Fancy the surprise of CNN.com’s Harmeet Kaur when she flipped the page on her 365 Reasons to Hate America desk calendar and discovered that Nov. 2 is the 100th anniversary of the Ocoee, Florida race riots. That’s editorial gold in a “news” organization that runs on race baiting, resentment and lefty smugness. And with the election tomorrow, Kaur must have felt like she’d hit the lottery.
And lest you think the glee wasn’t general at CNN, check out the headline someone came up with: “On this day 100 years ago, a White mob unleashed the deadliest Election Day violence in US history.”
What are the Occoee riots? “In the run-up to the 1920 election, Black people in Ocoee were registering to vote in droves -- a reality that threatened the grip of white supremacy,” says Kaur, citing a 2010 essay by University of Florida history professor Paul Ortiz. This obviously didn’t sit will with the white southern Democrats who ran everything.
“‘State and local officials -- along with the Ku Klux Klan -- understood that white supremacy was in trouble,’ Ortiz wrote. “‘They responded mercilessly.’”
“In an attempt to prevent Black people from voting, a White mob in Ocoee killed dozens of African Americans, set fire to their houses and drove them out of the community,” according to Kaur. At least 30 black people were killed.
It’s a shameful incident -- one of many, many that stain pre-Civil Rights era U.S. history. What relevance does it have today? Kaur doesn’t say, which is probably a mercy.
We know CNN wants to remind us that America is bad, and white Americans are the worst. We know CNN would like us to think whites are always scheming to keep black people from voting, and we know that CNN likes to imagine whites are always just a disputed election away from mass lynchings and arson. We know CNN has an interest in keeping us divided, and wants our collective guilt to be top of mind when we enter the voting booth.
The reality a century on from the Occoee massacre is the political violence major cities are preparing for will come, if it does, at the hands of Antifa and Black Lives Matter. The political left are now the intimidators, ready to burn it all down if the election doesn’t turn out their way. But that doesn’t have a place in CNN’s narrative.
Whatever CNN’s motivations, there's a good and productive reason for marking the 100th anniversary of Occoee: to marvel at how far we’ve come. This was the real, crushing institutional racism and race hatred of Jim Crow. It should remind us of the heroism of the Civil Rights movement, undercut the pretensions of multi-millionaire athletes grumbling and musicians grumbling about “systemic racism.”