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Opinion Essay Sparks Fires, Obliterates History


In a recent contribution to the Back Page (“The Real Racists,” Aug. 4), tea party apologist Dale Brumfield offers a snappy but jarringly ahistorical treatise on the “brazen bigotry” of liberal Democrats from the early 20th century to the present. In his unmoored argument that the left wing has been responsible for “true hard-core racism” in America, Brumfield trots out a series of decontextualized and gossipy anecdotes about Democratic leaders; in their breezy superficiality, these tidbits fail to illumine the laws or legacies of the leaders who earn Brumfield's derision. Irritated that liberals seem “unable to learn from history,” Brumfield obliterates history altogether.

Z. Bart Thornton

Dale Brumfield's latest op-ed is either an extremely disingenuous broadside against liberals or a portrait of ignorance. The column's ahistorical musings would be laughable if they were not so widely accepted on the right side of the political aisle. Among other errors Brumfield rips Ted Kennedy's quotation out of context, misleads the readers about the ideological makeup (or lack thereof) of Congress in the 1950s and 1960s, and completely leaves out the differences between Rwanda and Bosnia. Brumfield leaves out that Southern Democrats left the party, and never came back, over the race issue. … Blogs by themselves do not weaken democratic bonds. Rather it's the messenger. And old-fashioned newspapers can spew just as much vitriol.

Schuyler VanValkenburg

If the goal of Dale Brumfield's article was to demonstrate his proud ignorance of American political history, then he did an excellent job. The article nearly reads like a look into the general shift in social ideology that occurred between the Republican and Democratic parties through the 20th century, though I very much doubt Brumfield realizes this. His convenient avoidance of one of the most well-documented changes in American political history makes most of his examples irrelevant to his argument; worse is the inherent  pointlessness of condemning any large, catch-all political party based on the actions of a few.  Some of Brumfield's examples are downright bizarre, and neither here nor there — I really can't imagine what his point was in condemning the Democratic Party as it exists today based on FDR's decision to open Japanese internment camps, or labeling Bill Clinton's administration as racist for its actions to stop the Bosnian genocide but not the one in Rwanda.

Frankly, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People endorses the Democratic Party because it more closely represents its political and social interests than the Republican Party does. It's as simple as that. It should be quite obvious that neither party defines its political platforms by its policy actions over the last 150 years. Brumfield says that it is the threat of the tea party that leads to such racial allegations by Democrats, but I think we can all see who feels threatened here.

Jonathan Scheer

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