Nancy Pelosi’s father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., was mayor of Baltimore during the 1950s. Like most politicians of that era — including the two most influential ones, President Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson — D’Alesandro did not want to burn his bridges with either side of the civil rights divide. (The exceptions to this rule tended to be from the deep south or the firmly liberal north.)
Thus, D’Alesandro’s record on race is mixed, as this Washington Times article shows. On the one hand, segregation was the order of the day in Baltimore with respect to housing and, until the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown, education. D’Alesandro did little if anything to combat segregation other than what was required of him by federal law.
Moreover, it was D’Alesandro who, shortly after being elected mayor in 1947, dedicated a new monument to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. In his dedication speech, D’Alesandro declared:
Today, with our nation beset by subversive groups and propaganda which seeks to destroy our national unity, we can look for inspiration to the lives of Lee and Jackson to remind us to be resolute and determined in preserving our sacred institutions. We must remain steadfast in our determination to preserve freedom, not only for ourselves, but for the other liberty-loving nations who are striving to preserve their national unity as free nations.
On the other hand, D’Alesandro did not resist the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown, as some southern governors did. Instead, he declared “this is the law of the land, and it will be enforced and honored in Baltimore, Maryland.”
This was the Eisenhower model. Take no position on the injustice of segregation. Instead, treat the issue as purely a legal one and emphasize the need to uphold the law.
In addition, D’Alesandro worked as mayor with black political groups. This was the LBJ model. Gain the trust and support of black leaders while staying on the good side of their enemies through gestures (like the monument dedication) and policies that do not rock the boat.
In other words, Pelosi’s father was, on matters of race, a typical politician of his era. Pelosi has no cause to be ashamed of him, much less to denounce him publicly.
Unfortunately, in our woke era, historical figures are no longer judged in the context of their times. If that goes for George Washington and Abraham Lincoln — and it does with a vengeance for the woke left — then it certainly should go for Tommy D’Alesandro.
Yet, even as she makes confronting America’s past racism a cornerstone of the Democratic agenda, Pelosi steadfastly refuses to criticize her father’s contributions to racial discrimination. I actually respect her for not throwing her father under the bus (Barack Obama threw his grandmother under it with less justification). Clearly, though, she’s being hypocritical.
Pelosi wants Whites as a group not just to take responsibility for the complicity of some Whites in racism, but to pay reparations to Blacks. Yet, she won’t own up to her father’s complicity in racism — complicity that, for example, prevented Blacks from obtaining housing in white neighborhoods.
Call it white Speaker’s privilege.
I agree with the take of the Heritage Foundation’s Mike Gonzalez:
Instead of looking forward and solving problems, there’s this obsession of turning over every stone, in finding ways to blame Whites today for the actions of the past. [Pelosi’s] getting a taste of what she does to other people.