Point of View Columns

Statues and Flags and Sanity

When the Trump legacy is written, it may be that the only best thing that was done by Donald Tinyhands was to help make it clear that the notion of America being in a post-racial status has always been a myth. It is useful to recall that when Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, accompanied by post-racial anthems, the skinheads, Klansmen, Aryans and assorted white supremacist mouth breathing Neanderthals were already deeply imbedded in America – everywhere.
Clear evidence of the virulent racism in this country, accompanied by the more insidious passive aggressive dehumanization of black Americans, are the scores of statues, busts and plaques throughout the country that honor the leaders of the Confederate States of America. These celebrations of traitors should not be seen as some kind of limp effort at reconciliation.
The CSA was founded on the principles of slavery as just, white supremacy and black inferiority. Any and every Confederate honoree – Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, Nathan Bedford Forrest, etc. – believed absolutely in these principles, principles that were way ahead of more esoteric notions of states’ rights and constitutional interpretations.
This is not a subjective perspective; it is a matter of fact that the first article of the constitution of the Confederate States of America upheld the eternal preservation of slavery. It is a matter of fact that the leadership of the Confederacy was wedded to an unshakeable belief in white superiority and black inferiority. And it is a matter of fact that Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Nathan Bedford Forrest were absolutely complicit in the unconscionable wholesale slaughter of black Union troops who had the misfortune of surrendering to CSA soldiers.
All of this has been known since the end of the Civil War. Yet white Americans have stood by silently while these villains and war criminals were honored, all in the name of intimidating and bullying black America. The fact that there is even a conversation about depopulating this nation’s public spaces of such obscenities is an obscene, but telling commentary as to the status of black Americans and it is fair to ask – do black lives really matter?
Consider that it is simply against the law to honor Adolf Hitler in Germany. Wearing a swastika or giving the Nazi salute on the streets of Berlin will land you in jail. The same is generally true in France. And consider that these proscriptions on honoring Nazis came about not because of pressure from the Jewish people, the banning of Nazi celebrations came from German and French men and women of good will who understood that the horror of the Nazis not only should never be repeated, it should also not be honored, celebrated or even exist in the public space.
It is 152 years since the end of the Civil War. It is astounding that there is even a conversation about celebrating Southern “heritage”, when that “heritage” encompasses the enslavement and degradation of human beings. It is shameful that there are public officials that refer to some beautiful past that should be celebrated when that past includes the wholesale slaughter, rape and exploitation of black Americans for the better part of two centuries.
It is well past time for conversation or debate. The Confederate statues, flags, busts and plaques are wrong – they have always been wrong – and any American who supports their existence is wrong. The descendants of slaves have endured this ongoing insult for too long and white Americans who accept the humanity of black Americans will understand this. And white Americans who do not accept the humanity of black Americans will not and should be adjudged as racist as the most vile skinhead goose stepping down the street.
When it comes to the Confederacy and its moldering and vile relics, there is simply no middle ground.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Once Upon A Time…….

For weeks I have been debating with myself about writing this particular column. Two months ago I read “In the Garden of Beasts” by Eric Larson. The book chronicles the experiences of the American ambassador to Germany whose arrival coincided with the rise of Adolf Hitler to power.

The book is particularly powerful in its rendering of the initial response of the German people to the rise of Hitler. He was viewed as being something of a radical but there was supreme confidence that the institutional traditions of the German republic would bring Hitler and his brown shirted followers into line. His rhetoric and writings were dismissed as…..rhetoric and writings in support of political ambition. No great sin. No great crime.

In reading the book a chilling recognition accompanied every page – radical and overheated rhetoric was rationalized even as the authors of this hateful prose were explicit in their beliefs and goals for the coming of the Third Reich. And then…………..it was too late.

Most readers would write off any comparison of the early days of Nazi Germany to the times in which we now live in these United States of America. Except we read and hear the messages every day and any sane and rational person would have to wonder, what is the end game?

Michelle Bachmann is a radical Christian evangelical. This means a lot more than her believing in the teachings of Jesus Christ. She believes that the United States is a “Christian country” and that it should be governed according to the precepts of Christianity. It is as if the Taliban joined the G.O.Tea Party and substituted a cross for the star and crescent.

If questioned on the subject, she and her androgynous husband will state that “the American people don’t care about such things, they care about jobs”. Read “In the Garden of Beasts” and you will see similar responses from the supporters of the radical movement that ultimately became the Third Reich.

This country has never seen such a powerful doctrine of religious supremacy promoted at the national level. Texas Governor Rick Perry is running for president because God told him to do so. Beware of the zealots, they are always more dangerous than the cynics or the apathetic. And he is already catapulted to being a leading Republican candidate within moments of the announcement of his candidacy.

The battle cry of “taking back America” masks an agenda that ultimately creates an “us-them” scenario that has not been seen since the 1860’s. The G.O.Tea Party circus is about a lot more that making Barack Obama a one-term president. The radical evangelicals are riding the wave of racist-white-hooded tinged hate of Obama into a tsunami of creationism, dominion philosophy and Christian supremacy.

Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Mormons and atheists have very good reason to be worried about the coming days in America. But middle of the road, progressive and tolerant Christians should not feel smug or secure – dominion philosophy does not countenance debate, dissent or difference. After all, evil prevails when good people do nothing.

Michelle Bachmann believes that gay men and women are in league with Satan. Jon Huntsmann and Mitt Romney believe that the Garden of Eden was located in Missouri. Rick Perry believes that God has a mission for America (and presumably he is the leader of that mission).

Given the deep financial funk in which the United States is wallowing, the rest of the world must view the opposition to President Obama as being launched from some insane and nihilistic platform. Could the most powerful nation on earth, the planet’s largest economy, be considering the leadership of devout Christian dominion advocates at a time when logic, rational thinking and intelligent strategic planning are the last assets in the arsenal?

The antipathy against President Obama has clearly made a significant portion of this country cross-eyed crazy. In a time of deep economic crisis and global security dangers it is useful to pray. Waiting for miracles may not be such a good idea. Certainly it is written that God helps those who help themselves.

To be fair, the Bachmann-Perry-Santorum right wing of the right wing has never openly advocated extermination of anyone. This wing has, however, advocated the reduction of social services that will, in a logical progression, result in the deaths of men, women and children who are denied housing, healthcare, education and a basic social safety net.

The Bachmann-Perry-Santorum right wing of the right wing should be seen for what it is. Read “In the Garden of Beasts” and then look around. And be very afraid.

Standard