The so-called Revolutionary War, Horne writes, was in large part a counter-revolution, a conservative movement that the founding fathers fought in order to preserve their liberty to enslave others—and which today takes the form of a racialized conservatism and a persistent racism targeting the descendants of the enslaved.Early in the book, Horne writes:
The construction of 'whiteness' or the forging of bonds between and among European settlers across class, gender, ethnic, and religious lines was a concrete response to the real dangers faced by all of these migrants in the face of often violent rebellions from enslaved Africans and their indigenous comrades.He recently sat down with Paul Jay of the Real News Network for the show Reality Asserts Itself. The result is a far-ranging discussion that covers his youth growing up in Jim Crow era St. Louis, his personal and intellectual development, pre-revolutionary America and the lucrative business of slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the Civil rights movement. The interview concludes by bringing us back to recent events, including the recent chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York, and the protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
"As you know, during the 1960's, the United States was under a lot of pressure with regard to its Jim Crow practices, because it professed to be this paragon of civil rights virtue in the battle with the former Soviet Union, and so there was pressure to desegregate, and it was under those conditions that I got admitted to Princeton University, an Ivy League School. And I think when you go to an Ivy League school in the 1960's, being black, I think it can either cause you to want to join the US ruling elite, or to rebel against the US ruling elite. And I fell into the second category."The Black Scare and the Democratic Party (2/6)
"I mentioned in the final pages of my 1776 book that in the pivotal and illustrative 1991 election for governor in Louisiana, 55 percent of white Americans voted for a Nazi, David Duke, a Nazi and a Klansman, for governor. So you have the structural problem whereby the Democrats find it difficult to rely upon their base because when they rely upon their base, which is black voters, it leads to the black scare--many white voters find that intimidating across class lines. And so, therefore, what happens is the Democrats oftentimes are forced to attack their base, which is what Bill Clinton did. "The Counter-Revolution of 1776 and the Construction of Whiteness (3/6)
"You have to realize that slavery was not a sideshow. There's evidence to suggest that slave voyages and slavery itself was one of the most lucrative enterprises ever devised in the brain of human beings, sometimes profits of 1,700 percent. As you know, living in North America, there are those today within a stone's throw of the studio who would sell their firstborn for a profit of 1,700 percent, let alone an African they did not know."White Unity and American Propaganda History (4/6)
"And it seems to me that this is part of the uniqueness of the U.S.A., which is that the boundaries of whiteness have been elasticized. That is to say that it's not just those from the British Isles who became white when they crossed the Atlantic. It's not just that those who were warring on the shores of Europe--English versus Irish, English versus Scots, Germans versus British, etc.--somehow they're magically transformed into being unitary white when they cross the Atlantic. It's not just that those with roots from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains in Russia were defined as white once they crossed the Atlantic. It's the fact that even, say, Steve Jobs of Apple, who was of Syrian descent; Victor Atiyeh, the former, just recently deceased governor of Oregon, of Syrian descent; Ralph Nader, of Lebanese descent; Marlo Thomas, the entertainer, of Lebanese descent. So the boundaries of whiteness were expanded, which obviously helps to bolster the settler project, because you can draw upon so many different individuals to come to these shores. And that was needed, because in so many different precincts and districts, not least in the South, the European settlers were outnumbered by the Africans and the indigenous population. "Abolition of Slavery was Not a Fight Against Racism (5/6)
Speaking of the British burning Washington, DC during the War of 1812: "... in an early form of reparations for enslavement, they [the British] were joined by enslaved Africans in Washington, D.C., who were stealing dishes and the silver, etc., as the five foot four inch bookish president, James Madison, fled into the streets of Washington with his gregarious spouse, Dolly, in tow, one step ahead of the posse, that is to say, the Negroes fleeing after them trying to catch them and exact some revenge. I don't think it's going to be marked in United States, although it's a heroic episode in black history.""I Can't Breathe" (6/6)
"'[Eric Garner was] choked to death with an illegal chokehold. And his last words, captured on videotape, are something of a coda, it seems to me, for black America. In other words, his last words were, 'I can't breathe.' That's what he was saying as he was choking to death. And as I watched that videotape, it was like this enormous metaphor for the black condition in North America stretching back centuries, the suffocation, the cry of despair, the cry of horror, 'I can't breathe.' "
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