A New Hampshire state legislator is beneath fireplace for insisting that “proudly owning slaves doesn’t make you racist.” In a personal interplay with a former New Hampshire resident and through an interview with The Root, the Republican lawmaker doubled and tripled down on his assertion by altering the definition of the phrase “racist,” rewriting historical past and explaining that chattel slavery wasn’t essentially racist as a result of slaveowners actually favored cash.
Werner Horn serves in New Hampshire’s Home of Representatives for a district that features the 99.5 percent white city of Hill, N.H., and his 95.9 p.c white hometown of Franklin, N.H. His voting document reveals that he has voted towards repealing the death penalty, permitting undocumented immigrants the chance to obtain drivers licenses, elevating the minimum wage, rising entry to absentee voting, repealing voter ID laws and prohibiting discrimination primarily based on gender identification. Horn is rated 79 p.c by the American Conservative Union and is endorsed by the NRA. However simply because he’s a member of the Republican Occasion who doesn’t stay round black individuals doesn’t essentially imply one ought to assume Horn is a racist.
No, there are many different causes.
Final week, Horn shared his public views on American historical past, slavery and racism in a now-deleted Fb put up. USA Today writes:
Horn initially drew consideration for his feedback in a Fb put up by former state Home member Dan Hynes, who posed the query: “If Trump is essentially the most racist president in American historical past, what does that say about the entire different presidents who owned slaves?”
Horn responded, “Wait, proudly owning slaves doesn’t make you racist…”
“I suppose not,” Hynes answered Tuesday. “Which is stunning since all the things else makes somebody a racist.”
Horn then added, “It shouldn’t be stunning since proudly owning slaves wasn’t a call predicated on race however on economics. It’s a enterprise determination.”
After media shops questioned Horn’s alternative of phrases, Eboni Sears, who's a black girl and a previous resident of the comparatively extra various city, Dover, N.H., (89 percent white, 1.3 percent black), determined to contact the state consultant to problem his views after seeing the story within the Boston Globe.
“They don’t actually get to work together with a complete lot of black individuals regularly, so I used to be actually simply making an attempt to indicate him a special viewpoint,” Sears advised The Root. “I didn’t understand that he didn’t care. In order that’s the way it began.”
Sears contacted Horn on Fb, pondering that he wouldn’t reply. Nonetheless, Horn engaged Sears in an hourlong change obtained by The Root that each Horn and Sears confirmed is correct. The dialog included accusations that Sears was truly the one who was being prejudiced, that Horn couldn’t be racist due to his army background and, after all, the notorious “racist bone” prognosis the place Horn absolved himself of racism. (It needs to be famous that Sears served within the Navy for 5 years, which, by Horn’s logic, makes her practically two occasions much less racist than he's.)
To be honest, Fb messages will be misinterpreted, so I contacted Horn to clear up any misinterpretations. What adopted was a baffling show of what's both a misunderstanding or a whole fabrication of America’s previous.
When requested if his preliminary remark that “proudly owning slaves doesn’t make you racist” might have misconstrued, Horn emphatically replied: “No. When your actions are motivated by your emotions on the race of a person, that's racism.”
For context, Merriam-Webster defines “racism” as:
1: perception that race is the first determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial variations produce an inherent superiority of a specific race
2a: a doctrine or political program primarily based on the idea of racism and designed to execute its ideas
b: a political or social system based on racism
three: racial prejudice or discrimination
To be clear, shopping for, promoting or proudly owning a human being requires inherent superiority as a result of it's not possible to personal an equal. However once I requested Horn if the literal idea of proudly owning one other human being matches the definitions of racism, Horn replied: “No.”
“You need to ask after which reply the query: ‘Why is that individual proudly owning one other individual?’” Horn added. “That’s how you determine if one thing is racist, sexist, homophobic. You need to determine what’s the motivation behind the motion. If there was a purely monetary motivation to proudly owning a slave, then it isn't racist.”
OK, properly fuck definitions, then.
Anticipating that he would ultimately trot out the overused, vapid argument that “black individuals offered slaves” and “slavery has been round since historic occasions,” I restricted our dialogue to slavery because it existed in America. Nonetheless, the lawmaker went on to recount a revised model of historical past the place slavery wasn’t racist till 1800. He reeled off a contorted, ahistorical view that contradicts each goal account of America’s previous:
“Parsing out slavery in America, versus slavery generally, is important solely due to how individuals behaved themselves after round 1800,” Horn stated. “After round 1800, the northern abolitionists tried to destabilize the establishment of slavery within the South. So to justify and proceed the apply, they [Southerners] got here up with a bunch of racist rubbish the place the blacks, particularly, had been a subhuman race. It’s racist rubbish.”
However Horn’s “different details” contradict the analysis of just about each official scholar and historian together with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., director of Harvard’s Hutchins Middle for African & African American Analysis (and co-founder of The Root), who notes that the Mid-Atlantic slave commerce coincided with the enlightenment in Europe, whose “theorists posited that the important thing dividing line between a free man or girl and a slave wasn’t faith however race.
“I don't know the place [Horn’s] line of logic comes from,” Gates advised The Root. “You'll be able to merely have a look at the 18th century philosophers from David Hume to Immanuel Kant—beginning in 1754 with Hume’s racist footnote to his essay Of National Characters by which he claimed that in all of Africa, there have been no arts, no sciences, an thought upon which Kant elaborated 10 years later in his Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime—additionally expounded on the racial variations between white and black individuals.”
Undeterred by logic or details, Horn argued that slavery was an financial determination as a result of, he defined: “If you have a look at the ledgers, the costs introduced for males had been the best. Girls and kids introduced lesser costs. That’s an financial driver as a result of if it was racist, they might simply be shopping for everyone on the similar worth.”
I do know, I do know. It makes completely no sense. Utilizing this clarification, lots of the well-paid ISIS soldiers aren’t terrorists as a result of their “motivating issue” is cash. Apparently, in Horn’s world, actions can’t be racists, solely intent.
Citing the regurgitated argument that racism has much less to do with the actions of the enslavers and extra to do with their intent, what’s in white individuals’s hearts or what Horn repeatedly known as “motivating elements,” the elected official segued into the declare utilized by each white supremacist ever: “Within the 1600s, Africans had been enslaving different Africans in order that would appear to take the race side out of it,” he defined, conveniently leaving out the truth that European and American merchants additionally raided villages and kidnapped Africans, and the untold variety of whites who kidnapped free blacks in America and compelled them in to slavery.
“The Europeans…transported them to the New World and the Caribbean not as a result of they had been racist, however as a result of they had been earning money and didn't care that they had been earning money off the struggling of human beings. That’s the important thing a part of it. That’s the important thing a part of it. They’re earning money off it.”
And there you've got it from the horse’s mouth.
They didn't care as a result of they had been earning money off the struggling of human beings.
Not solely had been all of these “human beings” black, however the very act of inserting an “financial determination” above the struggling of the enslaved indisputably signifies that the monetary wants of white enslavers had been thought-about to be superior to the humanity of the black slaves. However, after all, Horn doesn’t see it that manner.
“Calling Thomas Jefferson and George Washington racist places a stain of hatred on the Founding Fathers,” Horn advised The Root. “And since Washington and Jefferson aren’t right here to defend themselves, I’ve obtained no issues declaring the variations between how slavery was perceived previous to 1800 and the way slavery was perceived after 1800. That was the entire thrust of the remark.”
That model of historical past just isn't true. Opposite to Horn’s opinion, each males thought that slavery was an immoral establishment. Each males advocated for the abolition of slavery. Of their writings, each Washington and Jefferson distinctly referenced the racial side of the peculiar establishment whereas persevering with to personal slaves.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson positioned wealth and energy above the humanity of black individuals.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had been racists.
I knowledgeable Horn of all of this. However once I requested Horn how he reconciles his definition of racism with these details, Horne admitted that Thomas Jefferson was a racist, however for completely completely different causes…kinda.
“Jefferson for certain was a racist. For certain,” stated Horn. “Not as a result of he owned slaves however as a result of he recanted his place that he was going to free his slaves and he didn’t…However let me be clear: If you have a look at the motivation issue behind the choice, the response is essential. However that’s the distinction. If the motivating issue was race, then it's racist. However I don’t purchase into the narrative that slavery is routinely racist.”
If that doesn’t make sense to you, it's best to know that you just’re not alone. Gates notes that the Enlightenment-era perception in racial inferiority was, partially, fueled by Jefferson, explaining that Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, which was written the identical yr because the Structure, match the definition of racism.
“In it, Jefferson, in a scientific pose, theorized concerning the racial variations between the white and black races,” Gates defined. “Jefferson opined that, ‘the blacks, whether or not initially a definite race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites within the endowments each of physique and thoughts.’”
If that’s not “a perception that race is the first determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial variations produce an inherent superiority of a specific race,” then possibly racism doesn’t exist.
Washington, then again, remained a slaveowner regardless of repeatedly saying that the establishment was racist. He knew it however did it anyway. On the finish of his life, Washington referred to as slavery his “solely unavoidable topic of remorse,” writing:
Ages to return will learn with Astonishment that the person who was foremost to wrench the rights of America from the tyrannical grasp of Britain was among the many final to relinquish his personal oppressive maintain of poor unoffending negroes. Within the title of justice what can induce you thus to tarnish your individual properly earned superstar and to impair the honest options of American liberty with so foul and indelible a blot.
George Washington, meet the success of your prophecy—Werner Horn.
Requested whether or not Horn’s protection of his beloved Founding Father George Washington was right, Affiliate Professor of Africana Research and Chair of Howard College’s Division of Afro-American Research, Dr. Greg Carr dispelled the notion with a easy command:
“Present me the white slaves.”
“If [Horn] redefines racism as caring about black individuals, then sure, Washington liked slaves like Hercules and Ona Judge in the identical manner that white individuals love LeBron James,” stated Carr. “And all these negroes ran away as fast as they could as quickly as they noticed a crack of daylight.
“Ask [Horn] to clarify why these Founding Fathers got here to the conclusion slave was price three-fifths of a white individual and enshrined it in the Constitution...in 1787,” Carr continued. “Ask him to clarify John Jay, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton debating the very nature of black life within the Federalist Papers in 1788.”
Certainly, Federalist Paper No. 54, which grew to become the idea for the three-fifths compromise, reads:
However we should deny the very fact, that slaves are thought-about merely as property, and in no respect no matter as individuals. The true state of the case is, that they partake of each these qualities: being thought-about by our legal guidelines, in some respects, as individuals, and in different respects as property…The federal Structure, due to this fact, decides with nice propriety on the case of our slaves, when it views them within the combined character of individuals and of property. That is in reality their true character.
However Carr fully destroys Horn’s fiction by pointing to students like Gerald Horne, whose Counterrevolution of 1776 defined that racism was one of many underlying elements of the American Revolution.
“England was debating ending the buying and selling of enslaved Africans within the late 18th century and providing them prolonged rights,” Carr defined. “This scared the hell out of the British North American colonies, led by Virginia, which had 40 p.c of the enslaved Africans within the colonies. Though they supplied essentially the most eloquent defenses of freedom and liberty and all that crap, they had been imprisoning 4 out of each 10 enslaved individuals within the British colonies.
“What individuals name the American Revolution concerned George Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and the Founders getting the hell away from the British exactly as a result of the British had been contemplating making a authorized type of humanity for the Africans,” Dr. Carr stated. “There's completely no historic proof to again up what [Horn] stated.”
Gates, concurring with Carr, added: “Whereas arguments that slavery was a ‘optimistic good’ exploded within the Antebellum period, as advocates for emancipation put Southern slaveholders on the protection, there isn't a doubt that earlier generations had already made a hyperlink between race and slavery with a purpose to justify it.”
Finally, one New Hampshire legislator’s Fb feedback and fictional historical past lesson is not going to have an effect on most individuals’s lives in any significant manner. Sears even indicated that she wasn’t offended by his feedback as a lot as she was stunned at Horn’s lack of information and thought that folks ought to know what he thinks about race.
“That’s the disturbing half,” defined Sears.
“He actually believes it.”