Juneteenth And The Right-Wing Race Game
If you know the name Ron Paul — the former United States Congressman who ran for President twice on the Republican ticket (2008 and 2012) and once on the libertarian ticket (1988) and whose son is currently a sitting Senator from Kentucky (Rand Paul) who ran for President once as a Republican (2016)— it’s rather likely you know of his infamous newsletter. Regardless of if it went under the name Dr. Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, The Ron Paul Survival Report, the Ron Paul Investment Letter, or the Ron Paul Political Report it was always known for its infamous levels of racism, homophobia, and conspiracy mongering.
Paul himself has had to distance himself from the newsletter, saying in both his 2008 and 2012 Presidential campaigns that he did not write a majority of its contents. (Defenders of Paul usually cite Lew Rockwell — one of the heads of the Mises Institute — as the actual author of Ron Paul’s newsletter.) However, it does not matter if Ron Paul wrote this himself or if one of his friends did, the only thing that actually matters right now is that someone felt what was written in these newsletter would make Ron Paul look good.
In a February 1990 article called “The Coming Race War” someone used Paul’s name to write the following about Martin Luther King Day:
Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philander, Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.
In case you’re curious, this is not the only bad thing the author had to say about King:
Not that we should let Republicans off the hook [for racial hatred]. Commenting on national TV about the legacy of Martin Luther King, a prominent Republican conservative said that if the great “Dr. King” were alive today, he would be opposed to more welfare spending. That’s malarkey. King was — at best — a socialist, as his writings and speeches show. He was a pal of Communists, and an advocate of a gigantic welfare state. (Why, by the way, is King the only person in recorded history to keep his doctorate in death? No one ever says “Dr. Einstein.”)
Mind you, Martin Luther King actually was a socialist (although calling him “a pal of Communists” is rather hyperbolic) and he did advocate for a large welfare state, but from his death in 1968 up until rather recently basically the only people who mentioned it were the John Birch Society and the Ku Klux Klan. Senator Jesse Helms, who filibustered the bill to establish Martin Luther King Day when it was in the Senate in 1982, specifically asked President Reagan about the claims King was a communist before Reagan signed it into law. “We’ll find out in thirty-five years,” Reagan replied.
Of course, Martin Luther King Jr. has had a federal holiday on the third Monday of January since 1986. For those thirty-five years, it has been less “Hate Whitey Day” (side note: When was the last time you actually heard a black person use the term “whitey”?) and more “Whitey Gives Himself A Massive Pat On The Back Day.” It’s the time where we are told that America used to be a systemically racist country but that it was solved and now we even have a day named after the man who solved it — or, at least, the man who begged white people to stop it until they, out of the kindness of their hearts, decided to finally treat them equally.
One needs to look no farther than President Trump’s 1776 Commission Report for evidence of this. Here’s how this document — which, might I remind you, is supposed to be the basis for a curriculum taught to children — has to say about the Civil Rights movement:
It seemed, finally, that America’s nearly two-century effort to realize fully the principles of the Declaration had reached a culmination. But the heady spirit of the original Civil Rights Movement, whose leaders forcefully quoted the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the rhetoric of the founders and of Lincoln, proved to be short-lived.
The Civil Rights Movement was almost immediately turned to programs that ran counter to the lofty ideals of the founders. The ideas that drove this change had been growing in America for decades, and they distorted many areas of policy in the half century that followed. Among the distortions was the abandonment of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity in favor of “group rights” not unlike those advanced by [John C.] Calhoun and his followers. The justification for reversing the promise of color-blind civil rights was that past discrimination requires present effort, or affirmative action in the form of preferential treatment, to overcome long-accrued inequalities. Those forms of preferential treatment built up in our system over time, first in administrative rulings, then executive orders, later in congressionally passed law, and finally were sanctified by the Supreme Court.
I mention all of this because recently, Congress passed legislation that President Biden signed which would make Juneteenth a federal holiday. For those unaware, Juneteenth is in reference to June 19th, because on 6/19/1865 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. And, although it passed the Senate unanimously and only got fourteen votes against it in the House, the idea of making Juneteenth a federal holiday still has gotten some controversy. Here’s what Charlie Kirk had a tweet on this issue on 6/17/2021:
Making Juneteenth a federal holiday isn’t about emancipation of slaves. If it was — they would make September 22nd, Emancipation Proclamation Day, a federal holiday. This is about replacing July 4th — just like the 1619 Project is about replacing 1776. Conservatives must reject this.
Of course, this is the same Charlie Kirk who tweeted this on 6/19/2020:
Senate Republicans are introducing legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Barack Obama and Joe Biden were in the White House for eight years. Why didn’t they ever do it?
Also, making a day dedicated to the Emancipation Proclamation would be a horrible day to mark the end of slavery, because the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t actually end slavery in the United States. It did demand that all slaves in Confederate states be freed — but considering the Confederacy didn’t consider themselves part of the United States, Lincoln’s order fell on deaf-ears. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, four Union states still had slavery up until the ratification of the thirteenth amendment.
When asked why he was against it but in favor of Columbus Day, Scott Greer tweeted:
Columbus Day honors American heritage and the people who made this country. Juneteenth demonizes the nation’s founding stock. Columbus Day is more important.
In a column published for The Daily Wire on 6/17/2021, Michael Knowles states the following:
The perpetual revolution to fundamentally transform our country never acknowledges victory. The revolutionaries contend that there must always be more work to be done to emancipate ourselves, not from the tangible chains of chattel slavery, but from the more oppressive bonds of tradition and society. These radicals endeavor, in the words of the New York Times’s anti-historical 1619 Project, “to reframe the country’s history” to better accord with the progressive vision, according to which our future happiness demands that despise and overcome our past.
Basically, just as Martin Luther King Day was once smeared as “annual Hate Whitey Day” Juneteenth is currently being smeared as “annual Hate America Day.” (Or in Knowles’s case “annual Hate The Past Day.”)
Of course, if this is the plan of the radical-left to convince Americans to hate their country, it seems like a pretty bad one. Juneteenth has been celebrated as a paid holiday in Texas since 1980, and Texas has since become the most right-wing state in the nation.
For that matter, let’s talk about a noticeable contradiction here: Ever since The New York Times first released their 1619 Project, we’ve been told that its premise — that slavery was an important part of building America — is fundamentally anti-American. Now, we’re being told that slavery was so American that celebrating the day it officially ended is totally anti-American.
Mind you, this is a common tactic certain members of the right-wing have been doing for years. Whenever minorities make any kind of advancement — no matter how small it actually is — we get told that it is some kind of change designed to take power away from the hands of white people. Worst of all, we are told this change is “radical” and done to fundamentally change the country at hand. Even when it’s simply celebrating the ending of a practice that was abolished over a century-and-a-half ago, it is still actually part of a “radical” plot to fundamentally change America.
Of course, many Republicans don’t fall for this racial demagoguery — in fact, most Republicans don’t — but it is only Republicans who fall for it. In 2016, Republicans elected a man for President who ran on the slogan “Make America Great Again.” However, Trump was very careful to never say at what point America became great and at what point America stopped being great.
Certain members of the populist-right are once again using the same arguments used to justify every racial crime in United States history. Juneteenth is the latest example, but just as it’s far from the first, I also expect it will be far from the last.