News & Politics

SOLOMON: Buchanan's Racism

So far in the 1996 campaign, the national press has paid little attention to the ties that bind Patrick Buchanan and white racism. Now, with Buchanan surging in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, it's time for journalists to wake up and smell the foul odor of bigotry.
So far in the 1996 campaign, the national press has paid little attention to the ties that bind Patrick Buchanan and white racism.Now, with Buchanan surging in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, it's time for journalists to wake up and smell the foul odor of bigotry.The racial undertow of the cresting Buchanan wave is symbolized by David Duke. "He supports me, I don't support him," Buchanan said last month on his way to an upset victory in the Louisiana caucuses. The terse remark was as much a wink as a repudiation.Duke -- a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who has emerged as a big vote-getter in Louisiana -- sent out a letter endorsing Buchanan. Weeks later, the press corps seemed to yawn when Sen. Phil Gramm complained that the Duke support was "a big factor" in Buchanan's Louisiana win.Links between Buchanan and Duke have involved the sincerest form of flattery. Several years ago, Buchanan said he felt tempted to "sue that dude for intellectual property theft."When the ex-Klansman was elected to the Louisiana legislature as a Republican in 1989, Buchanan argued that the national party had "overreacted" with excessive opposition to Duke's candidacy.In a syndicated column, Buchanan gave credit to Duke for moving "into the vacuum left when conservative Republicans in the Reagan years were intimidated into shucking off winning social issues." Buchanan fretted that "the GOP is throwing away a winning hand, and David Duke is only the first fellow to pick up the discards."Pat Buchanan was eager to be the next fellow to pick up the discards. The head of his first presidential campaign acknowledged as much during a CNN interview on April 22, 1992." In some regards, David Duke stole Pat's message over the years, but he has a good message in many counts," said campaign chair Bay Buchanan. "When he talks about quotas, he's absolutely right, it is unfair. When he talks about welfare reform, this is something the American people want to see."She added that "what really made David Duke a legitimate candidate" was "the fact that he was willing to speak about issues that are controversial and difficult but that the people wanted to hear."These were not stray comments from Bay Buchanan, who now directs the '96 Buchanan-for-president campaign. Her brother Patrick has long been hostile to racial equity.Buchanan has fought every civil-rights measure for more than three decades. When he was a young editorial writer for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat in the 1960s, Buchanan took FBI memos smearing Martin Luther King Jr. and published them as his own editorials.A few years later, serving as an adviser to President Richard Nixon, Buchanan wrote in a memo that "integration of blacks and whites -- but even more so, poor and well-to-do -- is less likely to result in accommodation than it is in perpetual friction, as the incapable are placed consciously by government side by side with the capable."In 1990, trying to justify apartheid in South Africa, Buchanan denounced the notion that "white rule of a black majority is inherently wrong." He demanded: "Where did we get that idea? The Founding Fathers did not believe this."Appearing on ABC-TV's This Week With David Brinkley in December 1991, Buchanan lectured: "If we had to take a million immigrants in, say Zulus, next year, or Englishmen, and put them up in Virginia, what group would be easier to assimilate and would cause less problems for the people of Virginia?"Unfortunately, the news media have failed to illuminate the racial aspects of Buchanan's outlook. Often it seems that big-name journalists would rather make excuses for Buchanan than scrutinize him.After working in TV studios with Buchanan, fellow pundits say gushy things about him. The Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt calls Buchanan "a very civil, even a very kind, man." Fred Barnes, executive editor of the trendy conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, describes him as "a really nice guy, actually a sweet person."But collegial affection doesn't explain the easy media ride that Buchanan has gotten on the subject of race. This winter, in sharp contrast, many news outlets have repeatedly panned Buchanan for opposing the NAFTA and GATT agreements.Evidently, in medialand, Buchanan's aversion to corporate "free trade" agendas is unforgivable. However, his on-the-record racial utterances seem to be quite forgettable.That kind of selective amnesia is a tipoff: In 1996, the national news media still have a hard time confronting racism.THE POWER OF BABBLE: To The Rhetorical Barricades! By Norman Solomon"Discrimination is wrong. But you do not correct old injustices by committing new ones. ... America must become a nation of equal justice for all and special privilege for none."-- Patrick BuchananIn other words: These days, you can't say discrimination is right, but you can compound old injustices by denying that they endure. America must not interfere with special privilege for white men.***"Kill it, drive a stake through its heart, bury it, and hope it never rises again to terrorize the American people!" -- Steve ForbesIn other words: Taxation is the root of all evil.***"We will meet these going forward as one America, by working together in our communities, our schools, our churches and synagogues, our workplaces across the entire spectrum of our civic life." -- Bill ClintonIn other words: It's better not to mention the millions of Americans who work together in mosques. They're still outside the spectrum of our political rhetoric.***"(Some intellectuals) want the children of America to despise this country's past and its history the way they despise America's past and its history." -- Patrick BuchananIn other words: Let's gloss over the injustices of the past. That'll train kids to gloss over injustices of the present.***"We should not stop at 17 (percent). Once the American economy is moving again, I want to reduce the (tax) rate further and further and further. We won't get it to zero emissions, you might say, but that wouldn't be a bad goal." -- Steve ForbesIn other words: In a bidding war for utter credulity, I have the deepest pockets.***"The antitrust laws continue to apply fully." -- Bill ClintonIn other words: As fully as they did last year when Disney bought ABC, Westinghouse bought CBS and Time Warner bought CNN.
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