Herbert Must Reading Today

Bob Herbert provides must reading today, especially for Brad DeLong, Andrew Sullivan, Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias, Brendan Nyhan, and of course, David Brooks.

Herbert writes:

Andrew would not survive very long. On June 21, one day after his arrival, he and fellow activists Michael Schwerner and James Chaney disappeared. Their bodies wouldn’t be found until August. All had been murdered, shot to death by whites enraged at the very idea of people trying to secure the rights of African-Americans.

The murders were among the most notorious in American history. They constituted Neshoba County’s primary claim to fame when Reagan won the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 1980. The case was still a festering sore at that time. Some of the conspirators were still being protected by the local community. And white supremacy was still the order of the day.


That was the atmosphere and that was the place that Reagan chose as the first stop in his general election campaign. The campaign debuted at the Neshoba County Fair in front of a white and, at times, raucous crowd of perhaps 10,000, chanting: “We want Reagan! We want Reagan!”

Reagan was the first presidential candidate ever to appear at the fair, and he knew exactly what he was doing when he told that crowd, “I believe in states’ rights.”

. . . Reagan may have been blessed with a Hollywood smile and an avuncular delivery, but he was elbow deep in the same old race-baiting Southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon.

Everybody watching the 1980 campaign knew what Reagan was signaling at the fair. Whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans — they all knew. The news media knew. The race haters and the people appalled by racial hatred knew. And Reagan knew.

And while I expect nothing better from Brooks, Nyhan and Sullivan, I do expect better from people like Drum and Yglesias. And maybe now DeLong sees some value in Herbert's work.

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    Belly of the Beast (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by scarshapedstar on Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 08:53:33 AM EST
    Much like Emmett Till before him, Andrew died to expose the lie that fascism "can't happen" in America. It already did. And it hasn't died yet.

    A brutal mob killing out of pure hate for the Other is supposed to happen in Johannesburg, or East Timor, or in one of Stalin's pogroms, but not here, because we're better than that. And even if we're not, we'd have a nation day of shame and introspection.

    Turns out we got a prompt GOP stump speech from the original wink-and-a-nod candidate.

    States' Rights (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Bob In Pacifica on Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 09:24:58 AM EST
    States' Rights back then meant keeping the FBI out of local business, meaning not investigating the murders of civil rights workers (not that J. Edgar Hoover, with his COINTELPRO, was a friend of the black man or the leftists who fought for their right to vote).

    In the early sixties when I was a grade schooler my parents took my older sister and I on a vacation driving down to Mississippi to visit relatives. The Mississippi state troopers had roadblocks, "welcome wagons" I think they called them, where they'd pull over cars with out-of-state plates to ascertain your business. At a family barbeque I remember a couple of distant uncles talking with pride about an FBI agent questioning him about a purchase of dynamite for blowing up tree stumps. Apparently, someone had blown up a black church and being suspected of blowing up a church and killing innocent black children was an honor.

    That, dear readers, was the historical background to Ronald Reagan going to Neshoba County.

    This is a fight Brooks was foolish to pick (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by Molly Bloom on Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 09:57:21 AM EST
    In addition to Krugman and Herbert at the Times, Rick Perlstein has weighed in:

    First, the recent controversy. David Brooks wrote a stunningly simple-minded column claiming that to call Ronald Reagan a panderer for the votes of racist white Southerners was a "slur" against Reagan. Specifically, he tried to rebut the charge that the smoking gun proving Reagan's intentions was the infamous opening of Reagan's 1980 general election campaign at Mississippi's Neshoba County Fair, just down the road a piece from where Klansmen slaughtered three civil rights workers during Freedom Summer in 1964. Brooks, apparently inspired by the account of Bruce Bartlett, basically exculpates Reagan for the Neshoba appearance--in which he praised "states rights," as in the name of Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist States Rights Party--as an accident of scheduling. Now, however, the man who probably knows more about the rise of the Republican Party in Mississippi than any man alive, Emory professor Joseph Crespino, author of In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution, usefully puts the whole conservative-invented "controversy" to rest with both a crucial discussion of historical context, and a documentary smoking gun: a 1979 letter from a leading Mississippi Republican leader suggesting that if he wanted the "George Wallace inclined voters," the Neshoba County Fair was the place to speak.

    Come on, Brooks: clear enough for you yet?

    Facts have  a well known liberal bias

    ok, i have one bone to pick (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by cpinva on Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 10:25:47 AM EST
    with pearlstein:

    David Brooks wrote a stunningly simple-minded column

    this was nothing new for mr. brooks, who is historically simple-minded. what would truly be stunning is if he wrote a column that actually made sense.

    What self-respecting (5.00 / 0) (#8)
    by jondee on Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 01:02:37 PM EST
    teacher or teachers union wouldnt want "dangerous, failing schools"? lol

    It all makes perfect sense of course -- particularly if you're an inhabitant of planet wingnut, wherein the utter horror of the prospect of any remaining unions at all outweighs faux-concern for "poor black kids".

    unions (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by diogenes on Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 08:00:42 PM EST
    Large numbers of poor black parents in many cities (e.g. Milwaukee) support school vouchers.  If they were free to use vouchers for catholic schools rather than simply for undercapitalized "charter schools", many more would.  Why can't poor kids have the same school choice that Hillary Clinton and Al Gore had for their kids?  Everyone complains about vouchers being used for "religion"--but before the 1950's the public schools were filled with religion and prayer and kids did fine.
    To get to the point of the post, blasting Republicans for something from 1980 implies that Democrats will do something better for blacks in 2008. That's debatable.  

    racial murders (1.00 / 2) (#5)
    by diogenes on Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 12:00:03 PM EST
    Be they in 1964 or be racially motivated violence/crimes by black radicals like the Black Panthers and others a few years later are of course to be condemned.  
    1980 was a long time ago.
    The Democratic party is still in the pocket of the National Educational Association/teacher's unions, and this causes much more harm to poor black kids trapped in dangerous, failing schools than a visit made by Ronald Reagan in 1980.
    This column is meant to manipulate white guilt into support for Democrats whatever the effects of their policies today.  

    Disgusting comment (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by andgarden on Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 12:33:06 PM EST
    Some pockets are better than others (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by jondee on Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 12:40:42 PM EST
    How SPECIFICALLY are teachers unions resonsible for "dangerous, failing schools" and the dangerous, failing communities those schools are located in?

    Complete and utter nonsense. (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Molly Bloom on Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 02:51:53 PM EST