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US House Whip James Clyburn calls Barr's slavery comment the most 'God-awful thing I've ever heard'

08:55  08 october  2020
08:55  08 october  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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House Whip James Clyburn calls Barr ' s slavery comment the most ' God - awful thing I ' ve ever heard '. House Majority Whip James Clyburn reacted sharply to Attorney General William Barr ' s comment that evoked slavery while decrying government overreach with coronavirus restrictions

James Clyburn got right to the point when asked about Attorney General William Barr ' s comment Speaking with CNN's John Berman on "New Day," the House majority whip distilled the absurdity at "I think that that statement by Mr. Barr was the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God - awful thing I ' ve ever

House Majority Whip James Clyburn reacted sharply to Attorney General William Barr's comment that evoked slavery while decrying government overreach with coronavirus restrictions, calling it "the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful thing I've ever heard."

Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American member of Congress, told CNN Thursday it was "incredible" the "chief law enforcement officer in this country would equate human bondage to expert advice to save lives. Slavery was not about saving lives, it was about devaluing lives."

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House Majority Whip James Clyburn on Thursday decried Attorney General William Barr ' s likening of coronavirus lockdown measures to slavery . "That statement by Mr. Barr was the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God - awful thing I ' ve ever heard ," Clyburn , the highest ranking Black member in the House

Barr made the remarks at a Constitution Day celebration hosted by Hillsdale College in Michigan, where he also defended the U.S. Justice Department's decision to intervene and defend House Whip James Clyburn calls Barr ' s slavery comment the most ' God - awful thing I ' ve ever heard '.

Barr's remark came during a Wednesday question and answer session at Hillsdale College after Barr delivered an address. That speech sparked its own reaction when Barr defended his personal involvement in recent high-profile criminal cases by likening some federal prosecutors to "headhunters."

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After his speech, the moderator asked Barr about the constitutionality of the coronavirus restrictions. Barr suggested that instead of imposing lockdowns, states should have allowed businesses to try to "adapt" to new rules. Then, "you'll have ingenuity and people will at least have the freedom to try to earn a living," he argued.

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House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) on Thursday blasted Attorney General William Barr who recently suggested that COVID-19 restrictions are as bad as “ I think that statement by Mr. Barr was one of the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, god - awful things I have ever heard ,” Clyburn observed.

House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn , D-S.C., is interviewed on "This Week." Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. House Whip James Clyburn calls Barr ' s slavery comment the most ' God - awful thing I ' ve ever heard '.

a man wearing a neck tie: House Majority Whip and subcommittee chairman Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., speaks at a news conference on Sept. 17, 2020 in Washington. © Tasos Katopodis, Getty Images House Majority Whip and subcommittee chairman Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., speaks at a news conference on Sept. 17, 2020 in Washington.

"But putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest," Barr continued. "Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history."

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Barr has long been wary of the measures imposed to control of the spread of the virus, which has killed nearly 200,000 people in the U.S. On April 27, Barr issued a memorandum calling on U.S. attorneys to "be on the lookout for state and local directives that could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens."

Though a federally mandated, national lockdown was never put in place, most of the states' governors imposed various kinds of coronavirus restrictions.

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House Majority Whip Representative James Clyburn , a South Carolina Democrat, condemned remarks made by Attorney General William Barr comparing COVID-19 " I think that that statement by Mr. Barr was the most ridiculous, tone deaf, God awful thing I ever heard ," Clyburn said.

White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins countered Barr ’ s argument with the fact that, unlike slavery , Americans weren’t forced to do anything during the lockdowns, just urged to stay at House Whip James Clyburn calls Barr ' s slavery comment the most ' God - awful thing I ' ve ever heard '.

According to CNN, Barr went on to say "governors do what bureaucrats always do," which is "defy common sense," and "treat free citizens as babies that can’t take responsibility for themselves and others."

Clyburn argued that if Trump had imposed federal restrictions, the U.S. might have the pandemic under control.

"It would have been great if we had a national lockdown, so that people's lives would be saved, and our children will be going on with their lives today, as they should be," he said.


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Clyburn was one of severl critics to express outrage at Barr's comment about slavery.

Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe called it an "obscene comparison."

"Only an evil fool could talk that way," he said.

"Bill Barr equates quarantine with chattel slavery as one of the greatest intrusions of civil liberties in American history. Statements like these make you realize many in this country know nothing about what it truly means to be oppressed," tweeted Sunny Hostin, a co-host of ABC's "The View."

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Barr might skip the hearing on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report because he objects to plans for an extra hour of questioning that would include committee lawyers, a Democratic House Whip James Clyburn calls Barr ' s slavery comment the most ' God - awful thing I ' ve ever heard '.

Many Black people have explained that they’ve been upset for awhile, but white people have taken more notice in 2020, from simple social media campaigns, to actually taking to the More : House Whip James Clyburn calls Barr ' s slavery comment the most ' God - awful thing I ' ve ever heard '.

Others pointed out there have been far worse civil rights infringements than the temporary lockdowns.

"Offensiveness aside, Barr’s comparing lockdowns with slavery are historically absurd," tweeted John Marshall, founder of Talking Points Memo.

Historian Jon Meacham agreed, telling CNN that Barr's assertion ignored many dark chapters in American history, such as the anti-communist crackdowns that criminalized political affiliations and disproportionately punished immigrant communities, as well as the Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation in the South.

"If you think that this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history, I'd suggest you read up on the Alien Sedition Acts," Meacham said. "I'd suggest you talk to the Japanese Americans who were interned during the Second World War. Talk to the victims of Joe McCarthy. Talk to the victims of one of Barr's predecessors, A. Mitchel Palmer,  who led raids in 1919 and 1920 as part of the first Red Scare. And talk to the Black folks who, in my native region, lived under apartheid until about 60 years ago."

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Like other critics of Barr's remarks, Meacham also disputed the attorney general's implication the restrictions were unnecessary.

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"We're talking about scientifically uncontroversial public health measures. This is not some ideologically-driven plot on behalf of the public health officials, and the alleged deep state, to change American lives. It's to try to save American lives because of a global pandemic," Meacham said.

Barr said Wednesday that just because scientists agree that something is beneficial, elected officials are not required to follow their recommendations in a democracy.

"The person in the white coat is not the grand seer who can come up with the right decisions for society. A free people makes its determination through its elected representatives," Barr said.

Contributing: Kevin Johnson

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: House Whip James Clyburn calls Barr's slavery comment the most 'God-awful thing I've ever heard'

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