One would expect race-baiting liberals and leftists to try to glorify the “civil-rights movement” and the laws of the early 1960’s, insisting that we view all of it as earth shaking history, more important than the fall of the Roman Empire, the Norman Invasion, the battles of Tours and Lepanto, the Reformation, the American, French, and Russian Revolutions, and a couple of World Wars—assuming they have even heard of these events.  Considering their rhetoric, it would further seem that most liberal politicians and celebrities marched in Selma with Martin Luther King, Jr., and were subjected to fire hoses and dogs, though many of these folks had not yet been born when these events were taking place.

What is astonishing is that a number of “conservatives” imagine themselves marching ahead of their ideological left-liberal enemies.  People like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Medved, and Bill Bennett sanctify the civil-rights movement and its laws, and even credit conservatives and Republicans for their existence.  When leveling well-deserved criticisms at the Obamas and the Clintons, they issue a blanket condemnation of the Democratic Party of Jefferson, Madison, Calhoun, and the young Strom Thurmond.   Ignorant of history, they are oblivious to the confusion and partial reversal of the philosophies of the two parties in the 20th century.

As Texans, my extended family and I were all conservative Democrats until Eisenhower and Goldwater came on the scene.  Remember the “Solid South”?  I block- walked against Republicans John Tower and George H.W. Bush of Connecticut when they ran for Congress, and we won—that time.

Our people were not racist.  Yet we were targets of the civil-rights movement, since Texas is part of the South.  I was a student at the University of Texas-Austin when the bus caravans full of insufferably self-righteous “Freedom Riders”—nearly all of them white—arrived from New York City.  They were, of course, liberal Democrats.  Although Texas was no longer segregated by law, these people demonstrated and wandered around the campus and the city of Austin accosting strangers, demanding—in outlandish accents—repentance and submission to their politics for alleged past sins.  In response, many Texans, black and white, who had happily mixed together, began to have second thoughts.  The jury is not yet in on forced social integration in the South.  Today, most race riots are in the North, and race relations in America are arguably much worse than they were in the 1960’s.  At the time, I was neutral on the political issue.  I just didn’t like uppity Yankees telling us what to think and do.  And I maintained my friendships with people of all races.

As founder and president of a chapter of Bill Buckley’s Young Americans for Freedom, I organized counter demonstrations against the left on all other issues; we always outnumbered the crowds of demonstrators gathered by the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society, later the Weather Under ground) and the Trotskyite Young People’s Socialist League.

The Freedom Riders eventually found a tiny beer bar in Austin and claimed the establishment discriminated against blacks.  They marched in front of the bar in an oval ring, the leader with a whistle in the center, all of it covered by news cameras.  One YAF member rented a sound truck, parked it nearby, and repeatedly and loudly played the nursery song,

Down by the station early in the morning,

See the little pufferbellies all in a row.

Hear the station master blow his little whistle—

Puff-puff, toot-toot, off we go!

Before long the Freedom Riders were unconsciously marching in lock step to the tune, regardless of their leader’s frantic tweets to break up their rhythm.  They soon abandoned the demonstration.  Our chapter also forced a referendum on UT’s membership in the National Student Association, a leftist association of student governments whose dues came out of our student fees.  UT students voted to leave.

The federal laws that stemmed from this cultural chaos were unconstitutional and harmed race relations.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 grew out of the sit -ins held by African American demonstrators at previously all-white diners.  The act placed a federal ban on discrimination in all “places of public accommodation” within the United States.  In effect, this meant that private-property owners no longer had the right to refuse service to anyone if the refusal could be construed as being based on race, color, religion or national origin.  That same year, it was set in stone by the Warren Court’s Heart of Atlanta ruling, which held that the federal Congress had the constitutional right to regulate the practices of privately owned local businesses based on the Interstate Commerce Clause.  In April of this year, a federal appeals court in Chicago ruled that this same reasoning, based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, applies to any business that would refuse to hire homosexuals.

Next came the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which resurrected the Confederacy of a hundred years before and required 11 Southern states to submit all of their voting laws, including their regular post-census re districting determinations, to federal courts for approval.  This requirement has delayed and confused many primary elections in the South for over 50 years, taking power away from the people’s branch of government and transforming federal courts into battlegrounds for special-interest groups.

The notion that voting is a right—rather than a privilege that affects the rights of others—is now assumed, despite the fact that, at the time of the founding, no state had universal suffrage, even for adult white males.  Of course, no state had universal suffrage for black males until the 15th Amendment; or females until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920.  Voting had been restricted to a small fraction of the adult population: those who had a “stake in the community” (usually by owning property), were literate in English, and could cast a vote uninfluenced by a spouse.

Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) fought against these two civil-rights bills on constitutional grounds: The first denied property rights (per Article I, and the Fifth and Tenth Amendments), and the second further denied states’ rights (as defined by nearly the entire Constitution, but especially the Tenth Amendment).  To my knowledge, no one has seriously accused Goldwater of racism.

The failure to win over Northern Democrats or many Republicans to the opposition side was the reason why the two bills passed, and the Constitution has become as pliable as silly putty ever since.  Nonetheless, in 2013 the Supreme Court did strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act—the portion that confined the requirements of the law to Southern states.  Subsequently, Texas enacted a voter-I.D. law requiring basic government-issued photo identification to be presented at the polls.  Liberals cried “racism,” and a liberal federal judge—Nelva Gonzales Ramos, an Obama appointee—ruled on April 10 of this year that “a discriminatory purpose was at least one of the substantial or motivating factors behind passage” of the Texas law.  Leftists now hope that this ruling will lead to renewed federal oversight over all Texas voting laws.

Politics usually follows culture.  Witness the ubiquitous use of the Orwellian Newspeak term gender, a linguistic designation (necessarily a social construct) instead of the biological term sex (set by God or nature).  This eventually led to the legalization of “gay marriage” and the silly LGBTQXYZ agenda.  Thus, when every cultural and moral issue is politicized, as has been the case with civil-rights issues for over 50 years, culture will, in turn, follow politics.  Accordingly, our “national conversation” about race has degenerated into violence, phony accounts of history, and political grandstanding by both parties over laws that are unconstitutional and outdated.

Can a new administration in Washington change all this?