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An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia

Exhibit 44: Life on the Double-Standard Plantation

Two years ago, Hillary Clinton was blasted by conservatives for using the "plantation" metaphor. Has it stopped the ConWeb's own use of it? Nope.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 1/31/2008

In January 2006, Sen. Hillary Clinton gave a speech at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in which she said, "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."

This drew howls of protests from conservatives, repeated on the ConWeb: Newsmax quoted Republican Rep. Peter King denouncing Clinton's remarks as "cheap racial politics" and "beyond the pale," WorldNetDaily's Les Kinsolving asked during a White House press briefing and pondering what she was "up to," to which then-White House press secretary Scott McClellan obligingly responded that Clinton's statement was "way out of line." Star Parker -- who wrote a WND-published book called "Uncle Sam's Plantation" -- seemed mostly offended that Hillary was stealing her schtick. Mychal Massie -- he of the hypocrisy of bashing Democrats for the exact same name-calling he himself has engaged in -- opened up his thesaurus and plucked out words like "mendacious morosity" and "eschars." Michelle Malkin thundered, "What racial demagogic stunt will Hillary sink to next? Cornrows and a cameo on Bush-bashing rapper Kanye West's next album?" At NewsBusters, Mark Finkelstein wrote three posts addressing it, and Brad Wilmouth (who argued that Newt Gingrich's statement about Democrats in 1994 was merely an "exaggeration," while "one distinct difference between his and Clinton's remarks is that Gingrich was not accusing Democrats of racism") and Dave Pierre (who called the remark "bombastic" and "malfeasance") each penned one. Brent Bozell asserted that Hillary "threw the race card on the table with a big, noisy thwack," adding: "Neither Newt Gingrich nor Tom DeLay have ever stooped this low. I dare anyone to prove me wrong."

Well, Bozell's Media Research Center, as well as NewsMax and WorldNetDaily, have arguably stooped that low prior to Clinton's remark, repeatedly likening Democrats and liberals to a plantation owners -- and contrary to the suggestion of certain folks at the MRC, many were accusing Democrats of racism:


  • "When I changed my political affiliation ten years ago, I thought I broke the chains of the liberal plantation." -- Kevin Martin, CNS commentary, July 15, 2005
  • "Liberals believe that blacks should all think and vote the same. ... And they loathe any free-thinking black who dares to walk off their plantation." -- Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, CNS article, Jan. 26, 2005
  • "Liberals have kept the poor on the government plantations, and compassionate conservatives are trying to free them." -- Marvin Olasky, MRC column, Dec. 14, 2002, reprinted from the conservative World magazine
  • "The African American Republican Leadership Council, meanwhile, called [then-NAACP president Julian] Bond 'a bigoted plantation' racist out of step with Black America." -- CNS article, July 8, 2002
  • "Shouted down publicly at the universities, disdained in the media, serious Christians are becoming America's new slave class for the plantation owners of the politically-correct U.S. of A." -- Dennis Peacocke, CNS commentary, Oct. 20, 1999


  • "And that's the problem, you see – both among America's 'victims' and the leftist 'victim plantation owners' – who have carefully cultivated each generation of poor people in order to reap their own power. Four generations of persistent failure hasn't taught either group anything at all." -- WND columnist Craige Mcmillan, Jan. 12, 2006
  • "It is not hard to see why the poverty pimps and race-baiters still embrace the party that has historically oppressed blacks and kept them on one plantation or another." -- Nina May, WND commentary, Nov. 4, 2005
  • "So you have a bunch of white liberals in a newsroom, in an editorial board, typical people that run the white plantation telling blacks how they have to think, telling blacks how they have to act." -- Rush Limbaugh, WND article, Nov. 3, 2005
  • "Senator Reid has revealed the intolerance found on the political left for minorities who do not reside on their ideological plantation." -- Wendell Talley of the black conservative group Project 21, WND article, Nov. 1, 2005
  • "Asking the Democratic Party plantation owners in the U.S. Senate to confirm a black woman who understands, supports and upholds the Constitution of the United States is asking too much." -- WND editor Joseph Farah, June 23, 2005
  • "[Affirmative action is] a self-empowerment plan to keep minority votes on the new Democratic Party plantation by offering them special race privileges. -- Joseph Farah, April 28, 2005
  • "Whereas Bush is selling his reform under the theme of an 'ownership society,' I would call the Democratic alternative the 'plantation society.' The 'plantation society' is characterized by a wealthy class of owners who want to limit the choices, opportunities and freedom of working-class Americans." -- Star Parker, WND commentary, March 22, 2005.

(ConWebWatch has previously detailed Newsmax's pre-2006 "plantation" references.)

This isn't surprising; after all, years of likening liberals in general and the Clintons in particular to Nazis didn't indemnify the ConWeb from hypocritically getting its collective panties in a bunch when someone submitted a proposed political ad to that likened President Bush to Hitler.

So, two years after unleashing their criticism on Clinton for using a metaphor they themselves have regularly utilized over the years, has the ConWeb reined its use of "plantation" to attack Democrats and liberals?

In a word, no. Here are some of the references ConWebWatch located:

  • "A [Michael] Steele victory [for a Senate seat in Maryland] would have sent [Barack] Obama's stock soaring as Democrats panicked at the loss of their most reliable voting bloc. This would have guaranteed Obama at least his party's vice presidential nomination in 2008. But Democrats — historically the party of the slave owners, Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow, and Bull Connor — were able to defeat Steele with racist smears. Blacks thus continue to pick the cotton and deliver the votes on the Democratic plantation, but almost all top positions in this racist party are reserved for whites." -- Lowell Ponte, Newsmax column, Nov. 9, 2006
  • "White liberals refuse to allow blacks to be individuals. They look at them only as a group. They have put them on their liberal white plantation where their hand-picked black taskmasters such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton rule the roost." -- Michael Reagan, Newsmax column, Aug. 3, 2006
  • "It took the false "compassion" of 50 years of government plantation programs to create the kind of dependency no people could endure without dire consequences." -- Joseph Farah, WND column, Oct. 8, 2007
  • "It really doesn't matter to the Harry Reids and Chuckie Schumers of the world how Republican minorities govern. It only matters that they have strayed off the Democratic plantation." Joseph Farah, WND column, Aug. 28, 2007
  • "Hillary Clinton seems to view black voters the same way plantation owners viewed slaves – they are her property, they will do what she says, and she will make their lives hell-on-earth if she doesn't get her way." -- Kevin McCullough, WND column, Feb. 16, 2007
  • Millions of dollars of corporate funds go to support the NAACP each year, both as result of intimidation and the mistaken belief that the NAACP is the single national organization representing black interests. The result is that corporate America plays a major role in financing the NAACP's ongoing campaign to keep blacks as Democrats (despite campaign-finance reforms that supposedly prohibit this) and on the government plantation." -- Star Parker, WND column, Aug. 1, 2006
  • "We need look no further than the Democrat Party to find the answer to this question. No matter how this canard is packaged, it is nothing more than a transpicuous attempt to drive blacks back to the Democrat plantation." -- Mychal Massie, WND column, July 11, 2006

Also, as ConWebWatch detailed, Bozell also repeated his and Wilmouth's assertions in his Hillary-bashing book "Whitewash" -- that Gingrich was merely "rhetorically excessive," while Hillary was "accusing Democrats of racism."

The most egregious post-Hillary violator, though, has been WND columnist Ellis Washington. He devoted his entire May 5, 2007, column to the idea of "plantation liberalism," which he defined as "the idea that all black people "owe" Democrats (white people) an unpayable debt, a slavish allegiance to the Democratic Party for life."

A June 23, 2007, column, meanwhile, likened Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to "Prometheus, Elijah, David, Socrates, Jesus, St. Augustine, Galileo, Beethoven, Wilberforce, Booker T. Washington, Einstein, Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa and other iconoclasts" who have "refused to stay on the plantation or have his mind shackled by political mediocrities, subservient thinking or slavish liberal orthodoxy."

Washington's Jan. 26 WND column chastised an unnamed "preacher" for giving "support to your mistress" -- that is, Hillary Clinton -- "as she, though shorter than you, looked down to you and upon all who witnessed this spectacle." Washington offers no evidence that Clinton "looks down" on blacks. Ellis went on to add:

Black preachers across America have been in the forefront of controlling black people's political liberty every election year by demanding their flock vote for a political party that has an unashamed history of undermining your hopes, your dreams, your aspirations under the guise of helping you. On this point, Rev. Preacher, you and your colleagues have been like the overseers of the plantation during slavery times. You have been accorded just enough power by "Masser" to keep those in your charge "on the plantation"; otherwise, what use are you to the Democrat Party?

Washington has committed other fanciful flights of dubious rhetoric: A Dec. 15 2007, column, for instance, is titled "Hellary: Machiavelli's evil twin."

Washington also lets his partisanship get ahead of the facts. In his Jan. 26 column, he wrote: "Two of the KKK's most notable members, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, are both proud Democrats – their infamous membership in the KKK never repudiated by the Democrats to this day." In fact, Byrd has repeatedly apologized for his Klan membership, as ConWebWatch has noted. As for Black, evidence suggests that he was a member for a couple of years in the 1920s out of a combination of political expediency and anti-Catholic animus, not out of racist sympathies. Anyway, his record of championing civil rights -- which Washington curiously fails to mention -- far outstrips his Klan link; as a review of a Black biography notes, "he wrote a ringing opinion upholding the rights of four southern blacks from whom police had coerced a confession of murder." The review added: "Black more than paid for his KKK affiliation with his support of the 1954 school desegregation decision, which rendered him until almost the end of his life a virtual exile in his home state [of Alabama]."

If the "plantation" metaphor is OK to use -- by anyone except Hillary, that is -- it would appear safe to say that for all his fulmination over "plantation liberalism" and his all-too-eager Democrat-bashing, what Washington seems to have done is find himself a new plantation to toil on.

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