CPAC Attendee: No Need to Apologize for Slavery

A white southern male at the CPAC conservative convention this afternoon, during a diversity break-out session, defended white pride, segregation, and slavery in dialogue with a black conservative. Stunning. And other CPAC attendees were giving him support. Even more stunning.


Notice that the white guy saw no reason to apologize for slavery. After all, it provided black people with housing and food. The white guy’s name, by the way, is Scott Terry. He’s 30-years-old. Pathetic.

But it gets worse. ThinkProgress interviewed him after his public remarks and reports the following:

When asked by ThinkProgress if he’d accept a society where African-Americans were permanently subservient to whites, he said “I’d be fine with that.” He also claimed that African-Americans “should be allowed to vote in Africa,” and that “all the Tea Parties” were concerned with the same racial problems that he was.

At one point, a woman challenged him on the Republican Party’s roots, to which Terry responded, “I didn’t know the legacy of the Republican Party included women correcting men in public.”

It’s such a relief to see the Republican Party’s neurosis and resentment ping-ponging among themselves and not infecting the rest of the country and the world (which is what would have happened had Barack Obama not won reelection).

The saddest part of this for me is the guy’s age. How can someone born in 1983 talk like a white southerner born in 1923? My guess: he was home schooled and missed the news that all humans on earth share a common African father going back just sixty thousand years ago.

Did you know that?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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19 Responses to CPAC Attendee: No Need to Apologize for Slavery

  1. Staffan says:

    You can always find a crazy person like that. It’s like saying all liberals are like Michael Moore or Janeane Garofalo. Or that all Black people are in a certain way for that matter.

    As for white pride, I think the problem is that liberals try to base race relations on Black pride and White tolerance. Instead it should be equal rights. Symmetry.

    • Santi Tafarella says:


      Your model for black-white relations is dated. The human genome project tells us we all share the same African father from just 60,000 years ago. Our species bottlenecked at just 2000 individuals within the past 100,000 years. We very nearly went extinct. In the 21st century, the model should be the global family interlinking via trade and the internet, because that is what we are and where we are going.

      Thinking about Wittgenstein and Rorty lately, I’m interested in the languages we adopt to talk about ourselves, and what’s curious to me is that this 30-year-old had to learn his 1923 southern language from somewhere. Where did he get it? Did he find it from the internet visiting far right sites? Was he home schooled? How do these memes survive (slavery is good, segregation is good, white pride is good)?

      The reality is that the language Terry speaks is going extinct. It’s no longer particularly useful to speak like Terry does (as Rorty would put it). It’s ill adapted. And people who talk like this have the prospects for their lives severely diminished (if you want to move to the city and harbor such deep resentments toward women and blacks, how do you function well within a corporate working environment?). In short, it’s a stupid language ill suited to its contemporary environment. It’s just odd to hear it coming from a young person.

      That’s not to say that he doesn’t have free speech. He can try to keep such a language alive. And the Republican Party can continue to try to keep anti-gay and George Bush foreign policy language alive. It’s just ridiculously unadaptive. You don’t win jobs or votes talking like this.

      I get the impression that a lot of Republicans, in the name of principle, are bracing themselves to go down with the ship. If so, good riddance. Let them carp from the sidelines. The world is moving on.


      • Staffan says:

        I fail to see how the Out-of-Africa theory (which seems highly plausible) would support the asymmetrical race relations. But I agree that politics need to be in line with scientific findings on human nature. There is plenty of evidence of our in-group/out-group tendencies to suggest that we aren’t going to be a global family. That’s the dated idea, no doubt stemming from the old Tabula Rasa.

        Again, I’m not going to defend this guy since I don’t agree with him. I just think that you demonize your opponent by implying that this is typical of the GOP. This view is in fact typical out-group hostility (which makes the global family impossible).

        Also, this Darwinism of yours, Terry, I, and anyone who isn’t a liberal is outdated and will soon perish? It’s sounds an awful lot like the passive-aggressive rhetoric of Christian fundamentalist with their charming I-love-you-but-you’re-going-to-hell attitude.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        I can’t (and wouldn’t) send anybody to hell. But when people speak ill-adaptive languages for their time, they send themselves to “hell” (oblivion) in terms of their substantial influence on the direction the world is going.

        It’s not easy but it is doable to get the circle of the in-group enlarged. It can be done by trade and the internet; it can be done by urbanization (90% of humans will live in cities by century’s end); it can be done by education. And it is being done. It’s why the Republican Party is struggling to keep up language-wise with 21st century voters.

        The freakishness of so much Republican language across the spectrum (the way evolution is talked about, etc.) and the inner stress this creates in Republicans when they try to translate these languages into votes, is sad, but also makes for good theatre.


    • Santi Tafarella says:

      The most adaptive language for the Republicans going forward is probably libertarianism combined with state’s rights. It’s certainly not George Wallace-ism.

  2. This is what conservatives have let themselves become.

  3. dcyates says:

    Personally, I noticed that “the white guy” expressed pride in his own people. What’s the matter with that? Would you similarly condemn a black person for expressing ‘black pride’? And why on earth should white people today feel a need to apologize for slavery? I can virtually guarantee there isn’t a single white American alive today who has ever owned a slave. So why should they apologize for it?
    But to depict this guy as somehow representative of today’s conservatives is rather disingenuous, Santi. When he did make a truly offensive remark — concerning how Frederick Douglas should have expressed gratitude to his former slaveowner for having provided him with food and shelter — it was met with near universal shock and condemnation by those in the room.
    By the way, George Wallace was a Democrat. As was Bull Connor. As was Orval Faubus. As was Lester Maddox. In fact, virtually all segregationists were Democrats; they were the segregationist party. And the one man most responsible for desegregating the South was Richard Nixon. (And does it still need to be said that a higher percentage of Republicans voted for the various civil and voting rights acts than did Democrats?)

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Flip the situation. Imagine that your group represented 13 percent of the population of a country. I wouldn’t say a word about your expression of “pride” because you’ve got to work against being in the minority emotionally. All cultural signals coming your way concern non-normality, marginalization, and inferiority. Then imagine, as you obtain a level of legal equality and the social media of your country starts to come to respect your dignity, that this gives rise to a reactionary “pride” and racial identity movement among the majority population. That majority “pride” movement would clearly be a racist stupidity. And imagine how you would feel if the organizing energy around this “pride” movement was a hatred of someone from your minority group becoming president.

      As for Wallace being a democrat, you are fogging the issue. Southern politics has always been racist. When Lyndon Johnson signed the civil rights bill in 1964, he recognized that the south would be lost to democrats for decades to come. But he did it anyway, and those democrats that survived in the south (such as Wallace) had to hunker down on their racial resentment to win. Of course, the Republican party gleefully jumped into this new electoral vulnerability, and it was Nixon (via his adviser Kevin Phillips) who instituted the so-called “southern strategy” for winning elections.

      Thankfully, the southern strategy had its nadir with George Bush, and is probably past us. It’s simply not enough anymore for Republicans to win national elections by solidly carrying the south and 60 percent of the white vote. A decades-long nightmare of southern fried stupidity appears to be moving to the margins the deeper we move into the 21st century. The cultural politics of fundamentalism and the racial politics of the right have less power every cycle.

      On the positive side for Republicans, capitalism isn’t going anywhere. But that’s good for the globe generally as well. The only aspect of the left’s victory has to do with the things where it is healthiest: on cultural issues.

      And the whole red state / blue state phenomenon is really a rural verses urban phenomenon. And the whole world, not just the US, is urbanizing and becoming more college educated. Cultural liberalism is well adapted to urbanism; Republican conservatism is well adapted to the rural south.

      The British conservative party, by the way, now endorses gay legal equality, including marriage equality. That’s where the Republican Party in this country is going to end up (kicking and screaming).

      My guess is that, as the Republican Party moves to the center culturally, you’ll probably end up with a Glen Beck style Tea Party third party at some point.


      • dcyates says:

        I don’t have to imagine — I AM a member of a minority group; one that’s even more “minor” than are blacks. And I still don’t have a problem with any white person expressing pride in the truly incredible achievements of Western civilization. Nor do I see them doing so as somehow akin to racism. (This peculiar tendency reminds me of once seeing a little girl express resentment at her parents’ entirely legitimate praise of her older sister’s good school grades, as though the praise directed toward her sister at the same time somehow diminished her. Perhaps has to do with the left wing tendency of seeing everything as a zero-sum commodity: “If my parents praise my sister, that leaves less praise for me.” Which is, of course, silly, and a view that one should hope this child grows out of. However, rather than discouraging such an attitude, too often the liberal reaction is not only to condone it, but to even encourage it by ascribing it legitimacy.)
        As well, I am so incredibly sick of being told that one’s objections to Obama’s ruinous policies are REALLY due to “hatred” and “racism” toward him. Come on, Santi, that’s ridiculous, and someone of your considerable intelligence should know better than that.

        Furthermore, my noting that Wallace, et al. were Democrats is not fogging the issue, it’s clarifying it. (After all, I could argue that deliberately fogging the issue is implying that George Wallace was a Republican.) But what follows in your response is what is truly foggy: You claim that LBJ’s signing of the civil rights acts was done knowing full well that it would condemn Democratic electability in the South “for decades to come,” and that the only way any Democrat had any hope of achieving electoral victory in the South was by appealing to southerners’ “racial resentment.” You then further claim that Republicans opportunistically exploited this. This is very interesting, because, as I was saying, it was a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats who voted for these acts. Hence, you’re effectively saying that these “surviving” Democrats were victorious only by pretending to be racist when they really weren’t, while at same time Republicans were victorious only by pretending not to be racist when they really were! So which is it?

        Getting back on topic, what that guy said was reprehensible — no doubt about it. But neither is it right condemn the entire GOP for the idiotic comment of one guy (indeed, I would be genuinely surprised if, out of a crowd that size, only one person made thoroughly stupid comments), especially when said comment was subsequently booed by practically every else there.

        That said, I highly doubt that the answer to the Republican Party’s current woes is to be more like the Democrats — despite that being the overwhelming advice coming from liberal-leaning, Democrat-supporting, left-wing pundits.

  4. Staffan says:

    “It’s not easy but it is doable to get the circle of the in-group enlarged. It can be done by trade and the internet; it can be done by urbanization (90% of humans will live in cities by century’s end); it can be done by education.”

    You would have to back this up with some sort of data, otherwise it’s just optimistic guesswork (and the phenomenon of optimist bias is well documented). There is also research showing that ingroup bias is highly heritable and related to common personality traits. This suggests that it may be as hard to get rid of as turning an introvert into an extravert or vice versa. And judging by violent crime rates per capita, metropolitan areas aren”t be the obvious place to make friends. BTW, have you seen the subjective well-being index for central Los Angeles? Same can be found in London, Paris, Stockholm etc.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      I’ve never seen the index you are referring to. There is a good book on happiness that I’m reading, by the way, called “The Happiness Hypothesis.” It makes some of your points above in detail (the genetic factors entailed in human personality, the dissatisfactions of wealthy urbanites despite increasing wealth, etc.).

      As for cities, the 90% global urbanization projections by demographers are readily google-able.

      I am optimistic about the collective human future (at least over the next 60 years or so). People may not be substantially happier globally, but they’ll be less inclined to harm or demonize one another because a middle class standard of living will be available to most everybody.

      A plague or nuclear war could goof up the trends, obviously. But people who are not playing zero sum games generally treat one another decently. Generosity begins with having a degree of personal comfort.

      And energy will be abundant the more we move into this century. What’s to fight over? What’s the point of hyper-nationalism? Or racial identity? People will be lost in their gadgets. And they’ll be (increasingly) hybrids of biology and technology (cyborgs). Who wants to fight somebody who is also walking around with an iPhone and who shares with you a global/international pop culture?

      Middle class people from different countries growing up in cities that are linked by the internet are having a lot of shared experiences (YouTube is an obvious example). They have more in common with each other than with poorer rural residents of their own country.

      For perspective, I like to look at images separated by a hundred years. The world in 2070 will be as different from 1970 as 1970 was from 1870. Much of contemporary politics is a froth over larger megatrends.

      What are those megatrends?


      • Staffan says:

        Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index: Just zoom in for a closer look.

        The 90 percent, I didn’t actually contest that, although it seems irrelevant to the discussion of ingroups. I’m not saying the won’t live in cities, I don’t know much about those projections. I’m saying measures of well-being and violent crime suggests that they are not a happy family.

        “People may not be substantially happier globally, but they’ll be less inclined to harm or demonize one another because a middle class standard of living will be available to most everybody.”

        The conflicts between immigrants and natives in Europe seem unrelated to wealth. Anti-immigrant parties are succesful in super-rich countries like Norway and Switzerland too. The Swiss People’s Party got 27 percent in the 2011 elections. They have loads of money, gadgets, social media etc. In fact, these parties thrive on the internet since they are rejected in the MSM.

        Regarding mega-trends, sure, we are wealthier, healthier and less violent. But there are also more people than ever living close together in those blessed cities and moving between those cities. That makes for conflicts and misery that can be seen in the stats on well-being and violent crime. And it makes for more epidemics. HIV killed millions of Africans and is still around. The mega-trend for Africa was looking pretty good until suddenly it didn’t.

      • Santi Tafarella says:


        I think our different takes on this have a lot to do with where we live. Being in Europe, your experience with immigrants is primarily Muslim. Muslims, I agree, are hard to assimilate, and they tend to make enclaves within cities that isolate them culturally. Asians, Hispanic Catholics, Russians, a few (but not a lot of) Muslims all make for a more diverse mix in Los Angeles.

        And Britain, where my wife is from, has had an influx of Catholic Poles of late.

        My argument is not that conservatism is on the decline in the sense that capitalism is in retreat. Obviously, that’s not the case. My argument is that the politics of conservative cultural conformity is on the retreat and will likely remain so for a very long time. For example, the cultural and patriotic war agendas that dominated the Bush administration are unlikely to return.

        And when you think of a nostalgia-based nationalist movement like Hitler’s Germany, Hitler’s support in elections came not from Berlin, but from the rural areas. Hitler, or anyone remotely like Hitler, simply could not win an election in Germany today. It has to do with demographics. Too many people live in cities. They have been conditioned to diversity, liberalism, and internationalism (however traditional they might be in their immediate family lives, going to church etc.).

        I think it’s overwhelmingly fortunate for humanity that cities are growing. It makes fanatical nationalist and cultural politics ever more difficult. People want to make money and trade in the city. In 2050 the population of the United States will be 400 million. That’s about a hundred million more than live here today. They’ll be young. They’ll live in the cities. And they’ll be richer and more liberal (in terms of tolerance) than Americans are today.

        Europe’s immigrants will probably follow a similar trajectory, even against the cultural conservatism of many contemporary Muslim immigrants. The children of those immigrants will be more liberal over time, not less so. That’s my bet.

        If my daughters have long lives, in the 2050s they’ll be hitting their fifties. They’ll live through what we’re speculating about.


      • Santi Tafarella says:

        Here’s an even shorter take: urbanism combined with democracy makes for cultural liberalism in politics. And that’s where the world is headed.

  5. Staffan says:

    Asians are a economically succesful group so they are probably not likely to complain. Hispanic Catholics, Russians and Poles are easily assimilated because the are White Christians. They already think of the majority as their ingroup. You’re making my case here by illustrating that the ingroup and it’s immediate surrounding is peaceful but that you can’t add to many Muslims because they are the outgroup. As are the Blacks who you forgot to mention. They have been in America for centuries and are still on the outside looking in.

    As for cultural conservatism on the retreat while nationalist parties are on the rise, that doesn’t add up. But as you say, the situation is different in Europe. But you are still talking about a global trend. Someone like Hitler will not win any elections since the situation is completely different today. Today you have everything from classical fascism in Hungary to the Dutch Freedom Party that combines nationalism with a drug- and LGBT friendly policy. These new movements don’t fit the old categories. The Dutch have been exposed to diversity more than anyone and yet they have not been conditioned to it – and more and more of them reject it.If it doesn’t happen in Holland – one of the most urbanized and modern countries in the world – it’s not going to happen anywhere.

    “The children of those immigrants will be more liberal over time, not less so. That’s my bet.”

    It’s well-known that the new generations of Muslims are more radical. Their parents came here thinking they would make a better life for themselves. Their children are born here and find themselves at the bottom of the ladder, so they get angry and turn to their religion to improve their self-esteem.

    Tribalism is human nature. There is research indicating a heritability of 40-60 percent and practically zero influence for non-shared environment – upbringing, culture, education etc.

    It seems to me that we are in a paradoxical situation where I back up my conservatism with facts and research while you back up your liberalism with prophecies ; )

    • Santi Tafarella says:


      I may be too optimistic. You have a John Gray view of the world. But it’s also possible that these reactionary offshoots that you refer to as growing (and that go by the Tea Party here) are emerging out of the principle of “the broken wheel squeaks loudest.” They are eddies swirling in the wake of larger trends.

      As for blacks in the United States, it’s not nearly as bleak (at least in California) as you imagine (in my view). There are lots of black professionals in California. Lots of black Christians. It’s hard to be black in America. Ambivalences naturally come with the experience of being born into a racial minority. But we’re a family here. And California is not the south where you’re either white or black. The mix of people in California just means that blacks are part of that mix.

      • Staffan says:

        It’s definitely hard to tell what the future brings. It gets kind of complicated when you think of nationalist parties here opposing immigration because they feel that it threatens their identity. And ironically, part of that identity is human rights and in the Dutch case even a social liberal position on drugs, sex, LGBT. They (and I as well) are as conservatives protecting the liberal values. (The East is of course different, having a tradition of collectivism.)

        Well, anyway, I haven’t read John Gray, but he does sound interesting judging from the Wikipedia entry. Thanks for the tip.

  6. andrewclunn says:

    The end result of a two party system with national elections won on such slim margins is that neither group can really afford to alienate their crazies. They need the crazies to vote. Though seeing what happened in Nazi Germany as well as McCarthyism in the US, I think you underestimate just how much injustice people are willing to accept so long as they are not directly persecuted.

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