North Carolina Republican party executive director Dallas Woodhouse (pictured at left) is the Donald Trump of our state’s politics. Just when you’re convinced he can’t sink any lower in his delusional myth-making and snake oil salesmanship about the state of the world, he does it once again. The latest case-in-point: yesterday’s attempt to link the 21st Century Democratic Party to the racist, white supremacists who ran the party of that same name more than a century ago. As Raleigh’s News & Observer reported late yesterday:
A North Carolina Republican leader on Sunday slammed Democrats for “murdering blacks” when he referenced the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot in several tweets.
NCGOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse was responding to a tweet from the N.C. Democratic Party about the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act….
“From the party that ran a racist campaign of murder and closed the polls to blacks who were Republicans, gaining power for 100 years,” Woodhouse said in one tweet.
“After they murdered blacks in Wilmington, (the N.C. Democratic Party) passed what they called the White Declaration of Independence,” Woodhouse wrote, adding that the party allegedly murdered black people and created a “grandfather clause” to keep survivors from voting.
“The Wilmington Riot of 1898 was not an act of spontaneous violence,” Woodhouse wrote. “The events of Nov. 10, 1898 were a result of the long-range campaign strategy by Democratic Party leaders to regain political control of Wilmington – at that time (the) state’s most populous city – and North Carolina in the name of white supremacy.”
As is usually the case with Woodhouse, the man is spouting nonsense. As was explained in this NC Policy Watch column in 2014 when Art Pope’s Civitas Institute tried to push a similar bit of blarney about the 1898 Wilmington coup d’état engineered by racist conservative Democrats, the notion that 21st Century Democrats must be held responsible for the virulent racism of late 19th Century North Carolinians who used that same label makes no more sense than the notion that Donald Trump is somehow the legitimate heir to Abraham Lincoln:
It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at such absurdly vacuous “analysis” that crudely elevates fungible labels like “Democrat,” “Republican,” “conservative,” “progressive” and “liberal” over the reality of human behavior. That the argument is advanced by a group that championed repeal of the Racial Justice Act, whose community all but worships one of the 20th Century’s most infamous and unrepentant race-baiting politicians and that has close ties to the people who attacked a modern day progressive white politician by distributing a photo of him with darkened skin and wearing a photo-shopped sombrero makes it all the more pathetic.
Suffice it to say that if the racist “Democrats” of 1898 were somehow able to return to life in 2014 [or 2017] North Carolina, they’d have no trouble figuring out where to fit into the modern policy debate.
The modern day Democratic party has lots of challenges when it comes to issues of race, but there’s a reason (actually dozens of them) that 21st Century Republicans — once the party of Lincoln and African-Americans — get next to zero votes from people of color. It’s about the policies they pursue and the people they welcome today. It’s also why racist, white Democrats mostly left that party in the mid-to-late 20th Century. Woodhouse may wish he could change this with bizarre takes on what happened 120 years ago, but it ain’t gonna work.