While the Black delegation is toying around with the idea of making Aug. 5 a national holiday to commemorate the day Black people in Montgomery, Alabama, came together to protect a Black dock worker from white attackers, a Republican presidential candidate is suggesting the cancellation of one of the currently existing Black holidays.
In fact, on the same day Black folks in Montgomery were laying the proverbial smackdown on a family of violent Caucasians, Iowa Republican Vivek Ramaswamy broke down his plan to implement a national voting holiday, which officials could make room for by eliminating other holidays he considers “useless,” including Juneteenth.
“Cancel Juneteenth or one of the other useless ones we made up,” Ramaswamy said during a campaign speech. “You can’t have everything be a holiday, but we’ll cancel one of the other ones and make Election Day a holiday.”
Ramaswamy was going through what appeared to be a list of ways to make U.S. elections more secure, which one can only assume is his way of joining Trump and the rest of the GOP in pretending U.S. elections are vulnerable to widespread voter fraud, despite the fact that there’s no evidence of that as every study has shown that voter fraud in America is extremely rare.
Of course, when he suggested that Juneteenth could be done away with and was “made up” (as if all holidays aren’t), the white audience the man of Indian descent was trying to appeal to laughed and clapped harder in response. (Not that white conservatives prove every day that they’re inherently racist or anything.)
A reporter from NBC News gave Ramaswamy a chance to walk his remarks back by asking him if he really believes Juneteenth is a throwaway holiday, but instead, he leaned right into the controversy he must have known was brewing and doubled down.
“The spirit of Juneteenth we already channeled into other holidays like Martin Luther King Day, like Presidents Day,” Ramaswamy said after being asked if he also considers days like Memorial Day and Veterans Day to be useless, to which he responded that he didn’t. “I think we can commemorate the spirit of that holiday separately. So, I don’t think we should have redundant holidays.”
First of all, how is even the “spirit” of Juneteenth covered by Presidents Day? This is the holiday that commemorates all U.S. presidents, including the ones who owned slaves and advocated for slavery, is it not? That would be like putting a dog pound next to a dog park and declaring that all dog-related businesses matter.
Of course, the more obvious eyebrow-raiser is his suggestion that Juneteenth isn’t necessary because MLK Day already exists. The two days commemorate two different things. What MLK Day commemorates is clearly in the name and Juneteenth represents the anniversary of the last U.S. slaves being freed in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, 64 years before MLK was born. The only thing the two holidays have in common is that they both involve Black people. Meanwhile, the only difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day is the former celebrates dead veterans while the latter celebrates living and dead veterans. But no—the Black one is certainly the “redundant” holiday.
By the way, Vivek Ramaswamy’s remarks about Juneteenth on Saturday stand in direct contradiction of the remarks he made on Juneteenth.
“We don’t just look back and flog ourselves,” Ramaswamy said less than two months before he suggested there’s only room for one Black holiday at a time. “What we celebrate is how far we’ve come. And as a first-generation American myself, you better believe I’m proud of it. Happy Juneteenth everybody.”
So, basically, Vivek Ramaswamy is a person of color with white supremacist tendencies—which is the only kind of POC the GOP will allow at its table—and he’s a poor political strategist pandering to both sides like we don’t all share the same internet. He also reminds us exactly what Republicans and conservatives think about Black history.
Please go out and vote in 2024, folks.
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