Tag Archives: slavery

What has happened to the GOP?

The Party of Abraham Lincoln has become …

The Party of Donald J. Trump. The “Party of Child Abuse.” The Party of Demonization. The Party of Insult and Innuendo.

So it appears as longtime Republicans of stellar standing are calling it quits on their party.

Perhaps the most notable recent defection came this week as Steve Schmidt, Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign adviser and GOP “strategist” renounced his party and said he intends to start voting for Democrats. He calls the Republican Party “vile” and said it no longer represents the high and noble ideals that produced its founding in the mid-19th century, which was to end slavery.

There have been other well-known Republicans. Former U.S. Rep. — and current TV talk show host — Joe Scarborough is one; Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist George Will is another.

Geraldo Rivera, whose own Republican credentials at best are a bit suspect, told his fellow Fox News colleagues that the GOP has become the “party of child abuse.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who’s leaving the Senate at the end of the year, referred to the “cult” that is developing within the GOP. Other Republican officeholders and office seekers are reluctant to cross the president for fear of being skewered by him.

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina criticized Trump, who then endorsed his GOP primary opponent. What happened? The opponent won and Sanford will be out of office at the end of the year, if not sooner.

Yes, it’s fair to ask: What in the world has happened to the Grand Old Party, which once was known as a great political party?

It’s been co-opted by a guy who before he ran for president had no political experience. He had no public service experience. He still has virtually no knowledge of how government works or how it requires teamwork that involves players from both sides of the aisle.

Heaven help us.

Can this school board revisit a tough issue?

I haven’t seen every scrap of social media chatter bouncing around Amarillo, Texas during the past couple of days.

What I have seen regarding an Amarillo Independent School District board non-decision has been — shall we say — less than flattering toward most of the board members.

The AISD board voted 4-3 the other night to “change” the name of Robert E.  Lee Elementary School to Lee Elementary School.

I believe Amarillo has just witnessed the unveiling of a profile in timidity, if not outright cowardice.

The school in question sits smack in the middle of a community that serves a significant population of African-Americans. Children attend a school that is named after a man — Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — who led a military effort to defeat the United States in a war that began over whether states could allow the ownership of slaves.

Gen. Lee’s name has been in the news of late. Communities have sought to remove statues commemorating this man who I and others consider to be a traitor to the United States of America. They rioted in Virginia because white supremacists, KKK’men and neo-Nazis protested attempts to remove a Robert E. Lee statue from a public park; the riot killed a young woman and injured scores of others. Moreover, it prompted an intense national discussion about how we commemorate the Confederate States of America.

AISD board members agreed to discuss and consider changing the name of the school. Then they choked. They fumbled. They missed their chance to send a powerful statement that this community would take a proactive step that removes the name of a national enemy from one of its public buildings.

“Lee Elementary” does not do a single thing to promote that notion.

So … here’s a thought. The AISD board represents a constituency that appears to oppose the non-decision the board made on the naming of a public school.

Perhaps the AISD board members can reflect just a bit on the nutty notion they thought would eliminate a community controversy.

This so-called “name change” didn’t do anything of the kind.

There’s not a single thing wrong with acknowledging a mistake, AISD trustees. Nor is there anything wrong with taking measures to repairing it.

AISD chokes when given a chance to make a big statement

I had high hope that Amarillo’s elected school board of trustees would do the right thing when it decided to consider changing the name of one of their elementary schools.

Then a slim majority of the board dashed my hope. Sigh!

The Amarillo Independent School District board voted 4-3 to alter the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School to, um, Lee Elementary School.

There had been considerable community chatter about a school that serves a large African-American student base carrying the name of a Confederate army general who led forces seeking to allow states to retain the enslavement of human beings.

Many of those voices came to the school board meeting Monday night to be heard. They spoke out. A large majority of the voices gathered in a packed AISD administration building meeting room spoke against “Robert E. Lee Elementary School.”

The non-decision by the AISD board is disappointing. It borders on shameful.

Trustee James Allen — the lone African-American on the board — had pitched a perfectly reasonable option: Change the name to Park Hills Elementary School, which would be consistent with AISD’s current building-naming policy of identifying schools with the community they serve.

Did the board follow Allen’s lead? Nope. They wanted to “compromise” by dropping the Confederate traitor, er, general’s first name and middle initial from the building’s name.

As if that would wipe away the connection between a local school and the darkest, bloodiest period in our nation’s history? Please.

The national discussion about these name changes had found its way to Amarillo. I hoped our community’s elected school board would take up the cudgel and declare that it, too, would stand on the right side of history.

Sadly, AISD did nothing of the sort. Its board choked.

I’m out!

This is proactive leadership? Hardly

Amarillo’s public school system governing board had a chance to do something courageous. Instead, in a 4-3 vote, it decided Monday night to take a significantly more timid path.

I’m still shaking my head in amazement.

The Amarillo Independent School District decided to remove “Robert E.” from the name of a school that carries the name of a Confederate States of America army general. Beginning with the 2018-19, the school formerly known as Robert E. Lee Elementary School will be known as Lee Elementary.

There. How does that go down?

AISD had decided to consider changing the name of the school in the wake of serious national discussion about whether Confederate figures should be memorialized at all. It all came to a nasty head this past summer in Charlottesville, Va., when white supremacists, Ku Klux Klansmen and neo-Nazis instigated a tragic riot when officials there wanted to remove a statue of Gen. Lee from a public park.

The debate found its way to Amarillo, where the school district is home to a school named after the same general. That school sits in the middle of a neighborhood comprising a significant African-American population.

Why the question? Well, Gen. Lee led an army against the United States of America during the Civil War. He fought to protect states’ right to allow the enslavement of human beings, who — I need to stipulate — were black Americans.

I favor removing Lee’s name from that public school building altogether. An AISD board majority feels differently.

Here is what Panhandle PBS posted on its Facebook page about AISD’s bizarre “compromise”:

Learn Here: Amarillo ISD’s board has voted 4-3 to drop “Robert E.” from the name to just Lee Elementary. Board members Jim Austin, Scott Flow, Cristy Wilkinson, and Renee McCown voted in favor of the partial name change, which was viewed as a “compromise” idea during the months of discussion. The motion was made by Cristy Wilkinson, and the change will go into effect in the 2018-2019 school year. Scott Flow seconded the motion.

James Allen, John Betancourt, and John Ben Blanchard voted against, wanting a complete name change after the surrounding neighborhood, Park Hills.

The vote came after an hour of public comment during which 25 people spoke on the issue, with only six in favor of keeping the name.

I am puzzled by this non-decision. How in the world does keeping the “Lee” on the building address the concerns of those who believe it somehow honors the name of a man who fought to destroy the United States — for the purpose of keeping human beings in bondage?

Did the slim school board majority conclude that hiding the full name of an enemy of the Union would somehow make it disappear all by itself?

I believe the AISD board of trustees has made a mistake.

Amarillo school may get an ID change

Amarillo public school officials are about to jump with both feet into a national debate over the naming of public buildings after Confederate icons.

At issue is the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School, which sits in the midst of the city’s African-American community.

Amarillo Independent School District trustees are going to discuss on Monday whether to change the name of the school.

My own preference? Change the name.

This entire Confederate name-change discussion erupted in the wake of that riot in Charlottesville, Va., when counter protesters clashed with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen who gathered to protest the taking down of a statute of Gen. Lee.

The Amarillo NAACP chapter favors changing the name. No surprise there. NAACP chapter president Floyd Anthony says Gen. Lee’s name on a public building that serves a hugely African-American student body — and their parents — is a slap in the face to those residents.

He makes a good point.

Gen. Lee led the Confederate States of America army that fought against the United States of America. They committed an act of treason by seceding from the Union. Why did they secede? They fought to something called “states’ rights,” which was code for allowing states to continuing the enslavement of human beings.

They were black human beings.

The war killed 600,000 people. It was the bloodiest conflict in our nation’s history.

More than 150 years later, the vestiges of that war remain with these public monuments to the men who stood foursquare against the Union.

And spare me the “heritage” argument. The Confederate battle flag has become the very symbol of hate groups such as the KKK. Do we want to honor the Klan? I think not.

To the Amarillo ISD board members, I wish them good luck as they ponder their potentially huge decision.

I hope it’s the correct one.

That did it! Moore equates ‘slavery’ with U.S. ‘greatness’

Roy Moore shouldn’t have said it. But he did. Now it’s out there.

The controversial Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama fielded a question earlier this year about American greatness. Someone asked Moore when he thought this country was truly great. He said:

“I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another … our families were strong, our country had a direction.”

Even though we had slavery? Is this fellow suggesting that slavery was part of the formula for greatness?

Moore does it again

Why in the name of rhetorical clumsiness did he have to add that qualifier?

As I look at his statement, the candidate — who’s also been accused of sexual misconduct with children — could have omitted the slavery reference altogether. He didn’t. He tossed it out there.

From my standpoint, the notion that this nation would allow the level of human bondage and captivity that it did prior to the Civil War is a mark of supreme condemnation. It never — ever! — should be included in a discussion of American “greatness.”

American greatness effectively began when African-Americans were emancipated, freed from the hideous bondage of slavery.

This is yet another reason why Alabama voters should reject this man’s candidacy for an important public office.

AISD might join important national debate

Amarillo isn’t known as a community to get involved deeply in intense national debates.

So it is with some surprise that I have learned that the Amarillo Independent School District is considering whether to change the name of an elementary school named after a Confederate army general.

Robert E. Lee Elementary School is now in the AISD crosshairs, joining other such public structures that have been targeted in the wake of recent controversy surrounding the a sad and tragic chapter in our nation’s history.

Lee School sits in the middle of a largely African-American neighborhood. We all know, of course, who Robert E. Lee was. For those who don’t, I’ll just explain briefly: He was the commander of Confederate army forces that fought on the losing side of the American Civil War. Oh, and why did the Confederates fight against the United States of America? They wanted to break up the Union.

Those who fought for the Confederacy fought against the United States. By my way of looking at it, the Confederates were traitors. Do we honor them, therefore, by putting their names on public buildings?

So, AISD trustees next week are going to visit with legal counsel to discuss a possible name change. The decision to consider such a thing has met with approval from local NAACP leaders.

AISD building-naming policy follows that new schools are named after the neighborhood they serve. AISD does make some exceptions, such as naming a school in a largely black neighborhood after a man who fought to preserve slavery.

This issue came to a full boil in the wake of the Charlottesville, Va., riot involving white supremacists, Klansmen and neo-Nazis who fought against counter protesters. It’s simmered down somewhat, but a serious national conversation has continued.

It has arrived in Amarillo, Texas.

AISD board president James Austin said he hasn’t yet made up his mind on whether to support a name change. That’s fine. Take your time, Mr. President.

I happen to think a name change is in order. But that’s just me.

‘Socialistic fear mongers’? C’mon, Commissioner Miller

Sid Miller thinks badly of Six Flag of Texas’s decision to remove the Confederate flag from its entrance in Arlington.

The state agriculture commissioner is entitled to his opinion. I wonder, though, why someone with responsibility of Texas farm and ranch policy would weigh in on a matter over which he has zero influence.

He is an elected public official. Miller, thus, is entitled to speak out.

Since he is an elected official and since he has taken his anger out on Six Flags, I intend to respond briefly here.

First, pipe down. Second, the Confederate flag represents something quite different to millions of Miller’s fellow Texans. As the Texas Tribune reported: “The monuments honoring our southern soldiers are but a first step in a trend that very well could eventually bring down the American flag at some point if this trend is allowed to continue,” Miller said. “I was extremely disappointed to hear that Six Flags over Texas in Arlington had succumb to this scourge of race baiting, liberal activism and that the company had decided to bring down the six historic flags that flew over Texas.”

Good grief, dude! No one is going to “bring down the American flag.” Settle down, commissioner.

There’s also this from the Tribune: In his statement, Miller suggested the park was “implying that one should look upon [the removed flags] with shame and dismay,” and appeasing a  “band of socialistic fear mongers.”

Sheesh.

The monuments honoring “our southern soldiers” also remind many of us that the Confederacy was formed out of an act of treason. It took form when states — such as Texas — seceded from the Union and then went to war with the United States of America.

Why did they do that? They went to war to fight for the right of states to continue hold human beings in bondage, to keep them enslaved.

All Six Flags did was take down the Confederate flag — one of the flags under which Texas has existed — because the Confederacy represents division, bloodshed and, yes, slavery. It chose instead to fly just Old Glory at its front gate.

What’s so wrong with flying the Red, White and Blue?

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.

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!