Jimmy Carter: Southern white men changed to Republican Party because of race

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There are definite advantages to being advanced beyond retirement age. You can say pretty much say whatever you want; unfiltered, without apology, and without fear of occupational or political ramifications. We saw this with legendary comedian Bill Cosby, who returned to the national consciousness with force a few years ago, while berating those blacks who underachieve and use slang English as their primary language.

Now we see it with former President Jimmy Carter, who rips off the bandages to age-old southern wounds. One of the topics he discussed during his interview with Salon magazine was the dramatic migration of Caucasian males from the Democratic to the Republican Party following the Lyndon B. Johnson administration.

Race is the primary reason, Carter pointedly says, white Southern men support the Republican Party.

When asked why white male Southerners have turned to the GOP, Carter said: “It’s race. That’s been prevalent in the South … Ever since Nixon ran — and ever since Johnson didn’t campaign in the Deep South — the Republicans have solidified their hold there.”

During the era of the Kennedy brothers and Johnson administration, the Deep South Democratic Party was controlled by powerful whites who bitterly opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Bill that was first authored by John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, and then, after Kennedy’s assassination, ushered through congress with Johnson’s uncanny political skill.

Republican proposals, such as cutting food stamps and assuming the guilt of minorities and the mentally ill who are in jail, appeal to the rich, he said.

“Those kind of things just exalt the higher class, which is the whites, and they draw a subtle, but very effective racial line throughout the South,” Carter said.

Another topic of fierce contention? Carter also pushed back against using the Bible to trample human rights. Carter also calmly but resolutely rejects interpretations of the Bible that are used to oppress women. He said individuals can find verses that belittle women but also many that pronounce the equality of all people.

“So, you know, you could find verses, but as far as Jesus Christ is concerned, he was unanimously and always the champion of women’s rights,” he said. “He never deviated from that standard. And in fact, he was the most prominent champion of human rights that lived in his time and I think there’s been no one more committed to that ideal than he is.”

Carter has railed against religious groups using sexist interpretations of the Bible to trample human rights in other interviews as well. Carter’s Thursday comments come on the heels of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s statement that his opposition to same-sex marriage is on “the right side of the Bible.”

Check out the rest of the interview on salon.com.

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