He explains that Douglass was “born below poverty. When you’re born into poverty at least you own your own body.”
Douglass, Smith notes, never slept in a bed until the age of 10. He escaped from slavery at the age of 20. What does that mean?
“Slavemaster-run health care,” Smith says. “Slavemaster entitlements. Douglass was a 47 percenter. Slavemasters were Democrats...”
“Douglass,” he goes on to note, “was a capitalist.”
“AMEN,” says the revolutionary soldier.
He died wealthy, Smith explains. “He wrote three autobiographies. He owned two newspaper companies… Douglass was a 47 percenter. He became a 1 percenter.”
So, say you’re a Frederick Douglass Republican. “When someone that’s not an African American says ‘I’m a Frederick Douglass Republican’ … you’re not seen as a racist.”
You cannot blame a child for his or her bad manners. Such short-comings are the fault of the parent.
The white racism of the Tea Party GOP is enabled by black conservatives like K Carl Smith. He has much company throughout history.
There were slave drivers who were African-American. There were Jews and others who worked against their own people in the service of Nazi power. There were First Nations brothers and sisters who allied with the U.S. government and helped to enable a policy a force relocation and genocide.
Of course, at present the circumstances are much different.
One could perhaps argue that the betrayals detailed above were a function of cooptation by Power and violence in the face of an existential threat. By comparison, K Carl Smith is just a hustler who is trying to sell some books to the white racist conservatives at CPAC.
As I said about Herman Cain, black conservatives are the equivalent of the fountain at Lourdes where bigots can go to wash away their sins. The "my best friend is black" strategy is a losing gambit for the Tea Party GOP. They can holler "Frederick Douglass" all they want and at the top of their lungs. It will not change one core essential fact: conservatism and racism are more or less the same thing in the post-civil rights era. The Tea Party GOP cannot untie that knot without falling apart at the seams.
The Washington Post has some more details on the “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?”panel--and from their account, it sounds priceless.
Clearly, K Carl Smith is not talking about the Frederick Douglass of "What to the Slave it the 4th of July?" The Right has created some Frankenstein-like work of outsider art that is an intentional misreading of history and political collage they call "Frederick Douglass":
“He affirms the Founding Fathers and he affirms the Constitution,” Smith notes. “Race-baiting comes off the table.”
“How are you going to call a Frederick Douglass Republican a racist?” Er. Is this a rhetorical question?
“You cannot out-victimize Douglass. I don’t care what kind of categories. Nobody can out-victimize Douglass, a runaway slave…. Slavery is based on the distorted philosophy of taking the fruits of one man’s labor and giving it to another so that he can remain idle…. Douglass believed in assimilation. Now do you understand why you don’t hear too much about Douglass?”
Why does Douglass resonate with Latinos? “His work ethic, his entrepreneur spirit,” Smith says.
Why does he resonate with women? He spoke at the Seneca Falls convention!
How many black women were in attendance, asks media member Kim Brown, a black non-conservative radio host with Voice of Russia.
“I think she was kind of dead by then,” she says. (She was not dead, but she was not present at Seneca Falls.)
Someone in the front yells something about “women’s studies.” She does not sound happy.
Smith explains something about how Douglass’s tutorial program meant that he appeals to young people. “Blacks, Latinos, women, young people, all Americans,” he says. “The quintessential American dream story.”
The Tea Tea Party GOP is comprised of crude post-moderns who can make up the "truth" as they go along because, for them, there are no externally verifiable standards of empirical reality. Moreover, the Right has constructed its own echo chamber which offers comfort and "intellectual" sustenance. Why would petit authoritarians leave such a safe space in order to then have to confront a mean and hostile world where they are the "victims?"
We would call them delusional; they call themselves keepers of the flame possessed of wisdom about the true nature of the world.
Some advice. If the Frederick Douglass rebranding takes hold among the Tea Party GOP, I encourage its members to not dress up in blackface. Given the Tea Party's love of costumes and racial tone-deafness anything is possible.
I just want to caution the Tea Party GOP ahead of time as to help them avoid such a social miscue.