Haley Barbour and Walter Duranty

Wingnuts fervently believe two propositions:

– That all liberals are tainted by the fact that Walter Duranty supported tyranny in the Soviet Union in 1935.

– That no conservative is tainted by the fact that Southern conservatives (along with many Northern “movement” conservatives, starting with William F. Buckley) supported tyranny in the United States in 1965, and that many of them, including Trent Lott and – most recently – Haley Barbour, still haven’t come to terms with that fact.

In 1965, black people who tried to register to vote in the South were prevented from doing so by the illegal actions of public officials and faced the risk of systematic private violence abetted by the inaction of law enforcement agencies (including the FBI, headed by conservative icon J. Edgar Hoover). And to be a “conservative” in the South meant that you supported the continuation of that system in the name of “state’s rights.”

Most of those Southern conservatives started out as Democrats, but as the national Democratic Party moved in a more liberal direction on racial issues (starting with Truman’s desegregation of the military and Humphrey’s civil rights resolution at the 1948 Democratic National Convention) those Dixiecrats (and their children) overwhelmingly became Republican. And while today’s GOP pays lip service to Martin Luther King, it still gets its electoral margin from white people who don’t want a government that’s too friendly to black (or, now, brown) people.