While some in the media claim that President Donald Trump is trying to bring back “Jim Crow” in America, former ESPN host Jemele Hill has gone even farther back in history to claim that Trump has fulfilled the 150-year-old racist vision of former U.S. President Andrew Johnson.
In a recent editorial for Atlantic, Hill insisted Trump is looking to put into place Andrew Johnson’s vision of a white America.
While noting that the tradition of having sports teams visit the White House started in 1865 when baseball was first played on the White House lawn, Hill reached for a comparison with the president who took the White House after the assassination of Abe Lincoln.
But President Andrew Johnson wasn’t really on board with a message of togetherness. Around that time, The Cincinnati Enquirer quoted Johnson as telling the governor of Missouri, “This is a country for white men, and by God, so long as I am president, it shall be a government for white men.”
That divisive proclamation 154 years ago turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Johnson wanted a government where certain people felt excluded. Under Trump, Johnson’s wish came true.
Donald Trump is not prone to quoting Andrew Johnson who served only one term after refusing to put Lincoln’s reconstruction agenda into place at the conclusion of the war. But Hill is hardly alone in comparing Trump to Johnson despite the non-existent ties.
The Washington Post for instance, recently posted an attack on Trump as the second coming of the racist Andrew Johnson. Despite lacking any direct parallels, after over a dozen paragraphs of assumed connections, the Post can only offer “a potential” parallel concerning Trump’s “legacy.”
Like the Post, Hill’s proclamation with no real historical basis but the claim says more about her state of mind than the historical facts.
Indeed, the real facts argue against any comparison between Andrew Johnson and Donald Trump. Johnson spoke directly and forcefully against equal rights for blacks and worked to make sure they could not compete in the workplace with white people. On the other hand, Donald Trump’s policies have created the lowest unemployment rate for blacks in history and led to higher black small business ownership than at any point in the country’s history.
Meanwhile, a Morning Consult poll taken in March shows Trump’s approval rate among blacks measures in at 12 percent, four points higher than his support in 2016.
More to the point, the eight percent of the black vote Trump won in 2016 was higher than the six percent GOP nominee Mitt Romney won in 2012.
Not to mention the fact, Andrew Johnson was a Democrat.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.