Trump, Vicar of Fear and ViolenceBreaking News
tags: racism, violence, Donald Trump, Law and Order
Even the founding fathers used white fear of the “other” for political benefit. And when they didn’t have the facts, they were not above fabrication.
In 1782, before the peace treaty that officially ended the Revolutionary War had been negotiated, Benjamin Franklin, fearing some form of reconciliation between Britain and the colonies, sought to inflame passions of the colonists and embarrass the British by concocting a report of packages including “8 large ones containing SCALPS of our unhappy Country-folks, taken in the three last Years by the Senneka Indians from the Inhabitants of the Frontiers of New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia,” purportedly sent to the governor of Canada for him to transmit to England.
Among the scalps were supposedly 88 women’s scalps, 193 boys’ scalps, 211 girls’ scalps and “29 little infants’ scalps of various sizes.”
None of this was true. Franklin may be a progenitor of fake news.
White fear of rebellions by the enslaved marked American life before the Civil War and informed the legal code. As the National Park Service explained:
“Slaveholding elites also regulated white behavior in attempts to increase security. One example among many occurred in 1739, when the South Carolina legislature passed the Security Act. A response to white fear of insurrection, the act required that all white men carry firearms to church on Sundays.”
“During Reconstruction, opponents of the black-freedom struggle deployed pre-emptive, apocalyptic, slippery-slope arguments that have remained enduring features of backlash politics up to the present. They treated federal support for African-American civil rights, economic and social equality — however delayed, reluctant, underfunded, and incomplete it may have been — as a cataclysmic overreaction and framed it as a far more dangerous threat to liberty than the injustice it was designed to address.”
This white fear of Black violence was part of what gave birth to the Black Codes and Jim Crow, and it pervaded pop culture. It was a central theme in “The Birth of a Nation,” which helped revive the Ku Klux Klan and was the first movie ever screened at the White House by President Woodrow Wilson, a racist who once wrote:
“The white men of the South were aroused by the mere instinct of self-preservation to rid themselves, by fair means or foul, of the intolerable burden of governments sustained by the votes of ignorant Negroes and conducted in the interest of adventurers."
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