A panel on rebutting charges of racism at a conservative political conference went exactly as well as you might expect when one audience member suggested slaves should have been thankful to their masters for “feeding… and housing” them, earning scattered applause and a collective chorus of “Ooooooohh….!”
The audience member, a North Carolina gentleman named Scott Terry (accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, and founder of the White Students Union at Towson University, Matthew Heimbach) wanted to know if Republicans should endorse segregation.
After the presenter, K. Carl Smith of Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by referencing a letter by Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master, [Terry] said “For what? For feeding him and housing him?” Several people in the audience cheered and applauded Terry’s outburst.
After the exchange, Terry muttered under his breath, “why can’t we just have segregation?”
ThinkProgress, bless their hearts, caught up with Terry later, and was just as charming as you could hope:
At one point, a woman challenged him on the Republican Party’s roots, to which Terry responded, “I didn’t know the legacy of the Republican Party included women correcting men in public.”
The session — titled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” — was led by K. Carl Smith, a black conservative who mostly urged attendees to deflect racism charges by calling themselves “Frederick Douglass Republicans.”
Seconds after the event ended, a media scrum formed around Terry. A woman wearing a Tea Party Patriots CPAC credential who had shouted down Brown earlier urged him not to give his name to the press.
She wouldn’t give her name either, but I asked her what she thought.
“Look, you know there’s no doubt the white males are getting really beat up right now, it’s unfair,” she said. “I agree with that. My husband’s one of them. But I don’t think there’s a clear understanding about what really is going on. He needs to read Frederick Douglass and I think that question should be asked to everyone in this room who is debating.”
Another white participant, Jeremy Kohn, got into a respectful discussion with Brown afterwards about the history of slavery and whether the party had a race problem. Brown explained why, after attending several CPACs, she had felt compelled to raise the issue that day.
“I just felt honestly black Americans have a lot in common with conservatives, the problem is your language and the way you — not you as an individual, you as a movement — the way racist language is overlooked,” she said.
I asked Kohn whether he was concerned, after talking to Brown, about the language used by Terry and Heimbach.
“Concerned in what way?” he said. I explained I meant the part about how whites were being disenfranchised by blacks en masse and the Confederacy wasn’t being respected.
“I would just say that if you cast a fraudulent vote you are depriving someone else of the right to vote, because you are canceling a vote that was legitimately cast,” he said. I pressed again — even leaving the voting issue aside, was it right to say white culture was being denigrated as Terry had?
“I’m not going to make a general statement about that, but obviously whatever culture you come from there’s somebody who is opposed to it,” he said.
Later after asking if he would be quoted, he requested I add the following statement: “90 percent of blacks vote for Democrats regularly.”
“It’s hard to talk about without offending people.”