In his latest column for Human Events — a forum he often uses to air opinions that wouldn’t fly during his regular gigs as a commentator on MSNBC — Buchanan writes that he “prefers the old bigotry” to the Ivy League affirmative action policies that may have benefited Sonia Sotomayor, because “at least it was honest.”Here’s the full context:
Thus, Sotomayor got into Princeton, got her No. 1 ranking, was whisked into Yale Law School and made editor of the Yale Law Review — all because she was a Hispanic woman. And those two Ivy League institutions cheated more deserving students of what they had worked a lifetime to achieve, for reasons of race, gender or ethnicity.
This is bigotry pure and simple. To salve their consciences for past societal sins, the Ivy League is deep into discrimination again, this time with white males as victims rather than as beneficiaries.
One prefers the old bigotry. At least it was honest, and not, as Abraham Lincoln observed, adulterated “with the base alloy of hypocrisy.”
(Note the slippery use of “one prefers” as a stand in for “I prefer,” as if Buchanan sensed he was pushing the envelope here. If that “one” refers to anyone but himself and other nostalgists for segregation, we’re not sure who that is.)
“Old-school bigotry,” let’s not forget, meant a system of institutionalized apartheid in much of the country, and tolerance for outright racism everywhere. That’s what Buchanan says he’d prefer to affirmative action.
Now, to be charitable, maybe Buchanan is guilty merely of inelegant writing. Perhaps he doesn’t mean that, when push came to shove, he’d actually like to return to such a system — only that he finds it more honest than affirmative action.
But that interpretation would be more plausible if there weren’t abundant evidence already out there that Buchanan hardly saw the civil rights gains of the sixties as an unalloyed good. (He reportedly wrote memos for Nixon arguing against integration, for instance, and called the idea of allowing black South Africans to vote “idiotic.”)
Given this background, Buchanan’s preference for “the old bigotry” over affirmative action hardly comes as a shock. So we wouldn’t make a big deal out of it were it not for the fact that MSNBC is still pretending to its viewers that he’s a respectable voice of conservatism who deserves a place in the mainstream debate. A spokesman for the network didn’t immediately respond to our request for comment.
When Trent Lott appeared to express nostalgia for segregation, he rightly ended up losing his job. It’s hard to see why the same shouldn’t apply to Buchanan, whose track record with this stuff is far longer.