Why This Maine Governor’s Erroneous History Lesson To Rep. John Lewis Is Dangrous

I have a problem with comparing any person, or their actions, to Hitler. For starters, Hitler was a demon. He somehow got one too many world leaders to look the other way as he killed millions of people while fucked up on meth. That said, I find it hard to really listen to any comparisons of him, because of his crimes.

But I also think that it’s important for leaders to be cognizant of how Hitler’s crimes began, and it started with lies. Hitler didn’t wake up one day bashing and hating Jews. Someone taught him how to hate, and that hate manifested, and was responsible for the genocide of a people.

Hitler-like lies leads to genocide.

It’s important for our leaders to remember this, especially when discussing issues of race. But unfortunately, many leaders forget that in their positions, they don’t have the luxury of telling lies about groups of people. It’s a dangerous game.

Enter Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

According to Yahoo! News, LePage, governor of Maine, was very upset with Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis for questioning the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency during his “Meet The Press” interview. According to LePage, Lewis – who faced very brutal treatment while marching with Martin Luther King in Selma, Ala. – needed to do more shutting up.

LePage was so angry with Mr. Lewis’ nerve, that he decided to give him a history lesson filled to the brim with errors, and perhaps mired in the ‘Good Ol Boy’s’ form of racism. He said,

“You know, I will just say this: John Lewis ought to look at history,” LePage, who’s white, said on WVOM-FM. “You It was Abraham Lincoln that freed the slaves. It was Rutherford B. Hayes and Ulysses S. Grant that fought against Jim Crow laws. A simple thank you would suffice.”

 

What he said is a problem because that’s how hate for a people starts. As a leader, he should know better. The lies he is telling will make someone think that African Americans are entitled people, when African Americans are not the problem. His hate is.

For starters, yes it’s true that Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and yes he put his weight behind the 13th amendment. But let’s not pretend like Lincoln was happily skipping to free slaves.

Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation as a battle strategy. He had little regard for the well being of slaves, otherwise emancipating slaves would have been more organized, and included job training and education. Black writer and educator Booker T. Washington said in his 1901 boo,  “Up From Slavery,”

During the whole of the Reconstruction period our people throughout the South looked to the Federal Government for everything, very much as a child looks to its mother. This was not unnatural. The central government gave them freedom, and the whole Nation had been enriched for more than two centuries by the labour of the Negro. Even as a youth, and later in manhood, I had the feeling that it was cruelly wrong in the central government, at the beginning of our freedom, to fail to make some provision for the general education of our people in addition to what the states might do, so that the people would be the better prepared for the duties of citizenship.

Also, Ulysses S. Grant did not fight Jim Crow, because it did not exist during his administration. And Rutherford B. Hayes was always claiming racial harmony, but his policies for maintaining that kind of racial harmony were non-existent. Jim Crow began after Hayes was elected, and he admittedly did nothing to stop it.

How many people actually thought about these things, before assuming what LePage said was true.

Black people do not have the luxury of leaders lying on us, or our history. The last thing we need is another Hiter-like lie, because it could lead to the genocide of an entire group of people. And no amount of hate in the world is that serious.

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