When Politics and Slavery Mix: A Slide Show

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Problematic Pledge

"[S]adly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President," read a pledge in support of "traditional marriage" that GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum signed. The pro-enslavement language has been removed, but we'll be watching for any future conservative pledges on the economy. After all, black male unemployment was quite low under slavery, too.

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Captions by Jenée Desmond-Harris

The Same but (Totally) Different

If you believe in a right to health care, "it means you believe in slavery," Rand Paul told a congressional committee. "It means that you're going to enslave not only me but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses." If you put aside the facts — that slavery is terrible for human beings, health care is good for human beings and no one is forced to work in a hospital — he may have been on to something.

As If the Abortion Debate Needed More Drama

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When a sensitive political issue already involves people calling one another murderers, must you bring in slavery to communicate how bad you think it is? If you're Mike Huckabee, yes. "What are we saying to the generation coming after us when we tell them that it is perfectly OK for one person to own another human being? I thought we dealt with that 150 years ago, when the issue of slavery was finally settled in this country," he said to an anti-abortion group.

The Wrong Side of History

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When the health care debate got heated, Harry Reid compared opponents of reform to those who were against abolition. "When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery," he said, "there were those who dug in their heels and said, 'Slow down, it's too early; things aren't bad enough.' " Wouldn't it have been equally persuasive just to say that people who are against health care reform don't care whether people go without health care?

So Not Festive

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Really, National Federation of Republican Women? You decided that the theme for your "Southern Experience" cocktail party just wouldn't be complete without a couple of slaves? Sadly, some things don't totally shock us. What we would really like, though, is for the black "actors" who participated in these shenanigans — and smiled while doing so — to come forward and explain themselves. And agree never to celebrate Halloween again.

Slavery? What Slavery?

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In January, when the Republican-led Congress took to the House floor to read the entire Constitution, members skipped over the slavery bits altogether but ended up drawing more attention to the issue with the glaring omission of several provisions of the document, including the "three-fifths compromise" and the fugitive-slave clause. If all it took to make something disappear from history was to never mention it, there would be a few politicians whose names we'd remove from our vocabularies, effective immediately.

Plantation Politics, Part 1

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Someone should start compiling a list of the ways that Herman Cain invokes slavery, because we have a feeling there will be a lot more from him on this topic. According to the GOP candidate, the Democratic Party is "a plantation," which is terrible because slavery is bad. Except, that is, when he brags about his personal connection to the institution to distinguish himself from Obama. If your head is spinning (or shaking), join the club.

Plantation Politics, Part 2

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"We will not live on a national plantation run by the Koch brothers. We're not going to do that. We refuse to do that," Van Jones said in comments outlining the threat to American liberty, democracy and justice that the concentration of economic power poses. Most of us don't want to live anywhere that's run by the Koch brothers — plantation or not — but the comment without the nod to slavery clearly would not have made for as compelling a speech (or as many headlines).

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