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May. 10 2010 - 4:44 pm | 507 views | 1 recommendation | 3 comments

RNC implicitly defends slavery, is promptly shut down by everyone

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Lest I be tagged as inattentive to the latest round of racially tone deaf attacks from the Republican Party, here is the RNC attacking Elena Kagan for her suspicious ties to noted radical Thurgood Marshall:

Kagan quoted from a speech Marshall gave in 1987 in which he said the Constitution as originally conceived and drafted was “defective.” She quoted him as saying the Supreme Court’s mission was to “show a special solicitude for the despised and the disadvantaged.”

“Does Kagan Still View Constitution ‘As Originally Drafted And Conceived’ As ‘Defective’?” the RNC asked in its research document. “And Does Kagan Still Believe That The Supreme Court’s Primary Mission Is To ‘Show A Special Solicitude For The Despised And Disadvantaged’?”

The RNC is referring to Kagan’s quotation of Marshall in a 1993 article, where he calls the Constitution defective for its institutionalization of slavery and adoption of the three-fifths rule, whereby slaves would be counted as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of representation. Given that chattel slavery was pretty freaking despicable, I think it’s fair to call this a “defect” in the Constitution. Indeed, in an interview with the Washington Times, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described slavery as a “birth defect” in the founding of America. This isn’t a particularly radical perspective, and it’s very strange for the RNC to treat it as such.

Honestly, given the extreme tone-deafness of this criticism, it seems like the RNC was grasping for anything to attack Kagan with, found this, and used it without any thought to the implications of the attack. In other words, when you’re getting heat from the National Review, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Photo credit: WestWingReport


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  1. collapse expand

    If this is the best they can do, the RNC is in trouble. Slavery may have been ‘normal’ at the time the Constitution was written, but it’s certainly not now. . .unless you count our activities overseas, as well as those of other countries (sex trafficking, etc.)

    I do suspect that many members of the conservative movement, especially the theocratically-inclined extreme right wing, would love to see it reinstated.

    I will admit there are new forms of indentured servitude here nowadays. . .but i hesitate to compare it to the black slavery that formerly existed, and was extended by Jim Crow laws.

    The nearest we have to that now (that I am aware of) is in some parts of Louisiana, where a white minority holds all the reins of political and financial power, effectively disenfranchising its black minority.

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    I am a blogger and occasional freelance writer. Usually, you'll find me here, but I occasionally contribute to PostBourgie.com, as well as Spencer Ackerman's blog (when he's away). At my old Wordpress digs, I blogged about progressive politics, public policy, nerdy things and food, and here at True/Slant, I intend to do the same. I'm all about the social media, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: jbouie, or friend me on Facebook (though I might make you wait awhile). And if you'd rather avoid social media, you can always email me at jamelle DOT bouie AT gmail DOT com.

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