Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

National Review Celebrates Martin Luther King Day!

I recommend the archives of National Review: a gift that keeps on giving:

As part of National Review's celebration of Martin Luther King day, we present William F. Buckley, from the February 22, 1956 issue:

On February 6, Miss Autherine J. Lucy went to class at the University of Alabama, which admitted her by the order of a federal court. When she left the building she was assaulted by a mob.... It was the culmination of a weekend of demonstrations against the admission of a Negro.... [T]he nation cannot get away with feigning surprie at the fact that there was a demonstration by students, nor even that the demonstration became ugly and uncontrolled. For in defiance of constitutional practice, with a total disregard of custom and tradition, the Supreme Court a year ago illegalized a whole set of deeply-rooted folkways and mores.... The incident involving Miss Lucy is only one of many such incidents whose occurrence we had better get used to if we intend to enforce the Supreme Court's decision at bayonet point... the consequences of exacting of a whole region of our country compliance with a law that in the opinion of Southerners unsettles the basis of their society. The Supreme Court elected to tamper with organic growth. It must, under the circumstances, accept the fatherhood of social deformity.

We continue with a little historical background on Birmingham, Alabama:

Birmingham, Alabama - Civil Rights: The Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) filed petitions for integrated public facilities and an integrated downtown business community, city officials refused their demands.... [T]he ACMHR... invited Martin Luther King Jr.... selective buying campaigns to protest segregation of downtown businesses; planned demonstrations to protest the city's refusal to fully integrate; and followed the legal tactics of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). When thousands of children participated in a march for integration, Police Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor ordered the use of fire hoses and dogs to drive back the youthful demonstrators. Across the country, television stations fanned images of firefighters attacking citizens with powerful hoses and police carting children away in paddy wagons. This police riot in Birmingham drew national attention.... After being arrested during the demonstrations, King wrote his famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"...

And we complete National Review's celebration of Martin Luther King day by turning the microphone over to L. Brent Bozell, from the June 4, 1963 issue:

The... governor of Alabama, acting for his state, filed a suit in the United States Supreme Court that asked... whether the educated citizens of the Kennedy Administration are concerned with discharging this special responsibility [to uphold the law] or merely with gassing about it.... [D]id the President act within his authority in sending federal troops to Alabama in the wake of the Birmingham riots?.... Alabama's principal contention... is that the Act of Congress under which the President dispatched the troops is unconstitutional... that the 14th amendment... is "null and void"... that the President's actions did not comply with [the act's] conditions....

The statute... a law the Reconstruction Congress enacted in 1871.... [T]he President can send in troops... only when... there must be some "domestic violence" or "insurrection," and let us agree that condition was met b the Negro rioters.... [T]he domestic violence must be the cause... [of] a denial of equal protection... [or] obstruction of federal laws. Now: how in Heaven's name--granted they created a certain amount of havoc--can the Negro riots be said to have caused either of those consequences? Finally, assuming it is a violence-inspired enail of equal protection... the local authorities must have shown themselves either unable or unwilling to deal with the situation. Yet the authorities in Birmingham [police chief "Bull" Connor and Governor George Wallace] apparently did have the matter under control before Kennedy pushed the button....

[T]he legality of the 14th amendment.... The argument that it was improperly ratified is historically irrefragable....

It is undoubtedly too much to hope that Alabama will win her case: the President's cavalier action is not likely to raise many eyebrows on a Court that handed down those sit-in decisions. But... Alabama's lawyers can help but the public straight on who is and who isn't concerned these das with working otu the nation's terrible racial problem within the framework of law.


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