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The Ghosts of Mr. Massie

A Slantie-winning WorldNetDaily columnist once again digs up dead segregationists in the service of a petty political attack.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/14/2005

WorldNetDaily columnist Mychal Massie is one of the small army of black conservatives Republicans are trying to cultivate, a member of the group Project 21 (you know, the organization whose only paid employee is white). He earned two Slantie Awards this year; the main reason was a Dec. 14 column in which he called Senate minority leader Harry Reid's criticism of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' legal opinions as poorly written "arrogantly racist," adding: "His Uncle Bull Connors [sic] and his Uncle Orval Faubus must be proud of him. ... He is simply being true to his inbred familial heritage [as a Mormon]."

Disproportional and silly as it was -- and despite the fact that Massie has absolutely no substantiation of racist intent on Reid's part -- we understand the occasional lapse into overheated rhetoric (though that didn't stand in the way of awarding him the Slantie honor).

But, in his Feb. 8 column, Massie did it again. Instead of just one or two senators, he decided to smear the entire Democratic party:

While many of my colleagues have publicly denounced Democrat opposition to Dr. [Condoleezza] Rice as being racist and spiteful. [sic] I submit they are not acting out of character – quite the contrary: They are in perfect keeping with the beatings, dogs and fire hoses of Mississippi and Alabama. They are fully representative of Bull Connor and Orval Faubus.

In their minds, persons of color who do not descend to their level of moral turpitude need not apply. What a message to send to young women struggling to break free of the generational cycle of alcohol, drugs, out-of-wedlock births and abortion.

The only evidence Massie offers that Democrats are "racist" and worthy of being lumped with notorious segregationists Faubus and Connor (whose name he gets right this time) is that Democratic senators were not as friendly as Republicans during Rice's confirmation hearing for secretary of state. After claiming that Sen. Hillary Clinton "has congenital difficulties with the truth," Massie continues:

Yet the silence from the uber-sensitive liberals is deafening in the aftermath of Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., calling Dr. Rice a liar. What does that say to the children who heard and saw their upstanding decent parents beaten and called "boy"?

Yet amid all the accusations of "volcanic tirades" (not referencing his own, of course) and the obligatory reference to Sen. Robert Byrd as "former Grand Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan," Massie never disproves the allegation by Dayton and others that Rice didn't tell the truth about certain things -- in fact, there is ample evidence that Rice has been less than truthful -- let alone anything that remotely approaches "the beatings, dogs and fire hoses of Mississippi and Alabama." He also doesn't address why trying to hold Rice accountable for her public statements has anything at all to do with "children who heard and saw their upstanding decent parents beaten and called 'boy.'" Last we checked, Rice is unmarried and childless.

But the truth apparently doesn't matter to Massie. He clearly doesn't believe Rice should have faced any hostile questioning at all; in his eyes, the act of questioning her is in itself a racist act. He states at the outset of his column: "If Condoleezza Rice isn't qualified or good enough to be secretary of state, then who is?"

Seeking this kind of special treatment for a person based on the color of their skin is something we thought Massie was opposed to. Affirmative action is, of course, anathema to conservatives like Massie; in fact, just the week before in his Feb. 1 WND column, Massie lambasted his fellow blacks for being "a people who 'boast' the denial of privilege in a country where they are the recipients of free public schools, Section 8 housing, food stamps, an abortion clinic in every neighborhood, affirmative action and massive voter-registration drives."

And in a July 2003 WND column, Massie complains that liberals are afraid of "a black man ... who rises to Justice Thomas' position without benefit of liberal handouts and /or decries affirmative action," adding: "The black community doesn't need affirmative action."

Yet affirmative action is exactly what he is advocating for Rice and Thomas. Massie's eagerness to tar their critics with the "racist" brush show that he believes that Rice and Thomas cannot be criticized because they're black (and, though he refuses to say it, conservative).

Again, Massie has offered no evidence beyond the machinations of his own mind that any criticism of Rice or Thomas by a prominent Democrat has a deliberate racist intent. Yet he has no compunction about smearing anyone who dares say anything negative about them by comparing them to dead segregationists Connor and Faubus -- serious accusations of racism debased simply to score cheap political points.

Massie, like any good right-winger would, also likes to dredge up Byrd's long-ago KKK association at every opportunity. However, Massie has been conspicuously unwilling to comment about the similar leanings of Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond.

In a December 2003 WND column, Massie made sure to note that "Byrd embraced racism as an officer and ranking member (complete with white sheet and hood) of the KKK" while mentioning only in passing Helms and Thurmond and not pointing out their segregationist pasts at all. Ironically, Massie adds: "Those who would unambiguously practice selective moral outrage are being exposed on a near daily basis."

In a Nov. 23 column, while denouncing "Klansman Byrd" as "an outspoken sympathizer for the Dred Scott Doctrine," Massie defends Thurmond: "While Thurmond was at one time a segregationist Democrat, it receives little notice that he switched parties in 1964, denounced his prior leanings and was the first Southern senator to hire a black in his senate office – something no Southern Democrat had ever done."

However, Slate's Timothy Noah revealed in 2002 that Thurmond has never renounced his segregationist past, calling stories that he had done so an invention by Washington political culture "in order to provide a plausible explanation why Thurmond should continue to hold power and command at least marginal respectability well past the time when history had condemned Thurmond's most significant political contribution."

In that same article, Massie again gets all ironic on us by claiming: "Independent thought, belief in meritocracy, self-initiative and self-determination are not words elite liberals are willing to accept from their black subjects." This from someone who, in that very same column, calls liberal blacks "lecherous impotents." Sounds like someone else doesn't believe in "independent thought," either, especially if it leads him or her to believe something that is not Massie's brand of doctrinaire conservatism.

Despite such extremist rhetoric, Massie is not presented as some fringe figure. As ConWebWatch has previously noted, Massie is a member of the black conservative group Project 21, backed by the National Center for Public Policy Research. According to the group's web site, "Project 21 participants have been interviewed by hundreds of media outlets, including the O'Reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes, the CNN Morning News, Black Entertainment Television's Lead Story, America's Black Forum, the McLaughlin Group, C-SPAN's Morning Journal and the Rush Limbaugh, Michael Reagan, Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy and Larry King shows, as well as in newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Washington Times and many others." Massie himself has appeared on CNN's "Paula Zahn Now" and "Daybreak," Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," and National Public Radio's "The Tavis Smiley Show." Massie also hosts an Internet-based talk show on the conservative web site Rightalk and has filled in as host on WND editor Joseph Farah's radio show.

So Massie and his cohorts can hardly complained about being shunned by the media. But given such extremist statements, should he be? Should the folks at Project 21 rein in such inflammatory rhetoric by one of its members?

Then again, since when have conservatives held their commentators to any level of factual accuracy as long as wounds on the "enemy" are inflicted? WND isn't exactly rushing to censure Massie, and it's not like a history of extremist, inflammatory statements have hurt Ann Coulter's career any.

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