Despite opposition from Republican voters, Juneteenth platitudes pour in from all sides
After a unanimous vote in the Senate and a 415-14 vote in the House, President Joe Biden officially recognized June 19 – ‘Juneteenth’ – as a federal holiday on Thursday. Once a regional celebration unique to Texas, the date has been recognized in some capacity by 46 states since the 1980s, and commemorates the day – June 19, 1865 – that the last slaves in the south learned of their freedom after the Civil War.Also on rt.com New Jersey governor signs legislation to mark Juneteenth that bars landlords from requesting tenants’ criminal history
Glancing at social media, one would think that Republicans and Democrats had put their differences aside in marking the occasion. However, lawmakers’ messages were split along partisan lines. Democrats hailed the day as another landmark on the path toward racial “equity” in the US, and used the occasion to promote race-focused bills and other partisan legislation.
The best way to celebrate #Juneteenth is to get focused, get educated, and realize we are in a fight to protect our right to vote. 14 states are already trying to advance voter suppression laws, and that number will only grow. Let’s celebrate, but let's act. End the filibuster!— Maxine Waters (@RepMaxineWaters) June 19, 2021
To honor the true meaning of Juneteenth, we have to continue toward that promise of equality for all. pic.twitter.com/tu6m038Y8T— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 19, 2021
Happy #Juneteenth! 156 years since the end of slavery, we must all commit to addressing the generational pain and suffering of our Black communities who continue to struggle for true freedom. Meaningful policy changes to end structural racism are needed. pic.twitter.com/jAhwtGvQUk— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) June 19, 2021
Republicans – who overwhelmingly backed the establishment of the holiday – portrayed the day as a “celebration of freedom,” and avoided the racially charged calls to action of their Democrat colleagues.
#Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and today we celebrate the inherent freedoms we share as Americans.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) June 19, 2021
On #Juneteenth we commemorate the moment the order, “All Slaves are Free”, ushered in Emancipation. We remember the millions of African Americans who suffered the evils of slavery & we cherish their countless contributions that have enriched every facet of American life.— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) June 19, 2021
Steering clear of these calls was probably a wise strategy for the GOP. A poll taken earlier this month found that only 7% of Republican voters supported making Juneteenth a national holiday, compared to 57% of Democrats. And no matter how Republicans in Congress wrapped it up, even middle-of-the-road conservative pundits spoke out against the holiday.
“America only has one Independence Day and it's on July 4th, 1776,” conservative activist Charlie Kirk tweeted on Thursday. “We now have 2 summer holidays – and one of them based on race,” he tweeted earlier that day. “Shame on the GOP for supporting this.”
Lincoln knew America’s founding was July 4 1776. He knew that was the day our amazing nation made a step from “ideal” to reality“Juneteenth” is an affront to the unity of July 4th. We now have 2 summer holidays—and one of them based on raceShame on the GOP for supporting this— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) June 17, 2021
Candace Owens, a prominent black conservative, caused a stir on Thursday when she declared the holiday a Democrat effort to “repackage segregation” and said she’d be “celebrating July 4th and July 4th only.”
No GOP member should support Juneteenth. It’s antithetical to America and spits in the face of their voters https://t.co/wy8MYHKjxy— crypto lefty🌹 (@leftyinvests) June 19, 2021
As an elected Republican, how can you credibly claim to oppose CRT/1619 Project if you voted to enshrine “Juneteenth” as our “Second Independence Day?”You oppose anti-American history education, but you inaugurated a new, totally obscure national holiday for self-flagellation?— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) June 17, 2021
The wording of the act signed by Biden irked some conservatives, too. They saw the name – the ‘Juneteenth National Independence Day Act’ – as an attempt to supplant Independence Day on the national calendar.
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