“Offended” Buchanan stands up for “white males,” claiming only “white males” died at Gettysburg, Normandy

After MSNBC's Tucker Carlson noted that Howard Dean reportedly said that the Democratic presidential field “looks like America,” while the Republican field, made up of white males, “looks like the 1950s and talks like the 1850s,” Pat Buchanan reported being “offended” by Dean's remarks and said: "[W]hat did white males do? OK, they were the only guys signing the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, all the dead at Gettysburg, all the dead at Normandy." In fact, “nearly 2,000” African-Americans took part in the Normandy invasion, at least some of whom apparently died as a result, and at least one woman and one African-American were reportedly killed in the Gettysburg campaign.

Asserting that he was “offended” by comments that Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean reportedly made during a speech at Georgetown University -- in which Dean reportedly said that the Democratic field “looks like America,” while the Republican field, made up of white males, “looks like the 1950s and talks like the 1850s” -- Pat Buchanan said on the February 28 edition of Tucker: “Look, what did white males do? OK, they were the only guys signing the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, all the dead at Gettysburg, all the dead at Normandy.” Buchanan then responded to radio host Bill Press by stating, “Why is it ... OK to mock ... backhand white -- no wonder you're losing white males,” and also said, “I think you guys are self-hating white folks.” His comments came after host Tucker Carlson asserted of Dean's remarks: “I must say, I'm not going to sit by a single more time and listen to someone slag on, quote, 'white men.' ”

Buchanan's assertion that “white males” constituted “all the dead at Gettysburg, all the dead at Normandy” appears to be false. Approximately 2,000 African-Americans fought at the June 6, 1944, invasion of Normandy, an all-African-American unit reportedly took casualties, and at least two African-American troops apparently died that day and were buried in the American cemetery in Normandy. Moreover, at least one African-American and one woman disguised as a male soldier reportedly died in the Gettysburg campaign.

According to a History Channel documentary, “1.2 million African-Americans served in World War II, and although largely forgotten by history, nearly 2,000 of them stormed the beaches of Normandy.” According to a May 5, 2004, Scripps Howard News Service report, "[B]lacks were among the assault troops that June 6 [1944], and one unit was responsible for maintaining barrage balloons over the beachhead that protected troops landing. The Stars and Stripes newspaper in 1944 reported that the unit suffered casualties setting up the balloons, which were floated across the English Channel on invasion day. ... The Army didn't record racial or ethnic differences when counting the dead. [Photographer Samuel LeBon] Wooten said he knows of at least three blacks buried in the American cemetery on the bluffs overlooking Omaha Beach at Coleville-sur-Mer." In a February 21, 2007, National Public Radio interview, filmmaker Doug Cohen stated that at least two soldiers from all-African-American units died on June 6, 1944, and are buried at a cemetery in Normandy:

COHEN: When I was in Normandy filming, I went on a tour with a tour guide who seemed to know everything about everything. He knew where each bunker was. He practically knew what happened on each grain of sand. And I told him I'm going to be working on this film about African-Americans of D-Day. And he looked at me with such conviction and said there were no African-Americans on D-Day.

TONY COX (NPR contributor): He said that.

COHEN: He said that. And I said, you know, I've just been to the cemetery and there's the grave of Brooke Stiff(ph), 328th Anti-Aircraft Barrage Balloon Battalion, an all black outfit -- date of death, June 6, 1944. There's the grave of Willie Collins, 490th Port Battalion, Mr. [interviewee and D-Day veteran David] Brown's battalion -- date of death, June 6, 1944.

COX: What did he say to that?

COHEN: He had to acknowledge that I was correct. And what more proof do you need than that, than those gravestones sitting there, the voice of people like Mr. Brown. I certainly hope people will get the message and come to understand that there were African-Americans who served on D-Day in significant numbers.

On June 14, 2004, MSNBC.com posted a story from Black Entertainment Television documenting the experiences of some African-American veterans who served in World War II, including at Normandy. Buchanan's remark also ignored the contributions of other non-whites who served in World War II, including Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and Native Americans.

According to PBS, during the Civil War, “More than 200,000 blacks fought for the Union, and 38,000 died, the majority of disease.” In The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg's Forgotten History: Immigrants, Women, and African Americans in the Civil War's Defining Battle (Basic Books, 2004), Bates College professor of history Margaret Creighton writes that an unnamed African American was the third Union soldier killed in “the Gettysburg campaign”:

Most African American men in Pennsylvania were denied the opportunity to fight the Confederates with weapons. But not all of them. One company of black men helped hold back invading soldiers, and their efforts, considered one of the first military engagements in the war by men of color, is still overlooked. The site of the action was the Columbia-Wrightsville bridge, a span a mile and a quarter long over the Susquehanna River. Before word had come of the Army of the Potomac's move north from Virginia, General Lee and corps commander Richard Ewell had envisioned taking Harrisburg from the east and south. The bridge over the Susquehanna River -- twenty-five miles southest of the capital -- was key. On June 28th, and emergency Pennsylvania militia unit and a company of African American men recruited form the area -- numbering at least fifty -- attempted to hold the bridge against 2500 seasoned Confederate troops (including artillery), until the bridge could be destroyed. “The negros,” commented one observer, “did nobly.” The officer in command of the milita had even more to say. “When the fight commenced,” he reported, the black company “took their guns and stood up to their work bravely. They fell back only when ordered to do so.” One of the black volunteers paid the ultimate price for his work: His head was “taken off by a shell.” As one historian has pointed out, this man -- no one knows his name -- was only the third Northern soldier killed in the Gettysburg campaign. [Pages 134-135]

Moreover, according to historian Jane Peters Estes, as quoted in a presentation at the Camden Country (NJ) Historical Society, women, too, died in the Civil War, including at least one woman in the Battle of Gettysburg:

“Some women came to town with the armies,” said Ms. Estes. “There were women who disguised themselves as men and fought with both the Union and Confederate armies during the war. Of those detected (as females), we know that seven were wounded, seven were taken to prisoner-of-war camps, nine died on battlefields, and at least six gave birth to babies. We know that a woman soldier was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg; she was found dead on the west side of the stone wall on Cemetery Ridge. She had participated in Pickett's charge. And we know she was not the only Confederate female there. A wounded soldier from Michigan wrote the following account while recuperating in the hospital: 'I must tell you that we have a female Secesh here. She was wounded at Gettysburg but our doctors soon found her out. They say she is very good looking but the poor girl has lost a leg. It is a great pity she did not stay at home with her mother but she gets good care and kind treatment.' ”

Estes also noted that on the Union side, “Marie Tepe was wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg, where she took a ball in her ankle, and she served under fire in 13 battles, including Gettysburg.” On November 16, 2002, a 7-foot bronze sculpture of Elizabeth Thorn (1832-1907) was dedicated in Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The statue, titled “The Gettysburg Civil War Women's Memorial,” honors all the women who served in various capacities before, during, and following the Battle of Gettysburg.

While it is unclear whether any women died during the June 6 invasion of Normandy, Buchanan's own network has previously noted the vital role women played in the war effort during World War II. In a June 8, 2004, report on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, correspondent Monica Novotny reported: “World War II was the first time women actually served in uniform as official members of the military. More than 350,000 females joined the ranks when their country called. And General Eisenhower later said their contributions to D-Day were an indispensable part of the invasion effort.” Novotny's report also noted that James C. Roberts, president of the World War II Veterans Committee, said, “Without the support of women in the military and on the home front, World War II would not have been won.” Novotny's report concluded: “Four women are buried at Normandy. They were killed in a car accident about a month after D-Day. Three were WACs, members of the Women's Army Corps. And they were African-Americans from the Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only unit of black women sent overseas at the time. The fourth woman was there with the American Red Cross.”

As Media Matters for America has documented, during MSNBC's January 26 coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary, responding to columnist Eugene Robinson's statement that “I can't think of a whole lot of situations where there's an actual clash between Latino and African American issues,” Buchanan cited gang wars “in South Central L.A.” and “in the prisons” as evidence that tensions between African Americans and Latinos would affect voting in the Democratic primary. Buchanan has also claimed that illegal immigration constitutes an invasion of the United States of America and that it threatens to reduce America to "a polyglot boarding house for the world, a tangle of squabbling minorities."

From the February 28 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:

BUCHANAN: Did you see Howard Dean, though?

CARLSON: Well, let's put it up on the screen, Howard Dean's remarks.


CARLSON: I have it right here. He was at Georgetown. This is from The Georgetown Voice. “Dean contrasted the two party's presidential candidates. He said that with a woman and an African-American as the two front-runners, the Democratic field, quote, 'looks like America, while the all-white male Republican field looks like the 1950s and talks like the 1850s.' ” I must say, I'm not going to sit by a single more time and listen to someone slag on, quote, “white men.”

BUCHANAN: You know, I am off --

CARLSON: Television hosts do that. It makes me want to puke.

BUCHANAN: I am offended by this. Look, what did white males do? OK, they were the only guys signing the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, all the dead at Gettysburg, all the dead at Normandy. Why is it, Bill --

PRESS: Pat, Pat --

BUCHANAN: -- OK to mock --

PRESS: Pat, Pat, Pat --

BUCHANAN: -- backhand white -- no wonder you're losing white males.

PRESS: What do you have, white guilt? Look, here's -- Howard Dean --

BUCHANAN: No, I think you guys are self-hating white folks.

PRESS: No, Howard Dean told the truth. If you look at the Democrats on stage when they were up there, you had a Latino, you had an African-American, you had a woman, you had young, you had old. And then you contrast that with the 10 Republican all-white men over 50.

BUCHANAN: He didn't say all 10. He said these two look like America.

PRESS: No, no. No, no, no. No.

BUCHANAN: In other words, it's not just -- every president has been a white male, Bill, every one.

PRESS: Pat, Pat, Pat, he said Democratic candidates. And it is true, if you look at the diversity -- if you look at this country, Pat, at the population of this country, they are not all white, older white men.


PRESS: That's the point he's making. He is absolutely right.

CARLSON: Let me just say this. I think -- and I'm not just -- you know, people say, “Oh, you're a white man. That's why you're defending white men.” Actually, I'm being sincere. I'm defending this purely on principle. I don't think that you ought to cavalierly attack people based on their race or gender. And consider if that was any other group. “Well, this group is so-and-so or such-and-such.” There would be an uproar. I think when you allow this kind of gar -- I mean, Howard Dean's an -- not very smart, so he gets kind of a pass, but a lot of smart people say this sort of thing.

PRESS: He is telling the truth. It's the same thing -- when you look at the floor of the Democratic convention and look at the great diversity on the floor, in terms of men and women and people of color, and then you look at the floor of the Republican convention, and it looks like the, you know --

BUCHANAN: What's wrong with that?

PRESS: -- the White Person Society meeting with hardly -- not that many women and hardly any minorities at all.

CARLSON: Well, you're right. I mean, you're certainly speaking right. No, no, but hold on.

PRESS: One reflects America, and the other doesn't.

CARLSON: Wait, hold on. Hold on.

PRESS: That's all. That's all.

CARLSON: You're right that there -- it is much more diverse, the Democratic convention. I've been to all of them in the past 20 or 15 years. But there's a hostility toward white men --

BUCHANAN: Exactly.

CARLSON -- that's not even cloaked and that, by the way, is wrong. It's immoral to attack people because of their skin color. Period.

PRESS: There is no hostility towards white men.

CARLSON: Oh, B.S., Bill. Come on.

PRESS: You guys -- no, you guys are --

CARLSON: I hear it at work. I hear it here. I hear it in politics.

BUCHANAN: You're saying because it's a woman and an African-American, only those two -- it is morally superior in some way to the Republicans because their candidates are white males.

PRESS: No, no. No, no, no, no. May I say it as clearly as I can? If you want to reflect what this country is all about, OK, you don't put 10 old white men on the stage. Period.

BUCHANAN: Look, they didn't put them on. These are guys who ran for the nomination of their party. I would remind you, every single president has been a white male. Is that something wrong with America?

PRESS: All right. You know what? That's going to change this year, Pat.

BUCHANAN: Is that wrong with America?

PRESS: That's going to change this year. We're going to have a woman or we're going to have an African-American as president. It's going to change this year.

CARLSON: Let me just bring up one final white man, and that's Roger Clemens.