More sweet reason and sensible centrism from WFB, on a certain subject:
Neither Buckley nor the National Review favors Federal legislation on civil rights. As far back as 1957, when the first civil rights bill was being considered by Congress, the National Review published an editorial entitled, “Why The South Must Prevail.” It said in part:
“The central question that emerges…is whether the white community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically.
The sobering answer is YES — the white community is entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.”
The editorial added that “it is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.”
When the late President Kennedy submitted the Civil Rights Bill of 1963 to Congress, Buckley wrote in his syndicated column that the individual states should govern their own affairs, and that States’ rights should not be abandoned.
What really bothers Buckley most, it would seem, was something which he discussed in Up From Liberalism: how the Negro would use the vote if he got it. Buckley wrote that “the problem of the South is not how to get the vote for the Negro, but how to train the Negro — and a great many whites — to cast a thoughtful vote.” In a footnote, he worried that if all Negroes in the South were enfranchised, there were two fields in which they could be expected to vote as a bloc — education and economics. In education, he said, the Negroes would vote to abolish segregated schools, and this, he said, would cause violent social dislocations. Thus, he argued, the white men deny the vote to the marginal Negro who could tip the balance. But, he said, even if the whites do not fear violence, the white man is still well motivated if his intention is to safeguard intellectual and moral standards which he is convinced would be diluted under integration. On economics, Buckley said that if Negroes, who generally comprise the lowest economic class, were to be given “plenipotentiary political power,” they would likely use it to levy heavier taxes against the white propertied classes. “I believe,” Buckley wrote, “it is a man’s right to use his political influence to protect his property; but one should be plain about what one is up to, as not all Southerners are.”
Then the authors note that Buckley fears and loathes the “monopoly power” of unions: he recommends “anti-monopoly” laws. Buckley also endorses the so-called right-to-work laws. Then they make the crucial point:
[For Buckley] such laws are no doubt good statism. Laws to protect Negroes are bad statism.
This is wounding to wingnuts; it’s just as applicable today as it ever was — and it always was. Good statism, for wingnuts, is the kind that dumps napalm on Indochinese infants. Bad statism is the kind that hands out food stamps and Pell Grants. Good statism, for wingnuts, is the kind that awards no-bid contracts to Halliburton. Bad statism is passing and enforcing Civil Rights Law. Good statism, for wingnuts, is that apparatus which is currently spying on American citizens. Bad statism is an archaic thing like the Fourth Amendment, which was meant to prevent and/or retard such spying. Good statism is applying the Reconstruction Amendments to the states so that corporations are classified as people. Bad statism is applying the Reconstruction Amendments to the states to help protect the people they were actually written for. And so on.
But then as Buckley is a poor judge of what is moral and immoral statism, it naturally follows that he’s terrible on the subject of proper reaction to immoral statism. Buckley is not a fan of civil disobedience (again from 1970):
PLAYBOY: In an Atlantic magazine interview… you made the crack…that “It was only a very few years ago that official Yale conferred a doctor of laws on Martin Luther King, who more clearly qualifies as a doctor of lawbreaking.” …do you think of Martin Luther King as a pernicious force in American history?”
BUCKLEY:…As regards what I wrote, I think it was correct. I wrote it a couple of days after Dr. King threatened massive civil disobedience if the forthcoming demands of his poverty marchers were not met. I don’t want to answer your question about whether he will be seen as a good or bad force in history, because I don’t know. He was clearly a bad force on the matter of obeying the law. His attempt to sanctify civil disobedience is at least one of his legacies; if it emerges as his principle legacy, then he should certainly be remembered as a bad force…
Buckley was then asked if he could justify breaking the law. Yes, if open worship of Jebus in the form of church attendence were forbidden. What’s the difference? Ahh, it’s agreed-upon opinion that we have separation of church and state in this country. It’s settled — the implication being that Civil Rights law was not settled, and therefore unworthy of civil disobedience. Basically, this is Reactionary Politics 101; or how to rationalize a congenital resistance to political and social progress. For a reactionary, the only allowable moral positions others may make are those that are long settled and require no courage in taking.
Anyway, more of Buckley’s and NR‘s “centrist,” “non-paranoid” writings and utterances on race have been collected by the indefatigable Clif at Outside The Tent.