Just found this via Jonah Goldberg - an essay written in 2008 by William Voegeli. Shrill, naive and or provocative people are always asking for proof that the GOP or Conservatives aren't racist, and they cannot wait to drop a Southern Strategy bomb on the Right. Even though I don't much care these days for defending the American Right, I did spend a lot of time in it and understood there was nothing particularly frightening about that experience, nor was there anything oxymoronic about my position in it.
So here's Voegeli's scholarly piece stolen whole cloth for the sake of completeness and to debunk the drunken notion that nobody on the Right actually thinks seriously about Civil Rights. I expect you to read the whole thing.
And here is a juicy exerpt:
Viewed from 2008, the movement Buckley led was detached from the civil rights struggle because conservatives, despite frequent and apparently sincere expressions of hope for racial harmony, rarely viewed the fight against pervasive, entrenched, and episodically brutal racial discrimination as a question of great moral urgency. Conservatives were personally opposed to Jim Crow as liberals of a later generation insisted they were personally opposed to abortion. Making the opposition personal was a way to keep the states, in the case of abortion, or the nation, when it came to segregation, from making it governmental.
Buckley did not mention race in his famous publisher's statement in the inaugural issue of National Review. The magazine was going to stand athwart history and yell Stop. But it would be yelling at Communists, "jubilant" in the belief they had an "inside track to History," and at liberals "who run this country" and who, having embraced relativism, rejected "fixed postulates...clearly enunciated in the enabling documents of our Republic" in favor of "radical social experimentation."
It was within this framework that National Review conservatism addressed the issues raised by the civil rights movement. Integration and black progress were welcomed when they were the result of private actions like the boycotts of segregated buses or lunch counters, which Buckley judged "wholly defensible" and "wholly commendable." He also praised a forerunner to the socially responsible mutual fund, an investment venture started in 1965 to raise capital for racially integrated housing developments, calling it "a project divorced from government that is directed at doing something about a concrete situation," one that "depends for its success on the spontaneous support of individual people."
The corollary was that conservatism opposed the civil rights agenda when it called for or depended on Big Government. "We frown on any effort of the Negroes to attain social equality by bending the instrument of the state to their purposes," Buckley wrote in 1960.
But we applaud the efforts to define their rights by the lawful and non-violent use of social and economic sanctions which they choose freely to exert, and to which those against whom they are exerted are free to respond, or not, depending on what is in balance. That way is legitimate, organic progress.
This opposition to Big Government engendered conservative opposition to every milestone achievement of the civil rights movement. National Review denounced Brown v. Board of Education (1954), calling it "an act of judicial usurpation," one that ran "patently counter to the intent of the Constitution" and was "shoddy and illegal in analysis, and invalid as sociology." It opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act on similar grounds. A Buckley column dismissed the former as
a federal law, artificially deduced from the Commerce Clause of the Constitution or from the 14th Amendment, whose marginal effect will be to instruct small merchants in the Deep South on how they may conduct their business.
Senator Barry Goldwater used similar reasoning to justify voting against the bill on the eve of his general election contest with Lyndon Johnson. Saying he could find "no constitutional basis for the exercise of Federal regulatory authority" over private employment or public accommodations, Goldwater called the law "a grave threat" to a "constitutional republic in which fifty sovereign states have reserved to themselves and to the people those powers not specifically granted to the central or Federal government." Goldwater arrived at this conclusion, according to Rick Perlstein's book on the 1964 campaign, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (2001), after receiving advice from two young legal advisors, William Rehnquist and Robert Bork.