As we celebrate our Independence Day, and the anniversary of the key Civil War battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, we hear historians and pundits speculate on what would have happened if the Confederacy had prevailed in the War Between the States.
Sometimes it is fun “what if” speculation. Other times, it involves an ideology, where some who dabble in politics imply that today’s society is worse for African Americans than during times of slavery, and even that slavery was a positive thing for blacks.
Here are five politicians who have claimed that blacks would be better off today with slavery.
5) Cliven Bundy: He’s not running for office, but the Nevada rancher who organized a national following after not paying his grazing fees for years said “I want to tell you one more think I know about the Negro,” at a press conference he called. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
4) Michelle Bachmann: Minnesota Rep. Bachmann signed a pledge from frequent Iowa candidate Bob Vander Platts to get his support. The pledge claimed that while slavery wasn’t good, it was a better time for slave families (presumably when they weren’t ripped apart during slave auctions).
3) Rick Santorum: Like Bachmann, former Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum signed Vander Platts’ pledge. He was the first to sign up, helping him narrowly win the Iowa Caucus.
2) Ann Coulter: The conservative columnist said that the worst thing done to blacks since slavery were the Great Society programs. Then she mocked the recent enslavement of Nigerian girls by terrorists.
1) Pat Buchanan: While others try to spin the argument that today’s society is worse for blacks than slavery, the former Nixon speechwriter, presidential candidate and pundit wrote how slavery was a positive experience for blacks. But to his credit, Buchanan does explain how great the Great Society and spending were for African Americans in that same column.
Honorable Mention: Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, said that blacks were happier before the Civil Rights movement. He recalled that before they were given the right to vote and be protected from lynching, blacks were more godly, happy, and singing.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.