Jack Betts does a nice job today in his Charlotte Observer column on the 1898 Wilmington Race riots . . . highlighting the business-led conspiracy campaign for white supremacy in North Carolina.
In December, the Wilmington Race Riot Commission -- created by the 2000 legislature -- produced a 600-page draft report that documents how white business leaders and Democratic Party officials launched a duplicitous campaign to throw blacks out of office in Wilmington and replace them with whites.
When it was over, the federal government had done nothing to stop the violent overthrow of a legally elected Republican municipal government. Nor did it bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of an unknown number of black citizens, wounding of many others, burning of a black newspaper, firing of black workers or the running out of town of a number of black leaders. Barely a year later, the state adopted a new voting law that effectively disenfranchised most black voters and many poor whites as well, depriving a major portion of the state's population of the right to vote for much of the 20th century.
"Because Wilmington rioters were able to murder blacks in daylight and overthrow Republican government without penalty or federal intervention, everyone in the state, regardless of race, knew that the white supremacy campaign was victorious on all fronts," the report says.
Betts goes on to say:
That racist campaign involved the support of the state's leading newspapers, including The Charlotte Observer.
I believe many recent events echo the underlying elements of this shameful 1898 conspiracy. If two of the state's most powerful newspapers could collude to oppress black citizens, why wouldn't we expect the same from, say, a company like Diebold, whose CEO is on record as committed to "delivering Ohio for President Bush?"
And with new estimates that Bush's war in Iraq could cost as much as $2 trillion one has to wonder . . . just who benefits from all the spending on the so-called War on Terror? Could it be Haliburton, Exxon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Blackwater, GE, and General Dynamics?
You can call me a paranoid conspiracy wacko, but before you get too complacent in your certainty that "it can't happen here," read the report on the Wilmington riots. And remember, it only took a hundred years to get to the bottom of that sad story.