NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — No part of this story is a joke.
The tea-party sponsored a panel called “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?”
The short answer was provided by this panel, which was run by KCarl Smith, an African American father and grandfather who started the ConservativeMESSENGER in 2009 and who has appeared on the “700 Club” and the “Huckabee Show.” He is a dynamic speaker. The following are highlights from the panel, which I suspect is on video somewhere already, because it is hard to convey in words alone.
Do you want to know how to trump the race card and talk to your family members without fear of being called a racist? he asked. Tell them you are a “Frederick Douglass Republican.”
It is that simple. Also, he has two books available that you should buy. Let him explain.
Frederick Douglass is the key to appealing to “blacks, Latinos, women, young people.” How?
He offers the “answer to the diversity inclusion problem, a way to defeat vile and malicious attacks of the left’s propaganda machine. They call us a racist, we back up…. They want to humiliate us. They want to intimidate us.”
(At this point a man comes in dressed as a revolutionary soldier carrying a giant yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag.)
“The word conservative,” Smith explains, “the word ‘Republican,’ the word ‘U.S. Constitution,’ those words have a negative connotation in this country. We’re losing the propaganda battle. You might as well call yourself a racist. Say ‘Frederick Douglass Republican.’ It piques interest. Those who frame the debate win the debate.”
He explains that Douglass was “born below poverty. When you’re born into poverty at least you own your own body.”
Douglass, Smith notes, never slept in a bed until the age of 10. He escaped from slavery at the age of 20. What does that mean?
“Slavemaster-run health care,” Smith says. “Slavemaster entitlements. Douglass was a 47 percenter. Slavemasters were Democrats.”
I am not making any of this up.
“Douglass,” he goes on to note, “was a capitalist.”
“AMEN,” says the revolutionary soldier.
He died wealthy, Smith explains. “He wrote three autobiographies. He owned two newspaper companies… Douglass was a 47 percenter. He became a 1 percenter.”
So, say you’re a Frederick Douglass Republican. “When someone that’s not an African American says ‘I’m a Frederick Douglass Republican’ … you’re not seen as a racist.”
(Is this true? Is this not the equivalent of saying, “Historically, I have a lot of black friends?” Is this not, in some ways, worse?)
“He affirms the Founding Fathers and he affirms the Constitution,” Smith notes. “Race-baiting comes off the table.”
“How are you going to call a Frederick Douglass Republican a racist?” Er. Is this a rhetorical question?
“You cannot out-victimize Douglass. I don’t care what kind of categories. Nobody can out-victimize Douglass, a runaway slave…. Slavery is based on the distorted philosophy of taking the fruits of one man’s labor and giving it to another so that he can remain idle…. Douglass believed in assimilation. Now do you understand why you don’t hear too much about Douglass?”
Why does Douglass resonate with Latinos? “His work ethic, his entrepreneur spirit,” Smith says.
Why does he resonate with women? He spoke at the Seneca Falls convention!
How many black women were in attendance, asks media member Kim Brown, a black non-conservative radio host with Voice of Russia.
“I think she was kind of dead by then,” she says. (She was not dead, but she was not present at Seneca Falls.)
Someone in the front yells something about “women’s studies.” She does not sound happy.
Smith explains something about how Douglass’s tutorial program meant that he appeals to young people. “Blacks, Latinos, women, young people, all Americans,” he says. “The quintessential American dream story.”
Already, we have learned something.
“If someone asked you if you were conservative, you would say YES,” he notes. “You just lost… The word conservative, the word tea party, the word Republican… means racist.”
But that’s not fair. After all, “the Democratic party started the KKK.”
The guy dressed as a colonial soldier is definitely the one loving this the most. “Amen,” he keeps saying.
The real enemy are the people “who want to be our slavemasters in both parties. They want to limit our rights. Tell us how to live. Dictate to us what we should eat.”
You can’t play the race card on Frederick Douglass, he reiterates.
Then comes time for questions. Some pass uneventfully — why not more diversity in Romney ads?
“In this last election the Democratic Party threw God out of their convention.… How do we utilize that along with Frederick Douglass to let minorities, especially Christian minorities, know there’s not a place for them in the Democratic Party?” someone asks.
The goal, Smith says, is to “not to recruit folks, the goal is to get people to do some self-reflection.” As it says in Second Corinthians.
He begins to explain that Democrats were in the KKK.
“AT THE TIME,” Brown says. She seems intent on turning this into a discussion.
“THEY STILL ARE, HONEY,” yells someone at the front.
“Women’s studies,” a middle-aged woman in front of me murmurs. “That’s what happens.”
A man who identifies himself as Scott Terry of North Carolina says that he fears this is all at the expense of “young white southern males like myself.” He had been studying up on history and “I really came to love my people and my culture… I know that’s anathema… I feel like my demographic are being systematically disenfranchised. Why can’t we be more like Booker T. Washington Republicans? Unified like a hand but separate like the fingers.”
Did he just ask that? the girls next to me murmured.
Smith began to talk about how Frederick Douglass had forgiven his master of 20 years, and Terry spoke up, “For giving him shelter? For doing all those things?”
If you were trying to show that the tea party does not contain racist elements, this was not your panel.
How do you combat liberals who call conservative minorities inauthentic or over the top?
“Align yourself with Frederick Douglass,” Smith reiterated. “That’s what stops all that. That’s what I’m saying to you… Racism comes off the table. Class warfare comes off the table.”
The woman who asked questions before noted that “the word conservative and liberal has kind of switched over the years.”
As Smith is responding, the Proud Southerner begins to shout about Marxism. (“We don’t need Marxism in the Republican Party! DR. KING HAD MARXISM. WE DON’T NEED CULTURAL MARXISM.”)
“That guy wants to get slavery back. I’m frightened for my life,” mutters the high school student sitting on the wall next to me.
“THESE GENTLEMEN ARE BEING EXTREMELY DISINGENUOUS WITH YOU,” Brown begins. Everyone started shouting her down.
“You said you had a question,” Smith cuts in. “That’s a statement vilifying us. I can’t accept that.”
Wild applause ensues.
“We worked hard for five years,” he elaborates. To get a “method that works, that’s bringing healing to all groups, all cultures, all nationalities–”
“HOLD ON, EXCUSE ME–” Brown tries again.
“LET SOMEONE ELSE SPEAK!” someone shouts.
“She’s the only black woman in here, folks,” a man in front of me mutters.
“WE DIDN’T COME FOR YOU!” a middle-aged white woman is shouting. “WE’RE COMING TO HEAR THEM. YOU’RE DOMINATING.”
There are more questions, including a question about Douglass’s rise from below the poverty line.
“I HAVE A QUESTION,” Brown says again.
“NOO!” everyone shouts. “Nooo!” “GET YOUR OWN ROOM!”
She tries to ask a question about the Debbie-Spend-It-Now racist ad in Michigan and notes, “I did not hear not one conservative candidate say that kind of racial division–”
“MY GOD, A LECTURE,” Woman In The Front says.
“I’M TRYING TO HELP Y’ALL, LADY,” the woman retorts. “WHY DON’T WE HEAR REPUDIATION FROM THE RIGHT WHEN THERE ARE RACIST STATEMENTS BEING MADE?”
“Did you hear the Republicans defend Sarah Palin?” asks someone behind me, which I am not sure is exactly relevant.
The panel wraps up quickly after that.
The high school students (liberal, visiting from New York City) cannot believe what they have just witnessed.
“I don’t understand how aligning yourself with a black person who lived a really long time ago makes you not a racist,” Katie Hirsch, the high school student next to me, says.
“Even aligning yourself with a black person today doesn’t make you not a racist,” her friend Alexandra Barlowe adds. “Can we just talk about how the man just stood up over there and literally asked for segregation?
“The fact that there is a session like this shows how ignorant the Republican Party is in so many ways. The fact that they’re on the defensive about this.”
“We’re from New York City,” Hirsch says. “We don’t really deal with people like this.”
“Essentially what it is is allowing people to justify their racism by saying they’re a Frederick Douglass Republican,” Barlowe notes.
That’s certainly one way to deal with the race card. But trump? More like Donald.