Burgess Owens: Democrats Should Pay Reparations
Jeffrey Lord
by
Burgess Owens (YouTube screenshot)

So amidst the chaos of that congressional hearing on reparations for slavery, former NFL star Burgess Owens got straight to the point, saying this, as reported by BizPac Review:

“I used to be a Democrat until I did my history and found out the misery that that party brought to my race,” Owens said.

He added, “I do believe in restitution. Let’s point to the party that was part of slavery, KKK, Jim Crow, that has killed over 40 percent of our black babies, 20 million of them. State of California, 75 percent of our black boys can’t past standard reading and writing test, a Democratic state. Let’s pay reparation. Let’s pay restitution. How about a Democratic Party pay for all the misery brought to my race.”

Bingo.

Yet somehow, some mysterious way, the hard facts of history are blithely ignored by members and sycophants of the Democrats, the latter without doubt the Party of Race.

Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas had the audacity to quote from a 2008 article of mine that originally appeared in this space and was reprinted in the Wall Street Journal. Among other things in that article I noted these hard facts about what was missing from the website of the Democratic National Committee as it tried to portray itself as the champion of civil rights by leaving out the hard facts of the party’s horrendous actual history on race:

  • There is no reference to the number of Democratic Party platforms supporting slavery. There were six from 1840 through 1860.
  • There is no reference to the number of Democratic presidents who owned slaves. There were seven from 1800 through 1861.
  • There is no reference to the number of Democratic Party platforms that either supported segregation outright or were silent on the subject. There were 20, from 1868 through 1948.
  • There is no reference to “Jim Crow” as in “Jim Crow laws,” nor is there reference to the role Democrats played in creating them. These were the post-Civil War laws passed enthusiastically by Democrats in that pesky 52-year part of the DNC’s missing years. These laws segregated public schools, public transportation, restaurants, rest rooms and public places in general (everything from water coolers to beaches). The reason Rosa Parks became famous is that she sat in the “whites only” front section of a bus, the “whites only” designation the direct result of Democrats.
  • There is no reference to the formation of the Ku Klux Klan, which, according to Columbia University historian Eric Foner, became “a military force serving the interests of the Democratic Party.” Nor is there reference to University of North Carolina historian Allen Trelease’s description of the Klan as the “terrorist arm of the Democratic Party.”
  • There is no reference to the fact Democrats opposed the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution. The 13th banned slavery. The 14th effectively overturned the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision (made by Democratic pro-slavery Supreme Court justices) by guaranteeing due process and equal protection to former slaves. The 15th gave black Americans the right to vote.
  • There is no reference to the fact that Democrats opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1866. It was passed by the Republican Congress over the veto of President Andrew Johnson, who had been a Democrat before joining Lincoln’s ticket in 1864. The law was designed to provide blacks with the right to own private property, sign contracts, sue and serve as witnesses in a legal proceeding.
  • There is no reference to the Democrats’ opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1875. It was passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses Grant. The law prohibited racial discrimination in public places and public accommodations.
  • There is no reference to the Democrats’ 1904 platform, which devotes a section to “Sectional and Racial Agitation,” claiming the GOP’s protests against segregation and the denial of voting rights to blacks sought to “revive the dead and hateful race and sectional animosities in any part of our common country,” which in turn “means confusion, distraction of business, and the reopening of wounds now happily healed.”
  • There is no reference to four Democratic platforms, 1908-20, that are silent on blacks, segregation, lynching and voting rights as racial problems in the country mount. By contrast the GOP platforms of those years specifically address “Rights of the Negro” (1908), oppose lynching (in 1912, 1920, 1924, 1928) and, as the New Deal kicks in, speak out about the dangers of making blacks “wards of the state.”
  • There is no reference to the Democratic Convention of 1924, known to history as the “Klanbake.” The 103-ballot convention was held in Madison Square Garden. Hundreds of delegates were members of the Ku Klux Klan, the Klan so powerful that a plank condemning Klan violence was defeated outright. To celebrate, the Klan staged a rally with 10,000 hooded Klansmen in a field in New Jersey directly across the Hudson from the site of the convention. Attended by hundreds of cheering convention delegates, the rally featured burning crosses and calls for violence against African-Americans and Catholics.
  • There is no reference to the fact that it was Democrats who segregated the federal government, at the direction of President Woodrow Wilson upon taking office in 1913. There \is a reference to the fact that President Harry Truman integrated the military after World War II.
  • There is reference to the fact that Democrats created the Federal Reserve Board, passed labor and child welfare laws, and created Social Security with Wilson’s New Freedom and FDR’s New Deal. There is no mention that these programs were created as the result of an agreement to ignore segregation and the lynching of blacks. Neither is there a reference to the thousands of local officials, state legislators, state governors, U.S. congressmen and U.S. senators who were elected as supporters of slavery and then segregation between 1800 and 1965. Nor is there reference to the deal with the devil that left segregation and lynching as a way of life in return for election support for three post-Civil War Democratic presidents, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt.
  • There is no reference that three-fourths of the opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Bill in the U.S. House came from Democrats, or that 80% of the “nay” vote in the Senate came from Democrats. Certainly there is no reference to the fact that the opposition included future Democratic Senate leader Robert Byrd of West Virginia (a former Klan member) and Tennessee Senator Albert Gore Sr., father of Vice President Al Gore.
  • Last but certainly not least, there is no reference to the fact that Birmingham, Ala., Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor, who infamously unleashed dogs and fire hoses on civil rights protestors, was in fact–yes indeed–a member of both the Democratic National Committee and the Ku Klux Klan.

Tellingly, when Congressman Gohmert was finished reciting these hard, cold, and quite accurate facts of history, someone in the audience yelled out, “You lie!” An unwitting admission of absolute historical ignorance or maybe just plain denial. And over at the website Splinter writer Samantha Grasso assailed Gohmert as the “dumbest Republican in the room” for daring to cite the Democrats’ appalling historical record.

The real problem here is that the Party of Race has never let go of its racism. It has moved from support of slavery to support of segregation to the support of identity politics, the latter the son of segregation. Note as well that in that Grasso article I was assailed for ridiculing the leftist thugs over at Media Matters for their repeatedly flagged anti-Semitism. The rise of anti-Semitism on the Left — anti-Semitism being exactly racism — is a part and parcel of the racist support by Democrats for slavery, segregation, and identity politics.

Note that the congressional hearing on reparations was spearheaded by Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. She has introduced legislation described this way by MSN:

Under Jackson Lee’s bill, a 13-member commission would be created to study the role of slavery in the U.S. and the “lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery” in America. The bill calls on the commission to consider reparations and how any compensation to descendants of enslaved Africans would be calculated.

“The role of the federal government supporting the institution of slavery and subsequent discrimination directed against blacks is an injustice that must be formally acknowledged and addressed,” Jackson Lee said during a 10-minute introduction of the legislation.

Notice the very careful language about “the role of the federal government”? The federal government was, then as now, run by political parties elected after campaigns to hold federal — and for that matter state and local — office. And the historical fact that both Congressman Gohmert and Burgess Owens were citing is that Democrats of the day campaigned enthusiastically as supporters of slavery and later segregation, which is how they won the elections that enabled them to run the “role of the federal government.” Then — and now — they rely on using race to win elections.

Out there on the campaign trail, Business Insider lists the Democratic presidential candidates who support reparations: senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris along with former HUD Secretary Julian Castro and Marianne Williamson have all endorsed reparations. But they are studiously ignoring the idea that their own party pony up and pay reparations — much less are they pledging to use some of their own millions in campaign contributions to chip in.

All of this is part and parcel of the Democrats refusal to issue an apology for their support of slavery and segregation.

In short? The call for reparations has now backfired on the Democrats and their presidential candidates. They are all for reparations — but refuse to have their party and candidates pay for it. And they certainly don’t want to acknowledge their party’s role in the wholesale repression of black Americans.

Much less will they stop using identity politics — because they cannot shake their 219-year-old culture of using race to win elections.

Jeffrey Lord
Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com. His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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