Black Soldiers on D-Day — and Pat Buchanan’s Racism

by Kevin Jon Heller

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It takes a special kind of stupid to be Pat Buchanan.  Last night, in response to a question from Rachel Maddow about whether his hostility to elevating a Latina to the Supreme Court makes sense given that 98% of Justices (108/110) have been white, Buchanan said: “White men were 100% of the people that wrote the Constitution, 100% of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, probably close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy. This has been a country built basically by white folks.”

Cite-checking Buchanan is a pointless task, because he is not interested in facts.  But it’s worth pointing out that Black soldiers were killed at both Gettysburg and Vicksburg — more than 100 in the latter campaign.

Black soldiers also died on D-Day, although not in significant numbers.  (Three, apparently.)  Their efforts on D-Day, however, cannot be underestimated — although they have been for most of the past six decades:

William Garfield Dabney, a 20-year-old enlistee, landed on the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago Saturday. Tethered to his waist was a bomb-armed helium balloon, meant to bring down a German dive bomber.

George Davidson, then 22, ferried messages between American commanders under the cover of night, dodging enemy fire with nothing but his wits to guide him.

Both men, members of the same all-black unit, survived the bloody D-Day landings that launched the Allied liberation of France. But because they were black, they disappeared into oblivion – a historic wrong that at last is being rectified.

Dabney on Friday will be among 50 U.S. veterans awarded the Legion of Honor, France’s highest decoration, in Paris. The vets will return to Normandy tomorrow for the official D-Day ceremony with President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

There is an obvious reason, of course, why more Black soldiers didn’t die on D-Day — because of racism and segregation, they weren’t allowed to participate directly in combat.  According to the Army War College, they simply lacked the intellect and courage necessary to fight.

I would recommend that Buchanan watch the wonderful movie Glory — but something tells me he wouldn’t root for the Union…

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