Tag Archives: Confederacy

How can you ‘honor’ a Klansman?

How in the name of human decency can a governor of one of our 50 states proclaim a desire to honor the memory of a Ku Klux Klan leader?

That’s what happened in Tennessee, where Gov. Bill Lee signed a proclamation honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest, a onetime Confederate general … who also happened to be a slave trader and a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Honor a Klansman? Really?

This is disgraceful in the extreme. Lee’s declaration has drawn rebuke, understandably, from Democrats but also from fellow Republicans, such as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

“This is wrong,” Cruz said on Twitter. “Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate general & delegate to the 1868 Democratic convention. He was also a slave trader 1st Grand Wizard of the KKK. Tennessee should not have an official day honoring him. Change the law.”

Cruz also said he doesn’t necessarily disagree with honoring Confederate soldiers, but that’s another topic for another day.

Any law that sanctions such commemoration of individuals who took part in brutality against fellow human beings, such as the Klan, must be repealed.

Gov. Lee said he was following the law. Are you kidding? Does the law require a governor to honor someone who sanctioned the killing of others because of their race?

Disgraceful.

Texas GOP wages new ‘civil war’ against cities

A progressive publication has called attention to what it sees as a fascinating new reaction to “liberal” cities’ attempts to rid themselves of monuments to arguably the darkest period in American history.

Texas cities are taking action to remove monuments to the Confederate States of America, which formed in 1861, declared war on the United States of America for the purpose of preserving states’ rights to enslave human beings, to allow them to be kept as property.

Dallas is the latest and perhaps most notable city to take action, according to the Texas Observer. The Texas Legislature led by a Republican super-majority in both legislative chambers, is fighting cities’ efforts to eradicate those symbols of treason against the United States.

The Observer notes that more than 30 Confederate monuments have been removed from Texas municipal property between 2015 and 2018. As the Observer noted: This has sparked an intense backlash from Anglo conservatives who see the removal of these monuments as an erasure of their Antebellum heritage. Activist groups pumped out robocalls and radio ads calling on Texas Republicans to keep the monuments in place.

The Dallas City Council approved a measure in 2018 to take down a century-old statue in downtown Dallas. It’s still standing. It has become a rallying cry, according to the Observer, of those who want such symbols to stand as a testament to Texas’s “heritage.”

Two bills, one in each legislative chamber, were introduced this legislative session that would strip local governments’ authority to take down these monuments or to rename public streets, parks or other property. As the Observer noted: Brandon Creighton, a Republican senator from suburban Houston who authored the upper-chamber version, brought the bill to the Senate floor Tuesday, prompting a heated and emotional debate. Houston Senator Borris Miles, one of the Senate’s two black members, called the legislation “disgraceful.”

Is this really going on here? Is this some sort of legislative hanky-panky aimed at circumventing cities’ ability to self-govern? What’s more, is it a form of “municipal aggression,” as the Observer calls it, launched by conservative legislators to get back at more, um, progressive/liberal politicians who wield power in city halls or county courthouses?

Again, from the Observer: Texas isn’t alone. For years, red states have enacted laws prohibiting cities from establishing local minimum wages and other labor protections. In the face of renewed public opposition to Confederate monuments, several Southern states have passed laws making it extremely difficult to remove historical monuments.

I continue to stand with those who believe the Confederacy is nothing to be saluted, or honored. The Confederate States of America committed treason against the United States of America. It was by the grace of President Lincoln who said in his second inaugural speech that he would  seek “with malice toward none and charity for all” to bind the wounds that the Civil War inflicted on the nation.

None of that, though, should stand as a reason to honor the cause of that bloodshed.

Another Confederate monument to come down

The Dallas City Council has joined the chorus of governing bodies to speak out against the memorialization of a struggle that sought to destroy the United States of America.

Voting 11-4, the council decided to remove a Confederate war memorial from property near City Hall in downtown Dallas.

I will stand and cheer the council’s decision.

The monument, as stated at the council meeting, is “non-contributing structure for the historic overlay district.” I guess that’s some sort of code that means the structure is of no discernable value.

Bring it down! The council voted to spend $480,000 to disassemble and remove it.

Confederate War Memorial is coming down

Statues such as this have a place in museums. They don’t belong necessarily on public property. Other communities have been going through this debate for some time. They are taking down these structures — statues, plaques, engravings, etc. — that commemorate the Civil War, the nation’s bloodiest conflict.

Let’s not be coy or cagey about why the Confederacy came into being: Those states wanted to retain the power to enslave human beings, to relegate them to be the “property” of slave owners.

To preserve that hideous policy, they formed the Confederate States of America and then some Confederate troops opened fire on the Union garrison in Charleston Bay, S.C.

Thus, in April 1861, the Civil War began with an act of treason!

We shouldn’t honor such an act.

Swastika: most offensive symbol of all

America is going to look back a year ago this weekend as it marks the time a riot broke out in Charlottesville, Va. It started when neo-Nazis, Klansmen and white supremacists marched to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

It got real ugly when counter protesters showed up. One of the counter protesters died. One of the neo-Nazis is accused of murder.

I want to call specific attention to one of the hate groups’ symbols: the swastika.

The Confederate Stars and Bars offends me, too. The swastika, though, takes me to another level of disgust and revulsion. It symbolizes a European regime that started World War II with the aim of conquering the world.

Adolf Hitler’s tyrannical regime flew flags with that symbol while it eradicated 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. It sought to subjugate nations under that tyranny.

More to the personal point about why the swastika is so revolting. Men who fought for the Nazi regime in Europe while wearing that emblem sought to kill my favorite U.S. veteran: my father.

Dad served in the U.S. Navy from early 1942 until late 1945. He saw the bulk of his combat in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. He endured more than three consecutive months of daily aerial bombardment by German and Italian warplanes.

He damn near was killed by men flying with that swastika painted on the wings of their aircraft.

The swastika has become the symbol to this day, along with that Confederate flag, of the Ku Klux Klan; the neo-Nazis, of course, salute the swastika in the manner that it was saluted during those dark days of World War II.

How any American to this day can swear fealty to such an ideology to my mind surrenders his right to be called an American.

But … I know we live in a society that protects political speech no matter how vile it is. The swastika is as vile as it gets.

Glad to see Confederate debate arrive

I am delighted to see that Amarillo, Texas — my current city of residence — has entered a serious debate that many other communities have already joined.

How do we remember those who fought for the Confederate States of America? Should we remember them? Should we forsake them?

This is an important discussion that erupted in August as a riot ensued in Charlottesville, Va. White supremacists, Klansmen and neo-Nazis marched to protest a plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park. Counter protesters emerged to challenge the first group. A young woman was killed when she was run over by a car allegedly driven by a young man with white supremacists sympathies.

The debate hasn’t really let up since.

Now it’s arrived in Amarillo. On Monday, the Amarillo public school system is going to discuss whether to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary School. The Robert E. Lee school situation presents an amazing irony, given that the school is located in a historically black neighborhood. Think of that for a moment: That school is named to honor a man who fought to destroy the United States. And for what purpose? To preserve the enslavement of black Americans!

There’s more discussion about the status of a Confederate soldier statue at Ellwood Park.

A pro-Confederate advocate is urging the City Council to “leave history alone.”

I come at this from a different angle. I am a transplant who chose to move to Amarillo in early 1995. My wife and I came here from Beaumont, Texas, where we lived for nearly 11 years prior to moving to the Panhandle. Indeed, we have witnessed our fair share of racial strife since we moved to Texas in 1984 from Oregon, where I was born and where my wife lived for many years.

Do we honor traitors?

I see the Confederacy as an aftertaste of the nation’s bloodiest armed conflict. The Civil War killed more than 600,000 Americans. Why did they fight? The Confederacy came into being as a protest against federal policy that the Confederate States believed interfered with their own right of self-determination.

Let’s not be coy about what those states wanted to preserve: One of their goals was to maintain slavery.

They separated from the United States of America and then went to war. Where I come from, I consider that an act of treason.

Is that the history we want to preserve? Is that what we honor?

I don’t have any particular concern about those who plaster Confederate flags on their bumpers or fly the Stars and Bars from their car radio antennae. That’s their call. Do I question why they do these things? Sure, but I don’t obsess over it.

Putting these symbols, though, on public property — be they parks or public schools — is another matter.

Preserving and honoring history is fine. I’m all for it. The Civil War, though, represents a dark and grim chapter in our nation’s history that should be remembered, studied and discussed. But do we honor that time? That’s why we have historical museums. We’ve got a damn fine historical museum in Canyon, at the West Texas A&M University campus.

So, let’s have this discussion in Amarillo about the Confederacy. Keep it civil and high-minded.

‘Six Flags’ now all look alike

How about this?

Six Flags Over Texas, the noted theme park in Arlington, has made a fascinating decision about the flags it flies.

The Charlottesville riot and the blowback over symbols of the Confederate States of America has moved Six Flags to replace the various flags with just one: Old Glory.

Six Flags over Texas has removed the various colors it flew. The flags represented France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Stars and Stripes and, yes, the Confederate States of America.

Now all six banners will be the United States national flag, the Old Red, White and Blue.

The outrage over Donald Trump’s comments about the riot, the notion that “both sides” were responsible for the violence that erupted, has prompted this change at the Six Flags theme park. The protest turned into a riot when counter protesters challenged Ku Klux Klansmen, white supremacists and neo-Nazis who had gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park. A young woman was killed during the riot when she was run over by a motor vehicle allegedly driven by a young man with neo-Nazi sympathies.

Six Flags spokespeople say the park has sought to display flags that illustrate “unity.” Given the harsh response to what transpired in Charlottesville, the park has decided that unity should be displayed in the form of Old Glory.

Which begs another fascinating question: How about the flags that fly during the musical “Texas”? The Texas Panhandle plays host every summer to the acclaimed musical “Texas” at Palo Duro Canyon. The show concludes with horsemen and women riding across the set carrying the “Six Flags” that represented the governments of Texas. One of them is, you guessed it, of the Confederacy.

Will the “Texas” producers follow the lead provided by Six Flags Over Texas? I salute Six Flags for demonstrating remarkable sensitivity to the national mood.

And do I sense a name change at the theme park is in the making?

Confederate flag debate swirls on and on and on …

BBrGYBt

I’m pretty sure that for as long as the Confederate flag flies over official government property that the debate over its meaning will stay front and center on the national stage.

A Mississippi judge has ruled that the state flag — which includes the Confederate emblem — is “un-American.” The reason, said Judge Carlton Reeves, is simple: It represents an effort to break away from the United States of America.

I happen to agree with him. The judge, though, stopped short of ordering the Confederate symbol to be removed from the Mississippi state flag.

Reeves’ opinion came after he heard arguments from an African-American plaintiff who argued that the symbol violates his “dignity.” Carlos Moore, a lawyer, said the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage protected citizens’ fundamental rights of dignity.

Reeves, who also is African-American, didn’t issue a definitive ruling on the flag, but said that the symbol of the Confederacy is inherently un-American.

An assistant state attorney general argued that the decision to remove the symbol ought to come from the state legislature, as it is a political issue. Perhaps it is.

I totally understand the anger that the symbol gins up in the minds of Americans. For me, the symbol suggests treason.

The Confederacy came into being by those who wanted to remove themselves from the United States of America. They wanted to create a separate nation. The Confederate States of America then went to war with the U.S. of A., seeking to defeat the United States on the battlefield and then form a sovereign nation that would sanction, among other things, the enslavement of human beings.

Can there be anything more un-American than that?

Stay tuned. This debate is going to fire itself up … all over again.

Strike the rebel flag in S.C.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has done what she had to do.

She signed a bill that brings down the Confederate battle flag that flew in front of the statehouse in Columbia, S.C.

Yes, it’s a mere symbol. However, it’s a powerful symbol … of hate, bigotry, tyranny and enslavement.

The South Carolina legislature debated the issue passionately, but decided ultimately to do what it had to do.

It needed to come down. The context, of course, is the horrifying massacre in that Charleston, S.C., church in which a gunman killed five African-American church members — including its pastor. A young man, Dylann Roof, has been accused of the crime and what we know about young Roof is that he is an avowed racist who waved the Confederate battle flag proudly as a demonstration of his intention to start what he called a “race war.”

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/south-carolinas-governor-signs-confederate-flag-removal-bill/ar-AAcLNgx

The flag is down and I’m glad about that.

However, one can take this campaign too far. I think it’s starting to veer into some tricky territory. TV Land has stopped showing “Dukes of Hazzard” reruns because the car that Bo and Luke Duke drove in the show had a battle flag emblem on its roof.

Now comes talk of removing Confederate military figures’ statues.

There is a certain historical significance in many of these monuments. These individuals were answering a call to duty. Yes, they were fighting to break up the Union. It’s good, though, to remind ourselves of our nation’s dark moments.

I have no problem with the battle flag coming down in places like South Carolina, where the Civil War started in 1861. The flag has become the emblem of hate; you see it flown at Klan rallies. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles banned the flag from appearing on license plates, and the Supreme Court upheld the state’s right to issue that prohibition.

The flag is a hateful symbol. But not all monuments dedicated to the Confederacy conjure up the same level of intense loathing among so many Americans.

So, let’s seek to dial back the knee-jerk responses to other symbols that carry historic significance.

 

There’s a silver lining in this flag debate

Wait! I think I see a silver lining beginning to shine through as the nation continues this debate over the meaning of a flag.

Americans — all of us — finally might begin to understand the meaning of the Confederacy, why it was formed in the first place and why its place in history has to be put completely in its proper context.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/what-this-cruel-war-was-over/396482/

The debate has ignited in the wake of the Charleston, S.C., church massacre. South Carolina legislators have agreed “to debate” whether to take down the rebel flag that flies on the statehouse grounds in Columbia. Let ’em debate, then take the thing down.

But the broader issue must be to determine the Confederacy’s place in American history.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in Atlantic magazine: “The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.”

I’ll stipulate here, as if it needs stipulation, that I am not a Southerner by birth. I was born and reared in Oregon, way up yonder in Yankee territory. Oregon became a state on Feb. 14, 1859 and sent troops to battle to fight to preserve the Union. But for the past 31 years, my family and I have lived in Texas, which was one of those Confederate States of America, those states that committed the treasonous act of seceding from the Union and fighting tooth and nail to preserve something called euphemistically “states rights.”

It has been papered over by Confederate apologists ever since that the underlying reason for going to war in the first place was to keep black Americans subjugated. The individuals who governed these Dixie states wanted to maintain the right to flout federal law and that if state officials felt it was OK to allow slave ownership, then they would be willing to fight to the death to preserve that right.

They did. They lost that fight. Yet the justification for going to war remains central to this discussion of “Southern heritage.”

The article attached to this post lays out clearly the intentions of those who decided to go to war with the United States of America. Read the notations taken from that time and you’ll understand why this discussion is important to have and how the tragedy in Charleston has opened up this effort to remind us of why Americans went to war against fellow Americans.

The shooting has stopped but the battle endures. Those who keep insisting that the Civil War was about protecting state sovereignty are going to lose this one, too.

 

Confederacy debate picks up steam

This national discussion we’re having about the Confederacy, its symbols and its place in American history has energized a lot of Americans.

News came out today that Wal-Mart — a company headquartered in Bentonville, Ark. — is pulling its Confederate gear out of its stores.

I mention the hometown of Wal-Mart because it’s in Arkansas, one of the states comprising the Confederate States of America.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/wal-mart-pulls-confederate-flag-products-in-wake-of-shooting/ar-AAbXYMU

The catalyst for this discussion, of course, was that terrible tragedy in Charleston, S.C., where a shooter vented his rage against black people by killing nine people in a church as he reportedly was studying the Bible with them.

Dylann Roof is accused of the crime. Roof, 21, is all but known to be a racist hater, wanting to launch a “race war” in the United States.

The Confederate States of America — and its symbol, the flag that for now flies on the statehouse grounds in South Carolina — committed a treasonous act in 1861 by seceding from the Union and then starting the Civil War with its bombardment of Fort Sumter in, of all places, Charleston Harbor.

The Confederacy long has symbolized treason. Over time it has symbolized hatred of some white people against black people.

Now we see a corporate giant taking its Confederate gear off its shelves.

Yes, the let the discussion continue and let it make clear the things for which the Confederacy stands.