Home > Editorial, The Industry Cosign > Santorum’s Positions Reminiscent of Jim Crow

Santorum’s Positions Reminiscent of Jim Crow


By Torrance Stephens

It is not farfetched for me to see Rick Santorum living in America some 160 years ago, comfortable in his conservatism appreciative and accepting of the status quo. Maybe this why he resonates so clearly with a large corpus of benighted lunatics that cherish his every word. No doubt, Santorum as his supports would be more comfortable and would prefer to live in a world in which African descendants were in bondage or subjugated by institutional laws and policies that kept us in our place. If not during the time of slavery, then certainly Jim Crow America would have suited him fine. Especially given what he said recently on the campaign rail in Mississippi and Alabama.

His persistent focus on social issues and so called “conservative” values is an attempt to show that he is connected with working class conservatives, especially those in the south, evangelicals and Tea baggers. This is why he always makes hidden remarks associated with the historic racist beliefs of his constituency. Santorum once said that America “was great before 1965″ . If you ask me, seeing that Jim Crow ended in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights act, it can be interpreted that America lost its greatness when Jim Crow ended.

I have written before that: “Historians tend to define Jim Crow and/or the period of Jim Crow as a systematic practice of discriminating against and segregating Black people in the America from the end of Reconstruction to the mid-20th century. More specifically, they tend to focus on the South when it was nationwide….Most or many historians like to start the period in the late 1890’s and like to over dramatize the importance of one man purchasing a single train ticket. In 1892, Homer Plessey bought a first-class railroad ticket. They say by doing such he broke the law since we were only allowed to ride only third class in his home state of Louisiana. You know, ye old separate railway accommodations for the races. To make a long story short, the Supreme Court heard, and rejected, Plessey’s challenge. This validated segregation in public facilities and engendered an atmosphere that promulgated even more restrictive Jim Crow laws.”

It is no wonder that many conservatives always desire to make the connect between themselves, Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, who in 1964 associated the civil rights movement with increased lawlessness in America and advised for the nation to get tougher on crime. This was a code phrase basically saying get tough on black folks; after all we were the only one struggling to gain what was proffered by the constitution in particular the thirteenth amendment. A struggle that did not end until Jim Crow was obviated.

Another example of Santorum’s embedded reference to racist political positions are his regular carps pertaining to the role state and federal governments play in running schools. Santorum says he wants to retrench hysterically the power of states and the federal government in public education. In the republican debate in Arizona, he went on the record saying, “Not only do I believe the federal government should get out of the education business, I think the state government should start to get out of the education business and put it back with the local and into the community.” For the former senator, US schools are “factories” that are merely “anachronistic” residuals of a past age in American history.

What Santorum has forgotten, or has intentionally overlooked was the need and role of public education in correcting what had manifested as a result of slaver, Jim Crow and the Black Codes. It was under the auspices of the Freedmen’s Bureau created by President Lincoln after the end of the Civil War that aid was provided to former slaves, inclusive of education.

Before the Civil War, no southern state had a system of public education. Former slaves wanted to become educated but whites opposed the idea. By 1866 eleven colleges in southern states had been established for the education of freedmen. More than $5 million to set up schools for blacks which led to more than 90,000 former slaves being enrolled as students in public schools by 1865. So purport that by 1870, there where more than 1,000 schools for freedmen in the South. After this period, when white Democrats regained control of the southern political machine, they reduced funds available to fund public education passed Jim Crow laws in the 1890s that mandated legal segregation of public places.

But this is the hypocrisy of Rick Santorum. On the one hand he states he is misunderstood and that he is for all the people yet his attacks through hidden “white speak” states otherwise. In January 2011, Santorum, addressing President Obama’s denial of personhood to the unborn, stated he was confused of all people, for a “black man to say no, we’re going to decide who people are and who not people are.” Even more strange is that a child has never endured the historical oppression and subjugation proffered either by slavery or Jim Crow? Santorum also conveniently disremembers that black people were considered less than human and subjected to dehumanization since being brought to America against our will.

Rick Santorum is what is wrong with America and not just its politics. It is an overt hypocrisy that focuses on divisive rhetoric of race yet does not have the fortitude to personally admit this is the goal and objective for such inflammatory speech. Thus, it is not unexpected that in Iowa Santorum would boldly assert. “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better” through government aid” and at the same time even with video and audio documentation — conveniently ignoring that only 9 percent of Iowans on food stamps and deny repeatedly he ever made such a statement. He has even stated on Fox News that for Africa Americans “wedlock marriage is an institution… (that is) not desirable for African American males”.

These comments are akin to the antiquated statements of David Hume who wrote, “I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There scarcely ever was a civilized nation of that complexion, nor even any individual, eminent either in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures amongst them, no arts, no sciences.” It is similar to the belief of Kant who once wrote that being black was “clear proof that” a man is “stupid.” Santorum ascribes to the belief of Abraham Lincoln who said “there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

Yes indeed, Santorum along with Romney and Gingrich and many in the GOP long to take America Back to the days before the civil rights act and the times of Jim Crow. Otherwise his white speak would have been something other than saying America “was great before 1965.” Santorum knows as Lee Atwater once stated, “you start out in 1954 by saying, nigger,nigger,nigger. By 1968 you can’t say nigger — that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like states rights.”

Wake up America, we cannot depend on the media to point out such and make critical observations based on the record. As black folk it seem that we are only occupied with politics simply to protect President Obama. We must be more involved than this because limiting ourselves to responsive behaviors and attending to whether Rihanna is getting back with Chris Brown or How much money Whitney Houston’s daughter going to get.

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