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Colin Powell is Wrong (with a Tribute to Edward Brooke)

General Colin Powell is wrong. The Republican Party has no "identity" problem with minorities, like first popularly elected black Republican US Senator, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, among others.

In a recent interview on NBC's "Meet the Press", moderate Republican General Colin Powell, who served as Secretary of State under George W. Bush, claimed that the Republican Party has an "identity" problem. He then added that the Republican Party looks down on minorities . "There is a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. They still look down minorities."

In reality, Powell has an integrity and information problem. The notion that the Republican Party is a racist organization does not withstand any serious scrutiny. Powell suggest that the Republican Party "take a very hard look at itself." Perhaps the former general should take a long hard look at the Republican Party's history.

Founded in Michigan in 1854, the Republican Party welcomed federal internal improvements, disgraced Federalists and Whigs, and championed the end of slavery. Taking on liberal positions without overthrowing the entire political machinery of the federal government, the first Republican candidate to win the Presidency, Abraham Lincoln, waged a war first to preserve the union, then shifted not just to end the spread of slavery, but to outlaw the "peculiar institution" once and for all. Because of his political acumen and legal maneuverings (all celebrated in the Steven Spielberg epic "Lincoln", the beloved sixteenth president helped pass Amendments Thirteen, Fourteen, and Fifteen, which respectively granted the African-American freedom, citizenship, and the vote.

Following the Civil War, the Republicans controlled the White House for the next fifty years, pushing Civil Rights legislation in the 1870s. African-American legislators for Congress and the Senate ranked among the Republicans. Blacks in general identified with the Republican Party precisely because during that period of time, the Democratic Party, including the "Solid South", entitled itself "The White Man's Party." The first Democratic President to serve two consecutive terms since the Civil War, Princeton President Woodrow Wilson, was a racist progressive who purged the White House and the Washington Bureaucracy of African-Americans while waging a costly American intervention in World War I and jailing anti-war political dissenters, including socialist Presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs. The next Republican President, Warren G. Harding, released Debs and reintegrated blacks back into the White House and Washington.

Despite the widespread Democratic dominance of the 1930's and 1940's, Republicans still gathered a plurality of the black vote. Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater launched a campaign based on states' rights instead of Washington righteousness. Despite the backlash of Civil Rights supporters in the 1960's, "Negroes for Goldwater" spread the word on his behalf. Richard Nixon won 38% of the black vote, then forty-nine states in 1972. Ronald Reagan took in his own "rainbow coalition" with condescending to minority voters, but welcoming all of them, regardless of their skin color. Republican President Eisenhower defended the Little Rock Six against the segregationist Democratic hegemony in the South. Nixon finished the desegregation that Republican Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren had started with Brown v. Board of Education.

Powell later spewed race-based spite about Romney, castigating the former Massachusetts governor's less scintillating statements. Romney's "47%" remark was bad, but Romney was not racist when he quipped "The President was lazy" to explain why the President did so poorly in his first debate. The "political correctness" police imagined him then saying "shiftless" and other negative terms which had disparaged African-Americans. All of this race-bating around "code speech" is unsubstantiated and insulting. Besides, Colin Powell conveniently neglected Vice President Joe Biden's "Chains, y'all!" interjection at one Democratic meeting. Before that, national media outlets were slamming Biden for calling President Obama an "articulate" politician. The mad search for racist commentaries and subtexts has distorted the proper discourse in this country while insulting minority voters, as if they are not made of "sterner stuff" to begin with.

One Democratic President, the crummy architect of the crumbled "Great Society", said the following:

“I’ll have those niggers [sic] voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” - Lyndon B. Johnson

However, the most impressive indictment against Powell's uninformed assertion rests on no greater an example than former Massachusetts' US Senator Edward Brooke, the first African-American to be elected to the US Senate by popular vote, and a Republican. In reviewing his eventful political life, Brooke joined the Republican Party because they gave him an opportunity to serve. He agreed with the Republican stance on civil rights, since it was the Massachusetts GOP which desegregated the Bay State schools. Brooke was a moderate who respected limited government and individual opportunity. He served as the Bay State's Attorney General, winning statewide in 1964 while Barry Goldwater's Presidential campaign tarnished the Republican brand briefly. Refusing to endorse his party's Presidential nominee, Brooke went on to win the US Senate seat against an incumbent Democrat in 1966 and reelection in 1972.

Colin Powell suggests that the Republican Party has an "identity" problem, when in fact they have a memory problem, failing to remember and remind the country that the Republican Party has the stronger legacy on civil rights and minority respect than the Democratic Party. Just ask Massachusetts' former US Senator Edward Brooke. And Alabama's Artur Davis and South Carolina's Tim Scott. . .

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jan Paulsen January 20, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Yesterday's Republicans (from the 1960's-70's) are today's Democrats. Today the Republican Party would disown a liberal thinking candidate like Ed Brooke.
Arthur Christopher Schaper January 20, 2013 at 08:38 PM
No they wouldn't. Scott Brown is a "white" version of Edward Brooke, if I may be so bold. I do not agree with everything that Scott Brown stands for, but I would prefer him to "Miss-the-Markey" or any other liberal who makes the government greater than a man and puts minorities in a "their place".
Arthur Christopher Schaper January 20, 2013 at 08:40 PM
Republicans gave Brooke an opportunity to be of service. Democrats were busy resisting the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s. Republicans then and now have advanced civil rights, while Democrats have demagogued on race, and have trapped minorities in bad schools, welfarism, and racism.
Jan Paulsen January 21, 2013 at 12:37 PM
Yesterdays Southern Democrats are today's Republicans. Yesterday's liberal Northern Republicans have morphed into today's Democrats. Check your history. In the fifties and sixies the Democrats in Congress and in the White House and in the Massachusetts State house (among others) were pushing through the Civil Rights Act. Dr. King was a Southern Baptist Democrat. I was there, part of the Movement, and I am now and always have been a Democrat. I find it ironic that so much of this revisionist propaganda is being put forward by so many who are too young to remember the sixties and seventies. As for Scott Brown, he is an "empty suit" who campaigned on a single "issue" - the Native American one. Needless to say, voters did not consider that a major issue. Before the Civil Rights Act, minorities in Massachusetts were "trapped" in bad schools, welfarism, and racism, except for a very few they were unable to lift themselves out of lower Roxbury to better schools. They were not allowed to live in "nice" neighborhoods, such as Jamaica Plain or West Roxbury. They were unable to get almost any kind of job that would pay enough to make rent and eat. Why? Because they were black. The Civil Rights Movement and the subsequent Act changed all that, and those who opposed the Act have been resentful ever since. By all means, please DO ask Senator Brooke!
Arthur Christopher Schaper January 21, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Who changed the segregation policies in MA? The Republicans did. You know how I learned this? Edward Brooke told me, along with the many reasons why he is a Republican: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUsVhEBNNdQ Check your history: Republicans supported th Civil Rights Act in 1870's and 1960's. Check your present: The only black person in the US Senate currently is a black man: Tim Scott, and he is a Republican. For anyone to claim that Scott is a "token" is racism with a capital R. Check your future: A growing number of blacks are joining the GOP, including Dem turned GOP Artur Davis of Alabama -- and you claimed that the Southern Strategy was racist? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWrFPGygxt0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvw3l5r7NQU&playnext=1&list=PLQ1DlCIouNCCnWwtJq8G1xP9LrELAhB_j&feature=results_main
Arthur Christopher Schaper January 21, 2013 at 10:29 PM
I am not ashamed to write this: President Barack Obama is the “White Man's President” -- "The White Vote" got him elected in 2008. The diminished “White Vote” diminished Romney’s chances in 2012. Under Obama’s “leadership”, there has been double-digit unemployment for blacks, with 50% unemployment for black youth. President Obama could not be bothered to attend the 2012 NAACP convention, but Romney did. Frankly, the Democratic Party and its liberal platform takes advantage of the black vote, then rejects the values and the views of many black voters. The race-baiting and media distortions of the past thirty years, combined with GOP assumptions that correct and rational economic arguments alone would suffice to bring in the vote, have permitted Dems to take a voting bloc which should not be theirs. Thanks for writing.
Jan Paulsen January 22, 2013 at 12:59 AM
This sounds to me like someone has been drinking a lot of tea, and there is no arguing with someone who is under the influence of that beverage.
Arthur Christopher Schaper January 22, 2013 at 01:15 AM
Or perhaps you have been drinking the "kool-aid"? Ha Ha Ha! I would love to sit and chat, but since you insist on refusing to respond to my responses, yours is a despondent case. And Scott Brown was no empty suit. He filled it quite nicely, and did not embellish his ancestry to do so. Somebody, stop me!
Arthur Christopher Schaper January 22, 2013 at 01:23 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTfntbvjNE4 Thank you again, Mr. Brooke, for your Republican example: "My grandmother told me: 'Remember your place, now. . .'" "That disturbed me, and I knew what she was saying, why she was saying it, she was saying it to protect me. "That's why I've said, especially to young black children: 'Your place is anywhere you want it to be. It's left up to you. You make that decision.'" Dems want to make the decisions for us. They put people in their “place”. Republicans want everyone to make decisions for themselves. MLK's Dream was Brooke's reality, and the GOP supported it, then and now.

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