Republicans and Black Americans — a better story than you’ve heard.
Poet W. H. Auden said professors are folks who talk in other people’s sleep. True enough. I recall some nodding off in my college history classes (not by me, of course).
No one, however, slept through the history lesson Tuesday night at the monthly meeting of the Hillsborough County (Tampa) Republican Executive Committee. But then Frantz Kebreau is not your ordinary professor. If fact, he’s not a professor at all but an airline pilot and former Navy pilot with more than 300 carrier landings, taking some time away from the clouds to promote a more earthly understanding of the blessings of American freedom that people of all races can enjoy (at least and until politicians zero those freedoms out).
One of the favorite indoor sports of liberals is to call conservatives, particularly those with the temerity to embrace the tea-party, racist. To hear media-appointed black “leaders” like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpie, not to mention some of the more demagogic members of the Congressional Black Caucus, you’d think all white American conservatives, regardless of protestations to the contrary and spotless lives, are closet Ku-Kluxers who can barely contain their inner Bull Connor. These bigots we’re told, given half a chance, would have our black brothers and sisters on the back of the bus again in a heartbeat.
When there’s dumbness and demagogy in the air, Hollywood will be heard from. Morgan Freeman, a fine actor who can project intelligence and maturity on the screen, got in on the fun saying Republican efforts to retire Barack O’Barnum next year are “a racist thing,” and show “the weak, dark side of America.” Samuel L. Jackson, another black actor, echoed Freeman with this analysis of the campaign to replace our socialist president with a conservative: “It all boils down pretty much to race. It’s not politics. It’s not the economy.”
OK, I get it. White conservatives and Republicans (not entirely coterminous categories) aren’t really sore with O’Barnum for ballooning the national debt by $4 trillion and making national bankruptcy a real possibility, or for nationalizing one-sixth of the economy through Obamacare and generally trying to push as much as possible from the private to the public sector. It’s not about setting federal agencies on a jobs-killing regulation binge, or for traveling the world apologizing for America’s alleged sins and bowing before tyrants. It’s not his rejection of American exceptionalism and total ignorance of the importance to world stability of a militarily strong America either.
No, no. These items are just trifles. What conservatives are really sore with our community-organizer-in-chief about is that he’s not Caucasian. And isn’t that just like those racist Republicans?
Kebreau, whose parents immigrated to America from Haiti, is having none of this. Since 2009 he’s been on the news, talk shows, and speaking circuit making the point that, though few Americans know it, the record of the Republican Party for a century and a half has not only been more supportive of Black Americans than that of the Democratic Party has, but much more so.
In his Tuesday lecture before a couple hundred GOP activists in Tampa, Kebreau pointed out that the more than a dozen civil rights acts introduced into Congress over the past century and a half were all introduced by Republicans and opposed by Democrats, often vociferously. In each case a higher percentage of Republicans supported real civil rights than Democrats, including the all-important Civil Right Act of 1964. A full 80 percent of Republicans voted in Congress for this game-changing legislation that was the beginning of the end for Jim Crow. Only 63 percent of Democrats supported it, not including Democratic icon and former Ku Klux Klan member Robert C. Byrd, who filibustered it.
One hundred percent of Republicans supported the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which ended slavery, while only 23 percent of Democrats did. The 15th amendment, giving all Americans the right to vote, was a 100 percent to zero percent Republican shutout.
Democrat Woodrow Wilson, our first true progressive president and touted by John Kerry as one of his favorites, segregated the federal civil service and the U.S. military and bears large responsibility for the decades of segregation that followed and the heartache, violence, and death required to put an end to it.
These historical facts are hiding in plain sight. But we live in an age of historical illiteracy. And these are not things members of the main(left)-stream media would like to talk about even if they knew them, which they don’t.
Nowadays black voters, usually in percentages north of 90 percent, are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Democratic Party. Things have been trending in this direction since the New Deal, which provided jobs for many unemployed blacks. The last Republican presidential candidate to receive more than 20 percent of the black vote was Tricky Dick in 1960.
Since then black voter devotion to the Democratic Party has been, excuse the expression, slavish. It’s a real head-scratcher to me on the academic and personal level why this endures now that so many blacks have entered the great American middle class and higher. I’ve known, worked with, played ball with, and buried my nose in the happy-hour froth with so many blacks who are personally conservative, but who almost invariably cast their votes for candidates who do not share their values.
In contrast to the gift of freedom and earned dignity, Democrats and liberals have bequeathed black Americans a stifling welfare system that’s gone more than a fair long way toward dismantling the black family, as the melancholy statistics on out of wedlock births and one-parent families testify to. The Democrats also invented and cling to the policy of affirmative action, which is not a cure for discrimination but a socially corrosive form of it. There’s hardly a more effective way of keeping Americans at war with each other than the racial spoils system of affirmative action, wherein the good things are divided up along racial lines.
Countless groups, like Tampa’s Republicans, as well as news junkies, have heard Kebreau make these and other points in pursuit of his stated goal of a truly color-blind society. The only kind of society, in Kebreau’s view, which has any chance of enduring peacefully and prosperously.
Kebreau told me he probably won’t stay on the road pitching his ideas for the duration, even if he continues to get the standing-O’s he received Tuesday night. But he’ll stay at it until after the 2012 election, because he’s concerned about the socialist direction the country is taking. He sees the freedoms he cherishes being threatened and eroded, and he doesn’t like it.
Kebreau will eventually make it back to the cockpit. When his flying days are over he could do worse than consider the classroom. He’s an acute thinker, a tireless researcher, and a talented speaker who will not have to pass out NoDoz tablets to his students to keep their attention.
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