Tar Heel Teabilly at CPAC: Frederick Douglass Should Have Thanked His Former Slave Master for Giving Him Food and Shelter

In the above exchange from a panel discussion on minority outreach at CPAC titled, “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” (so not kidding), Scott Terry, 30, from North Carolina, shared his views on white supremacy and the ingratitude of once-enslaved people toward their former masters with the facilitator of the panel, Karl C. Smith, a member of the Frederick Douglass Republican club.


TERRY: It seems to like you’re reaching out to voters [garbled] program at the expense of young white Southern males like myself — my demographic. Um. I studied literature — English literature ‘n stuff. And as I read about the past, I really came to love my people and my culture.

SMITH: ‘Kay.

TERRY: And that — I know that anathema. I mean I know it’s…

WOMAN: No, it isn’t.

MAN: Nobody said that.

TERRY: So my question would be. I feel like my people, my demographic, are being systematically disenfranchised.

SMITH: (Nods head.) Yeah.

TERRY: And furthermore — ya know — people like the lady over here in the red shirt applaud and say “Yeah, that’s good.” My problem is, why can’t we be more like Booker T. Washington Republicans? Unified like a hand but separate like the fingers?

SMITH: The questions is, why can’t we be more unified like Booker T. Washington Republicans. [Garbled] Frederick Douglass. They called Booker T. Washington the second Frederick Douglass.Frederick Douglass was the originator. Okay? So when you say Douglass — Douglass was not —

TERRY: What about unity and diversity?

SMITH: What about it?

TERRY: Why can’t — ?

SMITH: Here’s an example: When Douglass escaped from slavery, I think 10 years or 20 years after he escaped, he writes a letter to his former slave master and said, “I forgive you for all the things you did to me.”

TERRY: For giving him shelter and food and all that?


Think Progress, which broke the story, interviewed Terry after the event:

ThinkProgress spoke with Terry, who sported a Rick Santorum sticker and attended CPAC with a friend who wore a Confederate Flag-emblazoned t-shirt, about his views after the panel. Terry maintained that white people have been “systematically disenfranchised” by federal legislation.

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.”

He claimed to be a direct descendent of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

The panel continued to be racked in controversy, as an African-American audience member repeatedly challenged the racism on display at this event.

Earlier in the panel, Smith appears to have opened the door to this sort of exchange, according to a report by the Washington Posts’ Alexandra Petri, who was in the room:

“The word conservative,” Smith explains, “the word ‘Republican,’ the word ‘U.S. Constitution,’ those words have a negative connotation in this country. We’re losing the propaganda battle. You might as well call yourself a racist. Say ‘Frederick Douglass Republican.’ It piques interest. Those who frame the debate win the debate.”

He explains that Douglass was “born below poverty. When you’re born into poverty at least you own your own body.”

Douglass, Smith notes, never slept in a bed until the age of 10. He escaped from slavery at the age of 20. What does that mean?

“Slavemaster-run health care,” Smith says. “Slavemaster entitlements. Douglass was a 47 percenter. Slavemasters were Democrats.”

I am not making any of this up.

“Douglass,” he goes on to note, “was a capitalist.”

“AMEN,” says the revolutionary soldier.

He died wealthy, Smith explains. “He wrote three autobiographies. He owned two newspaper companies… Douglass was a 47 percenter. He became a 1 percenter.”

So, say you’re a Frederick Douglass Republican. “When someone that’s not an African American says ‘I’m a Frederick Douglass Republican’ … you’re not seen as a racist.”

(Is this true? Is this not the equivalent of saying, “Historically, I have a lot of black friends?” Is this not, in some ways, worse?)

“He affirms the Founding Fathers and he affirms the Constitution,” Smith notes. “Race-baiting comes off the table.”

“How are you going to call a Frederick Douglass Republican a racist?” Er. Is this a rhetorical question?

“You cannot out-victimize Douglass. I don’t care what kind of categories. Nobody can out-victimize Douglass, a runaway slave…. Slavery is based on the distorted philosophy of taking the fruits of one man’s labor and giving it to another so that he can remain idle…. Douglass believed in assimilation. Now do you understand why you don’t hear too much about Douglass?”

Someone from North Carolina named Scott Terry posted an article titled, “A Young Man’s Reading List” on a right-wing blog site. The list includes “A Foreign Policy of Freedom,” by Ron Paul; “The Foundations of Christian Scholarship,” edited by Gary North; “The Institutes of Biblical Law,” by R.J. Rushdoony; “In Defense of Tradition,” Richard Weaver; ‘n stuff, by which I mean 21 other similar titles.

Ron Paul needs no introduction. Rushdoony is the “father of Christian Reconstructionism” and an advocate for replacing the U.S. Constitution with biblical law. Gary North was one of the first people to predict that Y2k would be a disaster and is a founder of the Institute for Christian Economics. Weaver was an early prototype neo-Confederate.


  • steve olsen
    March 15, 2013 - 10:04 pm | Permalink

    GOP minority outreach? How’s that goin’?

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