Civil Rights Scorecard

For those of you worried about what outing myself as a conservative means about my politics, let's start with my position on race relations:
Republicans passed the Thirteenth Amendment, ending slavery, with 80 percent of Democrats voting against it.

Republicans enacted the Fourteenth Amendment, granting freed slaves the rights of citizenship--unanimously supported by Republicans and unanimously opposed by Democrats.

Republicans passed the Fifteenth Amendment, giving freedmen the right to vote.

Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, conferring U.S. citizenship on all African Americans and according them "full and equal benefit of all laws"--unanimously supported by Republicans, who had to override Democrat President Andrew Johnson's veto.

Republicans passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867.

Republicans sent federal troops to the Democratic South to enforce the constitutional rights of the newly freed slaves.

Republicans were the first targets of the Ku Klux Klan, during Reconstruction.

Republicans continued trying to pass federal civil rights laws for a century following the Civil War--most of which the Democrats blocked--including a bill banning racial discrimination in public accommodations in 1875; a bill guaranteeing blacks the right to vote in the South in 1890; anti-lynching bills in 1922, 1935 and 1938, and anti-poll tax bills in 1942, 1944 and 1946.

A Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, invited Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House in 1901, making him the first black American to do so.

Republican party platforms repeatedly called for equal rights, demanding in 1908, for example, equal justice for black Americans and condemning all devices that disfranchise blacks for their color alone, "as unfair, un-American and repugnant to the Supreme law of the land."

Republicans called for anti-lynching legislation in their presidential platforms throughout the 1920s, while the Democratic platforms did not.

Republicans demanded integration of the military in civil services in their party platform in 1940; again, the Democrats did not.

Republicans endorsed Brown v. Board of Education in their 1956 presidential platform; the Democrats did not.

Republicans sent the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock to enforce the Court's school desegregation ruling to stop the Democratic governor from blocking the schoolhouse door.

Republicans fully implemented the desegregation of the military, left unfinished by a Democratic president.

Republicans introduced and passed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1957 opposed and watered down by Democrats.

Republicans reintroduced and passed another civil rights bill in 1960, maneuvering it past Democratic obstructionism, with all votes against the bill coming from Democrats.

Republicans created the Commission on Civil Rights.

Republicans voted in far greater numbers for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than the Democrats, though this was the year Democrats finally stopped aggressively opposing civil rights bills.

Republicans effectively desegregated public schools throughout the nation in the first few years of the Nixon administration.

Republicans desegregated the building trades, introducing, for the first time, racial quotas and timetables for those doing business with the federal government.

Republicans appointed the first black secretary of state as well as the first black female secretary of state.

Republicans appointed one of two black justices ever to sit on the Supreme Court, over the hysterical objections of Democrats....

Meanwhile, the Democrats passed the Violence Against Women Act and think they're civil rights champions.
--Ann Coulter, Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama (New York: Sentinel, 2012),  pp. 179-80.

Just getting a few facts straight.  For the record, you know.  In case it isn't clear.  And for those of you not convinced by this scorecard, I recommend reading Coulter's book in full.  You might change your mind about whose side you're actually on, too.  I certainly have.

Comments

  1. Does Coulter talk about the 1948 revolt of the Dixiecrats after the introduction of a civil rights plank in the Democratic national platform? Does she say why Strom Thurmond left the Democratic party in 1964 to become a Republican, or Thurmond's praise for Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy? That list of facts is suspiciously one-sided. I expect that from a political hack like Coulter, just as I expect a similarly one-sided list from a political hack like Michael Moore. But I would hope that a professional historian would do better, even outside his or her area of expertise.

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  2. Yes, she does. She talks about the "southern strategy" (which she argues is a myth not borne out by the election results, never mind by anything any Republican ever actually said) on pp. 165-83. She mentions Strom Thurmond's running as a Dixiecrat (p. 176), but notes that he was alone among Democratic segregationists to become a Republican, and did so eighteen years after he ran for president as a Dixiecrat. Importantly, she notes, Thurmond "was never a member of the terrorist Ku Klux Klan, as Hugo Black and Robert Byrd had been. You could make a lot of money," she goes on, "betting people to name one segregationist U.S. senator other than Thurmond. Only the one who became a Republican is remembered for his dark days as a segregationist Democrat" (p. 178). Segregationist southern Democratic senators who did not become Republicans included Harry Byrd, Robert Byrd, Allen Ellender, Sam Ervin, Albert Gore Sr., James Eastland, J. William Fulbright, Walter F. George, Ernest Hollings, Russell Long, Richard Russell, and John Stennis (listed on p. 177, with their main positions). All of these "remained liberals for the rest of their lives."

    Of course the list of facts is one-sided: she is trying to make the case in this passage for what the Republicans stand for. If you want to know what she thinks the Democrats stand for, you need to read the book.

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  3. I'd say that she makes a case for what the Republican Party stood for. But frankly, ever since reading what Coulter has to say about evolution, I can't be bothered to read more. Life is too short. Since what she has to say about basic biological science is nonsense, the only conclusion I can draw is that she doesn't care about the facts but is instead feeding her core audience what it wants to believe.

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  4. If you are using these facts to suggest that Republicans today should not automatically be considered racists or against civil rights, I complete agree with you. If, however, you are using them to suggest that the Republican party (or conservatives) today be considered the greater supporter of civil rights than the Democratic party (or liberals), I completely disagree with you. Full disclosure, I have not read Ann Coulter’s book, precisely because of the “scorecard” type argument you’ve cited here. My problem lies with the fact that Coulter has assembled tidbits from across history, relying on the assumption that Democrats and Republicans in 1860 are precisely the same as the people who carry those titles today. That is simply not the case. Lincoln would not recognize “his” party today, and I suspect today’s Republicans would find Lincoln strange, too. After all, he waged a war in order to preserve federal sovereignty over state’s rights, hardly an endorsement of small government. But what I find more troubling is Coulter’s method; she may have listed a bunch of facts that, on their own island, are true, but she ignores the changes in society and the body politic that form the context for those facts. Essentially, she ignores history – after the Civil War, for example, blacks routinely voted Republican, but later switched to the Democrats when they realized the Republicans no longer supported their interests. How does Coulter explain that? I assume Coulter wants to convince people that, right now, Republicans are the better civil rights party than the Democrats, but I don’t think you can look at recent platforms and policy decisions objectively and make that case very convincingly. I have no doubt that Coulter did her homework in finding facts that support her argument, but I find the assumption behind them to be rather unsettling.

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  5. I think that I am going to have to stop posting quotations. I mean them to be intriguing, to encourage readers to look at the books. But every time I post one, I am told that the author has not given the whole picture. Of course not--in my quotation (by definition an excerpt from a larger argument). Most of Coulter's book is about the Democrats; I simply pulled the list of Republican positions that she gives to try to put things in perspective. She doesn't ignore history; she tells it--including everything that you (on the basis not having read her book) tell me here she doesn't say. I admit, she tells it with rather more verve than my academic colleagues. But with no less attention to the facts. Which you would learn if you read her book before telling me what she doesn't do.

    By the by, the "scorecard" label was mine, not hers. One day I am going to get a comment from a reader who was intrigued enough to read the books I have been recommending. I look forward to it.

    As for Lincoln, yes, he waged a war to preserve the federation against the states' rights position of the South. Fair enough.

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  6. @Brian: I am intrigued that you seem to feel it worth your time arguing with me.

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  7. Rachel:

    That quotation, out of context, does make it seem like Coulter has missed some major points re: history and, well, context. This merely reinforces what we hear from the media and some current Republican congressmen, both of which tend to espouse Tannen's "argument culture" (http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/tannend/book_argument_culture.html) And this, in turn, makes us _not_ want to read the book.

    Your response to Anonymous, however, does provide this context and makes me want to go out and read the book. Seriously.

    So, I don't think you should give up on quotations -- just provide the audience you are trying to persuade (as you note on Facebook) with some context as a means to "anticipate" and defend against counterargument.

    Oh, and 'hi' -- long time, no talk.
    -Margi

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  8. Hurray, a reader! Thanks, Margi, and hi! Yes, I need to get better at providing more context. With this post I was just struck by the chronology that Coulter gave of Republican activity leading up to the Civil Rights Act. Her larger argument in this chapter has to do with the way that Democrats have subsequently claimed to be the ones who got this type of legislation through, thus the jibe at the end of the chronology about the VAWA. The problem that I have been having is digesting so much current history and feeling like Rip Van Winkle, as if I have been asleep my whole adult life while these arguments have been going on. I am still more in the reading than writing phase about a lot of this, thus my current tendency to rely so much on quotations. Clearly, it is time to start writing more!

    If you do read Coulter, try not to take her jabs at "liberals" too personally. She mainly means the conversation among our elite media who do so much to create our general impressions about government policies.

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Thank you for taking the time to respond to my blog post. I look forward to hearing what you think!

F.B.

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