Random musings on whatever subject strikes my fancy, published every other day.

Tag: neoconfederacy Page 1 of 4

States’ Rights, My Ass

Did you know that the War of Northern Aggression (I picture an invading horde of angry Swedes but that’s just me) was a nefarious attempt by the Federals to snuff out the rights of the States?  Nothing whatsoever to do with slavery; that must just be Yankee propaganda.  Did you know that Jim Crow laws and the KKK are just urban legends?  You knew all that?  Congratulations, you could pass high school History in Texas!

From the Civil War on the US has fought wars for ever-diminishing moral returns.  In my opinion, the X-axis was crossed at the 38th Parallel.  But what is truly disheartening is how we have let the neoconfederate troglodytes take back the gains that so many died for between 1861-65.   If you travel around the country and look at the monuments as well as the societal strata, you could be excused for concluding that the Confederacy won.

Meanwhile, in Texas:

That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding States.

That is right from the Texas State Archives..

States’ rights, my ass.

Good Slave-Owners

A little bit of a disturbing story by Margaret Biser on Vox about her experiences as a tour guide on a former slave-owning plantation.  Even visitors to a plantation famous for how slaves built it and operated it don’t want to hear about how slavery was not nice.  They want the stories about how good the slaves had it.  About how the owners of the plantation were the good slave-owners.  About how the slaves loved their owners.  Ultimately, it’s a whitewashing of our nation’s history — in every sense of the word “whitewashing.”  One tourist’s reaction:

“Listen, I just wanted to say that dragging all this slavery stuff up again is bringing down America.”  [Biser] started to protest, but he interrupted [her]. “You didn’t know. You’re young. But America is the greatest country in the world, and these people out there, they’d do anything to make America less great.”

Is it any wonder we have difficulty to this day talking about the real, structural racism in American society?  We still can’t being ourselves to rip off that Band-Aid.

On the other hand, a criminal like Cliven Bundy gets a news cycle for saying:

And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.

So you’d think that would make him anathema, even to the crypto-racist dog-whistlers of the Republican Presidential Clown Car, wouldn’t you?  Well, you know what I always say about “you’d think”: any statement that begins “you’d think” ends in disappointment.  Rand Paul met privately with Bundy for 45 minutes last week, presumably to counsel him on how to dog-whistle more subtly.

Dumping the Flag, Keeping the Racism

Politicians and retailers are tripping over one another to dissociate themselves from the Confederate battle flag, the Stars & Bars.

The logic seems to go like this:

  • Dylann Roof murdered 9 black people at a bible-study meeting
  • Dylann Roof’s web presence featured images of the Stars & Bars
  • The day after the murder the Stars & Bars was not at half-staff in South Carolina
  • The Stars & Bars is evil!  Get rid of it!
I will freely admit, I also fell into this trap.  The Stars & Bars is one of the most visible indicators of the racism on which the USA was built.  That racism may be closer to the surface in the former Confederacy, but make no mistake, it exists in Seattle and Boston just as virulently as it does in Charleston and Mobile.The arrows of causality are not difficult to discern, and they all point to the Stars & Bars.  None emanate from this flag.

Removing the flag from government displays is still important, because the governments should at least be paying lip service to equality for all citizens.  Lip service ain’t much… but it ain’t nothing, either.  Sooner or later someone will hold them to their words.  That cannot happen until the words are said.

One other overlooked effect of making the Stars & Bars vexillum non gratus is simply, we will lose a visual indicator of who still supports the ideas on which it was designed.  William T. Thompson, who designed the version of the flag seen here, called it “the Stainless Banner.”  Making his case for it, he wrote:

As a people, we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.… Such a flag…would soon take rank among the proudest ensigns of the nations, and be hailed by the civilized world as THE WHITE MAN’S FLAG.… As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism.

Knowing who those people are is valuable, and why we’d give it up without a fight is baffling to me.

The Flags of White Power

The NY Times Headline says,  Dylann Roof, Suspect in Charleston Shooting, Flew the Flags of White Power.  As if this is news.  Tut, tut.  Where could he have learned that?

Well, here’s the picture of the State Capitol of South Carolina:

As all other flags in the state were flown at half-staff, the Confederate Flag, the Stars & Bars, remains flying at full-staff as required by South Carolina state law.

Make no mistake, this flag is about nothing but the armed defense of states’ rights: that is as long as you know what states’ right they were defending was the states’ right to allow its citizens to buy, sell and own other human beings.  The right — nay, the legal obligation — to capture those other humans and return them to the status of livestock, should they flee.  As long as those other human beings have dark-enough skin, of course.

But for almost a hundred years after the Civil War was settled, no law in South Carolina existed to mandate the flying of this odious, racist symbol.  The law requiring this was passed in 1962, once their former property was starting to get so uppity as to expect the same rights as a citizen: voting, access to public education, being served in restaurants, and so on.

The measure to change the uniform of the state and local police departments to flowing white robes with matching hoods only failed by two votes.  Deficit hawks who were concerned about the cleaning bills, I guess.  While they were at it, I wonder if they considered another law, mandating the flying of this flag in all counties with at least one synagogue.

So.  We ask ourselves as if we did not know, as if we cared: wherever did Dylann Roof get the idea to fly the flags of white power?


There can be no doubt that the Republicans and the conservative movement in the US are waging war on the humanities.

There are actually solid reasons, from their point of view, for the GOP to oppose education in the humanities.  Not for nothing is it called “liberal education.”  In no sense does humanities education specifically indoctrinate students into the ideas associated with progressive and liberal politics, but then, it doesn’t have to.  Reality… as we know…

Beyond simply slashing spending, Walker was also attempting to alter the language that has guided the core mission of the University of Wisconsin over the last 100 years or more, known as the “Wisconsin Idea.” Apparently Walker’s ideal university would no longer “extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses” and would thus cease its “search for truth” and its efforts to “improve the human condition,” as his proposed language changes scrapped these ideas entirely; the governor’s scaled-back objective was for the university to merely “meet the state’s workforce needs.”

University as trade school, serving only the needs of Walker’s corporate owners donors.  The last thing Scott Walker wants is a university that teaches students to seek to improve the lot of everyday people, and how to accomplish that.

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