By now, many of you will have seen this ridiculous tweet from Ben Shapiro, an editor for Breitbart.com and a prominent conservative noise maker.
What many of you may not know, is who Dred Scott was and why this comment is so vile.
Dred Scott was a slave whose master took him to the free (anti-slavery) state of Illinois. There, Scott sued claiming that he could no longer be a slave since Illinois outlawed slavery. In other words, he claimed his civil rights were being violated, and demanded that the federal courts declare him free. In one of the worst — if not the worst — decisions in American history, the Supreme Court ruled against Dred Scott (in 1857) because — and I am not making this up — all persons of African descent brought into the United States for the purposes of slavery were by definition not US citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in US courts for violation of their civil rights. In other words, whatever the laws of the state in question, even free blacks were not US citizens with rights if they or their ancestors were brought to the US for the purpose of slavery.
So excuse me, Mr. Shapiro, if I can’t quite equate the requirement to buy health insurance or face a fine with the denial of one’s status as a human being and a citizen on grounds of one’s race.
It’s one thing to not like Obamacare and the individual mandate. It’s another to imagine that your problems look anything like Dred Scott’s.