National Review’s John Fund devoted his column Tuesday to highlighting the Democratic Party’s past support of Jim Crow, an awkward point to make in a magazine that also once supported Jim Crow.
Fund’s piece was essentially an advertisement for a booklet published by the conservative American Civil Rights Union titled “The Truth About Jim Crow.”
“Available for free at TheTruthAboutJimCrow.org, it sets the record straight on a hidden racial past that many Democrats would rather see swept under the carpet,” Fund raved.
Fund went on to invoke arguments familiar to anyone who’s heard a conservative try to explain why Democrats are the real racists, reminding readers that Woodrow Wilson had a horrible record on race relations, that a larger percentage of congressional Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and that the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
He only briefly alluded to Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” which, coupled with Lyndon B. Johnson’s support of civil rights legislation, helped cement a half-century of voting patterns in the old Confederate states: black voters flocked to the Democratic Party while white voters shifted to the GOP in droves.
“It shouldn’t surprise anyone that some Democrats want to distract attention from their lock-step support of the status quo by waving the racial bloody flag,” Fund wrote in closing. “‘The Truth About Jim Crow’ reminds us of how reactionary defenses of a failed system can create damage across many generations.”
It’s a familiar topic for Fund, who protested in a column earlier this month that “race is increasingly trumping character when it come (sic) to federal law.”
Objecting to the Obama administration’s recent emphasis on the influence of racial discrimination on discipline in schools, Fund suggested that “[b]lack students might misbehave in disproportionate numbers.”
But Fund’s latest effort is particularly rich given the well-documented history of the very publication that runs his column.
National Review not only advocated states’ rights, but specifically and repeatedly defended legal segregation that defined the Jim Crow regime.
The best-known instance came in 1957, when William F. Buckley Jr., the late conservative icon who founded the magazine, explained National Review’s support for southern segregationist policies, calling whites “the advanced race.”
The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes – the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.
National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct. . . . It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.
Buckley eventually expressed regret for that position, and even emerged as a political adversary to segregationist George Wallace in the 1960s.
This post has been updated.