In an interview with the Wall Street Journal 81 year old billionaire, Harold Simmons, explained his reasons for donating $18 million to conservative super PACs:
"Any of these Republicans would make a better president than that socialist. . . Obama is the most dangerous American alive … because he would eliminate free enterprise in this country."Where once I would have been enraged by such statements, today I feel nothing but sadness. The last decades of this man's life will be filled with hatred and craziness targeted at America's first black president. No amount of wealth spent on conservative super PACs denouncing Obama for being an extremist, Muslim radical, Kenyan, will ever bring this man peace.
As a historian, I also see a chronology flowing from Mr. Simmons's rants about President Obama. Three centuries ago, many Southerners believed that adult blacks had the mental age of children or possibly even that of chimpanzees. In their minds, slavery was a civilizing force in the lives of Africans. Such views did not alter after the South lost the Civil War. The people who held these attitudes could not be changed by appeals to logic, nor to the democratic principles of all men being created equal enshrined in our nation's founding documents nor even to Christian principles of charity and love. The placement of blacks at the bottom of the social hierarchy was too deeply entangled in the teetering positioning of themselves at the top. But nature itself, in its wisdom, dictated that every new generation would sweep away ever more bits and pieces of this racialist thinking.
The year 2008 was a turning point in America's racial history. A sufficient number of generations had come and gone since the Civil War, that a majority of Americans were willing to elect a black President. The confederate-minded holdouts found themselves having to mouth crazier and crazier themes, such as that President Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate was a fake, or that this man who was excoriated during the election campaign on account of the preachings of his Christian pastor, was actually a Muslim or that the new president was actually a socialist subversive.
When Harold Simmons's generation passes on, nature will have quietly swept away a few more left-over piles of the confederacy's mental-debris.