Martin Bashir Implicates Bachmann in Group's Pledge: Does She Support a 'Return to the Days of Slavery?'

MSNBC's Martin Bashir on Monday wondered if Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum support "a return to the days of slavery" after the two GOP hopefuls signed a pledge on upholding traditional marriage.

Teasing a segment on the topic, the cable anchor mused, "Next, the problem with promises. Did two Republican hopefuls really sign a pledge suggesting a return to the days of slavery?"

[See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Bashir covered the language in a "marriage vow" put together by the Family Leader, a conservative social group in Iowa. In their pledge, the organization suggested, "a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President."

Now, regardless of the historical inaccuracies in the pledge (most slave families weren't allowed to stay together), it's disingenuous to suggest Bachmann and Santorum would sit down and sign a pledge advocating for slavery to return. 

Additionally, although the pledge was clearly poorly worded, it didn't advocate bringing back the institution (or anything close to that).

As Politico reported, the Family Leader has withdrawn the statement, saying that the original intent could be "misconstrued":

“After careful deliberation and wise insight and input from valued colleagues we deeply respect, we agree that the statement referencing children born into slavery can be misconstrued, and such misconstruction can detract from the core message of the Marriage Vow: that ALL of us must work to strengthen and support families and marriages between one woman and one man," the group's officials said in a statement. "We sincerely apologize for any negative feelings this has caused, and have removed the language from the vow.”

While talking with The Grio's Goldie Taylor, Bashir didn't buy this explanation, alleging outright racism from the group: "Now, this statement, and I have to say that both of the candidates have now withdrawn in the light of this pledge that they discovered, but it sounded like to me something of a Freudian slip that this organization does believe that African-American children were better off if their parents were slaves."

A partial transcript of the July 11 segment, which aired at 3:15pm EDT, follows:


3:12

MARTIN BASHIR: Next, the problem with promises. Did two Republican hopefuls really sign a pledge suggesting a return to the days of slavery?

3:15

BASHIR: President Obama pledging today to push the limits to resolve the debt ceiling crisis, but try as he may, a pledge by Republicans of  no new taxes may yet thwart those plans. Meanwhile, two of the top Republican candidates, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are backtracking from controversial pledges of their own. Both have become the first signatories of the Iowa organization's marriage vow, a pledge to uphold the notion of a traditional family. But, the document has raised eyebrows after a portion of suggested that African American children were better off as slaves. It reads, "A child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American president." Remarkable. I'm joined now by Goldie Taylor, an MSNBC contributor and contributing editor for the Grio.com. Good afternoon, Goldie. Now, this statement, and I have to say that both of the candidates have now withdrawn in the light of this pledge that they discovered, but it sounded like to me something of a Freudian slip that this organization does believe that African-American children were better off if their parents were slaves.

GOLDIE TAYLOR: You know, who is to say what they believe or don't believe, but to say that African-American children were better off in 1860 as opposed to 2011 is, you know, a bit more than a Freudian slip, it is an outright racist slap is what it is. To say that, you know, black children living on a plantation with both parents during that time is just simply historically wrong. You know, black fathers were typically sold off away from the family, and so typically, you know, those children were not raised by two parents in 1860, let lone by two parents who give them the love and support they needed today. I will say about 1860, it was the last time in American history there was full employment by African-Americans.

BASHIR: That's true. The President, even just before he was elected made comment, did he not, of irresponsible fathers, particularly in relation to African-American families. So there is some truth in the story or none whatsoever?

TAYLOR: It is absolutely clear and critical that we talk about absentee fathers in 2011, whether they are black fathers, white father or Hispanic fathers. And, so, yes, there is a crisis today in terms of whether or not fathers can be present and accountable for the children. That's a crisis that needs to be addressed. And I would assert if there is a worthy pledge to be put out there, it should be a pledge to work on a daily basis to make sure that parents have the resources, you know, and remove the barriers that are necessary to keep the families intact as long as possible, and that is a pledge that we are willing to get behind.

BASHIR: But, not 1860.

TAYLOR: But to apply it to 1860 and the plight of people of color in 1860s is a flat out racist statement.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org