Bill Buckley, sniveling racist, dies


Spare me the tearful eulogies for conservative icon William F. Buckley, who died today at the age of 82.

Buckley and his magazine, National Review, have a shameful history of promoting racism.

To wit,  consider these gems:

In a 1957 editorial titled “Why the South Must Prevail,” the National Review said:

The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes — the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.

Also in 1957, segregationist Sen. Richard Russell had this to say in Buckley’s magazine:

As you know… there are some communities and some states where the Negro’s voting potential is very great. We wish at all costs to avoid a repetition of the Reconstruction period when newly freed slaves made the laws and undertook their enforcement. We feel even more strongly about miscegenation or racial amalgamation.

The experience of other countries and civilizations has demonstrated that the separation of the races biologically is highly preferable to amalgamation.

I know of nothing in human history that would lead us to conclude that miscegenation is desirable.

In 1963, the magazine carried this reaction to the murderous bombing of a black church in Birmingham:

Let us gently say the fiend who set off the bomb does not have the sympathy of the white population in the South; in fact, he set back the cause of the white people there so dramatically as to raise the question whether in fact the explosion was the act of a provocateur — of a Communist, or of a crazed Negro.

And let it be said that the convulsions that go on, and are bound to continue, have resulted from revolutionary assaults on the status quo, and a contempt for the law, which are traceable to the Supreme Court’s manifest contempt for the settled traditions of Constitutional practice. Certainly it now appears that Birmingham’s Negroes will never be content so long as the white population is free to be free.

There are many more such examples of Buckley’s racism, but you get the point.



  1. He certainly was racist 50 years ago. No denying that. But he did change. I’m wondering if you can find such strong sentiment from this brilliant conversationalist after the 1960’s. People get wiser with age…look at you for example.

  2. Lets see, your most recent “quote” was from 1963. Wasn’t that the same timeframe when the esteemed Sr. Senator from West Virginia was pulling a pillowcase over his head and acting as an official of the KKK.
    People change Pat. Hell, 45 years ago I was a Democrat before I saw the light and left the dark side.

  3. OK, Mike, when Bob Byrd dies, I’ll diss him, too. Forty-five years ago, all those Southern racists were Democrats, and then their party started championing civil rights, so they became Republicans. I’m sure that wasn’t the reason for your change of parties, but it sure as hell was theirs.

    Kaus: You’re wrong about my becoming “wiser with age.” I’ve been this wise all along. It’s in the Cunningham genes (but that doesn’t include that Bill Cunningham guy, the talk-radio doofus who showed his ignorance at the McCain rally the other day with his tirade about Barack Hussein Obama.

  4. Pat-no argument from me regarding the change of Southern Democrats to Republicans. I think LBJ remarked that the Civil Rights Act would cost the Democrats the south for a generation.
    We do need to take political opinions in the context of their time, at least to a certain degree. Part of Lincoln’s platform was in opposition to miscegenation,ie, marriage between the races.Hard to think of Abe as a racist.

  5. Nice, Pat. Venom-spitting, name-calling eulogy. How appropriate for one of the most polite, thoughtful, erudite intellectual giants this country ever produced. Early on he recognized the error of his articulation based on race and modified it to recommend the exclusion of all uneducated persons — it is an intellectual argument based on the idea that voting is a serious undertaking that ought not to be undertaken by unserious people (I think George Will once articulated a similar thought, though not in racial terms). BTW, the Senate vote for the 1964 Civil Rights Act was 46-22 Dems, 27-6 GOP.

  6. FerChristsake Pat!
    I’d sure hate to be accountable for everything I said 45 years ago!
    People do have the capacity to change, you know.

  7. Personally, I can’t wait for Pat’s eulogy of Ted Kennedy….it should be a good one…..how he changed his ways after ‘the incident’.

  8. Walking Bass

    Liberals, those self-proclaimed tolerant, caring and compassionate folk, have a long tradition of intolerance, demagoguery and vicious hatred towards anyone who doesn’t buy into their perverted world view.

    Many years ago I too was one of these heartless, soulless left-wing automatons. As I grew older and gained more experience in the reality of the world, I began to see just how damaging liberal policies actually were. Mr. Buckley’s magazine provided a thoughtful counterpoint to the prevailing liberal dogma. He enriched this country in a way that few could ever hope to, and his passing is certainly this country’s great loss and Heaven’s gain.

  9. Funny thing about Bill Buckley. I don’t recall him ever specifically renouncing his previous racist views. Help me out here, somebody. When did Bill say he had changed his mind on race?

  10. Since YOU can’t find anything after the 60’s (over 40 years ago) on this subject, I would recommend you put some effort into it.

  11. OK, OK. I finally found a mea culpa from Buckley on the matter of race, but it’s pretty thin.

    Two years ago, Heidi Przybyla and Judy Woodruff of Bloomberg News wrote a profile in which the last paragraph read: “Buckley said he had a few regrets, most notably his magazine’s opposition to civil rights legislation in the 1960s. `I think that the impact of that bill should have been welcomed by us,’ he said.”

    Wow! What humble contrition. Nothing there about how he and his magazine had referred to blacks as an inferior race. No regrets about having suggested that the Birmingham church bombing was the work “of a Communist, or of a crazed Negro.” But, hey, he wasn’t the kind of guy to prostrate himself.

    A curious thing about Buckley is that his legacy seems to have more to do with his pretentious vocabulary and patrician style than with the durability of his ideas. Indeed, even as some of the commenters here have unwittingly pointed out, his ideas changed over the years. He evolved from cretinous, racist conservative to more of a — dare I say it? — a liberal. Gosh, he even ended up denouncing the war in Iraq. What a guy!

  12. ….and that is as close as we will ever get to Pat offering contrition.

  13. what he said was that “the white community is . . . for the time being . . . the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.”

    “National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct… It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.”

    These were straightforward factual statements supporting opinions reflecting common perception, not racism. For it to be racist he would have had to adopt the Nazi formulation that Whites are and forever will be the superior race. Intrinsic in his statement was the recognition that advanced status was transitory. He rather quickly came to regret his stance (although probably not the logic of it) and went on to vigorously debate George Wallace, staunchly oppose anti-Semitism, and he took on the true racist William Shockley noting that Asians and Jews tend to score more highly on intelligence tests than “individuals of our own race.” Again a simple factual statement well and easily proven. Bill Buckley was no racist; he was a relentless pursuer of truth and liberty.

  14. Just a silly ol' lady

    Shame on you Pat. Your vicious attack on the character of such a truly charming gentleman tells us little about the true character of Mr. Buckley, but speaks volumes about yours. I only hope that someday you will find it within yourself to grow a heart.

  15. You’re right, Silly Ol’ Lady. How heartless of me to quote the man and his magazine. It was, in retrospect, unforgivable of me to turn Buckley’s own words into a “vicious attack on the character of such a truly charming gentleman.” His racism, homophobia and antipathy to civil liberties clearly were overshadowed by his courtly manner and Yalie style. I’m so ashamed.

  16. “…the separation of the races biologically is highly preferable to amalgamation.”

    Intrinsic in his statement is a distaste for the idea of blacks integrating with whites because he believe blacks to be inferior.

    He was a white separatist through and through and did a great disservice to black people by fueling the idea of black inferiority that still underlies racial interactions today.

    “I think that the impact of that bill should have been welcomed by us”

    What? Is this an apology? Does this mean he believe that Blacks and Whites should live in harmony? Does he now believe that Blacks are not so inferior? It seems rather like he was saying the most convenient thing to escape having to face the consequences of his racist views.

    “Your vicious attack on the character of such a truly charming gentleman”


  17. Greg Jones

    This Pat guy sure seems like an idiot.

  18. John Engelman

    It would be nice if we could point out that since the civil rights legislation was signed over forty years ago blacks have disproved racist assumptions about them and that they now perform and behave as well as whites.

    Have they disproved those assumptions? The fact that an honest answer to that question is dangerous to state publicly implies the answer.

  19. John Engelman

    A political thinker should be read for insight rather than doctrine. Most of William Buckley’s career was devoted to promoting governmental policies that skewed things more in favor of the well to do. He advocated starving the public sector of the economy, and then using its famished state as proof that the private sector is better.

    By supporting Joseph McCarthy he promoted the suppression of leftist political dissent.

    Nevertheless, his early writings about the innate nature of racial differences cannot be so easily dismissed. Forth years since the civil rights legislation was signed and since billions of dollars have been spent on anti poverty programs, those differences persist. They have not even been reduced.

    Now it is the left that suppresses intellectual freedom with the restrictions of political correctness. What this country needs is a real dialogue on race.

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