Big week in conservative outreach to the black community!
Rand Paul went to the Harvard of historical black colleges -- Howard University -- to school a roomful of already educated black students on how President Abraham Lincoln was a Republican and that all of the NAACP's founders were Republicans. (Some were also white! And really light-skinned Negroes!!! And Ida B. Wells!!!!) Of course, all the students (and me and most black people who can read) already knew this.
MSNBC's Chris Hayes' mocked Paul's speech (he compared it to Brad Paisley's and LL Cool J's ode to Revisionist History and False Equivalencies, "Accidental Racist):
In his speech to black students at Howard University, Rand appeared to assume that his audience didn’t understand the history of the civil rights movement. The Republican from Kentucky also attempted to rewriting his prior statements about the landmark Civil Rights Act.
“Both Rand Paul and Brad Paisley seem to think the way to bridge the racial divide is a double helping of sheer earnestness,” Hayes remarked. “But earnestness, as nice a trait as it is — believe me, I know of where I speak — is no substitute for a sophisticated understanding of how our past relates to the present, or a commitment to policies that would bring about material improvement.”
“Contrary to Paul and Paisley, achieving racial progress in this country isn’t just a matter of having the right conversations, it’s about bringing about genuine equality, and if history has taught us one thing, it’s that equality comes from struggle, not from group hugs.”
Republicans during the time of slavery were the abolitionist party. And contrary to popular conservative belief, Black people are not mindless hoards who just go with whomever gives us candy. This is why so many of us made terrible slaves -- despite being stripped of dignity, humanity and culture and being raised by our captors -- and kept running away and getting beat up/disfigured/murdered all the time. Wouldn't mindless followers make "perfect" happy slaves? Hmm? Hmmmm! And yet slavery is dead. Such a mystery.
When the GOP was the party of "end slavery now" the group most affected by slavery -- enslaved and freed blacks always under threat of being kidnapped and forced back into that crime against humanity -- supported Republicans. Your abolitionist's favorite abolitionist Frederick Douglass was a Republican. We all know this. Rand Paul, like a lot of GOPers don't want to acknowledge that the beef black people have with the GOP now is that they've embraced all these racist apologists that make up a sizable chunk of their voting base. Black people (shockingly) don't like people who dismiss slavery, Jim Crow, racism as "some stuff that happened a long time ago and wasn't that bad anyway" when racist things still happen now and what happened in the past was an unspeakable horror.
But Rand Paul admitted he didn't know that there were all these GOPers at the founding of the NAACP because he lives in a world where you don't have to bother to ever learn jack shit about black people if you don't want to. Must be nice. But for black people, this is the life. To speak to Rand in a metaphor he might actually get, being black in America is like The Eagles "Hotel California" -- you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
Not knowing these things is not an option. And even if you don't know, you need to listen to someone who does know these things come voting time. Which is why my mother watches Al Sharpton's show on MSNBC. Which is why, say, more black people would care about who Sharpton would political endorse over, say, black Republican Michael Steele. Because Steele, no matter how hard he tries, isn't enough to make black people feel comfortable with all the racist apologista in the GOP. One chocolate chip doesn't make the cookie. But since the GOP kinda, sorta announced they were going to do this, they were going to try to "talk" to us unruly masses and save us from ourselves (and the Democrats), this is what we have to endure.
History lessons from the blissfully ignorant.
But the search for a black friend continues. (A real black friend, though. No offense to Herman Cain, Michael Steele and Condi Rice, but the GOP has tried you and black people are still no more interested than they were before, so it's time to recruit new black friends, ones that black people actually are proud of, like or at least respect.)
Which lead us to poor, celebrated Dr. Ben Carson. I, like most black people, knew of Dr. Carson as a brilliant surgeon who came up from nothing and made quite the something of himself. He is an aspirational figure. Most black people who'd heard of him and read his book (or saw the film based on his life) liked him or at least marveled at his accomplishments. He is respected. He is also a conservative. But everyone has that one conservative uncle screaming about Ronald Reagan, so it's cool, man. But then the GOP tried to make Carson their new "black friend."
"Given all the national media surrounding my statements as to my belief in traditional marriage, I believe it would be in the best interest of the students for me to voluntarily withdraw as your commencement speaker this year," he wrote in an email to Dean Paul Rothman shared with the school.
Carson compared gay marriage to bestiality and pedophilia in a recent Fox News appearance. "My thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman," he said. "It’s a well-established, fundamental pillar of society, and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality -- it doesn’t matter what they are -- they don’t get to change the definition."
After Carson made his comments, a majority of graduating students signed a petition stating that he was an inappropriate choice for speaker.
Carson apologized last week for the fallout from his comments in an email sent to the Hopkins community. "As you know, I have been in the national news quite a bit recently and my 36-year association with Johns Hopkins has unfortunately dragged our institution into the spotlight as well," he wrote. "I am sorry for any embarrassment this has caused."
Carson was not ready for prime time.
So the search continues! Of course, if the GOP was serious about getting black voters they would focus on policy that would improve the lives of black Americans surrounding education, economics (JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!), health, gun control, the criminal justice system and social justice issues. But, GOD LORD, DO ACTUAL WORK? Can't we just lip service this who she-bang? The GOP can't afford to lose their shrinking angry, frightened base who wouldn't take to kindly to all this "black friend" stuff.
But when you believe black people are a mindless hoard you're going to gaffe, insult and look ridiculous accordingly. And this going to keep happening if GOPers continue to get all their black people research from inside the conservative echo chamber of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
Pander at your own peril.