TNC compares the principled libertarianism of Barry Goldwater and the cynicism of George Wallace when it came to race relations:

Goldwater's sin was naivety, and a dangerous underestimation of the precise nature and vintage of evil then stalking the South. Wallace understood the evil too well, and thus set about manipulating it. Wallace knew that this was more than abstract theory, that there was real power at stake.  In that sense, Goldwater is the more appropriate hero for today's generation of blissfully ignorant ("How did that 'White slavery' sign get there?") non-racist Republican. It's not so much that they hate you, it's they are shocked--shocked--to discover that some of their fellow travelers hate you.

When discussing them, all bloggers are required to begin their missives by quickly dispensing with the "Are they racist?" strawman. Answering in the affirmative has been outlawed in polite company, where there are no actual racists. And so we are left, as I've said, with imbecility as an explanation, and a much more troubling query--"Are they stupid?"  ("Are you so stupid that you would allow racist newsletters to be published in your name?" "Are you so stupid that you would have a campaign manager with "Happy Nigger day" on his Myspace page?")

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.