Tag Archives: slavery

An awakening has occurred about our history

Americans have been awakened perhaps in an unprecedented fashion about the history of the nation and the stone-cold reality that some of it is ugly and need not be displayed alongside the glorious chapters written along our national journey.

They are taking down Confederate monuments. These are statues of men who committed treason by joining a military force that sought to overthrow the government of the United States.

This awakening occurred, as you know, with the recent deaths of African-Americans at the hands of white police officers. There has been an explosion of anger at the injustice many Americans perceive in the nation.

Donald Trump, quite naturally, believes the monuments should remain. He is tone deaf and blind to what they represent. Or … he knows what they mean but is steeped in appealing only to the base of supporters who continue to stand with him even while the rest of the nation turns its back on Trump’s Stone Age notion of national history.

Trump’s stated concern is that we are seeking to forget that part of our history. I beg to differ. With emphasis.

The issue has not a thing to do with forgetting or ignoring the Civil War, or the reasons why we fought it. I don’t hear demonstrators saying such nonsense. I hear them say instead that we need to consign these artifacts to their proper place.

Statues of Confederate generals do not belong on public property. They belong in museums, where they can be displayed along with text and other reference material that tells visitors what these men did and why they did it. Why did the Confederate States of America declare war on the United States of America? To preserve the rights of states to own slaves, to keep human beings in bondage.

That is a history worth celebrating? No. It isn’t. It is a history worth remembering and studying for eternity, but not to celebrate or to honor or to salute.

So, let’s just ignore Donald Trump’s mindless rants about preserving history. No one wants erase the Civil War from our textbooks or deny children knowledge of what happened in the 19th century.

We have awakened to what I believe is an obvious conclusion … that the men who fought against the U.S. government were traitors and we should remember them as such.

No ‘hate crime,’ but the love should remain

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports 

Bubba Wallace quite suddenly has become NASCAR’s most visible driver. He is the only top-tier African-American driver in the racing circuit.

It was thought for a few days that someone had hung a noose in his garage at the track in Talledaga, Ala., spurring outrage among drivers, their owners, many fans and politicians. Then we hear from the FBI that the noose had been in the garage since October 2019, well before Wallace and his crew took up space in the garage stall.

He had made his mark by calling for the removal of Confederate flags at NASCAR events. NASCAR heard him and took down the flags, which themselves in the eyes of many of us are symbols of hate, oppression and treason.

No hate crime has been committed, said the FBI.

What now?

NASCAR showed its love and respect for Wallace prior to the race the other day in Talledaga. Drivers and their crews escorted Wallace’s No. 43 car to the front of the line. The race started and Wallace led several laps before finishing in 14th place.

Wallace said he won’t be silenced by any threats. This particular threat apparently has been deemed a non-starter. The outcome of the FBI probe into what they found in that garage stall doesn’t diminish the message that a single driver sought to deliver about his sport. Yes, it was born in the South. Yes, too, the Confederate flag has been a key symbol at NASCAR events. Bubba Wallace simply has told us what many of us have known all along, that the symbol represents a dark and evil chapter in our nation’s history.

The young man deserves the love that has poured forth from his colleagues and from fans around the country.

Toss in ‘hate’ to replace ‘heritage’ and ‘history’

So much for the “heritage” and “history” argument for flying the Confederate flag.

Let’s consider “hate” as well, shall we?

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, the only African-American driver among the top tier of drivers in the popular sport, recently led the call for NASCAR to remove the Confederate flag from its events. NASCAR listened and issued an order banning the flag that is the symbol of the Confederacy, the group of states that seceded from the Union in 1861 and went to war with the U.S. of A. They went to war because they wanted to preserve states’ rights to sanction the enslavement of human beings.

Not all of NASCAR’s base of fans is happy with the removal of the flag. They disagree that it symbolizes racism, that it merely reflects people’s respect for their “heritage” and the “history” of the nation.

Well, what do you suppose happened over the weekend?

Someone got into Wallace’s garage at a Southern track and left a noose. Hmm. Heritage and history … my a**!

You know what the noose represents. It represents hate in a raw, despicable form.

Let’s quit the crap about the Confederate flag symbolic importance to people’s heritage and the nation’s history. The flag represents a disgraceful chapter in America’s story.

KKK = Confederate flag

I cannot let this photo stand without offering a brief comment about the juxtaposition of two key elements this picture contains.

Look at the fellow gesturing. He is a Ku Klux Klansman demonstrating in 2017 in Charlottesville, Va., the site of that terrible riot that killed a young woman protesting against the Klan, neo-Nazis and assorted white supremacists.

Now, look at the flags flying behind him. Do you see a familiar pattern? It’s the Confederate flag, the piece of cloth that some Americans want to keep displaying in public places because it “symbolizes heritage” and is a “piece of American history.”

It seems to be lost on those pro-Rebel flag folks that the KKK stands with that flag because of what it represents: the maintaining of slavery in states that seceded from the Union in 1861 and launched the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history. Then again, maybe it isn’t lost on them at all!

The Confederate flag represents the very thing that the moron seen in this picture snapped by the New York Post represents.

It represents oppression, which my reading of history tells me caused our founders to create this nation in the first place, to live in a place free of the kind of oppression symbolized by the Confederate flag.

Spare me, then, the clap-trap about “history” and “heritage.”

Juneteenth rushes to the fore!

Americans are getting a major wake-up call on a matter of profound historical significance.

It was brought to us by the deaths of African-American men who died in police custody. It has evolved into demonstrations, peaceful protests and, yes, into terrible riots. Set aside the violence for a moment and let’s look at the event that has been thrust into our consciousness.

Juneteenth is celebrated every June 19 by the African-American community. It marks the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston to tell blacks they had been emancipated, freed from enslavement. They were free men, women and children.

Many millions of Americans knew of Juneteenth, they knew about the event that some of us celebrate every year. We now are being educated. Juneteenth represents a seminal moment in American history.

Accordingly, we now are hearing from members of Congress — yes, from both major political parties — who are calling for Juneteenth to become a federal holiday. I am not usually a fan of legislative remedies of this sort, matters brought to us through tragedy. They too often seem like an overreaction.

Not this time! Juneteenth is as significant an event as any that have occurred. It brought an end — finally! — to the curse of enslavement. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution wiped slavery off the books at the end of 1865.

I am heartened to see Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas present legislation seeking to establish Juneteenth as a federal holiday. He no doubt will have plenty of Democratic support among his Senate colleagues.

I realize fully that creating a new federal holiday will not assuage the concerns of Americans about the treatment of black citizens at the hands of some white-dominated law enforcement agencies. The work to right those wrongs must proceed. I also realize that not all police are evil, that the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers are men and women of high honor and integrity. The events of recent weeks have brought vivid clarity to the concerns raised for too long by African-Americans about the treatment they receive from police agencies.

That clarity now also includes an understanding of the significance of Juneteenth, not just to African-Americans, but also to the entire nation. Yes, it is past time to set that day aside as a national holiday.

Juneteenth? Sure … I knew about it!

Donald Trump is taking a bizarre tack by taking credit for raising public awareness of Juneteenth, a day revered by the African-American community.

What a weirdo!

Trump was going to stage a political rally on Friday in Tulsa, Okla. That would be Juneteenth. African-Americans and other Americans raised hell about the timing of the rally, given Trump’s rather distant relationship with the African-American community, which has been heightened in recent weeks with the deaths of black men who were being detained by white police officers.

So, Trump postponed his rally by one day. It’s now going to be Saturday.

Then what did Trump do? He said few Americans knew about Juneteenth until he called attention to it. What? Huh? Are you kidding me? 

For the record, I knew about Juneteenth. It occurred on June 19, 1865 when African-Americans learned in Galveston that they were being freed from enslavement. The Civil War had ended a couple of months earlier, but the word about blacks’ emancipation was slow getting out to all Americans.

OK, but Trump has this goofy way of taking credit when he doesn’t deserve it. Thus, he is somehow trying to spin this dust-up over a political rally on Juneteenth, juxtaposed with the Black Lives Matter that’s been re-energized by the deaths of black men in police custody into a “positive”?

Weird.

How’s this for irony?

Irony can be found all across the political landscape, such as when “family values” politicians are caught taking a tumble in the sack with someone other than their spouse.

Let’s try this one on for size, too: Naming a U.S. military installation in honor or memory of someone who once fought against the U.S. military during the bloodiest conflict in our nation’s history. 

A move is afoot to change the names of several such installations — primarily Army posts — because they carry the names of Confederate officers who went to war against the United States of America.

Donald Trump — the Dipsh** in Chief who doesn’t understand anything about U.S. history — won’t have it. He vows to veto any legislation that comes to his desk that seeks to change these names. He stands behind the Confederate traitors rather than understanding or appreciating the supreme irony in their names being attached to these military installations.

Of course, Trump is appealing to that “base” of voters who believe that the Confederate States of America wasn’t all that bad a chapter in our nation’s history. I mean, all those CSA officials wanted was to retain the right to own human beings, to enslave them and treat them as three-fifths human, personal property. So, they seceded from the Union and went to war with the United States. The Civil War, incidentally, killed more than 600,000 individuals on both sides of the divide.

And some of us still want to continue to honor the memories of these men who went to war against the United States? Please. No.

‘Pro-choice’ does not equal ‘pro-slavery,’ Mme. Education Secretary

Get an ever-lovin’ grip, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos!

The education boss who was confirmed by a tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate in 2017, has equated being “pro-choice” on abortion to being in favor of owning slaves.

To which I say … What the f***?

She spoke at a Washington, D.C. event for Colorado Christian University and made the absurd comparison, that a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy is akin to decide to put human beings in bondage.

This is one of the more apples-and-oranges comparisons I’ve seen in a good while.

You see, slave owners’ health was not an issue when they decided to purchase human beings and enslave them. A woman who decides she can no longer carry an unborn baby to full term quite often faces potentially mortal health issues. Yes, I get that some women make that decision for many more cavalier reasons than that. However, to equate these two matters — slave ownership and abortion — is irresponsible in the extreme.

The Hill reported: “(Lincoln) too contended with the pro-choice arguments of his day. They suggested that a state’s choice to be slave or to be free had no moral question in it,” DeVos said, the outlet reported. “Well, President Lincoln reminded those pro-choices (there) is a vast portion of the American people that do not look upon that matter as being this very little thing. They look upon it as a vast moral evil.”

I’m trying to wrap my head around her alleged logic. I can’t quite get there.

I’ll just have to conclude that she is equating one issue with another utterly unrelated one. I think Secretary DeVos is reaching way beyond her grasp.

Amarillo ISD finds a bit of wisdom with name change

I have been beating up on the Amarillo Independent School District in recent months, but today I want to offer a good word or maybe three to the AISD Board of Trustees.

Trustees have voted unanimously to change the name of a school that carried the name of a Confederate general while serving a community comprising a significant population of African-American students.

Robert E. Lee Elementary School had been changed to Lee Elementary School. However, today the school’s name was changed to Park Hills Elementary School.

The irony of African-American students attending school carrying the name of a soldier who fought for the right of states to legalize slavery became too much, even for normally staid and reticent Amarillo, Texas. Lee led the Confederate forces against the Union during the Civil War.

So the board decided to change the name.

To which I want to offer a rhetorical high-five, a bouquet, a word of recognition for making the right decision, given the contentiousness that the issue of racial sensitivity — and a particularly grim chapter of our nation’s history — continues to engender.

Well done, Amarillo ISD trustees.

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.