Monday, September 11, 2017

Debunking the "blacks left the GOP for food-stamps" myth

The “freebies” argument is a wicked and deplorable white-supremacist lie that many conservatives (even black ones) swim in like a pig in shit.

Recently, I went to the Texas GOP's website to do some research on a man by the name of William Madison McDonald (an early African American founder of the Texas Republican Party). While there, I noticed a slight but important oversight on their history section: There was little mention of the role that racism and white-supremacy played in the party’s formative years. One would think that they would have mentioned the role of the "lily-white" movement. At first, I was a little taken back, but given the parties' extreme color-blind views; how can one be surprised? The base's official retelling of black GOP history is that we blacks left the Republican Party for food stamps and government cheese. It's very unfortunate, because by omitting the truth they've allowed a myth,  the 'Blacks Left the GOP for Freebies' myth to become reality.

Nevertheless, in order to get a better feel for that vile and racist history, I’d like to draw your attention to the House Office of Art and Archives. According to their website, “The Office of Art and Archives curates the House Collection, which encompasses the entire sweep of the institution’s history, from the laying of the Capitol’s cornerstone to the present day. The office provides information and guidance on the collection for members and staff, the media, scholars, and the general public.”  

Concerning the issue at hand, the Office of Art and Archives (OAA) states:
Weakened to the point of irrelevancy, southern Republicans after 1900 curried favor with the political power structure to preserve their grasp on local patronage jobs dispensed by the national party. Therefore, southern white GOP officials embraced Jim Crow. Through political factions such as the “lily white” movement, which excluded blacks, and “black and tan” societies, which extended only token political roles to blacks, the party gradually ceased to serve as an outlet for the politically active cadre of southern African Americans.
Gradually, African-American leaders at the national level began to abandon their loyalty to the GOP. While the party’s political strategy of creating a competitive wing in the postwar South was not incompatible with the promotion of black civil rights, by the 1890s party leaders were in agreement that this practical political end could not be achieved without attracting southern whites to the ticket. “Equalitarian ideals,” explains a leading historian, “had to be sacrificed to the exigencies of practical politics.”

“Party Realignment.”  

   In other words, the party responded to the concerns of the "we need to start winning again" wing of the party, and to the economic and racial concerns of white-racist-Democrats over the needs of its own black members! I mean, if that ain't white-privilege, what the hell is? This event, on top of the reasons that led to the Great Migration (1916–1930), contributed to the exit of African-Americans out of the party. In addition, it provides us one of; but not the first, documented accounts of a historical working relationship between white-conservatives, white-Republicans, and White Nationalism. 
The "we need to start winning again" and "make a deal" with the devil—that is, with white-nationalism argument ended up hurting the Republican party in the long-run and resulted in the gradual lost of the very racial group that it was founded to defend. 

Rather than stand on principle and defy these white-supremacist-monsters, both Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge capitulated to their demands. And perhaps nothing better illustrates the type of character many black Republicans were up against than Rep. Campbell Bascom Slemp.

In his first weeks in office, President Coolidge made two moves that suggested to all observers he was planning an aggressive run for the 1924 nomination. "The first important act of Dr. Coolidge, after the crown settled over his ears," noted H.L. Mencken, was to appoint as his personal secretary - the equivalent of today's Chief of Staff - Congressman C. Bascom Slemp of Virginia, a man known for his aptitude at securing southern delegates by means both fair and foul. "[W]hatever his merits as a husband and a father," Mencken wrote, Slemp "is surely no statesman; he is a politician pure and simple, and he has specialized in the herding of Republican jobholders in the South. His appointment thus indicates a plain effort to line up these cattle for 1924." The Crisis thought the choice of Slemp - who "has physically kicked Negroes even out of his own party convention" and "brazenly declared himself opposed to Negro suffrage" - "is a blow so serious and fatal that we have not ceased to gasp at it."
Surveying the arguments against Slemp, the recently-established TIME Magazine noted first, "that he was appointed…to round up Southern delegates for Mr. Coolidge," second, "that he is a "Lily White' politician trying to make the Republican organization in the South white, by divorcing it from the Negro element," third, that "he has been accused, not without reason, of selling appointments, if not for his private gain, at least for the Party purse," and, fourth, "that his name is C. Bascom Slemp."

And let's not forget that much of this is happening – before - New Deal “freebies” or Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty. In other words, that tired-looking talking point that many  conservatives bring up must be put to rest – it’s phooey. We, African Americans began the journey out of the Republican Party BEFORE such “goodies” were even envisioned; and the main rationale for our exit then, as it is now: indifference and racism – not “freebies”.
The “freebies” argument is a wicked and deplorable white-supremacist lie that many conservatives (even black ones) swim in like a pig in shit. It's a lie that compliments their fantasy world, one in which the simple act of mentioning race or racism makes one suspect, that to even concede its impact (implicitly or explicitly) on society makes one a “Liberal”. In this almost Orwellian, and intellectually toxic world of make-believe, simply mentioning the truth about race, would be… well, racist.
Like the delusional radical, who wants to throw the past into the fire and start anew, the color-blind-conservative is often incapable of acknowledging the truth about racism. Instead, he/she perpetuates elaborate myths, myths that change the meaning of words, that contrive a world removed from reality, a world in which the black experience is minimized and casually dismissed as irrational and unhinged. In such a delusional and aloof world is it any wonder, then, that we are starting to see something called, the alt-right, or alternative right, emerge?

In such a world, where does the black conservative find respite?

- The Black Conservative

“Party Realignment.”  

The Great Migration (1915-1960)

Michael Perman, Struggle for Mastery: Disfranchisement in the South, 1888-1908 (2001)

Donald J. Lisio, Hoover, Blacks, & Lily-Whites: A Study of Southern Strategies (1985)
Fauntroy, Michael K. (2007). Republicans and the Black Vote. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 43. "... lily whites worked with Democrats to disenfranchise African Americans.

Lewis L. Gould, The Republicans: A History of the Grand Old Party (2014)

"Black and Tan Republicans" in Andrew Cunningham McLaughlin and Albert Bushnell Hart, eds. Cyclopedia of American Government (1914), p. 133. online