Colin Powell is Wrong (with a Tribute to Edward Brooke)

General Colin Powell is wrong. The Republican Party has no "identity" problem with minorities, like first popularly elected black Republican US Senator, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, among others.


In a recent interview on NBC's "Meet the Press", moderate Republican General Colin Powell, who served as Secretary of State under George W. Bush, claimed that the Republican Party has an "identity" problem. He then added that the Republican Party looks down on minorities . "There is a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. They still look down minorities."

In reality, Powell has an integrity and information problem. The notion that the Republican Party is a racist organization does not withstand any serious scrutiny. Powell suggest that the Republican Party "take a very hard look at itself." Perhaps the former general should take a long hard look at the Republican Party's history.

Founded in Michigan in 1854, the Republican Party welcomed federal internal improvements, disgraced Federalists and Whigs, and championed the end of slavery. Taking on liberal positions without overthrowing the entire political machinery of the federal government, the first Republican candidate to win the Presidency, Abraham Lincoln, waged a war first to preserve the union, then shifted not just to end the spread of slavery, but to outlaw the "peculiar institution" once and for all. Because of his political acumen and legal maneuverings (all celebrated in the Steven Spielberg epic "Lincoln,") the beloved sixteenth president helped pass Amendments Thirteen, Fourteen, and Fifteen, which respectively granted the African-American freedom, citizenship, and the vote.

Following the Civil War, the Republicans controlled the White House for the next fifty years, pushing Civil Rights legislation in the 1870s. African-American legislators for Congress and the Senate ranked among the Republicans. Blacks in general identified with the Republican Party precisely because during that period of time, the Democratic Party, including the "Solid South," entitled itself "The White Man's Party." The first Democratic President to serve two consecutive terms after the Civil War, Princeton President Woodrow Wilson, was a racist progressive who purged the White House and the Washington bureaucracy of African-Americans while waging a costly American intervention in World War I and jailing anti-war political dissenters, including socialist Presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs. The next Republican President, Warren G. Harding, released Debs and reintegrated blacks back into the White House and Washington.

Despite the widespread Democratic dominance of the 1930's and 1940's, Republicans still gathered a plurality of the black vote. Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater launched a campaign based on states' rights instead of Washington righteousness. Despite the backlash of Civil Rights supporters in the 1960's, "Negroes for Goldwater" spread the word on his behalf. Richard Nixon won 38% of the black vote, then forty-nine states in 1972.

Ronald Reagan took in his own "rainbow coalition" without condescending to minority voters, but welcoming all of them, regardless of their skin color. Republican President Eisenhower defended the Little Rock Six against the segregationist Democratic hegemony in the South. Nixon finished the desegregation that Republican Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren had started with Brown v. Board of Education.

Powell later spewed race-based spite about Romney, castigating the former Massachusetts governor's less scintillating statements. Romney's "47%" remark was bad, but Romney was not racist when he quipped "The President was lazy" to explain why the President did so poorly in his first debate. The "political correctness" police imagined him then saying "shiftless" and other negative terms which had disparaged African-Americans.

All of this race-bating around "code speech" is unsubstantiated and insulting. Besides, Colin Powell conveniently neglected Vice President Joe Biden's "Chains, y'all!" interjection at one Democratic meeting. Before that, national media outlets were slamming Biden for calling President Obama an "articulate" politician. The mad search for racist commentaries and subtexts has distorted the proper discourse in this country while insulting minority voters, as if they are not made of "sterner stuff" to begin with.

One Democratic President, the crummy architect of the crumbled "Great Society," said the following:

“I’ll have those [racial epithet] voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” - Lyndon B. Johnson

However, the most impressive indictment against Powell's uninformed assertion rests on no greater an example than former Massachusetts' US Senator Edward Brooke, the first African-American to be elected to the US Senate by popular vote, and a Republican. In reviewing his eventful political life, Brooke joined the Republican Party because they gave him an opportunity to serve. He agreed with the Republican stance on civil rights, since it was the Massachusetts GOP which desegregated the Bay State schools. Brooke was a moderate who respected limited government and individual opportunity. He served as the Massachusetts Attorney General, winning statewide in 1964 while Barry Goldwater's Presidential campaign tarnished the Republican brand briefly. Refusing to endorse his party's Presidential nominee, Brooke went on to win the US Senate seat against an incumbent Democrat in 1966 and reelection in 1972.

Colin Powell suggests that the Republican Party has an "identity" problem, when in fact they have a memory problem, failing to remember and remind the country that the Republican Party has the stronger legacy on civil rights and minority respect than the Democratic Party. Just ask Massachusetts' former US Senator Edward Brooke. And Alabama's Artur Davis and South Carolina's Tim Scott. . .

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Good Grief Y'all January 19, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Tammy, I am sick of the phrase "race card". That is most often used as a deflection from reality. Because, the reality is, whether we admit it or continue to deny it, racism is alive and kicking in these United States, especially in the South. My personal perspective from this article and some of the comments is the inference that Gen. Powell voted FOR President Obama because they're of the same race, and that Gen. Powell renounced his party loyalty for race loyalty. That reeks of racism to me. I don't know if others see that, but it is highly likely. White people didn't put President Obama in office because of his race and their hope that he would improve race relations - isn't that analysis, in and of itself, racism? - but because they saw him as the best candidate. After all, they took into consideration who the opposition was, both times. I, too, can cite many ugly racist comments heard from friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers and colleagues - people who are mostly intelligent and "Christian". Some of the vilest of names have I heard the President called by people whom I love. My consolation is that I didn't raise them. The only thing I will say as an example, and I know you have heard this, too, is that it is common lingo to refer to all black people as Democrats. I never heard that usage until 2007. Wonder why? It is the height of arrogance to claim to know the minds and feelings of someone else - including on matters of race.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew January 19, 2013 at 08:12 PM
Again I politely contest your assessment, the leaders you refer to are the real embarrassment hanging around the peoples' neck at this point. ANYONE can fill a position of LEADERSHIP by surrendering as a first response with or without a crying towel, that is until they RUN out of things to surrender. "Compromise" is made of both GIVE and TAKE - some to this point have been all give, while others are all take and this course cannot hold...
Good Grief Y'all January 19, 2013 at 08:15 PM
So, JB, whites (Caucasians) aren't a race? Have no right to an opinion on race? Any race? That's what is ignorant.
Good Grief Y'all January 19, 2013 at 08:24 PM
R, I can't believe we agree on something. I concur, except I didn't give an assessment of Boehner and McConnell. They are indeed an embarrassment to their constituency, their party, their Congressional houses. Maybe, more accurately, they and the Tea Party are mutual in their albatross state. Oh, except for the part about their surrendering or compromising on anything as neither of them have. I disagree with you on that point. I do appreciate your good manners, so thanks for that!
Tammy Osier January 19, 2013 at 08:25 PM
Not letting you get away with that GGy - Here are your own words: "It's the people who hate that a black man, a Democrat was ever elected once, and twice, why that's just the end of their world." My point is that, like you said, people of all races voted for him based on what they thought he could do, not the color of his skin. So, yes, white people were just as responsible for putting him into office as people of color were. So, to use your words, are those same people now hating on him because he's black? Can't have it both ways. That dog won't hunt. That is totally a race card when you ACCUSE people (like you can read their minds) of hating someone. You've really GOT to be kidding. I respect most of what you say and enjoy conversing with you, but it does throw doubts into my thoughts when I read statements like that. I've always known that Powell's leanings were more towards social conservativism so am not surprised that he would vote the way he does. But, I do agree with others that the republican party has done a lot for him, and would think that he'd show loyalty there. But then, it shows a lot of respect for the man that Bush selected him on the merits of his resume knowing that his political leanings might not completely jibe with his. That's how he feels, but the poster has every right to disagree with him. that's what this post was about in the beginning.
Good Grief Y'all January 19, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Maybe you're just trying to use colorful (pun fully intended) phrasing, Tammy, but it is not up to you to let me do anything. With that out of the way: Yes, I certainly did say that. Please note that besides the word "black", I prefaced it with "It's the people who hate . . . " I did not say all people who voted for someone other than President Obama or who voted at all - many who fuss didn't vote - cast their vote because of hate for his race. I never said everyone must accept and like him. That's one's personal freedom to vote as they want. But a lot of them (campaigners and R voters) did use it against him in their quest to elect the other guy; people who claimed to be unbiased. There is absolutely no denying that he is hated because of his color by many. Further, instead of saying "just as responsible for putting him in office", my wording would be "take credit for" because I and others who voted for him are very glad to have done so. Not everyone, but many. Some folks are fickle if they can't get instant gratification. And, no, I would say the people who voted for him are not "hating on him because he's black" - that's rather absurd. The haters did not vote for him, I'm pretty sure of that. It is not I who is trying to have it both ways. That hating thing - it's reality, not an accusation. I know lots of haters of the President, personally. Said that. And, it was painful. No mind reading required.
Good Grief Y'all January 19, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Also, Tammy, the General has done more for the Republican Party than it has done for him. Sorry, I disagree with you on that, too. I would ask you to take into account the reason for my comment was that the author claims it is the President who is the divider. As is my right, I took exception to that and commented honestly on it. It is the haters against the black man, and some of them may have other reasons added to that, who have done the dividing. That was my point. I could cut and paste documentation all day and into the night to support that. But, let me just give you a couple of examples which I had on my mind when I wrote my comment. During the campaign, John Sununu - Romney campaign surrogate and former NH gov. - said that during the first debate the President was "lazy". That's very offensive - ask some of your black friends, if you think they can be completely open with you and don't feel that they must stick to polite talk. The most offensive comment came from the less than honorable half-term former governor of Alaska, the one and thank God! only Sarah Palin with her comment that the President was "shuckin' and jivin' "? Pray tell, what black person have you ever heard use that phrase about another African American? Ask 'em! The General cited those very two instances on MTP. I come in peace and I leave in peace.
Good Grief Y'all January 19, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Mr. author, all I deserve from you is an apology for your wrongful accusation against me. Instead you chose to attack me with a hurtful, hateful diatribe. That is not a nice way to treat your very first poster. You should probably thank me. Without my starting post, it's doubtful you would have received such a response thread. But, I'm not looking for any appreciation. A simple apology for your wrongful accusation would do. But, I'm a realist. I no longer expect that. I haven't insulted or name-called anyone, except the couple of people who attacked me first. They delight in goading such a response from me, and they enjoy it. Would you deny them? We have quite the history on such exchanges. I hope you won't take too much glee in your endorsement from John B, as he is my most avid stalker-harasser. Nothing to take pride in there. I forgive you your harsh words.
John B January 20, 2013 at 01:16 AM
Not when it's not your race GGY......The minorities I know don't want you pandering to or for them...they are proud and despise people like you...stop patting yourself on the back.....
John B January 20, 2013 at 01:17 AM
you just answered the question.....
John B January 20, 2013 at 01:21 AM
Now why do you need to bring my name into it...I think you have an obsession with me...I wish you would stop stalking me........
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew January 20, 2013 at 04:08 AM
You didn't REALLY go there over "shuckin' and jivin' " did you? With that I must accept your moniker Good GRIEF!!
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew January 20, 2013 at 04:12 AM
BUT the PRES is a divider simple fact. He dislikes those who cling to their GOD and guns or did we miss that because he DIDN'T build it?
Good Grief Y'all January 20, 2013 at 01:22 PM
General Powell's resume has nothing to do with his political choices. It's still outstanding either way. My answer . . . not yours.
Good Grief Y'all January 20, 2013 at 01:30 PM
JB, you continue to judge me. The shame for that is on you. I've never pandered a day in my life. Unlike you, what I say and write here is sincere AND truthful. You, mister, cannot make that claim.
Good Grief Y'all January 20, 2013 at 01:37 PM
No, R, Sarah Palin went there. General Powell took exception to it. I do, too. She went there deliberately - it was no gaffe.
Good Grief Y'all January 20, 2013 at 01:51 PM
No, again, R. The President is not the divider. There is plenty of documentation on video, internet, in print - including in this blog and comment thread - giving proof of the dividers. The author himself is divisive. He introduced race baiting into the discussion in his article - his words, although he misspelled. He is making that accusation because he wrongly assumes it validates his opinion and "facts", and as a not-so-subtle warning that no one dare introduce comments to the contrary and risk being declared racist. He and a few of the commenters have called my posts condescending, phony, pandering and racist. The condescension and racist comments fit into the author's and his supporters' view that General Powell abandoned party loyalty in favor of race loyalty. They're looking down on him for making his own independent voting choices. In the process, the author and his supporters, have shown that they are the ones with condescending, racist overtones in their words. John B's comments attacking me as phony and pandering are untrue, judgmental and worth nothing except to document his continued venom and his wish to take away my 1st Amendment rights.
John B January 20, 2013 at 01:56 PM
GGY...really? The last thing I want to do is take away your 1st amendment right. Please keep posting as you add daily entertainment...and it's free. Keep it phony as always...
Good Grief Y'all January 20, 2013 at 01:59 PM
The author and his back-up supporters on this thread are living, local proof of the Republican playbook methods. They state their opinions, make their accusations, dare others to differ at the risk of character assassination, then turn around and point their own guilty fingers at all who disagree. They do their dirty deeds, then accuse others of those acts. I have seen this movie before. It was titled "The Republican Campaign for the Presidency, 2012". It lost badly in all categories, most importantly - the election.
John B January 20, 2013 at 02:05 PM
GGY: It's Sunday at 9:00 a.m. It's going to be a lovely day. I'm ready to do my P90X Kenpo and then settle in for some football. Go Falcons! I hope you enjoy your Sunday. It's ok to walk away from the computer sometimes. Have a great day.
Good Grief Y'all January 20, 2013 at 03:22 PM
I always enjoy my Sundays and every other day. You should take your own advice.
Good Grief Y'all January 20, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Yes, JB, really. You do, and that's why you continue to attack whatever comment I make in a personal and insulting way. You hope to run me off. You don't like what I have to say, ever, or the way I say it. Your problem, not mine.
Tammy Osier January 20, 2013 at 08:43 PM
I've got no problem pointing out those in my party that are less than stellar, but I do have a problem when you point them out to the exclusion of your own partie's pecadillos. Here's the short list: Could it possibly be that they hate his policies? But you really can't point any fingers at palin when you have all the racist comments made by democrats against black republicans (can't even begin with all that Joe biden can take credit for) such as: The ugly, nasty pictures of Condi Rice (one has a caption, "I'm fighting for whitey) or the comments about her shining the massuh’s shoes, Mike Wallace's comments about watermelons and tacos, Harry Belefonte and Spike Lee (can't even mention many of them on this family page), Lyndon B. Johnson (can't mention here), Donna Brazille - I won't let these white boys win this election, Louis Farrakan (it would take pages), California State Senator Diane Watson. So much that wasn't even fit to print! The worst of it is that they are given a pass. Might divide a few people if you ask me. I mean, I could go on and on and on... But there’s no reasoning with you. So, I will move on.
Good Grief Y'all January 21, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Tammy, I didn't watch and read every comment made by everyone who had something to say in the recent long election season and decades past. My comments were relative to the blog about Gen. Powell and the examples he cited. That's pretty straight forward. I didn't dig up past ghosts. I based my posts on the immediate conversation. The comments by the people Gen. Powell mentioned (he didn't even call them out by name, just their words) were made by the people who were prominently quoted and most in the news headlines. I don't dwell on everything said. There are often apologies after such comments, some genuine, some CYA. Like others, you can't bring me around to your way of thinking, so you choose to dismiss me. No one can have a conversation using those parameters. Where's the polite "we must agree to disagree"? Have a nice trip.
Good Grief Y'all January 21, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Tammy, where was your and others' condemnation of those two examples? I don't think I missed them. That was strictly rhetorical.
Brian Crawford January 21, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Sometimes the truth hurts and the writer seems to be willfully ignoring the fact that minorities have overwhelmingly rejected the current Republican Party platform. He also leaves out a rather large chunk of history including the Dixiecrats split with the Democratic party over civil rights in the 50s and 60s and the GOP's ensuing "Southern Strategy" to win over these defectors by playing to their racist fears and prejudices. The success of this strategy has been clear. Powell spoke the truth. His party would be wise to pay attention.
Mr. B January 21, 2013 at 03:07 PM
You seem to be forgetting that it was the Republican party that ended slavery against the strong opposition of Democrats. The Democrats have continued to enslave the black Americans through entitlements. Are you and General Powell suggesting the Republicans drop their opposition to slavery and join the Democrats in enslaving American citizens?
Brian Crawford January 21, 2013 at 06:51 PM
I think what we are suggesting is that there is no resemblance of the party of Lincoln in today's Republican party.
Mr. B January 21, 2013 at 09:36 PM
And what I'm suggesting is there is no difference in the Democratic party of Lincoln's day. To paraphrase a great writer...Slavery by any other name still stinks.
Arthur Christopher Schaper January 22, 2013 at 01:09 AM
Mr. B, You get an "A" from me. Democratic Party leaders have lied to their members. Blacks are conservative, but media bombardment has twisted the narrative. For too long, Republicans have rested solely on logic and rational argument alone to make their case, while Democrats use emotion and rhetoric and "win". Often times, the GOP leaders have assumed that most people already understand that free markets make free people, and that more government means more dependence. Republicans have the facts and the law, but now they need to start pounding the table. Dems create welfare slaves, not welfare queens, and they will not let urban youth choose the schools that they want to go to. Yes, indeed, "slavery by another name." Wasn’t it Joe “Widen-His-Mouth-to-Put-His-Foot-in” Biden who said “Chains, y’all!” Not to be crude, but the Democratic "1%" are the "Simon LeGree" of our times.


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