Pat Buchanan asks in the pages of World Net Daily, “If the conditions that called for the laws of the 1960s have ceased to exist, why do those laws still exist?” thinks that because we no longer see white and “colored” drinking fountains that we no longer have civil rights problems in this country.
Buchanan proceeds from a false premise. Sure, if the conditions that created the need for a civil rights campaign no longer prevailed, we would no longer need special protections for minorities. But as both Kansas and Arizona – and now Georgia - have demonstrated, as five years of intense racism against our first black president have demonstrated, we are not at that point.
Actor and gay rights activist George Takei, in an open letter, called Arizona a Jim Crow state for passing SB 1062. He is right. There is no substantive difference between bigotry based on skin color and bigotry based on sexual preference. And even many Arizona Republicans, if they’re not using Takei’s language, seem to know it. Heck, even Fox-clone CNN has noticed that a license to discriminate is not a good thing.
Yet what Buchanan takes from these examples of right wing bigotry and intolerance that frighten even some Republicans, is this: “What we are seeing in Arizona in microcosm is what we have witnessed in America for half a century: the growing intolerance of those who preach tolerance and the corruption of the concept of civil rights.”
Yes, Buchanan thinks civil rights is the right to take away other peoples’ rights.
Already unable to extricate himself from the deep end, Buchanan writes,
Last year, the Supreme Court struck down the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Yet, somehow, Mississippi still has more black elected officials than any other state.
The facts are somewhat different than Buchanan presents them. The New York Times observed last year that,
The voting battles in Mississippi did not end in 1965. The state dragged its feet for four years before the first Justice Department review, and since then the federal government has objected to voting changes in Mississippi 173 times, 116 of them coming since the act was renewed in 1982.
And now? The Times points to a less rosy reality:
With a black population of 37 percent, by far the largest in the country, Mississippi did not have a black representative in Congress from Reconstruction until 1986. As recently as 1990, only 22 out of the 204 members of the Mississippi State Legislature were black. While no black statewide official has been elected, there are now a black congressman and 49 black state lawmakers.
Many of these changes came about through application of Section 5…
The fact is, blacks are still discriminated against. Latinos are discriminated against. Women are discriminated against. Muslims are discriminated against. Atheists and minority religious groups like Wiccans and others, are discriminated against. Gays and lesbians are discriminated against.
The spirit of Jim Crow is alive and well in America.
Yet Buchanan says it is slander to say that “America is a racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic country which would revert to massive discrimination were it not for heroic progressives standing guard.”
But it’s not slander. It’s the truth. Even with heroic progressive standing guard, Red States regularly strive to deprive minorities of their voting rights. As Adalia Woodbury wrote here last year, the only thing that seems to scare Republicans more than paying workers a living wage is voting rights.
You have to wonder if Buchanan is even really paying attention, when he asks things like, ” As for the Christians of Arizona and same-sex unions in Arizona, if they don’t like each other, can they not just avoid each other? After all, it’s a big state.”
Sure, that would be great, if it wasn’t for the so-called Christians of Arizona passing laws allowing discrimination of gays and lesbians. He says we no longer have segregated drinking fountains but if the Religious Right gets its way, it has more than proven it’s willing to reinstate them for the LGBT community.
Does anyone think hotels, motels and restaurants across Dixie, from D.C. to Texas, would stop serving black customers? Does anyone think there would again be signs sprouting up reading “whites” and “colored” on drinking foundations and restrooms?
Yes, we do, and Kansas, Arizona, and Georgia prove it, because Republicans like Pat Buchanan have tried to do just that, to reinstate segregation based this time not on skin color but on sexual preference, just as they have discriminated on the basis of religion when they rail against the First Amendment rights of Muslims. Contrary to conservative belief, religious freedom is not freedom for only one religion, and civil rights are civil rights for all, or they are not civil rights at all.
Updated [2.25.14 8:39 am] to reflect Georgia’s anti-gay law