Monday Smackdown Watch: "Where the Ducks Are" "Lyndon Johnson Was the Real Segregationist in 1964!" Edition
Live from the Journamalists' Self-Made Gehenna: I see an extremely strange, weird, and wrong white-washing of Barry Goldwater by Louis Menand in the New Yorker...
Goldwater, according to Menand, was: "[no] kind of racist... a lifelong opponent of racial discrimination... did not want to campaign for the segregationist vote."
And yet, somehow, the campaign Goldwater ran and the organization to run it he built were very clear on what the first liberty he sought to secure was: The first liberty was the liberty to be free from the interference of the federal government in how your state, county, citizen, and town dealt with African-Americans:
Louis Menand: He Knew He Was Right:
Goldwater was not a segregationist, nor was he any kind of racist. He was, in fact, a lifelong opponent of racial discrimination...
...At the beginning of his political career, as a city councilman, he had led the fight to end segregation in the Phoenix public schools; his first staff assistant when he went to the Senate, as Perlstein tells us, was a black woman; he was a member of the N.A.A.C.P. Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act because he believed, as a conservative, that the federal government did not have the power to compel states to conform to its idea of racial equality, or to dictate to individuals whom they must associate with...
But the ground truth of the Goldwater movement was a very different thing from what Menand says.
From Patterson's recent biography of science fiction author Robert H. Heinlein:
William H. Patterson Jr.: Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: 1948-1988 The Man Who Learned Better
[In 1964 Heinlein] went to work for the Colorado Goldwater campaign... county chairman, Robert M. Laura, Esq... at another meeting at Bob Laura’s house on August 1, he finally had more than he could take. Laura was temporizing over an offer of help [Heinlein's wife] Ginny had taken by telephone from a woman who identified herself as a Negro. He would take the matter up with his State Central Committee contact, Laura said, but his own reaction was: “Oh, they are free to go ahead and form their own committee.”
Heinlein lost his temper for the first time in many years. He told Laura:
They offered to stick their necks out; we should have shown instant gratitude and warmest welcome.… I can’t see anything in this behavior but Jim-Crowism.… you were suggesting a Jim-Crow section in the Goldwater organization.
Mr. Goldwater would not like that. His record proves it.
Negroes are *citizens(, Bob.… It is particularly offensive, this year and this campaign, to suggest that Negro Goldwater supporters form their own committee…
Bob Laura's response was to apologize at the meeting, but then to bounce Heinlein out of the campaign.
Patterson--who is, to put it bluntly, to a considerable degree a loon--pretends that Laura was a rogue agent here: that the heart of the Goldwater campaign was, in fact, not anti-Negro:
Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 had come to a vote just before the nominating conventions, and Goldwater had voted against it. Heinlein understood Goldwater was not voting against civil rights: He was voting against federal enforcement of civil rights. In Senator Goldwater’s opinion, it was a matter for each state to do, individually, for itself, and, even more importantly, it was, at heart, a matter of the attitude of individuals, which could not be legislated by state or federal government.
Goldwater’s opinion was Constitutionally “correct.” The U.S. Constitution had not specifically delegated this kind of power to Congress or the Executive, and it did reserve to the states any powers not specifically delegated. Lyndon Johnson, following the Kennedy brothers’ lead, used federal forces for the pragmatic reason that some states—George Wallace’s Alabama, for example—would not cede the rights of U.S. citizens unless coerced. “States rights” is a conservative issue in American politics, going all the way back to the Federalist Papers. Goldwater was where he belonged, after all—and perhaps also where he could do the most good on net....
It was an honorable disagreement over tactics, not over basic goals, and it meant that racism would become an issue in the campaign.... The extremism charge had been raised earlier in the campaign by fellow Republican Nelson Rockefeller, who was standing up for the reactionaries in the party--but it allowed Lyndon Johnson, as activist a president as existed in American politics since Lincoln (and “the phoniest individual that ever came around,” according to Goldwater, since Johnson had been lukewarm to civil rights prior to this), to position himself as a moderate and Goldwater as a lunatic extremist...
But we know better.
If Goldwater had wanted his county chairs to welcome Negro volunteers and to make a play for the votes of all races, he could have done so. He didn't. Goldwater's past as an integrationist of sorts was not something he wanted any voters reminded of in 1964.
Back to Menand, who somehow doesn't seem able to grasp the fact that if one really does not want to do things, one does not then do them:
Goldwater did not want to campaign for the segregationist vote; he had even hoped that his personal opposition to discrimination would win him the votes of black people. But he had believed all along that the Southern white vote was basically conservative and potentially Republican. Republicans, he told Georgia activists in 1961, ought to stop chasing the votes of African-Americans and “go hunting where the ducks are.” And the ducks in 1964 turned out to be white Democrats in revolt against integration. Goldwater's campaign slogan, “In Your Heart You Know He's Right,” was an arrow aimed directly at them. It was a clear allusion to a prejudice that dared not speak its name...