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Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Inaccuracy in Academia
Topic: Accuracy in Media

In a Feb. 28 Accuracy in Media article endeavoring to paint Franklin Roosevelt as a racist, Accuracy in Academia (an AIM sister group) executive director Malcolm Kline misleads about Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black's Ku Klux Klan ties:

To top it all off, Roosevelt was the first president to put a Klansman on the U. S. Supreme Court-a move that Woodrow Wilson is never known to have contemplated. Although FDR proclaimed ignorance of this colorful aspect of Hugo Black's past when asked about it in the 1930s, the justice himself offered a far different recollection in a 1968 memo.

"President Roosevelt, when I went up to lunch with him, told me there was not reason for my worrying about my having been a member of the Ku Klux Klan," Justice Black remembered. "He said that some of his best friends and supporters he had in the state of Georgia were strong members of that organization."

"He never, in any way, by word or attitude, indicated any doubt about my having been in the Klan, nor did he indicate any criticism of me for having been a member of that organization," Black wrote. "The rumors and statements to the contrary are wrong."

Now there's a twist on the old "some of my best friends are..." dodge of charges of racial prejudice. Don't expect this chapter in Black History to be taught in many classrooms or lecture halls anytime soon, in February or any other month.

As we've noted, evidence suggests that Black was a member of the Klan for a couple of years in the 1920s -- when the Klan was undergoing a resurgence by expanding its targets to Catholics, Jews and foreigners -- out of a combination of political expediency and anti-Catholic animus, not out of racist sympathies. Kline curiously fails to mention Black's record of championing civil rights, presumably because it would interfere with his narrative.

Kline followed up with a Feb. 29 article -- like the first, regurgitated from Bruce Bartlett's guilt-by-association book "Wrong On Race: The Democratic Party's Buried Past" -- branding Woodrow Wilson as a racist. Nowhere does Kline offer evidence that Wilson or Roosevelt (or Black, for that matter) were any more extreme in their racial views than that of the general white population in the United States at the time.

Isn't a group called Accuracy in Academia supposed to care about, you know, accuracy in academia instead of rehashing conservative talking points?

Posted by Terry K. at 8:57 AM EST

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