Debating Tyranny

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 27 2011 @ 3:48pm

A reader writes:

Today’s link to The Onion, and the bile from Kathryn Jean Lopez and George Weigel, bring to mind this 1968 Firing Line broadcast where Buckley debates Judge Leander Perez, an ardent segregationist and, at the time, one of the most powerful Dixiecrats in the South. Here's one choice moment, in an argument that Weigel is repurposing:

Perez: "I am not a racist. I might mention I am against the Federal Government using its coercive power to force racial integration upon an unwilling free people…"

And later:

WFB: "Well, … have you been widely misquoted?  For instance, you're quoted as having said, 'Yes, the Negro is inherently immoral—yes, I think it's the brain capacity.'  Is that a misquotation?"

Perez: "It's not a misquotation. It's the truth."

Four decades later, we are shocked to imagine that the likes of Perez were ever tolerated outside of a Klan meeting.  History will look similarly on Lopez and Weigel, if they’re ever remembered at all.