Appropos of absolutely nothing of which we can discern, Knoxville Republican Rep. Justin Lafferty took to the Tennessee House floor to defend counting Black Americans as 3/5 of a person. Yes, he defended it. Yes, it is 2021.
We are not early-American history scholars, but on this one, it’s not all that hard. The country was divided on the issue of slavery when it was founded. The roots of Civil War were there right from the beginning. On the issue of whether to count enslaved men, women, and children, the southern states wanted every person counted. It gave them greater representation and power. The northern states pointed out that because the South treated human beings as chattel, the enslaved should not be counted, thus giving the North greater power.
The 3/5’s compromise was just that. It was a compromise necessary to put the Civil War off to a future date, which turned out to be four score and seven years, the same period for which our Black brothers and sisters remained enslaved. One can say all one can say about the need to compromise and start a nation or the need to end slavery while writing the Constitution, but there are only two conclusions. The institution of slavery was entirely wrong and should have been banned from the beginning. And second, the compromise was about prolonging slavery, not ending it.
But Rep. Lafferty did not come to either of these conclusions. Lafferty found himself explaining the beauty of the 3/5 compromise. (Video Below):
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Southern states never got the population necessary to continue the practice of slavery everywhere else in the country. What does that mean? Appropriation based on population.
We’ve got nine state representatives. By limiting the number of population in the count, they specifically limited the number of representatives that would be available in the slave-owning states, and they did it for the purpose of ending slavery.
That is 100% backward but, just saying.
This is, of course, nothing more than the MAGA response to the “woke” liberal crowd that wants a bit more honest approach to American history, specifically, that the United States was founded upon one of the most savage, repugnant, and unforgivable institutions ever. We, liberals, want everyone to understand and grapple with the fact that the institution lives powerfully right up through today.
Racism still clings to near every issue we face. And just like everything else “hard,” the MAGAs much prefer to whitewash slavery as just a “thing” that American exceptionalism overcame. They would have us believe that Black Americans have been totally equal ever since 1865 with the passage of the 13-15th Amendments, and so shut up finally about racism and all this “woke” stuff, there’s nothing wrong in America except you “woke” people who make it hard for whites, and January 6th was a protest because the election was stolen and not that bad, and just please shut up about everything and sing Proud to be an American. It is easier.
Yes it is. It is always easier to ignore painful and damaging things, always, whether as an individual or a country. It is scary to confront the pain. Often people ignore it and smile. It is also easier to lie about painful things and cover them up, whether it’s in a text, or in a speech on the House floor, it’s easier. Always.
There are a lot of people in this country looking for easy answers and less fear in their lives. This guy is one of them.
TN State Rep. Justin Lafferty (R) claims the three-fifths compromise — counting Black people as less than a person — was included in the Constitution “for the purpose of ending slavery.” pic.twitter.com/A6OpfRIwMd
— The Recount (@therecount) May 4, 2021