Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Highly Dubious LBJ Quote & What It Says About Those Who Eagerly Believe It

When he signed the act he was euphoric, but late that very night I found him in a melancholy mood as he lay in bed reading the bulldog edition of the Washington Post with headlines celebrating the day. I asked him what was troubling him. "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come", he said ~ Bill Moyers, on page 167 of his 2004 book, Moyers on America. Bill D. Moyers (dob 6/5/1934) is an American journalist and liberal public commentator who served as White House Press Secretary in the Lyndon Baines Johnson administration from 1965 to 1967.

Conservatives hate that African Americans vote Democratic in overwhelming majorities. Obviously, in their minds, the reason for this must be that they were (and are still being) tricked and/or are lazy. Offer Black people goodies and get them hooked on those goodies. Then they'll have to keep voting Democratic... that or get jobs, work hard and provide for themselves. But, if you're thinking that sounds racist (that an entire group of people could be manipulated in this manner), well, the Cons and Libertarians are quite eager to point out that the reverse is actually true... it is actually the Democrats who are racist!

In fact, the very president who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was himself "a bigot and a racist of high order" according to Libertarian blogger Willis Hart who repeats a supposed quote from LBJ in a post on his blog...

Willis Hart: Lyndon Baines Johnson 1963... "These Negroes, they're getting pretty uppity these days and that's a problem for us since they've got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we've got to do something about this, we've got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference... I'll have them niggers voting Democratic for the next two hundred years". (12/31/2013 at 8:42pm).

Whether or not the quote is authentic is questionable, but I'll get to that later. First an excerpt from a political talk radio program in which the host, Thom Hartmann, discusses racism with Jennifer Burke of the "Tea Party News Network". Jennifer Burke, herself an African American, subscribes to the "tricked" theory to explain why a majority of African Americans vote Democratic, as well as the claim that it is actually the Democrats who are racist.

Excerpt from the discussion between Thom and Jennifer on the 10/23/2013 airing of Thom's program as follows (Thom does his set up and then introduces Jennifer 2:20 into the first hour & I pick up the conversation at the 5:17 mark)...

Jennifer Burke: It amazes me that the Left tries to take their racist history... the KKK was formed by the Democrats...

Thom Hartmann: Oh, the Democrats were definitely the party of racism in the early 20th century, absolutely. And they changed in the 1960s, and, as I'm sure you know, in the 1970s Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy was to reach out to Southern racists. That's why, when Ronald Reagan was nominated to be president, the first speech that he gave as a presidential candidate; his first official speech was in Philadelphia MI where those three Civil Rights workers were murdered. And he gave a speech about State's Rights, wink, wink.

JB: So, State's Rights now equals racism, so Ronald Reagan was a racist?

TH: It certainly did in 1980. In 1980 there still was an ongoing effort to roll back the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. Yes.

JB: You mean the Civil Rights Act that the Democrats tried to stop from happening?

TH: No, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act that the Democrats passed overwhelmingly, Lyndon Johnson signed; and that's how the Democrats lost the South. He told Bill Moyers at the time he signed it that the Democratic Party would lose the South for a generation. Turns out it's been two generations.

[Thom next points out that, although the Democrats used to pander to the racists, now it is the Republicans who do, and that a large number of racists have gravitated to the Tea party. Thom then asks Jennifer Burke what she thinks the Tea Party should do about it].

JB: I have no idea what you're talking about. ... I've been a member of the Tea Party since it's inception, and I've not seen that. Now, what I have seen is a history in the Democrat Party of having a control factor under the guise of compassion for Black people. It was Lyndon Johnson that said, and it holds true to this day, and these are his words, during his Great Society push... "I'll have those niggers voting Democrat for the next few hundred years".

And, that is the stronghold that they have had; that guise of compassion; let us take care of you...

TH: I have no knowledge of Lyndon Johnson ever saying that.

JB: Anybody that tries to get them [the Democrats] to see beyond skin color and to see beyond a certain circumstance; that government does not have to be the answer. And, if you ask me, Democrats constantly pushing big government as the answer to everybody's problems ... "generational welfare" is racist...

TH: Well, it's not always productive, I'll grant you that. Lyndon Johnson did cut poverty in half in the United States, both in the poor Black and the poor White communities, and set the stage for an emerging Black middle class in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

JB: And how are Blacks faring under Obama now? Black employment is...

[Thom agrees with Jennifer Burke's statement about Black unemployment, but he correctly blames Reaganomics. Then, as the music indicating that the segment is nearly over has started to play, Thom says goodbye to Jennifer, plugs her writings on Teaparty.net, and thanks her for being on the program... but she has already hung up. The segment ends at 9 minutes & 45 seconds into hour 1 of the program].

That Jennifer Burke is African American does not make the suggestion that Black people vote Democratic because they've been tricked by racist White Democratic politicians not itself racist. Escaping poverty can be extremely difficult, and although welfare can sometimes be "problematic" as Thom points out, the solution isn't to get rid of it. That suggestion, that welfare actually "subsidizes" poverty is self-serving nonsense (this is an actual argument that Mr. LB has made previously).

And that Democrats do not have genuine compassion (and belief that we are our brother's keeper), but that it is only a "guise" maintained for political benefit - is also self-serving claptrap. That government has a RESPONSIBILITY to all the people (including the poor ones) is one Democrats take seriously. "Buying votes" is how Conservatives and Libertarians characterize it because they see their responsibility as being only to the class that funds their campaigns; the wealthy.

The poor, in the minds of the "fiscally Conservative" deserve no representation because they cannot afford it. What we need to do is help the rich and the poor should be satisfied with what is "trickled down" onto them.

Also, as pointed out by a caller to Thom's show later in the hour, the LBJ quote is suspect; the source being an author and journalist who currently writes for NewsMax, of all places! (a Conservative propaganda machine that has a history of lying about Democratic Presidents).

What follows is from hour 1 of the same Thom Hartmann broadcast quoted above, this time beginning at the 37:14 mark...

Caller: ...the woman who gave a quote from LBJ; saying that the Democratic Party was going to have, quote, the "niggers voting Democratic for the next 100 years...". ... That quote can be found all over the internet on Rightwing blogs, and it can be traced back to one book by a very Rightwing author, Ronald Kessler, and it's in a book called Inside the White House. And [the quote] has never been corroborated by anyone else. He is the only person who ever alleged that LBJ said that, that I can find.

TH: To say that trying to eliminate poverty in the United States, when the vast majority of people in poverty in the United States were [and are] White, was going to, somehow win the Democratic Party the Black vote for 200 years; that doesn't make any sense that LBJ would say such a thing... it's not how he spoke; it's not how he thought; and it certainly wasn't his motivation. But it has clearly brainwashed some young Conservatives. Thanks for sharing that with us.

Those brainwashed include some older Libertarians as well (as illustrated by the excerpt from the Hartster's blog above, as well as this comment from the blog of Ayn Rand devotee rAtional nAtion). And Wikipedia notes that Mr. Kessler is also the author of a 2004 book titled "A Matter of Character" which is "an admiring look at George W. Bush's presidency". That is reason enough to strongly suspect that the LBJ quote is not accurate.

While I can not say for sure if Mr. Kessler is the only source for this quote, LBJ's prior actions while in the Senate very much contradict the idea that LBJ was a racist who signed Civil Rights legislation because it would help Democrats trick African Americans into voting Democratic. The following book quote via an article on the Media Matters website...

LBJ biographer Robert A. Caro: In the Summer of 1957... Lyndon Johnson, in an abrupt and total reversal of his twenty-year record on civil rights, would push a civil rights bill, primarily a voting rights bill, through the Senate [even though it had] no realistic chance of passage [LBJ,] in one of the most notable legislative feats in American history, would cajole and plead and threaten and lie, would use all of his power and all his guile, all the awe in which his colleagues held him, and all the fear, to ram the bill through the Senate.

It was, thanks to him, a bill that the House could also pass, and that the President could sign - the first civil rights legislation to be added to the statute books of the United States since 1870. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 made only a meager advance toward social justice, and it is all but forgotten today, partly because it was dwarfed by the advances made under President Lyndon Johnson's Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. But it paved the way - its passage was necessary - for all that was to come. As its Leader, he made the Senate not only work, but work toward a noble end. (Excerpt from Caro's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Master of the Senate).

So, given the quote at the top of my post by Bill Moyers and LBJ's past history of championing Civil Rights legislation, do I think the quote is authentic? No, I do not. LBJ's signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 COST the Democrats, politically. They didn't benefit from it. Yes, the signing of the legislation by Johnson does have a lot to do with why African Americans vote Democratic, but the Republicans have won a few elections since 1964 without the Black vote. Fact is, Nixon's Southern Strategy gave the Republicans a virtual lock on the South (by appealing to White racists).

I find it quite unbelievable that the LBJ who rightly and correctly worried that his actions had "just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come" would also gloat (racial epithet, or no) about how his actions had ensured that African Americans would be tricked into voting Democratic for a long time to come. For this reason my verdict is that the quote is false. And my other verdict is that people who very willingly believe that African Americans are gullible in this manner might be a wee bit racist.

SWTD #228

14 comments:

  1. Dervish,

    Tea Partiers most assuredly believe that quote was spoken with LBJ, not because they have primary source documentation but because it fits so neatly in their worldview. It's also why they believe the fake Washington 'Liberty's Teeth' quote vis-a-vs gun control and why Republican Al Melvin of AZ believed the fake Lincoln "Can Not" quotes which he used to attack President Obama because they "sounded good", or why Right-wingers occasionally fake being someone they hate (e.g. Paul Krugman) and produce articles which the Right-Wing Fart Bubble absorbs/retransmits and decalres internet fact.

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    1. It is a worldview not only held by many who identify with the Tea Party. Conservatives and Libertarians. Will Hart, the "Libertarian Blogger" posted the quote on his blog as if it was undisputed fact that LBJ said it. And Rational Nation, upon reading the supposed quote on Will's blog said "But damn that man was a bigot and a racist of high order. Never did like the bast*rd!"

      They all share the world view that nobody does anything because it is the right thing to do... the only reason anyone does anything is if they profit from it. Repub politicos profit from helping the wealthy. The poor cannot, unfortunately, afford any help. And Libertarians, of course, believe in "rational self interest" and greed as a virtue. And both groups can't conceive that anyone would act any differently... therefore the Democratic desire to help all Americans MUST be a trick. In their minds It's a guise they use to achieve political power.

      LBJ may have used the N-word, but the "quote" it is contained in is completely illogical. When LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 he lost the South to the Republicans. The Dixiecrats switched to voting Republican... and the South remains largely Republican to this day. Only in the past two elections has African Americans voting Democratic actually helped the Dems win the presidency (as the White majority continues to shrink). Before then the benefit was mainly to the Republicans.

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    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1rIDmDWSms

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    3. The EXACT same thing can be said about LBJ's quote about handing the south over to the Republicans -
      EXTREME left wing activist Bill Moyers originated that quote and there is absolutely zero evidence that he actually said it.



      As for the DixieCrats switching to the Republicans - How about you name me all of those Democrat/Dixiecrat Senators who voted against the Civil Rights Act - who then switched - I will give you ONE - Strom Thurmond. I will bet you can't name another. Meanwhile OTHER Democrat racists - like Orville Faubus, George McGovern, Bull Connor - ALL were Democrats and ALL stayed Democrats.

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    4. I was referring to voting blocs - People who would have voted DixieCrat switched to voting Republican. The South, which was once solidly Democratic, SWITCHED to being Solidly Republican. This is a historical fact that cannot be denied. Individual people (such as senators) don't usually change. But those Anti-Civil-Rights individual Dixiecrat senators either retired or died and were replaced with Pro-Civil-Rights Democrats. Again, another fact. The final and most important fact is that the Republicans under Nixon's Southern Strategy actively courted the racist vote. THREE irrefutable historical facts!

      As for the Moyer's quote, I believe it not only because I trust Mr. Moyers, but because it is illogical (not to mention racist) to believe (as "Unknown" obviously does) that LBJ would have signed CRL because he thought it would TRICK African Americans into voting Democratic. LBJ cost the Democratic Party the South. No way LBJ, if he were a racist who thought he was tricking African Americans, would have signed - and previously fought for, according to his biographer - Civil Rights Legislation. It is illogical and I don't believe it.

      Obviously LBJ used the N-word (as I said previous to Rick Cappetto posting the YouTube link), but all that is proof of is that he was a product of his times and the environment he grew up in (from Texas), and that he was racially insensitive/had racial biases. Despite that he DID THE RIGHT THING.

      Republicans simply cannot stand (or understand) history or why African Americans vote Democratic in overwhelming numbers today. This is why they LIE about LBJ and try to attach other motives to him doing the right thing (which he did). LBJ did NOT say anything about tricking ni**ers. The quote is bullshit. Sorry Republicans.

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  2. If Reagan's speech in Mississippi was his first one after being nominated, he must have run a very sleepy campaign. He received the Republican nomination on 17 July 1980, and he made the speech at the Neshoba County Fair--near, but not in, Philadelphia, BTW--on 3 August. So his first speech after the Republican convention was not until 2 weeks later? I find that difficult to believe.

    In addition, the Reagan campaign was openly courting black voters, and he left Mississippi to fly to New York to address the Urban League in his next speech.

    I can understand why someone might--given the probably erroneous information that the speech in Mississippi was Reagan's top priority after being nominated--think that the appeal was a sly appeal to racism, but the fact is that the speech was mostly about inflation and the economy, and how schools were being impacted. It is also a fact that his assertion that the federal government had grown too big and too strong was one he made consistently, no matter where he was speaking.

    Just clearing the historical record--never a high priority among Democrats/progressives, as it usually shows them to have been in the wrong.

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  3. Lots of sloppy thinking and factual errors.

    If Reagan's speech in Mississippi was his first one after being nominated, he must have run a very leisurely, even sleepy, campaign. He received the Republican nomination on 17 July 1980, and he made the speech at the Neshoba County Fair--near, but not in, Philadelphia, BTW--on 3 August. So his first speech after the Republican convention was not until 2 weeks later? I find that difficult to believe.

    In addition, the Reagan campaign was openly courting black voters, and he left Mississippi to fly to New York to address the Urban League in his next speech.

    FWIW, neither the Neshoba speech nor the speech to the Urban League in New York are listed among the "major Reagan speeches" that I have been able to find online.

    I can understand why someone might--given the "information" that the speech in Mississippi was Reagan's top priority after being nominated--think that the appeal was a sly appeal to racism, but the fact is that the speech was mostly about inflation and the economy, and how schools were being impacted by the same. It is also a fact that his assertion that the federal government had grown too big and too strong, and that the states needed to be re-empowered, was one he made consistently, no matter where he was speaking.

    Reagan was no racist. He had emceed an event at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, he--wrongly, I think--signed the 25-year extension of Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law, and did the same with the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. He awarded Ella Fitzgerald the National Medal of Arts, and he promoted Gen. Colin Powell twice--from one-star to three-star rank, as well as appointing him America’s 1st black National Security Advisor. (It was the Democrat, Bill Clinton, who, despite public pressure, rejected the idea of promoting Powell to 5-star rank as General of the Army. Not saying that Clinton was wrong or a racist--but I'll bet this blog would accuse a Republican who did the same thing of appealing to racist whites.)

    For those who find it inconceivable that the LBJ who signed the CRA of 1964 into law could have a crass motive for doing so, or for going further and implementing the War on Poverty and Great Society Programs, you need to look at what is in the historical record. LBJ, as Senate Majority Leader, did work with other Southern Democrats to weaken the 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights Acts. He indisputably said in 1957 that the Democrats needed to satisfy the "uppity Negroes" without fundamentally changing anything. Lyndon Johnson was nothing if not a slick, dishonest politician, and doing the politically costly "right thing" because it was good for the country was not his normal M.O.

    In addition, the Democrats were already starting to lose the "solid South" before CRA 64. Eisenhower--no racist--won four ex-Confederate states in 1952 and five such states in 1956,including LBJ's home state of Texas both times. The reason wasn't race, it was national security and opposition to Communism. LBJ could well
    have considered that he was merely abandoning a sinking ship before it became obviously necessary to do so in consigning the South to the Republicans.

    Finally, while the "have them niggers voting Democratic" remark may be suspect, so is anything said by Bill Moyers. Moyers was a partisan political hack who was never above fabricating whatever story would work to the advantage of the Democrats/liberals/progressives. Moyers was responsible for the "Daisy" TV ad of 1964, widely regarded as perhaps the dirtiest political ad of the TV age.

    Just clearing the historical record.

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  4. LBJ was a racist pure and simple. His record and multiple votes shows that. To sugar coat it just to make the Democrat party look good is horrible. http://thecitysquare.blogspot.com/2008/01/lbj-vs-civil-rights-act-of-1957.html

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  5. LBJ's record shows he was racist. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-relentless-conservative/the-democratic-partys-two_b_933995.html and here http://theblacksphere.net/2013/07/civil-wrongs-lyndon-b-johnson/

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  6. LBJ knew he was hurting the Democratic Party in the South by signing Civil Rights Legislation. Bill Moyers, LBJ's White House Press Secretary at the time, confirms this (see quote at the top of my article). These claims that LBJ thought signing the legislation would HELP himself or the Dems is complete bullpucky. LBJ signed CR legislation because it was the RIGHT thing to do. I'm not "sugar coating" anything, I'm counter Conservative lies. LBJ would not sign legislation that he KNEW would hurt Democrats politically and then gloat about tricking ni**ers and thereby benefiting politically. That argument is completely illogical. This bogus quote is simply a lame attempt by Conservatives to explain why African Americans largely vote Democratic. They have been tricked. That Conservative actually believe this is a good argument shows, IMO, who the real party representing the racists is.

    In the blog post you linked to that contains an excerpt from "Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party's Buried Past", author Bruce Bartlett pretends to know what was in LBJ's mind when he FOUGHT for the Civil Rights Act of 1957 claiming that LBJ was in favor of "amending the civil rights bill so as to minimize its impact" and that "behind the scenes, Johnson went along with [a] strategy of not killing the civil rights bill, but trying to neuter it as much as possible"...

    But LBJ's biographer Robert A. Caro, has a different interpretation of the events that lead to the passage of that legislation, which is that LBJ, "in one of the most notable legislative feats in American history, would cajole and plead and threaten and lie, would use all of his power and all his guile... to ram the bill through the Senate. It was, thanks to him, a bill that the House could also pass, and that the President could sign - the first civil rights legislation to be added to the statute books of the United States since 1870".

    LBJ's record prior to his SUPPORT for this legislation may indeed he held racist sentiments in the past, but obviously he changed his beliefs, and again, not for political expediency, as his support HURT the Democrats politically. We all know that the South votes solidly Republican and that fact is due to LBJ's support for CRs. Republicans can try to revise the historical record by fabricating motivations for LBJ to have supported CR legislation, but the FACT is that LBJ's support for CR legislation and his signing of the 1964 bill hurt the Democratic Party. And then Nixon came along and took advantage of that wound with his "Southern Strategy" show what a LIE this Conservative revisionism is.

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  7. Randall Briggs: If Reagan's speech in Mississippi was his first one after being nominated, he must have run a very leisurely, even sleepy, campaign. ...the fact is that the speech was mostly about inflation and the economy... Just clearing the historical record - never a high priority among Democrats/progressives...

    Randall, you said RWR did not give his first Speech in MI. OK, so if it wasn't there then where was it? You're claiming I'm wrong but not providing any actual facts - and that is NOT "correcting the historical record". In any case, The Washington Speculator says "the first speech that Reagan delivered after winning the GOP nomination for president in the summer of 1980 was in Philadelphia... Mississippi".

    I gave an actual location and (now) a confirmation of that location... while you provided nothing but guesses based on timing. Obviously the "historical record" isn't that high of a priority FOR YOU.

    As for Reagan's speech, Wikipedia notes that "critics claim that the location of the fairgrounds, just a few miles from Philadelphia MI, a town associated with the 1964 murders of civil rights workers was evidence of racial bias" and that Reagan's promise to "restore to states and local governments the power that properly belongs to them" was a phrase seen by some as a tacit appeal to Southern white voters and a continuation of Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy.

    Paul Krugman, also of the Times, noted that a Republican national committee member from Mississippi had urged Reagan to speak at the county fair, as it would help win over "George Wallace inclined voters", and wrote that this was just one of many examples of "Reagan's tacit race-baiting in the historical record". (Note: my last two paragraphs contain direct quotes from Wikipedia).

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  8. Dervish, I found your blog tonight and I will tell you upfront that I'm a Republican/Tea Party/ conservative type. I always enjoy a good debate but what makes them likable is when one side or the other is proven wrong and readily admits that he was wrong. Enough on that. You and I, together, let's do some research on much of the South the Republican party has taken over and when it took it over. First we have to agree that our unit of measure will be what party holds office both at the state level and nationally. It wouldn't make sense to say Mississippi is staunchly republican but is split 50/50 in the House and has swapped parties in the Senate routinely. Fair?

    I think it's as big a myth to say the South is staunchly Republican as it is to say the LBJ uttered that terrible quote. I hope you have access to my email and I will return here tomorrow when I can start my research.

    Later

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    1. I do not believe LBJ said anything about tricking ni**ers into voting Democratic. He KNEW he was handing the South to the Republicans when he signed the 1964 Civil Rights legislation. So we are in agreement in regards to this supposed LBJ quote: he did NOT utter anything of the sort.

      As for the rise of the Republicans in the South, Wikipeida notes that beginning in the 1960s, Southern support for the Democratic Party started to decline given its national leaders' support of the civil rights movement, including school integration. The Republican Party began to make new gains in the South, building on other cultural conflicts as well.

      In 1968, President Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy" is credited with allowing either the Republicans or Southern Democrat George Wallace's independent campaign to keep much of the South out of the Democratic column at the presidential level.

      The South continued to send an overwhelmingly Democratic delegation to Congress until the Republican Revolution of 1994.
      Today, the South is considered a Republican stronghold at all levels above the local level, with Republicans holding majorities in every state except Arkansas and Kentucky after 2010. Political experts have often cited a southernization of politics following the fall of the Solid South.

      Now, I am not that knowledgeable in regards to the history of who each Southern state sent to Congress from 1964 on, nor the historical makeup of each Southern States' legislature, but the Wikipedia quote above does not suggest to me that it is a "big a myth to say the South is staunchly Republican". Instead of "myth" I'd use the term "established fact".

      If you wish to attempt and debunk this with any "research" go ahead. I do not, currently, believe you are correct though. What Wikipedia says comports with my views on the matter, which is that the South *is* pretty staunchly Republican.

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  9. Here is what the southern politician, democrat or republican, has done the the southern person.

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