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Hugo Black, History’s Greatest Monster

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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.

…see also.

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