To the editor:
Although not in complete agreement with all that Chris Schweizer expressed in his extensive comments in The Messenger last weekend, I much appreciated his tone and demeanor, contributing to an atmosphere of respectful exchange, which lately seems so commonly absent.
His remarks have stirred personal consideration of a different position than initially taken by me in the controversy he addresses. His absence of name-calling, character assassination, and accusation promotes openness to hear his views.
I was especially instructed about the history that Kentucky was not a part of the Confederacy, but rather of the Union, and the burning of the Hopkins County Courthouse by rebel forces indicated the Confederate recognition of that Union allegiance. Thank you, Chris, for pointing this out.
Rewriting of history has been a concern of many who object to removal of the statue in question. This particular statue, and the prospect of relocating it, I have come to believe is not an instance of erasing or rewriting our history. Thankfully, we have not experienced criminal mob action to topple this statue as has been done in many other situations; rather we are having a civil discussion about its disposition.
However, we are suffering from the vocal demands from some quarters of society to rewrite history, to cast our history as a people in a very different manner, to distort it, in fact, to support an activist agenda. One of the most divisive claims emerging from the death of George Floyd is the assertion of that event as proof of “systemic racism” in our nation, and the many who justify violent criminal actions as a “protest” against that institutional wrong.
One of the most glaring rewritings of history is the so-called “1619 Project” published and promoted by the New York Times — winning a Pulitzer Prize for what is clearly journalistic opinion, not substantive historical fact.
Portraying our country as founded on “systemic racism” denies reality, as the beginnings of our nation instead established a systemic capacity for pursuing that “more perfect union” referenced in the founding documents, through the structures set forth in the Constitution of these United States. We are the only nation that has fought a civil war to assure the end of human slavery, a costly beginning to the steady march over the succeeding years to a fuller reality of all men being created equal, with equal rights under the law.
To claim the deadly action of a few bad players is evidence of the whole system being systematically and institutionally unjust distracts from the proper focus of our attention on holding bad actors accountable in ALL walks of life, not just law enforcement.
Most curious to me in this election season is the historical illiteracy being experienced once again, as the Democratic Party and its standard bearers portray the Republican Party as the party of racism. Joe Biden claimed on a popular black radio show, “if you are having trouble deciding between me and Trump, you ain’t black.”
He later stereotypes the African Americans as being uniform in thought, while Latinos are very diverse. Such comments seem remarkably prejudicial. Then, there is Joe Biden’s claim that Donald Trump is America’s first racist president, a statement unchallenged in the hands of the major media.
Biden’s campaign tried to qualify his statement by declaring that there have been other racists that ran for the presidency, but that Trump is the only one that was actually elected. Biden’s claim about Trump fits the narrative promoted for several decades now that Democrats are the protectors of the rights and welfare of black Americans, and that Republicans are racist and oppressive. History reveals otherwise.
I would point to the early presidencies of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom are currently vilified by the “social justice” crowd as racist for having had slaves, thus justifying toppling their statues and calling for dismantling their monuments in our national capitol. President Andrew Jackson is the next in line, a Democrat who added to his racist credentials by his oppressive dispossession of Native Americans through his “Trail of Tears” forced relocation from lands east of the Mississippi to what became eastern Oklahoma.
It was the Democratic Party that soon after the Civil War established political dominance across the former Confederate states. It was the Democrats that established the “Jim Crow” laws across the south, the “whites only” and “colored” signs marking racial restriction to public accommodations. It was Democrats who enacted poll taxes and other voting rights obstacles to suppress black votes. It was Democrats that blocked entrances to educational institutions to defy desegregation orders in the late 1950s into the early 1970s.
Early in the twentieth century, we have President Woodrow Wilson, Democrat. When he took office, the federal service and the military, though not without racist sentiments among the ranks, were officially integrated. President Wilson, by his executive order, directed the segregation of both the military and the federal service. The White House under Wilson hosted a showing of the famously racist movie “The Birth of a Nation” which promoted a positive view of the Ku Klux Klan.
Then there is the hero of the Democratic Party, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt rounded up men, women and children of Japanese ethnicity to be confined in concentration camps, confiscating their personal property and businesses. This imprisoning was enforced upon persons who were established citizens of the United States, not foreign nationals in our borders. His racism was indeed “systemic” — organized and deliberately executed oppression on the basis of race or national origin.
Fast forward to the Congressional deliberations over the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Though advocated by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, this landmark legislation would never have passed through Congress if it depended on Democratic Party support. Only because of overwhelming Republican support was this legislation enacted.
Reviewing the sweep of history, then, it becomes clear that it is the Democratic Party that has the long and inglorious pedigree of racism, not the Republican Party, and the Democrats have a roster of clearly racist elected presidents in their ranks. Yet, I would wager that you have not heard any correction in the mainstream press of the claim of Joe Biden and the Democrats that Donald Trump is “America’s first racist president.”
Economic deprivation, oppression, and exclusion from opportunity are the common marks of racist policies. The effect of Trump administration policies has been the historically lowest unemployment among all minority groups, up until the coronavirus related shutdowns. So where is the evidence of his racism? Where is the concrete evidence of “systemic racism”? It is our “system” that has supported the steady, persevering capacity to address and effectively overcome prejudice and racism in our civic life.