Friday, July 12: Philadelphia, PA 4:15pm - At Netroots Nation
Location: PA Convention Center, 1101 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA
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As I made my periodic excavation tunneling down through my junk mail folder, I noticed the following subject line: “Prager U goes viral: over 6 million views in one week!”
Curious to see how high on the B.S. meter this Prager U clip would register, I decided to click on it. As usual, it didn’t disappoint.
The headline: “The Inconvenient Truth About The Democratic Party,” accentuated with cartoonish images of a clansman and the stars and bars horizontally aligning with the Democratic Donkey- the imagery not too dissimilar from a slot machine missing on three different symbols.
But Prager U did indeed hit the jackpot here. For it’s hard enough for them to find a respectable university professor to voice an opinion to coincide with their mostly unfound and misleading political hackery, but to find one that is African-American, speaking about issues pertaining to the black community is the equivalent of hitting the Powerball after months of an unclaimed prize.
In watching the first four minutes of this almost six-minute clip, Professor Carol Swain is actually very accurate. In the distant past, the Democratic Party was the party of racism, defending the unconscionable act of owning slaves. Democrats largely resided in the south and were willing to go so far as to commit treason and split from the nation to form a confederacy to defend their â€œrightâ€ to continue to practice slave labor.
But from that point on, her commentary becomes misplaced and evasive:
Professor Swain’s quote: “Since it’s founding in 1829, the Democratic Party has fought against every major civil rights initiative, and has a long history of discrimination.”
I seem to remember the Civil Rights Act of 1964 being the creation of JFK (a Democrat), and then finished and implemented under LBJ (a Democrat). And as for Congress, the support for the legislation had nothing to do with party affiliation and everything to do with whether the congressmen represented the north or the south. This indisputable fact of voting correlation is one that she does not even acknowledge. Instead, she untruthfully affixes vote direction to political party:
Professor Swain’s quote: “Democratic Senator’s fillibusted for 75 days..”
The Senator’s who filibustered the legislation were Richard Russell (Georgia), Strom Thurmund (South Carolina), Robert Byrd (West Virginia) and Sam Ervin (North Carolina). Bringing the argument into the more modern era â€“ those are all states that Republican’s enjoy comfortable dominance in. Those men who represented those states are appropriately referred to as “Dixiecrats”, and their constituency swung to the Republican Party during the late 1960’s when Democratic presidents created and passed the Civil Rights Act Of 1964- a swing that was solidified even further when Nixon decided to pander to the “states rights” racists in the south. These states have voted predominantly Republican since then.
Professor Swain’s quote: “..the only serious Congressional opposition to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 came from Democrats. 80 percent of Republicans in Congress supported the bill, less than 70 percent of Democrats did.”
Putting aside the fact that a little bit more than 10 percent separating the respective parties support of the legislation is hardly constitutes one side being fully supportive, and the other being the “serious Congressional opposition”, let’s move on to the her more egregious representation of vote correlation.
It is a completely misleading implication to state that the “yeas” and “nays” had any correlation whatsoever to political party. Her claim can be discarded just by looking at the actual vote tallies. The verified fact regarding the way in which a congressman voted has nothing to do with political party and everything to do with the region they were representing. As the vote tallies show below, if you were in the south, you very likely opposed the legislation. If you were representing a northern state, you generally favored it with few exceptions. Whether you were a Democrat or Republican mattered little as seen by the voting tallies below for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by region:
The original House version:
Southern Democrats: 8-87 (7-93%)
Southern Republicans: 0-10 (0-100%)
Northern Democrats: 145-9 (94-6%)
Northern Republicans: 138-24 (85-15%)
The Senate version:
Southern Democrats: 1-20 (5-95%) (only Ralph Yarborough of Texas voted in favor)
Southern Republicans: 0-1 (0-100%) (John Tower of Texas)
Northern Democrats: 45-1 (98-2%) (only Robert Byrd of West Virginia voted against)
Northern Republicans: 27-5 (84-16%)
Notice the actual fact of which you’d never be privy to in watching this Prager video – ” the “Northern Democrats” actually supported the bill in a larger proportion than the “Northern Republicans” in both chambers of Congress.
Perhaps most startling of all, there was not a single vote cast in favor of the legislation by southern Republicans by any of their 11 total representatives in both chambers.
What you see above is clear and undisputed – a strong correlation of how a congressmen voted can be drawn from the region they representation, with no correlation drawn from the political party they were affiliated with.
Perhaps a decade ago, a Conservative may have examined the above voting tally, showing that Professor Swain purposely made a completely erroneous correlation to promote a political ideology (I say purposely because she’s a history professor at Vanderbilt University- of course she’d be familiar with the fact that party representation of Congressmen had no correlation with how they voted). And now knowing that this video is propaganda not designed to inform and educate accurately, maybe they say to themselves:
“I’m not going to absorb any more information from this video clip, and will take future Prager U videos with a grain of salt, as it’s representation of the voting tally was completely misleading. Using my own analysis, I can easily see that there is little correlation in how members of the two political parties voted, but a very strong correlation based on the region they represented. This wasn’t a Democrat vs. Republican issue, but a North vs. South issue.”
It doesn’t mean the reader should cease to have conservative principals. It simply means that they’ve utilized a bit of common sense and rationale to determine that the way the voting was represented in this clip was completely disingenuous. And then upon arriving at that conclusion, they make an educated decision to perhaps learn about this issue from a different source.
For this would benefit the Conservative party. It would create more informed, honest debate – absorbing information from reputable outlets to become better educated instead of mislead.
But today we have a president and his cabinet appointees, along with certain members of Congress who are insisting that 1 + 1 = 3 is completely acceptable. In this world, ideology trumps pragmatism, and rewrites and alternate portrayals of history are valid as long as there are people out there who want to believe in it. And if those who are paying attention, unabated by any ideological binders or pseudo-patriotism have the gall to question this obvious nonsense, we’re labeled as an outside infiltrating source full of fake convictions and one of “the others”.
Inexplicably, Professor Swain makes no attempt to address the state of race-relations of each political party as it pertains to the last 50 years of American history, other than to taint the modern Democratic party with broad generalizations that exist only in the deep caverns of the echo chamber that Rush Limbaugh carved out seemingly eons ago.
Although one would think perhaps the greatest amount of time should be spent on Nixon’s Southern Strategy, as it was a monumental sea change which has the single most bearing on where each party stands today on this issue, she instead chooses to wrap up the commentary.
At a certain point in the video, Swain informs all the students at Prager U of a racist comment that Lyndon B. Johnson “purportedly” said. Nothing like students garnering an extensive knowledge base on statements “purportedly” made. If Prager U is the alternative to a “liberal education,” than I’m more than proud to have been “liberally indoctrinated.”
Because in a fact-free environment, the word “purportedly” is free to exist anywhere and everywhere.
Let me conclude by allowing serious political players of the Republican Party to explain the”Southern Strategy” since Professor Swain decided to end her history lesson at around 1964. This are not statements “purportedly” made, but are actual verified statements from interviews.
“From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that…but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”
-Kevin Philips, Richard Nixon political strategist
“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Ni***r, ni***r, ni***r.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘ni***r’ as that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states- rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites… We want to cut this, is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Ni***r, ni***r.'”
-Lee Atwater, consultant and strategist to the Republican party, adviser to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Please let no person, entity, or ideology, rob you of your intellect, rationale, and the conquest to always question.