The University’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom brought Fox News contributor Deroy Murdock to campus Monday evening to discuss race and party affiliation.
Murdock, a longtime conservative and member of YAF, discussed the history of the Republican Party and its relationship with Black Americans. Murdock initially began working with YAF in high school, and continued his membership through his time at Georgetown University.
“My basic message today is that the Republican Party and conservatives has spent most of the 150 years trying to liberate Black Americans,” Murdock said.
Since the University’s YAF chapter was founded last semester, the group has pushed for increased conservative discussion on campus. This is the group’s second lecture event; the first hosted conservative author Jonah Goldberg in February.
LSA freshman Grant Strobl, chairman of the University’s chapter of YAF, said the group aims to promote conservative ideas on campus.
“We want to provide another perspective on issues, we want to create more intellectual diversity on campus,” Strobl said. “It’s unfortunately become a habit where alternative viewpoints have been shut down.”
Throughout Murdock’s talk, he discussed 150 years of racial movements in America. Murdock said he considers the Democratic Party racist, though he said he believes Republicans are often seen to be more racist of the two major political parties.
“While our side plays the race card very rarely, our opponents play the race card like a blackjack dealer in Vegas,” Murdock said.
Murdock also said several Democrats have had links to the Ku Klux Klan, especially in the South. He said Robert Byrd, a former U.S. senator, enrolled 150 recruits in a chapter of the KKK in West Virginia, yet still served in the Senate as a Democrat until his death in 2010. Byrd later called his involvement in the KKK a “sad mistake.”
“Do you honestly think a Republican with the KKK on his resume would have had this much slack cut for him?” Murdock said.
Murdock said, as a Republican, he blames large government and over-regulation for laws such as segregation and other laws that marginalized Black Americans throughout history.
“For those of us that talk about the dangers of big government, Jim Crow was an example of big government activism,” Murdock said.
During the question and answer section of the lecture, LSA senior Michael Chrzan expressed his skepticism with some of the things Murdock discussed. For example, in the beginning of the talk, Murdock referred to Martin Luther King Jr. as a Republican.
“I was just wondering what support you had for your claim that Martin Luther King was a Republican when in a 1958 interview he was quoted saying, ‘I don’t think that the Republican Party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic Party, they both have weaknesses and I’m not inextricably bound to either party,’” Chrzan said.
Murdock said his research has found Martin Luther King Jr. to be a member of the Republican Party, at least for a portion of time.
“My understanding was that he was a Republican early on and then switched in support of Democrats in 1964 after the Civil Rights Act was passed by LBJ,” Murdock said.
Chrzan said he thought the lecture discussed interesting points, but he still found the discussion a one-sided point of view.
“I think if you’re going to talk about someone as historical as MLK you would know that MLK himself didn’t qualify himself as a member of your party,” Chrzan said.
Murdock said he found these talks to be a productive exercise, especially for furthering discussion on campus.
“I thought the audience was very attentive, they asked very intelligent and often challenging questions,” Murdock said. “I would not describe anything as discourteous or impolite, I know other conservatives that have appeared on campuses have been shouted down or their presentations have been disrupted.”
Correction appended: The story previously misstated Murdock’s affiliation with Fox News. He is a contributor, not a correspondent.