Patterico's Pontifications

6/14/2005

L.A. Times Buries How Senate Obstructed Anti-Lynching Laws

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Judiciary — Patterico @ 7:21 am

The L.A. Times reports: Senate Issues an Apology for Inaction on Lynchings. The sub-head reads: “An attack survivor and descendants of other victims are on hand as decades of obstruction are acknowledged. No compensation is offered.”

How do you figure the Senate accomplished those “decades of obstruction”? The answer: through a quaint and curious device that has gotten some notoriety of late, known as the filibuster. I think it’s illuminating to the still-ongoing debate over this supposedly grand and time-honored tradition that it was repeatedly used to block anti-lynching laws. However, the L.A. Times waits until the very last sentence of the article to tell us this:

Each time the House passed an anti-lynching bill, Southern senators filibustered them — once in a monumental battle carried out on the Senate floor for six weeks in the late 1930s.

That is the first and last time that the word “filibuster” appears in the article. No mention is made of the current controversy over eliminating the filibuster for judicial candidates, despite the recent and very public debate over the filibuster. No experts are quoted. The fact that filibusters were used by the Senate to block anti-lynching laws is just slipped in at the end.

There has been a lot of praise of the filibuster in recent weeks. But its history has a darker side. The paper’s readers should be told this — and it should not be saved for the last sentence of the article. So why is it?

I don’t know, but I have a guess. This history doesn’t put filibusters in the best light. And I think most L.A. Times news editors probably want the filibuster preserved to block Bush’s judicial nominees.

I know, of course, that the L.A. Times editorial board has recently taken an editorial position supporting the nuclear option. But there is some obvious dissension there. My speculation is that this stance was forced on the editorial board by Michael Kinsley, and I’d bet that most of the editors there hold views that are diametrically opposed to Kinsley’s on this issue. Indeed, one felt so strongly about the issue that she penned a signed editorial opposing the paper’s stance of the issue. (Issuing such signed editorials opposing the paper’s editorial stance is an unusual and innovative procedure that Kinsley is making available to members of the editorial board once a year per editor.)

Things would be different if the editorial board had someone like Captain Ed, who notes the prominent role of Robert “KKK” Byrd in preserving the tool that prevented laws against lynching. (After a thorough review of the utterly depressing history, Ed lets his emotions get the better of him a bit; he ends up calling the filibuster compromise “morally depraved,” which is language that I don’t subscribe to. I’d stick to noting the irony involved. But I think Ed makes a good point.)

P.S. I am not equating the folks who capitulated on the nuclear option with lynchers. I feel I must say this to avoid having my post attacked as “hateful,” as the Commissar described Ed’s post. I recognize that many people on both sides of the aisle supported the capitulation, for entirely noble (if wholly misguided) reasons having nothing to do with racism.

My point is simple: the history of the filibuster’s use, good and bad, is relevant to any discussion about whether to keep it as a tool to obstruct judicial nominees. If a significant part of its past use was racist, then it’s ironic to see it defended so strongly by a former Klansman like Robert Byrd, who apparently finds it virtually impossible to vote for any black appellate court nominee.

28 Responses to “L.A. Times Buries How Senate Obstructed Anti-Lynching Laws”

  1. And of course its always ‘southern senators’ rather that ‘southern Democratic senators’. One of those tiny twists of wording that make all the difference.

    Tob

    toby928 (99ba2b)

  2. Just couldn’t bring themseleves to let slip that it was southern Democrat Senators who blocked the anti-lynching laws passage. And what were lynchings for, why they were a tool to keep the blacks down and the racist Democrats in office. Now if it were Republicans, that would be the article’s title in giant type.

    10ksnooker (26027c)

  3. The S.J. Merc ran the Knight Ridder version of the story which, whether edited or not, didn’t mention the filibuster once.

    CraigC (b6a973)

  4. An even more interesting twist. In the AP version published in the SF Chronicle, the filibuster was attributed to Sourthern conservative senators. So that version not only glided over the Democrat activity, but directly blamed conservatives and ,by implication, Republicans. No liberal media bias here.

    Mike (49c15d)

  5. Yes, this is definitely a trend. I noticed that Strom Thurmond is often invoked without pointing out that he was a Democrat/Dixiecrat at the time he was involved in civil rights filibustering. This type coverage may explain why many younger black Americans seem to believe that it was the Rupublican party that opposed civil rights rather that their current representation. Even hints that the Republicans are, after all, the party of Lincoln don’t seem to sink in.

    Tobias

    toby928 (99ba2b)

  6. “he ends up calling the filibuster compromise ‘morally depraved,’ which is language that I don’t subscribe to.” Check the context in which he offered his “depraved” comment again. Personally, I think that if he hasn’t got the description essentially correct, he’s awful darn close.

    Harry Arthur (40c0a6)

  7. Harry,

    I have indeed checked the context, because in defending Ed against the Commissar’s exaggeration of Ed’s post, I have gotten into an unpleasant disagreement with the Commissar, which has caused me to read Ed’s post about 6 times.

    Ed does use sloppy language that, when precisely read, asserts that the actions of the Senators who stood with Byrd on the capitulation were “morally depraved.” By extension, anyone who agrees with the compromise supports an action that is morally depraved.

    I understand the emotions behind Ed’s sentiment, but I can’t subscribe to that particular formulation, which I think Ed would write differently if he had it to do again.

    Patterico (84353d)

  8. “I have gotten into an unpleasant disagreement with the Commissar.”

    We agree on something.

    In addition to your own post, you made twelve comments on my post. Not once, or twice, or even five times, but in a dozen different comments you called me an “unhinged, overwrought, mischaracterizing, unfair, emotional, word-twisting, assigning of impure motivations, fanciful, exaggerating, resentful, teeth-baring, caricaturist.”

    Yes, it was unpleasant.

    The Commissar (0b4305)

  9. In addition to your own post, you made twelve comments on my post. Not once, or twice, or even five times, but in a dozen different comments you called me an “unhinged, overwrought, mischaracterizing, unfair, emotional, word-twisting, assigning of impure motivations, fanciful, exaggerating, resentful, teeth-baring, caricaturist.”

    Wow. I called you all that, twelve different times, using the same language each time?

    I hadn’t realized that. I guess that was over the top. I encourage people to click on the link to your post to see how I pulled that off.

    Thanks for proving my theory (which I articulated somewhere among those twelve comments) that people tend to exaggerate attacks made on them.

    If I had known that you would take such offense, and that you would be cataloguing each unflattering adjective, I’m sure I would have chosen different words in some cases.

    However, it strikes me as a little overly delicate for you to exhibit such sensitivity. Aren’t you the guy who called Ed and other bloggers like him lacking in even an “ounce of patriotism” (although, to be sure, only in the sense of “putting party before country”); “hateful”; “beneath contempt”; “shameful”; “incapable of original thought”; not “responsible”; “divisive”; and churning out “manufactured controversy”?

    Yes. If I’m not mistaken, I do believe you are that guy.

    I imagine that was pretty unpleasant for Ed, especially coming from a guy like you, whom he (like me) had always respected.

    Patterico (84353d)

  10. And of course its always ’southern senators’ rather that ’southern Democratic senators’. One of those tiny twists of wording that make all the difference.

    Yup. Same M.O. at the Washington Post.

    Christopher Rake (f9677b)

  11. Commie, if you don’t like people calling you unhinged, there’s an easy solution to that: control your temper and don’t come unhinged. Similarly, if you don’t like being accused of unfairly and emotionally twisting people’s words, then it’s probably not a very good idea to go around twisting people’s words unfairly and emotionally. But if you choose to do these things anyway, as you’ve done more than your share of over the past few weeks, then for God’s sake, don’t play victim when someone calls you on it.

    Xrlq (6c76c4)

  12. “And of course its always ’southern senators’ rather that ’southern Democratic senators’. One of those tiny twists of wording that make all the difference.”

    Really? I’d say the first is more accurate, given how democrats in the south are doing, amongst the same electorate that was opposited to integration.

    actus (cd484e)

  13. Actus, I’m not sure what you mean by: I’d say the first is more accurate, given how democrats in the south are doing, amongst the same electorate that was opposited to integration. Can you elaborate?

    Tob

    toby928 (99ba2b)

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  15. Actus: that’s kind of funny. For a century, the Democrats kept their southern branch in the party even though they didn’t have much in common by supporting racists policies, or at least by not openly opposing the racist policies.

    When the Democrats found it politically expedient to finally turn against racism, they lost the one thing that had always held many southerners to them and some of those souterners turned to the Republican party even though the Republicans never did support racist policies. And this sequence of events somehow makes the Republican party guilty of racism. What original thinking.

    Doc Rampage (47be8d)

  16. Doc, I can’t believe that was what Actus meant. That argument fails logic and Actus is no slouch. Its not even the same electorate. The Republicans are doing better in the south to the exact extent that the seggies are dying off. Its the younger people who are voting Republican. After all, 1964 was 41 years ago!

    Tob

    toby928 (99ba2b)

  17. The more I think about it, if you were a segregacionist voter in 1964, you have to be at least 65 years old now. And if you were a seg voter in the 40’s or 50’s, you would be mid 70’s to mid 80’s. Time’s winged chariot may be fixing racism for us.

    Tob

    toby928 (99ba2b)

  18. Hi everyone,

    As a resident of said area of the country, Democrat Senators would be the most accurate of all; after all, there were Democrat Senators from other areas of the country that were involved also, if I remember correctly.

    BTW, the most bigoted and/or racist people here are Democrats, not Republicans, where I live.

    Charles D. Quarles (593219)

  19. “When the Democrats found it politically expedient to finally turn against racism”

    I have heard the civil rights struggle described in many ways. But politically expedient is not one of them. I have no idea how to understand as politically expedient the strategy that lost the south.

    actus (cd484e)

  20. Actus, if you were implying that the Republicans now own the seg vote, I think your wrong (see my previous posts).

    To my observation, there is no seg voting bloc. Maybe some kluxer fringe but even southerners think of them as embarrassing whack jobs. Not like when I was young, when hating blacks was mostly acceptable, although even then it was blacks in the abstract since ‘our coloreds’ were okay or something like that.

    There is a grain of truth to what you say in that there were some, my own grandfather RIP included, who hated FDR because he was a “n*****-lover” and so did vote Republican, but that was a long time ago and I don’t believe that it was very widespread.

    Tob

    toby928 (f6a7ec)

  21. I remember now, it was “Our coloreds are good folk, its those outside agitators that are stirring them up!”. That’s how it went. Sounds so ridiculous now doesn’t it. That and “pointy headed intelectual”. Those where the days for self-delusion.

    Tob

    toby928 (f6a7ec)

  22. […] yesterday The Times’s news editors followed the lead of Senators like Landrieu, and didn’t even mention the word filibuster until th […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » L.A. Times Op-Ed Page Remains Consistent on Filibuster (0c6a63)

  23. I suppose it would be better to identify the segregationinsts more neutrally as “conservatives”

    actus (cd484e)

  24. Actus

    There is no segregationist bloc to appeal to anymore. They’re dying off and being replaced by Republicans, imported as well as native. I thought that you lived in DC (last time I checked it was in the south) so you do know that. Your better than this. I’ve heard you make an argument before and this is just trollish drive-by sniping. Its not even coherent.

    Yeah, yeah, we’re all just seggie supporters of the evil-moron-chimphitler-supergenius.

    Tob

    toby928 (99ba2b)

  25. “. I thought that you lived in DC (last time I checked it was in the south) so you do know that.”

    It may be south, but it is quite clearly not “the south” if you know what i mean.

    actus (cd484e)

  26. Actus,

    You must be the author of the AP article in the SF Chronicle.

    Actually to be neutral they should just be termed segregationists. However, they were largely Democrats, hence the term “Dixiecrats”.

    But in the interest of coming up with something neutral, let’s just call them liberals.

    Mike (49c15d)

  27. […] LA Times Points Out Lynching-Apology Hypocrisy L.A. Times Buries How Senate Obstructed Anti-Lynching Laws You Mean The Filibuster Isn’t The Center Of The Republic? (Updates Galore) Rewriting History, One Article at a Time […]

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