Historical record can have many sources. It can be the product of serious time-consuming effort by highly trained researchers, it can come from those who were the eye witnesses to events, or as happens far too often, it can simply be made up by someone wanting a story that suits their immediate needs. Sarah Palin has proven herself to be a master of the latter. Following is an op-ed written by Saul Relative for Yahoo News.
COMMENTARY | Sarah Palin sounded off on the President Barack Obama/Professor Derrick Bell video that Fox News Channel and commentators like Sean Hannity are attempting to present as controversial. In doing so, she admitted she was abhorrently ignorant of American history, especially as it pertained to legal issues and black persons before the Civil War.
Palin told Hannity “it has taken all these years for many Americans to understand that gravity, that mistake that took place before the Civil War” and that what Obama wants “to do is go back to before those days when we were in different classes based on income, based on color of skin.”
It was against the continued racial injustices that Bell railed. A staunch proponent of affirmative action, Bell wrote what is considered the most definitive books on institutional racism in America, “Race, Racism and American Law,” now considered standard reading in law schools nationwide. Bell, who died in October, is being cast by conservatives as one of Obama’s “radical” connections before becoming president.
Perhaps someone should tell Palin there are history books that chronicle what life was like for black people before the Civil War, when they had no rights (unless they were “free Negroes”) as humans. Classes and income? Slaves did not belong to a class (save maybe property) and they certainly weren’t paid. Even black people with a mixed lineage like President Obama were subject to extremely discriminatory laws — and only if they were protected by the law and only in certain parts of the nation.
So to hear Palin make the assertion President Obama would like to see the U.S. returned to antebellum days rings of the utmost ignorance of not just black history but the history of the U.S. and of what pre-Civil War America was like for millions of Americans.
If conservative pundits and politicians were the kind of people who apologized for misstatements and historical revision, Palin might backtrack and say she meant to say pre-Civil Rights legislation days. But don’t wait for it. Like resurrecting that 150-year-old nation, that day will never come.