Friday, April 09, 2010

If You Go To Virginia, Don't Forget Your White Sheets!

The KKK lives in the work of "Miz Ruth," Seamstress To The Klan." Mother Jones did not disclose the location of this KKK-outfitter, but she most likely has customers throughout the land. If this is (fair & balanced) contempt for traitors every stripe, so be it.

[x TNR]
Neo-Confederate History Month
By Ed Kilgore

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As most readers have probably heard, Virginia’s Republican Governor Bob McDonnell got himself into hot water by declaring April “Confederate History Month,” in a proclamation that did not mention the rather pertinent fact that the Confederacy was a revolutionary (and by definition, treasonous) effort to maintain slavery against even the possibility of abolition.

After the predictable firestorm of criticism, McDonnell allowed that it must have been a mistake not to mention slavery in his proclamation. And then he repeated his rationale for the whole idea, which was, he claimed, simply a matter of promoting tourism in anticipation of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War’s outbreak. Tourism!

I’m sure most conservatives will consider McDonnell’s act of contrition sufficient, while many liberals will cynically conclude the whole thing was a dog whistle to the far Right, much like his earlier and less notorious commemoration of March 7-13 as Christian Heritage Week, in honor of the Christian Right’s revisionist theory that the Founders were theocrats at heart.

But as a white southerner old enough to remember the final years of Jim Crow, when every month was Confederate History Month, I have a better idea for McDonnell: Let’s have a Neo-Confederate History Month that draws attention to the endless commemorations of the Lost Cause that have wrought nearly as much damage as the Confederacy itself.

It would be immensely useful for Virginians and southerners generally to spend some time reflecting on the century or so of grinding poverty and cultural isolation that fidelity to the Romance in Gray earned for the entire region, regardless of race. Few Americans from any region know much about the actual history of Reconstruction, capped by the shameful consignment of African Americans to the tender mercies of their former masters, or about the systematic disenfranchisement of black citizens (and in some places, particularly McDonnell’s Virginia, of poor whites) that immediately followed.

A Neo-Confederate History Month could be thoroughly bipartisan. Republicans could enjoy greater exposure to the racism of such progressive icons as William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson, not to mention Democratic New Deal crusaders in the South like Mississippi’s Theodore Bilbo. The capture of the political machinery of Republican and Democratic parties in a number of states, inside and beyond the South, by the revived Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, would be an interesting subject for further study as well.

Most of all, a Neo-Confederate History Month could remind us of the last great effusion of enthusiasm for Davis and Lee and Jackson and all the other avatars of the Confederacy: the white southern fight to maintain racial segregation in the 1950s and 1960s. That’s when “Dixie” was played as often as the national anthem at most white high school football games in the South; when Confederate regalia were attached to state flags across the region; and when the vast constitutional and political edifice of pre-secession agitprop was brought back to life in the last-ditch effort to make the Second Reconstruction fail like the first.

Bob McDonnell should be particularly responsible, as a former Attorney General of his state, for reminding us all of the “massive resistance” doctrine preached by Virginia Senator Harry Byrd in response to federal judicial rulings and pending civil rights laws, and of the “interposition” theory of nullification spread most notably by Richmond News Leader editor James Jackson Kilpatrick.

Any Neo-Confederate History Month would be incomplete, of course, without reference to the contemporary conservative revival of states’ rights and nullification theories redolent of proto-Confederates, Confederates, and neo-Confederates.

Having flirted with such theories himself, Bob McDonnell probably wouldn’t be interested in discussing them in the context of Civil War history. But that’s okay: A greater public understanding of the exceptionally unsavory tradition that conservative Republicans are following in claiming that states can refuse to accept health care reform would be valuable without an explicit discussion of current politics.

So give it up, governor: If you are going to have a Confederate History Month, at least be honest enough to acknowledge that the legacy of the Confederacy didn’t die at Appomattox. Ω

[Ed Kilgore was formerly Vice President for Policy at the Democratic Leadership Council; Communications Director for U.S. Senator Sam Nunn; and a federal-state relations aide to three governors of his home state of Georgia. Kilgore also served on the script and speechwriting team at the last five Democratic National Conventions. He holds an undergraduate degree from Emory University, and a law degree from the University of Georgia.]

Copyright © 2010 The New Republic

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Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mothers!

The Dumbos, Tea-Baggers, and White Supremacists want to refight The War of the Rebellion — Not The Civil War, Not The War Between The States, and Not The War of Southern Independence — and that confirms this blogger's belief that every last traitor from Jefferson Davis to all field-grade officers should have gone to the wall and faced a firing squad. The so-called Confederates fired the first shot and attacked the United States of America. If the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was payback for Pearl Harbor, then the failed rebels of 1861-1865 deserved oblivion as well. "Proud of being ignorant" is an apt slogan for the Dumbos, Tea-Baggers, and White Supremacists. If this is (fair & balanced) hatred of pride in ignorance, so be it.

[x The Atlantic]
Proud Of Being Ignorant
By Ta-Nehisi Coates

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A lot of you have e-mailed me to note that Virginia governor Bob McDonnell has decided to honor those who fought to preserve, and extend, white supremacy. I don't really have much to say. The GOP is, effectively, the party of willfully unlettered Utopians. It is the party of choice for those who believe global warming is a hoax, that humans roamed the earth with dinosaurs, and that homosexuals should work harder at not being gay.

That the party of unadulterated quackery also believes that "Birth Of A Nation" is more true to the Civil War than "Battle Cry Of Freedom," is to be expected. Ignorance does not respect boundaries. It is, at times, qualified and those who know more, often struggle to say more. But people who believe that the Census is actually a covert attempt to put Americans in concentration camps, are also likely to believe that slavery was incidental to the Civil War.

This is who they are--the proud and ignorant. If you believe that if we still had segregation we wouldn't "have had all these problems," this is the movement for you. If you believe that your president is a Muslim sleeper agent, this is the movement for you. If you honor a flag raised explicitly to destroy this country then this is the movement for you. If you flirt with secession, even now, then this movement is for you. If you are a "Real American" with no demonstrable interest in "Real America" then, by God, this movement of alchemists and creationists, of anti-science and hair tonic, is for you. Ω

[Ta-Nehisi Coates (He pronounces his given name /ˌta-nɘˈhasi/.) is a senior editor for The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues for the magazine. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. Coates attended Howard University.]

Copyright © 2010 The Atlantic Monthly Group

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