American Government Lecture Eleven

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American Government
Eleventh Lecture – Race
Instructor, Andy Schlafly

I. Introduction

Interesting historical question: which was the only American colony not to allow any gambling? (Answer at the end of the Lecture).

II. Race.

In 2004, Howard Dean thought he was helping his candidacy when he repeatedly declared that "I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks. We can't beat George Bush unless we appeal to a broad cross-section of Democrats."

His statements drew hearty applause from Democratic crowds. After all, the Confederacy was the stronghold of the Democratic party in 1860, and remained its political base for over a hundred years later.

But then the media jumped on the issue, encouraged by Dean's Democratic opponents. The Confederate flag represented the South, and the South protected slavery. After the Civil War, the South was the battleground for African-Americans seeking full civil rights. Until the 1960s there were still practices in the South excluding blacks from lunch counters, public schools and even seats near the front of buses.

Segregation was common nationwide in the school system until the Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal in Brown v. Board of Educ. (1954). In that case the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) brought a lawsuit on behalf of an 11-year-old girl, Linda Brown, who was ordered by the Topeka, Kansas school board to attend an all-black public school. Like the bloodshed that sparked the Civil War, Kansas once again was on the front line of the racial struggles.

The Supreme Court ruled "that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place." Prior to 1954, schools were allowed to separate white and black students into different schools under the theory that the schools were "separate but equal." Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for the Supreme Court in ruling that segregated schools were "inherently unequal" and therefore a violation of the 14th Amendment.

In the following year, 1955, the Supreme Court ordered an end to segregation in the public schools "with all deliberate speed." But it took until the end of the 1960s to eliminate segregation in all schools and also in transportation, restaurants and hotels.

By the 1960s federal courts began to order busing to attain greater integration in public schools. Many schoolchildren were transported far from their homes to attend another public school, simply for the purpose of improving racial balance. School districts that had segregated students by race in the past were subjected to busing. New school districts, typically in the suburbs, were not required to bus because they had no history of segregation.

Busing soon became an enormous political issue, even influencing the presidential election. In the summer of 1972, Congress passed a law delaying any orders by federal courts to desegregate public schools until all appeals were heard and decided. This prevented a single federal judge from forcing neighborhoods to bus their children to distant schools. A few months later, in the presidential election in Nov. 1972, Nixon was elected in a landslide based in part on his criticism of busing. He swept the southern states that had traditionally been Democratic.

Race remains an enormous issue in American politics, fueled by media attention. A single comment about ethnicity can destroy a politician or anyone connected with the media. New York Senator Alfonse D'Amato won his seat in a tough race in 1992 by emphasizing how his opponent publicly called him a "fascist". D’Amato said that was a racial slur against his Italian heritage. He won as voters did not want to elect someone charged with making racial comments. But six years later, in 1998, his new opponent Charles Schumer used the same argument against him. D'Amato had insulted Schumer with a Yiddish slur, who then made it look like a racial insult in the media. Schumer thereby won just as D'Amato had six years earlier.

In 2008, race became a big issue in the presidential election. Barack Obama won the presidency in part by benefiting from an enormous "turnout" (percentage of people who actually vote) by African Americans, 95% of whom voted for him. Predictions of racism by American voters were completely wrong: Obama did as well or even better than polls predicted.

III. Answer to Question.

Here is the answer to question at the outset about which American colony did not allow any gambling: Pennsylvania, the home of the Quakers and freedom of religion.