Fact check: Democratic Party did not found the KKK, did not start the Civil War – USA TODAY

Posted By on July 1, 2020

Historical Confederate monuments are being taken down and defaced from protests over the death of George Floyd. Storyful

As America marks a month of protests against systemic racism and many peopledraw comparisons between current events and thecivil rights movement, an oversimplified trope about the Democratic Partys racist past has been resurrectedonline.

Friendly reminder that if you support the Democrat Party, you support the party that founded the KKK and start a civil war to keep their slaves," claims animage of a tweetInstagram user @snowflake.tears shared on June on 19.

Many Instagram users read between the lines for the tweets implication about the modern Democratic and Republican parties. Some argued this past action discredited current liberal policies while others said it did not matter.

Everyone knows that Abraham Lincoln fought to free the slaves, but he also created the Republican Party, and was the leader of it to help fight to free the slaves, yet its said that most black people still vote for Democrats who fought to keep the slaves, user @shrukenshmuck commented.

Im a conservative but I find this argument pretty stupid because clearly thats not what they support anymore, values change overtime, user @james.dubee wrote.

Historians agree that although factions of the Democratic Party did majorly contribute to the Civil War's start and KKK's founding, it is inaccurate to say the party isresponsible for either.

Instagram user @snowflake.tears has not yet returned USA TODAYs request for comment.

Princeton University Edwards Professor of American History Tera Hunter told USA TODAY this trope is a fallback argument used to discredit current Democratic Party policies.

At the core of the effort to discredit the current Democratic Party is the refusal to accept the realignment of the party structure in the mid-20th century, Hunt said.

In September 2019,NPR host Shereen Marisol Maraji called the claim, one of the most well-worn clapbacks in modern American politics.

Comedian Trevor Noah tackled the misleading trope on an episode of "The Daily Show" in March 2016, after two CNN contributors debated the topic.

Every time I go onto Facebook I see these things: Did you know the Democrats are the real racist party and did you know the Republicans freed the slaves? Noah joked. A lot of people like to skip over the fact that when it comes to race relations, historically, Republicans and Democrats switched positions.

A similar meme attributing the claimto U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban DevelopmentBen Carson has been circulating social media since November 2016.

Who started the KKK? That was Democrats. Who was the party of slavery? Who was the part of Jim Crow and segregation? Who opposed the Civil Rights Movement? Who opposed voting rights? It was all the Democrats, the meme reads.

Other posts making more specificclaims about the Democratic Partystarting the Civil War or founding the KKK continue to circulate.

This trope was rated false by PolitiFact and theAssociated Press in October 2018.

Lincoln Memorial in April 2015 in Washington, DC.(Photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)

Abolitionists founded the Republican Party and elected President Abraham Lincoln in response to escalating tensions around slavery after the Kansas-NebraskaBill of 1854threatened the balance of slave states to free states.

Southern states, primarily lead by Democrats, initiated secession proceedings and launched the Civil War. However, historians say the party is not to blame.

The short answer is that the Democratic Party did not start the Civil War, Hunter said. The war was initiated by Southern slaveholding states seceding from the United States.

Fact check: Congress did not designate Confederate veterans as U.S. veterans

Smithsonians National Museum of American HistoryCurator of Political and Military History, Jon Grinspan agreed with Hunter.

A splinter of a splinter of a Democratic Party really contributed to thesecession and the coming of the war, he told USA TODAY. It would be wrong to say the Democratic Party started the Civil War. It would be right to say some Democrats really contributed to the start of the Civil War.

Grinspan pointed to the many Democrats, nicknamed Copperheads, that fought for the Union as evidence that the Civil War was not Democrats versusRepublicans.

Fact check: Joe Biden's great-grandfather didn't own slaves, fight for Confederacy

The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1866 by ex-Confederate soldiers Frank McCord, Richard Reed, John Lester, John Kennedy, J. Calvin Jones and James Crowe in Pulaski, Tennessee. The group was originally a social club but quickly became a violent white supremacist group.

Its first grand wizard was Nathan Bedford Forrest, an ex-Confederate general and prominent slave trader.

Fact check:Photo shows Biden with Byrd, who once had ties to KKK, but wasn't a grand wizard

Experts agree the KKK attracted many ex-Confederate soldiers and Southerners who opposed Reconstruction, most of whom were Democrats. Forrest even spoke at the 1868 Democratic National Convention.

The KKK is almost a paramilitary organization thats trying to benefit one party. It syncs up with the Democratic Party, which really was aracist party openly at the time, Grinspan said. But the KKK isnt the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party isnt the KKK.

Although the KKK did serve the Democratic Partys interests, Grinspan stressed that not all Democrats supported the KKK.

Anti-Defamation Leagues Center on Extremism Senior Fellow Mark Pitcavage told the Associated Press that many KKK members were Democrats because the Whig Party had died off and Southerners disliked Republicans after the Civil War. Despite KKK members' primary political affiliation, Pitcavage said it is wrong to say the Democratic Party started the KKK.

Fact check: Yes, historians do teach that first Black members of Congress were Republicans

After Reconstruction and as the Jim Crow period set in during the 1870s, the Klan became obsolete.Through violence, intimidation and systematic oppression, the KKK had served its purpose to help whites retake Southern governments.

In 1915, Cornell William J. Simmons restarted the KKK. This second KKK was made up of Republicans and Democrats, although Democrats were more widely involved.

The idea that these things overlap in a Venn diagram, the way they did with the first Klan, just isnt as tight with the second Klan, Grinspan said.

According to Grinspan, the Republican Party was much more concerned with protecting African Americans and their voting rights from its founding through the early 20th century. In the mid-20th century, both parties' stances on racial equity began to switch.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964.(Photo: National Archives / Getty Images)

It starts with FDR and the New Deal, but the actions with Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s with the Voting Rights Act and civil rights legislation really kind of seals the deal, Grinspan said.

Fact check: Southern Dems held up 1964 Civil Rights Act, set filibuster record at 60 days

As the Democrats introduced policies to support voting rights, it became the favored party for most Black voters and has remained so since. With that realignment, many racist voters who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 left the Democratic Party to become Republicans.

That was 150 years ago and the parties are totally different today, Grinspan said. Its like a dinosaur to a modern-day bird. So much evolution has happened. These really arent the same groups anymore.

Noah has mocked the political trope of highlighting the Democratic Partys racist past to question its current progressive policies.

That was true in like 1910, but then after World War II Democratic presidents like Truman and Johnson started supporting civil rights laws and that led to a mass exodus of racists from the Democratic Party, Noah mocked the claim in 2016. Just because something used to be something doesnt mean it still is. What matters more is what it is now.

Fact check: Yes, Kente cloths were historically worn by empire involved in West African slave trade

We rate the claim that the Democratic Party started the Civil War to preserve slavery and founded the KKK as FALSE because it is not supported by our research. Experts agreethat although factions of the Democratic Party were responsible for the South's secession and the rise of theKKK it is inaccurate to claim the party is responsible for either. The Democratic Party was undoubtedly the party of racism and white supremacy during and after the Civil War. However, it evolved throughout the late 20th century, and garnered the support of most Black voters.

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.

Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.


Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/06/30/fact-check-democratic-party-did-not-found-kkk-start-civil-war/3253803001/

Read the original post:
Fact check: Democratic Party did not found the KKK, did not start the Civil War - USA TODAY

Related Post


Comments are closed.