GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon seemed to confirm this week her belief in a conspiracy theory she offered up in 2020 that the Democratic Party was behind a plot to use COVID-19 and social justice protests to “topple” the United States in retaliation for losing the Civil War.
The comments, originally reported by CNN, were from the June 23, 2020, episode of a show she hosted on Real America’s Voice, a right-wing streaming platform. In media interviews since then, Dixon has declined to walk back the comments, saying kids should be taught “proper history.”
“The country today is divided, and this was the plan,” she said on her show. “It’s been in the works for years. The idea that you can topple the greatest country in the world. But to topple a country like the United States of America, you must be planning this for decades. Why wouldn’t that come from the party that lost the Civil War? The party that wanted to own people because they viewed them as less than human? Do you think that the Democrats are over losing to the North?”
Democratic Party officials in the 1850s and 1860s largely either supported slavery or had little interest in checking its expansion. While Republicans frequently bring up the Democratic Party’s history of racism before, during and after the Civil War, they often fail to acknowledge that both the Democratic and Republican parties underwent significant changes in the 20th century.
Beginning with the New Deal under Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and accelerating after Democratic President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, the voting base of both parties realigned. White southern Democrats, known as “Dixiecrats,” increasingly defected to the Republican Party, while Black voters fled from the GOP and Republican President Richard Nixon pushed the “Southern strategy” to appeal to the racial and cultural grievances of white voters in the South. In recent years, former President Donald Trump formed alliances with far-right groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.
On her show, Dixon further alleged that Democrats were using pandemic restrictions and “white guilt” in the aftermath of the 2020 police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, to enslave “people of all colors.”
“Democrat leaders, meanwhile, they sat back in their designer suits, eating their fillet with their nice béarnaise sauce while they watched the country rip itself apart because they were getting it all back, the slaves again,” said Dixon. “This time they’d be people of all colors – poor and broken, looking to them and begging for help. And they will gladly own you.”
Two days after CNN reported on Dixon’s comments, they were mocked by former President Barack Obama when he campaigned for Dixon’s opponent, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in Detroit.
“First of all … what? What, what?” said Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, as the crowd laughed. “Imagine if instead of coming up with a story about how us having to watch ‘Tiger King’ in our sweatpants was some kind of government plot, she spent some time coming up with some ideas about how to create some more jobs here in Michigan.”
While she criticized Obama’s visit as a “last-minute fly-in” to support Whitmer, who was “panicking because she’s been exposed as a failed governor,” Dixon did not refute the comments.
Her campaign similarly declined to address the substance of the dialogue for both CNN and Bridge Michigan when asked whether Dixon truly believed in the conspiracy, instead castigating the press as favoring Whitmer.
Dixon was asked again on Monday by a reporter for FOX-17 in Grand Rapids whether her comments about the Civil War and Democrats were an accurate depiction.
“Don’t you think that that is a distraction from the fact that Gov. Whitmer came out and said that our kids were not out of school longer than three months, and then all of a sudden, she drops a bunch of her opposition research?” she asked. “I made the point that I believe that our kids should be educated with a proper history. The people who are preventing that from happening are Democrats still to this day, they are preventing that from happening.”
Dixon has focused on student curriculum in her campaign, mostly centered on right-wing cultural issues such as gender identity and critical race theory, a university-level concept not being taught in the vast majority of Michigan’s K-12 schools. It is part of a GOP attack nationally on educational guidelines.
The American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association, the Association of American Colleges & Universities, and PEN America authored a joint statement last year stating their “firm opposition” to legislation that would restrict the discussion of “divisive concepts” in public education.
“Politicians in a democratic society should not manipulate public school curricula to advance partisan or ideological aims,” read the statement. “Educators, not politicians, should make decisions about teaching and learning.”
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