This is a wonderful complement to the previous post on the politics of the black Confederate myth. Today in the Hartford Courant Frank Harris III makes the case that a black man voting for Trump is as unlikely as black men fighting for the Confederacy in March 1865. This certainly plays loose with some of the relevant history, but it is a nice example of how the black Confederate myth still resonates politically.
Listening to Donald Trump make his pitch for African-Americans to support his presidential candidacy lit a fuse that shot me like a cannonball to 1865 in the waning weeks of the Civil War. I landed in the South, where the Confederacy was getting its butt kicked. I shook my head with my black brethren as we heard Confederate leaders had signed a bill on March 13, 1865, authorizing the use of slaves to serve in the Confederate Army as soldiers bearing arms.
Imagine that. Asking slaves to defend the people and institution that kept them in bondage. Asking slaves to kill the people who were coming to set them free. Asking slaves to do this with no promise of freedom.
Ah, the sales pitch those Southern rebels made:
Slaveowner: “I know I done held y’all in bondage, whupped y’all, sold y’all children, outraged y’all mamas, wives, daughters and said some mean things and for those things I said and done, well, I regret any discomfort I may have caused y’all. But see those Yankees comin’ over yonder to free y’all — they don’t see y’all as human beings. They just see y’all as votes. So stick with us! Fight for the Confederacy! Let’s make the South great agin! What y’all got to lose?”
Their faces didn’t show it, but deep inside those slaves were muttering about the gall he had. For sure, a good many white Yankees didn’t like the notion of fighting to end slavery, but the slaves knew their future was brighter on the other side. If they were around today listening to Trump make his pitch to blacks, they’d say, “I declare if that Colonel Trump don’t sound like them desperate Southern rebels.”
I have to agree. Seriously Colonel, after putting your racism and bigotry on display for the world to see, you now want to proclaim you are against racism and bigotry? That it is Hillary Clinton and the Democrats who are the racists and bigots?
There is a reason blacks have not supported the Republican Party. That party has made clear its feelings about us. During the civil rights movement, it was Democratic presidential candidate John Kennedy who helped get Martin Luther King out of jail while Republican candidate Richard Nixon did nothing. It was Republicans who opposed the civil rights movement and most other rights that affect blacks.
Yes, the Democrats have not lived up to all their promises, but the Republicans have never offered any serious options — and Trump certainly is not a serious option. All he is saying is give Trump a try?
Well, first let’s do some extreme vetting on Trump’s racial views and experience.
Although the child does not always follow the parent’s path, please share with us, Colonel Trump, what you think of your late dad’s being arrested during a Ku Klux Klan rally in New York? Tell us also why it took so long to disavow the support you received from KKK leader David Duke.
Share with us the 1970s federal lawsuit you settled for not renting to blacks. Tell us what you did during the civil rights movement. Did you join with whites who marched with blacks, or were you part of the screaming crowd? On the night that Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, did you cheer or cry? Have you ever used the n-word?
Lastly, if I or any other blacks not named Ben Carson had attended your recent Connecticut rally, would your supporters have treated us in a way that would make us not fear for our safety? What have African-Americans got to lose voting for you?
A black person voting for Trump is like a slave fighting for the Confederacy. Like Harriet Tubman turning the Underground Railroad around. Like Joe Louis boxing for Hitler. Like Medgar Evers rising from the grave to support the hate that put him in the grave.
There will always be a foolish few to support those who mean them harm.
But 99 percent of us know better.