The Myth of the Racist Republicans

This superb article by Gerald Alexander (from the reliably good Claremont Review of Books) provides good information to dispel the myth that the Republican Party was able to become the majority party in the South by becoming “racist.” I never bought that, and this article provides excellent, fact-based details. It is written in a careful, analytical, empirical style similar to that of Michael Barone.

The clincher paragraph:

In sum, the GOP’s Southern electorate was not rural, nativist, less educated, afraid of change, or concentrated in the most stagnant parts of the Deep South. It was disproportionately suburban, middle-class, educated, younger, non-native-Southern, and concentrated in the growth-points that were, so to speak, the least “Southern” parts of the South. This is a very strange way to reincarnate George Wallace’s movement.

The bottom line is this: One more historical “fact” which “everyone” “knows” is “true,” that the GOP is a party which inherited the mantle of Jim Crow, and should be ashamed of itself, is no more than another lie in the hegemonic mountain of lies which is modern liberalism.

(I’d put in a hat tip, if I could remember where I saw this … .)

12 thoughts on “The Myth of the Racist Republicans”

  1. The South has always had more of a distrust of Big Government than the rest of the country dating back to Thomas Jeffereson and Andrew Jackson. Until about the turn of the century the Democratic party was the party of Laizze Fair, States Rights, low taxes, free trade and limited government. The South has been solidly in this camp since the revolution, probably before.

    Republicans in the last 40 years have at least nominally shared this viewpoint, although really only a wing of the party, which is almost dead now. How exactly that came about I don’t know. States Rights was certainly not a trditional Republican issue before the 1960’s (correct me if I’m wrong), in fact most Republicans are actually proud that the so-called father of their party lead a brutal war and occupation in order to end the idea once and for all. The Republican party was certainly NOT founded on the principle of limited government, probably just the opposite.

    As a southerner, it never ceases to amaze me how little the rest of the country actually understands about the South.

  2. As a transplanted southerner living in New York and Maine, I will attest to the notion that racism knows no geographic boundry, but contrary to the view of the op-ed page of the New York Times, most of the racist attitude I see manifests itself in a backhanded, some-of-my-best-friends-are-black way, a hallmark of the left, and equally as insidious as anything Bull Connor did.

  3. What Jonathan said, except, “una” lingua.

    Bull Connnor was not just a Democrat, he was a TYPICAL DEMOCRAT of his day. The Republicans have never had the equivalent.

  4. As an American, it never ceases to amaze me how little some Americans understand of the rebellion against the Federal government.

  5. As they say, to the victor go the spoils, and the number one spoil is that the victor gets to write the history of any conflict.

  6. After reading this again I think the mistake made by both sides of this debate is to assume that race is an all encompassing concern for the average white Southerner. It is not. In a lot of ways Southerners have largely gotten past this issue. The vast majority of the racial conflicts in the modern day South are initiated by groups like the NAACP, groups who could be described as “outside agitators”, not by your white Southerners. I could be wrong but, I think most black Southerners have gotten past it too. Race is a much bigger issue in the big cities of the rest of the country than it is here.

    Remember, Charlotte NC peacefully desegregated it’s schools while Boston, the bastion of liberal white guilt, erupted in violence over the same issue. Detroit, the ghettos of Los Angles and many other cities outside of the South nearly burnt to the ground during the 1960’s over racial violence.

    I guess the largest myth involved here is the idea that the South is the only place where race was and is an issue. This is hardly true. I think the rest of the country has bought into this myth in large part to be able to say it is a problem of “them” instead of a problem of “us”. Southerners aren’t nearly as obcessed with this issue as it is portrayed in the rest of the country.

  7. I assume some Republican is on his way to take DSpears keyboard away so that no more non-victor history is written.

  8. I agree with Rick and his statements. I saw more racism in Charlestown, Ma and suburban liberal New Jersey than I ever did in the South when I lived there. A black friend told me that she felt so comfortable with the people in New Hampshire compared with the people who came into her shop in Montclair, NJ and NH is solidly conservative republican. She said the undertone of her treatment in NJ made her feel that the customers did not believe she was smart enough to run her own business while the people in NH accepted her for what she was.

  9. as someone who’s not white, i found the boston, ma area to be far more racist than texas or the area around sacramento, ca where i live now. in my rich suburban ma school there were practically race wars between the blacks and whites… and this was in the mid 90s.

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