Does anyone read anymore? I mean, besides tweets from Anthony Weiner?
During his otherwise excellent commentaries on race in America, Bill O'Reilly, host of the No. 1 cable news show, claimed on Tuesday night that the one person who tried to help African-Americans more than any other was ... Robert F. Kennedy!
No one laughed. I guess that's what they're teaching these days at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. (I can't wait to hear how Ted Kennedy helped eradicate drunk driving!)
According to O'Reilly's Bizarro-World history, Bobby Kennedy was "the guy who was really concerned about African-Americans" and "who really DID SOMETHING. ... He went in with the federal government and he cleaned out the rat's nest that was abusing African-Americans in the South."
Although this myth has been polished to perfection by the Kennedy PR machine (requiring all Kennedy stories to illustrate either courage or adorableness), it is simply a fact that helping blacks was not the Democrats' priority. Even the ones who wanted to, such as Bobby and John Kennedy, couldn't risk upsetting the segregationists, more than 90 percent of whom were Democratic.
The job of actually enforcing civil rights and desegregating Southern schools fell to Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.
Five years after Eisenhower had shown the Democrats how its done by sending federal troops to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., President Kennedy and brother Bobby still dragged their feet in helping James Meredith enter the University of Mississippi.
On Feb. 7, 1961, Meredith wrote a beautiful letter to the Department of Justice, describing his inability to enroll at the University of Mississippi, He wrote:
"Whenever I attempt to reason logically about this matter, it grieves me deeply to realize that an individual, especially an American, the citizen of a free democratic nation, has to clamor with such procedures in order to try to gain just a small amount of his civil and human rights, and even after suffering the embarrassments and personal humiliation of this procedure, there still seems little hope of success."
The full letter is worth looking up. I would venture to guess there are not many college applicants of any race who write this well today. (You know why? Because Americans don't read anymore. You watch cable news and fill your heads with nonsense history and false facts.)
In response to Meredith's eloquent letter, Bobby Kennedy did nothing. And that's how Bobby Kennedy "cleaned out the rat's nest that was abusing African-Americans in the South"!