from the Congress Action newsletter

Race Demagoguery

by: Kim Weissman
January 26, 2003

Democrats are at it again. Unable to put forth any ideas that will advance this nation into a future of equal opportunity based on individual merit and freedom for all Americans, they have to fall back on their longstanding tactic (perfected by Divider-in-Chief Bill Clinton) of trying to divide Americans against each other. Young against old, poor against rich, child against parent, the self-centered living against the helpless unborn, and their old reliable – race against race. Since the Trent Lott affair, democrats have been waging full-scale war against national unity, taking every opportunity to demagogue racial issues, and being egged on and provided cover by a national media that willfully ignores the monumental history of racism within the Democrat Party itself.

Hard on the heels of the Lott’s resignation, Hillary Clinton – ever on the attack on behalf of the extremist left – launched a broadside accusing all republicans of racism: “I have a larger concern, however. If anyone thinks that one person stepping down from a leadership position cleanses the Republican Party of their constant exploitation of race, then I think you’re naïve. Two Senators were elected in the South on the Confederate flag.” For any democrat to accuse republicans of a “constant exploitation of race” – when democrats themselves are the quintessential party of racial exploitation – is breathtaking in its disregard for reality. And true to form, Hillary flung out that accusation without providing any specifics of which two Senators she was talking about – when you’re Hillary, facts don’t matter. Nor did the national media bother to ask her what she was talking about either, but National Review did provide a photograph of a Confederate flag campaign sign used by a democrat running for state office in Georgia, paid for by the Georgia House Democratic Caucus. Without, naturally, a peep of protest from the national media or holier-than-thou Hillary.

Then Harry Reid, second ranking Senate democrat, used the occasion of Martin Luther King’s birthday to attack the Bush administration on civil rights, ranging from D.C. statehood to the President’s stance on affirmative action in the University of Michigan case now before the Supreme Court, from judicial nominees to the quality of education in inner city schools. Reid compared the Bush administration to “The record of the Democratic Party” which he claimed “is one we can be proud of. It shows a longstanding commitment to civil rights, to fairness.”

Perhaps Reid is unaware of his party’s actual record on civil rights, from post Civil War disenfranchisement of freed blacks by democrat-dominated Southern state legislatures to democrat obstruction of 20th century federal civil rights legislation (including democrat attempts to derail the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with a Senate filibuster, and the strong democrat votes against that Act in both the House and Senate), to the democrat governors who stood in their schoolhouse doors to block integration, to the democrats’ support of a Senate Majority Leader from 1977 through 1989 who was a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. And for all his complaining about the quality of the education of minority children, it’s democrats who are still standing in the schoolhouse doors blocking school choice, an educational opportunity that is demanded by the vast majority of minority inner city parents. But being a democrat means that facts don’t matter.

Reid also cited a Time Magazine article about Bush sending a memorial wreath to the Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery. The Time article claims that Bush “quietly reinstated” a presidential tradition dating back to Woodrow Wilson “that his father had halted in 1990”. Reid called Bush’s act “racially motivated”, and said that it undermined “the unity and harmony of our society”. “The president reinstated something that his father stopped because it was wrong – laying a wreath at the Confederate Memorial. It’s wrong. We need to speak out against it because it is wrong.” But writing about this event, the Washington Times quoted the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, the official unit in charge of Arlington National Cemetery, contradicting Reid and Time. According to those officials, this presidential tradition never was ended, and was also honored by Bill Clinton.

Regardless of whether you believe Reid and Time or the Arlington officials, one has to wonder at the mind-set of a politician who apparently thinks it is a winning political strategy to vilify brave and honorable men, few of whom owned slaves themselves, who gave the ultimate measure of sacrifice fighting for what they saw as their duty. Since Harry Reid doesn’t get it, a bit of history is in order.

According to a document about the Confederate Monument at Arlington, published by the Military District of Washington,

“The history of Arlington National Cemetery is steeped in the Civil War, for it was this great national struggle that necessitated the establishment of this cemetery to bury its many dead. For many years following the war, the bitter feelings between North and South remained, and although hundreds of Confederate soldiers were buried at Arlington, it was considered a Union cemetery. Family members of Confederate soldiers were denied permission to decorate their loved ones' graves and in extreme cases were even denied entrance to the cemetery.”
The hard feelings slowly faded, and “In June 1900, in this spirit of national reconciliation [engendered by the Spanish-American War in which men from the North and South fought side by side again as Americans], the U.S. Congress authorized that a section of Arlington National Cemetery be set aside for the burial of Confederate dead.” A major memorial was authorized, and “The cornerstone was laid on November 12, 1912 at a ceremony featuring speakers William Jennings Bryan and James A. Tanner, a former Union corporal who lost both legs at the second Battle of Bull Run.” Less than two years later,
“The Confederate Monument was unveiled before a large crowd of Northerners and Southerners on June 4, 1914, the 106th anniversary of the birthday of the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. President Woodrow Wilson [democrat icon whose greatest failure was his inability to get the United States to ratify the League of Nations, when republicans insisted on reservations designed to protect American sovereignty – see how history repeats itself] delivered an address and veterans of both the Union and Confederacy placed wreaths on the graves of their former foes, symbolizing the reconciliation between the North and South, the memorial's central theme.”

Reconciliation – the re-uniting of a great nation – was the theme recognized by all who held the best interests of this nation dear. But not Harry Reid. Not democrats. Theirs is not to reconcile, not to unite for a greater America. Theirs is to divide, to exploit race and stoke the hatreds of racism for their own political gain. If racial differences ever became an irrelevancy in this country, the majority of democrats would run screaming into the night in utter despair. At a Martin Luther King Day ceremony, Hillary Clinton gave her understanding of King’s speech, “I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Despite his words, Hillary apparently thinks King really meant race anyway, because how a person deals with their skin color is part of their character.

Well, of course, all of our experiences shape our character, but why is it that leftists always define any situation first and foremost in terms of race or ethnic class – as though nothing else is relevant? From that follows the left’s racist belief that all blacks should think alike as well (which is why they vilify all black conservatives as “Uncle Toms”). If, as they contend, this is a race-conscious society, who keeps it that way?

The Confederate Monument contains an inscription that reads,

“Not for fame or reward; Not for place or for rank; Not lured by ambition; Or goaded by necessity; But in simple; Obedience to duty; As they understood it; These men suffered all; Sacrificed all; Dared all – and died”.
In his First Inaugural Address in 1861, Abraham Lincoln looked forward to an end of the Civil War, when “The mystic chords of memory” would again reunite a torn nation, by calling forth “the better angels of our nature”. In his Second Inaugural Address in 1865, Lincoln hoped that,
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

The better angels of our nature…Malice toward none…Binding up the nation's wounds…The achievement of a just and lasting peace. Words of hope and reconciliation from Abraham Lincoln. But that is not for Harry Reid or Hillary Clinton or their Democrat Party. They recognize no better angels of our nature. Theirs is only to divide, theirs is only to try to gain partisan political advantage by their own “constant exploitation of race”. That is all they have left to offer.

Abraham Lincoln was, after all, a republican.

The above article is the property of Kim Weissman, and is reprinted with his permission.
Contact him prior to reproducing.

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28 jan 2003