The Sordid History of Liberals Calling Republicans Racists

Hillary Clinton’s recent attack on Trump voters -- calling them “deplorables” and accusing the GOP nominee of building “his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and giving a national platform to hateful views and voices” -- isn’t rooted in reality. It’s just another instance of liberals labeling Republicans as racists.

Something they’ve been doing effectively for decades.

By manipulating white guilt and railroading a race-conscious agenda through every area of American society, including the media, pop culture, and the education system, liberals have stigmatized -- and to a large extent, delegitimized -- conservatism and the GOP. (I made this point in a recent article at The Federalist titled “Conservatism’s ‘Racism’ Isn’t What You Think It Is”.)

As result of this racist labeling, conservatives have lost their moral authority, and their voices have been stifled in the public square.

This chilling effect has been exacerbated during the Obama presidency, as people have been afraid to criticize a black president because they don’t want to be called a racist.

That fear is dissipating, however.

After eight years of America becoming less prosperous, less safe, and, yes, less American, people are lashing out -- and, of course, as predicted, they’re being called racists. This backlash certainly looks nasty at times, but to characterize it as motivated by racism (covert or overt) is to play into the hands of the Left.

Buckley Vs. Vidal: The Labeling Agenda

To help you see how this labeling by the Left has been transforming political discourse and altering the perception of conservatism in the minds of Americans, I’d like to go back to 1968 to give you a snapshot of labeling and to apply it to the bigger picture.

In 1968, a debate occurred at the Republican National Convention between conservative William Buckley and liberal Gore Vidal. The environment surrounding the convention and the debate was fraught with racial strife. Conflicts between police and blacks had Democrats accusing Republicans of racism, fascism, and neo-Nazism. Slanderous, malicious rhetoric was heavy in public dialogue.

Sound familiar? While the degree of conflict changes, the essence of it doesn’t. Neither do the alarmist and exaggerated depictions of racism on the Right. This was evident to Buckley when, just before the debate began, ABC put on the screen images of “police brutality,” creating the impression that there was a “police state” in Chicago run by racist Republicans.

Buckley challenged this assumption:

There was no evidence of such a thing ... It was all imagery.

Any actual violations by police should be dealt with, Buckley said, and they should be held to account. However, he added:

[D]on’t do what’s happening in Chicago tonight, which is to infer from individual and despicable acts of violence a case for implicit totalitarianism in the American system.

This was the acrimonious environment in which the debate occurred, and Vidal used it to his advantage.

Instead of delivering sound arguments, he resorted to personal attacks and threw a long list of accusations at his opponent, making it, as Buckley later complained, nearly impossible to counter with reasonable rebuttals. The debate then devolved into, as one reviewer wrote, “personal opprobrium” in which “nothing really was decided other than Buckley’s clear debating superiority.”

The debate hit its lowest and most infamous point when Vidal called Buckley a “crypto-Nazi.”

Buckley retorted with visible fury, unleashing a response that stunned everyone but Vidal himself:

Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.

Vidal, who was sexually depraved in just about every way -- by his own report -- wrote later in “A Distasteful Encounter with William F. Buckley Jr.: Can there be any justification in calling a man a pro crypto Nazi before ten million people on television?”:

All in all, I was pleased with what had happened: I had enticed the cuckoo to sing its song, and the melody lingers on. … There was nothing that Buckley was not prepared to invoke in order to keep me from establishing him as anti-black, anti-Semitic, and pro-war.

In other words, it didn’t matter what Buckley said in that debate. Vidal, like all Leftists then and all Leftists now, had one goal, and it wasn’t debating fine points of policy. It was to portray Buckley -- a prominent and influential conservative -- as a hateful racist and a bigot.