No one knows John Winsmith or John McQueen.
For 11 years, McQueen represented a South Carolina congressional district less than 20 miles from the place where I grew up and I’ve never heard of him. Winsmith was a South Carolina politician whose name even the best history teachers don’t know. There isn’t a John McQueen statue or a monument made in Winsmith’s likeness even though these two men occupy a unique place in American history:
They started a race war.
On November 9, 1860, Winsmith penned a Resolution to Call Lincoln’s Election a Hostile Act for South Carolina’s General Assembly. The resolution basically declared that the state’s residents would rather cease being American citizens than stop raping, torturing, killing and enslaving black people.
A month later, four days after South Carolina became the first state to formally secede, McQueen wrote to leaders in Virginia, asking them to join their goal of building a country based on white supremacist, explaining:
I have never doubted what Virginia would do when the alternatives present themselves to her intelligent and gallant people, to choose between an association with her sisters and the dominion of a people, who have chosen their leader upon the single idea that the African is equal to the Anglo-Saxon, and with the purpose of placing our slaves on equality with ourselves and our friends of every condition...
We, of South Carolina, hope soon to great you in a Southern Confederacy, where white men shall rule our destinies, and from which we may transmit to our posterity the rights, privileges and honor left us by our ancestors.
Jefferson Davis didn’t start the race war that we call “Civil War.” He was just the president of the Confederacy.
Few people know the names Anton Drexler or Karl Harrer, even though they founded the “workers” organization that eventually became popular in Germany. Another more charismatic man who adopted Drexler and Harrer’s ideology is more well-known because of his charisma and speaking ability. The more popular man even suggested changing the party’s name to the “National Socialist German Workers’ Party” and is still identified with the party’s nickname and its race war:
Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Party.
If YouTube existed in the 1930s, videos of Hitler’s speeches would definitely be flagged for removal. Mark Zuckerberg might put Jefferson Davis in Facebook jail if Davis’ status update said: “You too know, that among us, white men have an equality resulting from a presence of a lower caste, which cannot exist where white men fill the position here occupied by the servile race.”
Then again, Facebook kinda likes white supremacist rhetoric.
But Jefferson Davis didn’t come up with the idea for the Civil War. Hitler didn’t invent Nazism. I was stunned when I recently learned that Aunt Jemima didn’t even invent pancakes.
And anyone accusing Donald Trump of trying to start a race war from Twitter should slow down and learn the truth.
A week after initially scheduling a rally on Juneteenth at the site of one of the most famous racial massacres in America’s history, Donald Trump decided to begin his weekend by sharing a collection of racist dog whistles with his Twitter followers:
When that didn’t work out, the president decided to forgo his dog-whistle for a louder, more reliable, racist foghorn, including a thread featuring videos of black people attacking white people, accusing a “Black Lives Matter leader” of treason and a now-deleted retweet of him thanking a Trump supporter who yelled “white power!”
He followed it up by sharing a video of St. Louis, Mo. attorneys Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who pointed their firearms at protesters.
There are many who rightfully interpreted the president’s cumulative actions as an attempt to start a race war:
Meanwhile, people on the right insist that it’s black people who are instigating a race war by doing scary stuff like asking for equality, reparations and the right to live.
But who’s right? Which side actually trying to start a race war? Will they be successful? How would a race war even look? Well the answer is pretty disappointing for those who are ready to strap up and go fight the Civil War 2.0.
Donald Trump is not going to start a race war. White people are not going to start a race war. Black people are not going to start a race war. No one is. The notion that a race war could happen in America is a stupid idea.
First of all, there’s no way that white people would allow something like this to happen.
I’m sure white people would be outraged if uniformed representatives of the state killed black people in broad daylight like soldiers did in Nazi Germany. They wouldn’t let black people be hauled off to prisons where they worked for free until they mysteriously died. Even if regular white people sat idly by, our politicians would definitely stop it.
If there was a race war in America, we’d know. First of all, whites would start arming themselves while preventing black people from doing so. White people would probably start killing people indiscriminately but everyone would deny there was a problem. The government would probably start surveilling outspoken black people and monitoring protests. They’d jail innocent black people for crimes they didn’t commit and give us longer sentences for the crimes we did commit.
If there was a race war, black women would die from stuff like giving birth. If there was a race war, the country would criminalize black children from birth. If there was a race war, they wouldn’t even care about educating black students. If there was a race war, black people would disproportionately die from disease and lack of nutrition. If there was a race war, they wouldn’t even let us vote and, if we did, they’d just throw our votes away.
Donald Trump might be white supremacy’s most prominent advocate but his incendiary tweets are just fuel for a fire that already existed. As powerful as he is and as many followers as he has on Twitter, he is no more responsible for racial hatred than Jefferson Davis is for the starting Civil War.
No, our president will not start a race war.
Because the race war was started long before Donald Trump became president.