Sometimes it's helpful to remember that East Texas U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert is just one of 435 members of the U.S. House. If he had more power, his ascientific, ahistoric and afactual view of the world would be menacing. As a back-bencher, Gohmert remains an object of curiosity and a performance artist — more often worthy of confusion or ridicule than fear. Wednesday, during a House committee hearing called to discuss whether the federal government should look into giving the descendants of slaves compensation for their ancestors' involuntary labor, Gohmert put on a show.
Gohmert got on the House Judiciary Committee's mic after testimony from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, actor Danny Glover and Sen. Cory Booker. Coates, notably, took on recent statements by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who suggested that America has done enough to fight the "original sin of slavery" by fighting the Civil War and electing a black president.
“For a century after the Civil War, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror,” said Coates, the author of a 2014 article in The Atlantic titled "The Case for Reparations," “a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell.
“Majority Leader McConnell cited civil rights legislation yesterday, as well he should, because he was alive to witness the harassment, jailing and betrayal of those responsible for that legislation by a government sworn to protect them. He was alive for the redlining of Chicago and the looting of black homeowners of some $4 billion.”
Gohmert, as he so often does, brought a spoon to an intellectual gunfight. After telling Glover how much he loved his movies, Gohmert launched into what he must've viewed as a history lesson, telling the startling truth that no one else at the hearing was ready to reveal.
Democrats, Gohmert revealed, were the party of slavery.
"It is important that we know our history and we not punish people today for the sins of their predecessors in the Democratic Party," Gohmert said, as a member of the hearing's audience shouted "You lie!" "I just stated all facts and again, we have people who are denying history. That's not helpful to our discussion."
While Gohmert deserves kudos for, at least, calling the Democratic Party the Democratic Party, rather than the "Democrat Party," his whataboutist argument about Democrats and slavery are so absurd as to almost not deserve a rebuttal.
Rep. Louie Gohmert: "It is important that we know our history and we not punish people today for the sins of their predecessors in the Democratic Party."— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) June 19, 2019
Person in crowd at #HR40 hearing: "You lie!" pic.twitter.com/DPYC83Pai5
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Here we pause for help from historian Kevin Kruse, who wrote the definitive Twitter thread debunking arguments of the type made by Gohmert after Kanye West went down a similar road in 2018.
Thanks for playing, Rep. Gohmert.