POLITICS + HISTORY
Civil Rights Worse Than Slavery? What a Preposterous Notion
Just when you thought you’d seen it all when it comes to debates about racial policy positions, you come across a statement so preposterous that it takes the cake. For instance, Tim Scott, a Black South Carolina Republican, recently claimed the civil rights movement was more harmful to Black Americans than chattel slavery. This logic is reminiscent of anti-vaxxers, who claimed during the height of the pandemic that this preventative measure was just as harmful, if not more so, than the ailment. To understand how Scott or anyone could endorse this worldview, consider how conservativism functions in American society.
Conservatives often oppose domestic government spending and believe the federal government does not have a responsibility to provide a social safety net to ensure citizens have enough food to eat and homes to live in. Instead, they believe our society, rooted in capitalism, should be a dog-eat-dog nation, a Darwinian “survival of the fittest” perspective that ignores our common welfare. Despite Americans paying taxes that fund the government, conservatives like Scott believe they are not entitled to a dime and that providing aid to people is actually hurting them. The irony shouldn’t be lost on you that a Black man like Tim Scott embracing this worldview is counterproductive, to put it lightly, or a spit in the face of the entire Black diaspora, if we’re being honest.
Given his conservative worldview, it’s no surprise Scott sees Lyndon Johnson’s administration, one that passed civil rights legislation, and “launched Medicare and Medicaid, and expanded housing subsidies, urban development programs, employment and training programs, food stamps, and Social Security and welfare benefits,” as worse than slavery. Despite these policies’ popularity amongst the American people, and many believing they should be expanded because far too many continue to fall through the cracks, conservatives continue to argue that these policies are bad, even worse than slavery. Why?
On a Republican debate stage, Tim Scott claimed “Black families survived slavery,” as well as “poll taxes and literacy tests,”…