Sorry, But Bull Connor was a Democrat

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

This quote has been attributed to Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister. It is a good political tactic. Say something that is untrue, keep repeating it, and eventually it is accepted as the truth.

That’s fine for a propagandist like Herr Goebbels, but news organizations are not propaganda machines, or at least they pretend not to be. The New York Times, one of the most widely read and respected newspapers in the world, describes its mission as, “Producing content of the highest quality and integrity.” They strive to, “Tell our audiences the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it.” Other news organizations may describe their missions with different words, but the goals of honesty and integrity are the same.

Several days ago, a prominent Yahoo News writer brought out the tired Bull Connor as a Republican lie again. Matt Bai reported on an interview of Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY) by CNN’s Candy Crowley. Rep Israel, when asked about Republican opposition to immigration reform, as proposed by Democrats, brought up racism as a motive of those who disagree.  “But to a -- a significant extent, uh, the Republican base, uh, does have elements, uh, that are animated, uh, by -- by racism.” Matt Bai added the Bull Conner touch to Rep Israel’s statement, “Israel did allow that not all Republicans were the ideological descendants of Bull Connor.” So if not all, how many Republicans are modern-day Bull Connors? 95 percent? 90 percent?

Bull Connor was the Commissioner of Public Safety in Birmingham, Alabama during the height of the civil rights movement. As a white supremacist, Connor ordered police to use fire hoses and police dogs against civil rights protestors. While not a member if the KKK, he protected them from legal consequences of their racial violence. He sure sounds to Matt Bai like most modern-day Republicans. Except for one problem. He was a Democrat. He served in the Alabama House as a Democrat, was a five-time delegate to Democrat National Conventions, and unsuccessfully ran for Alabama Governor as a Democrat. One would think Yahoo News could use their search engine to learn more about Bull Connor before repeating the lie tying him to Republicans.

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews also pushed the Bull Connor as a Republican meme. In 2011, he described Texas Governor Rick Perry as, “Bull Connor with a smile.”

Let’s not leave out Bull Connor’s ideological cousin George Wallace. Given his support of white supremacy and resistance to desegregation, some in the media believe that he must be a Republican. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes called George Wallace a Republican, despite the fact that he was a 4 term Democrat Governor of Alabama, and made three runs for the U.S. Presidency as a Democrat, information readily available on the Yahoo or any other search engine.

“Racism has existed throughout human history,” according to the Anti-Defamation League. Perhaps we are born racist, and through socialization and culture, unlearn these innate traits. No political party has a monopoly on racism or is free of it. Yet the “Republicans are racist” lie continues to the point that it is accepted as truth. So much for the media striving to tell the “complete unvarnished truth.”  Joseph Goebbels would be proud.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician, is an advocate of smaller, more efficient government. Twitter @retinaldoctor.