For those who haven’t heard, Mike Pompeo is inviting conservatives to join CAVPAC and be one of his “pipe hitters” to “Save America.” In a tweet, he uses America’s proverbial Uncle Sam wartime poster with the words, “We want YOU to be a pipe hitter.”
Well, unbeknownst to Pompeo, a “pipe hitter” originates from Marcellus Wallace’s famous line in Pulp Fiction. And a “pipe hitter,” at the time, was most likely referring to a crackhead. So, in other words, Uncle Sam wants “YOU” to be a crackhead to “Save America.” And last week, a few noble souls rose to the challenge: Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens. (Editorial note: I don’t actually think Charlie and Candace are crackheads.)
What I really mean is that they said some crazy things on Twitter a week ago. Before I tell you those things, allow me to provide some background.
Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would establish June 19th as Juneteenth National Independence Day. The bill unanimously passed the Senate, and it passed the House 415-14. Nearly all Republicans, 197 in the House and 50 in the Senate, voted for the bill — a moment of bipartisanship and unity rarely seen in Washington nowadays.
And bipartisanship and unity, mind you, over a holiday that has been celebrated in Texas for over a century and that commemorates the Union, led by Republicans, freeing the slaves from their slave owners. Not to mention that Trump floated making Juneteenth a federal holiday a year ago before Biden did. And yet, what illuminating thought did Candace expound?
She called Juneteenth “soooo lame,” “meaningless,” and an attempt to “repackage segregation.” Then she passed the pipe to Charlie, a very experienced pipe hitter, and he exhaled this vitriol: “This is about replacing July 4th” and establishing a holiday solely “based on race.” Well, even Charlie Kirk doesn’t agree with Charlie Kirk, but I’ll address this point later.
Let’s get this straight. Juneteenth is not meaningless. It is, obviously, a meaningful holiday with a good purpose (the end of slavery) that’s worth celebrating. But to her credit, her criticism and Charlie’s criticism stem from the belief, authentic or not, that Democrats want to replace July 4th as a holiday. Yet if this is truly the Democrats’ strategy, then wouldn’t they pass legislation to remove July 4th as a federal holiday? And, yes, I do understand and do not like that the legislation officially calls the day Juneteenth National Independence Day. However, I’m skeptical that anyone will actually think of Juneteenth when someone mentions the phrase “Independence Day.” Irrespective of what the government calls the holiday in official legislation, both Independence Day and Juneteenth have their own unique histories, dates, and names, so you can count on the American people to remember them for what they are.
Now, to address a more vacuous claim about race and segregation. A holiday about the end of slavery is about no less than America living up to its ideal that all men are created equal and have a right to the same amount of liberty. This ideal doesn’t just apply to one race. This is an ideal that all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity, should celebrate and be proud of. And even if there was an established holiday “based on race,” how in the world is that segregation? Also, if it truly is about segregation and Juneteenth is supposed to be an independence day just for black people, then must Candace think that July 4th is only an independence day for white people? This is clearly absurd. And to outside observers, it appears crazy.
But, let’s go back a bit to Charlie Kirk not agreeing with Charlie Kirk.
In 2020, Kirk cheered on the Senate Republicans’ effort to make Juneteenth a federal holiday and argued that Juneteenth is about “celebrating the end of slavery.”
So, what changed?
Political control in Washington changed. If the act redounds to Trump’s benefit, then Charlie approves of the act. If the act redounds to Biden’s benefit, then Charlie disapproves of the act. So, Charlie does not actually care about the act itself. Charlie is simply a partisan hack, and partisanship is good for Charlie’s career.
As partisans, the incentive for both Charlie and Candace, especially on social media, is to say the most outrageous and fringe things about the other half of the country to remain relevant. These conservative celebrities have built their careers off of incendiary and divisive rhetoric. Candace is most famous for calling the Democrat party the “Democratic Plantation,” in reference to keeping African Americans enslaved, even though African Americans still have the choice to vote Republican (they just choose not to). Hence, Charlie and Candace cannot relish in a unifying moment for the country; just to stay relevant, they have to twist a good holiday into the reinstatement of Jim Crow and a nefarious covert attack on America’s founding. Their divisive partisanship is their lifeline. Can you imagine a famous Charlie Kirk or Candace Owens without the fringe hot takes? I know I can’t. It is part and parcel of who they are, or at least, who they made themselves to be online. I don’t think that they are actually crazy, let alone smoke crack (as far as I know). But to an outsider scrolling through their social media, they certainly don’t appear normal, and they especially don’t make conservatives look good.
The incentives on social media are perverted. Social media, at least the political side of social media, has become a competition for who can sound the craziest. No one becomes Twitter famous for having calm, moderate, or intelligent thoughts. Only those who are the most radical, scornful, and boisterous capture all the attention. This is, of course, an issue that is omnipresent on both the right and left. I only zeroed in on Kirk and Owens because, as a conservative, I care about the conservative movement and don’t want it to be poisoned by the pipe hitting craziness of social media trolls.
Make sure to read my column next week where I’ll be covering Candace accusing Biden of being a segregationist for separating the whites from the colors while doing laundry.