- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2006

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond probably spoke for most blacks and liberals last week when he said the Republican Party is equivalent to the Nazi Party. “The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side,” he told an audience at Fayetteville State University.

Also last week, a new “scientific study” was released showing Republicans are racist by nature. “The study found supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did,” The Washington Post reported.

For decades, it has been a template of the major media that Republicans are the party of racism. It repeats uncritically any charges of Republican racism, no matter how unfounded. Democrats, on the other hand, are always given a pass whenever they commit racist offenses. Even a cursory review will show the media template is totally contrary to history.

Slavery was the greatest evil ever to beset black people in this country. In the decades leading up to the Civil War, there was intense political debate on what to do about it. The Republican Party was founded in 1854 for the express purpose of ending slavery. The Democratic Party defended it to the bitter end.

Just to show how far Democrats would go to defend slavery, it’s worth remembering what happened to Sen. Charles Sumner, Massachusetts Republican. After giving a speech denouncing slavery in 1856, he was viciously beaten by Rep. Preston Brooks, South Carolina Democrat, for daring to question the right to own slaves. Being a coward, Brooks waited until the elderly Sumner was seated alone at his desk in the Senate and without warning struck him repeatedly with a cane. It took months for Sumner to recover.

In 1858, Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, Illinois Democrat, debated Republican Abraham Lincoln on slavery. Said Douglas during one of those debates, “For one, I am opposed to Negro citizenship in any and every form. I believe this government was made on the white basis. I believe it was made by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and I am in favor of confining citizenship to white men, men of European birth and descent, instead of conferring it upon Negroes, Indians, and other inferior races.”

So prevalent were these views in the Democratic Party that Douglas was named its presidential candidate in 1860. Amazingly, Southerners actually viewed Douglas as too moderate on slavery and instead voted for Vice President John C. Breckinridge, a slave-owner who also ran as a Democrat, thus splitting the pro-slavery vote and allowing Lincoln to win.

After the war, the Democratic Party held a lock on the South for more than 100 years. All of the “Jim Crow” laws that prevented blacks from voting and kept them down were enacted by Democratic governors and Democratic legislatures. The Ku Klux Klan was virtually an auxiliary of the Democratic Party and any black (or white) who threatened the party’s domination was liable to be beaten or lynched.

Democrats enacted the first gun control laws to prevent blacks from defending themselves against Klan violence. Democrats developed chain gangs to bring back de facto slave labor.

President Woodrow Wilson, the second Democrat to serve since the Civil War, reintroduced segregation throughout the federal government immediately upon taking office in 1913. Avowed racists such as Josephus Daniels and Albert Burleson were named Cabinet secretaries. Black leaders like W.E.B. DuBois, who strongly supported Wilson, were bitterly disappointed, but shouldn’t have been surprised. As president of Princeton University, Wilson refused to admit blacks and as governor of New Jersey ignored blacks’ requests for state jobs, though their votes had provided his margin of victory.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt had his first opportunity to name a member of the Supreme Court, he appointed a life member of the Ku Klux Klan, Sen. Hugo Black, Alabama Democrat. In 1944, Franklin Roosevelt chose as his vice president Harry Truman, who had joined the Ku Klux Klan in Kansas City in 1922. Throughout his presidency, Roosevelt resisted Republican efforts to pass a federal law against lynching and opposed integration of the armed forces.

Another Ku Klux Klan member, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, personally filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for 14 straight hours to keep it from passing. He remains a member of the U.S. Senate today. As recently as the 1980s, Sen. Ernest Hollings, South Carolina Democrat, publicly referred to blacks as “darkies” and Hispanics as “wetbacks” without suffering any punishment from his party.

In short, the historical record clearly shows Democrats, not Republicans, have been the party of racism in this country.

Bruce Bartlett is a nationally syndicated columnist. At the end of this month, Doubleday will publish his new book, “Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.”

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