Motes-and-beams dep’t

How many of the Republican politicians who are about to beat up on Barack Obama for not acting the Pharisee with William Ayers are entirely unconnected to perpetrators and facilitators of segregationist, anti-Castro, and anti-abortion terrorism?

I hope all the wingnuts who plan to beat up on Barack Obama because he served on the board of a community foundation with someone who did something horribly disgusting in 1970 and said he wasn’t sorry for it in 2001 are absolutely certain that they have no similar contact with anyone involved in supporting or facilitating:

1. The terrorist campaign to maintain racial domination in the South. (That would include virtually the entire political and law enforcement leadership of the whole region.) For example when William F. Buckley wrote:

The central question that emerges … is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes — the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.

he knew very well that “such measures as are necessary” included lynching. He eventually changed his mind about racial superiority. But did he ever make apology, let alone reparation, to the scores of people who were murdered in defense of the segregationist cause while he continued to adhere to it? And of course Strom Thurmond as Governor of South Carolina must have been much more directly involved in promoting and protecting terrorist violence. Yet no one has suggested that sitting on a charitable board with Strom Thurmond constituted retroactive support for terrorism.

2. The terrorist campaign directed by anti-Castro organizations in South Florida against other Cuban-Americans and against independent media, including the successful effort to make it impossible to distribute the Miami Herald in Cuban Miami through the use of systematic violence, including firebombing, against newsdealers who failed to comply with the boycott called by the Cuban-American National Foundation. Like the segregationist campaign, this couldn’t have continued without at least the passive connivance of the rest of the Cuban-American political establishment of Miami and of federal and local law enforcement agencies.

3. The largely successful terrorist campaign to shut down clinics that offered abortion services.

I have no brief for William Ayers. I wouldn’t have put him on a foundation board, and I’d be disinclined to shake his hand. But the notion that the Weather Underground and the Black Panther Party somehow introduced violence into a previously non-violent polity doesn’t pass the giggle test. The American Right has infinitely more blood on its hands in this regard than does the American Left.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: