Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Obama and the birth of the progressive movement

Jonah Goldberg in the March, 10, 2008 issue ($) of National Review asks:

Why am I a racist because Ronald Reagan believed in federalism, while Barack Obama is an idealist for invoking a bunch of jingoists, racists, and eugenicists who could not have fathomed that anyone with Barack Obama’s skin color might be qualified for the White House?

Goldberg was referring to how Paul Krugman said it was racist for Ronald Reagan to menion "states' rights" during a campaign speech in Mississippi in 1980. Goldberg went on to discuss how Barak Obama said at a rally at the University of Wisconsin - Madison "And where better to affirm our ideals than here in Wisconsin, where a century ago the progressive movement was born?"

What did the progressives at the University of Wisconsin believe in?

The president of the university during its heyday as the laboratory of progressivism was Charles Van Hise. A devoted eugenicist, he explained that “he who thinks not of himself primarily, but of his race, and of its future, is the new patriot.” Additionally, “we know enough about eugenics so that if the knowledge were applied, the defective classes would disappear within a generation.”

The most famous intellectual at the University of Wisconsin was arguably E. A. Ross, coiner of the phrase “race suicide” and one of America’s leading “raceologists.” “The theory that races are virtually equal in capacity,” quoth Ross, “leads to such monumental follies as lining the valleys of the South with the bones of half a million picked whites in order to improve the condition of four million unpicked blacks.”

Ross was hardly alone. Virtually all of the economic policies Obama favors today can be traced back to the efforts of academics at the University of Wisconsin, who helped create the modern welfare state, but did so in the hope of weeding out the dark, the dusky, and the otherwise unfit from the white man’s genetic garden. The politics of these progressive intellectuals conformed perfectly to the worst caricatures of George W. Bush. They instituted loyalty oaths, accused opponents of World War I of treason, and saw in militarism the best hope for organizing society.

Reagan was no racist for supporting states’ rights; he was a lover of freedom. And Obama is no villain for proclaiming his indebtedness to the progressives at the University of Wisconsin. But the question remains:
[and this is where he asks the question I opened with]

No comments: