Tag Archives: Civil War

Put Confederates in museums, and study what they did

I suppose it’s time to make a decision on what I think we should do with these Confederates statues scattered around many of our states.

Put ’em in museums. Make displays of them and then explain to visitors who these men were, what they did and tell the world about the consequences of their actions.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott weighed in this week on the subject in the wake of the Charlottesville, Va., mayhem that left a young woman and two Virginia state troopers dead. The pro-Nazi/white supremacist/Klan march prompted a counter protest that turned violent.

And for what? Because the hate groups sought to protest the removal of a statue from a public park of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general who led the army that fought against the United States of America.

According to the Texas Tribune  — “Racist and hate-filled violence – in any form — is never acceptable, and as Governor I have acted to quell it,” Abbott said in the statement. “My goal as governor is to eliminate the racist and hate-filled environment we are seeing in our country today.”

“But we must remember that our history isn’t perfect,” Abbott added. “If we do not learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it. Instead of trying to bury our past, we must learn from it and ensure it doesn’t happen again. Tearing down monuments won’t erase our nation’s past, and it doesn’t advance our nation’s future. As Governor, I will advance that future through peace, not violence, and I will do all I can to keep our citizens safe.”

Those are noble words and sentiments. I am not going to go the distance on these monuments. I share Gov. Abbott’s view that they shouldn’t be torn down and destroyed. But I also share the view of those who wonder why we “honor” individuals who turned on the Republic, ignited a bloody Civil War and fought to preserve “states’ rights” to enslave human beings.

These traitors to the nation don’t deserve to be honored with parks and structures that carry their names. They don’t deserve to have statues displayed in public places frequented by Americans who are direct descendants of those who had been kept in bondage.

I rather would see these monuments relocated as museum pieces accompanied by narratives that explain who they are and the role they played in that terrible, dark chapter in our otherwise glorious national story.

The governor said removing the statues “won’t erase our nation’s past, and it doesn’t advance our nation’s future.”

It shouldn’t erase the past, governor. As for the future, well, we advance it by keeping the egregious errors of our past in full view and presenting it in complete context to ensure we don’t repeat them.

Sen. Corker: POTUS lacks ‘competence’ to lead

Bob Corker has just delivered a seriously sharp rebuke to Donald John Trump Sr.

Why is it important that such a rebuke comes from Corker?

He’s a Republican U.S. senator; he hails from Tennessee, one of the states that seceded from the Union in 1861; he is ostensibly allied with the president on most public policy issues.

The backdrop for Corker’s rebuke gives his statement plenty of gravitas.

The president weighed in on that terrible Charlottesville tragedy over the weekend. He has, in effect, taken up with the white supremacists who provoked the riot that killed a young woman who was among the counter protesters who battled with hate groups that were protesting the taking down of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The nation is being swallowed up by the controversy that has ensued. Democrats, understandably, have been outraged by Trump’s remarks. Many Republicans have spoken out against racial or religious intolerance. Few of them in Congress have singled out the president and ascribed specific blame to him for inflaming the nation’s emotions in the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy.

Corker, though, has laid it out there.

“The President has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to be successful,” Corker said in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Welcome aboard, Sen. Corker. Many millions of Americans have been saying those very things — and a lot more — about the president. Many of us even said so while he was campaigning for the presidency. A few folks predicted he would govern like a maniac.

Count me as one who now believes that Trump is worse than I feared he would be. I was hoping he might be able to grow into the job of president.

Corker did use the phrase “not yet been able” when discussing Trump’s performance. The word “yet” suggests Corker believes — or hopes — the president will figure it out. I have little faith of that occurring.

Still, Sen. Corker’s rebuke is strong. It also is important.

This is how we remember traitors?

I want to discuss briefly a subject that makes me a bit uncomfortable: Confederate memorials and statues.

It’s been in the news of late. Communities across the land are pondering whether to remove statues commemorating leaders of the movement that ignited the Civil War, tearing the nation in half, killing roughly 600,000 Americans on both sides of that terrible struggle.

And for what purpose? The Confederate states wanted to continue to enslave human beings.

It’s news these days, of course, because of what transpired this weekend in Charlottesville (which has become a form of shorthand for “racism,” “bigotry” and “intolerance”).

I join others who are asking: What other country “honors” those who betray their nation, secede from it and then start the bloodiest war in that nation’s history? Slavery is undoubtedly this nation’s most visible scar. We cannot hide it, push it aside, ignore it. It’s part of our past.

In that context, Confederate descendants say that individuals such as Robert E. Lee, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Jefferson Davis and a whole host of others also are part of our nation’s history. Oh, sure they are. Do we honor them? Do we revere their memory or their legacy? I think not.

My wife and I visited Germany this past September. We stayed with friends in Nuremberg, which has a special place in world history: It was the city where Nazi leaders were put on trial for their crimes against humanity.

One of our friends, a journalist and a highly educated man, told us that Germany has come to grips with Nazis’ role in plunging the world into the bloodiest conflict in its history. There’s a place called the Documentation Center in Nuremberg. It tells the story of the Holocaust and the unthinkable misery that the Nazis brought to Europe and sought to inflict on the rest of the world.

“We don’t hide from it,” our friend said. “We are ashamed of that time.”

But the Germans damn sure don’t honor anyone associated with that period of their nation’s otherwise glorious past. One doesn’t see statues of Hitler, Goebbels, Goering or Himmler in public places.

Perhaps we ought to ponder whether these Confederate “heroes” deserve the same level of scorn.

Two were nation’s founders; two sought to destroy the nation

Four men have been thrust posthumously into the front of the national debate over the removal of statues.

The president of the United States launched an impromptu press conference this week at Trump Tower. Donald Trump began answering questions about the Charlottesville, Va., riot that left three people dead. White supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen were protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Counter protesters clashed with the racist protesters.

It got real ugly real fast.

Then the president weighed in. He said “many sides” were at fault. Then he blamed the hate groups. Then on Tuesday he doubled down on his initial response, saying “both sides” were to blame for the mayhem.

Then his press conference veered into some truly bizarre territory.

I mentioned Gen. Lee already. Trump decided to mention that Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s statue also is targeted for removal. Then he asked: Should we take down statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson? They were slave owners, too, just like Lee and Jackson, he said.

Time out, Mr. President.

If Donald Trump had a clue about history he would realize this:

Yes, Washington and Jefferson enslaved human beings. They were imperfect men. However, they led a revolution that resulted in the creation of the United States of America. Washington commanded our armed forces fighting against the British Empire; Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence and was a key author of the U.S. Constitution. Those contributions to the founding of the nation does not pardon them for their slave ownership, but it is a mitigating factor that grants them greatness.

As for Gen. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, they fought to destroy the Union that Washington and Jefferson helped create. Gen. Lee struggled whether to fight for the Union or to fight for the Confederate States of America. He chose to side with Virginia, which seceded from the Union. Jackson joined him in that terrible, bloody Civil War. Those men were traitors. Moreover, they were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans who died in the bloodiest war this nation has ever fought.

To his everlasting credit, President Lincoln declared during his second inaugural address — just weeks before he would be gunned down at Ford Theater — that the nation should bind the wounds that had torn it apart. “With malice toward none and charity for all,” the president said, signaling that Confederate leaders wouldn’t be prosecuted for their high crimes against the Union.

Donald John Trump doesn’t grasp any of that, as he made abundantly clear when he attached moral equivalence between two of our nation’s founders and two men who sought — and fought — to destroy the nation.

POTUS shows us once more he is unfit for his office

This video is about 23 minutes long. If you have the time — and if you have the stomach for it — take some time to watch it.

You will witness the president of the United States demonstrate a remarkable implosion. Donald John Trump Sr. said many astonishing things during this press conference on the ground floor of Trump Tower.

He reverted back to his “many sides” argument in response to the Charlottesville, Va., riot that was provoked by white nationalists/neo-Nazis/Ku Klux Klansmen protesting the removal of a Confederate statue.

Trump accused the so-called “alt-left” of attacking the racists.

The president once again blamed the media for its coverage of the event over the weekend, saying that the media were “unfair” in their reportage of the white supremacists.

POTUS also took shots at Sen. John McCain for voting against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, as well as at “fake news” outlets and their representatives.

It was an astonishing display of maximum petulance today at Trump Tower.

The president in effect reverted to form this afternoon. He exhibited compelling evidence that his initial response to the Charlottesville event — where he said “many sides” were to blame for the violence — came from his gut and that his more restrained response delivered Monday was canned, strained and done against his will.

Oh, and he conflated the American Revolution with the Civil War, noting that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, as did the leaders of the Confederate States of America. He asked, then, if it’s time to remove statues of the Father of Our Country and the author of the Declaration of Independence.

My head is about to explode.

I watched every moment of Donald Trump’s disgraceful display this afternoon. I still cannot believe what I witnessed.

Take a look at the video.

Violence erupts in a city known for knowledge

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia and a community associated with one of our greatest Americans, our nation’s third president, Thomas Jefferson.

Donald J. Trump has condemned the violence that has erupted there, as he should have done. “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!” the president said via Twitter. Exactly, Mr. President.

White nationalists, some of them wearing Ku Klux Klan garb, are protesting the removal of a Confederate statue. Their presence has prompted counter protests; thus, the clash that is threatening to blow the community apart.

I keep noticing something about the white nationalists marching through Charlottesville. It’s the presence of the Stars and Bars, the flag generally associated with the Confederate States of America, which seceded from the Union in 1861 and commenced the Civil War.

We’ve been debating for the past 150 or so years about the reason for the Civil War. Was it about slavery? About race? Was it about states’ rights? Or southern “heritage”?

Defenders of the Confederacy keep suggesting the Civil War wasn’t about race, or about slavery. They point to the “heritage” issue as the linchpin issue, and that the states didn’t want the federal government dictating to them how to run their internal affairs.

OK. If that’s the case, why do these white nationalists keep marching under the Stars and Bars? What does the presence of the Confederate symbol mean in that context?

For that matter, I should note, too, that one sees that symbol displayed with great “pride” at KKK rallies. Someone will have to explain to me the juxtaposition of the Stars and Bars and the KKK/white nationalists.

I’m all ears. You may now have the floor.

Let’s enjoy the nation’s birthday … and wish ourselves well

I make no secret of my dismay and disgust at the state of our national government.

It starts at the very top of the political food chain.

Here’s the thing, though. We’re about to celebrate the 241st year of our nation’s existence, or at least when it declared itself to be independent of the English monarch, King George III. Our revolution already was underway when those men signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

It would be another decade before our Constitution would be written and ratified.

Over the many decades since then, we’ve been through hell as a nation. Four of our presidents have been murdered while in office; others have died from other causes. We endured the Civil War, two world wars, and various conflicts that tore at the nation’s soul.

We have been hit twice — real hard — on our soil by our enemies. We have mourned the deaths of Americans we did not know.

Two of our presidents have been impeached. One of our president was on the verge of impeachment — and then he resigned. Congress has suffered through myriad scandals of varying types.

Our economic life has been imperiled. We had the Great Depression and something that we recently have referred to as the Great Recession. 

All this turmoil and tumult we’re going through today only serves to remind me of something most of have known all along: We are a resilient nation; we are filled with resolve and grit.

On this national birthday, I am driven to think of who we are, the journey we’ve taken, the wounds we have suffered and the healing that has occurred.

I plan, therefore, to set aside my disgust for a day at what is unfolding at this moment in the halls of power. I plan to cherish what I know to be true: We continue to be the greatest, most indispensable nation on Planet Earth.

Are we perfect? Of course not. We’ve been through hell as a people and we’re still standing tall.

Those men who signed that declaration knew what they were creating. Despite all that has transpired since that signing, I am as certain as I am writing these words that those men would proud of what they created.

Should this statue come down?

Amarillo, Texas, isn’t known as a hotbed of social or political activism.

Folks are fairly laid back. They’re friendly. They go about their business. They talk to each other a lot about the weather, which keeps residents on their toes, given its volatility.

I want to bring up an issue that likely isn’t on the top of most Amarillo residents’ minds. There’s a statue at Ellwood Park that pays tribute to the soldiers of the Confederate States of America. It went up in 1931. The Daughters of the Confederacy got it done. It depicts a soldier leaning on a rifle. You see the pedestal in the picture attached to this blog post.

Why mention it here? Why today? They’re taking down Confederate statues in New Orleans, where I reckon there exists a good bit more social/political activism — not to mention a population demographic that would take offense at any “monument” to the Confederacy.

That demographic would be the African-American population majority in the Big Easy.

Amarillo’s population has a far smaller percentage of African-American residents, so a Confederate statue isn’t likely to rile rank-and-file Amarillo residents.

However, if a movement to take that statue down were to materialize, I am one Amarillo resident who wouldn’t register a single objection. Why? The nation fought a war from 1861 until 1865 that killed more Americans than any other conflict in the nation’s history.

States seceded from the Union. Texas was one of them. The root cause of the Civil War continues to be debated, largely in classrooms throughout the former Confederate states.

The cause, as I was taught, centered on whether some states wanted to retain slave ownership, despite opposition to that policy from the federal government. The slavery issue has morphed in many Americans’ minds over the years into a “states’ rights” matter.

I don’t get it. Then again, that’s how I was taught.

Do I expect a take-the-statue-down movement to erupt in our relatively sleepy city? Nope. If it did, I’d simply say: Go for it!

Yes, there really are dumb questions

Let’s all flash back for a moment, to a time when we all sat at our school desks. We would be perhaps reluctant to ask our teacher a question, thinking it’s a dumb query. Your teacher would say, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question.”

Well, I think I we’ve heard one. It comes — believe it or not — from the president of the United States of America.

In an interview, Donald J. Trump said this: “People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

Let me take a stab at it, Mr. President.

The Civil War was fought because several states in the South seceded from the Union; they didn’t like the federal government telling them that they had to follow federal law. The governors of those states hued to the notion that “states’ rights” superseded federal law — and those states had the “right” to sanction slavery, to keep human beings in bondage, for slave owners to possess other human beings the way they possessed, say, farm animals or equipment. President Lincoln sought a compromise by allowing slavery in certain states, but would not allow any expansion of slave-holding states. Southern states resisted that restriction and then began to secede, forming the Confederate States of America.

In April 1861, Confederate gunners opened fire on the Union garrison stationed at Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C., harbor.

The war began. When it ended in 1865, more than 600,000 Americans died on battlefields; it was the costliest war in terms of lives lost in U.S. history.

Why the Civil War?

Could they have worked it out? Could the states of the north and south reached some sort of common ground?

Hey, this is just me, but I doubt it.

The president would do well to crack a few books on the subject of the Civil War. He would learn a great deal about a defining chapter in the history of the nation he now governs.

Does the POTUS know anything … about anything?

If you strip away Donald John Trump’s obvious knowledge of cultivating a massive business empire, you might be left to wonder as I am wondering: Does the president know a single thing about the history of the nation he now governs?

He was interviewed by SiriusXMPolitics and said this about the Civil War, according to the New York Daily News:

“Had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War,” Trump told SiriusXMPolitics about the seventh President, who left office 24 years before, and died 16 years before, the onset of the American Civil War.

“He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart, and he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War,” Trump said.

“He said, there’s no reason for this. People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question,” Trump continued. “But why was there the Civil War. Why would that one not have been worked out?”

Let’s set aside, first of all, the mangled syntax that poured out of Trump’s mouth. I’ll merely not that this man cannot speak in coherent, complete sentences. For example: “He said, there’s no reason for this. People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question,” Trump continued. “But why was there the Civil War. Why would that one not have been worked out?”

Then he utters absolute nonsense about one of the nation’s more colorful and well-known presidents.

Could Old Hickory have prevented the Civil War? Well, maybe … if he had lived long enough to renounce slavery and free the human beings he held in bondage.

This is what we have now: a know-nothing president.

Or is this what his supporters mean when they say the president “tells it like it is”?