When we last heard from Pastor Mark Burns of Harvest Praise and Worship Center in Easley, South Carolina; one of Donald Trump’s highest-profile black supporters, he was giving the benediction at the opening night of the Republican National Convention. In one of the most outrageous moments from a convention stuffed full of them, Burns reminded the delegates that “our enemy is Hillary Clinton and the liberal Democratic Party!”
Well, if it were possible for Burns to sink lower than that, he did on Monday when he fired off this tweet attacking Hillary Clinton.
Let’s call this tweet for what it is, folks. This was a racist tweet of a racist cartoon. There is no other way to describe portraying a white woman in blackface, speaking in ebonics. And any black man who finds it even remotely acceptable to tweet this is a disgrace to the race. Period, full stop.
Can you imagine what would have happened if a white pro-Trump pastor had tweeted this bilge? He would have likely been forced to apologize, and would have been very lucky to keep his pulpit. Just because an African-American pastor tweets it doesn’t make it any less racist.
Burns has maintained that Hillary only cares about African-Americans’ votes, and nothing else. Um, Mark? As one reasonably well-educated black man to another, here’s some advice. If you’re trying to win blacks over to Trump, tweeting out racist garbage like this isn’t going to help. You’re only one year younger than me, and you have a somewhat decent education, so I’m sure you can spot a dog whistle. This cartoon certainly qualifies.
It turns out that the cartoon Burns tweeted was originally created by right-wing political cartoonist A. F. Branco of Comically Incorrect in April. Frankly, I’m surprised this didn’t gain more attention before now. It says a lot about Branco that he found this even remotely acceptable.
Burns dropped by MSNBC’s “MTP Daily” to try to defend his outrageous tweet. I say “try” because he failed miserably. Watch here.
Burns told guest host Kristen Welker that he posted that tweet as an expression of “frustration” at how blacks have been voting Democratic for years “and yet, we have very little to show for it.” He claimed that Hillary was going to “tap dance for the black vote” before going into hiding until the next election.
Welker was having none of it, pointing out that blackface is universally considered offensive and racist, “no matter who it applies to.” Amazingly, Burns tried to defend Branco’s cartoon as racist. He then tried to pivot to a reported picture of the Clintons attending an event with Hillary in blackface–a claim that has been completely debunked. When Welker tried to get him to state whether he stood by the tweet, Burns conceded blackface was offensive–but nowhere near as offensive as blacks being in poverty.
Welker tried to pin him down again, wondering why Burns was making such an outrageous tweet when Trump was trying to mend fences with the African-American community; he’s due to speak in Detroit on Saturday. Burns said that the picture was indeed designed to point out that Hillary “do pander” to the African-American community. Welker asked the obvious–“is that the right way to get the message across?” Burns claimed he was speaking for himself, from the prospective of a man “at the bottom of the totem pole.”
When asked if this helped or hurt Trump, Burns harrumphed that Welker ought to ask Bill Clinton about that supposed blackface event. Welker then wondered when Trump was going to put out a specific plan to help blacks, Burns responded, “Where are your ancestors from?”
From where I’m sitting, Trump is wasting his time demanding an apology from Mika Brzezinski for going after Burns so hard last week. Today’s events prove he deserves it. This is particularly unnerving for me since I came very close to sounding like this guy. I was tricked into joining a hypercharismatic campus ministry in my freshman year at the University of North Carolina. It was the only even remotely integrated Christian group at Carolina at the time, but the blacks all made Clarence Thomas sound socialist–just like Burns.
Trump is only garnering one percent of the black vote, at most. Well, now we know who at least part of that one percent is–people like Burns who find blackface cartoons at all acceptable. Tell this “pastor” what you think of his idiocy on Facebook and on Twitter. And be sure to let the guy who created this cartoon have it on Facebook and on Twitter as well.