Sunday, August 28, 2005

National Review Memories

Ah, the nation's premier conservative magazine:

60s it grew fat on segregation, taking up the states' rights argument for allowing jim crow to die in bed. The Tribune couldn't countenance the Birmingham bombings, but William Buckley's National Review, which would champion Barry Goldwater for president the following year, was able to. "Let us gently say," it said, "the fiend who set off the bomb does not have the sympathy of the white population in the South; in fact, he set back the cause of the white people there so dramatically as to raise the question whether in fact the explosion was the act of a provocateur -- of a Communist, or of a crazed Negro." The magazine said some evidence supported this possibility.

"And let it be said," the National Review declared, "that the convulsions that go on, and are bound to continue, have resulted from revolutionary assaults on the status quo, and a contempt for the law, which are traceable to the Supreme Court's manifest contempt for the settled traditions of Constitutional practice. Certainly it now appears that Birmingham's Negroes will never be content so long as the white population is free to be free."

Fourteen months later the National Review weighed in on the murders of Goodman, Schwerner, and Cheney in Mississippi. It noted that a federal grand jury convened in Neshoba County had returned indictments against local police officers. "It is everyone's impression, including ours, that some, at least, of the Neshoba police are a crummy lot," said the magazine airily. "But we pause for reflection. Are 'violation of the Civil Rights Act' and the even more tenuous 'conspiracy to violate' going to become a catch-all charge by which the Federal Government can get its hands on nearly any citizen?"