The Truth About My Views on Race

By Rep. Bob Barr
New York Daily News, Thursday, January 28, 1999

In an article published in Newsday last year, Jake Lamar wrote that Stanley Crouch's "greatest notoriety is for his skill as a putdown artist."

Frankly, I'm no expert on Crouch's other skills. But as the target of at least seven columns penned by him, I can testify he more than deserves a high ranking on any list of great American putdown artists.

Conventional wisdom says arguing with those who purchase ink by the barrel is foolhardy at best, and politically suicidal at worst. However, being called a "racist" is a charge so offensive that I'm simply not willing to sit down and take it.

Regarding the Council of Conservative Citizens, I am not a member and did not discuss race or immigration during my brief appearance at the only meeting of the group I ever appeared at, to which I was invited by South Carolina's highest-ranking Republican Party official. I have made it abundantly and repeatedly clear that I find the council's support of segregationist views repugnant and would never have spoken to it if I had known about those views beforehand.

Crouch has taken the fact that I once spoke to a group that holds bizarre racial views and drawn the absurd conclusion that I agree with those views and am "connected" to the group simply because I spoke to its members one time on matters completely unrelated to race or any remotely similar issue. As a man who prides himself on intellectual honesty, Stanley Crouch should know better than to use one isolated fact to draw a conclusion completely unsupported by anything else on the record.

In his zeal to criticize a public official he obviously despises, Crouch omits the fact that I have made hundreds of speeches during my tenure in Congress, in venues as diverse as Yale University and a convention hall in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Does he think that sharing the stage with members of the ACLU makes me a liberal activist? Of course not; no more than he would posit that Alan Dershowitz believes and adopts the philosophy of a killer or a rapist simply because he may appear with them in court.

Crouch also fails to mention the work I did as a United States attorney to prosecute white supremacist groups and to punish racially motivated police brutality. These cases resulted in death threats against my staff and jurors. Again, Crouch omits these facts.

While I was a child, my father served as an Army officer and then as a civil engineer, and I spent many years living in other countries, such as Iran. I know full well how it feels to be a member of a very small minority, and I care deeply about preventing anyone from being singled out for discrimination based on their race, gender, national origin, religion or other factors. Yet, again, Crouch would rather not tell you this.

Why isn't Crouch giving his readers all the facts? I suspect it is because he had his mind made up before he ever began writing his first column about me.

Since Crouch, Dershowitz, James Carville and others have expressed such profound interest in my views on racial matters, I'll lay them out very clearly, once again.

I deeply believe the color of a person's skin, the church they worship in or the country where they were born should have absolutely nothing to do with the opportunities they have in society or the status they hold under the law.

I look forward to the day when our law and society are completely color-blind and will continue working toward that goal as long as I am in office.

This is the simple, plain, unvarnished truth, which may account for Crouch's lack of interest in repeating it.