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“Hitler Was A Vegetarian”: Still Not A Serious Mode of Argument

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Roy finds Jeffrey Lord* and — natch — Jonah Goldberg making what you might call the “inverse Katznelson” (or perhaps “Katznelson for morons”) argument. That is, the argument that attempts to discredit the contemporary welfare state by arguing that various public officials who initially favored them were white supremacists who sometimes defended them by using racist justifications. Now, it is true that many Gilded Age Progressives were white supremacists, and while white supremacism had lessened among progressive political elites by the time of the New Deal (FDR appointees, after all, were the core of the Supreme Court that ruled segregation unconstitutional), New Deal progressives needed the votes of white supremacists in Congress to pass the New Deal, with the consequence that New Deal programs egregiously discriminated against African-Americans. (Have I mentioned that you should read Katznelson?)

The idiotic non-sequitur at the core of Lord Goldberg is using these facts to try to discredit progressive social programs. Leaving aside the logical fallacy indicated in the title, the argument also doesn’t make any historical sense. To point out that a major national Gilded Age-era political official was a white supremacist approaches tautology. And in the New Deal era, not only were the strongest supporters of social programs generally not white supremacists, but their Republican opponents opposed both federal social programs and civil rights. And of course, from 1938 until the Johnson administration Congress was controlled not by progressive Democrats but by an alliance of white supremacist Democrats…and conservative Republicans.   (Funny thing — this coalition did not make the New Deal more egalitarian.)  After the Johnson administration embraced civil rights, progressives made the New Deal more expansive and properly egalitarian, both of which led to the Goldwater reaction (the foundation of the modern conservative movement, which was again opposed to both civil rights and social welfare programs.)  To restate the obvious, not only is there is no logical connection between white supremacy and the contemporary welfare state, support for the latter is inversely correlated with the former.

*You may remember Principled Advocate of Civil Rights Jeffrey Lord from such classics as “extrajudicial killings of African-Americans are not lynchings” and “Hugo Black: history’s greatest monster.

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