1947 was the year in which the color barrier was broken in Major League Baseball. Prior to Jackie Robinson taking the field, MLB (or whatever it was called at the time) was segregated. Actually, it was more than segregated, it excluded blacks completely.
Using the logic of Matthew Yglesias of Think Progress, who is having his 15 minutes of race card fame, anyone who expresses any measure of praise for the pre-1947 Yankees necessarily would be "expressing affection for a White Supremacist" organization. It would not matter that the praise was for the Yankees' baseball skills; any expression of anything less than complete condemnation of the Yankees necessarily evidences tolerance for racism because the Yankees were part of a racist system.
That logic is what Yglesias uses against Haley Barbour because Barbour made a statement that when Barbour was growing up in the early 1960s in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the "Citizens Council" stood up to the Klan and was organized to keep the Klan out of Barbour's home town.
That apparenly is a true statement, but because the Citizens Council also supported the system of segregation, Yglesias has accused Barbour of "expressing affection for the White Supremacist Citizens Council," and almost the entire nutroots blogsphere has picked up the meme that Barbour is a racist.
Yet nothing Barbour said, or has done in his professional life, supports the charge that Barbour supported segregation himself, although if he were a Southern Democrat during the 1960s he almost certainly would have supported segregation.
I usually refer to Yglesias only when Yglesias makes one of his stupid "how do they think this stuff up" posts.
The attack on Barbour goes beyond the usual Yglesias foolishness. Accusing Barbour of being racist is odious and evil because there is no evidence to support the charge. Yglesias merely does what I could do to anyone who praised the pre-1947 Yankees.
For more on the falsity of the Yglesias post and attacks on Barbour, see posts by Jim Geraghty, Tom Maguire, DrewM. and Robert Stacy McCain.
Update: And, anyone who praised the 1912 Yankees also would be crazy as well as racist.
Jim Geraghty has a follow-up to his post, rounding-up how Barbour is not extended the same benefit of the doubt that regularly accrues to liberals and Democrats who make comments which, were they made by a Republican or conservative, would be deemed proof-positive of racism. Did you hear the one about Joe Biden and Indian 7-Eleven store owners? Or Harry Reid and light-skinned candidates who avoid using the Negro Dialect?
Keep in mind, there is not a single Republican candidate who will not be accused of being racist by left-wing bloggers and the mainstream media. Not one.
Update No. 2 - Barbour has issued a statement pointing out what should have been obvious to everyone, which is that Barbour's mention of the role of the Citizens' Council is keeping the Klan out of town in no way was an endorsement -- or in Yglesias-speak "expressing affection" for -- the Citizens' Council (emphasis mine):
When asked why my hometown in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns’ integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn’t tolerate it and helped prevent violence there. My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the ‘Citizens Council,’ is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time.Barbour's response was slow in coming, perhaps because he is in the pre-decision phase of whether he will run for President; he probably doesn't have a media team assembled, which made him vulnerable.
This should be a lesson for all Republicans even thinking about running. Think Progress and Media Matters, and the left-wing bloggers who regurgitate their action alerts, can spread a smear within minutes. Republican candidates need the internet equivalent of SWAT teams to deal with the race card players.
Update 12-22-2010: Powerline points out that Jimmy Carter actually supported segregation and helped fight implementation of Brown v. Bd. of Education in his role as a school board member. By contrast, nothing Barbour has said or done supported the segregationist policies of the Citizens Council, and Barbours original statement about the Citizens Council could not reasonably be construed as "expressing affection" for white supremacy.
Update 12-24-2010: Yglesias calls me an "idiot" and some other names because I pointed out the flaw in his attacks on Haley Barbour. Yglesias never addresses the main point of my post, that Barbour's historically accurate statement that the Citizens' Council in Yazoo City kept the Klan out of town was not an expression of support for the Citizens' Council's segregationist agenda.
Yglesias made up the allegation that Barbour "expressed affection" for the segregationist agenda. That was a characterization concocted by Yglesias so that he could make the logical jump from Barbour's actual words to an attack on Barbour for supporting segregation. Yglesias took words that Barbour never uttered to paint Barbour as a racist who supported segregation.
Yglesias is a race card player of the worst type because he refuses to admit what he was doing, preferring instead to play word games and to invent words which never were said.
Yglesias can attack my analogy if he wants, but he cannot defend his baseless smear against Barbour. I did not equate segregationist baseball teams to the Citizens Council, but I did point out that Yglesias' form of argument was flawed and used for the purpose of portraying Barbour as racist.
Those of you who claim Yglesias was not calling Barbour a racist are wrong. That was the whole point of Yglesias' posts, to call Barbour a racist without having to use the term "racist", but Yglesias gave away the game in his tweets:
Ta-Nehisi Coates asserts that Barbour was ignorant of history. Fine, call him ignorant. But don't call him someone who had "affection" for "white supremacist" organizations, or who was a "fan of moderate strains of white supremacist ideology."
Coates claims that Yglesias and others in the left-blogosphere did not use the term "racist," but if you say that someone has an "affection" for a white supremacist organization, or shares such ideology, aren't you calling them a racist? That is the tactic I so despise in Yglesias' attack on Barbour. If you have the proof Barbour is or was racist, show us the proof. But if you don't have it, don't make the logical jump.
Yglesias knew exactly what he was doing by framing his accusations as such. And it had nothing to do with painting Barbour as ignorant; it was all about making the racism charge stick.
Coates, whose writing I have praised in the past, should acknowledge why Yglesias framed the "affection" argument as he did. Let's not play word games; Matthew Yglesias sought to portray Haley Barbour as a racist, but the quote upon which Yglesias based the accusation did not prove the charge.
Prior Posts About Matthew Yglesias:
Worst. Prediction. Ever.
Now Evan Bayh Is "Immoral"
Not So Scary Terror
How Do They Think This Stuff Up, Part 2
How Do They Think This Stuff Up
And Now We Stereotype Blacks As Liberal
Bangladesh Lost The MA Election
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