Edward Brooke, First African-American Elected To Senate, Dies At 95
The first popularly elected African-American Senator, and the first African-American Senator to serve since the end of Reconstruction ended, has passed away.
Edward Brooke III, who made history nearly 50 years ago when he became the first African-American elected to the Senate and remains the only African-American to serve two full terms in office in the Senate, has died at the age of 95:
Edward W. Brooke III, who in 1966 became the first African-American elected to the United States Senate by popular vote, winning as a Republican in overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts, died on Saturday at his home in Coral Gables, Fla. He was 95. Ralph Neas, a family spokesman, confirmed the death.
Mr. Brooke won his Senate seat by nearly a half-million votes in 1966 and was re-elected in 1972. He remains the only black senator ever to have been returned to office.
A skilled coalition builder at a time when Congress was less ideologically divided than it is today, Mr. Brooke shunned labels, but he was seen as a centrist. His positions and votes were consistently more liberal than those of his increasingly conservative Republican colleagues.
He opposed the expansion of nuclear arsenals, pushed for improved relations with China and championed civil rights, the legalization of abortion and fair housing policies. He urged Republicans to match the Democrats in coming up with programs to aid cities and the poor.
“Where are our plans for a New Deal or a Great Society?” he asked in a 1966 book, “The Challenge of Change: Crisis in Our Two-Party System.”
He was a thorn in the side of his party’s leader, President Richard M. Nixon. He successfully led the fight against two Nixon Supreme Court nominees whose positions on civil rights were called into question. When Nixon became entangled in the Watergate scandal, Mr. Brooke called for the appointment of a special prosecutor. He was the first Republican senator to demand Nixon’s resignation.
“His presence in the Senate in those years was absolutely indispensable,” said Mr. Neas, who was chief legislative assistant to Mr. Brooke and later president of the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way. “There were repeated battles during those years. Even some Democrats were retreating on the Senate floor on issues like school desegregation and abortion rights, and Senator Brooke was the one who often single-handedly took on the radical right.”
Still, he disappointed liberals by opposing a program to recruit teachers to work in disadvantaged areas. He sought to deny federal aid to New York City during its financial crisis and resisted changing Senate rules to make filibusters against civil rights legislation easier to stop.
On the issue of the Vietnam War, Mr. Brooke, a decorated combat veteran, was torn, moving from dove to hawk, then back to dove. He was a forceful speaker, often described as gentlemanly and charming, and meticulous about his appearance, sometimes changing clothes three times a day.
His political career began collapsing in 1978. What Mr. Brooke thought would be an amicable divorce from his first wife, the former Remigia Ferrari-Scacco, turned bitter and was played out in the news media, resulting in an admission by Mr. Brooke that he had made a false statement under oath in a deposition.
He lost his bid for a third term to Representative Paul E. Tsongas, a Democrat, who received 55 percent of the vote. Mr. Brooke described the experience as “the lowest point in my life.”
Cleared by the Senate Ethics Committee four months later, he was nevertheless devastated. “Why did it happen?” he said in an interview with The Boston Globe in 2000. “I don’t know. I’ve asked my God that many times. ‘Why, why, why, dear God?’ ”
Mr. Brooke was twice elected attorney general of Massachusetts, the first African-American to be elected attorney general of any state. When President John F. Kennedy heard the news in 1962, on the same day that his brother Edward was elected to the United States Senate, he said, “That’s the biggest news in the country.”
In 1964, as President Lyndon B. Johnson led a Democratic landslide, Mr. Brooke was re-elected attorney general by more votes than any other Republican in the nation. In 1968, he was at the top of many lists of possible Republican vice-presidential candidates. By his own and others’ accounts, he turned down cabinet posts and a seat on the Supreme Court.
The only previous black senators, Blanche K. Bruce and Hiram R. Revels, both Republicans, were elected not by voters but by the Mississippi Legislature in the 1870s.
Edward William Brooke III was born on Oct. 26, 1919, in Washington. He was the third child and only son of the former Helen Seldon and Edward W. Brooke II, a lawyer for the Veterans Administration and a Republican, as most blacks were then.
He grew up in “a cocoon,” he wrote in his autobiography, “Bridging the Divide: My Life” (2007). He had a stable home, firm religious guidance — he was an Episcopal altar boy — and a good education, attending Dunbar High School, a prestigious black school in Washington.
Surrounded by middle-class blacks, he wrote, he rarely encountered direct racial discrimination, although when the Washington opera was closed to blacks his mother took him to the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Mr. Brooke earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Howard University in 1941. A reservist during college, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant after Pearl Harbor in 1941 and joined the all-black 366th Combat Infantry Regiment.
After his discharge, Mr. Brooke enrolled at Boston University School of Law, where he became an editor of the Law Review. He also corresponded with Ms. Ferrari-Scacco, an Italian woman he had met during the war, and she came to Boston. They married in 1947.
A year after Mr. Brooke began practicing law in the predominantly black Roxbury section of Boston, he returned to Boston University to earn a master’s degree in law.
In 1950, persuaded by friends, he ran for state representative in both the Democratic and Republican primaries, as was legal then. He won the Republican nomination but was buried in a Democratic landslide in the general election. He ran and lost again in 1952.
In 1960, Mr. Brooke won the Republican nomination for Massachusetts secretary of state, becoming the first black to be nominated for statewide office in Massachusetts. He was defeated by the Democrat, Kevin H. White, whose campaign issued a bumper sticker saying, “Vote White.”
The new governor, John Volpe, a Republican, appointed Mr. Brooke chairman of the Boston Finance Commission. He turned what had been an ineffectual post into a crusading one, uncovering a scandal involving the illegal disposal of public land.
Two years later, in 1962, Mr. Brooke won the Republican nomination for attorney general by a razor-thin margin over Elliot L. Richardson, a future attorney general of the United States. In the general election, the campaign of his Democratic opponent, Francis E. Kelly, hired blacks to drive through white suburbs yelling that they planned to move in as soon as Mr. Brooke won.
Mr. Brooke was the only statewide Republican winner.
In 1963, Mr. Brooke fought civil rights groups that were calling on students to boycott school to protest segregation in Boston. He said it was his job to enforce state laws, which required children to go to school.
In 1964, Mr. Brooke refused to support the Republican presidential nominee, Barry M. Goldwater, or to be photographed with him. Mr. Brooke said he was serving not just his conscience but also the best interests of the party, which he believed should be more liberal.
Massachusetts voters were hardly put off by his liberal views: In 1966, he handily defeated his Democratic opponent in the Senate race, former Gov. Endicott Peabody.
On the opening day of Congress in 1967, Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts’ senior senator, escorted Mr. Brooke down the Senate’s center aisle to a standing ovation. When Mr. Brooke got his first haircut on Capitol Hill, he integrated the Senate barbershop.
After losing his bid for election to a third-term in 1978, Brooke largely disappeared form public life and returned to the private practice of law where he remained for the rest of his career. Of course, part of this was due to the fact that the form of moderate Republicanism that he represented was on the wane at that point and, while he likely could have continued to represent Massachusetts in the Senate for many years to come had he survived the Tsongas challenge, he had largely reached the apex of politics as far as he was concerned. He would re-emerge in later years to receive both the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bush and, in 2009, the Congressional Gold Medal. In 2011, meanwhile, Barbara Walters revealed that she had had an affair with Brooke in the 1970s while he was still married to his first wife. Brooke’s legislative accomplishments, though, and his historical significance as the first African-American to be popularly elected to the Senate, something that can still only be said of four other people in 36 years since Brooke left office, have largely been forgotten. Perhaps his passing will change that.
And yet idiots like Inhofe, just to name one, can wrangle 30 years at the Government teet?
Apparently something is wrong with the system.
Carol Mosely Braun lost her bid for re-election in 1998 largely due to the FEC investigations surrounding her at the time.
However, had he stayed in the Senate I fully expect that Obama would have been re-elected to the Senate in 2010. Additionally, it appears likely that both Cory Booker and Tim Scott are relatively secure in their seats as long as they wish to stay there.
The average tenure of the current U.S. Senate is 10.2 years, and a hundred years ago it was around 6 six years. For every Senator that has served more than 16 years, there are over two-and-a-half who have served less than 8 years. Link
The idiot reporter makes the mistake of listing advancement of Civil Rights as something that put him in opposition to his GOP colleagues. The GOP was very much PRO Civil Rights, and at the time Brooke was elected, had overwhelmingly passed the Civil Rights Acts of 57, 64 and 65, all against staunch opposition by Democrats.
Don’t tell just half the story, Jason; finish it off. We’re not as dumb as you think …
@dennis: Well, that depends on what you think the other half of the story is. Although I’d put it at 90% of the story is Republicans supporting racial equality and Democrats opposing it, followed by 10% more of the same.
The rest of the story: Strom Thurmound, the “Democrat” who so famously opposed the Civil Rights Act of 57 with a 24 hour filibuster, was a Republican by 1964.
By 1966, when Brooke was elected, the Republicans had started transitioning away from being pro Civil Rights and were on the verge of implementing the Southern Strategy, which would gain them the South but cost them 90% of the black vote for the next two, three (maybe four?) generations.
That’s not to say the Republicans are the real racists. That’s just to say that trumpeting their civil rights bonafides of the late 50s and early 60s has a Glengarry Glenn Rossian “I used to be a salesman” sheen to them.
Opposition to, or support of, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 pretty much broke according to geography. That is, Northern state politicians generally supported the Act, and Southern state politicians opposed the Act. At that time the South was largely Democratic. With passage of the Act, by 1968 the sea change we live with today – the South becoming solidly Republican – was underway.
I’ve always wondered: If the Republican Party is so strongly supportive of Civil Rights and Voting Rights why do Black Americans now vote over 80% Democratic in national elections? Perplexing isn’t it?
What the article actually said was the following: “His positions and votes were consistently more liberal than those of his increasingly conservative Republican colleagues.” By 1964, two years before Brooke was elected, the GOP in Congress was still dominated by the eastern/moderate wing, which supported civil rights, but that was quickly changing, as evidenced by who the presidential nominee was that year, Barry Goldwater. The conservative wing of the party was uniformly opposed to the Civil Rights Act of ’64 at the time of its passage. Goldwater opposed it, Bill Buckley opposed it, the National Review opposed it, Ronald Reagan opposed it. The Republicans who supported it were men like Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney, who hailed from the moderate/liberal wing of the party which was increasingly marginalized from the late ’60s onward, the period when Brooke first came to the Senate.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea not to rattle off numbers if you’re not prepared to back them up. Here is the breakdown of votes for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, by party:
House: Democrats 63%, Republicans 80%
Senate: Democrats 69%, Republicans 82%
So while it’s true that more Republicans in Congress supported the bill than Democrats at the time, it is also true that both parties overwhelmingly supported it. The article I linked to is worth reading in full, but here are some important sections:
Ok, here’s the rest of the story: Democrats kept a former Klan leader in his Senate leadership position until he died in office in 2010.
Here’s a postscript to the rest of the story: In the years since Brooke was elected, Democrats have ever since led the charge to make abortion ever more freely available in order to further Planned Parenthood’s long stated and specific goal of reducing the black population.
Number of former Dixiecrat Senators who became Republican: 1. Number of former Dixiecrats who were welcomed back into the Democrat party with open arms and who finished their careers as Democrats: 18.
So you support a GOP that had the likes of Jacob Javits and Margaret Chase Smith in its ranks?
Intriguing. Tell me more.
@Jason: I mean, I guess we can go tit for tat in this vein. You guys kept Thurmond until he died, so there.
We can talk about the virtues of Eisenhower-era Republicans, but do we also have to gloss over the birthers or the George Zimmerman groupies of the modern era?
If you want to talk about the Democrats’ racism, we can. But that’s not going to be “they sympathize with the KKK” or “they’re against civil rights.” That’s pure unadulterated BS and you should be ashamed for shoveling it.
I don’t recall Thurmond making statements about things like “white n****ers” into the 90s.
I mean, the Dems took back all 18 of them! AND kept up their opposition to anti-lynching legislation.
Helluva thing to be against, but Dems somehow found it within themselves!
They even named the Federal Building in Atlanta after a Senator opposed to anti-lynching legislation. Has the same name to this day.
I’ve posted all of this in previous threads, but the willfully ignorant abound so here goes again.
The vote breakdown closely followed regional lines:
House: Dem Union…….144:8 (95%)…….GOP Union……….137:24 (85%)
Dem Confed……..8:83 (9%)…………..GOP Confed………0:11 (0%)
Senate: Dem Union……….45:1 (98%)………..GOP Union……….27:5 (84%)
Dem Confed…….1:20 (5%)…………..GOP Confed……..0:1 (0%)
The House and Senate in 1964 were both heavily Democratic with a 255/177 split in the House and a 65/35 split in the Senate. This was largely due to the “solid South”. Democrats had a lock on the South (former Confederate states) and shockingly enough the people in those former confederate states didn’t support the CRA citing states rights. The vote was regional, not party line. Not long after that vote control of the “solid South” began slipping and by the 80s was not at all solid.
Coincidentally the people of those same states still talk about states rights and oppose equal protection for a different minority now and within a different party. The regional divide between social conservatives and social progressives is alive and well though the party that wins the votes of the social conservatives has changed. Ignorant or dishonest people within the party that houses those social conservatives now try to claim the mantle of civil right pioneers. Anyone with their eyes open can see it’s a farce, but some stubbornly keep their eyes closed others simply lie.
@Jason: Shoulda led with this, bud:
because that clinches it: another garden variety BS artist.
You wouldn’t happen to have spent 2008-2011 obsessing over raised seals and “vault” copies of important documents, did you? I mean….maybe you didn’t, but if you think PP’s “specific goal” is to reduce the black population, you probably bought into that whole birth certificate thing too.
@James Pearce: Nope.
I stand aghast at your derailing and obfuscation. I mean, WTF??? We all have to stretch outside our ideological bubbles, Jason. Your moment has arrived. Embrace the opportunity. Please.
What a legend he was. This was back when the Republican Party had many Eisenhower-style moderates in the party, such as my own Senators Mark Hatfield and Robert Packwood, before a lot of John Birch Society-type extremists who claim to be mere conservatives took over this party…
@Jason: Why do I find that hard to believe?
(It may have to do with the bad faith and the demonstrated dishonesty.)
@James Pearce: I know who Jason is–I read his blog very frequently when he was an Army officer serving in Iraq. He never struck me as one who would buy into the whole Obama birth certificate nonsense.
That said, I’m not sure I’d recognize him as someone who’d throw out long-discredited bunkum like what he wrote about Planned Parenthood.
Just to switch away from the trolling – there’s a glaring error in this post.
Brooke was not the first African-American Senator. That distinction belonged to Hiram Revels in 1870. Brooke was the first African-American senator since Reconstruction. Or, if you want to follow the story you linked to, the first African American senator elected by the popular vote.
@Jason: Don’t stop now Jason. Tell us how the GOP is the party that is going to restore the teeth to the VRA after our favorite liberal justices on the Supreme Court gutted it.
I need some more levity in this too cold, too blustery day.
If you have to ignore history to make your point…you don’t have much of a point to begin with.
Well that’s a relief.
Too bad he bought into the whole myth about how “awesome” the GOP is on racial issues. Hate to burst that bubble, but there are still some issues….
I don´t think that we should be debating these kind of petty politics instead of remembering a giant like Ed Brooke, but many Dixiecrats(Like John Stennis and James Eastland) remained at the Democrat Party because they did not want to lose seniority. But many Republican Southern politicians like Jesse Helms, Rick Perry, Thad Cochran, Richard Shelby, etc) began their carrers as Democrats.
@Grewgills: The 1965 vote didn’t happen in a vacuum. The Democratic Party was formed around slavery; it was the party of the Confederacy and its sympathizers; it was the party of lynching and Jim Crow. It pivoted to become the party of white racism and black racism, but it didn’t cease to be the party of racism.
As I’ve said elsewhere, the Democratic Party is to racism what the dry drunk is to alcohol. The best you can hope for from him is not drinking. But the obsession is still so strong. The dry drunk got rid of the drinking, but didn’t fill the void with anything else, so he’s still completely driven by alcohol. He doesn’t know how to relate to the world without it, and he assumes it’s on everyone else’s mind all the time too. It’s the only thing he can talk about.
Meanwhile, the South shifted away from racism. It began its drift toward the Republican Party in the 1920’s, but didn’t really make the break from it until the 1990’s. If the South was all about racism and the Republican Party was all about racism beginning in the 1960’s, the voting patterns would be all different. You can see that the middle class white urbanites and suburbanites were the first Southerners to vote R; the Dems still held out in Appalachia until, really, a few weeks ago.
@Pinky: Aaaaand… Pinky decides to go full troll. Sad.
That is rubbish. The voting pattern is crystal clear. It was regional, NOT party line. To repeatedly say the strong opposition was Democratic rather than Southern is to deliberately obfuscate the issue. The bill was shepherded through Congress and the Senate by Northern Democrats and signed by a Democratic president. If the Democrats were so fiercely opposed as you claim it couldn’t have made it through two chambers dominated by Democrats to be signed by the Democratic president that strongly supported it.* To ignore how the former confederate states voted relative to the rest of the country on civil rights issues in the 60s and beyond is to be willfully ignorant. To think that the South is the region of the country that has moved beyond racism is to live in an alternate universe. I grew up in the South, most of my family is still in the South. This isn’t just academic for me, I lived it and history backs me up.
As to the drift towards the GOP starting in 1920, in 1964 there were 11 GOP Congressmen and 1 GOP Senator from former Confederate states vs 91 Congressmen and 1 Senator from former Confederate states. That’s a pretty staggeringly lopsided and doesn’t support your contention that the South had been moving more GOP 40 years earlier. By 20 years after the 1964 CRA the South was purple, 20 years after that it was red. Something dramatically accelerated that shift that you believe started in the 20s. Virtually every historian sees exactly what that was. That you chose to be blind to that is on you.
I asked in the other thread and I’ll ask again here, how are you defining racism? You are certainly not using the sociological definition and you don’t seem to be using any definition that makes a lick of sense to me.
* That Democratic president correctly predicted that the Democrats would lose the South because of the CRA.
If the Democratic Party is so racist why do most minorities vote for Democratic candidates in overwhelming numbers? Perhaps some think that minorities are overwhelmingly racist? And the statement that the South allegedly shifted away from racism is quite amusing…easily one of the most ridiculous things written in this thread and that’s saying a lot…
oops, that should read
91 Congressmen and 21 Senators from former Confederate states for Democrats vs 11 Congressmen and 1 Senator from former Confederate states for the GOP. That is near 10 to 1 dominance in both houses.
No offense, but did you even read my post? I wasn’t talking about the 1965 vote. That’s twice you’ve responded to me as if I was talking about the 1965 vote, when I haven’t been. It was someone else who brought it up, and I only referred to it in one sentence in passing (pointing out that I wasn’t talking about that vote).
Hope you’ll pardon me for saying so, but that makes about as much sense to me as the Nazis becoming the party of both genocidal antisemitism and Kahanism.
@Grewgills: I’ve busted you on this before, Grew. Why didn’t you learn to stop making shit up that time?
Senate: Dem Union……….45:1 (98%)………..GOP Union……….27:5 (84%)
Dem Confed…….1:20 (5%)…………..GOP Confed……..0:1 (0%)
That’s 100 Senators, broken up into Union and Confederate states. Since each state has 2 Senators, you’ve accounted for 50 states. Unfortunately, the US only had 34 states at the beginning of the civil war, and 2 joined during it. Why the hell do you keep assigning 14 states that didn’t even exist as states to the Union camp?
Even more entertaining, it looks like you’re putting Arizona and New Mexico in the “Union” camp, when as territories they voted to join the Confederacy.
And it’s amazing how many excuses the liberals find to try to shove their most disgraceful forefathers into the other guys’ camps. The Democratic Party likes to trace its history back to Andrew Jackson, but it’s kinda hard to do that if you cut a great big hole in the thread from 50 years ago.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
Alter Union to mean other than ex confederate then. Your harping on that term changes nothing. It was the ex confederate states that overwhelmingly voted against the CRA and the rest of the country that overwhelmingly voted for it. That different was MUCH greater than party affiliation. You are focusing on trivia to run away from the real point.
You did say that the start of the movement to the GOP by the south began in the 1920s, In the mid 60s, 40+ years later the South remained overwhelmingly Democratic. There were 112 combined Democratic congressmen and senators from the South compared to 12 members of the GOP from the South. That is not a lot of movement in over 40 years. Contrast that to the 40 years after that when the South was solidly red. So, for the first 40 years or so of your supposed beginning of the shift there was virtually no movement in the South to the GOP. In the 40 years following when I propose the real move began there was a complete transformation of the South from the solid South for Democrats to a solid South for the GOP.
You also claim that somehow the Democrats are the real racists, yet provide exactly no evidence. The votes in the mid 60s and after on civil rights issues, the geographic distribution of those votes, and the subsequent party realignment in the region that overwhelmingly opposed the civil rights legislation is strong evidence against your position.
Your assertion that the South is somehow the region that has moved away from racism, as opposed to the rest of the country is likewise an evidenceless assertion that doesn’t fit any available evidence. Trying to make my whole response about that one vote was not honest. I clearly referenced several patterns that refuted your evidenceless assertions. Do you have any real evidence to support any of your positions? Where is your evidence that the Southern realignment towards the GOP began 40 years before any detectable movement in party representation? Where is your evidence that the Democrats are the real racists? What (strained) definition of racism are you using to come to that conclusion? Do you similarly believe that women are the real sexists? That homosexuals are the ones really bigoted against people with sexualities different than their own?
@An Interested Party:
Don’t you know? The Negros are too stupid to know where their own best interests lie, and they stay on the Democratic plantation because they have been bribed by gubmint cheese.
Really, you need to start watching Fox.
It is perplexing, since it’s gotten them jack squat.
Well, if you mean cops still kill unarmed black folks at the drop of a hat, yes.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
You can find countless comments on OTB where Democrats acknowledge that the party has serious issue with racism half a century ago and more. Can you show me the comments where Republicans acknowledge that their party has serious issue with racism today? I will stand by.
@anjin-san: And I’m standing by for you to even once say something of substance. Here, Grewgills is asserting that the Union side consisted of 39 states, when the entire pre-Civil War US only had 36 states total.
And it’s really an old, stupid, tired argument — the left wants to take all its garbage from the 1960s and shovel it on to the GOP, neglecting that it had a long and distinguished history of racism before that. Woodrow Wilson was a particularly noxious racist who loved “Birth Of A Nation,” and the Klan was, for all intents and purposes, the militant wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party. Throwing a few racists from one decade under the bus doesn’t exactly white-wash over a century of racism.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
You know, that line was pretty weak the first time you trotted it out. It gets no better with endless repetition. At any rate, I am not losing sleep because OTBs “slow kid” thinks I lack substance. The group has long since rendered its judgement on who’s comments are worthwhile, and who’s are not.
But keep up with the patter about racism in Democratic politics before you were born. It’s a really powerful argument. Really. 🙂
Tell you what Jenos – I often head over to Telegraph to look for good used vinyl. Sometimes I stop at People’s Park and kick it with the brothers for a while. Why don’t you join me sometime and let’s see if you can hang? As a bonus, I can pick out some decent records for you. God only knows what your music collection looks like.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
You keep right on that side track so you can ignore the substance of the argument and pretend like you are making a real point. I’m sure you think you won because I said confederate and union states for the sake of being able to fit the words into any easy to read format rather than saying confederate and not confederate. That might be your biggest win to date in any of our arguments.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
To take that argument to its ridiculous Godwiny conclusion, does that Germany today can’t condemn genocide by any other nation today because of WWII?
@Jenos Idanian #13:
But wait…isn’t that what you’re trying to do? Our country — left, right, middle — has a history of racism perpetuated by white people of all political denominations against people of color from all backgrounds, including blonde Jews and red-headed Catholics. That’s the history of America before the 1960s: Everyone was a racist.
After the 1960s things changed somewhat. Racism went underground. It’s still present, still afflicting people of all political denominations. The Republican party flirted with embracing it whole hog, but they lost their nerve per-Nixon. “We’ll take the racists,” they said, “but not the racism.” So we get Reagan’s dog whistles and the later reaction from the left: political correctness.
Fast forward to the 21st Century. We have a black president. We still have people of all political denominations being racist. People on the right, bitter after a disappointing Bush presidency, start talking about birth certificates. People on the left, also bitter after a disappointing Bush presidency, start talking about racial progress as measured by number of black Stormtroopers in the new Star Wars movie.
Indeed, if you want to measure the pulse of Racist America circa 2014, one need only look to James Bond. Lefties of a certain quality, apparently already tired of Daniel Craig, would love to see Idris Elba as James Bond. Not only is he a good actor, good looking, tough, but he’s black, too. I’m lukewarm on the idea because it reeks of stunt casting and I think black actors deserve new roles rather than reimagined old ones, but Rush Limbaugh is abhorred by the idea. His objection, of course, is the very same reason why so many lefties of a certain quality want Elba: He’s black.
That’s what’s happening in this country now, racist lefties thinking their racism is a virtue, and racist righties thinking their racism is not, in fact, racism. But yes, let’s talk about how the Democrats of 1862 and the Democrats of 2014 are the same exact thing. Not because it is…but because if it isn’t, the liberals will win.
@Jason: that’s before history had to be changed to make it look like it never happened- or something lame like that. the relies above are expected as that’s what’s being taught in schools these days.
@dennis: by “we” do you mean aa voters? weird that a group can vote 90% for whatever democrat runs but considers themselves “not dumb”? i mean, “us white folk” can’t agree on most things by anywhere near that margin. and heck, some of us will even put a black person in office even from a “white” district….. something democrats don’t do btw.
lbj had a good analogy for this, look it up sometime while pondering his policy’s and their actual effect on “the community”!
To be fair, part of the problem is that large numbers of the White Population have beliefs that are at least in part racist. When George Wallace ran as an independent in 1968 he was despised by the elites of both parties. You can´t held the White vote if you don´t appeal at least in part to racism. Both Republicans and Democrats needs to appeal to ideas that are at least partly racist if they want to win White Voters.
They clearly don’t.
Bill, just stop. You seem to think black people are just dumb, dumb for supporting Democrats and dumb for not supporting Republicans. It’s all very cute in a sad, “Aw, look at the racist” kind of way.
But it’s also rather…well…dumb.
Are you really equating those two things? Wouldn’t it be interesting if a role dominated by straight, white males that doesn’t explicitly have to be dominated by straight white males be played by someone of a different ethnicity, sex, or sexuality is now the mirror image of people that want to enact policies to discriminate against people of a different ethnicity, sex, or sexuality? I don’t think that’s what you really meant, but that is how it came across. Both sides do it, because that is more than a little stretch.
Equating them? Not really. Only to the extent that they’re racist ideas from “both sides.”
Obviously I think the discrimination is worse, but then again…..I’m not the kind of lefty that considers “a role dominated by straight, white males” to be much of a problem. In fact, I think it’s a rather racist and sexist complaint and I wish liberals would abandon that nonsense once and for all.
@Jenos Idanian #13:
To address your (petty) objection, for this representation Southern means all former confederate states and Northern means everyone else. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.
Southern Democrats:……..8–83 (9%)
Southern Republicans:…..0–11 (0%)
Northern Democrats:……144–8 (95%)
Northern Republicans:.137–24 (85%)
Southern Democrats:……1–20 (5%)
Southern Republicans:….0–1 (0%)
Northern Democrats:……45–1 (98%)
Northern Republicans:…27–5 (84%)
and to address the rest of your (petty) objection here are the results with AZ and NM included as Southern (ie former Confederate)
Southern Democrats:……..12–83 (13%)
Southern Republicans:…….1–11 (8%)
Northern Democrats:……..140–8 (95%)
Northern Republicans:….136–24 (85%)
Southern Democrats:……….3–20 (13%)
Southern Republicans:……..0–3 (0%)
Northern Democrats:……….43–1 (98%)
Northern Republicans:…….27–3 (90%)
The pattern remains stark. It was Northern Democrats with the aid of Northern Republicans that ushered the 1964 CRA through the House and Senate to be signed by a Democratic president that realized he was alienating the South for generations. Now do you have any real objection or did you just have a semantic nit to pick?
To be clear, I don’t much care who plays Bond and I think the people on the left that are cheering the idea of Elba as Bond are cheering it for two reasons, one they think Elba will do a great job of it and two they know it will get under the skin of certain racists. They would probably also get a kick out of a female, gay, or trans Bond as it would get a rise out of the same cretins.
Calling, wouldn’t it be cool if that role were reimagined as X racist or sexist requires a rather banal definition of racism and sexism. If it were all roles or particular roles must be reimagined as X, you might have a point there.
Personally, I would like to see Elba as Bond because I think he is perfect for the role. The fact that he is black does not really enter into it. Get rid of Judi Dench and cast Sean Connery as M. I promise people will line up to see it.
No, I mean the collective “we.” All us humans. Now, two things:
1) I have voted GOP my entire voting life, except 1996, 2008, and 2012;
2) 136 – guess what that number is?
Damn, you’re dumb, bill.
Judi Dench has already left.
Ralph Fiennes has already been cast as the new M.
You really can’t have a black Bond and a black Moneypenny… Can you? 😉
2) the IQ required to see bill’s argument as BS + 50?
I agree whole heartedly with the first part. He’s an excellent actor and would rule the role, as he has with every role he’s ever taken.
But the second part? I’m not so sure about. Sure, I do think there is some trolling going on, but I also think that many people on the left have very strange ideas on this issue. For instance, that there’s something wrong with a character being white, straight, and male and that a corrective should be issued.
Take it from this white boy “cis-het”…….that’s bunk.
To put some more numbers to our disagreement. The combined GOP representation in the Senate and House from former Confederate states in 1921 was 12. In 1964, a little over 40 years after you say the realignment began, the combined GOP representation in the Senate and House from former confederate states was 12. In 2004, forty years after I (and historians) say the realignment began, the combined GOP representation in the Senate and House from former confederate states was 108*. Which argument do you think is supported by these numbers?
* vs 54 Democrats from former confederate states and many of those in gerrymandered majority minority districts
That’s not the position I see them taking.* The position is that white, male, and hetero (generally christian as well) are seen as the default hero positions. Their position is that there shouldn’t be a default race, sex, sexuality, etc for the hero position. That is not the same thing as saying it’s wrong if a white, male, hetero ends up in a specific role.
Many on the left is, I think, an exaggeration. There is a small, but vocal minority on the left that strongly support social justice issues and the rest that don’t much care in their daily lives, but vote against active discrimination.
* I say them, because I don’t actively care who plays what in most TV and movies and only care about the talent of the actors in the shows and movies I do watch.
Additionally your contention that it was urbanization and specifically urban and suburban middle class whites driving the movement towards the GOP starting in the 20s is rather belied by the fact that the Democratic strongholds that remain in the South are largely urban and when they aren’t they are majority minority. You could not be much more wrong in your thesis.
Both parts of, ‘Racism in the US ended when Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act’ are what Krugman calls Zombie Ideas. No matter how many times they’re killed, they’re never dead.
If that was their position, then I would agree with it.
But that’s not their position. Their position, to be blunt about it, is to be less white, more other. That’s why they can celebrate talk of Idris Elba as James Bond out of one corner of their mouth while they bitch about Ridley Scott “white-washing” Exodus by casting a white dude as the pharaoh. (So it’s not really about “heroes” that much…)
They’re cool with the black Annie, but if the clothing ads for the new Annie line at Target have too many white girls….they complain.
I hate to say it, but the “social justice” movement is conformity, conformity to a different point of view, maybe even a “better,” more “enlightened” point of view….but it’s not about justice. A just world would either condemn Elba/Bond as loudly as they did Edgerton/Pharaoh, or in my preferred view…condemn them not at all.
There are some few that are, or at least come across, that way; but it’s not even most of the SJW types, much less most or even many liberals.
@anjin-san: I don’t quite get the Elba as Bond thing only because Craig is the best in years and he’s only done a handful of movies. I haven’t heard that he’s looking to move on — so why recast now? But if Craig quit I could see it…
The one I didn’t get was the howling for Elba as Doctor Who. God knows he’s a great actor, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of humor coming from him…
@James Pearce: “I hate to say it, but the “social justice” movement is conformity”
No, it’s not. And no, you don’t.
You’ve got this weird obsession about a handful of people who object to various media depictions of minorites — you seem to find this personally threatening for reasons I can’t begin to understand. And if you “hated” to say things like this, you wouldn’t post on them again and again and again and again.
I will grant that’s true of “most liberals” but the SJW types are another story. I’m not sure one can be a SJW if one doesn’t already accept that there’s too many white dudes in the room. Everything else flows from that.
I get the whole historical context behind the idea, but “too many white dudes” is, let’s be honest here, kinda racist.
A handful? It’s become an entire movement with a name and a PO Box and everything. (Alright, not sure on the PO box….)
I find them “personally threatening” because well, I’m a white dude. Not quite one who dominates with the rest of the patriarchs, but a white dude nonetheless. (Actually I don’t find them “personally threatening.” Just annoying. I’ve taken, though, to ignoring them rather than allowing myself to be annoyed by them. And if I’m any indication of how other people may respond, I’m not sure that bodes well for their movement.)
I wasn’t down with the religious right policing the arts over their puritanical agenda and I’m not really liking how so many of my fellow liberals are doing the same thing over their agenda. And that’s why I hate saying it: because I’m pointing my arrows at my own side.
Speaking of, what happened to the right wingers? Are they gathering more research to prove how the Democrats are the real racists?
@dennis: you’re a mensa member? good for you- i passed the test but the crowd kinda freaks me out with they’re utter lack of common sense and self absorption- not to mention social graces.
that you’re part of the 10% of aa’s (sometimes) is nice, but you voted twice for obama because he’s black?! so did my girlfriend, i think she regrets it now though.
@James Pearce: maybe not “dumb”- “had” would be more apropos. what has voting for democrats actually done for “the community” in the last 3 generations? nothing to brag about there…..and 6 yrs with a black president hasn’t changed much either- yet the sheep still bleat.
@James Pearce: “I’ve taken, though, to ignoring them rather than allowing myself to be annoyed by them.”
If this is how you ignore something, I’d hate to see what happens when you let yourself get annoyted!
But seriously… social justice is a serious concept, and I guess what’s bothering me about your — yes — obsession with trivia like the casting of James Bond is that you seem to have decided that anyone who cares about the very real issues concering race and discimination in this country is just a pest. And sometimes it even seems like you’re saying that it’s troubling to you that minorities should get their fair share because it will be taken away from you, the white guy…
Oh buzz off. One day we hear about how Democrats are giving out handouts to welfare queens and the next we hear this nonsense about how Democrats haven’t done anything for the community. Something tells me your assessment cannot be trusted….so it shall be dismissed without regret.
I assure you, that’s not the case. I have no interest in preserving the white male patriarchy and am fully committed to a society where minorities get their fair share.
But I have thought a lot about this issue. (This may account for my “obsession.”) And I have come to the conclusion that social justice is not a “serious” concept. It’s a house of cards that wouldn’t survive in a stiff wind. So Idris Elba gets the James Bond role…..then what?
Racial equality…now there’s a serious concept.
If you really got the “whole historical context behind the idea” then you would get that it’s not racist in any meaningful way.
@Grewgills: I get that it doesn’t intend on being racist. But can you see with its shallowness, with how surface-y and non-structural the complaints are, that it can’t help but be racist?
I think it is your view of the people out there doing the actual work that is shallow. It’s sort of like judging all feminists by a few 18-20 year olds that have taken their first couple of women’s study classes, think they know it all now, and get a bit overzealous. Those girls aren’t feminism and some overzealous SJWs on internet boards aren’t the SJ movement.
As to the surface-yness of it, sometimes the facade matters. It is often overstated, but the normalization of homosexuals in the media, including some popular sitcoms, mattered in normalizing homosexuals in our society. Portrayals of homosexuals in sitcoms is about as surface-y as it gets, yet it is part of the reason that public opinion has changed enough that we are on the cusp of marriage equality throughout the US.
I love Idris Elba, but Elba is too old to start as James Bond. He’s already 43. By the time he did two movies he’d be into his fifties.
They need to find a guy in his early to mid 30s for the part.
Well, it sort of is the default position when the character is a Briton, heir to an ancient Scottish estate, born to a Scottish father and a French-Swiss mother. White male Christian pretty much sums up 99% of the people who fit that description.
I have considered that actually. A few years ago, I might have even agreed with it.
However, I think the SJW movement is not only growing, but it’s getting stupider. This last year has really put that into stark relief for me. If it was getting more sophisticated, if it had something to show for it, I might change my mind. But it’s just getting goofier and goofier. It really is a problem for the left right now.
And I would agree with your point about the portrayal of gays to an extent. But I would also point out that we live in a different, more stratified media world. Everything is sitting there in its little niche, waiting to serve whoever. How much more inspiring will Elba be to little black kids as James Bond than he was as Luther or Stringer Bell? If True Detective is awful to women, why not watch Risoli and Isles?
I think at some point we just need to acknowledge that the culture has changed. And adjust accordingly.
@James Pearce: @Rafer Janders:
I couldn’t care less about Bond in particular. The culture has changed and is changing in large part because of people who fought for and continue to fight for social justice. This shallow characterization of SJWs is all about pigeonholing anyone fighting for social justice. Whether that means fighting against the disproportionate police violence against African Americans, fighting transvaginal probes for rape victims, fighting against bullying trans youth to death, or any number of other issues into an easily dismissable box if you accept that shallow characterization. If you care about and fight for any of those issues or a host of others you are an SJW. Similarly if you believe women deserve equal rights as men and should fight for those rights you are a feminist. You might not like the title, but rather than complaining that some few may be too strident, accept the mantle and try to make it better.
This isn’t just about Bond. I don’t much care about Bond and like all of the Bond films of the past 25 years or so, if I watch it will be after it comes on tv. White, male, and hetero is the default for movie heroes. It is a departure when that hero doesn’t fit one of those, much less two or more.
Bond has changed a lot since Connery, another change in a fictional character won’t matter.
One of the better ways he has changed is to become considerably less rapey. Go back and watch an early Bond film and let me know if you would want any female you cared the least bit about in the same room with him.
A female what? Female is an adjective, not a noun. It’s not an acceptable substitute for woman.
Female is both an adjective and a noun. Obviously I meant female human, girl or woman. I hope you enjoyed your moment of pedantry.
Careful now. I care about all of that stuff, but lie down with dogs…
And you know, I’m not talking about people who fight for that stuff. I’m talking about people who watch TV shows and think “How does this show represent my gender to little girls?” That’s the thought process of a censor, not someone fighting for “social justice.”
Speaking of lying down with dogs… Social Justice Warrior or SJW was a term coined by a bunch of misogynistic douche bags in response primarily to Rebecca Watson, Anita Sarkesian, and a few others to tar feminists. The Gamergate folks and people like them are the ones who coined the phrase and use it to try to pigeon hole and diminish feminists and other activists. All it really means is someone fighting for social justice in a way I don’t like or in a way that makes me uncomfortable. Most of the discomfort from the people that have been using it most has been the discomfort of seeing their privilege waning. It has been taken up by some of them as a badge of honor partly because to be insulted by the people that coined the term as an insult is an indication that you are doing something right.
That depends entirely on the next step. If the next step is to legally enforce the removal of said show and others like it, then it is the thought process of a censor. If the next step is I really should help to educate little girls so they know better, then it is the thinking of someone fighting for social justice. The people I know that are fighting for various issues that could get them labelled SJWs, aren’t trying to ban anything, they are trying to educate. They don’t want to ban Cosmo or any of the other fashion magazines, but they do want little girls (and boys) to know what a completely unrealistic picture those outlets paint. That is a good thing.
@James Pearce: “buzz off”, really? it’s quite noticeable how most people dance around the whole question -but seriously…….what have the last 3 generations of “black folk” received for their party loyalty? i mean aside from the downward spiral?
@PJ: sorry, didn’t see this- it’s a good first step though!
Except it’s not the first step. One is enough to prove that you, as usual, don’t have a clue about what you’re talking about.
Maybe you should concern yourself with why your own party has such problems with electing Representatives who aren’t men, white, and Christians. Even from districts that aren’t “”white” districts”.
@Grewgills: I’m glad you mentioned Gamergate, because that has influenced my thinking on this topic. Let me be clear: I don’t sympathize with the “journalistic ethics” side of that, and just because they invented the term Social Justice Warrior, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be used. The way I see it, it was an the inevitable backlash to a poorly conceived and executed plan to increase diversity and decrease misogyny in videogames by stigmatizing male gamers as knuckle-dragging cretins.
It’s counterproductive, divisive, and won’t do a damn thing about diversity or misogyny.
It really doesn’t matter if they’re not trying to get anything officially banned. They have Ulrike Meinhof’s mentality:
I’m less into “occurs no more” than “This does not please me, so I’m changing the channel.”
@bill: And yes, bill, buzz off. You have your premise, and reason will not dent it. So why bother?
Then you have your timeline reversed. Sarkesian came out with a series of videos pointing out misogynist tropes in videogames. She didn’t ask for games to be pulled from the shelves. She just pointed out the tropes and asked if we couldn’t do better. The reaction to that was a bunch of misogynist hate, rape and death threats, and bomb threats where she was scheduled to speak. So, it wasn’t an attempt to paint male gamers as knuckle dragging cretins as it was a group of male gamers showing themselves to be knuckle dragging cretins by their reaction to an academic pointing out rather obvious tropes in their favorite games.