Bachmann Signs Pledge with Questionable Slavery Reference

Photo by Gage Skimore, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/4377543217/sizes/m/in/photostream/">via Flickr</a>.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann is the first Republican presidential candidate to sign the Family Leader pledge disavowing gay marriage, premarital sex, and porn. But perhaps the most outrageous part of the pledge is the section that implies that maybe slavery wasn’t all that bad for black families.

Declaring that “[u]nmistakably, the Institution of Marriage in America is in great crisis,” the document states:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.

Maybe they should get a bit of credit for acknowledging that slavery was “disastrous” for black Americans. But that passage seems to suggest that maybe things actually were better for black Americans then. Yes, being kept as property, forced into marriages arranged by slave masters, and raped by those masters was great for black people. As Jack & Jill Politics also points out, breaking up families to sell off slaves was hardly pro-family values. It’s an insensitive comparison that ignores history.

Bachmann’s campaign has not responded to a request for comment about this particular line in the pledge.

The pledge, which is being promoted by Family Leader president and former Mike Huckabee ally Bob Vander Plaats, asks GOP candidates to committee to 14 vows, including “personal fidelity to my spouse,” rejection of Sharia law, and “earnest, bona fide legal advocacy” for the Defense of Marriage Act. So far, Bachmann is the only candidate to sign on.

UPDATE: We asked the NAACP about the controversial pledge, and Bachmann’s decision to sign it. “It is outrageously insensitive and without factual merit,” said Hilary Shelton, senior vice president for advocacy and policy at the NAACP. “To say that the conditions African Americans are living under today are somehow worse than the conditions under slavery ignores the factual reality that they were bred to be sold … It’s certainly a misrepresentation of our nation’s history and the horrors of slavery.”

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In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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