The Washington Post's resident fact checker Glenn Kessler dug into the ancestral background of Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), who has been tapped to give the GOP response to President Biden's State of the Union address next week.
Scott, who is an outspoken conservative, has written and spoke about his family's background and his ancestors' work in cotton fields and agriculture. For Kessler, Scott's placement as a Republican contender to Biden's message means that his ancestry is open for debate.
Kessler digs into census and property records to come to the conclusion that Scott's family was way too well-off to really be considered at all downtrodden or oppressed. Kessler doesn't say this directly, he skirts the issue, but that's the intention of the article.
Kessler dug into census records, death certificates, and property records, from 1870, and came up with this:
"Our research reveals a more complex story than what Scott tells audiences. Scott’s grandfather’s father was also a substantial landowner — and Scott’s grandfather, Artis Ware, worked on that farm. Scott’s family history in South Carolina offers a fascinating window into a little-known aspect of history in the racist South following the Civil War and in the immediate aftermath of slavery — that some enterprising Black families purchased property as a way to avoid sharecropping and achieve a measure of independence from White-dominated society."
In fact, Kessler seems to hold this against Scott, believing that Scott's story of family struggle was just not a bad enough struggle, that Scott was overplaying his family history for some kind of oppression points. But what he's missing is that Scott isn't looking for oppression points, instead, Scott highlights his family history to show what is possible in America. A family can go from having been enslaved to sitting in the US Senate.
As regards Scott's claim that his grandfather left school in the third grade, Kessler's research uncovers that it may have been the fourth. Somehow, for Kessler, this matters and is a reason to discredit Scott. He writes: "The census suggests Artis ended his education in the fourth grade. Twelve other adults on that census page ended their education in fourth grade, so that may have been a common end point at the time. Artis appears to have been able to sign his name..."
American politicians excel at telling their family stories. A big part of who Joe Biden told the public he is depends on his ancestral background in labor. Elizabeth Warren wouldn't be who she is were it not for her native American narrative. And Tim Scott spoke about the difficulties his family faced in a racist south, difficulties he has clearly overcome to become a senator from South Carolina.
But it's as though his refusal to tell a story of oppression, where he has been a victim of history, has led Kessler to the conclusion that perhaps the legacy of slavery and racism just wasn't that pervasive in Scott's family life. The only purpose of this fact check into Scott's history is to discredit him, the GOP, and the conservative response to the upcoming State of the Union.
In the end, Kessler slams Scott's family history for not being more downtrodden. For Kessler, a black family working hard to find better opportunities, and succeeding to a certain extent, just isn't black enough. The only thing is, Kessler doesn't get to make this call. His intentions are clear—to discredit Sen. Scott, and his methods,
The Washington Post believes itself to be so woke that white fact checker Kessler can undermine a black man's family history for Democrat political gain. It is worth noting that Scott brought a police reform bill to the Senate that would have banned several harsh police practices, and senate Democrats, including then Senator Kamala Harris, refused to give the bill a hearing.
Kessler summarizes his findings, saying: "Scott’s 'cotton to Congress' line is missing some nuance, but we are not going to rate his statements... Scott tells a tidy story packaged for political consumption, but a close look shows how some of his family’s early and improbable success gets flattened and written out of his biography. Against heavy odds, Scott's ancestors amassed relatively large areas of farmland, a mark of distinction in the Black community at the time. Scott, moreover, does not mention that his grandfather worked on his father’s farm — a farm that was expanded through land acquisitions even during the Great Depression, when many other Black farmers were forced out of business."
Kessler does what leftist and Democrats tend to do when they are faced with a truth that doesn't match their woven narrative: He claims that Scott's family was privileged, and therefore were oppressors themselves. It's the only tool they have, to sling the "p-word" at those who have them bested.
Regardless of Kessler, or the Washington Post, Scott will stand on his family's legacy, will speak truth to power, and will not be shamed for his family's hard work and determination that brought not only a family but a nation out of the clutches of slavery.