Michele Bachmann versus Frederick Douglass

I’ve been following this whole thing where Michele Bachmann thought it was a really great idea to sign this conservative Marriage Vow pledge as part of her campaign for presidency and the subsequent blowup because of the racist statements therein, specifically:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an
African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first
African-American President.

Coincidentally, I’ve also been reading Frederick Douglass’s autobiography, where he talks about his childhood in slavery and his loving interactions with his two parents:

My father was a white man. He was admitted to be such by all I ever heard speak of my parentage. The opinion was also whispered that my master was my father; but of the correctness of this opinion, I know nothing; the means of knowing was withheld from me. My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant—before I knew her as my mother. It is a common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age. Frequently, before the child has reached its twelfth month, its mother is taken from it, and hired out on some farm a considerable distance off, and the child is placed under the care of an old woman, too old for field labor.

Douglass also talks about the other horrors of growing up a slave, like not having clothes or enough to eat and witnessing terrible violence and the pain of being a piece of property and being denied education, but since Bachmann’s pledge is about marriage and having two appropriately opposite-sex parents who eschew porno and that sort of thing I’ll wait for another post there.

So let’s talk about what Bachmann is doing with this bullshit.

Bachmann wants to make out like slavery was this mutually beneficial arrangement where white people kindly took care of black people in exchange for room, board, and familial support so that black families can stay together, which they clearly couldn’t do without the benevolence of white people’s guidance.

Notice what the statement is about in specific: not the state of children in poverty in America, but the state of black children. And this is not about perceived declines since the 70s or the 80s or even the Clinton era, but about Obama’s America: black children are apparently in dire straits worse than slavery because there’s a black man in the white house, and everyone knows that black men can’t care for black children the way concerned white people can! That’s why there are all these black single mothers and slavery was better, right?

Next up it’s going to be about how staying with your master who raped your mom and sold her away from you offered quality father-son bonding experiences.

Bachmann is of course already backsliding on this and trying to disavow having said anything racist. She insists that this isn’t what she signed, but I can tell you two things here: first, this thing about black children being better off under slavery is the first paragraph after the preamble so it’s right there at the top, and second, if Bachmann is like any other attorney I have ever met in my life she reads everything that comes in front of her compulsively, which means she read this. She also has handlers and political advisors and other assistants that give her advice and guidance and none of them said “hey don’t sign this cause it’s kind of racist or otherwise doesn’t fit in with the public image you’re trying to project” because this is exactly the image she wants to project. The world Bachmann wants us all to live in is a white supremacist heteropatriarchy where the chosen few have a lot of privilege and the rest of us need to know our place.

Under their heels.


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