December 19, 2010
It’s standard to date the underlying racism of Republican politics to Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy.” It’s also wrong. Here’s Richard Hofstadter, writing in 1965:
Goldwater’s departure from the Republican pattern was compounded by his position on civil rights. One of the oldest, through hardly the most efficacious, of the traditions of many conservatives in the North — and even to a degree in the South as well — has been a certain persistent sympathy with the Negro and a disposition to help him in moderate ways to relieve his distress. This tradition goes back to the Federalist party; it was continued by the Whig gentry; it infused the early Republican party.
By adopting the “Southern strategy,” the Goldwater men abandoned this inheritance. They committed themselvels not merely to a drive for a core of Southern states in the electoral college but to a strategic counterpart in the North which required a search for racist votes. They thought they saw a good mass issue in the white backlash, which they could indirectly exploit by talking of violence in the streets, crime, juvenile deliquency, and the dangers faced by our mothers and daughters.
Eisenhower, like Goldwater, had been unmoved by noble visions of progress toward racial justice, but he at least gave lip service to the ideal and found it important to enforce the laws himself and to speak out for public compliance. But Goldwater arrived at the position, far from conservative in its implications, that the decisions of the Supreme Court are “not necessarily” the law of the land.
Posted by Jerome Doolittle at December 19, 2010 06:50 PM
Eisenhower really didn't want to appoint Earl Warren to be Chief Justice. But he had made an earlier promise to Warren when Warren supported Eisenhower over (was it Nixon or Taft- I can't remember) in the 1952 primary and Warren withdrew. Warren was also a candidate in the 1952 race so he extracted a promise from Eisenhower that he would appoint Warren to "the next opening on the Supreme Court". And that turned out to be the Chief Justice position. Eisenhower was going to go back on his promise but Warren told Eisenhower that he would go all over the country telling the story of how Eisenhower went back on his word, demolishing Eisenhower's strong attachment to the West Point system of honor and his reputation as one who would not lie (despite a number of transgressions of the code by Ike including his unfaithfulness to his wife) . So Warren got that Supreme Court nomination, and even after Warren was on the court Eisenhower approached Warren about Brown vs. Board of Education and the related cases and told him that something like "they just don't want their daughters having to go to school in the same class with some strapping Buck". Of course this incensed Warren, who although he had been a prosecutor early in his career and quite conservative, as he got older he became more liberal. At least this is the story as I read it in an Earl Warren biography many years ago. What was quite interesting was that I found myself intensely disliking Warren in his early political years , but as he got older and matured, he became more liberal and he started taking positions that were in step with what race relations were supposed to be like today and that Brown vs. Board of Education put in place.
But if you want to go back a little earlier, Harry Truman was hated by many in quite a number of circles because the military was turned into a different entity altogether when segregation of the troops was eliminated. There would no longer be any ships like the one that was loaded with explosives in a very dangerous manner solely by black sailors only (see: Port Chicago Disaster) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_chicago_disaster
On the other hand, you can go all the way back to the end of the Civil War and the rise of the Red Shirts, a precursor to the KKK which terrorized blacks and was definitely, according to this link at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Shirts_%28Southern_United_States%29
was related to the politics of the post Civil War South.
It's strange though. All of that information about the relationship between Earl Warren and Eisenhower's election is not mentioned on Wikipedia, but was clearly outlined in the Earl Warren biography I read about ten years ago. I trust the author of the book better than what's on Wikipedia. Perhaps I should add the information by pulling out the information from the book and putting it up on Wikipedia, assuming I can find it. A short bio on the author of the book I read is here. http://www.usc.edu/uscnews/stories/13076.html
You can find the book at your favorite bookstore. Ed Cray does have his critics, but what liberal writer doesn't? And the recent biography on Woody Guthrie ought to be interesting, it's even possible - though unlikely - I might find out a few things about Guthrie I don't know already.