There’s this website I’d like to introduce Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to. It’s a fantastically popular one as well. It can be found at Google.com.
The company that runs it has a pretty substantial liberal bias, but I have to admit it’s pretty amazing. You can search for anything and it’ll give you a wealth of information on the topic. “Heaviest rhinoceros?” It was over 10,000 pounds, according to my search results. First state in America? That would be Delaware, the first state to ratify the 1787 Constitution. Biggest pizza ever? It had a diameter of 122 feet, 8 inches.
In fact, many popular web browsers have Google integration, allowing you to literally type stuff into the URL bar on your browser in order to search. It couldn’t be any easier. You can do this at any time — particularly before you tweet. This can be really advantageous if you’re a public figure and want to do a quick fact-check.
I mention this only because I’m fairly certain AOC hasn’t discovered Google yet.
I know — weird, right? Yet, when Ocasio-Cortez talks about how millennials were the first generation to protest the government, you get the feeling this is someone in desperate need of a search engine. Heck, even Wikipedia would do.
Either of those sites would have saved her from the dog’s breakfast that was her astonishing tweet Thursday about the District of Columbia.
Like many of the liberal denizens of the nation’s capital, Ocasio-Cortez wants to see Washington get statehood. Her arguments, however, might not exactly resemble theirs. Or reality.
“DC was the 1st territory in the United States to free the enslaved,” she declared.
“It’s where Black Americans fled the tyranny of slavery & towards greater freedom, to DC. Yet today it’s where 2nd class citizenship reigns, and the right to vote is denied.
“It’s time to recognize DC statehood.”
DC was the 1st territory in the United States to free the enslaved.
It’s where Black Americans fled the tyranny of slavery & towards greater freedom, to DC. Yet today it’s where 2nd class citizenship reigns, and the right to vote is denied.
It’s time to recognize DC statehood. https://t.co/AkfaRHw38C
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 19, 2019
So, let’s unpack the multifarious ways she was wrong.
First: D.C. wasn’t the first territory in the United States to free the enslaved. In fact, she was off by about 300 miles and 75 years.
In 1787 — also the annus mirabilis of the signing of our Constitution — the Northwest Ordinance was signed. This was the governing document of the territory that would eventually be parceled into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
And I quote: “There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided, always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.”
Using Google Maps (another wondrous product of that aforementioned corporation), you’re able to see that the nearest point of the Northwest Territory was about 300 miles away.
She’s off in terms of the time frame as well. For instance, if she had used Google, she might have discovered a page on the District of Columbia’s website that explains some, ahem, inconvenient facts about Washington and slavery.
“The District of Columbia, which became the nation’s capital in 1791, was by 1862 a city of contrasts: a thriving center for slavery and the slave trade, and a hub of anti-slavery activity among abolitionists of all colors,” the website reads. “Members of Congress represented states in which slavery was the backbone of the economy, and those in which slavery was illegal.
“One result of the intense struggle over slavery was the DC Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862, passed by the Congress and signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The act ended slavery in Washington, DC, freed 3,100 individuals, reimbursed those who had legally owned them and offered the newly freed women and men money to emigrate. It is this legislation, and the courage and struggle of those who fought to make it a reality that we commemorate every April 16, DC Emancipation Day.”
Now, look at that date: 1862, in the middle of the Civil War.
Using Google again, Ocasio-Cortez could discover that this war was precipitated because the states that had outlawed slavery in the North were fighting states that refused to outlaw slavery in the South. Definitionally, this would have to mean that a lot of other territories had outlawed slavery long before the District did and were in the midst of the most sanguinary conflict in American history to end it in the other territories.
Hours after her original tweet, AOC followed up by saying, “The right is pushing back on this. To clarify in 280 chars, DC was the first area where enslaved people were freed by the US government.
“It was enacted by the Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862.
“(Certain localities and municipalities did pursue abolition earlier, but none were federally recognized.)”
(Certain localities and municipalities did pursue abolition earlier, but none were federally recognized.)
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 20, 2019
Another amazing thing Ocasio-Cortez could have discovered on Google was that the people in D.C. have “the right to vote.”
The District, in fact, has three electoral votes, which reliably go to whatever Democrat gets put on the ballot. Even when the candidate to the left is getting shellacked — say, George McGovern in 1972 or Walter Mondale in 1984 — he can always count on getting three electoral votes from D.C. In both of those cases, the candidates won only one other state.
Residents of the nation’s capital can also vote for their own city government, including officials like Marion Barry, the “Mayor for Life” of the city who got re-elected even after he went to jail for smoking crack.
I guess what Ocasio-Cortez might be saying is that they should be able to vote on having two senators and representatives like a proper state — a popular position among Democrats since it would boost their numbers.
But then, D.C. statehood isn’t really the issue here. Instead, we’re dealing with the colossal ignorance of the most famous, outspoken Democrats in America. I don’t think it’s too much to expect from our elected officials that they know these things. I certainly did.
Even if they don’t know them, however, it’s definitely not too much to ask for them to Google the facts before they fire off a tweet.
Given that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez didn’t, I can only assume she’s unfamiliar with the website. For her own sake, it may be time to acquaint herself with it.
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