To the Reader:
Mark Gavreau Judge quoted David Horowitz as lamenting why there aren't more black and Hispanic conservatives ["Turn to the Right," September 25]. I submit that the main reason is because they know they would not be truly welcome, since the right wing is the natural home for the white supremacists who have run the Republican Party in recent decades.
It may have started in 1948, when President Harry Truman integrated the armed forces and a lot of Dixiecrats (southern white racist Democrats) began to bolt the party rather than recognize the civil rights struggle. But the trend accelerated in 1969; Mr. Judge was five at the time and might not remember. This was, however, the beginning of Richard Nixon's "southern strategy," a deliberate attempt by Republicans to court white racist voters. Nixon looked at his razor-thin win in 1968, realized that 1972 could be just as big a headache if George Wallace's third-party bid picked up steam, and began appealing to the Wallace rednecks and their northern brothers and sisters--those who fled to the suburbs precisely to avoid blacks and Hispanics.
Since then the Republicans, and conservatives in general, have practiced buzzword politics, with most of the buzzwords meant to evoke race. Look at the list: busing, crime, welfare, quotas, illegal immigrants, reverse discrimination, affirmative action, bilingualism, school choice. Then there was Ronald Reagan's response to apartheid: "quiet diplomacy," which turned out to be tacit support for the white supremacist minority. All these and more are reminders of varying subtlety that most conservatives don't want people of color in the country, let alone the party.
Of course there are a few conservatives of color. Some of them seem to be opportunistic suck-ups who seek to profit from their affiliation (like Clarence Thomas and Ben Nighthorse Campbell), while others pose a problem for the ideological right. These are the Colin Powell black Republicans, who are for "family values" but are also pro-choice. They don't march in lockstep with the Rush Limbaugh dittoheads, and independence always did make doctrinaires nervous.
If the right is serious about recruiting conservatives of color, let them begin by supporting Colin Powell for president in 2000. By refusing to take him seriously, the white right will demonstrate once again that black conservatives and Hispanic conservatives, like homosexual conservatives, will continue to be denied entrance to the supposedly "big tent."