Back in 2017, I wrote a commentary headlined “Trump blew it.” The “it” was a strategy that would have put the Democratic Party in a well-deserved box on the race issue.
The Republican Party has not been able to recover the lead on the race issues even though throughout history Democrats has caused the most harm to minorities.
What prompted my concern in 2017 was Trump’s ceremoniously hanging the portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office and paying a homage visit to Old Hickory’s grave in Tennessee.
Jackson was a strident white supremacist and one of the most brutal of the slave-owning presidents – taking pleasure in personally whipping his slaves. He was a fierce Indian fighter and arguably a murderer due to his summarily killing Native Americans. He was also the authority behind Indian relocation that led to the “Trail of Tears.” Yet, he is a positive icon for Democrats.
Trump’s visit to the Jackson memorial was at a time when there was a push to remove Jackson from the $20 bill to be replaced by Harriet Tubman – the famed REPUBLICAN abolitionist. Every Republican should applaud that change – and Trump should push for it.
What evolved out of Trump’s honoring of Jackson has been the continuation of a false narrative of racism in American that we see being set forth by the Democratic Party and the biased and compliant media.
It was just four years ago when removing Confederate statues and flags from places of honor was a REPUBLICAN issue. It was not being pursued by violence and vandalism – but by policy and legislation. Republican leadership in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and other southern states were responsible for the removal of images, banners, and memorials of the Confederacy from places of special honor. They were removed but not destroyed – so they could be elements in the proper education of the Confederacy.
To understand the history of those statues and Confederate battle flags seen throughout the south, you need to know that they were not all historic remnants from the post-civil war era. In fact, during the Reconstruction period – when Republicans controlled the south -- the symbols of the Confederacy were nowhere to be found. It was not until the Democratic Party violently seized control of the south in 1877 that the personalities and symbols of the Confederacy were first elevated to places of honor in the south. Many of the statues were erected in the early Twentieth Century – during the administrations of white supremacist Democrat President Woodrow Wilson.
Among Twentieth-Century honorees was Democrat Senator “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman, whose statue was erected on the grounds of the Capitol Building in South Carolina. Tillman gained fame for murdering four black U.S. militiamen in cold blood – and bragging about it throughout his political career.
The second wave of Confederate symbolism in the south – as a show of defiance against black civil rights – came in the 1960s, when the powerful southern Democrats fought against integration and voting rights. Many of the most powerful leaders of the Democratic Party signed the Southern Manifesto in opposition to school desegregation and -- as an act of defiance – incorporated the Confederate battle flags as part of many of the southern states’ official banners. Those actions were taken by Democrat racists – some of whom are still alive today.
It was only after Republicans won southern governorships and majorities in the state legislatures that those flags were being removed from the places of honor. Confederate statues were being officially removed from government grounds to be stored or displayed as museum pieces. It is certainly beneficial to see the historic and educational value in recalling the leaders and symbols of the Confederacy – but not to honor them.
Rather than honor Jackson, Trump should have challenged Democrats to repudiate the honoring of all those past Democrats depicted in those statues. He should have called upon democrats to change the names of their traditional annual Jackson Day Dinners.
Trump should have chided Democrat elitists who gather at the Woodrow Wilson. Trump could have used his enormous communication platform to set the record straight about Franklin Roosevelt – another white supremacist – and his highly racist New Deal. The NAACP referred to FDR’s National Recovery Act (NRA) as the “Negro Riddance Act.”
And Trump could have made the case against today’s Democrat leadership that presides over the remnants of institutional and systemic racism in America’s major cities – where millions of black Americans live – and have lived for generations – in segregated and impoverished communities.
Trump should have lead the charge to rename the many military facilities named after Confederate generals – southern forts that were originally named by Democrats as another intimidation of local black citizens. The naming of military bases, schools and other facilities, the erecting of statues and the emblazing of the Confederate battle flag (as opposed to the Confederate national flag) was not honor-based, but as a virtual flipping of the finger at the Union, the Constitution, black citizens and all Americans who believe that “all men are created equal” and are equal under the law.
America is not a racist nation – but the remnants of institutional racism do still occur in the long-held Democrat cities were oppressed and frustrated blacks have risen up to protest and riot REPEATEDLY over the past 150 years.
Trump is failing to cast the light of truth on those in power who have been – and are – the presiders over the last elements of institutional racism in America. Trump and the Republican Party have failed to expose Democrats’ historic defense and administration of institutional racism.
Trump still has time to make that case – if only he knew how to do it. So far, he has not demonstrated that he does.
So, there ‘tis.
By Larry Horist