Showing posts with label Dixie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dixie. Show all posts

Friday, June 30, 2017

You can't fix stupid, and you can't argue with wicked

Cast your line into the deep, dumb sea.

Reel in a red herring.

Make a YouTube video that every stupid, racist redneck from Pearl River to Sabine Pass will slurp up like a heaping plate of David Duke. Go up there to Franklinton, get up on your front porch, take off your shoes, wash your feet, look at the moon and get close to God.

State Sen. Beth Mizell must be a hero in Washington Parish, Louisiana . . . where the Ku Klux Klan still is very much a thing.

Mizell's video must be seen to be believed. Here's the Cliff's Notes version:
Huey Long, Louisiana State Capitol
If New Orleans can take down Jim Crow era Confederate monuments, well, what are they going to come for next? The statue over Huey Long's grave at the state capitol?

After all, Huey Long was a socialist. Huey Long was like Bernie Sanders. You know, a socialist! God knows socialism is just as controversial and offensive as slavery . . . and treason . . . and starting the Civil War in defense of keeping blacks in bondage.

Did we mention socialist?

Well . . . the senator ain't for taking down Huey Long's statue! Because history. Why, we bet you didn't even know he was a socialist. And what we don't know makes us love him and be proud. He wrote the LSU fight song! GEAUX TIGERS!
We bet you didn't even know the Confederates were for slavery! Not that that's what the War of Northern Aggression was about! And nothing says New Orleans, Mardi Gras and seafood gumbo like Robert E. Lee. Because history. The white . . . er . . . right version of it. Not Yankee fake history.
And if you were one of those people with all the fake outrage over white-supremacist monuments, well, you ain't even a real citizen. You're a fake citizen.
Bogalusa, La., 1965 -- Sen. Mizell's district
CAN WE just build the wall at Texarkana and make Louisiana pay for it?

In Louisiana, as in much of the South, we no longer can deny that we're dealing with a white population just as brainwashed, by and large, as your average North Korean political functionary. Maybe more. And you just can't argue with brainwashed.

Martin Luther King Jr. is dead, but the cult of the Lost Cause still lives. If Jesus Christ -- the real Jesus and not the Trumpian fake Jesus -- elicited the same kind of fanatical devotion as a long-defeated insurrection of slave masters, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. We'd be talking about the Beatitudes and not P.G.T. Beauregard.

We'd be talking about feeding the poor and healing the sick, not serving up socialist straw men to knock down with the battering ram of fake patriotism.

Beth Mizell would be sitting in a double-wide, not at a desk in the Louisiana State Capitol.

You can't contradict the Beth Mizells of the world, who spread lies like a hog slurps slop. You can't convince the brainwashed hordes who love the liars because their lies play to inbred prejudice. If the rise and rule of Donald Trump has taught us anything, it's taught us that.

THE ONLY THING left is to fight the liars and their lies. The only thing left is to defeat the liars and their lies. The only thing left is to isolate the liars -- and their lies -- until . . . until. . . .
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps,
His day is marching on.
I have read His fiery gospel writ in rows of burnished steel!
"As ye deal with my condemners, so with you My grace shall deal!
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel, "
Since God is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him; be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!
While God is marching on.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The fools in your grill: Jim Crow's bayou bastards

Like maggots on three-day-old road kill, the bastard children of Jim Crow consume all debate in Louisiana about any and every aspect of how New Orleans is driving ol' Dixie down.

Nowadays, the Facebook page of Channel 4 looks more like 4chan. Specifically, the alt-right -- and all-white -- netherworld of that discredited web forum. A few days ago, someone actually posted a meme calling Mayor Mitch Landrieu a "cuck."

The attacks against Landrieu are of the ferocity you'd expect from people whose entire identity has been mortally threatened by his rhetoric and his removal of Confederate monuments. That's because he's just mortally threatened their entire self-understanding, self-worth and worldview.

I don't know that people who aren't from the Deep South understand that at all. "Proud, patriotic Southerners" perceive this as an attack not only on "history" (history in the Orwellian sense of the word -- literally) but also on their very being.

Landrieu delivered a momentous speech Friday in Gallier Hall as crews pulled Robert E. Lee down off his pedestal. The address was the bravest I had ever seen from a Southern politician -- especially a white Louisiana politician. It also was the most explicit and prophetic anyone has given about the South's peculiar "heritage," which is inextricably bound up with its former "peculiar institution."

That, of course, would be slavery. America's original sin remains burrowed in Southern brains like political and cultural syphilis, and it has driven untold generations of my people mad. I think we all know what comes for the syphilitic after the crazy.

Because of the crazy enveloping my native state, Landrieu's political career is over, barring his appointment to some post in some future Democratic administration. Even if he weren't term-limited as mayor of the Crescent City, enraged whites from Shreveport to Chalmette would empty their figurative magazines into his body politic.
AS THE monumental battle has dragged on in New Orleans, across Louisiana and across the South, some outraged Lost Cause cultists have threatened to empty literal magazines into the mayor. A Mississippi lawmaker has taken to Facebook to suggest that Landrieu and those like him ought to be . . .  "lynched."

This is how far the South apparently has come in my 50-something years on Earth. Not very.

I was born a Southerner. I lived almost three decades in the South. And I've lived in the Midwest even longer; if anyone is bi-culturally adept at code-shifting, it is me.

Yet . . . yet. . . .

Yet, I struggle to express to non-Southerners the gravity of what happened here with Landrieu's speech, which now -- finally -- has been noticed by the national press.
You see — New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling caldron of many cultures. There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum — out of many we are one. But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were bought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture. America was the place where nearly 4000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp. So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions, why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame... all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans. So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.
Lee Circle, October 2011
For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth. As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.” So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other. So, let’s start with the facts.
The historic record is clear, the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity. First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy. It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city. Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy. He said in his now famous ‘cornerstone speech’ that the Confederacy’s “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 normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears... I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us. And make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago — we can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and a more perfect union.

UNLESS you're from there, it's difficult to grasp exactly how much white Southerners' self-conception is tied up with the Lost Cause -- the cult of the Lost Cause. Those of my generation and older were brainwashed (and that is not an exaggeration, in my first-hand estimation) into that worldview from the day they emerged from the womb. 

And in this worldview, "Southern heritage" means "white Southern heritage," because the history and "heritage" of black Southerners aren't even on the radar screen.

That is how Mitch Landrieu got to be regarded as "Yankee trash" and a "traitor" by his own people. Give the Age of Trump a few more months, and "proud Southerners" will be calling him -- openly, without apology -- what he would have been called by a great many Louisianians within my living memory.

It starts with an "N" and ends with "lover." Must I spell it out?

AS A SOUTHERNER who has made a home in the Midwest, I feel nothing but fury, loathing, disgust and shame right now. The psychotic, spiritually syphilitic South -- in its ancient hatreds and its hereditary denial of the truth of its "heritage" -- has driven me to shame and embarrassment for what I am and where I was born and raised.

I am embarrassed for me, and I am ashamed of those who I once thought were "my people." If the new iteration of the same old filth is what really counts for Southern "pride" and "history" after all these years and all that shame, Dixie can shove it up the south side of one of its northward-facing brass sentinels.

If the standard white "Southern patriot" definition of Southernness "is what it is," these are my people like German Nazis were German Jews' "people."

Go. To. Hell. And say "heil" to Hitler when you get there.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Race is the reason for the season . . . of hate

WWL-TV in New Orleans had to ask.
Here are some facts about the Robert E. Lee Monument: 
Are you for or against its removal?
That probably wasn't the best idea in Louisiana, as a Democrat mayor takes down Confederate monuments in a state where a great many native-born whites have no idea who they are, apart from being the aggrieved progeny of "persecuted" mid-19th century slaveholders. Above is a meme that's emerged anywhere on Facebook where the subject of removing the Lost Cause tributes surfaces.

In fact, everything you'll see here is representative of the aggrieved-Caucasian opinion dominating every New Orleans television station's or newspaper's social-media comments sections.

In Louisiana, racism is still a thing. A big thing. And the reactions of these keyboard crusaders to removing some statues -- edifices erected by late 1800s and early 1900s white-supremacists honoring luminaries of a failed rebellion against the United States in defense of slavery -- is justification enough for why they must come down.

Thankfully, the Crescent City's last big one, a large statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee atop a 60-foot obelisk in Lee Circle, comes down today. It's not going quietly, as scores of protesters --  pro and con -- gathered there to argue and emote through the wee hours of the morning.

I've been sitting here watching the WWL live feed from Lee Circle and cyberswimming through a fetid pool of combox racism and societal resentment as good for clicks as they are deadly to a nation's soul. At one point, my very Midwestern wife came into the room to take in the scene.

She had one question.

"Why are all these people that upset over taking down those monuments?"

MY ANSWER was what I've already said: Lots of Southern white people have no idea who or what they are apart from the aggrieved identity they have in relation to the North and from having fought and lost the "War Between the States." Thus, all the talk about "Southern history," "Southern pride" and "Southern heritage."

Left out of all this "history, pride and heritage," of course, is about 40 percent of the South's population -- the descendants of those enslaved, degraded, tortured and killed by "Southern history," "Southern pride" and "Southern heritage." Those folks do not get warm fuzzies from all that blessed heritage as they drive around Lee Circle.

And that doesn't matter worth a damn to those obsessed with the "loss" of their history, pride and heritage. The reason that doesn't matter worth a damn is rather obvious, I think.

My history, important and noble. Yours, not really.

Naturally -- because men usually marry up, not down -- my wife is as tenacious as she is cute and smart and, therefore, had a follow-up:

"Why is being Southern such a huge part of your identity and your self-worth? I'm a Midwesterner, but there are a lot of things more central to who and what I am than being from the Midwest."

Great. Why not ask me why being a pissed-off Serb, Muslim or Croat is so central to Balkan identity? Actually, that was my answer, which I put as a question. Sounds better than "Beats me."

To my credit, though, I did also mention the perhaps better example of the centrality of being Protestant or Catholic in Northern Ireland, and then hating the other side because it isn't. That, she got a little more readily.

Not that it makes any sense, just like devotion to the Lost Cause or that particular definition of Southernness makes no sense . . . or how the overriding importance of one's Southernness, in the end, makes no damned sense. Of course, one of the hallmarks of being human is not making any damned sense much of the time.

WHAT MAKES absolutely no sense, though, is Southernness as defined not only as whiteness, a fallacy in itself, but as whiteness characterized by antipathy toward and contempt of a race your ancestors demeaned and oppressed. It's as if white Southerners' true religion, for all their vacuous protestations of Christian devotion, is really nothing more than some ooga-booga variant of ancestor worship . . . with the caveat that those one worships never could have done anything wrong or been gripped by evil.

Therefore, slavery must have been the fault of the black slaves. Somehow.

White man, good. Black man, bad. The end. Now, for a stirring rendition of "Dixie!"

As God is my witness, back when I was a fourth grader and first allowed to attend public school with black kids, I thought the South might be over this kind of thing by the time I was old like my parents. Well, now I'm notably older than my late parents were in 1970 -- yes, 1970 -- and this sort of hatred and bigotry is still very much a thing in Louisiana.

Obviously. That's one among several reasons I am happy to be long gone from Louisiana . . . not that the Midwest, particularly in the Age of Trump, doesn't have its less-than-edifying moments.

AND SPEAKING of Donald Trump, Louisiana's Lost Causers also use standard Republican "kick the poor" ideology in service of "Southern heritage."

This variation on the theme of African-Americans as deadbeats wonders "how many of the people whose support [New Orleans Mayor] Mitch Landrieu relies on to remove monuments actually pay state income taxes?" There are two assumptions implicit in this odious bit of dog-whistling.

One is that no decent white Southerner would be against removing paeans to the Confederacy and the Old South. Another is that people getting government benefits would be pro-Democrat, anti-"Southern heritage" . . . and largely black. That is because, as defined by the aggrieved Lost Causers, "Southern heritage" is a white thing, inextricably intertwined with reverence of the Confederate States of America and its heroes.

That's just how it is. Uhhhh . . . except when the pro-monument, pro-Confederate crowd is trying to convince the world that 1) tens of thousands of slaves and free blacks fought for the Confederate army (not so much, and usually not by choice), and 2) there were more free-black slaveowners than white slave owners (there were black slavemasters . . . but come on!).

SO . . . when considering the point where white-identity politics intersects with right-wing quasi-libertarianism in the racially aggrieved and Republican-dominated Gret Stet, I have a few public-policy thoughts that dovetail with the whole Confederate-monument conflict.

Given the righteous (and right-wing) convictions of the good, white "Christian" people decrying the villainous, minority poor who so oppress them, so suppress their "heritage" and so endeavor to erase their "history," I put forth a modest proposal. Put simply, I think Louisiana ought to be forced to live by the principles the majority of its voters are hell-bent -- and I mean that literally, by the way -- on forcing upon "the least of these," their perceived oppressors.

It is well known that Louisiana and other Southern states famously suck at the federal teat, largely because they've never been able to get their shit together. Ever. A vast, free labor source (slaves) and the lack of concern about any manner of civil society at all only masked that basic societal incompetence in antebellum times.

Therefore, we Americans who live in states that get back only what they pay into the federal treasury -- or not even that -- should just cut off America's proud, Southern, freeloading parasites. If they want "secession" and freedom from Yankees' mores, fine. They can have it, if only fiscally, alas.

And when, say, Louisiana has yet another hurricane or flood its residents and government never adequately prepared for -- even though epic floods came regularly before anyone knew of global warming and come ever more frequently now -- it need not come begging Yankees for help. Louisiana should have made better "lifestyle choices."

Tough shit now. Does it actually contribute to the fiscal well-being of the government? Federal ledger says no.

Or, as the Bible says -- and Louisianians luuuuuuuv to invoke the Bible on behalf of all kinds of stuff, particularly in service of the kinds of evil the Good Book actually condemns outright -- "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

Reap away,
Reap away,
Reap away, Dixieland.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

That does not compute

"Let me ask you this; if you were a resident of New York, how would you feel if they all of a sudden decided to take down the Statue of Liberty, would you be against that?"
Louisiana's commissioner to the Texas Secession Convention explains, in February 1861, why it seceded from the Union the previous month.
To the Hon. O.M. Roberts, President of the Convention of the People of Texas.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the people of Texas.

I have the honor to address you as the commissioner of the people of Louisiana, accredited to your honorable body. With this communication, by the favor of your presiding officer, will be laid before you my credentials, the ordinance of secession, a resolution in regard to the Mississippi river and the ordinance to provide for the appointment of delegates to a convention to form a Southern Confederacy. These ordinances and the resolution were adopted at their respective dates by the people of Louisiana in convention assembled, after serious debate and calm reflection.

Being desirous of obtaining the concurrence of the people of Texas in what she has done, Louisiana invites you to a candid consideration of her acts in resuming the powers delegated to the government of the late United States, and in providing for the formation of a confederacy of "The States which have seceded and may secede." The archives of the Federal Government bear ample testimony to the loyalty of Louisiana to the American Union. Her conservatism has been proverbial in political circles. The character and pursuits of her people, her immense agricultural wealth, her large banking capital, her possession of the great commercial metropolis of the South, whose varied trade almost rivals that of the city of "ten thousand masts" present facts sufficient to make "assurance double sure" she did not take these grave steps for light or transient causes. She was impelled to this action to preserve her honor, her safety, her property and the free institutions so sacred to her people. She believed the federal agent had betrayed her trust, had become the facile instrument of a hostile people, and was usurping despotic powers. She considered that the present vacillating executive, on the 4th of March next, would be supplanted by a stalwart fanatic of the Northwest, whose energetic will, backed by the frenzied bigotry of unpatriotic masses, would cause him to establish the military despotism already inaugurated.

The people of Louisiana were unwilling to endanger their liberties and property by submission to the despotism of a single tyrant, or the canting tyranny of pharisaical majorities. Insulted by the denial of her constitutional equality by the non-slaveholding States, outraged by their contemptuous rejection of proffered compromises, and convinced that she was illustrating the capacity of her people for self-government by withdrawing from a union that had failed, without fault of hers, to accomplish its purposes, she declared herself a free and independent State on the 26th day of January last. History affords no example of a people who changed their government for more just or substantial reasons. Louisiana looks to the formation of a Southern confederacy to preserve the blessings of African slavery, and of the free institutions of the founders of the Federal Union, bequeathed to their posterity. As her neighbor and sister State, she desires the hearty co-operation of Texas in the formation of a Southern Confederacy. She congratulates herself on the recent disposition evinced by your body to meet this wish, by the election of delegates to the Montgomery convention. Louisiana and Texas have the same language, laws and institutions. Between the citizens of each exists the most cordial social and commercial intercourse. The Red river and the Sabine form common highways for the transportation of their produce to the markets of the world. Texas affords to the commerce of Louisiana a large portion of her products, and in exchange the banks of New Orleans furnish Texas with her only paper circulating medium. Louisiana supplies to Texas a market for her surplus wheat, grain and stock; both States have large areas of fertile, uncultivated lands, peculiarly adapted to slave labor; and they are both so deeply interested in African slavery that it may be said to be absolutely necessary to their existence, and is the keystone to the arch of their prosperity. Each of the States has an extended Gulf coast, and must look with equal solicitude to its protection now, and the acquisition of the entire control of the Gulf of Mexico in due time. No two States of this confederacy are so identified in interest, and whose destinies are so closely interwoven with each other. Nature, sympathy and unity of interest make them almost one. Recognizing these facts, but still confident in her own powers to maintain a separate existence, Louisiana regards with great concern the vote of the people of Texas on the ratification of the ordinance of secession, adopted by your honorable body on the 1st of the present month. She is confident a people who so nobly and gallantly achieved their liberties under such unparalleled difficulties will not falter in maintaining them now. The Mexican yoke could not have been more galling to "the army of heroes" of '36 than the Black republican rule would be to the survivors and sons of that army at the present day.

The people of Louisiana would consider it a most fatal blow to African slavery, if Texas either did not secede or having seceded should not join her destinies to theirs in a Southern Confederacy. If she remains in the union the abolitionists would continue their work of incendiarism and murder. Emigrant aid societies would arm with Sharp's rifles predatory bands to infest her northern borders. The Federal Government would mock at her calamity in accepting the recent bribes in the army bill and Pacific railroad bill, and with abolition treachery would leave her unprotected frontier to the murderous inroads of hostile savages. Experience justifies these expectations. A professedly friendly federal administration gave Texas no substantial protection against the Indians or abolitionists, and what must she look for from an administration avowedly inimical and supported by no vote within her borders. Promises won from the timid and faithless are poor hostages of good faith. As a separate republic, Louisiana remembers too well the whisperings of European diplomacy for the abolition of slavery in the times of annexation not to be apprehensive of bolder demonstrations from the same quarter and the North in this country. The people of the slaveholding States are bound together by the same necessity and determination to preserve African slavery. The isolation of any one of them from the others would make her a theatre for abolition emissaries from the North and from Europe. Her existence would be one of constant peril to herself and of imminent danger to other neighboring slave-holding communities. A decent respect for the opinions and interests of the Gulf States seems to indicate that Texas should co-operate with them. I am authorized to say to your honorable body that Louisiana does not expect any beneficial result from the peace conference now assembled at Washington. She is unwilling that her action should depend on the border States. Her interests are identical with Texas and the seceding States. With them she will at present co-operate, hoping and believing in his own good time God will awaken the people of the border States to the vanity of asking for, or depending upon, guarantees or compromises wrung from a people whose consciences are too sublimated to be bound by that sacred compact, the constitution of the late United States. That constitution the Southern States have never violated, and taking it as the basis of our new government we hope to form a slave-holding confederacy that will secure to us and our remotest posterity the great blessings its authors designed in the Federal Union. With the social balance wheel of slavery to regulate its machinery, we may fondly indulge the hope that our Southern government will be perpetual.

Geo. Williamson
Commissioner of the State of Louisiana
City of Austin Feby 11th 1861.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

-- The New Colossus
Emma Lazarus

* * *

LONG STORY SHORT: When the people of a state -- and Louisiana unfortunately often is the prime example of this condition -- have lost their f***ing minds, their brains aren't very far behind.

It's a scientific fact. Twisting your mind into a pretzel in the defense of your culture's honoring and fetishizing of evil makes you stupid. Tragicomically, mouth-breathingly, knuckle-draggingly stupid.

I suggest that New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu just dynamite the remaining damn Confederate memorials before the state's collective IQ slips into negative numbers.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Whitewashing history to keep living a lie

Here's the problem with us white Southerners, as succinctly as I can put it: We don't know who or what the hell we are apart from defining ourselves by the most horrific sins of our forefathers, then trying to whitewash that evil because it was our kin what did it.

Above, behold the truth of the antebellum South before our defeated ancestors managed to sanitize the whole unholy thing into "the Lost Cause" and -- in a triumph of what passed for "fake news" in the 1880s and 1890s -- turn the Civil War into a glorious-yet-doomed campaign against Yankee usurpers in the name of states' rights. A completely logical and fair question to ask here would be "States' rights to do what, exactly?"

The answer you would not get from the originators of Lost Cause mythology then, and the answer you will not get today from the patently racist defenders of "Southern heritage" and "history," is one reflecting the truth. The plain truth you will find in the original source materials, or from talking to any serious historian of the "War Between the States," is that, in 1861, the 11 seceding Southern states wanted to maintain the "right" of whites to hold blacks in bondage, buy and sell them like you would lumber or cotton, and then -- if Satan so moved them -- whip the "property" until their backs looked like this famous 1863 photo of an escaped Louisiana slave known as Gordon or "Whipped Peter."

The source materials and the photographic record tells us that the mutilated Gordon is a far better representative of the South's antebellum and wartime reality than the "history" and "heritage" peddled by Southern snake-oil salesmen since 1877, when Reconstruction ended at least a couple of generations too soon.

In 1961, when I was born in Baton Rouge, Southern "heritage"consisted of moonlight, magnolias and -- as Randy Newman correctly put in in his seminal "Rednecks" -- "keeping the niggers down." Or, as Alabama Gov. George Wallace put it in 1962:
"In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."
Today, being that our parents couldn't stop the feds from giving blacks the vote, preserving "Southern heritage" and "history" centers on venerating the Confederate battle flag and preserving the "Lost Cause" monuments to the generals and founding fathers of the Confederate States of America -- tributes in cement and stone that started going up as soon as the last Yankee soldiers got out some 140 years ago.

In my native state, Louisiana, brainwashed Lost Causers of the Deep South booboisie are figuratively (and perhaps literally) losing their minds now that New Orleans is actually removing the first of those whitewashed tributes to treason and tyranny that rose with the Jim Crow reassertion of white supremacy. The first to go -- in the wee hours of Monday, as SWAT snipers and New Orleans street cops guarded helmeted, masked demolition workers clad in flak jackets -- was the Battle of Liberty Place monument.

It's "fascism and tyranny," one Lost Cause dead-ender yelled at the "cowardly" work crews, who also covered up the company name on their vehicles and removed the license plates. Of course, the workers wore masks and the company name was covered because every firm that so much as bid on the job faced a barrage of abuse and death threats in the name of "history" and "heritage." The owner of a Baton Rouge firm that originally won a contract discovered that his $200,000 sports car had been turned into a molten glob of metal in his parking lot -- burned.

He declined the job.

THE FAKE NEWS about Liberty Place we Louisianians were taught for a century or more was that the victory of 5,000 White League combatants over the 3,500 from New Orleans' integrated Metropolitan Police and units of the state militia represented the beginning of the end of rule by carpetbagger "usurpers." The reality was that the deadly September 1874 insurrection aimed to overthrow the Republican governor of Louisiana following a disputed 1872 election, and the White League succeeded in capturing state offices as Gov. William Pitt Kellogg took refuge in the Customs House and begged Washington for help.

Three days later, the Pelican State putsch ended when President Ulysses S. Grant sent in the U.S. Army and the White League slinked away.

The Liberty Place monument went up in 1891, erected by the Jim Crow city government. Inscriptions noting the battle's importance in establishing white supremacy were added in 1932.

From The New Orleans Advocate:
The removal was delayed, however, as the city found itself tied up in court battles that lasted until earlier this year, when the 5th Circuit ruled that the city could move forward while a trial on the monument backers' suit played out.

That case also was resolved on Monday, when U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier dismissed claims made by several groups led by the Monumental Task Committee, ruling that the plaintiffs had not shown they could succeed on the merits. Among their arguments was that the committee should have a say in what happened to the monuments because it had done work over the years to clean and restore them.
[New Orleans Mayor Mitch] Landrieu was not spotted at the removal itself, and other city officials there were not allowed to comment to the media, leaving the city’s official comments to a release issued two hours after the process began and then Landrieu's news conference.

“Our past is marked by racial divisions. Today we are moving to a place of healing,” Landrieu said.

That event was held at the police memorial in front of NOPD headquarters, a deliberate choice by the administration to accentuate the fact that the White League killed members of the city’s biracial police force during its rebellion.

Emphasizing the city’s focus on security, members of the media had to email city officials before even being told where Landrieu would speak.

“Of the four we will remove, this is perhaps the most blatant affront to the values that make New Orleans and America strong today,” Landrieu said of the Battle of Liberty Place monument.

“We will no longer allow the Confederacy to literally be put in the heart of our city. The removal of these statues sends a clear message, an unequivocal message to the people of our nation that our city celebrates our diversity,” he added.

The Liberty Place monument has always been a flashpoint of controversy and was a site of rallies years ago by white nationalist David Duke and protests by civil rights leader Rev. Avery Alexander, something that may have contributed to Monday's level of security.

This is also the second time the monument has been removed. It was taken down from its original spot on the Canal Street neutral ground during roadwork in the late 1980s and was put up again only on orders from a federal court. It was placed in a less conspicuous spot at the foot of Iberville Street, between a garage and the floodwall.

The timing of the statue’s removal came as an odd historical coincidence in a debate focused on the Civil War and its aftermath.

Monday was Confederate Memorial Day in Mississippi and Alabama. It also marked the 155th anniversary of the day Union ships under the command of Capt. David Farragut managed to pass two Confederate forts on the river in Plaquemines Parish, an attack that started at almost exactly the same early morning hour as workers began taking down the monument. Once Farragut’s squadron made it past those forts, New Orleans, the Confederacy's largest city, was left defenseless. It surrendered without a fight four days later.

Exactly 15 years later, federal troops would leave the city on April 24 on the order of new President Rutherford B. Hayes, marking the end of Reconstruction.

The end of that federal oversight, which ushered in the Jim Crow era, was commemorated on the Liberty Place statue itself in 1932 with a plaque that said “the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.” Less inflammatory language was added when the marker was moved to Iberville Street.
THIS IS HISTORY.  The monuments are propaganda, erected to obscure history, not to shine a light on the fraught past of the American South. The Liberty Place marker and the ones yet to come down -- massive statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, who fired the opening salvos on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, as well as the biggest of all, that of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Lee Circle -- say nothing about why the South fought or what it all meant.

All they do is cloak the ugly reality of a sick culture and a wicked economy built upon the exploitation and dehumanization of an entire race . . . and the culpability of the men who led 11 states into treasonous rebellion to defend the indefensible.

"History" to people either too racist or too brainwashed to comprehend the obvious is, instead, nothing more than a crude attempt to bestow a patina of dignity upon a people's and a region's ignominious and total defeat. The only relevant history involving these tributes to a well-lost cause would be that of the how-tos of disinformation and cultural brainwashing on a civilizational scale.

The "heritage" they represent is a God-damned abomination.

Once upon a time, as a well and good brainwashed son of the South, I'd be offended at all the little digs and insults from Yankees about my home place. But when you step back and look at the enormity of the South's sin and the enormity of the South's delusions -- even to this day -- you start to realize those humiliations haven't been nearly bad enough or often enough.

Frankly, there ought to have been a de-Confederafication of the South at least as extensive and long-running as the de-Nazification of Germany after World War II. Confederate symbolism should have been made as unacceptable and untouchable as the swastika became for postwar Germans.

Being charitable to vanquished enemies is one thing, but bygones-as-bygones isn't an option when the real enemy is cultural and ideological. You can rebuild the ruined land, but you damn well cannot allow the rebuilding of the toxic, deadly ideology.

The federal government, however, damn well allowed the rebuilding of the South's toxic, deadly ideology. And here we are in 2017, with loyal sons and daughters of the Southland still making excuses for the sins of their forebears -- when they can bring themselves to acknowledge America's original sin at all.

IF MITCH LANDRIEU were to ask me what to do with Lee Circle after that most prominent of the Lost Cause love letters comes down, I'd tell him that I think the city should replace the statue of Robert E. Lee with a monument to that whipped Louisiana slave whose photograph caused such a stir in the North. There should be a gigantic memorial to Gordon, or "Whipped Peter," or whoever that suffering soul was.

According to the Wikipedia entry for the famous Civil War picture, Gordon joined the Union Army after the Emancipation Proclamation -- first as a guide (he was captured by Confederates, tied to a tree, beaten, left for dead . . . and then escaped) and then as a sergeant in the Corps d'Afrique. He fought bravely at Port Hudson (La.), the first battle where black troops took the lead in a Union assault.

Where the soon-to-be-removed monument to Lee stood, I would erect a wall several stories tall. On one side, a relief of that picture of the scarred, disfigured slave who fled a plantation near Krotz Springs, La., and made it to safety in Union-occupied Baton Rouge.

ON THE OTHER SIDE of the wall, there would be a relief of this woodcut -- the Union sergeant named George, who fought as the equal of any white man at Port Hudson. And I'd rename Lee Circle something a lot more fitting . . . and inspiring.

Resurrection Circle.

I also would point out to the mayor that this Southern boy has Southern skin in this. My great-great grandfather, François Seguin, was a Confederate soldier at Port Hudson. And there he died.

In the name of a God-damned abomination.

(Later, we can discuss Louisianians' bitter refusal to honor LSU's founding superintendent . . .  William Tecumseh Sherman. Not one thing on campus is named for him. James Carville thinks the Parade Ground should be named for him; I think it should be the Union. I have skin in that controversy, too. For one thing, I am a Louisiana State graduate. Then there's the matter of another of my great-great grandfathers, Ulysses Broussard, a Confederate soldier from Louisiana who fought . . . in the Battle of Atlanta. Which is where he is buried.)

THAT'S the thing about wicked ideologies and sick cultures -- one way or another, they kill everybody without prejudice.

Caucasian sons and daughters of the South owe it to ourselves, our ancestors and history itself to, at long last, live in truth. A people and a region have no identity at all if the one they claim is a lie -- a lie that manages to both dishonor and ignore the history and humanity of fellow Southerners dehumanized, enslaved, abused and killed for the sake of "Southern heritage."

Then again, if history so far is any predictor, my people will stick with the Southern status quo of livin' the lie and partyin' like it's 1899. In that case, allow me to put a record on the turntable. You may have heard it -- fella used to live in New Orleans.

We're rednecks, we're rednecks
And we don't know our ass from a hole in the ground . . . .

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Look away, look away, look away, Dixieland

EDITOR'S NOTE: So Monday was the 150th anniversary of the attack on Fort Sumter, S.C. -- the beginning of the Civil War. Or as we were prone to call it in the South, "The War Between the States."

I don't really have anything to say about this that I already haven't beaten into the ground, so I'll just repeat this post from a year and a half ago about a big foofarah at the University of Mississippi over the Rebel marching band being banned from playing "From Dixie With Love," at the end of which Ole Miss fans would yell "The South shall rise again!"

I think I said all I have to say now back in November 2009.

And I still think LSU needs to name a building for Gen. W.T. Sherman.

If any son of the South is honest with himself -- any white son of the South, that is -- sooner or later, he comes up hard against the truth of his "Southern heritage."

Namely, that all the popularly defined aspects of "Southern pride" are nothing to be proud of. For Southerners -- particularly we of a certain age -- this conclusion generally is reached, if it is ever reached at all, after a lifetime of equivocation, denial and trying to reconcile the irreconcilable.

There indeed is a bottom line, and it is this: The antebellum South, and all of the supposed "gentility" that surrounded this eternal Tara of our mind's eye, was built on the backs -- and at the cost of the freedom, dignity and lives -- of millions of African slaves.

It came at the cost of everything by which Americans self-define, and only after twisting the white man's soul into accepting good as evil and evil as good.

THERE WAS no noble cause. There was no honor in defeat. Our ancestors fought -- and died -- for a damnable lie, and the flag they rallied around just as well could have sported a big "666."

Lincoln was right; Jeff Davis was a traitor, and Sherman did what he had to do. The Lost Cause was damn well lost, because a people had damn well lost their minds . . . and perhaps their souls.

These things are all quite obvious. The white Southerner is able to state the obvious only after his own personal Antietam -- for enculturation and "tradition" will put up a hell of a fight -- and among the dead must be one's "pride" over a "heritage" that well earned its place on history's ash heap.

That, however, is a fight few have the stomach for.

IT'S EASIER to pretend there's something much more noble about your great-great-grandpa fighting "the Yankees" in the Confederacy's "Lost Cause" than there is about Heinz's father fighting the Allies in Adolf Hitler's.

That your forefathers' "bravery" was braver than that of the Serb militiaman who fought to rid Bosnia of Muslims and Catholics.

At least in Germany, nobody has built an entire tourist industry on sepia-toned nostalgia for "the good ol' days" of the Third Reich, and it didn't take 144 years before University of Munich students were forced to quit chanting "Heil Hitler" after the marching band's rousing rendition of "Deutschland über alles."

Not so at the University of Mississippi.

At Ole Miss, students and football fans are determined to prove the truth of native son William Faulkner's observation that "The past is never dead. It's not even past." And at today's football game against LSU, as reported by the Memphis Commercial Appeal, they're even going to get some help from the Ku Klux Klan:

The Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan plan a rally before Saturday's LSU-Ole Miss football game to protest Chancellor Dan Jones' decision to bar the school band from playing "From Dixie with Love," a medley that some fans finish by shouting, "The South shall rise again."

Jones ordered the band on Nov. 17 to stop playing the medley that blends "Dixie," the Confederate Army's fight song, with the Union Army's "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

The band has played the song during Ole Miss football games for about 20 years.

Jones said the chant supports "those outside our community who would advocate a revival of segregation."

Jones' decision has stirred up the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which plans a 10 a.m. rally in front of the Fulton Chapel before the 2:30 p.m. start of the game.

"This is not a white or black issue at all. It's freedom of speech. They've got a right to say what they want at the game," said Shane Tate of Tupelo, the KKK's North Mississippi great titan.

Tate said his group, part of the Southern Alliance of Klans, which claims more than 7,000 members, plans a short, peaceful demonstration.

"I'm just going to bring a few guys, show up and get our message across and then leave," he said.

Tate said he expects between 20 and 100 Klan members to participate.

He said his group does not allow Nazis or Skinheads, who are considered more violent segregationists than the modern-day KKK.

"We're Christians," he said.

In a press release announcing the rally, the organization said Jones' decision was an "attack on our Southern heritage and culture."

YEAH, JUST LIKE the Nuremberg trials were an attack on German heritage and culture . . . that is, if the Nazi regime and its "lost cause" were the only parts of German heritage and culture anyone cared about.

At today's football game, LSU doesn't need to bring the Fighting Tigers, it instead needs to bring the reincarnation of its founding superintendent . . . William Tecumseh Sherman.

Of course, that would be a mighty tall order for a university that -- 148 years after Sherman resigned to lead a Yankee army and march across Georgia -- still can't bring itself to name a building for its founder.