Mainstream media outlets are falling in line with the decree issued by New York Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet last week which demanded that virtually everything be tied to slavery.
CBS host Gayle King did not disappoint during an interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones, a writer for the New York Times. It was Hannah-Jones who penned the essay which introduced the newspaper’s new initiative, the “1619 Project.” The exchange can be viewed in the video below.
King, who has adopted the new narrative eagerly and completely, said, “The thing that’s so amazing about this that makes me so proud, you can look at just about anything happening in the world today and tie it to slavery…You look at the naming of Wall Street. You look at sugar that we eat. But the thing that stuck out to me was health care, you can tie health care to slavery.”
And Hannah-Jones responded:
We’re the only western industrialized country that doesn’t have universal health care. It starts with opposition to universal health care that occurs right after slavery when the Freedsmen’s Bureau was trying to offer free health care to the formerly enslaved and there was opposition to that. And so even today, you see with polling white Americans will reject social programs if they think large numbers of black people will benefit from them. So, the harms from slavery have not been contained because there are millions of white Americans, there are millions of Latinos and Asians and black Americans who don’t have health care, who can’t get insurance because of slavery.
That’s some profound analysis from Hannah-Jones. It’s so ridiculous, it’s difficult to take seriously. Universal health care was not even a thought in 1865 when the U.S. was reeling from a long and bloody war that had nearly torn apart the country.
Approximately 625,000 white American men had just died in a fight to eliminate slavery. According to Ancestry.com, this number is greater than the number of American deaths in “both World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam combined. This amounted to 2 percent of the population at the time, which would be equivalent to about 6 million Americans dying today.”
Hannah-Jones would like us to believe the U.S. doesn’t have universal health care in 2019 because white Americans were opposed to providing free health care to former slaves 154 years ago.
On the contrary, it might surprise these ladies to hear that following the Civil War, from 1865 to 1870, the U.S. government provided free health care to over one million sick and dying slaves. The government established the “Freedmen’s Bureau” which built 40 hospitals and employed over 120 physicians.
Perhaps most important is that prior to the early 1900s, no governments were in the business of providing healthcare to their citizens. Blacks weren’t excluded from federal healthcare. There was no federal healthcare.
There were two exceptions. In 1798, President John Adams signed a public health law called “An act for the relief of sick and disabled Seamen.” Every seaman paid 20 cents per month which paid for marine hospitals to be built and for the care of sick and disabled marines. It covered no other segments of the population, not even the spouses of covered marines.
Additionally in 1854, the “Bill for the Benefit of the Indigent Insane passed both houses of Congress, but was vetoed by President Franklin Pierce.” His reason? “The federal government should not commit itself to social welfare, which should be the responsibility of the states.”
The next time the issue of federal government involvement in healthcare was raised was by then-former President Theodore Roosevelt (he was out of office at that time) who ran for president in 1912 and campaigned on “sickness insurance.” He was defeated and that ended that.
European countries were the first to pass any form of social welfare. In 1911, the United Kingdom passed the National Insurance Act of 1911 that provided medical care and replacement of some lost wages if a worker became ill. It did not, however, cover spouses or dependents.
It wasn’t until the Great Depression until the government became involved in social welfare.
This brief history indicates that, outside of the seaman’s monthly premium system, the federal government did not provide healthcare for any of its citizens, white, black, Native-American or otherwise until President Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930’s. It simply was not even on the government’s radar until then.
The fact that the U.S. government has not passed universal healthcare is because the majority of American voters oppose it. This has zero, zip, nada to do with race or slavery and everything to do with defeating Trump. To suggest otherwise is to be disingenuous. This is BS and I think both Hannah-Jones and King know it is.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on them. After all, they’re just following orders.
(Relevant segment begins at 4:00)