Lightnin' Slim and Johnny Rebel (Michael Steele and the J.D. Miller Republicans--Part One)
“Blue State MODERATE [emphasis added] Michael Steele beat four MORE HARDLINE [emphasis added] GOP candidates to become the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee."---NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 1/31/09
FROM THE MARYLAND DEMOCRATIC PARTY’S “MARYLAND LT. GOVERNOR MICHAEL STEELE RESEARCH BOOK”: While speaking to the Baltimore Jewish Council, Michael Steele compared doctors conducting stem cell research to Nazis performing human experiments during the Holocaust: “You of all folks know what happens when people decide to experiment on human beings, when they want to take your life and use it as a tool.” [Associated Press, 2/10/06]
Perhaps Mr. Steele could use a little assistance in parsing out these subtle distinctions.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF): is a process by which egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside of the womb, in vitro. IVF is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman's ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a fluid medium. The fertilized egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient's uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy.Stem Cell Controversy: The status of the human embryo and human embryonic stem cell research is a controversial issue as, with the present state of technology, the creation of a human embryonic stem cell line requires the destruction of a human embryo. Stem cell debates have motivated and reinvigorated the pro-life movement, whose members are concerned with the rights and status of the embryo as an early-aged human life. They believe that embryonic stem cell research instrumentalizes and violates the sanctity of life and is tantamount to murder. The fundamental assertion of those who oppose embryonic stem cell research is the belief that human life is inviolable, combined with the fact that human life begins when a sperm cell fertilizes an egg cell to form a single cell. (see Sexual reproduction)A portion of stem cell researchers use embryos that were created but not used in in vitro fertility treatments to derive new stem cell lines. Most of these embryos are to be destroyed, or stored for long periods of time, long past their viable storage life. In the United States alone, there have been estimates of at least 400,000 such embryos. This has led some opponents of abortion, such as Senator Orrin Hatch, to support human embryonic stem cell research.
FROM THE UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM:Nazi Medical Experiments: During World War II, a number of German physicians conducted painful and often deadly experiments on thousands of concentration camp prisoners without their consent. Unethical medical experimentation carried out during the Third Reich may be divided into three categories. The first category consists of experiments aimed at facilitating the survival of Axis military personnel. In Dachau, physicians from the German air force and from the German Experimental Institution for Aviation conducted high-altitude experiments, using a low-pressure chamber, to determine the maximum altitude from which crews of damaged aircraft could parachute to safety. Scientists there carried out so-called freezing experiments using prisoners to find an effective treatment for hypothermia. They also used prisoners to test various methods of making seawater potable.
The second category of experimentation aimed at developing and testing pharmaceuticals and treatment methods for injuries and illnesses which German military and occupation personnel encountered in the field. At the German concentration camps of Sachsenhausen, Dachau, Natzweiler, Buchenwald, and Neuengamme, scientists tested immunization compounds and sera for the prevention and treatment of contagious diseases, including malaria, typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, yellow fever, and infectious hepatitis. The Ravensbrueck camp was the site of bone-grafting experiments and experiments to test the efficacy of newly developed sulfa (sulfanilamide) drugs. At Natzweiler and Sachsenhausen, prisoners were subjected to phosgene and mustard gas in order to test possible antidotes.The third category of medical experimentation sought to advance the racial and ideological tenets of the Nazi worldview. The most infamous were the experiments of Josef Mengele at Auschwitz. Mengele conducted medical experiments on twins. He also directed serological experiments on Roma (Gypsies), as did Werner Fischer at Sachsenhausen, in order to determine how different "races" withstood various contagious diseases. The research of August Hirt at Strasbourg University also intended to establish "Jewish racial inferiority."
Well, what a relief that the "MORE HARDLINE" candidates didn’t win.!
Obviously, it’s easy to look like a "moderate" when your opponents include a scoundrel who disqualified thousands of valid voter registrations because they were printed on the wrong paper stock (J. Kenneth Blackwell) and two crackers who forced us to ponder whether it was worse to belong to an all white country club and brag how one’s opposition to school busing inspired their career in politics (Katon Dawson) or to distribute as gifts celebrating the season of “Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All Men,” Paul Shanklin’s sophomoric racist attempts at musical comedy (Chip “Schmuckabie” Saltsman).
Well, to give the question its due, the comedy albums committed the fundamental sin of being vulgar without being funny and are thus inexcusable. By contrast, the country club at least had the redeeming virtues of good food and well manicured fairways. And, to be fair to Dawson, during the 70s, plenty of basically decent politicians, including Joe Biden, also opposed busing for racial balance. Some did it to cover their asses, and some did it because they concluded, that however well intentioned, busing's public policy impacts were ultimately negative (and I'm not certain they were entirely wrong). Today (and then), some basically decent politicians oppose affirmative action for the same reasons (my opinion here is nuanced and case by case, but since I favor affirmative action in certain instances, I guess I qualify as a supporter). Nonetheless, decent politicians did not and do not make opposition to busing or affirmative action the centerpiece of their campaigns, no matter how sincere and well motivated their opposition. Those who did so were playing games with fire and gasoline. And those who undertook a career in public life based solely on opposition to such measures probably have earned an unpleasant presumption.
So, I guess it’s progress that the Republicans chose to dodge such bullets. Moreover, what a clever thing to elect an African-American Party Chair to show up the Democrats for being hypocrites who talk the talk but never walk the walk. This is brilliant innovative counter programming that puts the Democrat’s failure to do similar things to shame. I mean, can you imagine the Democrats ever showing enough guts to make a Mormon their Senate Majority Leader?
Oops, never mind.
Back in the Gingrich days, the Republicans actually claimed the presence of a couple of female House Committee Chairs showed the Republicans were the real party of equal opportunity, and idiot Democrats without a sense of history (like Dee Dee Myers) praised the Republicans for their innovations, even though the first female Democrat to Chair a House Committee had done so in the 1930s.
So, perhaps the Republicans are right in their hopes that nobody will notice that their innovative move of elevating a Black man to the Chairmanship of their Party came exactly 20 years after the Democrats had done the same.
But, even those without a sense of history will probably notice that the Democrats have since put a black man in the White House. The Republican response is to elect a man with a history of playing the race card who is capable of such witty bon mots as “The Democrats were slaveholders, they were the ones who wanted to keep blacks in slavery. So the irony is that here we are today beholden to our slave masters, in effect.” [Washington Post, 5/10/01].
This is a selective view of history. For starters, it ignores 1876, when a Republican Party, desperate to hold onto power, stole an election by buying off the “Birth of a Nation” crowd, ending Reconstruction and allowing its replacement with Jim Crow. The result for most Southern blacks was a life on earth encompassing all of the features of slavery with fewer fringe benefits. Still, given what the Democrats were offering in the alternative, black voters stayed loyal to the Republicans until the dawn of the New Deal, “beholden,” as Mr. Steele might put it, “to their slave masters, in effect.”
Though in the post-New Deal era, black voters usually voted for the Democrats, elections were competitive until the mid-sixties, as both parties worked hard for black votes. When, in 1957, as documented by Robert Caro, Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson rammed the first post-Reconstruction Civil Rights bill through the Senate, Vice President Richard Nixon opposed it from the left.
It was the monumental Civil Rights legislation passed by President Johnson in 1964 and 65 that changed things forever, and not only among African Americans. While supported by moderates, and opposed by conservatives, in both parties, the passage of the Civil Rights Laws was recognized by Johnson as the death knell for Democratic dominance of the South.
Almost immediately, segregationists like South Carolina Congressman Albert Watson and Senator J. Scum Vermin (who, like his ancestors, who he shared with Al Sharpton, voted white, but slept black ) bolted to the GOP. For others, the process took longer, but it was inexorable. When grass-eating Mississippi bigot William Colmer, a Democrat, left his House seat in 1972, his place was taken by his top aide, Trent Lott, who ran as a Republican.
In every State where Jim Crow once held sway, the process was remarkably similar, as former Democratic Neanderthals like Jesse Helms flocked to the "Party of Lincoln." A student of GW Plunkitt, Dick Nixon seen his opportunities and took ‘em, evolving “The Southern Strategy;” whose essence was the same as it was in 1876: Win elections by selling out the black folk. The results have been campaign after campaign based upon using black Americans as scapegoats and straw men.
By this process, the party of Lincoln became the party of Jefferson Davis and John Wikes Booth; and as it did, its idea of a "Republican Moderate" evolved from Edward Brooke to Michael Steele. The same racist Registrar of Voters who denied Condi Rice’s grandfather the right to vote, inspiring her to become a Republican, was already in Condi’s party of choice by the time she became old enough to exercise the franchise herself (with the unacknowledged help of Lyndon Johnson). And so it remains to this day. But obviously, someone’s concluded that the Republican party needs to diversify its customer base.
The response has been what I call “The J.D. Miller Strategy.”
J.D. Miller of Crowley, Louisiana started the "Fais Do Do" record label in 1946, recording Cajun music. Soon he diversified, also recording Hillbilly.
But, like the 1876 Republicans, willing to sell out their black base for the main chance, Jay Miller was willing to record almost any kind of record that someone might be willing to buy.
In 1966, he formed Reb Rebel Records, with a label featuring Confederate flags. The first releases were "Flight NAACP 105" by the Son Of Mississippi and "Dear Mr.President" by Happy Fats. Each sold in excess of 200,000 records. He followed this with "Kajun Klu Klux Klan" and "Looking For A Handout" by Johnny Rebel. Rebel, the label’s most popular artist, followed up with such toe-tappers as “Move Them Niggers North,” “Nigger, Nigger,” “Stay Away from Dixie,” “Some Niggers Never Die (They Just Smell That Way”) and “Nigger Hatin’ Me’, while James Crow hit with the soulful “Cowboys and Niggers.”
Eating with blacks? Obviously, I owe an apology to Katon Dawson, since there is a clear distinction between J.D. Miller and the denizens of Dawson's country club.
So, like J.D. Miller, the Republicans have broadened their market, the big tent now has room for new Chair Michael “Lightnin’ Slim" Steele and also-ran Ken “Lonesome Sundown” Blackwell, and they are now fronting the band--but, it seems quite probable that, in a party which considers Steele a moderate, back in the studio, the likes of runner-up Katon “Johnny Rebel” Dawson and scratched-at-the-gate Chip “James Crow” Saltsman are still leading the band and calling the tunes.
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