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Surprisingly Bigots Back Black History Month Observance

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Headlined to None 2/22/11

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Michele Bachmann and Haley Barbour, two right-wing Republicans eyeing presidential campaigns in 2012, provided a big boost for Black History Month recently with remarks challenging contentions that this recognition of ignored contributions is an irrelevant relic in this post-racial "Age of Obama.'

Although conservative dogma considers this annual observance during the month of February an anathema neither Bachmann nor Barbour face censure for heresy from their ideological confederates.

Far from ringing endorsement the offensive utterances of Bachmann and Barbour highlight the importance of Black History Month founded in the early 20th Century to counter factual inaccuracies about blacks then rampant across America's racially segregated society.

Michelle Bachmann, the Minnesota Congresswoman and Tea Party maven, said America's Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery a gross distortion of historic fact easily evident in the life of George Washington, America's first President and Revolutionary War leader who was born in the month of February.

Washington owned slaves and signed the federal Fugitive Slave Act mandating return of runaway slaves seeking freedom while serving as US President.

Further, Washington spent the waning years of his life diligently working to recapture two favored slaves who fled his executive mansion according to the new book "The Black History of the White House" by Clarence Lusane.

Bachmann's failure to check facts is not inadvertent said Professor Ewuare Osayande during a recent lecture entitled "Why Black History Month Still Matters" at the Camden, NJ campus of Rutgers University.

"Why does a national figure not check her claims? She does and she doesn't care about the truth," Osayande charged saying Bachmann's Founding Fathers assertion is the type of "willful falsehood that becomes patriotic truth" in America.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's recent refusal to even question efforts in his state for issuing a license plate honoring a Confederate Army general who served as the first national leader of the terrorist Ku Klux Klan embraces a rancid practice in America's roiling racial caldron: the denial dynamic of not dealing with truths.

The fact that Barbour has repeatedly white-washed historic fact during just the past months, like praising the segregation preserving White Citizens Council of his hometown for its non-existent support of desegregation, recently provoked criticism from Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson.

Robinson scored Barbour's historically inaccurate accounts as "either a pathology or a plan" to pander for conservative votes.

America's racial realities past and present heighten the importance of recognizing the black facts comprising major chapters in the ignored volumes of American history.

Racist incidents in America have increased since the 2008 election of Barack Obama, the first non-white to hold that office. President Obama, for example, has received more death threats than any of his predecessors with most of those threats motivated merely by his race.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania State Representative Ron Water warned about upsurges across Pennsylvania in racist incidents involving white children as young as 12 years old. Waters, head of that state's Legislative Black Caucus, noted that "children do not pick up this behavior in a vacuum."

Pennsylvania and New Jersey have 72 hate groups according to the Southern Poverty Law Center"more hate groups than Mississippi and Georgia -- two states that set records for the mob terrorism of lynching blacks during nearly a century after the end of the Civil War in 1865.

New Jersey, generally cast as a liberal state, compiled one of the nation's worst records of racial profiling by state police during the 1990s, misconduct infamously sanctioned by a former Attorney General in the Garden State, Peter Verniero.

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Linn Washington is a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and This Can't Be Happening. Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and failings of the news media. He teaches multi-media urban (more...)
 
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