Former Reaganite and Trump anger translator Jeffrey Lord says Democrats started the Klu Klux Klan. Understanding the truth behind this statement requires much more nuance than a hamfisted shill for Donald Trump is capable of, at least on camera. I followed the breadcrumbs to where this line originated. As usual, I expected nothing and I was completely disappointed.
When Bishop E.W. Jackson -- lawyer, staunch Republican, conservative political pundit, former radio talk show host and ex-marine, amongst other things -- was a nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia in 2012, he released a video through his organization S.T.A.N.D. (Staying True to America's National Destiny) to push an agenda called Exodus Now.
His goal? To convince black people to leave the Democratic party. What motivated all this? The Democrat's support of gay marriage at the 2012 convention.
Bishop Jackson says that Black people should leave the Democratic party because Democrats are the ones who started the KKK. In the wake of this claim, Virginia State Senator Stephen Martin repeated it -- adding that Democrats also created Planned Parenthood. When Senator Martin realized that there is no evidence to support his claim regarding Planned Parenthood (or the Klan), he said he misspoke. By then, the misinformation was out there, parading itself as the truth, and the alt-right was off to the races, embracing this statement as a call to action.
During the most recent election cycle, the ads imploring an ethnic mass exodus from the Democratic party have been nonstop -- from Republicans who declare themselves "the party of Lincoln", no less. Now, making a statement like "The Democratic party started the Klan!" is the gigantic turdbomb of epic proportions that any neo-con can use to dead-end a political discussion. And no one wants to dismantle it.
A simple fact check and a brief history lesson proves that this statement is not entirely true.
Political parties evolve over time. In the 19th century, they simply didn't exist as we know them today. Instead of identifying everything and everyone as Republican or Democrat, it's much more helpful to see where the shift in white supremacy takes place, and take it from there. Why? Because each party is made up of people who think a certain way and that's what shapes the party's beliefs and defines its platform -- not the name of the party itself. Over time, the white supremacists, racists and bigots have shifted from one party to another. That's the American way.
As a Southerner and an African-American woman that's two generations removed from slavery, the question I ask constantly is this: Which one of you are white supremacists and what party are you affiliated with now? Political parties are not stagnant, fixed, immovable. As white supremacists change directions and affiliations, the parties are redefined. What was liberal is now conservative, and vice versa.
Yes -- during the 19th century, Democrats were much more racist than Republicans. Were Klan members Democrats? In all likelihood, yes -- but the Democratic party didn't start the KKK. Then the Civil Rights Movement happened, polarizing Southern Christians against the Democratic party. When African-Americans gained the right to vote and became Democrats, those white supremacist Southern Christian became Republicans. In this regard, Republicans weren't a force for civil rights. For the Dixie-crats who joined their ranks, they were a refuge from it. Those KKK Democrats are Republicans now -- and celebrating their win in The White House.
For days after the election, I fielded phone calls and texts and DMs and IMs from friends near and far, offering support, asylum and solid advice. I got a text from my German sibling in Berlin that made me very happy. I've chatted with lots of musicians who say they're not working or associating with anyone who voted for Trump. One friend couldn't stop crying. Another didn't know what to do about her Republican relatives. Because Thanksgiving.
No one wants to spend the holidays with parents who voted for a bigoted, racist white supremacist. No one wants to buy Christmas presents for anyone who put the alt-right in The White House. No one wants to spend any quality time with someone who refuses to acknowledge that by campaigning on hate and fear, Trump created this climate of
violence and open hostility against people of color, women, the disabled and LGBTQs. This is what we're left with: everyone getting bullied, even children (it's become a disturbing trend); women getting groped when they least expect it; African-American college students, harassed; and yes, murder.
Like a monkey gleefully flinging it's own excrement, way too many white people are spewing all kinds of racial epithets in every direction and smearing their ignorance all over everything with a fervor that is nothing short of stultifying. A friend in his 50s told me that he didn't recognize his high school friends anymore. He couldn't believe the things they were saying. When I hung up the phone, I remembered that his ex-wife was Jewish. His daughters -- both in college -- were at risk. One of them was in a march somewhere on the west coast and some guy hit her in the head with a rock.
He felt helpless, scared. "How do you know who the good guys are?" he asked me. Welcome to my black world, I must have said. Or something like that. And then I laughed.
"But she's my Mom," a gay friend whispered tearfully.
"Does she know who Mike Pence is? Does she realize what she's done?" I said flatly.
"Yeah," he said weakly. "She keeps going on about how Trump is going to bring morality back..." And then his voice trailed off. He's a musical theater performer. His husband is a musician. They've got Obamacare. They've got a great life. And it's over.
The moon hasn't been this close to the earth since 1948 -- when African-Americans were at the mercy of home-grown terrorism by the Klan (all over the country, not just the South) and the federal government did nothing to stop them. There'll be other supermoons that will make you press pause and look up and wax poetic, but it won't be this close again until 2034 -- and God only knows what this country will be like when that happens. We won't be where we were in 1948 -- but where are we going?
Hopefully, you did something momentous on Sunday night. (If you didn't, tonight is your night.) MPB and I had a mutton chop at Keen's and ate like it's 1889. Then we went for a walk in the moonlight and this depression rose and floated away from me like smoke. By the time I got home, something had shifted.
As this new reality sets in and the climate of hate refuses to go away, it'll be interesting to see and hear what your favorite artist has to say about any of this in 2017.