Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Philadelphia Mississippi Experiment

In the ongoing TPMCafe discussion of Paul Krugman's new book The Conscience of a Liberal, Bruce Bartlett claims Krugman is calling Reagan a crypto-racist for his 1980 call for states rights in the infamous locality of Philadelphia, Mississippi which despite Bartlett's protestations is pretty much generally known only for the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964 and Reagan's infamous invocation a scant 16 years later:
The only way he could have avoided such a charge would have been by not campaigning in the South and ceding that region once again to Carter.
"The only way" if we don't count invoking states rights.
"The only way" if we don't count invoking states rights in Philadelphia, Mississippi.
For example, Michael Dukakis spoke there on August 4, 1988. According to press reports, he made only a passing reference to civil rights and, like Reagan eight years earlier, basically gave a standard stump speech. Yet no one has ever suggested that Dukakis was winking and nodding to local racists by speaking in Neshoba and not giving a strong pro-civil rights speech.
Yet no one has ever suggested "not giving a strong pro-civil rights speech" is somehow equivalent to "I believe in state's rights."

This question of the Conscience of a Conservative does not rest on any premise of crypto-racism but rather in the willingness to campaign on race, to exploit anti-minority animus in the electorate.

And the question of the resulting social and political-economic impact as exemplified by the 1990 chart [AFDC Monthly Maximum vs. Percent Black By State] on page 55 of the Alberto Alesina paper Krugman mentions,Why Doesn’t the US Have A European-Style Welfare System?[PDF], literally graphically demonstrating the inverse correlation between AFDC benefits voted by state electorates and the percentage of black population and the whole question Krugman gets into on the role of anti-black animus in the paucity of American social democracy.

Where we're going we don't need roads to have Doc set the odometer from Philadelphia to Philadelphia when it comes to witnessing Ronald Reagan's exercise of that ol’ Philadelphia Mississippi Freedom to articulate and embody the diminishment and debasement of the American spirit.

And not just of that ol' Philadelphia Pennsylvania Freedom…

Now, as history has grievously demonstrated, this is a reality that conservatives have been shown to want to walk out from.

But it's not something that they can walk away from.
The time has arrived in America for the Democratic party to get out of the shadow of states' rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights. People -- People -- human beings -- this is the issue of the 20th century. People of all kinds -- all sorts of people -- and these people are looking to America for leadership, and they’re looking to America for precept and example.
Hubert H. Humphrey
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 14,1948
I believe in states rights. I believe in the people doing as much for themselves at the community level and the private level. And I believe that we have distorted the balance of our government by giving powers that were never intended in the constitution to the federal establishment.
Ronald Reagan
Philadelphia, Mississippi, August 3, 1980

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