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The Democratic Party and Human Rights: The History Defies the Claims
Crisis Magazine ^ | August 31, 2012 | Stephen M. Krason

Posted on 09/01/2012 2:46:50 PM PDT by NYer

Democrat Presidents

The Democrats have liked to promote themselves over the years as the party that has been at the vanguard of promoting such causes as civil rights and human rights generally. An impression has been cultivated that we owe advances in human rights to liberalism, which at least since the New Deal has been identified in the U.S. with the Democratic party. In this year’s platform, the Democrats are presenting themselves as opening the way to yet another new frontier in the civil and human rights struggle, as it endorses what it calls “marriage equality.” That is, it wants same-sex “marriage” to be the law of the land.

This, of course, is in line with the tendency of the Democratic party for the last generation—as it came to be dominated by an increasingly secular liberalism—to be at the vanguard of promoting such ersatz rights as abortion, sodomy, and sexual libertinism. This year, we continue to see the Democrats embrace a “no-exception” position on abortion—that is, no exceptions to the abortion liberty should be allowed (including “partial-birth” abortion)—and they will tolerate no opposition to it. So, the party continues its tradition since the Clinton era of allowing no pro-life dissent within its ranks. It would not permit the late Governor Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania to give a speech against abortion at its 1992 Convention and this year it even refused to include language in its platform to the effect that it welcomes in its fold Democrats who are pro-life.

All these claimed civil and human rights are, of course, anathema to Catholic teaching. The party of the Catholic immigrants who played a crucial role in helping to fashion its majority status for several decades in the twentieth century is now a party, as seen in one platform after another and in the positions of most of its major office-holders, that is officially hostile to uncompromisable moral precepts of the Church.

If the Democrats are now the party of ersatz rights, what was the record of Democratic presidents and the Democratic Party historically on genuine human rights? Should they rightfully be credited with a legacy of upholding and advancing civil and human rights as the party and its apologists want us to believe?

I spent a memorable academic year (2008-09) as a visiting fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey. Witherspoon has an informal association with the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University; both are under the tutelage of the eminent Catholic scholar Robert George. One of the Madison Program’s guest lecturers that year was the presidential scholar Alvin S. Felzenberg of the University of Pennsylvania and George Washington University. It was remarks in his lecture about rating presidents that first got me thinking about this subject. One of the criteria that he thought necessary to consider in evaluating presidents was their effort to preserve and extend liberty. As he talked about different presidents, he observed—almost as an aside—that the record on this of Democratic presidents, even ones often considered “great” or “near-great,” was troublesome. His comments and my own further reflections about the actions and viewpoints of both Democratic presidents and party demonstrate a not-so-stellar historical legacy.

First, there was Andrew Jackson, whose presidency marked the beginning of the modern Democratic Party and was when that name was first used (it had previously been the “Democratic-Republican” party). Jackson and his compatriot and successor Martin Van Buren, ignoring a Supreme Court decision and for reasons of political interest, forcibly relocated the Cherokees and other Indian tribes from the southeastern U.S. This included the “Trail of Tears,” where many of the Indians died in the difficult journey westward. Next, was the Mexican War, which was prosecuted by Democrat James Knox Polk and fiercely objected to by a little-known Whig Congressman named Abraham Lincoln who was later to become the first Republican president. The war, which was probably undertaken for expansion in the throes of Manifest Destiny, resulted in the massacres of Mexican civilians in occupied territories, the growth of slavery in the Southwest, and illicit seizures of private lands in violation of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. As far as slavery was concerned, it was always the Democratic Party that was the major political defender of it, as it was later on of Jim Crow. We sometimes forget that the old segregated South was one-party Democratic until the end of the 1960s, and that the major opponents of federal civil rights laws were the powerful, entrenched southern Democrats in Congress.

Woodrow Wilson, the quintessential Democratic “progressive,” presided over probably the most severe restriction of civil liberties in American history during the course of World War I. Any dissent against American war policy was vigorously put down. Then, of course, there was the Japanese internment on the West Coast carried out by the twentieth century’s most famous Democratic president, Franklin Roosevelt. FDR also refused to support federal anti-lynching legislation (which was mostly pushed by Republicans). Finally, we return to the fact that the Democrats have been the party of legal abortion. Not only have they been impervious to the facts that abortion represents an assault on the most basic human and civil right—to life—and is a clear example of a denial of rights to a whole group of persons, they have rabidly supported it.

This record demonstrates what Pope John Paul II cautioned about: When democratic republics disconnect themselves from truth they can become “thinly disguised totalitarianisms.” Perhaps these troublesome actions of earlier Democratic presidents resulted from pandering to the sentiments of electoral majorities; the current ersatz rights regime is a response to a trend-setting cultural elite.

To be sure, the Republican Party, although founded to further one of the greatest human rights crusades of modern times (ending slavery), has not been pure. It was not welcoming of the immigrants or supportive of the rights of labor (although the Democrats also overwhelmingly supported the ending of open immigration in 1924 and were no great friends of labor before the New Deal either). One also thinks of episodes such as the violent eviction of the “Bonus Army” of WWI veterans from Washington, D.C. under Herbert Hoover (even though the real culprit was probably General Douglas MacArthur, who ignored Hoover’s orders to stop his assault and his aide Dwight D. Eisenhower’s—the later Republican president—entreaties to step back).

Still, it has been the Democrats who for fifty years have touted themselves as the party of the people and of civil rights. We hear time and again that the Republicans and their allies, like the Tea Party, are hostile to civil rights. The left is quick to pin the label of “hypocrite” on their opponents, but doesn’t the history of America’s leftist political party readily qualify it for this very accusation?



TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: dnc; history

1 posted on 09/01/2012 2:46:53 PM PDT by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...
Catholic Ping
Please freepmail me if you want on/off this list


2 posted on 09/01/2012 2:49:05 PM PDT by NYer (Without justice, what else is the State but a great band of robbers? - St. Augustine)
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To: NYer
This article glosses over the enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act with scant reference:

"We sometimes forget that the old segregated South was one-party Democratic until the end of the 1960s, and that the major opponents of federal civil rights laws were the powerful, entrenched southern Democrats in Congress."

The article should emphasize the pivotal role played by Congressional Republicans in pushing through that legislation against the virulent opposition of southern Democrats. This is one of many facts of U.S. History that have been virtually lost. You won't find it in the history books our children use in school. Those texts are authored by confirmed Leftists. If we are to take back our Nation, we must transmit the true story of our history, not the politically correct, left-wing pack of lies that is becoming the conventional wisdom of our youth.



Genuflectimus non ad principem sed ad Principem Pacis!

Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. (Isaiah 49:1 KJV)

3 posted on 09/01/2012 3:09:04 PM PDT by ConorMacNessa (HM/2 USN, 3/5 Marines RVN 1969 - St. Michael the Archangel defend us in Battle!)
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To: NYer
May we remind our "progressive" friends that the most basic "human right" is the right not to be "destroyed."

"The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them."

In the words of George Mason, Delegate from Virginia and Signer of the Constitution:

"The laws of nature are the laws of God, whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth. A legislature must not obstruct our obedience to Him, from whose punishment they cannot protect us. All human laws which contradict His laws we are in conscience bound to disobey."

4 posted on 09/01/2012 3:10:30 PM PDT by loveliberty2
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To: NYer
"This record demonstrates what Pope John Paul II cautioned about: When democratic republics disconnect themselves from truth they can become “thinly disguised totalitarianisms.” Perhaps these troublesome actions of earlier Democratic presidents resulted from pandering to the sentiments of electoral majorities; the current ersatz rights regime is a response to a trend-setting cultural elite."

One additional comment on the matters discussed in this article: In 2008, Michael Ledeen, on another subject altogether, wrote of the degree to which Americans have been "dumbed down" on some basic ideas underlying our freedom:

Ledeen said, "Our educational system has long since banished religion from its texts, and an amazing number of Americans are intellectually unprepared for a discussion in which religion is the central organizing principle."

In the Pope's speech in Germany a few years ago, he observed:

"A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures."

Ledeen put his finger on a problem that stifles meaningful dialogue and debate in America. Censors [disguised as "protectors" (the Radical Left's ACLU, NEA, education bureaucracies, etc., etc.)] have imposed their limited understanding of liberty upon generations of school children.

From America's founding to the 1950's, ideas derived from religious literature were included in textbooks, through the poetry and prose used to teach children to read and to identify with their world and their country.

Suddenly, those ideas began to disappear from textbooks, until now, faceless, mindless copy editors sit in cubicles in the nation's textbook publishing companies, instructed by their supervisors to remove mere words that refer to family, to the Divine, and to any of the ancient ideas that have sustained intelligent discourse for centuries.

Now, it is the ACLU which accuses middle Americans of "censorship" if they object to books, films, etc., that offend their sensibilities and undermine the character training of their young. Sadly, many of those books and films are themselves products of the minds that have been robbed of exposure to wisdom literaturein the nation's schools and universities.

Back to the subject at hand:

The Democrats (Progressives) ARE WHO THEY ARE. Democratic candidates' "distancing" themselves (whatever that might mean) from Reid/Pelosi/Obama won't change that.

The Party stands for the right of women to determine who is born and who dies in the womb;

- the Party stands for liberalizing the definition of marriage;

- the Party stands for redistribution of wealth from those who produce it to those who don't (no matter how they label it);

- the Party stands for a belief that the U. S. Constitution is a "living," or as I heard one describe it, a "fluid" Constitution [meaning it can be changed by activist judges and even Presidents, it seems, (instead of by the ONLY method prescribed within the Constitution itself)];

- the Party leadership at all levels is in "lock-step" on these matters, revealing a totalitarian mindset that does not allow for those of differing ideas to become leaders.

As a result, the Progressives' agendas will be adhered to by elected officials, no matter how much the PR officials of the Party may use semantic trickery to "redefine" it to the citizens described as "red staters."

5 posted on 09/01/2012 3:16:37 PM PDT by loveliberty2
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To: NYer; All

Clearly, the quotation in my first post is from Thomas Jefferson, the Author of our Declaration of Independence - “The God who gave us life . . . .”


6 posted on 09/01/2012 3:18:19 PM PDT by loveliberty2
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To: NYer

bfl


7 posted on 09/01/2012 3:24:38 PM PDT by antisocial (Texas SCV - Deo Vindice)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

Thanks NYer.


8 posted on 09/01/2012 5:14:53 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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