Good news. The Democrat Party being the ruling party in the south during the Civil War doesn’t mean they are responsible for the Civil War.
That’s at least the line the “fact-checker” over at USA Today wants you to believe. This is laid out in what is perhaps one of the worst, most ahistorical fact-checks I’ve ever read, perhaps only rivaled lately by this ridiculous screed in The Washington Post.
Here are some of the claims regarding the Confederacy and Democrats.
Historians agree that although factions of the Democratic Party did majorly contribute to the Civil War’s start and KKK’s founding, it is inaccurate to say the party is responsible for either.
Historians agree! Which historians? The biased ones they go cherry-pick to base their fact-check on.
“At the core of the effort to discredit the current Democratic Party is the refusal to accept the realignment of the party structure in the mid-20th century,” Hunt said.
In September 2019, NPR host Shereen Marisol Maraji called the claim, “one of the most well-worn clapbacks in modern American politics.”
Comedian Trevor Noah tackled the misleading trope on an episode of “The Daily Show” in March 2016, after two CNN contributors debated the topic.
Trevor Noah is an expert now. Good to know.
I do want to note that calling it a trope that Democrats made up the Confederacy while simultaneously spreading the trope that the parties “re-aligned” in the 1960s is pretty incredible. In reality, the parties did not re-align to the extent that one can claim they switched places. How do I know? Because Republicans didn’t even start gaining consistent majorities in the south until the early 2000s. What actually happened? Old, racist FDR era Democrats died out and their children and grandchildren became Republicans over decades of change. There is no evidence there was a sudden switch between the parties in the mid-20th century. If that were true, we’d have never gotten Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton.
Further, FDR and Woodrow Wilson were Democrats and racists. Would they have been Republicans if they lived in the 1970s? The parties switched places, right? Of course not, because parties are ultimately defined by their policies and both men were outspoken progressives. To make the case that the parties re-aligned to such an extent as to absolve the Democrat party of their historical sins is to pretend that some of the most famous Democrat presidents weren’t actually Democrats. You’d also have to explain why modern Democrats continue to be progressives just as their early 20th century forebears were. No one actually tries to make the case that FDR isn’t representative of the Democrat party because that would be silly.
But in the midst of a fact-check is a false claim used to “prove” a correct claim is actually false. Welcome to journalism in the 21st century.
“The KKK is almost a paramilitary organization that’s trying to benefit one party. It syncs up with the Democratic Party, which really was a racist party openly at the time,” Grinspan said. “But the KKK isn’t the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party isn’t the KKK.”
Although the KKK did serve the Democratic Party’s interests, Grinspan stressed that not all Democrats supported the KKK…
…Despite KKK members’ primary political affiliation, Pitcavage said it is wrong to say the Democratic Party started the KKK.
Got that? The KKK was made up of Democrats and was a paramilitary group designed to serve the interests of the openly racist Democratic party, but they weren’t representative of the Democrat party. Makes sense.
According to Grinspan, the Republican Party was much more concerned with protecting African Americans and their voting rights from its founding through the early 20th century. In the mid-20th century, both parties’ stances on racial equity began to switch.
“It starts with FDR and the New Deal, but the actions with Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s with the Voting Rights Act and civil rights legislation really kind of seals the deal,” Grinspan said.
In reality, Republicans voted more heavily for the Civil Rights Act than Democrats did. Republicans had also pushed far longer for its passage than Democrats did. The claim that Republicans abandoned Civil Rights during the LBJ era is outright false. But USA Today got some “expert” to say it, so it must be used in their fact-check.
Here’s their conclusion.
We rate the claim that the Democratic Party started the Civil War to preserve slavery and founded the KKK as FALSE because it is not supported by our research. Experts agree that although factions of the Democratic Party were responsible for the South’s secession and the rise of the KKK it is inaccurate to claim the party is responsible for either. The Democratic Party was undoubtedly the party of racism and white supremacy during and after the Civil War. However, it evolved throughout the late 20th century, and garnered the support of most Black voters.
It’s actually completely supported by the research, at least if you don’t go around asking partisan hacks who want to make excuses for the Democrat party’s racist past. If the standard is now that you can’t blame a political party for seceding from the Union while being in power, then no political party can ever be blamed for anything again. After all, it’s not the party that’s responsible, but only all those members of the party or something.
If mainstream Republican politicians went and started a racist, paramilitary group, the Republican party itself would instantly be indicted by the current media. But here, we’ve got a national outlet pretending that Democrat politicians starting the KKK can’t be blamed on the Democrat party, not just of today, but of the time as well.
I’ll end with a comment I’ve made a lot lately. None of this makes sense because it’s not designed to make sense. This fact-check is nothing more than political propaganda on behalf of Democrats.