|Politique Diabolique||Nov 3 2011|
Lots of info in this Lowdown published in November 1956, but the prestigious banner position is reserved for a U.S. Supreme Court justice who editors claim was a member of the racist organization the Ku Klux Klan. The man in question is Hugo Black, a career Democrat who served on the high court until 1971, and indeed had been a member of the Klan in Alabama. You probably already know this, but for those few who don’t we’ll note here that the Democratic Party was the more conservative party in the U.S. with regard to racial issues until Democratic President John F. Kennedy endorsed, and his Democratic successor President Lyndon B. Johnson signed, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This event led to the cementing of Democrats as the preferred party for black voters and the defection of millions of conservative white voters to the Republican Party, radically shifting the political spectrum of 1960s America (though only with regard to race, since both parties have drifted rightward on virtually all other issues since then).
Anyway, despite the KKK’s racist agenda, and the fact that Black’s racist bona fides were pristine (as a senator he once filibustered an anti-lynching bill), his Klan membership may have been more strongly tied to the group’s anti-Catholic agenda. This in turn prompted him to become a leading defender of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment: i.e., the separation of church and state. In short, his fear and hatred of Catholics led him to do everything he could to keep religion out of politics. Or so certain biographers claim. Much more revealing, perhaps, are Black’s own words on the subject: “I would have joined any group if it helped get me votes.” Uttered near the end of his life, the phrase confirms once again—to us, at least—that a politician is a construct, not a person. Basically, you can never know what any of them really believe, because they’ll say anything to win office. Some of the most successful ones present a mask upon which the various segments of the public can project any face they wish. Maybe that’s why Hugo Black felt so comfortable under a hood.