If Obama Treated Race As He Treats Islam - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
If Obama Treated Race As He Treats Islam
by

 

Well this will be interesting.

The White House has announced that come March 7th President Obama will travel to Selma, Alabama, to mark the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” — the famous civil rights march that ended with a savage attack by 100 Alabama state police under the control of Democratic Governor George Wallace. The marchers — some 600 African-Americans on their way to Montgomery to demand voting rights — had to cross the Alabama River over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The state police major in charge was sought out to discuss the situation by Southern Christian Leadership Conference leader Hosea Williams. The response: “There is no word to be had… you have two minutes to turn around and go back to your church.” The marchers kept marching and within minutes they were attacked by horseback riding cops and slammed with tear gas. As noted at the African-American registry: “The incident was seen on national television while 16 marchers ended up in the hospital and another 50 received emergency treatment.”

Question? What’s missing here in all of this memorializing of that long-ago moment in history that in fact is standard operating procedure for the Obama White House when dealing with Islamic extremism? Oops! Sorry…make that just plain “extremism.”

In other words? If in fact “Islam” has nothing to do with the attacks on those Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya or the Charlie Hebdo attack in France or the murders in Denmark or 9/11 etc., etc. — why does race have anything to do with what happened at the Edmund Pettus Bridge fifty years ago next month? Or, for that matter, with slavery, segregation or any other racial topic in American history past or present?

If one adopts the Obama line on not mentioning Islam as a causative factor in all these attacks around the world — is it time to do the same with racism? As Charles Krauthammer surfaced the obvious point last night on O’Reilly, what if the march in Selma were described as just an attack on American citizens — not blacks — but just nondescript colorless Americans? In other words, remove the racial context from Selma and all of the civil rights movement just as Mr. Obama removes the religious context from ISIS, al-Qaeda, and all the rest?

If that were done, liberals would shriek from the mountaintops of the mainstream media. 

Let’s start with a question. Who was Edmund Pettus? The man for whom the “Edmund Pettus Bridge” was named? Answer? Let’s go over to this page from the Raleigh News-Observer in North Carolina, which ran this story on Edmund Pettus last month, saying in part: 

After the war, Pettus moved to Selma, resumed his law practice and became a powerful force in Alabama politics. He was chairman of the state Democratic Party delegation to each national convention from 1872 through 1896.

In the late 1870s, Pettus was named Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama. Confederate leaders looking to reclaim and re-install the social order disrupted by the Emancipation Proclamation, the loss to the North and Reconstruction created the KKK in the 1860s. They engaged in acts of terror to put African-Americans “back in their place.”

But with slavery illegal, what was their place? Pettus and the resurgent Confederates created a new social order to keep African-Americans in subordination. They used disparate, discriminatory enforcement of laws that appeared neutral and social practices that enforced separation and blocked African-Americans from equal access to education, jobs and political participation.

Pettus as a lawyer and a politician was a leader in the creation of this new social system of African-American subordination, the new edifice of near-slavery with minimal wages. We would later call this “segregation” and “Jim Crow.” As a former general of the Confederate Army, Pettus was a leader in the KKK, which historian Eric Foner has called the military arm of the post-Civil War Democratic Party, the planter class and all those who desired restoration of white supremacy. By 1877, segregationist white Democrats had regained control of all Southern states.

Pettus was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1896 at age 75. He served until his death in 1907 — which followed a stroke suffered while on vacation to Hot Springs, N.C. His legacy and positive public standing among those with power were so strong that Selma’s bridge over the Alabama River was named for him when it was built in 1940, 33 years after his death.

Got that? President Obama, the leader of the Democratic Party, is going to go to Selma, Alabama next month because of a battle that occurred over race on a bridge named for — in uncomfortable fact — a white Democrat U.S. Senator who was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan. And yes, one suspects he is going to lay the reason for what happened on the Pettus Bridge to — gasp — race. 

But if, through the wave of a wand, those were just plain vanilla Christians marching over that Pettus Bridge — and all those cops were Muslims? And Edmund Pettus had been a Muslim? One suspects the President would be not within a country mile of that bridge next month, and all of his operatives would be referring to what happened in Selma as just a tragic case of extremism. Nothing to see here, folks, not a thing to do with race. Just move along. 

In short?

President Obama’s trip to Selma next month is going to illustrate just how foolish — and dangerous — is his zeal to refuse to recognize the role of Islam in “Islamic extremism.” If one took that same principle and transplanted it to the history of race in America? Leaching race out of everything from slavery to segregation to lynching to the Civil Rights movement? Aside from impoverishing Al Sharpton no one — no one — would believe it.

With reason.

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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