Was Slavery Better for Black Children?

What’s worse: signing a potentially racist statement about traditional marriage, or relentlessly attacking a political candidate’s faith?

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has drawn a barrage of criticism since July 7 when she signed a conservative group’s traditional Marriage Vow. The document’s preamble made the outrageous claim that a slave child in 1860 was more likely to be raised in a two-parent household than a black baby born after the election of the first black president.

Osha Gray Davidson of Forbes quoted Indiana University sociologist Lorraine Blackman about the pledge’s slavery claim, given that her 2005 study, The Consequences of Marriage for African Americanswas cited as its source.

“That’s just wrong,” she said. “It is a serious error.”

At Jack & Jill Politics, Cheryl Contee had this to say:

Given that families were broken up regularly for sales during slavery and that rape by masters was pretty common, this could not be more offensive. … When will Republicans inquire with actual Black people whether or not we’re ok with invoking slavery to score cheap political points?

Zerlina Maxwell added a heap of hyperbole at The Loop 21, but used the misstep to attack Bachmann’s faith.

If Michele Bachmann is a “submissive wife” as she claims to be based on biblical teachings, then how can she be President of the United States?  How can Bachmann be the leader of the free world when she is not the leader of her own household?

The Grio piled on:

If idiocy needed a spokesperson, look no further than Minnesota congresswoman and GOP presidential hopeful, Michele Bachmann.

Politico reports that Bachmann and the group have backtracked.

“In no uncertain terms, Congresswoman Bachmann believes that slavery was horrible and economic enslavement is also horrible,” said [Bachman] campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart.

“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 statement said.

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates isn’t buying it.

The group never acknowledges that they offered no factual basis for their claim. They just are sorry that it “can be misconstrued,” and may have caused “negative feelings.” No one’s actually wrong anymore. They’re just sorry that you can’t handle the “truth.”

At The Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg zeroed in on her underlying concern:

Those who follow Bachmann’s career know that her evangelical commitments are even stronger than her fierce hostility to government. On Thursday, she demonstrated that once again.

Urban Faith wholeheartedly agrees that implying that black children were better off under a system of slavery displays a gross level of historical ignorance and insensitivity. On the other hand, Michele Bachmann’s personal ignorance should not give her political detractors a license to lambast her Christian beliefs. We should be able to call out her prejudice — no matter how unintentional — without resorting to prejudice ourselves.