A pundit from the totally-not racist right-wing claims that Ferguson couldn’t possibly have been about race. Why is that? According to Right Wing Watch, Vanita Gupta, the acting head of the Justice Department, said that part of what happened in Ferguson and elsewhere has to do with the role police played in perpetuating slavery here. Hans von Spakovsky, a Bush-era attorney for the Justice Department, believes that is ludicrous because slavery existed in Africa, too.
We wish we were kidding, but unfortunately, we’re not. He thinks that, since slavery ended 150 years ago, and we also abolished it long before Africa did, there clearly are no more problems with racism here. He said, according to the piece on Right Wing Watch:
Of course, you realize what they don’t ever want to talk about, the fact that slavery was an institution in Africa. Tribes there enslaved other tribes, tribes there actually made huge amounts of money in the slave trade, and we actually, I think, got rid of it long before it disappeared in Africa.
Because slavery in Africa is totally relevant to racism in the U.S. The reason “liberals” don’t talk about slavery in Africa when discussing this is for exactly that reason: It’s not relevant! That history has no bearing on problems like what happened in Ferguson and Baltimore.
As far as racism on the right goes, that is the absolute limit. Unfortunately, that idiotic comment isn’t all. Von Spakovsky was talking with Indiana radio host Greg Garrison, who said:
It was the United States [that] declared slavery and fought a war to stop it. Nobody else did that. I didn’t see Africa doing that!
He went on to say:
Wouldn’t it be fun to be a liberal, where you didn’t have to have any connection, where you didn’t have to have any historical perspective and you could just sort of make stuff up as you went along?
Wouldn’t it be fun to be a sheltered, insulated, white conservative who tries to sound smart while pulling irrelevant history out to justify the white-privileged assertion that racism is over? The police here, in the U.S., enforced Jim Crow, they enforced the Black Codes, and they enforced slavery in the slave states. What part of Africa’s history of slavery played a part in that? What part of Africa’s history of slavery played a part in Ferguson, or Baltimore?
Unfortunately, it’s hard to make progress on racial issues when we have attitudes like this flowing over the airwaves. Only when everyone finally realizes that racism didn’t end with either slavery or the Civil Rights Act will we finally find a way to address it.