The GOP Pitch for Black Votes

Via Yglesias, here's Congressman Trent Franks giving an unsolicited lecture on the importance of Black History Month:

In this country, we had slavery for God knows how long.  And now we look back on it and we say "How brave were they? What was the matter with them?  You know, I can't believe, you know, four million slaves.  This is incredible."  And we're right, we're right. We should look back on that with criticism.  It is a crushing mark on America's soul.  And yet today, half of all black children are aborted.  Half of all black children are aborted.  Far more of the African American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery.  And I think, What does it take to get us to wake up?

I think the most charitable interpretation holds that Franks isn't endorsing slavery, as much as he's....Fuck it, I've got nothing. This is just stupid on all conceivable levels.

I think there will be some amount of indignity, and offense-taking over this comment, and that's understandable. But when I read this, as when I read many conservative politicians, speak on African-Americans, I just feel sorry for them. Before you explain to someone that a "policy" built on selling children, government-sanctioned torture, and forced labor is worse than any policy in place to day, you should come to terms with the fact that your breaths are limited, and your days numbered. You have to budget your outrage.

That is the statement of an intellectual child, of someone whose never ventured beyond their hometown. It's what happens when you decide that you're fine as the party of white people, and your corner of the world is enough. This is what happens when your knowledge is capped, and  your ignorance is boundless.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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