(Todd A. Smith)
At a recent town hall, Republican presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley answered a person’s question about the cause of the Civil War by mentioning a whole lotta nonsense but not mentioning the enslavement of African-Americans.
Although Haley came back and mentioned slavery after backlash from Republicans and Democrats alike, her failure to initially mention slavery highlights the fact that many Americans have consistently tried to rewrite history to make it seem that what African-Americans endured at the hands of White oppressors was not as bad as it really was.
Responding to the question about the cause of the civil war, Haley said, “I think the cause of the civil war was basically how government was going to run, the freedoms of what people could and couldn’t do.”
She continued, “What do you think the cause of the civil war was?”
However, the questioner replied that he was not the one running for the Oval Office.
Haley added, “I think it always comes down to the role of government and what the rights of the people are. And I will always stand by the fact that I think government was intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people. It was never meant to be all things to all people. Government does not need to tell you how to live your life. They don’t need to tell you what you can and can’t do. They don’t need to be a part of your life.”
To which the questioner responded, “In the year 2023, it’s astonishing to me that you answer that question without mentioning the word ‘slavery.’”
Haley responded, “What do you want me to say about slavery?” before dismissing the conversation by saying “next question.”
Anyone with just a little bit of knowledge will know that the reason Southern states seceded from the Union was because of the issue of slavery, not Southern pride like so many naysayers want to believe.
If secession was about states’ rights, like many want to believe, it was about a state’s right to have legalized slavery.
Former President Abraham Lincoln knew that if the United States of America were to survive intact, it would have to be all free or all slave.
But Haley’s comments are so insensitive because when she talks about the people, what people is she talking about?
When she said the government should not tell a person how to live their life, was she talking about the enslaved or the slave owner?
If she was talking about the slave owner that seems like the epitome of hypocrisy because if the government cannot tell a person what do with their property (i.e., their slave), how can a slaveowner justify telling another person (i.e. their slave) what to do with their life or whether or not they are a free person or even a human being for that matter?
She said that the government’s role was to secure the rights of the people.
Yet in still, African-American people had no rights in the United States.
Therein lays the problem.
When many non-African-Americans, especially politicians, speak about what the people want and what upsets the people, they often seem to be speaking up just for White people.
While that is not a newsflash for anyone living in America over the past few centuries, the fact that many outside the African-American community want to pretend like their wishes and feelings are not put above the feelings of their African-American counterparts is absurd.
Their fragile feelings are why American history is often watered down so that they feel less guilty and people like me will not know why their community is in the predicament that it is in today.
Haley’s comments about the civil war even drew criticism from GOP rivals like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump.
However, Haley’s GOP rivals should not kick her when she is down because they both are a part of the problem when it comes to true American history and current race relations.
DeSantis leads a state that said the enslaved African-Americans learned skills during slavery that they could then parlay later in life after their emancipation.
Trump has paraphrased Adolf Hitler and other racists when speaking on the issues of the day in America.
When called out on racist comments, Trump’s excuse is often something like he never read Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf.”
Whether it was Southern pride, states’ rights, critical race theory run amok, “wokeism” or playing the so-called race card, why is it so hard for so many non-African-Americans, who probably have African-American friends and do not see race, to admit how abusive and callous this country has been to people who look like me and many of my readers?
It is for the same reason that DeSantis and Trump can criticize Haley but cannot turn the mirror around to see that they have racist egg in their face often too.
People often do not have a problem calling out someone else’s bigotry.
But when the shoe is on the other foot, they make every excuse as to why they were misunderstood or misspoke.
That too is why history is often rewritten so that some of those same people do not have to look in the mirror and actually see the hatred in their eyes.
Learning about true American history and all the evil done to African-Americans in the name of White supremacy hits too close to home.
Therefore, the reasoning for the civil war must change to something that makes them feel less guilty.
And that just, in actuality, makes them look more guilty.