Emmett Tyrrell

For instance, Kennedy passes on the lie that Reagan and presumably all conservatives are racial bigots because of what Kennedy calls Reagan's "complacency and even insensitivity regarding civil rights." The evidence marshaled is Kennedy's misleading claim that Reagan "opposed the principles of the Voting Rights Act." There were actually two civil rights acts at the time, one in 1964 and the one Kennedy refers to of 1965. There were perfectly legitimate constitutional grounds for opposing them and another very practical and even prudent reason cited by both liberal and conservative believers in integration and civil rights, namely, the looming use of quotas and affirmative action.

Both became divisive issues, damaging race relations almost immediately after passage of the 1965 act. No less a liberal than Sen. Hubert Humphrey saw it all coming during the debate on the 1964 act, when he expressed his opposition to quotas, explaining: "Do you want a society that is nothing but an endless power struggle among organized groups? Do you want a society where there is no place for the individual? I don't." Predictably, the rancor has gone on for decades, delaying the arrival of the Rev. Martin Luther King's colorblind society. In fact, for more than four decades, liberals have treated this policy disagreement as a manifestation of racial bigotry among conservatives. In so doing, they have kept racial enmity alive and, as Kennedy manifests in his book, exploited it.

Actually, the liberals' contempt for conservatives is more intense today than it was during the debates over the civil rights acts. Kennedy goes so far as to accuse Reagan of beginning his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., because, in Kennedy's eyes, it was "the site of one of the most heinous racial crimes of the twentieth century." In 1964, three civil rights workers were murdered there, one of the many barbarities committed against such brave activists throughout the long struggle for civil rights. No historian has found any evidence that Reagan campaigned there out of racially invidious motives, and one, Steven Hayward, has discovered that Reagan was furious upon discovering the town's dark past. To allege that Reagan would exploit murder is shameless but an indication of liberal contempt for conservatives.

Equally shameless and contemptuous was Kennedy's treatment of former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork in a speech that Kennedy proudly quotes, despite the obvious fact that it marks the beginning of the savagery we now see at Senate Supreme Court hearings, particularly when a conservative is being grilled. "Robert Bork's America," our Coogler laureate intoned, beginning a perfect concatenation of lies, "is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens." Enough!

Return to his line about evolution. From the evidence of Sen. Kennedy's book, it appears that he experienced no evolution whatsoever throughout his entire public life. In fact, it appears that emotionally, he experienced no evolution from the era of the caveman.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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