The day after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was rebuked while making a speech critical of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Sen. Ted Cruz blasted Democrats, saying their party is the one rooted in racism.
“The Democrats are the party of the Ku Klux Klan,” Cruz (R-Tex.) said in an interview on Fox News on Wednesday. “You look at the most racist — you look at the Dixiecrats, they were Democrats who imposed segregation, imposed Jim Crow laws, who founded the Klan. The Klan was founded by a great many Democrats.”
Cruz isn't the first Republican to associate Democrats with the Ku Klux Klan.
In 2013, Virginia state Sen. Stephen Martin said that the Democratic Party created the hate group. Martin later released a statement saying he “regretted the carelessness and inaccuracy of his comments,” according to PolitiFact.
Although there is some historical link between Democrats and the KKK, to say that the hate group was founded by the Democratic Party is misleading, J. Michael Martinez, author of “Carpetbaggers, Cavalry and the KKK,” told PolitiFact. Angry Southern whites during the 1860s and 1870s were Democrats, and some of them joined the KKK, which was more of a grass-roots creation.
Members of the KKK in the South acted as a “strong arm” for Democratic politicians during the Reconstruction Era, and Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was associated with the KKK, spoke at the 1868 Democratic National Convention, Carole Emberton, an associate professor of history at the University of Buffalo, told PolitiFact.
But, Emberton also said that the party lines of the 1860s and 1870s “are not the party lines of today.” By the 1960s, the Democratic Party was the party of the civil rights movement.
Similar claims also have been debunked by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based hate watch group.
Last year, David Neiwert, a contributing writer for the group, wrote that describing the KKK as a “leftist” organization is false.
" Yes, in the South of the 1920s, the Klan was a militaristic and terroristic wing of the Jim Crow-loving Democratic Party there, in no shape, form, or fashion was this the 'leftist' wing of the Democratic Party. When the members of the Klan were Democrats, as in the 1920s, as well as in the '40s when they were called 'Dixiecrats,' they were conservative Democrats,” he wrote.
Neiwert's article was in response to CNN conservative analyst Jeffrey Lord's statement calling the KKK “a leftist terrorist organization.”
The Dixiecrats Cruz referred to was a splinter group of conservative white Southern Democrats who opposed the national party's growing intervention in race relations. They even ran a rival campaign in the 1948 presidential election, pitting then-South Carolina Gov. Strom Thurmond against the Democratic incumbent, President Harry S. Truman.
Full story in article.