5 Of The Worst Responses From Conservatives About Juneteenth
Despite overwhelming support for the Black celebration becoming a new federal holiday, a few politicians and pundits have decided they know better.
June 22, 2021 at 11:23 pm
Juneteenth, the celebration of the belated liberation of enslaved Americans in Galveston, Texas, became a federal holiday last week after legislation was passed with almost unanimous consent in Congress.
For millions of people around the country, this was their introduction to the holiday. For many Black folks, federal status was a cause to celebrate even harder and an inspiration for more work to be done to address the racism that continues to persist in the country. And for a few misguided souls, this was an opportunity to spout some ignorant nonsense that the rest of us should condemn and then ignore.
So, without further ado, here are the five worst takes made by political figures about Juneteenth.
1. Donald Trump: “I made Juneteenth very famous.”
To be fair to the former President Donald Trump, his remarks about Juneteenth were reportedly made well before it became a federal holiday and are resurfacing now based on accounts from reporters.
On the other hand, Trump’s claim that “I made Juneteenth very famous” – sounding like that one anti-Taylor Swift song by his old buddy, Kanye – is ridiculous enough to drag now. If you may remember, last year, Trump planned to hold a Make America Great Again rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth, seemingly ignorant of both the holiday and the century old Tulsa race massacre. A Black Secret Service agent had to explain to him why his announcement was offensive and drawing outrage, prompting the then-president to change the date of the rally.
Trump went on to declare the moment a victory, stating that “nobody had heard of [Juneteenth]” before Trump acknowledged it in moving the date of his event, which…nah, partner. Plenty of folks been knew about Juneteenth. Just because the Black man tasked with keeping you alive talked you out of hosting a Kla…I mean MAGA rally during the holiday doesn’t mean you somehow “discovered” a new holiday, except in the sense that Columbus discovered America: you both obviously showed up and attempted to co-opt something that people of color already had.
2. US Rep. Ralph Norman: “Are we going to do one for the Native American Indians?”
Remember how I said the Juneteenth legislation passed with nearly unanimous consent? See, there were 14 Republican members of the House of Representatives who actually voted against it. They came up with various excuses; some, for example, objected to the official name “Juneteenth National Independence Day,” or tried to tie it to things like Critical Race Theory that are also good but that Republicans have decided to demonize anyway.
Leave it to a Congressman from South Carolina to push things further. Commenting on his own “No” vote against Juneteenth, South Carolina Representative Ralph Norman made a dubious slippery slope argument.:
You know what – you have a great idea, Ralph! Maybe we should actually dedicate at least one day of the year to the people who were nearly wiped out and whose land was forcefully taken to found this country. If you’re worried about this making too many holidays, we’ve got you covered there too – let’s just officially bump Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day already. Since your objection is based on the number of holidays and of course not about which groups of people are being honored – right? – you should have no problem with that.
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) on his vote against the Juneteenth holiday:— The Recount (@therecount) June 18, 2021
"How many holidays do we want? What's the magic number? This would put it to 11. Do we want 20? Are we going to do one for the Native American Indians? I mean where does it stop? This was such an easy no vote." pic.twitter.com/h9iJ3eyPSo
3. Kay Coles James: “Juneteenth is a perfect answer to those who are promoting critical race theory.”
Fox News found a Black person to talk about Juneteenth.
And not just any Black person, but a prominent Black woman: Kay Coles James, a former high ranking official in the George W. Bush administration who later became president of the conservative Heritage Foundation. And surprisingly, Fox invited her to actually speak positively about Juneteenth.
If you’re as confused as I am about this seemingly out-of-character move for America’s favorite conservative “news” network, well, let’s just see why James was singing the praises of the holiday:
"Juneteenth is a perfect answer to those who are promoting critical race theory," James argued. "Juneteenth says, no, we do not need to destroy the very structures of this nation, the things that make us great. That while there were issues or problems in our history, look at how we overcame and are overcoming them."
Look, Ms. James, I realize it’s hard being a Black woman conservative leader. But can we not fall into the trap of using one moment of progress to get in the way of others? Yes, Juneteenth is a remembrance of a moment when the United States overcame one of its many racial problems. It’s also a reminder that even though Black people in Texas were free via Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, local white authorities chose not to afford Black folks their legal rights, and therefore extra steps needed to be taken to enforce legal equality.
Wait, it’s starting to sound like both Juneteenth and Critical Race Theory help acknowledge ways in which the law isn’t equally applied when it comes to Black folks in this country. How about that?
4. Candace Owens: I’ll be celebrating July 4th and July 4th only. I’m American.”
In this case, I am saved the trouble of going in on this statement by rapper Azealia Banks, who kindly reminded Owens that her ancestors weren’t exactly invited to the first July 4th celebration:
Juneteenth is soooo lame.— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) June 17, 2021
Democrats really need to stop trying to repackage segregation.
I’ll be celebrating July 4th and July 4th only.
I’m American. 🇺🇸
“According to this logic,” Banks begins her history lesson to Owens, “on July 4th 1776 you would still be enslaved, most likely on the verge of starvation due to all of America’s food supply having been prioritized for the war, while you hand sew American flags and struggle to wet nurse some depressed 24year old white widows sickly child…”And, whew, boy, it just keeps going from there. Seriously, you should just go read it yourself.
5. Charlie Kirk: “Juneteenth” is an affront to the unity of July 4th.”
As if Owens’ attempt to pit Juneteenth against the Fourth of July wasn’t wrongheaded enough, we have conservative Twitter troll Charlie Kirk to give his version of the argument:
Lincoln knew America’s founding was July 4 1776. He knew that was the day our amazing nation made a step from “ideal” to reality— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) June 17, 2021
“Juneteenth” is an affront to the unity of July 4th. We now have 2 summer holidays—and one of them based on race
Shame on the GOP for supporting this
Never mind the appeal to Lincoln, who came through in the end but wasn’t exactly Mr. Black Power. Let’s focus on protecting July 4. Clearly, two summer holidays will be too confusing for Americans. Just like how Thanksgiving makes everyone forget to celebrate Christmas the following month, and how Christmas makes everyone confused about this other holiday called “New…Years…?” that happens just one week later! Now kids are going to celebrate Juneteenth and then get terrified weeks later when bright colored explosions start popping off in the sky on the night of July 4.