The image first popped up in my Facebook feed last Saturday. I skimmed the text and frowned, “Have to fact check this when I get some time later.” Since then, I’ve seen enough anti-Hillary propaganda that I had to stop one friend and ask if they had recently joined the Tea Party. This damn image seemed to pop up more often than not, and every time it did I grew more infuriated with the ‘us versus them’ mentality portrayed in the text.
- In 1963 Bernie Sanders took part in the historic March on Washington DC with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The event is best remembered for King’s moving: “I have a Dream…” speech.
- In 1964 Hillary Clinton actively campaigned and voted for Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, for president of the United States. If elected, Goldwater promised to overturn the Civil Rights Act and re-segregate the nation.
Immediately evident is the painting of Clinton as a racist, racist sympathizer, or someone completely out of touch with her chosen candidate. This is in contrast to Bernie Sanders’ role as a participant in one of the most memorable events of the civil rights movement during the 1960’s. Regardless of your stance on either candidate, bold claims of bias should be verified before posting an image such as this on your page. Fairly easy to verify the claims about Sanders. With Clinton, it took a bit more digging.
My first stop was a quick and dirty Google search on Hillary Clinton, which turned up the typical Wikipedia entry. Before I even clicked on the link, the preview text gave me my first clue that the image my friends have been sharing just might be bullshit.
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (born October 26, 1947) is an American politician who…
Wait, did that say she was born in 1947? This does not compute. That means she would have been seventeen in November 1964. The legal voting age was twenty-one. There is no way Hillary could have legally voted at all, let alone devote her vote to Goldwater. Did she actively campaign for him, though? According to Clinton’s autobiography, “Living History”:
I was also an active Young Republican and, later, a Goldwater girl, right down to my cowgirl outfit and straw cowboy hat emblazoned with the slogan ‘AuH20.’
She also wrote:
By the time I was a college junior, I had gone from being a Goldwater Girl to supporting the  anti-war campaign of Eugene McCarthy.
Considering what the rest of us were getting into at that age, and how quickly she grew out of her phase, I think we can give Hillary a pass on supporting someone who ‘promised’ to ‘re-segregate’ our fine nation. She was young and naive and it was WAY before the age of the internet where you can research nearly any tidbit of information. For example, I just looked up what Barry Goldwater said when he voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act as a Senator. In a speech given on the Senate floor, and quoted in his book “Where I Stand”, he said:
I am unalterably opposed to discrimination or segregation on the basis of race, color, or creed, or on any other basis; not only my words, but more importantly my actions through the years have repeatedly demonstrated the sincerity of my feeling in this regard.
You can read the remainder of the speech here to fully understand the Constitutional reasoning behind why Goldwater voted the way he did. Goldwater’s decision is reported to have helped usher the Southern Strategy and eventually the era of Reagan “trickle-on” theory. This is lamentable to be sure. However, there is no record of Goldwater ever promising to overturn the Civil Rights Act should he be elected president. The president does not hold the Constitutional authority to overturn a law, which is something Goldwater probably knew.
This image was all too easy to pretty much completely discredit. It took maybe fifteen minutes of internet searching to collect the relevant data. I discovered after I had completed the research, that others have also looked into the facts behind the gossip (here, here and here). However, as evidenced by the number of times I’ve seen the image shared, not many people are willing to spend those few moments before spreading misinformation and outright lies, and that is disappointing.
Featured image via Facebook (modified)