In the wake of the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and subsequent statements of condemnation by President Trump, we hear impassioned calls for an “honest conversation” about race in America from those on the political left.
We’ve heard such demands before, most significantly in the days and weeks after the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Florida, in February 2012; the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014; and the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody in Baltimore, Maryland, in April 2015. But did we get honest conversation? No, we got violence in the streets, neighborhoods burning, and Black Lives Matter. We also got mindless slogans such as “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” and “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want ’em? Now!” There was very little conversation about race, or who is responsible for bringing us to our current level of social discord.
But what are the chances that we will finally have an “honest conversation” about race? Absolutely none! And why is that? The principal reason is that one of our two major political parties, the Democrat Party, could not exist if we were ever to have an “honest conversation” about race. So, if liberals and Democrats want an honest conversation about race, let’s have one. I’ll go first.
It is Democrats who gave us slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries; it is Democrats who fought a bloody civil war to protect the institution of slavery; it is Democrats who opposed ratification of the 13th 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, outlawing slavery and giving the former slaves citizenship and the right to vote; it is Democrats who gave us Black Codes and the Jim Crow laws; and it is Democrats who denied aid to families with dependent children so long as an able-bodied male was living in the household, a policy that has literally destroyed the family unit concept within much of the black community.
The Civil War is often referred to as the War between Democrats and Republicans. My great-grandfather, Johann Detrich Hollrah was a Republican and a farmer in east-central Missouri. Along with most other German immigrants in Missouri he was passionately opposed to slavery. And when armed rebellion broke out and his local militia unit was pressed into Union service, he was elected captain of M Company, 27th Missouri Enrolled Militia.
A great many good men, both Union and Confederate, died in that war. History tells us that some 620,000 men lost their lives and a great many more were wounded. And while the vast majority of those killed and wounded were called to fight against their will, we cannot escape the fact that all of that Republican blood was spilled in the cause of abolition, while the confederate blood was shed protecting the institution of slavery. Would today’s Democrats want these facts to be part of the “honest conversation” they clamor for? Probably not.
Then, in 1866, after being defeated in the war to end slavery, Democrats created a paramilitary auxiliary called the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan’s purpose was to keep the freed slaves in line and to intimidate them into voting for Democratic candidates. Over the next 85 years the KKK waged an unrelenting war of terror against blacks and white Republicans. Tuskegee Institute archives indicate that, between the years 1882 and 1951, some 3,437 blacks and 1,293 whites, nearly all Republicans, were lynched (murdered) by the KKK. Is this sad chapter in U.S. history being taught in Black History classes? Would Democrats want these statistics to be part of an “honest conversation” about race? Not likely.
Along with the violence and the intimidation of the KKK, Democrats in southern legislatures enacted Jim Crow laws and the Black Codes, dictating where and for whom blacks could work, where they could live, where they could eat and sleep, which restrooms and drinking fountains they could use, and where they could sit in movie theaters and on trains and busses.
Democrats would never want a full discussion of the Black Codes and the Jim Crow laws because black children just might figure out for themselves that those humiliations are not part of ancient history. Their grandparents who are still alive today could tell them about their personal experiences. But are black children taught the truth of that era in Black History classes? No, the Democrat-controlled teachers unions will never allow that to happen. They might say they want an “honest conversation” about race, but that would represent a bit too much honesty.
The Rev. Wayne Perryman is a friend of mine. He is a black pastor in the inner city of Seattle where he does wonderful work with black kids, attempting to steer them away from lives of crime and the drug culture. Wayne was also a lifelong Democratic activist. But then, some of his kids asked him to explain the difference between Democrats and Republicans. That question sent Wayne to the public library; it also changed his life forever.
When Wayne discovered the role that the Democrat Party had played in the oppression of black people he decided to take action. He filed suit in the United States District Court for Western Washington on December 10, 2004, demanding a public apology from the Democratic National Committee for more than two centuries of oppression of black people. The court heard the case but denied the petition on July 22, 2005. Wayne appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco which upheld the decision of the lower court. He subsequently filed the case with the U.S. Supreme Court but the high court refused to grant certiorari.
Although the Democratic National Committee was represented by a team of the most expensive lawyers in Washington, they failed to deny any of the assertions contained in Rev. Perryman’s case. When asked if he filed the lawsuit to punish the Democratic Party, he replied, “Absolutely not. Most Democrats are unaware of their party’s racist past. I am convinced that if the truth were known, most modern-day Democrats would demand an apology to distance themselves from the past. (Party Chairman) Howard Dean is spending a considerable amount of money to keep the truth from being known.”
He went on to say, “I didn’t file this case to hurt Democrats. I filed it on behalf of the millions of blacks whose voices were silenced by premature death, deaths that were caused by slavery and the era of Terror during Reconstruction and Jim Crow. Perhaps a victory in the form of an apology will let these tired souls rest in peace and put an end to finding someone to blame for racism in America.”
In a January 9, 2006 letter to the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, and the top leaders of the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Rev. Perryman described the extensive research he conducted in preparing his case against the Democrat Party.
He researched the Congressional Record from 1860 to the present, he studied the writing of renowned history professors (both black and white), and he studied Democratic Party platforms from the early 1800s to 1954. In addition, he reviewed the research of those who produced the books: Without Sanctuary, 100 Years of Lynchings, and added to his library the History Channel’s series on The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow and Reconstruction: The Second Civil War.
Describing his agonizing reaction to his research, he wrote: “The graphic depictions of whites fighting over the private parts of black men (penises, fingers, ears, etc.) after hanging them and igniting them with kerosene, is forever embedded in my mind. I can still hear the cries of the victims’ wives and children pleading and begging for the lives of their loved ones while Democratic national and local elected officials joined the crowd and cheered.
He also referred to the lynching of a black woman named Mary Turner. On May 17, 1918, in Valdosta, Georgia, a black woman named Mary Turner announced that she would see to it that the white men who had lynched her husband would be prosecuted. Turner was nine months pregnant at the time. She was dragged from her home, tortured, and hanged. And while she was still alive, hanging from the rope, they cut open her womb. Her unborn child spilled out onto the ground where they crushed the baby’s skull with the heel of a boot. Mary Turner laid blame at the feet of those who lynched her husband and she paid for it with her life and her child’s life.
Black people in America have been twice enslaved: once when they were brought from the African continent in the stinking holds of slave ships, and again in the mid-20th century when Democrats decided that, since they could no longer control the lives of blacks through Jim Crow laws and the Black Codes, they could purchase their allegiance with a multitude of social welfare programs. The first form of slavery was cruel, inhumane, and violent; the latter form of slavery has been far less violent, but equally cruel and inhumane.
It is true, as liberals and Democrats insist, that black people in America are “victims,” but not in the sense that liberals and Democrats would have us believe. Black Americans are victims of the high expectations offered, but not fulfilled, by white Democrats. Pride, dignity, and self-respect are not easily come by and the larger population, primarily white people, are totally willing to assist blacks in gaining those qualities. But that task cannot be accomplished so long as black people continue to squander their political power and influence in exchange for crumbs from the Democratic table.
Okay, Democrats, I’ve had my say. I’ve started an “honest conversation” about race. Now it’s your turn. The ball’s in your court.
Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College. He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.