Reflections on Juneteenth: Texas Emancipation Day
Our city just held its annual Juneteenth, which celebrates the abolition of slavery in Texas. It’s a perfect time to reflect on how far so many Americans of African descent haven’t come, courtesy of the human foibles that plague us all.
First, a history lesson is in order. After Emancipation, freed slaves referred to Republican President Abraham Lincoln as “Father Abraham.” One of the founding principles of the Republican party was abolishing slavery in America. Democrats controlled the South, but even Democrats in non-slave states fought to preserve slavery. The only reason the 13th and 14th Amendments passed Congress was because of the Republican majority.
During Reconstruction, blacks naturally looked to the Republican party as their own. All early black congressional representatives from the formerly slave states were Republicans. But southern Democrats never admitted defeat. By encouraging and protecting terrorist organizations—White League, Ku Klux Klan, and others—Democrats successfully intimidated blacks into either not voting, or voting Democrat, enabling them to regain control over state legislatures and congressional delegations.
As southern Democrat opposition against Reconstruction policies mounted, the Republican party cut and ran, leaving the Democrat party free to consolidate power. Thus began the long-celebrated Republican tradition of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Slavery didn't disappear, but labels changed to protect the guilty. Southern slave masters soon learned that not having to pay for housing, food, clothing and healthcare presented a unique business opportunity. These masters still owned much of the arable farm land. This resulted in sharecropping, where black farmers paid rent by giving a large portion of their production to the white landowners. Black farmers often incurred more debt to their white masters—excuse my Freudian slip, I meant land owners—than they could repay. This, along with Black Codes restricting blacks’ ability to travel and relocate, continued the plantation system where poor blacks were again tied to the land they worked.
Many blacks expected reparations from the federal government in the form of free land and farm animals. This created an opportunity for the Democrat party to experiment in social engineering without having to worry about an election backlash. By using carrot/stick methods, Democrats gradually conditioned blacks to accept their new servitude. One method used to control blacks was through patronage and punishment, which had its roots in the old paternalism promoted by antebellum slave masters. They were shepherds exercising “responsible dominion over a less fortunate, less evolved people.”
Punishment for straying off the plantation, combined with reward-based entitlements, has grown more sophisticated over time. Today, all the “free” incentives allow many blacks to survive in relative comfort, but these golden chains thwart their progress towards true freedom.
Those who become fully-actualized individuals, making their own decisions and finding success in life, have strayed off the plantation, and get ostracized by the “entitled.” White masters can stay safely in the background; they have enough trained black race-baiters to declare mainstream, successful blacks as traitors to “true” black culture. As educator and civil rights activist Booker T. Washington said:
“There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs – partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”
You think I’m being harsh about today’s picture? Well riddle me this: Part of the old Black Codes—promoted by Democrat state governments—was a ban on black gun ownership. The goal was to make whites safer as they terrorized blacks, resulting in higher black homicide rates and lower white homicide rates.
Today’s Democrat party is still the party of gun control. And today’s gun control still correlates with the same outcomes: States with the most gun control have the highest black homicide rates and the lowest white homicide rates, just like in the Old South.
Yet, blacks vote predominantly Democrat. Blacks voted overwhelmingly for Democrat Barack Obama: men 87%; women 96%. According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News survey, 78% of blacks support stricter gun control laws in this country. The Congressional Black Caucus is 100% Democrat, averages a NRA grade of “F” and has only one each of “A” and “B” grades, while 30 of 38 received an “F.” The Democrats’ century-plus social engineering program has been a resounding success.
But there’s plenty of shared responsibility. The Real Clear Politics Congressional Approval rate has remained around 15-20% the last two years, and never topped 37% since 2009. Sure, it’s fun to hate “those bums” in Congress. But when election time comes around, people think their guy or gal is okay: Incumbents consistently win reelection about 90% of the time. We get the government we elect.
The questions we all desperately need to answer are:
- Are you better off now than you were ten or 20 years ago?
- Considering Obamacare, government overreach, the IRS political witch hunt, the Benghazi cover-up, and the ATF’s Fast and Furious gun running for the Mexican drug cartels, do you think you’ll be better or worse off in the future?
- Why do both parties only vote benefits for party elites and their corporate sponsors?
- Why do we consider excuses and blaming the other party a form of acceptable, responsible representation?
Try making an honest attempt to cut out partisan rhetoric from your diet for one month, and seriously reach out to people as if your life depended on it—as indeed it does—and simply communicate what’s important to you. You’ll find many people responding in kind, because we have far more in common than not.
Benjamin Franklin said: “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Every despot throughout history knew that divide and conquer works. These days, we don’t even have talking points anymore, we have screaming points. And while we’re busy screaming, those in power obtain more of our personal sovereignty each day; a little more of our wealth; a little more of our self-respect; a little more of our freedom; a little more of our children’s future.
What kind of country do you want to pass forward? There’s three options:
- We can stop relying on divisive rhetoric and work together to restore the basic freedoms most of us hold dear.
- We can decide that there’s no hope for a peaceful resolution.
- We can give up, and let our children grow up slaves to the state.
References cited here:
Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War by Harvard Professor David Herbert Donald
Lincoln by David Herbert Donald
The Abolitionist Legacy by Princeton University Professor James M. McPherson