by Charles M. Blow
Why do Republicans keep endorsing the most extreme and hyperbolic African-American voices — those intent on comparing blacks who support the Democratic candidates to slaves? That idea, which only a black person could invoke without being castigated for the flagrant racial overtones, is a trope to which an increasingly homogeneous Republican Party seems to subscribe.
The most recent example of this is E.W. Jackson, who last weekend became the Virginia Republicans’ candidate for lieutenant governor in the state.
In a video posted to YouTube in 2012 titled “Bishop E.W. Jackson Message to Black Christians,” Jackson says:
“It is time to end the slavish devotion to the Democrat party. They have insulted us, used us and manipulated us. They have saturated the black community with ridiculous lies: ‘Unless we support the Democrat party, we will be returned to slavery. We will be robbed of voting rights. The Martin Luther King holiday will be repealed.’ They think we’re stupid and these lies will hold us captive while they violate everything we believe as Christians.”
“Shame on us for allowing ourselves to be sold to the highest bidder. We belong to God. Our ancestors were sold against their will centuries ago, but we’re going to the slave market voluntarily today. Yes, it’s just that ugly.”
(Jackson also took swipes at the gay community and compared Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan.)
The Democrat Plantation theology goes something like this: Democrats use the government to addict and incapacitate blacks by giving them free things — welfare, food stamps and the like. This renders blacks dependent on and beholden to that government and the Democratic Party.
This is not completely dissimilar from Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comments, although he never mentioned race:
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.
Star Parker, a Scripps Howard syndicated columnist, failed Republican Congressional candidate and author of the book “Uncle Sam’s Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America’s Poor and What We Can do About It,” argued in an article in 2009 on the conservative Web site Townhall:
“A benevolent Uncle Sam welcomed mostly poor black Americans onto the government plantation. Those who accepted the invitation switched mind-sets from ‘How do I take care of myself?’ to ‘What do I have to do to stay on the plantation?’”
Mackubin Thomas Owens, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R. I., put it more bluntly in an editorial on the Ashbrook University Web site in 2002:
“For the modern liberal Democratic racist as for the old-fashioned one, blacks are simply incapable of freedom. They will always need Ol’ Massa’s help. And woe be to any African-American who wanders off of the Democratic plantation.”
That last bit hints at the other part of Democrat Plantation theology: that black Democrats and white liberals are equal enforcers of enslavement.
A 2010 unsigned article published on the Web site of the conservative weekly Human Events reads:
“If black Americans wish to be Democrats, that is their choice — or is it? Despite the fact that Democrats enjoy the support of over 90% of black America, the other 10%, those who dare to ‘stray from the plantation,’ have been routinely vilified — by other black Americans.”
The article continued:
“The not-so-subtle message? Support liberal dogma — or face social ostracism.”
Dr. Ben Carson, who delivered a speech blasting the president during the National Prayer breakfast this year and quickly became a darling of the right (The Wall Street Journal declared: “Ben Carson for President”), said of white liberals in a radio interview:
“They are the most racist people there are. Because they put you in a little category, a little box. You have to think this way. How could you dare come off the plantation?”
(Carson also got in trouble for comparing homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality. He later apologized for those comments, “if anybody was offended.”)
Unfortunately, the runaway slave image among many black Republican politicians is becoming ingrained and conservative audiences are applauding them for it.
Herman Cain, for example, built an entire presidential campaign on slave imagery.
C. Mason Weaver, a radio talk show host, failed Republican Congressional candidate from California and author of the book “It’s OK to Leave the Plantation,” said of President Obama at a 2009 Tea Party rally in Washington: “You thought he was saying was ‘hope and change’; he was saying was ‘ropes and chains,’ not ‘hope and change.’ ” Weaver continued: “Decide today if you’re going to be free or slaves. Decide today if you’re going to be a slave to your master or the master of your own destiny.” Weaver would repeat the “rope and chains” line on Fox and Friends that year.
The Rev. C.L. Bryant, a Tea Party member and occasional Fox News guest, even made a movie called “Runaway Slave,” in which he says that America should “run away from socialism, run from statism, run away from progressivism.”
While these politicians accuse the vast majority of African-Americans of being mindless drones of the Democrats, they are skating dangerously close to — if not beyond — the point where they become conservative caricatures.
The implication that most African-Americans can’t be discerning, that they can’t weigh the pros and cons of political parties and make informed decisions, that they are rendered servile in exchange for social services, is the highest level of insult. And black politicians are the ones Republicans are cheering on as they deliver it.
Now who, exactly, is being used here?
(This column originally appeared in the New York Times May 22, 2013 under the title “Blacks, Conservatives and Plantations”)
Charles M. Blow is a New York Times Columnist and nationally-known commentator: “I invite you to visit my blog By The Numbers, join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”