were in a nice position – they weren’t going to be turfed out so long so long as they voted right-wing, and the Democratic Party was (and is) notoriously incapable of enforcing discipline, so why change?Report

  5. Avatar Dan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Obviously, merely preferring McCain to Obama doesn’t make you a racist. But I think that Ta-Nehisi Coates basically nailed it in There Are No Racists.Report

  6. Avatar Zach
    Ignored
    says:

    This is inconsequential, but Missouri was essentially a tie, with McCain winning by fewer than 4000 votes (0.1%). Had the national electoral vote hinged on this result, it would’ve triggered a recount (Obama could’ve requested one in this case) including provisional ballots and whatnot. North Carolina might’ve been close enough for a recount as well, but probably not close enough for the result to be in doubt.

    More relevantly (but still inconsequential), most Republicans in Kansas would be more than happy to let Lawrence, the Free-State capitol of Kansas, secede. But it’s not like anyone lives in Lecompton these days anyway.Report

  7. Avatar Michael Cain
    Ignored
    says:

    I think looking at this at a state level is a mistake. Consider the red/blue county maps instead. New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois aren’t blue “states”; they’re some heavily populated blue urban areas separated by large red rural areas. California, Oregon and Washington aren’t blue “states”; they’re the blue coastal cities and vast red interiors. Colorado has dependably blue Denver, Boulder and mountain resort counties; dependably red rural counties; and the state-wide elections are swung by the Front Range suburbs. Which seem to be trending more blue as those suburbs begin to experience the problems previously regarded as being strictly problems of the core urban areas.

    I can think of a number of reasons other than racism why “country folk” — even people living in the suburbs who think of themselves as “country folk” — tend to lean conservative.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *