The Southern Fried Socialism your teachers never told you about.
As any white liberal Northerner will tell you, just forget that the pre-1970 Democratic Party was actually the party of the KKK, water cannons and attack dogs. The same white liberal Northerner will ensure that everyone in earshot understands that those evil white Democrat Southerners back then did nothing more than to make an easy switch to the GOP when the Jackass Party moved hard left almost half a century ago.
Well, that’s not quite true. The heavy-hitters of forced segregation and the often violent oppression of Southern blacks last century weren’t simply hard-core Republicans with a thin veneer of Democrat on the surface just because “Daddy and his daddy before him were Democrats.”
Umm… no. Those hate filled bigots back then didn’t exactly have much in common with someone like Ronald Reagan or William F. Buckley. But they sure could out-socialist the likes of Bernie Sanders or Hugo Chávez with someone else’s hand tied behind their back.
Despite liberal academics and media elite constantly selling the myth that white Southern Democrats back in the day were essentially the same thing as white Southern Republicans today simply isn’t historically accurate.
Regarding the roots of socialism in the United States starting in 1901, as Benjamin Schwarz of The Atlantic magazine penned in his 1998 review of the book Faubus, “American socialism found most of its adherents not in New York or Massachusetts but in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
Speaking of Arkansas, former Governor Orval E. Faubus was looked upon as the political godfather to a certain William Jefferson Blythe Clinton. The same Faubus who deployed the Arkansas National Guard to keep nine black kids from attending Little Rock’s all-white Central High School in 1957.
But as Schwarz noted in his biography of the Southern Democratic icon, he made note of “the political and ideological environment of rural socialism in which Faubus was steeped.” Before I forget, allow me to point out that Orval Eugene Faubus was named after the leader of the American Socialist Party, Eugene V. Debs.
Don’t know who Eugene V. Debs is? He’s the Socialist Party leader who in the early 20th century called for a Bolshevik-style violent overthrow of the US government.
Then we come to the Birmingham Commissioner of Public Safety who ordered the Birmingham Police Department go after black marchers with attack dogs and billy clubs also just happened to be a “Democratic National Committeeman from Alabama, at a time when each state and territory had just one male and one female member on the Democratic National Committee.”
Does that sound like a Republican in Democrat’s clothing? Nah, doesn’t sound like one to me either.
Finally, who could forget MSNBC’s Chris Hayes literally bobbing in his chair with excitement as he cited the 50th anniversary of Alabama’s “Republican” Governor George Wallace’s blocking of a doorway at the University of Alabama, thus keeping a black student from enrolling. But as we all know, Wallace was a Democrat.
Yet as reporter Charles J. Dean wrote for Al.com, “Historian Angela K. Lewis, a professor of political science at UAB, stated that while many remember Wallace for his fiery 1963 ‘segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever’ speech and his stand in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama, Wallace was more. She pointed out Wallace in his early political life was a progressive, a liberal, a populist, some even thought a socialist.”
Indeed, even the notoriously left-leaning PBS noted in their documentary of Wallace, “At the start of his political rise, he was a liberal, indeed, he was considered the one of the most [politically] liberal judges in Alabama, a moderate on racial issues.”