Friday, 13 December 2002

Condemned to repeat it (blah, blah) (updated)

Time's Karen Tumulty reports that Our Man Trent “helped lead a successful battle to prevent his college fraternity from admitting blacks to any of its chapters”. Quoth Tumulty on the early 1960s incident:

Sigma Nu's executive secretary Richard Fletcher, a legendary figure in the fraternity, pleaded with the Sigma Nus to find some common ground between those who wanted to integrate and those who didn't, [former CNN president Tom] Johnson says. But the southerners were unbending about permitting no exceptions to the all-white policy. With their chapters threatening a walkout, the fraternity voted overwhelmingly to remain all-white.

(Emphasis mine.) Now, let's flash back to 1948. From Houghton-Mifflin's “Reader's Companion to American History”:

In 1948, the Democratic National Convention was splintered by debate over controversial new civil rights planks that had been proposed for addition to the party platform. Adoption of the planks, urged by a group led by Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, was resisted by delegates from southern states. In the middle, trying to hold together the New Deal coalition he had inherited from Franklin D. Roosevelt, was President Harry S. Truman. As a compromise, he was prepared to settle for the adoption of only those planks that had been in the 1944 platform. But Truman's own civil rights initiatives, including the formation of the Committee on Civil Rights and the Fair Employment Practices Commission, had advanced the civil rights debate to a new level, and he could not turn the clock back. The planks were adopted, prompting thirty-five southern Democrats to walk out. They formed the States' Rights party, which came to be popularly known as the Dixiecrats.

And people say that Trent Lott doesn't remember his history.

Mark Levin writes:

Trent Lott has said his reference to Strom Thurmond's 1948 campaign was not to endorse his segregationist views, but his positions on such issues as the military, limited government, etc. Mr. Thurmond actually did hold, and articulate, positions that were dissimilar to those of Harry Truman on a variety of issues having nothing to do with race, including national defense and limited government. Yet [James Taranto] and others persist in putting words in Mr. Lott's mouth.

Can anyone actually articulate what those “dissimilar” positions were, other than the obvious ones on limited government (i.e. limited enforcement of the 14th Amendment)? The letter-writers to the Clarion-Ledger below seem more to be projecting their own Buchananite fantasies onto the Dixiecrat campaign than working from knowledge of all these other issue stances.

James Taranto is kind enough to find the Dixiecrat platform's planks on economics and national defense; as expected, the Buchananite fantasies are just that — fantasies.