When Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president, MSNBC's Pat Buchanan ignored foreign policy and focused on the color of their skin.
While it is pathetic all by itself for Buchanan to talk about two of the most prominent men in American civic life as if they are brainless slaves to racial identification, Buchanan's past writings reveal an even more repugnant view of African-Americans as happier on the slave plantation than after the civil rights movement.
Buchanan's autobiographical Right from the Beginning starts with a discussion that would make most Americans uncomfortable if not angry:
When my father was eight, his grandfather, William M. Buchanan, the Confederate veteran of Atlanta and Yankee prison, died in Okolona; and my father made his trip south to the ancestral home. What he remembered was the uncommon closeness of the Buchanan clan and the black servants who lived with them. All his life my father would insist that while there were brutal white Southerners who reveled in mistreating black people, there also existed, between the decent country peoples of the South, Negro and white, feudal bonds of friendship, affection, and mutual regard Northerners did not understand. They had, he said, a way of living together down there that made life, for both, less harsh than the callous and cold indifference both confronted in the segregated cities of the North. (Right from the Beginning, p. 20)
Although Buchanan stops short of using the official name for that 'way of living together down there'--where blacks are the servants and whites own the plantations--the word for it is: 'slavery.'
Buchanan's autobiography repeatedly uses a mix of nostalgia for the ante-bellum South and critique of black Civil Rights leaders to advance a false image of a 'happier time' for all on the plantation. The idea that 'Negroes' were happier before black leadership taught them to identify with each other is a false claim that Buchanan has used over and over again in his long career as a political candidate and television pundit.
In other words, when Buchanan suggests that Powell endorsed Obama because he identified with him as a black man, Buchanan is advancing his own racist brand of utilitarianism: wherein the greatest number of people are happiest when blacks know their place.
Buchanan voices his racism, in other words, not by hurling epithets, but by invoking pseudo-intellectual theories about the greatest level of happiness for the greatest number of people. In Buchanan's eyes, Powell did not just betray the Republican Party by endorsing Obama, he undermined the social order in the same way that other black leaders have done, starting with the 'triumphant humanist,' Martin Luther King, Jr. (Right from the Beginning, p. 66)
Is it sickening that MSNBC would continue to employ someone who not only adds racist commentary to the 2008 election debate, but has a history of publishing racist 'plantation' theories of American society? It sure is.
Perhaps, if Barack Obama wins in November, MSNBC will give Buchanan a new show called 'Feudal Bonds of Friendship,' where he can devote all his time to talking about how unhappy African-Americans have become since a black man took the top job on the plantation.
© 2008 Jeffrey Feldman, Frameshop