Every now and then, liberal commentators have to pull out the same old template to comment on Republican racism. Never mind that the position is untrue -- it is holy writ among the Left, and must therefore be preached upon regularly.
And so you get this old chestnut from Paul Krugman.
Republican politicians, who understand quite well that the G.O.P.ís national success since the 1970s owes everything to the partisan switch of Southern whites, have tacitly acknowledged this reality. Since the days of Gerald Ford, just about every Republican presidential campaign has included some symbolic gesture of approval for good old-fashioned racism.
Thus Ronald Reagan, who began his political career by campaigning against Californiaís Fair Housing Act, started his 1980 campaign with a speech supporting statesí rights delivered just outside Philadelphia, Miss., where three civil rights workers were murdered. In 2000, Mr. Bush made a pilgrimage to Bob Jones University, famed at the time for its ban on interracial dating.
And all four leading Republican candidates for the 2008 nomination have turned down an invitation to a debate on minority issues scheduled to air on PBS this week.
Ah, yes -- the liberal intones the mantra: Republicans are racist.
But let's look at those examples Krugman cites.
Yes, Reagan did oppose the Fair Housing Act -- but not on the grounds that discrimination was a moral good, but rather because of a belief that the government should not be regulating how private individuals control their own property. Having watched an elderly family member suffer through an investigation of her refusal to sell her home to a black couple with lousy credit (they wanted a 75 year old woman to finance the sale herself for 10 years because they could not qualify for a mortgage with a bank) before selling to a white couple with cash in hand, I can't help but sometimes feel that the government has no business in this field.
For that matter, the Philadelphia, Mississippi speech --w hcih came after teh GOP convention, not at the beginning of his presidential run, reflected the same themes that Reagan had been addressing for years, as California Governor, as a radio commentator, and as a candidate for the GOP nomination. While the choice of Philadelphia Mississippi may have been questionable, it was not chosen because of its racial symbolism. Rather, it was chosen because of an invitation from a leading Republican congressman whose district included Philadelphia -- Trent Lott.
And as for Bush visiting Bob Jones University (a place which I believe no civilized individual should patronize), I can only note that he spoke to many groups in many places in South Carolina. I'm curious -- will Krugman insist that n Democrat speak at Columbia University this year (or in any future year) because of the platform given to Mahmoud the Mad this week? Will he label any candidate who does speak at Columbia as objectively pro-terrorist and anti-Semitic? I think we know the answer -- so why does speaking at BJU indicate that the candidate is somehow racist or insensitive? Could it be that Krugman is warm to terrorists and cold towards Jews?
And as noted recently by many major outlets, the GOP candidates turned down the PBS debate because it comes two days before the quarterly fundraising deadline. But Krugman would prefer to impute racism where none exists because it fits the template.
The GOP has, throughout its history, done more to provide opportunity for racial and ethnic minorities than the Democrats. What's more, it has done so without pandering to racial separatism, but rather by appealing to racial equality. But that won't make the cut in a Krugman column -- because it doesn't fit the template.
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