Tag Archives: Confederate Flag

Department of No Surprises: From Charleston to Murrieta to Washington, D.C.

 

Murrieta protest 2

In July, 2014 protesters gathered to block DHS busses carrying Central American women and children in Murrieta, CA.  It was ugly, and unnecessary, and gave the town a dismal national reputation. [HuffPo]  Murrieta is in the 42nd Congressional District, with a 46.6% white population, 36.2% Hispanic,  5.1% African American, and 8.8% Asian American. The district has been consistently Republican since 2003.  So, why review this information today?  Because the Representative from this California district, Ken Calvert, has raised the bloody flag in the halls of Congress.

“The amendment to the House’s Interior and Environment spending bill would allow for the display of Confederate flags at national cemeteries managed by the National Park Service (NPS) even though members voted to ban the practice earlier this week. It would counteract another amendment to the same bill blocking the service from selling Confederate flag memorabilia in gift shops in the future. 

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) offered the amendment in the closing minutes of floor debate on the spending bill Wednesday night. He made only a token statement in support of the amendment before setting up a roll call vote on it for Thursday.” [The Hill

Even though Representative Calvert’s amendment hit the floor during the waning hours of the Congressional day, it drew fire overnight when House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) commented:

Hoyer called the amendment, introduced by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) Wednesday night on a spending bill, “appalling.” He challenged House Republicans to vote against it and preserve amendments banning Confederate flag sales at national parks and displays at national cemeteries.

“That racist, divisive flag of slavery, segregation, and secession is not an appropriate symbol to sell or fly in our national parks and cemeteries run by the National Park Service,” Hoyer said in a statement early Thursday. [The Hill]

Representative Hoyer wasn’t the only member of Congress appalled by the  Calvert amendment.  Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum retorted: “After the murder of nine black parishioners, I never thought that the U.S. House of Representatives would join those who would want to see this flag flown by passing an amendment to ensure” the continued flying of the Confederate flag, McCollum said.” [Roll Call]

Thus evaporated any remaining Democratic support for an otherwise unlikeable Department of Interior appropriations bill.  Representative McCollum wasn’t alone; several other Democratic party Representatives took to the floor to lambaste the idea of voting on the Calvert amendment today, July 9, 2015. [The Hill]

Representative Calvert offered an explanation for his amendment, saying he had been asked by Representatives from southern states to introduce it, and there were Republican members of the House who would not support the Interior Department’s appropriation bill be cause of earlier language banning the CSA battle flag in grounds under DoI administration. [The Hill]

And now we come to the totally predictable part of the story – encapsulated by the remarks of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH):

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters the spending bill had been pulled to avoid the issue from becoming a “political football.” “That bill is going to sit in abeyance until we come to some resolution,” he said.” [The Hill]

This, from the Speaker who said only days ago in the immediate aftermath of the Charleston Church massacre, that Congress would be “the adults in the room.”

So, we have yet another major piece of legislation sitting “in abeyance” while the House Republicans engage in their internecine battles over whether or not to allow the pennon of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and racism to flap on federal grounds.  Additionally, it truly is remarkable that yet again House Republicans have slipped their own poison pill into what was one of their own bills.

This seems less like gridlock between two adversarial parties, and more like what happens when a single party with a majority in Congress cannot control its own caucus.  The Democrats should be perfectly pleased that an appropriations bill which stripped the EPA of essential authority to regulate clean air and clean water is “in abeyance.”  Republicans who wanted to dismantle the EPA’s authority to control pollution may be wondering how and why a California Representative could so easily thwart their plans with a truly insensitive and racially charged amendment on behalf of his southern brethren.

We may have to look no further than the angry faces of the anti-immigrant protesters in his district – Welcome Back to Murrieta?

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Filed under anti-immigration, Appropriations, conservatism, ecology, House of Representatives, Immigration, Interior Department, pollution, racism, Republicans

The South Shall Lose Again: The SCV in Nevada

SVC logo In contrast to other states of the Union, Nevada provided few soldiers to the American Civil War; most of the residents of the silver and gold producing areas were busy with Paiute “depredations” and were clamoring for Federal assistance with troops to contain the violence, and screeching the mining towns needed Henry Rifles to defend themselves.  That hasn’t prevented the establishment of two chapters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in this state.

The “Silver State Grays” are located in Las Vegas, NV and the “Lt. Dixon-CSS Hunley” group is located in Sparks, NV. [SCV]  As the Hunley chapter prepares to ‘celebrate’ the sesquicentennial of the South’s fight for independence (and the pleasure of owning other human beings) they’ll be meeting in a Sparks truck stop on September 20th.  Their web page lists officers: Lee Cross, Mike Tocci, Gerry Dunlap, and ‘historian’ Ernie Zebal.

A scan of their newsletter contents shows some interesting bits of ‘history’ indeed.  For example, there’s a notation that the SCV (Sparks) made a $450 donation on or about June 30, 2014 to the Southern Legal Resource Center, “which is the only law firm in the United States dedicated to preserving Southern Rights and Southern Heritage.”

And at this point we come to the South Carolina connection.  The SLRC was founded by four lawyers in 1995 (Carl A. Barrington (deceased), Kirk David Lyons, Larry Norman, and Lourie A. Salley, III). The organization is a South Carolina corporation, based in Black Mountain, North Carolina.  One of their first claims to fame concerned a Confederate flag dispute:

“The SLRC scored early victories in the late 1990’s when in 1996 it successfully defended the “Blacksburg (SC) 7” and in 1999 sued a Greenville, South Carolina, private academy on behalf of Dr. Winston McCuen, a teacher at the school who had been fired for refusing to remove a Confederate flag that was part of a classroom historical display, and for refusing to salute the US in protest.” [SourceWatch]

One of their novel approaches in litigation is the claim that Confederate Southern Americans are due 1st Amendment protections under the interpretation of ‘national origin’ as set forth in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  They aren’t having much luck with this.

“The problem with successful advocacy of this group, as noted by Chief Trial Counsel Lyons is that “Republican judges are adamantly opposed to any extension of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Democratic Judges are hostile to almost all things Confederate.” Lyons believes that Confederate Southern Americans are a viable National Origin group that can break through the legal barrier once they break through the political barrier that belittles and divides them.”  [SourceWatch]

There’s no avoiding the irony that the legal group is seeking “special status” which is usually decried in conservative circles.  However, this does provide evidence of the sense of victimhood among members who see federal, state, and local authorities infringing on their ‘rights,’ such as the right to wear a prom dress created from CSA flag patterned fabric, or wearing CSA symbols in schools, public and private.  That preservation of “Southern Rights and Southern Heritage” seems to devolve into protecting the flag of rebellion and those who like displaying it in public.  The Supreme Court decision in Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the controversy surrounding the battle flag in South Carolina, combined with their failure to induce NASCAR into agreeing to ‘fly the flag,’  appears to show  the SCV is not standing on much firm ground.

The SCV cut some of the ground from beneath its own feet during an internal power dispute in the last decade.  The result so far is an organization more racially extremist in its perspective than in previous iterations. [SPLC] Much of the SCV rhetoric is alarming:

From Alistar Anderson (SCV) we find out that the Pledge of Allegiance is to be denounced as enabling  a socialist mentality, and being supportive of a centralized Federal government, including a revision of the “atheist words of the radical French Revolution.”  [Sebesta]

According to Frank Conner, a contributor to SVC publications, the modern civil rights movement is “steadily shredding the traditional white society, first in the South and then the rest of the nation. But the liberals are in a big hurry to replace Christianity with secular humanism and limited government with socialism.” [Sebesta]

There’s a bit of the old Cold Warrior in the adherents to SVC ideology:

“Using the wedge of anti-racism, cultural Marxists orchestrated judicial and legislative changes to society over the course of decades – e.g. Brown v. Board of Education in 1955, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Immigration Reform Act of 1965. … The cultural Marxists relentlessly hammered away at Western cultural norms using the sledge of anti-racism as a battering ram to bring down the walls of traditional Western culture” …

“…And just as the Bolsheviks inflamed the masses to violence against the Russian aristocracy, today’s cultural Marxists harness the massed numbers of a new proletariat – composed of people of color, feminists, homosexuals and other disaffected groups – to secure social acceptance and the numbers sufficient to convey political power.” [Sebesta]

And, then there’s the notion of representative democracy which SCV promoted authors W.D. and J.R. Kennedy find definitely unappealing:

“The liberal concept of one man-one vote, or universal franchise, is so deeply entrenched in the liberal dogma of the Yankee government that very few are willing to challenge its legitimacy. This is especially true in the South. Here we are faced with the danger of being labeled as a society attempting to deny the franchise permanently on the basis of race. Where will anyone find a popular politician who is willing to confront charges of racism and bigotry just to promote an improvement of the quality of the electorate.” [Sebesta]

The current buzz word for this idea is “election integrity?”

The connection between organizations like the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the gun-lobby were made clear in the interview given by state Representative Bill Chumley recently [NYDN] the notion being inferred that perhaps the 87 year old lady who was shot should have been packing heat during Bible Study?  As if the victims were to blame for their own murders? [Grio]  Representative Chumley is a member of the SCV.

“We are focusing on the wrong thing,” Chumley told the reporter. “These people sat in there and waited their turn to be shot. That’s sad, when somebody in there with the means of self-defense could have stopped this, and would have less funerals than we’re having.” [digitalt]

Or perhaps we could say, if a rabid racist hadn’t had easy access to firearms we’d be having fewer funerals?

And so the good old boys of the Dixon/Hunley chapter will meet on a Saturday in a Sparks, NV truck stop – likely in a rather small room – and lament the good old days when being a white man meant you could have perfect ‘freedom,’ to: 

  • Refuse the pledge of allegiance to the liberal Yankee government?
  • Practice the discrimination which made white men the arbiters of social mores before Truman issued that blasted order integrating the Armed Forces?
  • Slather your motor vehicle with CSA decals and decorations without the neighbors looking at you as if you were a freak?
  • Pronounce that anyone supporting equal rights for everyone is a Commie Socialist Marxist Atheist minion of the Yankee government?
  • Lament the decision in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education as an “orchestrated judicial and legislative change” to society?
  • Loudly protest that slavery really really wasn’t the cause of the American Civil War in spite of all evidence to the contrary, and all the twisted logic which makes it seem the whole thing was a grand fight over tariffs and railroad construction?
  • Argue they really should be a “protected minority” in this country?

Have a few drinks fellows, the insanity and inanity will seem far more logical and rational after you reach the appropriate level of intoxication?

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Filed under Nevada politics, Politics, racism

Do We Have To Make Racists Comfortable?

No sooner did an African American take the oath of office as the President of the United States than racists (and those who tolerate them) began slathering on the euphemisms and buzz words for making opposition to him credible.  Remember the e-mails that made the rounds? The ones with “bones in noses” and “watermelons on the White House lawn?” And the response, “We were only joking.”

Obama racist cartoon

Those who found this cartoon amusing are racists. Purely and simply racist. Those who took these people seriously are enablers .. consider CNN’s “debate” about whether this obnoxious drivel was “Racist or Satirical.”  There’s no debate here. The cartoon is clearly, obviously, evidently racism.  How do we know this? A black man as a “savage.” A black man as a “witch doctor.”   Enough people were indignant about this offensive cartoon that its advocates slunk off to find more fodder for their e-mail lists.

However, the obvious racists are relatively easy to deal with – and even easier to shun.  Those “dens of lone wolves,” the Internet’s dark corners of hate and intolerance can be monitored, the “patriots” can be watched, and the hate-mongers prosecuted.  It’s the enablers of institutionalized and personal racism who seem more problematic.  Perhaps we’ll be able to move forward if we shatter some persistent myths.

The Myth of Two Sides

In the current cable news template, there must be “two sides” to an issue.  Let’s revert to the day someone at CNN decided to produce a segment on that 2009 cartoon.  Yes, they decided, the cartoon was, indeed, racist, but why was the question posed at all?  Well, gee, it could, it might, it may look in some circles, … like racism, but it could also be political criticism… Really?  No, to anyone with any sensitivity, or an IQ above cauliflower, it was racism.   Moving along the continuum from “we’re just joking” we get to “can’t you take a joke?”  Other presidents have had horrible cartoons drawn and published about them, why are we so sensitive about a black president?   For the near-veggies who might read this: It’s because he is a black man, and black men have been vilified for centuries in this part of the world for being “savage,” and “wild,” and “emotional,” and “lustful,” and … we could keep going here, but that would only serve to raise blood pressure.  So, let’s get to the point: Racist and ethnic jokes aren’t funny. Except to racists.  But, but, but… African Americans (and blondes and Poles) do it? That still doesn’t make it right.  The ‘everybody does it’ response is usually the province of immature adolescents trying to explain their misbehavior to the parents.  We should be a bit more mature.

The Myth of the Mirrors

Another myth which should hit the skids is the banal “speaking out about racism is divisive.”   Well, obviously, yes.  As well it should be. Who wants to be lumped into the same category with racists?

Remember the Twitter Fit from the Right when the President commented on the murder of Trayvon Martin?   The  Right echoed George Zimmerman’s whining about the President “rushing to judgment,” and said the President’s comment “pitted American against American.” [Hill]  It’s “race-baiting” to talk about race?

“…the allegation is that simply talking about race in America makes you a racist. It is, as Boehlert called it, “a very odd brand of projection” that’s “very weird and complicated,” but that’s where the roles of endless repetition and cognitive closure come in. They naturalize and normalize what would otherwise clearly be both arbitrary and bizarre.” [Salon]

If we boiled the “endless repetition and cognitive closure” down to its essentials what comes out is – If you talk about racial issues in ways that make racists uncomfortable, i.e. it makes people confront their own racism, it must be ‘race-baiting.’   When this message moves inextricably closer to its inevitable extension we can no longer speak of a whole host of topics which cause conservatives to squirm.

We can’t have a national discussion about institutional racism in employment, housing, or health care outcomes because … we’d be “divisive.”

We can’t have a national discussion about voting rights and the African American community, and other communities of color, because … we’d be ‘divisive.’

We can’t have a national civil debate about the social costs of mass incarceration of African Americans and other people of color, because … we’d be ‘divisive.’

And, Heaven Help Us, we can’t have a discussion about policing in America because … we’d be ‘divisive.” Worse still, we’d be “race-baiting,” as asserted by the Louisville, Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police.  [Full letter here]

The Myth of A Non-Partisan World

I think I’m going to gag at the very next assertion that what we need in this country is “healing,” and “bipartisanship.”  There never was, and never will be, a harmonic idyllic session of any democratically elected ruling body gracefully gliding over issues and points of disagreement with elegance and aplomb.  And yet, this is the standard by which some of the Chattering Classes measure the effectiveness of legislators and legislation. “The bill had bi-partisan support,” as if that automatically made the bill any better law.  Yes, politics is the art of the possible. And, yes, pragmatism usually makes more progress than strident partisanship.  However, there are some points at which we should agree, and one of the prime ones in American life is that racism is wrong.

The racists are aware of this. Why else would they be quick to tell us that they were only joking, or that they are merely being satirical? Why else would they begin obnoxious expressions with “I’m not racist, but…?” Why else would they whine so loudly if it’s suggested their own brand of projection is nothing more than an attempt to ‘normalize’ what is patently arbitrary and downright bizarre?

Sometimes wrong is just wrong.   We can debate the finer points of trade agreements, international arms agreements, educational policy, health care insurance needs, and so many other topics, but this is 2015 and we should no longer have to make racists comfortable and racism tolerable. Nor do we need to tolerate its symbols.

CSA battle flag

The Stars and Bars, isn’t a Redneck Flag —  unless the aforementioned Redneck is a racist. It isn’t a symbol of southern heritage – unless that heritage is hate.

NASCAR, yes NASCAR, got the message back in 2005:

“NASCAR has a policy that prevents use of the Stars and Bars or other controversial subjects on any car, uniform, licensed product or track facility under its control, but that doesn’t stop hard-line rebel fans from displaying it.

“We recognize that the Confederate flag is an important issue for a lot of people and as our fan base grows, we are doing what we can to break down its use and be more in the mainstream,” said Ramsey Poston, NASCAR director of corporate communications.” [LA Times]

Mainstream America doesn’t sport the traitorous Stars and Bars, the battle flag of a revolt, the cornerstone of which was the preservation of the Peculiar Institution, as expressed by the CSA vice-president when speaking about their new CSA constitution:

“Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition. [Applause.] This, our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” [Alexander Stephens,  March 21, 1861]

Lee surrenders Is there any good reason why we have to tolerate the display of a flag which was truly and historically divisive – physically, philosophically, and morally divisive?  It did divide us – dividing us between those who thought chattel slavery and all its horrible implications was a physical, philosophical, and moral good, from those who believed chattel slavery was a cancer in the body politic and a moral catastrophe.  It took four bloody years, but the Good Guys won.  Someone made a picture of it.

So, if reading this post made you “uncomfortable” I’m not the least bit sorry.  I think there’s a better use for my capacity for sympathy and sorrow – for the victims of that heinous act of domestic terrorism by a horrid racist in South Carolina.

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Filed under conservatism, Hate Crimes, Human Rights, media, Obama, Politics, racism