Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lying Lenny

In the January 24 issue of the Lawrence Journal-World, Leonard Pitts Jr. writes the following: "It is, however, true that blacks tended to vote Republican for much of the last century, the simple reason being that the GOP was 'the party of Lincoln.' But as Lincoln receded in history, the GOP stranglehold on the black vote was broken by Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and by the GOP’s stubborn silence on civil rights."

This is a blatant lie.

The effort to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the U.S. Senate was led by Everett Dirksen, a Republican (and my fellow Frisian) from Illinois. The Congressional Quarterly of June 26, 1964 recorded that just 69 percent of Democrats (46 for, 21 against) voted for the Civil Rights Act as compared to 82 percent of Republicans (27 for, 6 against). Democrats, including Gore, Heflin, Byrd (a former Klansman), and Hollings, led a filibuster against the act.

In the House, 61 percent of Democrats (152 for, 96 against) voted for the Civil Rights Act. Among the GOP, 80 percent (138 for, 34 against) voted for it.

Eighty-two percent of House Republicans backed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the Senate, 94 percent of the Republicans backed it. Seventeen southern Democrats in the Senate voted against the act, including William Fulbright, Bill Clinton's mentor.

A higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats in the Senate also voted to confirm Thurgood Marshall's (who died 14 years ago today) nomination to the Supreme Court. Thirty-five Democrats voted for confirmation, while 32 Republicans voted for confirmation. Ten Democrats voted against confirmation, while Strom Thurmond was the lone Republican to vote against confirmation. There were 64 Democrats in the Senate at the time and just 36 Republicans. In other words, nearly half of the Democrats did not vote for Marshall's confirmation (a large number did not vote at all).

As you can see, the GOP was not silent on civil rights. In fact, without them, LBJ would not have had a Civil Rights Act to sign into law or the first African-American Supreme Court justice.

If Pitts had any integrity, he would apologize to his readers.

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