Outside Agitators

Here's a puzzler for you history buffs out there: which prominent elected official wrote the following words in a letter to which civil rights activist from a state other than his own, and when was it written?

'Go home and stay there....We do not need you stirring up trouble where none exists.... We have no need for itinerant publicity—seekers, non—resident troublemakers, or self—aggrandizing out—of—state agitators....You have created enough mischief in your own state to last a lifetime.'

Maybe this is a tough one, but it stirs up images of stars, bars and white sheets, so perhaps not that difficult. Maybe Bull Connor to Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1963?

Good guess, but try again.

How about Ross Barnett writing to Robert F. Kennedy, the same year? That's more than plausible, but also incorrect. Give up?

The inflammatory rhetoric from this elected official to the accused carpet—bagging inciter of dissension was written on Congressional stationery. The letter was from Rep. John D. Dingell of Michigan, written to Ward Connerly of California on July 9, 2003.  

Impressive, no? Somebody should send that question to Alex Trebek and stump Ken Jennings on Jeopardy! once and for all.

Dingell wrote the letter in reaction to Connerly's attempts to organize a signature drive to put the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative —— a proposition to end racial discrimination and preferences —— on the ballot for November, 2004. The purpose of the initiative would be for the citizens of Michigan to force public institutions like the University of Michigan to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed racial discrimination and preferences.
 
Why dredge up a letter that's now over a year old? As the Detroit Free Press reported a few days ago, Dingell is not only going to run for reelection to the House in 2004, but 2006 as well. As the article states, Dingell is a heavy favorite to win in November, and will be again in two years later. The 77—year old has held his seat in the House since 1955, when he won a special election to fill the vacancy left by the death of his father. Dingell's name on the ballot in his district is virtually an automatic win.

The fact that Dingell's letter to Connerly went comparatively unnoticed —— and that it is still posted on his Congressional website as a badge of honor —— is further proof that there is a staggering double standard among Democrats and the complicit mainstream media when it comes to offensive, racist speech.

The Democrats provide racist hate—monger Al Sharpton a spot on the dais as a legitimate candidate for the nomination for the Presidency of the United States, acting as if it were yet another example of presenting a minority for high office, and the press hardly questions him on his fiery past. When Trent Lott makes some absurd implicit remarks about segregation at a testimonial for Strom Thurmond, his Senate leadership career is over in a week or two, and the media collectively say 'There go those racist Republicans again.'

Had Dingell's remarks been scrutinized and publicized half as much as Lott's, it is doubtful he would be seriously considered as a candidate for reelection this autumn. Consider that a Member of Congress told a black civil rights activist, hoping to uphold a law that some of our countrymen sacrificed their careers, their reputations, and their lives to pass, to cease his legal and just effort.

A consistent standard would have found Dingell publicly retracting his letter in a solemn press conference, submitting to a humiliating live interview on BET, acknowledging his ignorance and disregard for the historical struggle of black Americans, and enduring plenty of tut—tutting from Jennings, Rather, and the rest of the crew.   

Dingell's words to Connerly were no different than the words spoken to and about civil rights workers by segregationist governors and public officials in the 1950s and 1960s. What is the difference between John Dingell upbraiding and ordering Ward Connerly to stop meddling with the affairs of Michigan, and George Wallace standing at the schoolhouse door? Wallace has been rightly excoriated by historians as a racist bully, and eventually shamed into contrition. Dingell gets the presumption of two more terms.

Matthew May is a writer living in Michigan

Here's a puzzler for you history buffs out there: which prominent elected official wrote the following words in a letter to which civil rights activist from a state other than his own, and when was it written?

'Go home and stay there....We do not need you stirring up trouble where none exists.... We have no need for itinerant publicity—seekers, non—resident troublemakers, or self—aggrandizing out—of—state agitators....You have created enough mischief in your own state to last a lifetime.'

Maybe this is a tough one, but it stirs up images of stars, bars and white sheets, so perhaps not that difficult. Maybe Bull Connor to Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1963?

Good guess, but try again.

How about Ross Barnett writing to Robert F. Kennedy, the same year? That's more than plausible, but also incorrect. Give up?

The inflammatory rhetoric from this elected official to the accused carpet—bagging inciter of dissension was written on Congressional stationery. The letter was from Rep. John D. Dingell of Michigan, written to Ward Connerly of California on July 9, 2003.  

Impressive, no? Somebody should send that question to Alex Trebek and stump Ken Jennings on Jeopardy! once and for all.

Dingell wrote the letter in reaction to Connerly's attempts to organize a signature drive to put the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative —— a proposition to end racial discrimination and preferences —— on the ballot for November, 2004. The purpose of the initiative would be for the citizens of Michigan to force public institutions like the University of Michigan to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed racial discrimination and preferences.
 
Why dredge up a letter that's now over a year old? As the Detroit Free Press reported a few days ago, Dingell is not only going to run for reelection to the House in 2004, but 2006 as well. As the article states, Dingell is a heavy favorite to win in November, and will be again in two years later. The 77—year old has held his seat in the House since 1955, when he won a special election to fill the vacancy left by the death of his father. Dingell's name on the ballot in his district is virtually an automatic win.

The fact that Dingell's letter to Connerly went comparatively unnoticed —— and that it is still posted on his Congressional website as a badge of honor —— is further proof that there is a staggering double standard among Democrats and the complicit mainstream media when it comes to offensive, racist speech.

The Democrats provide racist hate—monger Al Sharpton a spot on the dais as a legitimate candidate for the nomination for the Presidency of the United States, acting as if it were yet another example of presenting a minority for high office, and the press hardly questions him on his fiery past. When Trent Lott makes some absurd implicit remarks about segregation at a testimonial for Strom Thurmond, his Senate leadership career is over in a week or two, and the media collectively say 'There go those racist Republicans again.'

Had Dingell's remarks been scrutinized and publicized half as much as Lott's, it is doubtful he would be seriously considered as a candidate for reelection this autumn. Consider that a Member of Congress told a black civil rights activist, hoping to uphold a law that some of our countrymen sacrificed their careers, their reputations, and their lives to pass, to cease his legal and just effort.

A consistent standard would have found Dingell publicly retracting his letter in a solemn press conference, submitting to a humiliating live interview on BET, acknowledging his ignorance and disregard for the historical struggle of black Americans, and enduring plenty of tut—tutting from Jennings, Rather, and the rest of the crew.   

Dingell's words to Connerly were no different than the words spoken to and about civil rights workers by segregationist governors and public officials in the 1950s and 1960s. What is the difference between John Dingell upbraiding and ordering Ward Connerly to stop meddling with the affairs of Michigan, and George Wallace standing at the schoolhouse door? Wallace has been rightly excoriated by historians as a racist bully, and eventually shamed into contrition. Dingell gets the presumption of two more terms.

Matthew May is a writer living in Michigan