At the dusk of America’s bloodiest war, a political debate swept across America about how this country should handle the white supremacist traitors who decided to take up arms against their own country to preserve the right to rape, torture and kill their human chattel.
Democrats, moderate Republicans and Abraham Lincoln urged unity. According to them, the only way to heal a bitterly divided nation was for America to extend its arms and embrace the men who had just plotted to shoot their fellow countrymen in the face. They proposed that President Lincoln pardon the treasonous Southerners and let bygones be bygones. Others, however, had a different idea. The “radical” Republicans’ Wade-Davis Bill proposed that the Confederate States wouldn’t be readmitted back into the Union until 50 percent of each respective state’s citizens swore an oath of loyalty to the United States.
In the end, they reached a compromise. The “Ten Percent Plan”—formally known as the Proclamation for Amnesty and Reconstruction (pdf)—readmitted a state if 10 percent of that state’s residents swore an oath to the Constitution and promised to free the enslaved Africans within its boundaries. It worked. America united. Bygones were bygones.
Then, they started a race war.
While you might know it as “Reconstruction,” there was more terrorism, mayhem and murder during the decade that followed the Civil War than there was rebuilding of any kind. In Georgia, white supremacists ousted 33 duly-elected Black lawmakers from the state legislature and killed one-quarter of the “Original 33.” The entire state was kicked out of the Union again and had to be readmitted. North Carolina Klansmen formed an army, overthrew the state government and kicked Gov. William Woods Holden out of office. Louisiana’s Knights of the White Camelia joined with ex-Confederates to massacre Black voters by the thousands. Freedmen in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and South Carolina all experienced widespread bloodshed.
Federal laws could not end the campaign of racial terrorism. Federal occupation could not stop it. Ultimately, the people of the United States weighed in. In the election of 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes assumed the presidency in exchange for allowing the South’s radical Confederate extremists to do what they want with their Black citizens. The Compromise of 1877 conjoined the North and the South for nearly a century under the system called “Jim Crow.”
America was finally united.
Politicians, pundits and people who performatively furrowed their brows for four years at the antics of the white nationalist-in-chief are now sprinkling an insidious call for “unity” across mainstream media. Many of them were unaffected by Donald Trump’s shenanigans while others claim to seek moderation and stability after four years of dog whistles, destruction and downright incompetence.
Activist Al Sharpton and former Trump homey Joe Scarborough ruminated on the need for progressives to chill out and show some understanding toward the delusional contingent of Trump voters who believe there’s a nefarious conspiracy to destroy the American democracy by counting votes.
“It’s time not only to tell the president and those who are going on these conspiracy theories on the right to tamp down,” Sharpton explained. “It’s time to tell those of us that are progressive: ‘Wait a minute. This is not time for gloating and partying in the middle of everywhere...We told the American people we were more adult; we were more grown up and we were more concerned.”
“Now is the time to bring the country together...Now is the time for Democrats to work with Republicans,” chimed in Scarborough, adding:
And yes, 70-71 million people voted for Donald Trump. I’ll be the first to admit, as a small-government conservative, I don’t understand why. But I do know this: We gotta figure out how to move forward “with malice toward none.” If Abraham Lincoln could say that after my region was responsible for starting a war that killed 700,000 Americans...We can do that.
First, let’s be clear: While most data scientists are reluctant to cite the preliminary exit polling data that—for a number of reasons—can’t be right, every analysis shows that Trump won white voters by a significant margin. Conversely, Black voters overwhelmingly supported Joe Biden’s campaign to unseat the current administration. That loyalty, combined with a surge in turnout in swing states is what unquestionably swung the election in Biden’s favor.
Make no mistake, Trump was headed for a second term...
Until they started counting Black votes.
Apparently, not only are we expected to overcome voter suppression, violence and racism in order to participate in the democracy they have spent more than a quarter of a millennium excluding us from; but if we succeed, it is also our responsibility to make them feel like they won.
They are the ones who soared through the air in an attempt to dropkick Black America in our collective teeth. Although the caucasity is not the least bit surprising, one can’t help but feel rage to hear them voice their expectations of our duty as Americans to fabricate a soft bed on which white America can comfortably land after four years of wearing the wings of white nationalism. As usual, white people believe we are the ones who should shoulder the burden of their failures.
These so-called “patriots” are not just using their privilege to frame this insidiously undemocratic argument as an attempt at “unity.” They are asking us to kindly set aside the entire reason we risked our lives to go to the polls so that we can make white people feel better about their anti-Black intentions. Essentially, their entire argument is that Donald Trump was right to claim that there are “very fine people on both sides” of white supremacy.
Good cannot unite with evil.
Right cannot unite with wrong.
And Joe Biden cannot unite the will of his most loyal constituency with the people who expressly voted against everything he stands for. How can he unite the obstinate determination of those who ignore and spread a deadly virus with the people who it kills disproportionately? Science and facts can’t unite with conspiracy and fiction. Biden cannot reconcile his official statement on the value of Black lives with the people who supported a man who called Black Lives Matter activists “terrorists” and “fools.”
These people don’t want unity.
They want to kill us.
We are the ones disproportionately dying from coronavirus, economic inequality, police brutality, a cratering economy, mass incarceration and right-wing extremism. Statistically, COVID-19 is sparing the white community. The white unemployment rate is fine. White people aren’t getting kneed in their necks or killed by gun-toting Boogaloo Bruhs.
We didn’t just cast ballots for Biden to see if he could help us solve these problems; we wanted to stop the administration who was exacerbating these problems. It would be a dereliction of duty, a slight to his supporters, and an insult to democracy for Biden to sail into the White House on the wind of our votes and then offer a ride to the people who stand against everything we voted for.
In fact, there is only one way that the Biden-Harris ticket could possibly unite America:
Ignore Trump supporters and the GOP.
If this administration reimagines policing, pushes a Black economic agenda, supports HBCUs, eliminates educational barriers, reforms the criminal justice system, prosecutes right-wing terrorists, defeats the pandemic with science, focuses on voting rights and fights for racial justice, do you know what will happen to those angry MAGAfuckers
Nothing at all.
Sure, they’ll be furious about the prospect of living in a fairer, more equitable country. But it’s not like they will suffer any harm. Historically, America has treated white people pretty well.
Even the most well-read historians agree that the only way to unite the country is to choose good over evil. While that might sound angry, choosing what’s right is supposed to upset people who choose evil, even if it means stabbing them in the throat.
Ugh! I know that sounds antagonistic and incendiary. I wish I could quote a historical figure who could make this argument as eloquently as Joe Scarborough’s unity out-of-context quote about “malice.”
Oh, wait! I just remembered one:
It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered...
Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether
With malice toward none; with charity for all...
—Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
April 10, 1865
But despite what those “unity” advocates would have you believe, Lincoln added one small caveat:
“[W]ith firmness in the right.”