Purely Political, By James Buckley
Many of the following statements made by current and former elected officials may have confused you, so in the name of historical accountability, I’d like to clarify the record.
First though, here are some recent quotes resurrecting the name of Jim Crow, and that emanated from the passage of new election laws in Georgia:
“This is Jim Crow in the 21st century.” — President Joe Biden.
“This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they’re doing in Georgia and forty other states.” — Joe Biden
“(The new Georgia voting standard) is a redux of Jim Crow in a suit and tie.” — Stacey Abrams, unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia.
“It’s a modern-day Jim Crow.” — Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-New York.
“Make no mistake, this Georgia Jim Crow law and the similar ones being proposed in Arizona, Iowa and dozens of other states are as much about motivating Republican voters who are as downcast after the 2020 and January 2021 losses as they are about suppressing Democratic votes.” — Joy-Ann Reid, MSNBC political pundit.
“We are witnessing right now a massive and unabashed assault on voting rights unlike anything we have seen since the Jim Crow era … This is Jim Crow in New Clothes.” — U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia.
The Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee convened a hearing recently entitled “Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote.”
“This is Jim Crow 2.0.” — ACLU Georgia Political Director Christopher Bruce.
“The GOP is hellbent on ushering in Jim Crow 2.0 but let’s be clear #WeWillNotGoBack.” — Democrat National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison.
And there were plenty more (all Democrats) whining, crying, decrying, condemning Georgia’s recently passed new voting standards law, which apparently requires a (gasp) photo ID.
Which begs the question: Who and/or what is/was Jim Crow?
Ready for a short history lesson?
Good. Let’s go.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Jim Crow” was the name of a popular fictional minstrel show character created by Thomas Dartmouth Rice in 1828. Mr. Rice performed his character in blackface as a foolish and illiterate black, who then became a stereotype in many other minstrel shows, leading “Jim Crow” to become a derogatory epithet for blacks.
The 13th Amendment formally abolished slavery, but the Southern states in the former Confederacy, once they watered down the Republican-led Reconstruction Act and got back in power by ridding themselves of the elected Republican “carpetbaggers,” passed increasingly harsh acts mandating the separation of the “races,” which became known as “Jim Crow Laws.”
In case you don’t know your history, or worse, have been subjected to the latest round of misinformation by your revisionist-history indoctrinated teachers and believe you do know your history, let’s be clear. All the Jim Crow laws ever passed were written by Democrats.
The Democratic Party, from about 1878 onward, was the dominant party in the South, and racial segregation was the law of the land.
All the way up to and through the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Democrats enacted and enforced standards that mandated separate public toilet facilities, eating stations, seating arrangements, required black citizens to sit “in the back of the bus,” and pronounced and required other indignities including restrictive laws concerning the kinds of work blacks could do and how much they would be allowed to earn.
Blacks in Southern Democrat-led states were also restricted from buying property in “white” sections of towns and cities and were not allowed to marry or even cohabitate with whites.
It gets worse.
In 1883, the Supreme Court declared the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional.
In 1890 the Louisiana Separate Car Act of 1890 required “equal but separate accommodations” for black and white passengers on state railroads.
And in 1896, the Supreme Court’s Plessy v. Ferguson decision rules that “separate but equal” is constitutional, a decision that justices held until the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Kansas) overruled Plessy v. Ferguson, leading into the Civil Rights era of the 1960s.
The Civil Right Act of 1964 passed, thanks to overwhelming Republican votes and despite the desperate opposition and filibustering against it by Southern Democrats.
The final tally included “No” votes by a future Democratic speaker of the house (and former Ku Klux Klan leader), West Virginia’s Robert C. Byrd, at whose funeral Joe Biden delivered a eulogy; Arkansas Sen. J. William Fulbright of Fulbright Scholarship fame; South Carolina’s pro-segregation Republican Sen. Strom Thurman, who President Joe Biden bragged was “one of my closest friends”; and Tennessee Democrat Sen. Albert Gore Sr., a leader of the filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He was also Vice President Al Gore’s father.
Ah, the history.
And, of course, you probably also know that the Republican Party was formed as an anti-slavery party and that its first presidential candidate was Abraham Lincoln, the man who signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves, and that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican; that firehose-wielding Birmingham, Ala., Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor, whose use of firehoses and German shepherd dogs against citizens marching against segregation in the mid-1960s was a Democrat.
Ah, the history.
And yet, and yet, there’s virtually no mention of the sordid centuries of Democrat-led slavery and segregation, and by clever omission, many of today’s high-school and college students have come to suspect, no I mean believe, that slavery and segregation were products of Republicanism.
Though George Orwell’s “memory hole” is slowly becoming a reality thanks to the machinations of companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others, one is still able (allowed?) to peruse the actual history of the United States and how slowly but surely Republican ideas of equality of the races came to be the law of the land.
And, not incidentally, how comfortable the Democratic Party has always been with the idea of separating humans by the color of their skin and how that party continues to this day to resist the idea of treating every human as an equal to every other.
However, I’m an optimist and sincerely believe that even dyed-in-the-wool Democrats will one day come around to that view too and that the cumbersome and obtrusive jerry-rigged system of racial spoils now in place will finally end.
James Buckley is a longtime Montecito resident.