Joseph Farah plays the Klan card in his June 26 WorldNetDaily column, claiming that "today's radical secular agenda promoting absolute separation of church and state was a movement actually birthed by the [Ku Klux] Klan" because Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote the majority opinion in Engel v. Vitale, which banned state officials from composing an official school prayer and requiring its recitation in public schools. Farah attacked Black as "a red-necked bully and coward in a hood and white robes" and a "racist hate monger" who was doing the "bigoted agenda" of the KKK. Farah added: "Black's racist roots have been glossed over by historians, largely because of his rulings in cases like Engle [sic] v Vitale."
As we've noted, history suggests that Black was a member of the KKK out of a combination of political expediency and anti-Catholic animus, not out of racist sympathies and that, KKK membership aside, he was likely no more a "racist hate monger" than the typical white American of that era. Farah conveniently omits that Black's "racist roots" are more credibly contravened by things like joining the unanimous opinion in Brown v. Board of Education as well as in Shelley v. Kramer, which banned racial restrictions on property covenants.
Farah also wrote:
The movement for so-called "separation of church and state" in America began in earnest as an anti-Catholic extremist effort directed by the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan was successful at getting one of its own on the Supreme Court at a critical time in history.
This ignores the fact that Catholics, in significant part, didn't attend public schools and set up their own because they had traditionally been controlled by Protestants. So restricting prayer in public schools via Engel v. Vitale affected far more Protestants than Catholics, which would seem to demolish Farah's suggestion that Black's majority opinion in Engel was motivated by anti-Catholicism. (It's even more ironic that Farah is running to the defense of Catholics given WND's own anti-Catholic streak.)
Farah goes on to disingenously claim that "I don't suggest Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, shares the Klan's racist, hateful ideals" -- yeah, right -- then adda, "But I do need to point out they represent the heritage of his ideals." Well, two can play the Klan-invoking guilt-by-association game.
In a March 19 column, Farah wrote: "All things being equal, I'd rather watch the Democrats destroy America for the next four years, holding out hope that a new kind of Republican leadership might arise to fight back in 2012." Farah repeated the assertion in a May 19 column, adding, "I said it, and I mean it." But as blogger David Neiwert has pointed out, that's pretty much the same view taken by ... white supremaists:
In any event, a pattern is already developing, ranging from the Klan fellows who promise that Obama will be shot to the white supremacists who are actually rooting for him to win because they're certain he will fail. We're hearing a lot of language from the racist and "Patriot" right indicating that they expect a Democratic president to enact policies (particularly regarding gun control) that will inspire "civil war." Which means they are looking for excuses to act out.
As always with these folks, there's a lot of projection going on here. Because even if a President Obama follows only the most moderate of liberal agendas, the far right will look upon those policies as cause for "civil war." That was how they responded to Bill Clinton, after all -- a white male Southerner with generally conservative leanings. One can only imagine how a liberal black man from Illinois would fare.
Further, as the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok writes:
With the nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate clinched, large sections of the white supremacist movement are adopting a surprising attitude: Electing America’s first black president would be a very good thing.
It’s not that the assortment of neo-Nazis, Klansmen, anti-Semites and others who make up this country’s radical right have suddenly discovered that a man should be judged based on the content of his character, not his skin. On the contrary. A growing number of white supremacists, and even some of those who pass for intellectual leaders of their movement, think that a black man in the Oval Office would shock white America, possibly drive millions to their cause, and perhaps even set off a race war that, they hope, would ultimately end in Aryan victory.
We're not suggesting that Farah shares the racist, hateful ideals as these white supremacists. But we do need to point out they represent the heritage of his ideals.