Jackson Thoreau 



Political and social commentary with a liberal bias
For more columns and other liberal views, see Jackson's Liberty and Justice For All Site at http://www.geocities.com/jacksonthor/.

Email Jackson at jacksonthor@justice.com


Friday, January 17, 2003

Is the US really free or similar to the former Soviet Union?

Here's an interesting story about a man from Iran who has pedaled more than 46,000 miles across 55 countries for peace, but he was not allowed in the U.S. He has been in a holding center in Arizona since Nov. 10 for supposedly trying to enter the country illegally.
As we prepare to invade Iraq, it's stories like this one that makes you wonder how committed to world peace the US government really is. And why the US government believes someone from Iran - even someone who would openly cycle across the land - is automatically a terrorist and spy and should not enter the country.
Some of you might know I walked 7,000 miles for peace through 15 countries twenty years ago, and we were stopped from entering Russia and East Germany under much the same suspicion. So now is the so-called freedom-loving US the paranoid superpower which seeks to strengthen its hold on world domination by restricting the very aspects that make us free?

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Ed Sebesta also has an excellent Web site on the Neo-Confederate movement called Temple of Democracy at http://www.templeofdemocracy.com/.

Another excellent column on racism in Republican Party:

Jim Schutze wrote recently in the Dallas Observer about Ed Sebesta and his role in exposing Trent Lott and other Radical Right racists at http://www.dallasobserver.com/issues/2003-01-09/schutze.html/1/index.html.
He talks about how many neo-Confederates are well-educated, even college professors who talk nice to most people but hold these extremist views behind most people's backs. He also told an interesting story about hearing Rev. Criswell make similar remarks at the 1984 Republican Convention in Dallas.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Another inspiring letter on a family's campaign to improve race relations:

I just read your piece in the American Politics Journal ("The Republicans' Real Message on Race Relations: We Don't Really Care") that a friend sent to me. I thought it was really good. Although you may have more faith in the Democratic Party than I do, I thought your assessment of the Republicans sounded right.
I live in Canada, but my father, who died last spring, was from Texas, right in the heart of Klan country. He taught me and my brother and sisters about the racism that surrounded him and about the Klan terrorizing people on horse back during the 1920s and 1930s down the dirt roads in rural Texas. He told us about the racism among his family and the people he grew up around -- most of whom were living in poverty just like the Black people they hated -- and how he came to hate racism with his whole being.
Like you, he never really understood why he broke so decisively with his family on this question -- and it was that question that definitely broke the bonds. He became involved in the civil rights movement in California in the 1950s and 1960s before the family moved to Canada, and in those days -- before the student movement and the voters' rights campaign in the South, and the rise of Black consciousness across the US -- it was scary to be involved in civil rights, as I'm sure you know.
I am so proud that my dad and my mother both were part of the great American civil rights movement. They weren't able to get rid of the Republican Party, but they did contribute to the struggle that continues to this day. When our family moved to Canada their fight against racism didn't end. Both of my parents fought the racism in our small town towards Native people, and some of the closest ties we have in the community are with the Aboriginal people there. The younger generations in my family now are a
rainbow of colours and cultures, and this reflects, in part, the legacy we have inherited from my parents.
Thanks for writing a good article about the racist bastards in the Republican Party.
Colleen F., Canada

And here's one from her mother:

My daughter has sent me a copy of your article on racism in the Reublican Party and her answer to you where she writes about her dad's fight against racism. She states that she wasn't sure what influenced
him to be non-racist, having been born in Texas. Well, he told this story many times, and I am sure that is what turned him around:

Frank was in the army during WW II and served with many G.I's of mixed races, which influenced him a lot - having been raised in a segregated neighborhood in Dallas. However, I think what really changed his mind was an incident his mother told him about:

She and her brother were left motherless on the farm her father worked in rural Texas. He had a black man who worked for him and appaently he was "assigned" to take care of the small children. His name was Bartha, and Bartha was mother and care-giver to the two children until they both reached the age of independence. Bartha "got into trouble" and left Texas, but during the war he showed up back at the ranch. The family was delighted to see him and welcomed him with open arms (literally), and invited him to have dinner with them.

Well, when the food was ready, the family gathered in the dining room - to a table with white linen and the best dishes. But, they set up a small card table in the kitchen for Bartha! Now when Frank's mother told this story Frank couldn't believe it. He confronted his mother and asked why they did such a thing to Bartha - a man who had loved and raised them from childhood?

She said things like, "He would not have been comfortable sitting down with us" and " He was shy with white folks". Finally, with Frank prodding her, she burst into tears and said, "I'd be damned if I would sit down to eat at the table with a nigger!"

I truly believe that was the turning point in Frank's life when he saw the ridiculous cancer that racism is. When the war was over, we were married and became active in causes against racism, for equality and against war. I cannot remember Frank ever using a derogatory word against any racial group.

In fact, I was raised in California and had a few racial hang-ups myself, and he showed me the error or my ways. Frank is gone now, but he never deviated from his beliefs - and, as my daughter told you, our children are the products of our love and beliefs.

Doris F., Canada

Here is a link to an excellent essay on the development of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill:


As it shows, a majority of Democrats and Republicans voted for that bill [not just most Republicans, as many Republicans say]. The Republicans were stronger in their votes. In the House, Reps approved it 138-34 and Dems 152-96 [92 of the Dems voting against it were from the South]. In the Senate, Reps approved it 27-6 and Dems 46-21.
Key Democrats like Sen. Hubert Humphrey and LBJ, a Southerner, were instrumental in passing the act, as were Republicans like Sen. Everett Dirksen.
So while Republican support for the bill was stronger than Dems, you can't say the Democratic Party didn't support the legislation. I will admit Reps were stronger on civil rights than Dems until the late 1960s, when Nixon and others Reps devised a strategy to capture the southern white vote by using code words like "states' rights."

I read your column on Republican racism and found it excellent and well written. I was not surprised at all. I just wish the media would expose these people for who they are.
I am a pastor and an editorial columnist in Louisiana so I am quite familiar with their hateful rhetoric and thinly-veiled racism.
Rev. G.H., Louisiana

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Here's a nice post from another Santa Fe resident:

Nothing incenses people more than the truth. I hope you haven't formed an innaccurate opinion of Santa Fe after reading these people's responses to your article. Actually most of us in New Mexico are Democrats and liberals; unfortunately over the past ten or fifteen years we have recieved a lot of migrant right-wing republicans; probably fed up with living in the social economic messes they left behind in thier home states.
David S., Santa Fe

I really enjoyed reading your article in Democratic Underground ["Message to America from the Racist Republican Regime: We Don't Really Care About Improving Race Relations"] and totally agree with it.
I, too, grew up in a Republican household in Colorado, although I now live in more progressive Minnesota. My parents weren’t blatantly racist, but made a few comments here and there.
You are absolutely right that when Republicans think that only Republicans are listening they open up and say some of the most racist things you will ever hear.
What’s worse is that my family knows I am a liberal, but they say these things anyway. My brother even asked why Martin Luther King had a holiday named after him. He asked, “What has he ever done?” I tried to explain, but it fell upon deaf ears.
I know that I need to make stronger statements to them that I am offended by what they say. It’s hard when there is just you against so many others, but that’s still no excuse. I am even considering spending as little time as possible around all of my relatives because they are all Republicans and all racist. It’s very depressing. I feel cut off from my own family.
Here in Minnesota I have been supporting progressives and fighting the good fight. It feels good to help those who are suffering and really need the government to help them. It feels good to support candidates who believe that all of us are equal.
Thanks for the great work you have done. I really appreciate that you are willing to expose those in power for what they are.
Sheryl M., Minn.

Here are some of the responses on the New Mexican site to the column:

If you want to find racist Democrats, you certainly don't need to dig up fossils like Byrd. This city's own former mayor, Debbie Jaramillo, is an excellent local example. I could cite countless other examples, but I really don't see any point in doing so. Politicians, like any other Americans, are entitled to hold whatever beliefs they wish. Those beliefs are only relevant when they're experessed through official actions. Anyone who hasn't lived on Mars for the past 40 years knows that if any party in America is dedicated to maintaining racism, it's the Democrats, not the Republicans. Remember, had it not been for Republicans like Bob Dole, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 never would have passed. Too many Democrats (like Al Gore's father) voted against it.
Jeffrey G.

Note the description of the author at the bottom: "...co-author of 'We Will Not Get Over It: Restoring a Legitimate White House'. The e-book can now be downloaded at Fight the Right." Looking up "Fight the Right" takes you to http://www.qrd.org/qrd/www/FTR/tblcntnt.html which is an "action kit" by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. So it's my guess the author pretty much has a visceral hatred of Republicans in the first place--and has joined the loony lefty that looks under every rock hoping to find racism or homophobia under that rock [while he makes certain his tin foil hat will not fall off when he bends over to look]. He also states "A recent article by USA Today cited several other examples of recent insensitive remarks made by Republican public officials and none by Democratic officials, because reporters could not find any - ..." Using his logic, all the voter fraud is committed by Democrats--because reporters don't seem to find any committed by Republicans. Has it occurred to him that if Democrats did not commit so much fraud, they might not win ANYTHING? He also concedes that even though Byrd has made some racist remarks "in the past, but not recently enough to be included in the article." The N word last year is not recent enough? Or might it have been a slanted article? Yet the author himself refers to 1964, '79-'89, 2000, and 2002 citing Republican offenses. He also cites what must to him be a credible source, "evilGOPbastards.com." What a guy! I'm really rather surprised the Santa Fe New Mexican would stoop to publish such hate speech as though it has any validity. The other day I heard someone say "The Democrat Party has become the party of Joe McCarthy. They ask 'Are you now or have you EVER been a racist, sexist, or homophobe?'" Sounds pretty much like McCarthy to me. Let's all chip in to replenish Mr. Thoreau's supply of aluminum foil. He doesn't even realize that minorities would be better served if he cleaned his OWN house of HIS OWN who would maintain the plantation.
Dot P.

As an person who votes for independents, democrats, republicans, libertarians, etc. not based on party but on the person, I am always amused to hear members of any party comment on the other parties. They often seem blind to similar faults within their own party. (Judging by the title of your book, I am assuming you are a democrat. If you are not, I apologize, but I think the point I am going to try to make is still valid.) I have many friends who work for various unions. I was a member of the union myself for a period of time. A lot of the people I have met in the unions are what you might call "good ol' boys." They are easily the most politically charged people I know personally, and they are all democrats. They take their political party very seriously, and ridicule anyone who challenges it. I have seen it often. But what stands out most about nearly all of them I meet is just how racist they can be in private. You would be ill. These are all democrats, who as of yet, have not bolted the party, nor do they seem to have any intention of doing so. As you stated in your article, often times white people assume it ok to let their racist feelings vent around other white people. Many black friends have told me most black people who are racists act the same way. (Unlike the black democratic city council member from New York, who publicly stated his desire to indiscriminately smack white people around. I guess at least he was "man" enough to say it in public instead of in private?) Back to the democrats, who have been fighting the specter of racism within their party going all the way back to the "dixiecrat" days of Strom Thurmond. I recently read an article that said Senate democrats are endorsing Robert Byrd of West Virginia for the position of Senate Pro Tempore. What could they possibly be thinking? Here is a man who was not only an admitted high ranking member of the KKK who was paid $10 per hood for each new member he recruited., but who also filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which was supported by almost all republicans and opposed by most democrats) with Al Gore Sr. at his side, for more than 14 hours. He also opposed the nominations of the Supreme Court's two black justices, one a liberal and one a conservative. Hard to say politics came into play in his decision, isn't it. Many say he has changed, but Years after Byrd supposedly broke all ties with the Ku Klux Klan, officials in West Virginia discovered a letter Sen. Byrd had written to the Klan’s Imperial Wizard. He said, "The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia and in every state in the Union." Another letter Sen. Byrd wrote after he quit the KKK attacked the desegregation of the armed forces. (The ex-Klansman vowed never to fight "with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.) Compared to him, Strom Thurmond (incidentally, the first Senator ever to hire a black aide) doesn't look so bad to me. Yet, the democratic party wants to put Byrd third in the succession line for the Presidency? I get the feeling that if Byrd were a republican, you would be all over him. Maxine Waters, Terry McAuliffe, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and all the other left-wing bloodhounds who sniff racism in every crevice of American life would be barking up a storm and Byrd would probably be forced to resign. But despite the plethora of evidence of democratic racism, especially during Dr. King's time, this double standard exists, and frankly it is a big turn off. It seems democrats don't really care about race relations either, except when it comes to causing even more trouble and division in the area. I only hope Joe Lieberman (who probably would have won in 2000 were he the top candidate) can save this party from it's left-wing much the same as Bush has saved his from it's right-wing. The American people need leaders who can lead, not simply resort to calling each other names when they disagree.
Matthew M.

That's the biggest bunch of B.S. I've read in a long time. I'd like to see the footnotes of proof,if there are any.In this country we still have the right to belong to whatever country club we choose,and it doesn't make us racists,we also have the right to associate with whom we please,and it's not racism. Social engineering will not result in the utopia you would like,just continue to fomet hate among the races.Tell me about all the wonderful things the Democrats have done in over 50 years for the African Americans,if they are still in the same boat today. Just lots of talk and promises for votes. Let's remember,it's the Party of Linclon,that freed the slaves. the Republican party.
Joseph R.

I for one am very tired of some people calling all Republicans racists. Why does he think every person who uses the "N" word is a Republican. There are more than a few Democrats who are guilty of same. Trent Lott made an innocent remark to say something nice to a very old man, and it was turned into his support of racism. That's just plain stupid. The Democrats still have a former KKK member in their midst, but I guess that's okay. There's racism everywhere and I think the pot shouldn't call the kettle black.
Carol P.

I don't think he's saying all Republicans, Carol -- just the Republican Party as a whole. And the case he makes is a pretty good one, and there's actual history to examine for the record. I don't see Lott's comment about segregation and Thurmond as "innocent." Blundering, or just plain stupid, sure, but not innocent. Also, Byrd -- the former KKK member who's now a member of the Democratic Party -- is probably just smarter than Lott and wouldn't be dumb enough to say something even close to what Lott said. Besides: Just because someone's saying the Republican Party on the whole is demonstrably racist doesn't mean they're saying the Democratic Party isn't! That's really not the point. That's like saying "Yeah, so our party on the whole espouses a retrograde, ignorant view of humanity, but, but....so do THEY!"
Bill A.

Well written article Jackson. For too long the "quiet?" racism in America has gone unnoticed by the media. With the roundup of Arab Americans after 9/11, this became even more evident. Sadly, most Americans rallied behind that action without realizing that with race, it's just a matter of time before your race is called. I thought the slogan was "freedom and justice for ALL". Great writing, astute eye.
Meria H.

The author responds to comments:
I appreciate the Santa Fe New Mexican picking up my column. And I appreciate people taking the time to write their responses to it.
I understand what I wrote provokes anger and denial in a lot of people. I have gotten the same response from a lot of people in my life - including my parents and other family members and co-workers - when I confront them on a racist statement they have made. It's a difficult subject to tackle without ruffling feathers. But racism is something we must confront if we are to advance as a species.
I am a partisan, mostly liberal Democrat and make no apologies for that, just as Rush Limbaugh and other Republican conservatives don't apologize for their views. I am not aligned with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, as my Fight the Right Web site at http://www.geocities.com/jacksonthor/ is independent. I understand there are racists who are Democrats, African-American, and of other beliefs and backgrounds.
My main point of the column is that racism in the Republican Party goes much deeper than Trent Lott. Republicans who think they can make this issue go away by simply making Lott resign as Senate Majority Leader are only fooling themselves.
Most of the examples of Democrats being racists brought up are of years past. I'm talking about what is going on right now. And by any fair count, the Republican Party now contains far more racists than the Democratic Party, and racist groups support Republicans more than Democrats. Why do white supremacist groups like the National Alliance only give money to Republican candidates? There is a reason for that.
Anyways, keep reading and thinking about this issue. I'm glad I could help provoke some thought.
Jackson T.

The Santa Fe New Mexican picked up my column on racism in the Republican Party. Even in Santa Fe, a fairly liberal city, most of the people who have commented online are Freepers who call the Democrats racists and ignore their own hoods. In other words, it's the same old hypocritical stuff with Reps trying to divert attention from their problems by casting blame at others and not taking responsibility as they call on others to take responsibility.

The column is at:


Monday, January 13, 2003

I am in grateful receipt of your eloquent
essay regarding the unspoken phenomonon occuring in my
part of the south.
I recently left my career in construction (@ $15 - $17
per hour) to become a telemarketer ($8.00 per hour) and
couldn't be happier! Why? I spent years of my life serving
bigoted, hate filled racists making comments that made me
want to tear off my skin. I determined my life was being
wasted by enriching such people with my efforts, and have
enriched myself by spending my worklife (and homelife)
with people of color different than myself.
Much like you, I was born white into an upper-middle-class family. My parents' money came from an
inherited steel company that would have been mine if I'd
played the "game". I found myself very much different from
my parents. As a teenager, I fantasized about an America
that would be Grey someday, not Blacks and Whites. My
childhood included the "country club" (no Jews, please,)
and my parents calling President Kennedy "that Catholic".
In fact, after my father died, I scaned through audio
tapes from my childhood for his voice: the only tape I had
of him was his telling a racist joke, making fun of the
way he thought Blacks spoke. I threw my father's voice in
the trash.
Your column spoke perfectly to the nudge-nudge,
wink-wink racism rampant in America today. This may be the
chink in the Republican's Teflon Armor as far as the media
is concerned, judging by the way Trent Lott's mouth lit up
William Gardner, Easley, S.C.

Typical, morally-challenged and fact-deficient screed.
People like you need to lie to support every one of your positions.
Your comments about Colin Powell (you know what you said) are blatantly racist. It might have escaped your corrupted reality, but Secretary Powell is the highest-ranking black political appointee in the HISTORY of our great nation, but I guess he's not "black enough" for you. I guess the names Clarence Thomas, Condeleeza Rice and Rod Paige (all Republican-appointed and exceedingly qualified) mean nothing to you -- oh but they're not "really black" either are they? That would probably surprise them and their families. Oh yeah, that's right, racists like you can't fathom that an African-American can hold any opinions divergent from the monolithic Democratic concentration camp you are a willing cell block guard for. You need an ignorant mass whistling "Internationale" for your "ideas" to enjoy any validity. Thank God America is not that. Americans are smart. African-Americans are smart. We as a nation recognize that 40 years of a Brave New Democratic World have done not a damn bit of good for a single person. It's only a matter of time. I know this is beyond you, but do a little research into the makeup of the government at every level (federal, state, local) in 1970. Look at it now. See a difference? Bet you do. Take heed, take it to heart. Do you see any dinosaurs around? Didn't think so. Your time for lumbering around uselessly is coming to an end. You are wrong in so many ways and history is bearing that out. You know it and that is why you live in such fear. At this point you and yours are more comedy than danger. I can just see you fading away like the wicked witch -- "I'M MELTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Greg S., San Diego

Jackson's reply:

Oh yeah, I spend my life actually making race relations better around me, live in a multi-ethnic neighborhood, marry someone of a different race, and I'M the racist? Typical, hypocritical republican crap.

How is it racist to say that many Republicans are more comfortable with light-skinned African Americans than dark-skinned ones? [I will even admit that's the case with some Democrats.] That's just being honest. If we are ever going to beat our racial problems, we have to be honest. I never said Powell wasn't "black enough" for me. Don't put words in my mouth.

And the 2000 election showed that more people voted Democratic than Republican. If you throw in the progressive greens, more than 51 percent of voters voted to the left. The 2002 elections were tainted after Sept. 11, 2001, and the threat of the iraqi invasion that the reps used to scare people. I believe your ideas are outdated, belonging back in the 1950s.


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