White nationalists walk into Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va. (AP/Steve Helber)

Behold the worst take on the Charlottesville protests and the Confederate monument debate

National Review says that Jim Crow wasn't as bad for blacks as liberalism since the 1950s


Taylor Link
August 21, 2017 2:21PM (UTC)

Following the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Donald Trump recklessly blamed "many sides" for the violence. His response was universally condemned — even Republicans spoke out against him.

White supremacists were clearly to blame that weekend. It was a neo-Nazi who killed Heather Heyer, an innocent woman protesting the hate and bigotry in her city. It was a group of white nationalists that instigated the violence by chanting racist, anti-Semitic phrases at the base of a Robert E. Lee statue.

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One op-ed appearing in a conservative magazine, however, took Trump's tone-deaf analysis of the protests to the next level. National Review contributor Arthur Herman, a purported historian from Charlottesville, wrote almost 2,000 words to lay most, if not all, of the blame on liberals.

"All this happened because our city council decided in June it could score some liberal points by having the statue of Robert E. Lee removed from a park downtown, and by changing the name from Lee Park to Emancipation Park," Herman wrote in his article.

Throughout the piece, Herman barely addressed the rise of the Klu Klux Klan in America or the racial strife caused by the Republican Party's dog whistle politics. In fact, Herman argued that liberalism and Democratic politics were more damaging to the African-American community than Jim Crow:

This is in fact the best argument that those who want these statues gone can make: that the “reconciliation” between North and South was done on the backs of blacks, and that the end of Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow were the price America paid to have peace in the aftermath of civil war. From a historical point of view, it’s almost convincing, even though what American blacks suffered under segregation was nothing compared to what liberalism has inflicted on them since the 1950s, as it destroyed their families, their schools, and their young men and women’s lives through drugs and guns and the gangster-rap culture “lifestyle,” which is really a death style.

Herman's defense of Confederate monuments apparently rested on the belief that Jim Crow was not as bad as the movement that produced civil rights. Of course, Herman took it a step further, asserting that while Black Lives Matter claims to "hate racism, what they really hate is America."

Herman was not the only conservative to allege that the U.S. was better off prior to the civil rights era. On "Fox & Friends" Monday morning, Trump surrogate Katrina Pierson said that slavery was part of America's "good history."

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Taylor Link

Taylor Link is an assistant editor at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @taylorlink_

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