Jon Stewart wasn't the only one this week that let Sen. Rand Paul have it for his failed attempt at minority outreach at Howard University, where he assumed the students there didn't know anything about their own history and were treated to him attempting to gloss over that whole era where Southern whites joined the Republican party because they were opposed to civil rights legislation passed by the Democrats.
As Harris-Perry explained: African Americans don’t need a history lesson from Rand Paul:
I read a lot of letters this week, but don’t worry–I also found time to write one. This one inspired by an especially awkward lecture at Howard University. And since my dad and two of my sisters attended Howard, I feel a little possessive of it and paid careful attention to Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s address.
Dear Sen. Paul,
It’s me, Melissa.
Because it strikes me as precisely the mission of a university to give students an opportunity to hear dissenting viewpoints, to interact with political leaders, and to address the major issues of our day. I wouldn’t characterize it as brave or crazy, just part of Howard’s mission. But maybe you were nervous because as a libertarian you know your ideology stands opposed to the impulse that gave birth to Howard in the first place.
Howard University was established by the federal government. Following the Civil War, Congress recognized our nation’s collective responsibility to offer educational opportunities to the Freedmen and the subsequent generations of children that would be born into freedom. So Congress, in an act of collective responsibility toward young people, established Howard and later authorized an annual federal appropriations for its construction, development, improvement and maintenance.
But you left out that story of big-government Republicanism in your fascinating revisionist history. This moment was a gem, though: “I think what happened during the Great Depression was that African Americans understood that Republicans did champion citizenship and voting rights but they became impatient because they wanted economic emancipation… The Democrats promised equalizing outcome. Everybody will get something. through unlimited federal assistance.”
Um, OK: so your theory is African American voters left the Republican Party because they didn’t get enough free stuff.
Let me offer a different take.