From the Leonard Pitts jr. column: When ego trumps truth
I am quite sure that given just how much limitation can be given to a column as to what its author must write within these constraints and therefore what he or she may prioritize as a message to the public in their need to know; that Mr. Pitts can perhaps be forgiven for not acknowledging that a Glenn Beck or a Haley Barbour will claim as “conservatives” that they actually had supported civil rights causes among other things, that they were actually responsible for getting them started and therefore, they couldn’t possibly be bigots. As all of a piece with other revisionism such as their opposition to Affirmative Action becoming reverse discrimination against white people. Actually, Pitts’ column is quite good and re-describes the history that today’s idea of “conservatism” doesn’t wish to discuss with any kind of honesty. This is the plain meaning of what Pitts actually does say, today’s “conservatives” lack honesty.
The biblical ten commandments which those of a self-proclaimed Judeo/Christian tradition declare must be placed everywhere in any kind of public square for all to see has within its laws, thou shalt not bear false witness. I have no doubt that Pitts recalls a “conservatism” that demonstrated utter hostility at the idea that minorities in this country could ultimately have the same equality, the same rights as the majority whites. His column describes this “conservative” hostility in detail. I will also add that to further validate this “conservative” hostility toward equality and civil rights being accorded to minorities; merely call it a socialist or communist plot to destroy the country from within by using these “uppity” minorities as stooges for what is really going on, to end the U.S. A. and its freedom as we know it. In short, white people should be the only ones who truly know freedom, if it is extended to others, then it becomes a communist plot against this nation. Which would certainly argue that the Glenn Beck who froths over “communism” coming from the Obama White House has as an actual history a bigotry that masks itself behind fears of a “communist” take over. Those who feared a “communist plot” behind the Civil Rights movement, would hardly be the people whom decades later would now claim that they absolutely did support it. What Beck has done is to fly in the face of this actual history trying to claim something that was never true.
The Civil Rights leaders were liberals (reformers) not conservatives (in opposition to reform for what ever excuse they could find).
Therefore, a Glenn Beck in his youth would have to have marched in the Civil Rights movement then in later years, turn around and attack it whole-heartedly as he realizes that Dr. King’s dream would put into the Oval Office Barack H. Obama and basically making himself a hypocrite. Shouldn’t the whole idea of “principled” actually mean first be true to yourself?
I also loved the jab that Pitts delivered to Governor Barbour. I am certain that he would remember an African-American woman who was a fellow student and is now an educator in Oregon but only in one way: because she was assaulted with coins and beer. Not because they were friends. It just wouldn’t do to remember this fellow student subjected to on-campus assaults some 50 years later. However, Barbour would also have to ignore the white man’s angst and hostility that he and the GOP traded on as well as exploited thoroughly to keep the kind of people in power who’s very presence in the public eye could only become an embarrassment and worse. Such as Pat Buchannan or a Paul Weyrich. A Strom Thurmond who made himself infamous with his personal bigotry. George W. Bush who was prepared to use McCain’s “black baby” against him. In short, Barbour would have to be a liberal to have “loved” his fellow African-American student. You wouldn’t know that today, would you?
Oh, yeah; “states’ rights” was originally a code for supporting human slavery. Then it became a code for being in opposition to minorities being granted an equal status in this American society. Since that time, “states’ rights” have also come to mean being against anything coming from the federal level (if I just happen to disagree with it and might even benefit people whom actually I don’t want to see benefited at all) such as health care reform. On the other hand, states’ rights to govern their own affairs when it comes to say medical marijuana can be set aside if the “moral opposition” to a personal toke for medical reasons is raised at the federal level. Or that states’ rights to determine whether gays can marry can be set aside in favor of protecting marriage laws between a man and a woman is passed at the federal level. Or the state having the right to determine whether a woman should still seek an abortion (due in particular to medical factors) in say the third trimester can be abruptly set aside by a federal law that opposes on “moral grounds” women having such a medical access for precisely that reason to abortion services. “States’ rights” no longer serve the purpose when the federal government can be employed instead. Not only does states’ rights as far as the ninth and tenth amendments are concerned a matter only of political convenience when it suits the GOP in particular to exploit it; but proof of hypocrisy much? when suddenly it no longer serves the purpose.
Let’s put it bluntly, only ideological radicals would fail to recognize the argument that bites itself perpetually in the tail. And that is the plain reading of Mr. Pitts’ column. On the other hand, principled conservatives would indeed recognize the ugliness of human history; of what over the years “conservatism” had come to mean for a great many people who suffered from the blows of it. Instead of trying to literally run away from this truth; acknowledge it. For the greater principle of conservatism must be thus: this nation is a democracy. Our U.S. Constitution created a democracy. Therefore this is what must be supported and protected regardless of who may benefit by its existence.