Our non-fiction blog series "WI Sends its Worst" offers yet another embarrassing look at the Badger State's GOP Congressional delegation.
Regrettably, but not surprisingly, there is a distorted, historical white grievance bias to the episode.
Let me begin with this quote from the most recent 'Tiffany Telegram' newsletter that shines, shall we say, a bright white light on the Northwoods representative's ahistoric and defective partisanship:
Equality for all farmersJust before the Easter holiday, I introduced legislation with my friend and colleague Rep. Burgess Owens of Utah to introduce the Agriculture Civil Rights and Equality Act – or ACRE Act for short. Our bill would prohibit officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture from discriminating or providing preferential treatment to any person on the basis of race, color, national origin or sex.
Telegram readers may recall that the massive spending bill recently signed into law by President Biden includes a $5 billion agriculture debt relief program earmarked exclusively for non-white farmers .
We believe that’s just plain wrong. If we are serious about ending discrimination in the agriculture sector, the first step is for the government to stop doing the discriminating. You can read more about the bill here , and why Mr. Owens and I are working together to put an end to this unfair discrimination.
A war waged by deed of title has dispossessed 98 percent of black agricultural landowners in America.
Analyzing the history of federal programs, the Emergency Land Fund [an early reference to the fund and its focus is here] emphasizes a key distinction. While most of the black land loss appears on its face to have been through legal mechanisms—“the tax sale; the partition sale; and the foreclosure”—it mainly stemmed from illegal pressures, including discrimination in federal and state programs, swindles by lawyers and speculators, unlawful denials of private loans, and even outright acts of violence or intimidation.
Discriminatory loan servicing and loan denial by white-controlled FmHA and ASCS committees forced black farmers into foreclosure, after which their property could be purchased by wealthy landowners, almost all of whom were white. Discrimination by private lenders had the same result. Many black farmers who escaped foreclosure were defrauded by white tax assessors who set assessments too high, leading to unaffordable tax obligations.
The inevitable result: tax sales, where, again, the land was purchased by wealthy white people. Black people’s lack of access to legal services complicated inheritances and put family claims to title in jeopardy. Lynchings, police brutality, and other forms of intimidation were sometimes used to dispossess black farmers, and even when land wasn’t a motivation for such actions, much of the violence left land without an owner.
- Or has been more recently documented in national media:
Discrimination started a century ago with a series of federal Homestead Acts that offered mainly White settlers deeply subsidized land. Since then, local U.S. Department of Agriculture offices charged with distributing loans have frequently been found to deny Black farmers access to credit and to ignore or delay loan applications.
Many Black farmers don’t have clear title to their land, which makes them ineligible for certain USDA loans to purchase livestock or cover the cost of planting, and they have seldom benefited from subsidy payments or trade mitigation compensation — almost all of President Donald Trump’s $28 billion bailout for those affected by the China trade war went to White farmers.
- And was reported in the Journal Sentinel, in 2010:
The U.S. Senate was scheduled to vote Monday night whether to approve funding for a longstanding $1.2 billion settlement for black farmers who accused the government of decades of discrimination. The black farmers' lawsuit was settled in 1996 after a court found the U.S. Department of Agriculture systemically denied black farmers the same loans, grants or subsidies as white farmers solely because of their skin color.
What's remarkable about the huge financial settlement is that it confirmed the kind of widespread institutional racism some people swear doesn't exist in governments.
- And was documented again on Wisconsin Public Television last week:
According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, only .07% of Wisconsin farmers are Black. That’s less than 1%...Today, there are only 62 Black farmers out of more than 88,000 producers statewide.
In 1910, Black farmers owned more than 16 million acres of farmland nationwide. That’s compared to 2.5 million acres in 2017. It’s a major loss of land that several studies have linked back to systemic injustices involving lending practices and access to federal resources.
- I mean, you, me, anyone - even Tom Tiffany - could spend all day reading what's freshly available on this subject:
For decades, the US Department of Agriculture systematically denied Black farmers access to the loans and other aid lavished on their white peers, contributing to foreclosures and millions of acres of lost landfor tens of thousands of farm families.
According to the Land Loss and Reparations Project—a team consisting of Texas A&M’s Thomas Mitchell; University of Massachusetts, Boston, economist Dania V. Francis; the New School’s Darrick Hamilton; Harvard’s Nathan Rosenberg; and journalist Bryce Stucki—the USDA’s historical injustice helped trigger a loss of Black wealth worth at least $300 billion, contributing to a massive and persistent racial wealth gap.
Wouldn't it be nice if Tiffany spent less time and public money bloviating about baseless grievances and began reading up on American history and law?
Taxpayers provide each House member with an annual salary of $174,000 and more than a million dollars annually to run their offices, so even if Tiffany doesn't have the intellectual curiosity to read up on the country and institutions he is supposed to be serving he could assign the same staffers who tap out his 'Telegram' to find him some reading materials so he could do his job and dump that dunce cap.
Here's a start provided several weeks ago during Black History month by Milwaukee Municipal Court Judge Derek Mosley:
Everyone has heard the term “40 Acres and a Mule,” but many don’t know it by its official name, Special Field Orders #15. These were military orders issued on January 16,1865, by General William Tecumseh Sherman of the United States Army. It provided for the confiscation of 400,000 acres of Confederate land along the Atlantic coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and dividing it into parcels of 40 acres on which were to be settled by formerly enslaved families. Mules were not a part of the original order, but Gen. Sherman would make an oral agreement to provide leftover Army mules.
The promise was the first systematic attempt to provide a form of reparations to newly freed slaves. Unfortunately, President Lincoln was assassinated in April of 1865, and his successor, Andrew Johnson, a sympathizer with the South, overturned the Order and returned the land to the very people who had declared war on the United States of America.
The order effectively left 3.9 million blacks to fend for themselves with no money, education, or land. Many were forced to become sharecroppers, working for former slaveholders.
Just imagine had the former slaves actually had access to the ownership of land. If only they had been given a chance to be self-sufficient economically, to build, accrue and pass on wealth.
But I hold out little expectation that someone who already ran roughshod over deeply-embedded tribal treaty rights in his own backyard in preferred obeisance to an out-of-state mining company and more recently as a Member of Congress ran over the US Constitution, too - would suddenly show an interest in doing his job they way it should be done - on behalf of all the people.
Final thought: Let's not kid ourselves, Bucky: White identity politics and the ballot-begging grievances which accompany it are boiler plate Wisconsin Republican talking points and behaviors.
Here is one summary post about that I put up in 2019:
Which is why this headline in The Washington Post today caught my eye:
White identity politics drives Trump, and the Republican Party under himAnd haven't Wisconsin Republicans shown him the way, albeit sometimes - - but not always - - a wee bit more slyly?
* Walker did his part, what with his repetitive resentment-triggering dog whistles about hard-working people paying others to loaf in hammocks and on the couch playing Xbox?
|Walker signing one of his hammock-flipping measures in Milwaukee|
And remember Walker's warning near the end of the 2012 recall election tossed out to a crowd in an upscale, essentially all-white Waukesha County exurban community about Wisconsin becoming "another Milwaukee" should he have lost that election?
That was less a Trumpian 'go back to where you came from' slur and more of a 'keep them in the inner city where they are now' directive.
* And speaking of inner city critiques - - before he became US House Speaker, Paul Ryan said in a radio interview that inner city men were so lazy they didn't even think about working:
”We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.This was before he was elevated by his party to House Speaker. where he could count on support from Badger state US Rep. and resentment champion Glenn Grothman.
* And speaking of Grothman, let's not forget his gratuitous race-baiting hostility towards Kwanzaa expressed as a State Senator:
In his press release, Grothman says "almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa -- just white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people's throats in an effort to divide Americans," and called for the holiday to be "slapped down."This took place before Grothman moved to a safely-gerrymandered congressional district where Wisconsin voters continue to send him to the House of Representatives.