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U.S. congresswoman tells Stephen Colbert slavery practiced in Brooklyn in 1898

posted at 4:32 pm on September 7, 2012 by

Some myths are all-pervasive and indestructible. Take the widespread belief that slavery was still practiced in Brooklyn as late as 1898—a full 35 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

OK, maybe the myth is not all that widespread. In fact, it appears to be limited one person, Yvette Clarke. But since Clarke represents New York’s 11th congressional district, which is in Brooklyn, one might reasonably assume she knows a thing or two about the borough’s history.

And one would assume wrong. It’s easy to see where Clarke got tripped up. She was being interviewed during the DNC by Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert. At one point in a video of the exchange, which is here, the mock-conservative host threw the congresswoman a curve ball. He asked her about the ”Great Mistake of 1898.” The phrase, still common among old hands, was a reaction back in the day to Brooklyn’s merger with the City of New York—a move that many believed would strip “America’s third largest city” of its unique local color.

Clarke seemed clueless about the reference even though Colbert prefaced his question by explaining what it meant, so she hazarded a guess that also had to do with another sort of “local color.” When asked what she would say to the people of Brooklyn if she could travel back to 1898, her response was, “I would say to them, ‘Set me free’.”

Pressed by a bemused (and amused) Colbert to explain what she would have been freed from, Clarke replied, “Slavery.”

Colbert pressed further, asking, “Who would be enslaving you in 1898 in New York?” Clarke responded, “The Dutch.”

That’s the same Dutch presumably that formally ceded control of the colony of New Amsterdam to the English in 1674. As for slavery, it was legally abolished in New York in 1827.

New York’s Daily News recalls that Clarke, a former city councilwoman, came under scrutiny for lying in campaign literature in 2004 and 2005 by claiming she graduated from Oberlin College. She attended the school, but didn’t graduate. She blamed a bad memory for those misrepresentations.

Kristia Beaubrun, a spokeswoman for the congresswoman, insisted it was all a joke. A joke it was—and is—though not in the manner Beaubrun intended.

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Oh dear. And, she will most likely be set for life after her term(s) are over. Arrrgh!

Fallon on September 7, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Kristia Beaubrun, a spokeswoman for the congresswoman, insisted it was all a joke.

I seriously do not understand how she thinks this works as a joke.

JohnBrown on September 7, 2012 at 4:54 PM

In fact, it appears to be limited one person, Yvette Clarke. But since Clarke represents New York’s 11th congressional district, which is in Brooklyn, one might reasonably assume she knows a thing or two about the borough’s history.

That this woman could elected to anything tells you a lot about New York’s 11th congressional district.

Bitter Clinger on September 7, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Are you going to tell that the Germans didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor now?

mwbri on September 7, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Some myths are all-pervasive and indestructible. Take the widespread belief that slavery was still practiced in Brooklyn as late as 1898—a full 35 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Yep, some myths are indestructible, like the myth that the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) ended slavery.
Ever heard of the 13th Amendment, adopted in 1865?

single stack on September 7, 2012 at 5:43 PM

Harriet Tubman had the Underground Railway moving slaves from the south to freedom across the Mason-Dixon line. Yvette Clarke apparently had the Brooklyn Bridge elevated railway via Myrtle Avenue doing the same thing to shuttle slaves from the plantations of Bushwick to Manhattan.

jon1979 on September 7, 2012 at 6:03 PM

One has to be really stupid to be a democrat or to vote for one.

bayview on September 7, 2012 at 8:06 PM

Must twist Colbert up inside when he interviews a Democrat that’s demonstrably dumber than the straw-man “Republican” he plays.

Count to 10 on September 7, 2012 at 8:50 PM

Now I can put a face on haughtiness.

ericdijon on September 7, 2012 at 8:53 PM

Just another Dumocratic Congress(wo)man. One of many. Room temp IQs seem to be a requirement.

Joe Mama on September 7, 2012 at 8:56 PM

That this woman could elected to anything tells you a lot about New York’s 11th congressional district.

Bitter Clinger on September 7, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Considering Rangel also has a job and represents Manhattan…Well they can’t be that proud either.

You also got to remember, just like Massachusetts NYC is a Union Hack enclave that would make commissars in Russia green with envy.

Throw in a (un)healthy dose of ‘Identity Politics’ and you got the bubble crap stew that you today.

BlaxPac on September 7, 2012 at 11:05 PM

Joe Biden, please call the congresscritter.

SouthernGent on September 7, 2012 at 11:12 PM

And this year’s Hank Johnson Dangerously Stupid Award goes to…DEMOCRAT Yvette Clark.

Living in Brooklyn I can tell you, she’s actually one of the more intelligent politicians. Go look up Nydia Velasquez.

Western_Civ on September 8, 2012 at 1:32 AM

After she’s done saving slaves, perhaps she can stop Guam from turning upside down. Then she can fix the debt situation now that we’re in a full recovery.

Bigurn on September 8, 2012 at 5:38 AM

libfreeordie showing up to explain that you guys only say that because you are racists and that everybody else, including his keyboard, is also racist in 3… 2… 1…

Valkyriepundit on September 8, 2012 at 9:03 AM

Was Clarke out drinking with DWS the night before? This doesn’t speak well of the partial education she obtained at Oberlin. Maybe she was going for a degree in Black History Studies.

Kissmygrits on September 8, 2012 at 10:55 AM

New York’s Daily News recalls that Clarke, a former city councilwoman, came under scrutiny for lying in campaign literature in 2004 and 2005 by claiming she graduated from Oberlin College. She attended the school, but didn’t graduate. She blamed a bad memory for those misrepresentations.

Wait. I can see how a bad memory made her incapable of learning. But how could it make her “forget” that she DIDN’T graduate?

When you remember something that didn’t happen, that’s the opposite of forgetfulness; it’s hallucination. And when your fraudulent recollection is a major life experience, that’s not just a bad memory; it’s a bad… well, brain.

logis on September 8, 2012 at 11:01 AM

I can understand the mixup on the dates. To liberals, everything that happened before the 1960′s just sort of lumps together in one huge blur.

But I wish Colbert had followed up on the tax-the-job-creators answer. If you gave someone a job, but didn’t have any money to pay him, wouldn’t THAT be slavery?

logis on September 8, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Some myths are all-pervasive and indestructible. Take the widespread belief that slavery was still practiced in Brooklyn as late as 1898—a full 35 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Yep, some myths are indestructible, like the myth that the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) ended slavery.
Ever heard of the 13th Amendment, adopted in 1865?

single stack on September 7, 2012 at 5:43 PM

holy crap you snarky snark bottom. here is the text from the EP

“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”

So yes, it only applied to states in rebellion…and it took 2 more years (ish) to finish the amendment (takes votes by all the states to be official) but the EP is the understood starting point.

Sometimes by trying to look extra smart…you just look like a tool.

airmonkey on September 8, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Yvette (bless her heart) ought to get together with Hank Johnson and Debbie Wasserman Shultz and form a Congressional Stupid People Caucus.

Hayabusa on September 8, 2012 at 11:58 AM

They gonna put y’all back in chains.

Abby Adams on September 8, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Sometimes by trying to look extra smart…you just look like a tool.

airmonkey on September 8, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Lincoln declared slaves to be free in a place where he had no authority-a sovereign nation called the Confederate States of America. The edict excluded the slaves in the Union. The CSA was not “in rebellion”; the states that formed the Confederacy declared their independence and formed their own union, as Lincoln himself had previously argued they had the right to do. Does the phrase “consent of the governed” ring a bell?

and it took 2 more years (ish) to finish the amendment (takes votes by all the states to be official) but the EP is the understood starting point.

The Emancipation Proclamation was not a Constitutional Amendment or any part of one. It was an Executive Order. Executive Orders are not law, since the President has no legislative authority, and are not in any way connected to the amendment process.

So how many slaves were actually freed as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation?

NONE, zero, nada, zilch.

Did the Emancipation Proclamation end slavery?

NO, it did not. Slavery continued on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line until after the war when the 13th Amendment was adopted. (it was ratified through coercion and duress)

Yep, you look like a tool. An ignorant tool.

single stack on September 8, 2012 at 12:44 PM

and it took 2 more years (ish) to finish the amendment (takes votes by all the states to be official) but the EP is the understood starting point.

It takes ratification by 3/4 of the state legislatures for a Constitutional Amendment to “be official”.

single stack on September 8, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Disappointed.
I thought this was going to be about Clarke practicing Santeria.

vityas on September 8, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Check out the big brain on Brad.

Howard Portnoy on September 8, 2012 at 1:03 PM

A Stunner From the Party of S/S/S and “Guam Might Tip Over and Capsize”..

http://predicthistunpredictpast.blogspot.com/2012/09/a-stunner-from-party-of-slavery.html

M2RB: Gloria Gaynor singing the theme song for “Survivor: Detroit”

Resist We Much on September 8, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Colbert pressed further, asking, “Who would be enslaving you in 1898 in New York?” Clarke responded, “The Dutch.”

Nigel Powers was unavailable for comment.

RDuke on September 8, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Colbert pressed further, asking, “Who would be enslaving you in 1898 in New York?” Clarke responded, “The Dutch.”

…never took a History class?

KOOLAID2 on September 8, 2012 at 6:28 PM

She “forgot” that she didn’t graduate? I’ll bet her memory was razor-sharp when Friday rolled around and it was time to “remember” to pick up her paycheck.

tpitman on September 10, 2012 at 5:58 AM