The turn of the century saw the African American as largely uneducated, not owning the place he lived, without education, working as a sharecropper or on a tenant farm or in some menial job. While the second half of the 20th Century would see major improvements in voting rights, job opportunities, social services and particularly in higher education, the first half was not much different from the latter part of the 19th Century.
African-Americans, still subject to degrading Jim Crow laws, began to migrate North. In 1900, over 90% of all African-Americans still lived in the South. By 1930, one-third had moved North and West. By 1990, only half of all Blacks lived in the South.
Black migration to the North, both because it was new and because there were fewer Blacks in neighborhoods, went relatively smoothly, or at least without much disturbance, until the Depression. At that point, with one of every four workers out of a job, and the fact that African-Americans had to accept only about 40% of White salaries, tensions arose, leading to conflicts over employment and housing. Consequently, the North proved less welcoming than we like to imagine.
But there were virtually no Blacks in executive positions, few in supervisory positions and, for some time, none in the major labor unions. They were deliberately excluded. In 1939, the average African-American who was employed at all made only about $530 annually compared to the White employee’s $1270 annually. When African-Americans moved North, they clustered together in Black neighborhoods
By the late 1940s some of the old “Jim Crow” laws began to weaken in the South because of increased involvement by organizations such as the NAACP and ACLU and Jewish and other religious organizations. In 1964 and 1965, in the era of sympathetic feelings after the death of President Kennedy, Lydon Johnson was able to push through civil rights and voting rights legislation that would substantially strengthen anti-discrimination laws. The Black community finally began to gain some political power. But it was short-lived.
After only 15 years, affirmative action was effectively ended when Ronald Reagan came to office in 1981. His actions and his attitude told Southern Segregationists that the Republican Party was shifting not only to the Right fiscally, but to the far Right socially and politically…to the support of those who had been involved heavily in Segregation. Soon politicians like Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott and Jesse Helms played a prominent part in the decisions of the Republican Party. Ex-Klansmen once again held some political influence with the White House.
After Reagan, political hacks like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove continued to divide the South and appeal to those Whites who felt that Blacks had come too far, too fast. They appealed to just enough lower-class, uneducated White voters to win elections. And winning the South as a bloc lead to victories nationally with Reagan, Bush I, (war hero) and Bush the Lesser. (AWOL)
The use of race as a political weapon was not new, but it was cynical. That cynicism still pervades the Neocon Party to the point that they now nominate and vote for people whose only avowed goal is to dismantle government. The culmination of all this barren intellectual effort was evident in 2008, when Republicans nominated an over-the-hill, John McCain, no intellectual giant himself, (he finished almost dead last in his class at Annapolis) who took on as the Vice Presidential candidate, what was little more than a pretty little housewife turned governor of Alaska.
From governing moose, elk and deer, Sarah Palin quickly displayed her total ignorance of all things governmental. She became such a national joke that she suddenly became the heroine of the unenlightened. Sensing her popularity with the know-nothing crowd, the TV-sitcom and Reality Show audience, the anti-science, pro-Jesus, anti-rationality group, the Republicans funded speaking tours, television talk-show appearances, the obligatory appearances to babble on almost any subject on Fox News, and two books. The grateful Right Wing saw to it that she was no less appreciated than her slightly more experienced propagandists. She did well in her first year, earning about $25 million. She became the darling of the Tea Party who hung on every word of her ear-shattering voice delivering incomprehensible, run-on sentences about everything from elk soup to international politics…about which she knows barely more than an elk.
Sarah has accomplished what other cynical Right Wing commentators have done in the past. She panders to the same Southern Right Wing politicians and to the plutocratic class of the corporate elite. She was welcomed by them, just as they welcome anyone who is able to fool some of the people and set those simple-minded fools against others in their class so that the rich can control government and enrich themselves while the country goes to hell. The Waif from Wasilla joins the Hannitys and the Limbaughs and the Becks as the propagandists for the new Fascists, the anarchical Right Wing…all made possible by one, underlying theme…the hatred by an apparent majority of those in the Southern states for the Imported Americans that their ancestors brought to this country.
Isn’t it curious that those who imported slaves, beat and whipped and separated slaves from their families, sold slaves and kept them from any education under pain of violent reprisal…even keeping them from owning books or learning to read….should now have such disdain and hatred for those people….rather than the other way around? Shouldn’t the Imported Americans be the ones to violently hate their White fellow citizens, and shouldn’t they be the ones underprivileged, discriminated against, thrown into virtual ghettos and treated with gross negligence?
The new Tea Party and Neocon and Right Wing racists as as far from the traditions of the Old Radical Republicans like Lincoln and Grant and Teddy Roosevelt and Taft and Eisenhower as a professional wrestler is from a concert pianist. The only African-Americans they know are the ones who have some axe to grind for the Right Wing.
Some African-Americans, very few, have decided that a good way to get rich is to swallow their pride and join the Republican Party. It does seem strange to find African-Americans in a political party in which the underlying connection is that everyone connected seems to have a common disdain for Blacks and any legislation that would even remotely help African-Americans.
Today, the rich oil men and the rich mining corporations and the very profitable pharmaceutical companies and the wildly profitable health insurance industry have literally purchased the legislators from the old Confederate states, the Deep South and the Old South. Purchased their support the way the ancestors of the Southern Senators and Congressmen imported slaves and sold them in slave marketplaces,like cattle.
American unemployment is at 7.9%. Imported American unemployment is at 15.7%. There are about 28 million African-Americans in the U.S. population today and only about 15 million can find jobs.
African-Americans are lagging behind Whites in significant numbers in education, income, home ownership and employment. And they are not catching up, with average earnings only about two-thirds as much as Whites. One out of five owns a home compared to one of two Whites. Monetary statistics don’t begin to tell the story of multi-generational poverty and ignorance and racism. You can be White and poor and still have a certain feeling of dignity. You can be Black and wealthy…or a President…and, as we have seen, can still experience insult and ridicule.
In the 1960s, we thought we had this racism thing whipped. We had a lot of strong programs designed to take people out of the under-performing inner-city schools, then strengthen their skills as needed in junior colleges and provide some grants and loans to see more of them through college.
But the problem is that we can’t get them past the problems of the neighborhoods. They still live, we all do, in de-facto segregation. We still live in neighborhoods where Blacks live together and Whites live together. In the Black neighborhoods there are so many people who have the three-and-four generation poverty hangover that the job of scaling the wall is overwhelming. Some do it, but with monumental effort.
The problem is that when Reagan came in, he made it blatantly clear that any kind of affirmative action was over. Prior to Reagan, from 1965 to 1981…not a very long time to develop an entire segment of the population…African-Americans were making progress. From 1981 until Clinton, nothing of consequence moved the African-American community except their own willpower. Under Clinton, a rising tide lifted all boats.
Today, the old Confederate ideals of racism, hatred and dividing the population into groups has been resurrected in the Neoconservative Republican Party. You see it in the actions of Senators from Kentucky who would go to a basketball game rather than hold a vote on providing unemployment benefits, so that some people could not afford food for their children or the rent money. They are less than human…the old slave attitudes prevail.
Or the new, modern slave state Arizona, where they hire illegal Mexicans for every conceivable job even creating new kinds of jobs that Americans won’t do…and then telling the rest of us how much they hate illegal immigrants. The modern Confederacy is once again led by corrupt men with an agenda of hate and prejudice and greed. Once again, the people of the South and the Southwest, as they were in 1860, are on the wrong side of history.
This time, we have a group of Right Wingers, Neoconservatives, calling themselves Republicans. But they are not Republicans at all in the traditional sense. They are hyper conservatives, trolling for table scraps from the billionaire corporation owners, that rarified air, where the only smell is that of money. They bow down, on their knees before the international corporations and their lobbyists.
The Right Wing has spawned and even further Right group. While taking money from big corporations to protest better and cheaper health care for themselves and their families, the Tea Party members have created the fantasy among themselves and the people who voted for them that government can run without money. It is part of their goal of being tossed enough coins from the very rich to eventually survive without working. Their idea is that with the return of indentured servants, what we now call our workforce, they will become the manager class, sit on the porch, sip mint juleps and direct the activities of the slaves.
But with no real policies, they are constant revisionists. One day they say that they will never lift a finger to raise the debt. The next day they vote to borrow $800 billion from China to give tax cuts to he rich. Why? They receive bribes…campaign contributions.
The kinds of people who would have been White lower-class Southerners in 1860, and vociferously approved of the Civil War, are today often these Right Wingers, Tea Baggers, who are mis-named “Republicans.”
The Republicans who fought so valiantly for the Rights of Blacks, who stood for an America with businesses that would create jobs and a strong society of families, schools, and a decent, equitable life for everyone….that Republican Party…the one that sent troops to the South to protect the freedmen is gone. Today’s “Republican Party” the Neocons, are in reality subservient to big corporations. The big international corporations have paid off the Republicans and in return the Neocons cut the government regulations, reduced corporate tax bills, eliminated rules on safety and pollution, gave no-bid contracts to corporations for the conduct of wars, and promise to cut Social Security, privatize Medicare and reduce wages to less than $8.00 an hour. Since the last election in 2010, they have been very hastily working on trying to bring those things about.
Here’s where everything converges. The same people…the same kinds of people…as those who imported other people, held them captive and forced them to work for no wages…those same kinds of people are still around. Of course today’s slaves are the lower classes, working for only enough wages to pay the bills, to stay alive to work another day.
We now have some ability to survive, so, instead of 1 of 4 out of work as in the Depression, today only 9 people out of a hundred are out of work. Or 15 Black men out of a hundred. Would the Right Wing own slaves if they could? Why would they? The economic efficiencies of creating a huge under-class are more appealing.
The racism is still there. Mississippi wants to honor a Klu Klux Klan member on a state license plate. The Carolinas fly Confederate flags over their state capitols. They insult the President of the United States and encourage all Americans to arm themselves, even to carry weapons into college classrooms, churches and elementary schools. These people we used to call “nuts” or “fruitcakes.” They’re back.
They have found friends among the very rich. Just as they would sell human beings for a price, now they will sell the truth…tell a lie…for a price. And the rich overpay. They had no idea how little these little people would have taken merely to have the right to lie on television or radio…the celebrity itself might have been enough. Rush Limbaugh’s and Glenn Beck’s single most dominant feature prior to selling out to the rich was their consistent and pervading failure at everything. Each one’s most dominant identifying characteristic was failure.
Now they have found a certain notariety and wealth by lying about health care. The legislators they promote are those who are bribed to vote against health care. They are told what to say about taxes and they say repeat it endlessly. They support the health insurance industry which is raping the citizens of the United States.
The Right Wing Republican party organization works tirelessly behind the scenes to create contracts for the favored Republican lobbyists on K Street who pay them the bribes. And they act in 2011 with the same stone-cold attitude of the slave traders. Neocons are trading in the slave business philosophy…the idea that you can take all the money in the Treasury and give it to the rich in tax rebates and then you can cut the salaries of Federal and State employees in order to pay for it. Money for me…wage slavery for you. That’s the only overriding idea.
And the Imported Americans continue to fall behind. They drop out of school at twice the rate of Whites. One out of four Black men who drop out of high school will end up in jail before they are 24 years old. They never get an education and never find a meaningful job. And so they repeat the cycle, fathering children out of wedlock because they have no career, no permanent job, no way to afford a wife and children in what Whites would call a normal setting.
The Neocons took the side of the hugely profitable health insurance industry against the needs of the People. That was specific but it was also symbolic. They were saying to those Southern supporters…we are doing this to put down the “freeloaders” the Blacks whom they want to subjugate. They took $400 million and scared half the population and told the other half, in code, that African-Americans would be the ones pinched by this Recession. The Right Wing always attacks the weakest and the lowest on the totem pole, always go after the African-Americans because there is always a built-in group of racists who will always support anything that hurts the Blacks.
Health care is a pivotal issue. The Neocons had complete control of Congress for 8 years. They did nothing to cut health care costs or come up with an alternative to health insurance premiums rising 20% per year, bankrupting hundreds of thousands of people. At the same time the Bush Neocon Republicans prevented desperate seniors, with huge drug bills, from traveling to Canada or Mexico where drugs were at least 50% to 100% cheaper!
The question is this: do you want to be slaves? Do you want to trust your income and your benefits and your Social Security to those who have proved that they see you no differently from the way their ancestors looked at their slaves? Can you trust people who hold up slavery and cruel and brutish attacks on innocent citizens, as the Klan did, as something to be admired? To acknowledge a Klan leader on your state license plate?
Should you believe almost the exact same cast of Republican characters who, under Bush, gave $640 billion to the pharmaceutical companies while expressly prohibiting Medicare from negotiating better rates for senior citizens?
Despite the daily drumbeat of lies and misstated facts, the government is not taking over health care. Government under Obamacare has, however, already put into effect laws that prevent anyone from taking away YOUR health care. By 2013, insurance companies will be asked to pool health care policies so that prices will start to go down.
Last year, prices went up in California by 39%. Elsewhere they went up 29% and sometimes as much as 60%. The current status of private health care is a disaster. And the Republicans want premiums to go higher because they get much of their “bribes” from health care lobbyists. If the Republicans repeal health care somehow, premiums will double and then double again, until the 50 million who cannot afford health care will become 100 million…at confiscatory rates.
The Republicans, not unlike the old plantation owners, have the bully pulpit, with their hundreds of daily radio and tv propagandists and their voice in Congress where they lie daily about things like “death panels” and other things which never existed, but caused many of their followers to say that they did not want health care reforms.
The health insurance industry and other interested parties, like some hospital chains and some pharmaceutical companies know how much money they stand to lose. Health care is approximately a $2.5 trillion annual industry in the United States. A large percentage of that money will go directly from their very expensive purses into the pockets of American citizens as soon as this legislation takes hold completely. That is why they are fighting so hard for “repeal.” They have inflated costs and the excess profits go in their pockets.
These are the same people who have the same attitude and the same objectives as the people who imported and sold human beings to Americans. Now they want to be your masters, control your health care spending, control your wages and control how much of the government that you pay for, those services that you have paid taxes to support for 20 or 30 or 50 years.
The basic approach by these Southern Republicans of course is to persuade people not to believe what they see with their own eyes. The concept that Republicans follow is to have some preacher or prophet or politician tell people what they want to hear. And then count on the fact that the people are too lazy or too stupid to discover that they have been lied to. Or they distract the people with abortion or guns or a good war now and then.
Don’t believe, they say, in the oil slick on the water or the tar balls on the beach where your children want to play. Believe what BP tells you about their motives. After all, they control the jobs. They control lives and they feel that they, therefore, not you, have the right to set the rules. It is the same way the South treated Blacks…intimidation, threats of losing a job, going to jail, being turned out onto the street.
Will we look back on this last 8 or 9 years, the Bush era and see two fruitless, costly wars….several tax cuts for the rich, with money borrowed from China…a greater military budget than the rest of the world combined….15 million people out of work and U.S. corporations hiring in Brazil, India and China. Crazy Neocon Republicans giving $800 billion in tax cuts to the rich while at the same time cutting heating fuel subsidies for the poor, and making other piddling little tax cuts across the boarn—but only on the most vulnerable in our society.
It is all coming around again. The reckless, foolish Tea Party ignoramuses, flirting with disaster, lacking knowledge, experience, intelligence and most of all…not having the discipline to learn the facts about government. We see the attitudes of the Right Wing in Congress reminiscent of the Nazi Brown Shirt bullies or the Klan, attacking the least among us able to defend themselves, the poor and the elderly while they scurry back into their holes and let the Right Wing radio propagandists earn their money.
We are all Americans. Americans brought slaves, treated them dreadfully, then assigned them to second or third-class citizenship, and until this very day do nothing of substance for them as recompense for giving them 300 years of misery. There is a bill due and all Americans owe it.
Now the new masters, the oligarchs, billionaires who run the country are about to hand some of us another very expensive bill. Soon the rest of us will know how it feels to be treated like an Imported American, our lives controlled by others, bought and paid for, sold out to the highest bidder.