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Hugo Black, History’s Greatest Monster

[ 13 ] July 28, 2010 |

You might think that Jeffrey “how dare Shirley Sherrod call a mob beating someone to death because of his race a lynching” Lord would try to stop digging once he saw that even his colleagues at the American Spectator wanted nothing to do with his grotesque arguments, but you would be wrong. Some people really have no shame.

Since he has decided to keep embarrassing himself, I thought I’d discuss one of the many bizarre arguments made in his initial article. In an attempt to cast his “liberals are the real racists” net as widely as possible, in the tradition of Jonah Goldberg and Mark Levin he decides to drag former Supreme Court justice Hugo Black down into the mud:

Nary a word from Ms. Sherrod about Hugo Black, the man who can easily be said to have rescued Bobby Hall’s murderers. Much less is there a solitary thought from Sherrod about why Black was on the Supreme Court in the first place.

Justice Hugo Black, you see, was two things. Like Ms. Sherrod he was a committed liberal activist, a progressive of the day. He was a staunch supporter of FDR’s New Deal as the Senator from Alabama. But Hugo Black was also something else: a “Gold Passport” lifetime member of the Ku Klux Klan. Which is to say, a committed racist.

This argument is ridiculous on many levels — why should Sherrod discuss the background of a justice who cast one vote in a case related to the lynching she’s discussing? — but it’s also a very misleading portrayal of Black.

It’s true that Black has been a member of the Klan in the 20s, and even if this was during its “populist” phase and was explained by political necessity for someone running for the Senate in Alabama in the 1920s it is unquestionably a black mark on his record. But the idea that Black was a “committed racist” as a Supreme Court justice is just absurd. While his record on civil rights was not spotless, it was very good for a white man of his generation of any region (let alone for an elite Alabaman.) Unlike conservative icon William Rehnquist — who Lord’s former boss saw fit to make Chief Justice of the United States — Black was always unwavering in his belief that segregation was an egregious violation of the Constitution. Unlike conservative icon Robert Bork — who Lord’s former boss nominated for the Supreme Court — Black never had the slightest doubt about whether the Civil Rights Act was constitutional. Trying to use Black to condemn Democrats as the “real racists” is almost as silly as using Shirley Sherrod to do so.

And, of course, this stuff about Black just makes Lord’s argument even more incoherent. On the one hand, Black proves that Democrats are totally the real racists. On the other hand, his argument that the lynching described by Sherrod wasn’t a lynching rests on the authority of Hugo Black. When your mode of argument consists of throwing as much slime on the wall as possible, this is the kind of glaring contradiction that will happen. And the fact that the Supreme Court decision in questions was in fact entirely silent about whether the killing of Sparks was a lynching — and that the facts it described were perfectly consistent with both legal and colloquial definitions of lynching — is just icing on the cake.

This Lord is a real find. I expect Breitbart to make him the editor-in-chief of his new “Big Civil Rights” site by the end of the week.

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Comments (13)

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  1. Brad Potts says:

    Read the comments under the post where Lord continues to defend himself:

    Lord:

    Angus…

    “The opinion to which you refer never uses the word “lynching,”

    Bingo!!!! You win the prize. The point, exactly. A decision that never uses the word lynching cannot be about lynching!

    The only thing that counts is what the Court says the definition is. Not anything else.

    Progress.

    Commenter Angus Johnston:

    Wait … what?

    Seriously, what?

    Because the Supreme Court didn’t call Hall’s murder a lynching, it couldn’t have been a lynching? What kind of logic is that?

    There was no crime of lynching under federal law in 1945. The question of whether Hall was lynched wasn’t before the Court. They had no reason to consider it, and so they didn’t. They didn’t say he was lynched, and they didn’t say he wasn’t lynched. Their decision gives us no guidance whatsoever as to whether he was lynched, because it doesn’t address that question.

    I seriously don’t understand what point you think you’re making here, and I’m frankly beginning to suspect that I’m being gaslighted.

    Lord:

    “There was no crime of lynching under federal law in 1945.”

    So how could Ms. Sherrod have said with such assurance her relative was lynched?

    Jesus, I’m enjoying work today.

    • rea says:

      There is no crime of “blue” under federal law–so how could anyone say with such assurance that the sky is blue?

  2. Rick Massimo says:

    Shorter Jeffrey Lord entire conservative movement: Democrats and liberals are the real racists, and if these f*cking n!@@ers weren’t so stupid and lazy they’d realize it.

  3. howard says:

    i used to be part of an email discussion group on politics that eventually broke apart because one of the 10 or so regular participants – who had started as a right-winger – became so deranged that it was no longer possible to conduct anything approximating an intelligent conversation.

    he sounded amazingly like this jeffrey lord character: as an old guy, i’ve met some crazy leftists in my time, but nothing compares to the kind of whackos the right wing is producing these days.

    i suppose growing up with nothing but rush and glen and ann and all the rest of the usual gang of clods and idiots produces this kind of totally screwed-up thought process.

  4. BC says:

    Of course, we liberals are racist. Look at the constitutional views of a “committed racist”: school segregation violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause; one man/one vote is required by the Constitution’s requirement that representative be chosen by the People of the states; Miranda rights; right to counsel. He was a fervent believer that the entirety of the federal Bill of Rights was applicable to the states. He sounds pretty liberal to me. Of course, he did not agree that there was a right to privacy in the Constitution . . .

  5. DrDick says:

    Denial and projection are what conservatives do best. They ignore or reject the actual history of events, invent a prefabricated narrative with no relationship to actual facts, and then accuse the left of their own most egregious sins.

    • Brad Potts says:

      That is more or less true of anyone attached to a movement for the movement’s sake, rather than simply agreeing with a movement.

      Its tribalism and all sides have those who are guilty of it for some reason or another.

      Its just that conservative tribalism has gained an incredibly high-profile basically by exploiting some of the more “go team” psychology of conservatives.

      Conservatives are more psychologically devoted to tradition and kinship selection. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that conservative media would find profits in an “us vs. them” or regressive message. It is not universally true, but conservatives tend to have confirmation biases that support their upbringing and lifestyle.

      • DocAmazing says:

        Add in a few other characteristics. Conservatives, as a group, tend more toward being religious, and are therefore accustomed to arguments from faith and suspicion of arguments based on reason. The media is, by and large, owned by groups (large corporations) who will benefit directly in the short term from conservaative policies, and thereofre have a very good reason for spreading conservative notions.

      • BillCinSD says:

        and authoritarian followers, which is sort of another way of saying tribalism

        http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

  6. joe from Lowell says:

    Since he has decided to keep embarrassing himself…

    These people can’t help it. A prominent, conservative white man called out an obscure, liberal white woman on the issue of racism, on ground of his own choosing, and she kicked the fertilizer out of him. Now she’s somewhere between a role model and a national icon, and he’s disgraced, an object of scorn.

    People like Lord cannot live in a world where something like that can happen. They have gone around the bend. This guy will still be sniping at Shirley Sherrod in 20 years, like some Japanse corporal hiding out on a Pacific Island’s forest in a loin cloth in 1972. He can’t do anything else.

    The NAACP just wanted some Cracker Jacks, and they found a freaking corvette in the box.

  7. Woodrowfan says:

    Remember, what Democrats did 60+ years ago is relevant and should guide voters today, but what Republicans did last week is in the past and is no longer relevant…

  8. Joe says:

    That Heart of Atlanta Motel opinion can be applicable to the Arizona anti-immigrant law:

    FN6 (quoting John Marshall] “The genius and character of the whole government seem to be that its action is to be applied to all the external concerns of the nation, and to those internal concerns which affect the States generally, but not to those which are completely within a particular State, which do not affect other States, and with which it is not necessary to interfere for the purpose of executing some of the General powers of the Government.”

  9. [...] Black, contrary to some dumb conservative arguments, was an effective advocate for civil rights and civil liberties for most of his tenure on the [...]

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