PERSPECTIVErnThe Great American Purgernby Thomas Flemingrn^ tates’ rights? You can’t be serious! What do you wantrnk j to do—restore Jim Crow or bring back slavery?”rnAny serious discussion of the American repubHc alwaysrncomes aground on this rock, and it does not matter which kindrnof liberal is expressing the obligatory shock and dismay,rnwhether a David Corn leftist at the Nation, a Jacob Weisbergrnneoliberal at the New Republic, or a David Frum minicon (orrnshould that be “moneycon”?) looking for ways to pander andrnslander his way, if not to fame and fortune, then at least to expensernaccount lunches and regular appearances on C-SPAN.rnEven out here on the frontier, every hicktown mayor andrntwo-bit caporegime knows how to scream racism whenever thernrubes get in the way of some vast public-works project thatrnpromises an endless supply of lovely tax-boodle. Here in Rockford,rnaccording to the Gannett daily, you are a Nazi collaboratorrnif you resent a federal takeover of the public schools and arnracist bigot if you object to having your neighborhood turnedrninto a warehouse complex of subsidized housing. Wlien therncounty board chairman does not jump to in support of a sewerrnextension (into neighborhoods that are predominantly white),rnthat, too, is racism according to the mayor.rnIn my wild youth—a period which, for Republicans, onlyrnends in the mid-40’s—I used to make historical and conshtutionalrnarguments to show the agreement of Adams and Jeffersonrnon the limited powers of the national government. I wouldrncite the opinion of Northern Jeffersonians and point to the examplernof the Yankee Federalists who plotted secession (in thernmidst of war) at the Hartford Convention of 1814, but the argumentrnalways came back to race. No one in American historyrnever did anything, apparentiy, without intending to dominaternand degrade women, hidians, and homosexuals. Thisrnreductio ad KKK is not confined to the political left; it is practicedrnshamelessly by right-to-lifers who equate Roe v. Wadernwith Dred Scott and by most of the disciples of one or anotherrnof the German gurus who tried to redefine the American conservativernmind, hicapablc of framing either a rational or an historicalrnargument, the liberals of the left and right fall back onrnthe tried-and-true devices of all ideologues: lies, threats, and incivilit)’.rnLibert)—whether of the individual or of a communit)rn—rises in their gorge like a cheap Mexican dinner, and nothingrncan neutralize the pain except heavy and repeated doses ofrnpropaganda.rnStates’ rights, home rule, private schools, and freedom of associationrnare all treated as codewords for racism, and whenrnsomeone aspiring to public office is discovered to be a memberrnof a restricted or quasi-restricted country club, instead of tellingrnthe press to mind their own business, he denounces himself forrnright-wing deviationism, fascism, and ethnic terrorism. He resignsrnimmediately—thus insulting all his friends in the clubrnwho are now de facto bigots — and begs forgiveness. Evenrngroups like the League of the South, that explicitiy condemnrnracial prejudice are not exempt. So long as a group is “Southern”rnor “Anglo” or “hetero” or even exclusively Christian, it is arntarget, and when the inevitable attack docs come, many of thernmembers run for cover, eager to be the first to find safety by denouncingrntheir former allies.rnLike Bukharin and other communists purged by Stalin inrnthe 30’s, Americans accused of bigotry do not know how tornfight back. Wliile they should be spitting in the face of thesernlatter-day Vishinskys and informers who are making civilizedrnlife impossible, they examine their own consciences for ever}’rnunwholesome thought and ever)’ suspicion that the party linernlaid down by the leaders might fall short of revealed h-uth. PoorrnBukharin knew he had done all too littie to oppose Stalin, and.rnlO/CHRONICLESrnrnrn