When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
I have something I want to say and it may not come out very well, so bare with me. I hate to say this, but I told you so. Of course, for the most part, I’m preaching to the choir on this. A large part of what is happening in our country now is part of ‘the talk’ that we blacks have to have with our children. It’s part of what runs in the back of our minds everyday as we live here in America.
We have seen all of the signs — mainly because we have lived it from our ancestors’ time. We are the nation’s canaries regarding an inconvenient truth about the history of our country and that ‘thing’ that we can never seem to shake.
Rachel Maddow’s opening segment on Tuesday night was 19:22 of a stunning history lesson:
However the 1920’s isn’t when this ‘thing’ first surfaced:
The period after the Civil War, 1865 - 1877, was called the Reconstruction period. Abraham Lincoln started planning for the reconstruction of the South during the Civil War as Union soldiers occupied huge areas of the South. He wanted to bring the Nation back together as quickly as possible and in December 1863 he offered his plan for Reconstruction which required that the States new constitutions prohibit slavery.
In January 1865, Congress proposed an amendment to the Constitution which would abolish slavery in the United States. On December 18, 1865, Congress ratified the Thirteenth Amendment formally abolishing slavery.
The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated less than one week later. Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's Vice President, briefly continued Lincoln's policies after Lincoln's assassination and in May 1865 announced his own plans for Reconstruction which included a vow of loyalty to the Nation and the abolition of slavery that Southern states were required to take before they could be readmitted to the Nation.
Black codes were adopted by midwestern states to regulate or inhibit the migration of free African-Americans to the midwest. Cruel and severe black code laws were adopted by southern states after the Civil War to control or reimpose the old social structure. Southern legislatures passed laws that restricted the civil rights of the emancipated former slaves. Mississippi was the first state to institute laws that abolished the full civil rights of African-Americans. "An Act to Confer Civil Rights on Freedmen, and for Other Purposes," a very misleading title, was passed in 1865. Other states quickly adopted their own versions of the codes, some of which were so restrictive that they resembled the old system of slavery such as forced labor for various offenses…
...Black Northerners also ventured south. Some of them were veterans of the Civil War, others were teachers, ministers and returning children of free blacks who had been educated in the north including "Black carpetbaggers" born in Great Britain and Dutch Guiana and had been elected members of Congress. More than 100 blacks held public office after the Civil War.
---Howard University Library
The motivating push to the continuance of America’s dark history was when Reconstruction was a bridge too far for who had lost the Civil War and having their enslaved running things was too much to bare:
At the time of Ulysses S. Grant's election to the presidency, white supremacists were conducting a reign of terror throughout the South. In outright defiance of the Republican-led federal government, Southern Democrats formed organizations that violently intimidated blacks and Republicans who tried to win political power.
The most prominent of these, the Ku Klux Klan, was formed in Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1865. Originally founded as a social club for former Confederate soldiers, the Klan evolved into a terrorist organization. It would be responsible for thousands of deaths, and would help to weaken the political power of Southern blacks and Republicans.
-— American Experience
As Rachel correctly summarized in her segment, the white nationalist movement and its umbrella organizations has used racism to reinforce the socialization of white supremacy in order to retain and maintain political (and to a great extent), economic power. Yet the only time that it is universally recognized as such is when the burning crosses, white robes or in this case, tiki torches and Nazi tattoos are on full display. It become painfully apparent when live video and audio can show you what hate can do.
And it becomes breathtakingly appalling when it is endorsed by our government — in this case, the President of the United States. As you can see in Maddow’s segment, the Klan sought power at the very top of the political pyramid chain and while seemingly beat down, their goals and intentions have never been extinguished.
Also, hate knows no party affiliation — it’s only used for convenience when it suits them. The Klan rose up in the Democratic Party, aka Dixiecrats, until Lyndon B. Johnson made their welcome in the Democratic Party untenable with the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and his proclamation that ‘We Shall Overcome’.
But that didn’t stop the cancer. It rolled into the Republican Party under the guise of the the southern strategy, which in part, gave rise to President Trump.
But there is another way of looking at Trump: Far from being a “cancer” on Republicanism, or some jihadi-style radicalizer, he’s the natural evolutionary product of Republican platforms and strategies that stretch back to the very origins of modern conservatism in the 1950s and 1960s.
Polling in South Carolina, which holds its Republican primary on Saturday, reveals the single most salient difference between Trump’s supporters and those of his rivals: They are much more likely to endorse white ethnic nationalism and to express nostalgia for traditional Southern racism. In light of this polling, Trump’s campaign can best be understood not as an outlier but as the latest manifestation of the Southern Strategy, which the Republican Party has deployed for a half-century to shore up its support in the old Confederate states by appeals to racial resentment and white solidarity.
That was written by New Republic in early 2016, and they foretold something that has been confirmed in recent studies.
Yet time and time again, the signs are either ignored or missed or dismissed as being insignificant.
Until it isn’t.
Even today, there are some who still think of these white nationalist groups as being fringy — yet they grow with more influence and resources when they are poo-pooed.
For POC, we always see the signs. Sometimes when we try to explain it folk, we get push back. Sometimes we are told that there are other things more important. Just today on Chris Matthews’ show, he jumped down the throat of an African American Congresswoman when she was explaining how these concepts of white supremacy has been institutionalized in the fabric of our government policies from Affirmative Action repeal to the Voting Rights Act repeal. All Matthews heard was Affirmative Action and then took this ‘how dare you try to equate white supremacy to that’…
Really dude? You are going to tell a Black Woman how this comes off to her?
This inconvenient truth is ever elusive — even now.
So what happens now? Now that we are all ‘woke’ to this. Politicians are stumbling over one another to denounce bigotry, racism, anti-semitism and the like. CEOs on Trump’s business working groups didn’t seem to want to make a move until Merck’s CEO Kenneth Frazier (an African American) announced that he was resigning because ‘matter of personal conscience, he felt a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.’ Others still didn’t want to resign until the threat to their bottom line became apparently clear.
Somehow, I don’t think that drove Mr. Frazier’s actions — a point not missed on Mr. Trump as he sought to attack Mr. Frazier on Twitter afterwards.
The vast majority of Congress has been quick to condemn racism, but not many will condemn the rotted out fish head.
Donald Trump has always been Donald Trump, yet we failed to see the unpinning strategy of his campaign because this country simply doesn’t want to deal with racism until it’s in your face and hits close to home. Staying silent, looking the other way, or minimizing its relevance gives racism a chance to grow — unabated.
Now we have a President who embraces the horrors. How very convenient to the bigots; they no longer have to influence behind the scenes — they have the power that they have always wanted.
We can rush to pull down artifacts of the Confederacy (and don’t think it didn’t get passed me that one African American woman was arrested and charged with a felony for doing so in Durham — now she wasn’t the only one pulling the cord), rush to condemn white supremacy, voxx petulant bigots who talk big to Vice but cry like a baby when the police now wants to talk with them — yes we can do all of these things now.
But what will be done tomorrow when the focus is on something else? In September when Congress comes off of recess? Do we all go back into our cubby-holes — back to our creature habits? Do we wait to see if the bigots will try it in Boston this Saturday like they did in Charlottesville? Do more Heather Heyers have to die? What will it take?
This is an important moment in our nation’s history. As we are dragged into unchartered waters by the likes of Donald Trump, we have to understand that the only way now to right this ship is to dig in for the long haul. Trump has shown very clearly that he is utterly incapable of leading this nation, hands down. To let this slide, to allow his behavior to become normalized as the President is the very beginning of the end to how the forefathers designed this government to work.
Don’t say you wasn’t warned. We’ve told you before.