It’s been awhile. What can I say? It’s summer, and the brain’s been on cruise control.
…actually, that’s not really true. While it is summer, and my mind has been on a sort of break, it’s less like easing down the open road on a lazy sunshiny afternoon and more like a perpetual day at an amusement park. I’m stuck on The Whiz Bang, the world’s most insane internal roller coaster that zips and zings, full of twists and turns and untamable racing thoughts.
I’d like to coast right now. Truly I would.
So I turned to the internet to zone out and relax.
“Oh Bethie you fool.”
You’re not wrong.
I know everybody is weighing in on the latest Twittery from the Oval Office, and I generally do a pretty good job of keeping my 2 cents about the dude to myself. I overall think he’s an ass. I hate that he’s in that office. But I really thought he was simply a Donaldist…just in it for himself, damn the consequences. Until now.
I’m talking, of course, about the horrible incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Donald Trump’s reaction. To recap for the couple of people who live in a deep dark cave and haven’t heard about any of this, modern Nazis held a rally over the weekend to protest the removal of statues honoring famous Confederate figureheads.
That was the claim. That was the very loose reasoning for a Nazi rally.
Nazis. That’s what they are. They proudly wear the swastikas. They quote Hitler. They throw sieg heils around like parade candy. They openly and unabashedly hate: black people, Hispanic people, Asian people, native peoples, Muslims, Jews, and anyone who has anything at all to do with the LGBT community. The signs they were waving during their Nazi hate rally targeted all of these groups and more. The ONE thing they said that was correct was that Hitler would be proud.
THEY. ARE. NAZIS. And when you try to politically correct the hell out of their group, it weakens the sentiment and the meaning behind their actions and makes it palatable for the average Joe.
It should not be softened. It should not be palatable. If you throw a sieg heil, you’re a NAZI. If you wave a banner with a swastika on it, you’re a NAZI. If you feel a swelling in your breast when you think of Hitler, YOU. ARE. A. NAZI.
I hold this truth to be self-evident. I honestly do not understand anyone who doesn’t.
Okay. I didn’t want to come on here just to call a racist spade a racist spade. There is a whole lot of confusion stemming from this event and around the issue in general. Trump did say that some people were there not to hate, but to legally protest the removal of Confederate shrines. While the organizers of the event were not at all there for that purpose, I actually think there were some regular folks caught up in the “let’s preserve our history” rhetoric who meant no harm.
Because that’s what happens, folks. That’s how these horrible organizations grow. Not with the hate and signs and anti-human chants…that only works on a few. It’s the reasonable sounding propaganda that actually gets people to stop and listen. It’s carefully spun words that open the door for the evangelists of evil. That’s the truly dangerous thing about hate groups. They know what to say to get you to listen and join.
The rally itself was billed as a protest over the “loss of history” in removing Confederate monuments, so let’s investigate that first.
This issue has been at the forefront for a couple years now. Do we remove the Confederate flag? Do we take down statues of Robert E. Lee? Do we eradicate these symbols of the past? Or will that erasure of a part of history damage the true narrative of our nation?
These aren’t light questions, and I can see why on the surface it could seem to some that by taking down these objects, it feels like we’re sugar coating a significant part of the Story of U.S. If you’re on the fence, I get it. I do. If we don’t acknowledge the past, we’re doomed to repeat it.
But the most important part of acknowledgment is “knowledge,” and that’s seriously lacking in propaganda. Let’s inject a bit of knowledge into this old debate by looking at the most common reasons for leaving up these symbols of the Confederacy.
1) The Civil War wasn’t about slavery, it was about States Rights.
…yes, their right to keep slaves. What launched the war was a series of documents from the states who were seceding called Declaration of Causes of Seceding States (referred to by a number of titles depending on the issuing state), based off our own Declaration of Independence. The state representatives got together and drafted documents clearly stating their grievances and reasons for secession for five states: Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. All of the states listed issues surrounding slavery as the crux of the problem, whether it was the idea of the abolishment of slavery, the refusal of the federal government to apprehend people who harbored and assisted escaped slaves, or the impact any restrictions on the slave trade would have to local commerce.
If you’re looking for references, just Google it. And if you want a killer quote to throw at people who insist the “states rights” issue was NOT about slavery, here’s a gem from the reps of Mississippi. This is directly out of the document. This is what the Confederacy went to war over:
“In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery- the greatest material interest of the world.”
I am not taking that out of context to make it sound worse than it is. That is how the document opens, and it gets worse once they line out specific examples of how the abolitionists had worked against the “institution of slavery”. These individual “offenses” include the government barring the import of slaves, refusing to uphold the Fugitive Slave Law which “has utterly broken the compact which our fathers pledged their faith to maintain,” and probably the most egregious in their eyes, the government “advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection and incendiarism in our midst.”
Guys. Come on. There is absolutely no ambiguity whatsoever. They went to war to keep their slaves. Period.
2) So? Lincoln himself was on the fence about slavery.
No. Lincoln personally was not. He argued that owning slaves was immoral long before he was president. Once in office, politically he believed the Constitution gave the states the right to own slaves, and supported the House and Senate in their bid to change that part of the Constitution. You know, how things are actually SUPPOSED to happen. A president is not a king, and Lincoln tried to work within that system.
3) But it’s history. I’m a proud American, and honest enough to admit where we screwed up.
This. This is where I have a serious problem with the people pushing to keep Confederate shrines.
Let’s ignore all of the factors that led to secession. The Civil War happened, and we can all agree there were two parties: the Union and the Confederacy, right? The Union wanted to keep the United States whole, and the Confederacy wanted to leave.
How can you pretend to be a patriot while you support the public reverence of people who wanted to leave our nation??
It utterly baffles me. On that point alone, you’ve got no legitimate argument whatsoever. You need to take a step back and look at it in these bare bones terms. They didn’t want to be patriots. The majority was making laws of the land that they did not like, and they decided to leave. THEY DIDN’T WANT TO BE PART OF THIS COUNTRY ANYMORE! So you calling yourself a proud patriot for preserving statues honoring them doesn’t really make any damn sense, does it?
Now, add all the shit back into the pot. I’m not talking about erasing history. I think erasing the past is very dangerous. But, there’s a difference between including the information in museums and education, and naming a school after a racist. One teaches about the history so we don’t lose perspective, and the other glorifies people who hated the idea of giving up their “right” to own as property so much that they wanted to leave the country.
One educates, one exalts. I don’t want a statue of Stalin on my town’s square. I don’t want to send my kid to Hitler Memorial High School. I would definitely have a problem with the North Korean flag being flown above the entrance to my town hall. Know thy enemy. Do not glorify him.
We’ve allowed the exaltation of these bigoted twats for far too long.
So that brings us to Trump.
He went on a ten minute tirade doubling down on support for the KKK and Nazis by equivocating the anti-Nazi protesters with the Nazis themselves. He said the Nazis have some “very good people” among their ranks. And somewhere in there, he said that Washington and Jefferson owned slaves, so does that mean we should take down their statues?
This is how people still support Donald Trump. Because on the surface, that false equivocation sounds almost reasonable. And that’s what makes him dangerous.
Washington and Jefferson may have been shit people at heart (no idea, really…seems George may not have been too bad, but Jeffy was probably a schmuck on a personal level. Neither here nor there, and impossible to judge when modern thoughts and feelings are applied…), but that isn’t why they are given places of honor in history. They built something. THAT’S why they deserve monuments. They built the nation whose flag you proudly wave. Personal shit aside, they accomplished great things and they did it with the sole purpose of making a nation.
Robert E. Lee and the other reality stars of the Confederacy are ONLY glorified for their desire to keep owning slaves, a desire to see human beings as property so strong that it impelled them to drag people to war for it. They built nothing, they only worked to destroy. They were absolutely anti-American and do not, in any way, deserve monuments and reverence.
Take away the propaganda, and the issues become pretty damn clear.
Is a group telling you to hate people because of who they are? If the answer is yes, then they are Nazis and you need to distance yourself from them.
Did Confederate generals want to leave the United States? Yes, so you are being the exact OPPOSITE of a patriot if you want to honor them.
It’s not hard, and it seems to me if Trump would stop flapping his mayonnaise hole for a second, even he could reason this one out.
Thus concludes a pot-stirring Muse for Wednesday, August 16, 2017. Hey, at least the Nazi ass kissing takes so much time that Donny put a hold on his pissing contest with Kim Jong. That’s…something?