Speaking this week at Harlem’s Canaan Baptist Church of Christ, Mrs. Clinton stated, “When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation, and you know what I’m talking about.”
Allow me to decipher what Clinton was talking about in that insulting statement, largely unexplained by media outlets and pundits from across the ideological spectrum. Mrs. Clinton attempted to explain her statement as a reference to recent allegations against members such as Reps. Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Bob Ney (R-OH). No, Clinton’s use of the word “house” was torn straight from the chapter in the Democrats’ political handbook titled “Race-bait when speaking before African-American audiences.”
You see, to African-Americans of a certain generation, the word “house,” when used in conjunction with the word “plantation,” carries a sinister and derogatory connotation, recalling the era of legalized slavery through the years of legalized segregation mid-way through the last century. The house is where the master lived, and the plantation is where the slaves worked, largely powerless to challenge their conditions.
Mrs. Clinton subtly attempted through her comments to equate House Republicans to white slave owners and the U.S. House of Representatives to a 19th century southern plantation. She may have hoped that her divisive analogy of the U.S. House to a plantation would slip past her critics and political opponents, but it didn’t work.
Mrs. Clinton’s remark goes against everything Dr. King represented, no matter how you interpreted her comments. If she was pitting Black people versus White people, that’s race baiting. If she was talking about the “haves” and the “have-nots,” that’s inciting class warfare. If she was talking about Republicans versus Democrats, then she was playing party politics on a day of recognition that should be about unity.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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