10 Historical 'Facts' Only a Right-Winger Could Believe
Continued from previous page
5. Conservatives swept MLK and the Civil Rights movement to victory.
Many modern conservatives would be shocked to hear this, as they are convinced that Republican conservatives defeated the Klansmen of the Democratic Party to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and realize King's dream.
They usually start with the Civil War, at which time Republicans really were African Americans' better friend among the Parties, and then slide on up to the Civil Rights Act -- skipping Strom Thurmond leaving the Democratic Party over segregation, Truman's integration of the Armed Services, etc.
They point out, rightly, that a greater percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the Act in both chamber. They generally don't recall that nearly all the Democratic opponents were Southern, nor that President Lyndon Johnson, who had pushed for the Act, reflected afterward that the Democrats had "lost the South for a generation" -- which turned out to be accurate, plus a decade or two, as Southerners abandoned the Democrats in consequence of their race-mixing ways.
To this day, though they are unsupported by later political developments (such as Tea Party pet Rand Paul's criticism of the Civil Rights Act), conservatives will claim King and civil rights for themselves, and react to the continuing, massive disposition of black Americans to vote Democratic as an act of stunning ingratitude.
4. Margaret Sanger was all about the eugenics.
Margaret Sanger is known to most normal people as the feminist pioneer who fought law and superstition to educate women to better methods of birth control -- mainly condoms and early diaphragms, as opposed to the caustic chemicals and folk remedies desperate women had previously used, sometimes disastrously, to prevent pregnancies.
In the course of her crusade, Sanger made common cause with a variety of world figures, including Jawaharlal Nehru, Reader's Digest founder DeWitt Wallace -- and followers of the pseudoscience of eugenics. This last was an unfortunate choice, to put it mildly, as eugenicists championed forced sterilization and even managed to get laws passed mandating it in some states.
Sanger's own writings show that eugenics was for her a hook for spreading the word about contraception, rather than the other way around; preventing unwanted pregnancy was her life's work. Still, it's a fair cop, and her eugenics endorsements -- like H.L. Mencken's anti-Semitic remarks and Robert Byrd's Klan membership -- are a dark spot on an otherwise admirable reputation.
But ask a modern conservative about Sanger, and you'll find they've got her backwards -- eugenics is literally all they know about her. Though they talk about eugenics as if it were still a popular movement, they usually don't condemn the prominent churchmen and scientists who supported it, not the Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations, nor Charles Lindbergh, nor Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, et al. It's always Sanger who symbolizes it -- which is rather like portraying Ezra Pound as the head of the Third Reich. Not only lowly lunatic fringe figures, but also big-time wingnuts like Jonah Goldberg and Michelle Malkin take this approach.
It's not hard to guess why: As the recent Lila Rose Planned Parenthood sting reminds us, conservatives aren't just against abortion -- they're against anyone who offers women any alternative to childbearing whatsoever. By portraying America's First Lady of Contraception as an enemy of freedom, they may hope to mask their their own authoritarian ambitions.