TATE MISSES THE POINT

In his column of June 22, 2014, Carl Tate discussed the Republican Party’s legacy of freedom, a legacy “intimately intertwined with the economic and political liberties of the African-American community.” His supporting statements are confused and self-contradictory.

He cites Republican support of the conservative movement since the 1950s, in efforts to oppose the actions of the New Deal and the Great Society. The key to this is that he equates a liberty agenda with one that promotes upward mobility through self-sufficiency. Some might see this as liberation, others as denial of support to the underprivileged.

He praises the “most successful” Republican leaders (Reagan, Bush 1, and, surprisingly Nixon and Bush 2) as having spoken for a silent majority in America, leading ultimately to the ideology of the tea-party movement. Silent Majority was a term used by Nixon in 1969 to describe largely white, middle-class conservatives who opposed more vociferous minorities who protested the Vietnam War and supported the Civil Rights Movement. The term created a polarization that persists to this day.

Tate’s prime opportunity to support the claimed legacy was Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, calling for freeing of slaves in Confederate states. But he muffed it. He failed to mention that Lincoln was Republican, he gave the wrong date for issuance of the order, and he spent most of his space complaining about its delayed implementation in Texas. Does he realize that it could not be enforced except where the Union had established military control? Texas was not under such control until the arrival of Major General Granger on June 19, 1865, the very date on which he issued the order freeing all slaves in Texas.

Tate also failed to mention Lincoln’s leading role in passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the only means by which slavery was permanently prohibited in peace as well as war.

(The above was published June 27, 2014, in the Waynesboro VA News Virginian, as a Letter to the Editor.)

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