When President Donald Trump declared on Twitter that four congresswomen of color should return to the countries they originally came from — even though three of the four were born and raised in the United States and have been U.S. citizens their entire lives — he put fellow Republicans in a very difficult position. Many have kept quiet and hoped the controversy would go away, while a minority of Republicans have condemned Trump’s comments and others have flat-out defended them. One of Trump’s defenders has been New Hampshire Republican Werner Horn, who is coming under fire this week for his ridiculous assertion that owning slaves in the U.S. during the 19th Century didn’t make one a racist.
Dan Hynes, who formerly served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives as a Republican, posed a question on Facebook: “If Trump is the most racist president in American history, what does that say about all of the other presidents who owned slaves?” And Horn, who was reelected to New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2018, responded, “Wait, owning slaves doesn’t make you racist.”
Not unlike Trump standing by his assertion that four liberal/progressive Democratic congresswomen (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City, Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan) should leave the U.S., Horn has defended his comments on slavery in interviews with the HuffPost and the Union Leader this week.
Slavery, to hear Horn tell it, is strictly an economic issue and not a racial issue.
Horn told HuffPost, “Human beings have been owning other human beings since the dawn of time. It’s never been about race.”
The New Hampshire Republican also told HuffPost that he wasn’t condoning slavery, which he said is “not OK,” but stressed that he believed 19th Century slaveowners in the U.S. were motivated by economics rather than racism.
“Unless you’re going to try to tell me those plantation owners were so in the dark ages that they delighted in being also sexist and ageist — practicing age discrimination and sex discrimination when they bought slaves — I don’t see how you can say they’re being racist because they bought black slaves,” Horn told HuffPost.
Similarly, Horn told the Union Leader, “The U.S. had abolitionists since the start, people who felt slavery wasn’t moral. But they weren’t enslaving black people because they were black. They were bringing in these folks because they were available.”