You'd think that National Review would be trying to put things like its proud advocacy of white supremacy during the Civil Rights Movement to rest, but Fred Schwartz wants you to know that William F. Buckley was right, dammit:
Anyone who knows what “states’ rights” meant in 1964 must shudder at those words; but in retrospect, Goldwater and the editors had at least half a point. When the bill was debated in the Senate, opponents charged that it would require employers and educational institutions to meet rigid racial quotas in hiring and admissions. Nonsense, said the bill’s sponsors (and fully believed what they said). Nowhere did the bill mention quotas; in fact, it repeatedly and explicitly required equal treatment regardless of race. What could be plainer than that? And yet less than a decade later, “affirmative action” became all but mandatory.
Schwartz goes on to complain about other "big government" conservative bugaboos, like the Voting Rights Act, and then ties Affirmative Action, the VRA and environmental regulation to health care, presumably because health care reform is another big government initiative that might help the coloreds--and on that, as Schwartz might say, there is "half a point"--I just don't know why that's a problem. It's embarrassing that fifty years after segregation was outlawed conservatism's "flagship publication" is still basing its opposition to "big government" partially on whether or not the proposed legislation assists nonwhites. It's how the National Review can oppose the very concept of universal health care coverage and still support as terrible a violation of personal liberty and democratic principles as torture--like state sanctioned segregation, big government is all good as long as its aimed at putting a cultural other in their place.
Schwartz's pathetic attempt to turn Buckley's flagrant embrace of white supremacy into some kind of abstracy policy argument shouldn't be ignored either. This is what Buckley wrote:
The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes – the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.
National Review believes that the South's premises are correct. It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority. Sometimes it becomes impossible to assert the will of a minority, in which case it must give way, and the society will regress; sometimes the numerical minority cannot prevail except by violence: then it must determine whether the prevalence of its will is worth the terrible price of violence.
Regardless of what was being "debated in the Senate," Buckley's support of segregation wasn't based on a fear that big government policies would infringe on personal liberty--the editorial was arguing against black suffrage. The point was that whites were "the advanced race" and therefore entitled to dominate their betters--even to the point of denying blacks the right to vote.
See if you can find Schwartz's "half a point" in that.
-- A. Serwer