On Monday, while addressing people infinitely more qualified to be Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson shared some “alternative” history of American slavery that drew the ire of one of Hollywood’s most famous black actors, Samuel L. Jackson, among others.
Carson was speaking to a group of HUD staffers when he inexplicably called African-American slaves “immigrants” who arrived “in the bottom of slave ships” to work hard and prosper with little more than their “can do” American attitude. Carson said:
“There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less.”
“But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”
President Donald Trump sets a high bar for “gaslighting” Americans, which Carson always seems to surpass with ease. However, Carson’s remark prompted a swift and brutal response from Jackson who didn’t appear to appreciate the good doctor’s “alternate” history lesson.
OK!! Ben Carson….I can't! Immigrants ? In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!! MUTHAFUKKA PLEASE!!!#dickheadedtom
— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) March 6, 2017
Carson’s whitewashing of American history is a common tactic by used by Republicans on school boards across the country. In 2015, Texas public schools made national news when it was discovered that their history books were being whitewashed to downplay the role slavery played in the Civil War.
The new lessons listed the reasons behind the conflict in the order of “sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery.”
However, the lesson plan did not include a speech from Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens’ 1861 “Cornerstone speech” in which he described slavery as the “cornerstone” of the new Confederate government, stating “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man.”
There is also the sticky matter of Texas’ Secession Declaration in which the state explicitly listed slavery as the main reason for it was seceding from the U.S.
“Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated States to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility [sic] and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery–the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits–a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?
The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretences and disguises, has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slave-holding States.’
However, if you only listen to people like Carson or read Texas history books, you might be lead to believe that the Confederacy was a righteous cause and that slavery (which wasn’t really that bad) had little to do with a Civil War that killed millions of Americans. You may also be inclined to believe that today’s Republican party is still the party of Lincoln. This sentiment seems to be a strange contradiction seeing as Lincoln is viewed by many Republican Confederate flag lovers as an evil dictator who forced the South into war. But then again, hypocrisy is a cornerstone of the Republican party.