It is somewhat lost to history now, but the modern conservative movement grew alongside the civil rights movement.
Some fifty years ago William F. Buckley, Jr. made constitutional principles, such as equal protection of the law, fundamental tenets of the modern conservative movement. Buckley and the other founders of the modern conservative movement would have nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan, White Citizens Councils or any of the other racist organizations that at that time still tried to claim a place in American politics.
While it is true that many principled conservatives, including Barry Goldwater, disagreed with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on the grounds that was contrary to the principles of federalism, without conservative Republican votes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would have failed.
Led by Republican House Minority Leader Charles A. Halleck of Indiana, and the House Judiciary Committee’s ranking Minority Member William M. McCulloch of Ohio, Republicans provided 136 of the votes necessary to pass the 1964 civil rights legislation, which passed the House 289 to 126.
And in doing so, they resisted the entreaties of the Democratic Party’s segregationists to assist them in scuttling the bill.
This more than 50-year record of standing for the conservative principle of equal rights before the law has now been shamed by the stupidity or venality of Republican House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, whom, it has been revealed not only gave a speech before the “European-American Unity and Rights Organization,” founded by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, but he also took at least $1,000 in campaign money from a Duke associate as well.
Scalise’s response to these revelations was so pathetically lacking in credibility that it defies belief; he blamed his staff for booking him to speak and engaging with Duke’s organization.
“I didn't have a scheduler back then. I was without the advantages of a tool like Google. It's nice to have those,” he said. “Those tools weren't available back then."
For the record, Google.com was registered as a domain on September 15, 1997 and by 1998 it had an index of about 60 million pages, by 2002 when Scalise “was without the advantages of a tool like Google,” it was already the acknowledge technological leader in internet search and had been online for years.
And if Scalise didn’t have a scheduler, who else but him made the connection with the “European-American Unity and Rights Organization?”
None of what Scalise has said about his association with David Duke's racist group has made the least bit of sense to anyone with even a low voltage BS detector.
We are not inclined to engage in guilt by association, and this isn’t what we’re doing here – despite the objections of Scalise’s supporters, including Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, that criticism of him is unfair.
Our criticism of Scalise is that he is either too dumb to be the third ranking leader of the House Republican Conference, or he is just plain lying about his association with David Duke’s racist political organization in Louisiana – and we are leaning toward the latter as more and more information comes out about his relationship with Duke’s longtime political adviser, Kenny Knight, who was his next door neighbor and whom Duke himself says was “friendly” with Scalise.
But leave it to establishment Republicans like John Boehner and Kevin McCarthy to repudiate the wisdom of Buckley and the other founders of modern conservatism and to defend an apparent Klan-lover like Steve Scalise and try to force their humiliated Republican colleagues to keep him in the third ranking leadership position in the House Republican Conference.
Keeping Steve Scalise as the House Republican Whip is an insult to every conservative and every American who believes that what matters is the content of one's character, not the color of one's skin. Steve Scalise should immediately resign from the House leadership, or House Republicans should force him out to show that they, like Bill Buckley, want nothing to do with racism.