America is “not about being perfect, but when you see a fault repair it,” Clyburn told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Saturday. “We got a fault today in our law enforcement. Let’s repair it. There’s a fault today with 47 states now coming out with these voter suppression laws. Come on, United States of America, let’s repair that.”
Clyburn harkened back to the two-part book “Democracy in America” which was first published during slavery in 1835. Clyburn said author Alexis de Tocqueville’s summary of the United States is fitting for today that “America is not great because it is more enlightened than any other nation, but rather because it has always been able to repair its faults.”
The House Majority Whip said America repaired its wrongs of slavery and segregation laws, but still must repair persisting problems within its institutions, such as with law enforcement. Two House-passed bills Clyburn wants the Senate to pass are the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and H.R. 1, Democrats’ sweeping election reform and voting rights act.
“Let’s correct the faults,” Clyburn said.
Clyburn’s comments come a day after he sided with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who declared in a GOP address Wednesday that “America is not a racist country.”
“I agree with him on that,” Clyburn told the Washington Post Live on Friday. “I don’t think a racist country would have elected Barack Obama as president, or Kamala Harris as vice president.”
Scott, who is Black, took a lot of heat from the left following his rebuttal to President Biden’s joint address to Congress and Twitter allowed the slur “Uncle Tim” to trend for 11 hours following his speech.
Clyburn on Saturday also panned the “defund the police” slogan, arguing that Democrats aren’t for that.
“Nobody ever said that. We’ve never called for defunding the police. Somebody put that slogan into the process,” Clyburn said, adding that he wants to see better policing and more pay to recruit better officers. “That’s what we’re all about. So I’m a little sick and tired of this argument.
“That’s not what we progressives are saying. We progressives are saying that it’s time for us to own up to the fact that we’ve got a problem.”
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina and chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, speaks during a hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Clyburn said he agrees with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., that America is not a racist country. Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Clyburn also called out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who wrote a sternly worded letter this week to the Biden administration condemning the teaching of the 1619 Project in K-12 schools. Clyburn said it’s important for children to know that Blacks were brought to America in 1619 for the purpose of slavery.
“For us to ignore that is to be ignorant about history and ignorant about the facts,” Clyburn said. “… I want every one of my children and grandchildren to know what slavery was all about. If we don’t learn the lessons of history, we’re bound to repeat them.”
The 1619 Project was a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Magazine enterprise that examined the long-term consequences of slavery in America. It was released in 2019 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of enslaved Africans in colonial Virginia in 1619. Certain historians have raised concerns with some of the claims, namely that slavery was a primary reason that colonists fought the American Revolution.
Clyburn said it would be a “mistake” for people to claim that 1619 was the real start of America, just like it would be “wrong” to say America began in 1492 with Christopher Columbus.
“Both of them are wrong. Native Americans have been here forever,” Clyburn said.
“Columbus didn’t discover America,” Clyburn continued. “America was here all the time. Columbus was lost.”