By Richard Bernstein
When black Americans’ ancestors were enslaved in pre-Civil War America, they were compelled to live lives shaped by their masters. Uniformity was required, and disobedience was punished. As a result of this ongoing powerlessness, slaves developed what has been described as a “plantation mentality.”
So what’s changed? For an overwhelming majority of black Americans, nothing much. They still embrace a plantation mentality, but they’ve changed “masters:” from slave-owners to the Democratic Party.
Perhaps blind loyalty to a political party they perceive as their “protectors” is an inevitable consequence of black Americans’ unique history. That such loyalty is to a Democrat party whoseown history is a tattered tale of segregation and racism is mind-boggling.
How many black Americans know Martin Luther King’s battle to desegregate the South had him fighting Democrats, such as Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox, who refused to serve blacks in his restaurant in defiance of the 1964 Civil rights Act; Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who ended his 1962 gubernatorial victory speech with the phrase, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever;” or Alabama Public Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor, who prevented integration using attack dogs and fire hoses against protesters?
How many black Americans know the Republican Party was formed in 1854 as the anti-slavery party—even as Democrats founded the Ku Klux Klan in 1866? How many know President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, (who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1957) along with his brother Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, had Martin Luther King wire-tapped by the FBI in the hope they could prove he was a Communist?
How many Americans of any ethnic persuasion know Martin Luther King was a Republican? How many know it was Republicans who established the NAACP?
Most historians consider the Civil Rights Act of 1964 a defining moment in black America’s fight for equality. Because it was passed during the administration of Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, Democrats became known as party of de-segregation—even though a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted in favor of the bill. And despite the reality that 23 Democratic senators filibustered the bill, trying to prevent its passage.
The same historians note that Republican Barry Goldwater’s opposition to the bill was the turning point for many black Americans. In reality, Goldwater’s opposition to the bill had nothing to doing with race—and everything to do with what he considered an “unlawful expansion” of federal power.
As far as the unlawful expansion of federal power goes, Goldwater has been thoroughly vindicated.
If black Americans wish to be Democrats, that is their choice—or is it? Despite the fact that Democrats enjoy the support of over 90% of black America, the other 10%, those who dare to “stray from the plantation,” have been routinely vilified—by other black Americans. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been depicted as a lawn jockey, and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, as a monkey and a parrot. Both, along with countless other non-Democrat blacks, have been referred to as “house niggers” or “Uncle Toms” for embracing conservative values.
The not-so-subtle message? Support liberal dogma—or face social ostracism.
Why the need to vilify the non-conformists? Ironically, the political party which portrays itself as the “champion of tolerance and freedom” knows that free-thinking black Americans represent a mortal threat to its power base. Democrats know that a failure to maintain the modern-day version of the plantation mentality—eternal victimhood caused by a hopelessly racist society which can only be alleviated by government hand-outs—would force them to compete for a bloc of voters they currently take for granted.
It would also cost Democrats a ton of money. Few things are more profitable than keeping the “racial grievance” industry alive. Thousands of Americans employed in jobs such as “promoting diversity,” teaching “race sensitivity” classes, or maintaining quotas in employment, government-sponsored minority set-asides, and university admissions—every one of which is an extension of the liberal worldview—would be forced to look elsewhere for work.
In short, people judged by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin is a bridge too far for a Democrat party which does quite well promoting exactly the opposite. Far better for Democrats to tell black Americans that racism is “as bad as it’s ever been”—even as they side-step their own party’s historical involvement in it.
Yet at some point, black Americans might want to ask themselves:
If you’ve hitched yourselves to the Democrat party for 50-plus years, and racism is as bad as it’s ever been, at what point do you hold Democrats accountable?
At what point do you leave the Democrat plantation behind?