Democrats who advanced a bill in June to remove statues of white supremacists from the U.S. Capitol ignored a central fact about those figures: All of them had been icons of their party, from Andrew Jackson’s adamantly pro-slavery vice president, John C. Calhoun, to North Carolina Gov. Charles B. Aycock, an architect of the white-supremacist campaign of 1898 that ushered in the era of Jim Crow.
At a time when governments, sports teams, schools and other bastions of American society are rushing to expunge legacies of slavery or racism, this was another instance of the Democratic Party’s failure to acknowledge that it did more than any other institution in American life to preserve the “peculiar institution” — and later enforce Jim Crow-style apartheid in the Old South.
Not too long ago, a good friend of mine took umbrage at a Facebook post that compared a proposed “vaccination passport” to the requirement that Jews in Nazi Germany carry papers identifying them as such. As a Jew, my friend argued that such a comparison trivialized the horrors of the Nazi regime that culminated in the Holocaust.
My friend’s objection was justified. But this same individual has not hesitated to join the president of the United States in comparing the recent Georgia voting law to Jim Crow. Anyone who makes such a claim has no idea of what Jim Crow entailed. Second only to slavery, the Jim Crow era represents the darkest period in U.S. racial history, far darker than Reconstruction or the decade that followed.
Indeed, the racial oppression, segregation, and violence that prevailed throughout the South during the era of Jim Crow in many respects exceeded that of the period of slavery. At least during slavery, there were free blacks in the South who, while denied most civil rights, were protected by laws that left them free to go about their business unmolested and did not prevent commercial interactions between the races.
A new group called Conservative Clergy of Color believes the only “systemic racism” that exists in America today is found in the Democratic Party itself.
“Democrats and their foot soldiers on the left insist there is a rot in our country, but the only rot I see is the rot that has festered in the very foundations of the Democratic Party, a party that was built from the ground up on the backs of oppressed blacks,” said Bishop Aubrey Shines, one of four founding members of the group.