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Rosendale defends vote against Juneteenth

| July 7, 2021 6:05 AM

By MATT ROSENDALE

In theory there is nothing wrong with a celebration of emancipation.  The freeing of the slaves was one of the great steps forward for this country, an end to the darkest chapter in American history.  But we don’t live in theory.  Our politics happens in practice, and in practice the vote that elevated “Juneteenth National Independence Day” to the status of a federal holiday is a disaster for those who hold that our country is good, our Constitution a great charter of liberty, and that the nation is to be commended for its progress on racial matters, not damned for its previous sins.  

Practically speaking, we live in a political environment where the Left is eagerly preaching the gospel of America’s evilness.  They have commandeered school curriculums and corporate boardrooms in the service of the ideology of Critical Race Theory, whose core holding is that key constitutional features (e.g. due process of law) produce unequal outcomes, and are therefore the product of white supremacy.  It further suggests that the racial progress most of us associate with the Civil Rights era is illusory or even counterproductive.  

The Left has the ability to create this reality because they occupy the commanding heights of American culture, controlling the academy, the press, the arts, most corporations, primary and secondary education, and the federal bureaucracy, the flag officer corps, and much else.  And so in evaluating how to approach the question of Juneteenth, conservatives must grapple with the way things are, and what this combination of means and motive signifies for their position.  

Juneteenth will become the high holy day of the Left’s calendar, a Lenten repentance to Pride Month’s Easter celebration.  It will serve as a day to recollect all of the gravest of America’s sins.  There will be educational programs about the brutality of slavery, with no mention of the national agony of the Civil War or how the nation has struggled mightily to live up to its founding creed.  There will be specials on the Tulsa Race Riot, the Birmingham Church Bombings. 

There will be retrospectives on George Floyd, Amaud Arbery, Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin.

The Left will put forward these things not because they are evil or because the events themselves are false or unimportant, but because their current political project relies on the creation of a historical memory where America’s story is one long racist nightmare.  No one is going to defund their police unless the police are tools of white supremacy. No one will radically overturn voting laws unless every ballot security measure is Jim Crow.  No one will pay reparations unless the black experience in America today is as bad as it was during 1860.

These scenarios are not conjecture.  They are written in the words of the Democratic proponents of Juneteenth and their actions leading up to and after the enactment of the holiday.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said there was a direct connection between opposition to Critical Race Theory and opposition to Juneteenth, and thanked “Republican white men” for supporting her position.  Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas tweeted on Juneteenth about the Department’s mission to achieve “equity,” Left-wing code for equality of outcome.  There’s practically a book-length collection of floor statements and speeches from Democratic partisans announcing the unity of their program with their plans for the celebration of Juneteenth.

In my own state, the Billings Gazette suggested I was sketching out a “liberal conspiracy to replace the Fourth of July.”  Accompanying their coverage was a photo of a Juneteenth proponent with a shirt showing the date July 4th, 1776 and Juneteenth, 1865 below it.  July 4th, 1776 was scratched out with red ink.  Evanston, Illinois has canceled its Fourth of July Parade, and replaced it with a Gay Pride parade and Juneteenth Parade.  All this within a roughly four-day period.

Conservatives have long lamented that, try as they might to win elections, the Left’s control of the culture of the American elite allows it to win victory after victory.  We would do well to begin this fight early, or our successors will find themselves debating a reparations bill being brought forward on Juneteenth National Independence Day, 2031, and their opposition being successfully characterized as the same as George Wallace’s to desegregation or John C. Calhoun’s to abolition.

Matt Rosendale, a Republican, is Montana’s lone Congressman.