The American Cultural Revolution
A gunman walks into the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the oldest AME church in the South, and after attending bible study there for a while, opens fire and kills 9 people, all Americans of African descent. One of the survivors, a woman, was told by the perp, a 21 year-old white male, “he was letting her live so that she could tell others what happened.”
His motive? He wanted to start a “race war.”
So far, it appears that he has failed. He expected a Ferguson response; instead he received one of forgiveness from a daughter of one of the people he killed. Indeed, instead of rioting there was a massive outpouring of support by members of the community. Many whites rose in support of the church and the victims.
I read the letter, posted to the door of Shorter Community AME Church in Denver by Democratic Senator Mike Johnston, and the comments posted to his Facebook page, and I agree with both; further more I think a majority of white Americans do too.
And then, incipient race war averted, the focus shifted from the perpetrator and the crime, to the Confederate battle flag. The first shots of the Civil War were fired when Confederate artillery fired on the Union garrison at Fort Sumter, located in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Ironically, the shootings at the Emanuel AME Church, also in Charleston, South Carolina seem to have triggered another revolution of sorts; this one an American version of the “Cultural Revolution,” designed initially to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from the public venue, but which seems to have morphed into a movement to remove any vestige of the Confederate States of America from sight, mind, and memory.
The Confederate battle flag means different things to different people. For many in the south, it is part of their heritage. The War Between the States was a long and bitter battle, many times pitting brother against brother, father against son. Over 750,000 Americans lost their lives in that conflict. It had a huge influence in the lives of everyone in that generation and generations after. It should come as no surprise that many in the South still have feelings about those who died. For many in the South, like most who serve in the armed forces, the war wasn’t about whatever “lofty” goals the leader’s had in mind; it was about protecting their families and their homes.
I have heard all sorts of things said, 150 years after the fact, as to why the war was fought. People today can prattle on all they like about “states’ rights,” but the fact remains that the south didn’t secede over some philosophical argument about states’ rights. They weren’t fighting for the ability of a particular state to write its own laws on medical marijuana, or same-sex marriage, abortion, or whether or not they should have to abide by a national 55 mph speed limit. The one, specific “right” they were fighting over was their ability to continue their “peculiar institution” of slavery; not only to continue it, but to spread it to new states as well.
One only has to read the Declaration of Causes of Seceding States to see that; it was all about slavery. Additionally, the Confederate Constitution, superficially similar to the U.S. Constitution, expressly recognized the institution of slavery, forbade the Confederate Congress from passing any law abridging the right to own slaves, and guaranteed its protection in any new territories that might come under Confederate rule. The U.S. Constitution mentions none of these things; the word “slavery” or “slave” appears nowhere in the document. It does not because many of the founders were vehemently opposed to the practice; that opposition did not exist in the leadership of the CSA. The south voted for secession because sentiment was turning against them in the North, and Abraham Lincoln, an abolitionist, had been elected President.
That having been said, we should recognize the fact that many in the south fought in support of their state, and to protect their homes and families from invading Northern armies. Why should that seem so strange? We talk today about how American involvement in the Middle East is fanning recruitment for Al Qaida and ISIS; does anyone think Sherman’s march through Georgia, for example, would be any different? Most white folks in the South did not own slaves and many did not support secession on that basis. Note that West Virginia seceded from Virginia to stay with the Union, and secession was not popular in parts of eastern Tennessee and northern Alabama either. In fact, these areas were occupied by Confederate troops to keep them from supporting the Union. Nor ironically, despite the fact that the first shots of the war were fired there, were large portions of Georgia in favor.
But comment is not being limited to removal of the Confederate battle flag from the public arena. Nope. Now that it looks like that might succeed, the scope of the battle is being widened. The left is on a roll – and they are not going to stop there. It is becoming an all-out purge of anything having to do with the Confederacy and any past legacy of slavery in America.
“Perhaps the Jefferson Memorial should be taken down,” opined CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield. After all, Jefferson owned slaves. What about statues in various parts of the country of Confederate generals?
Students at the University of Texas at Austin have begun an online petition to have the statues of Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston removed, claiming “It is impossible to reach the full potential of an inclusive and progressive learning institution while putting an idol of our darkest days on a pedestal.” Really? Somehow, generations of students seem to have done just fine up to this point. In fact, I bet most didn’t even know the statues were there, or if they did see them, know who they were. Incidentally, both statues have been vandalized since the shooting in South Carolina. And school officials will probably remove them. UT Austin is, as the petition claims, and despite being in Texas, a very progressive school after all.
Statues aren’t the only things on campus that colleges and universities need worry about with regard to suddenly politically incorrect confederate/slavery ties. What about building names? This article lists six colleges with controversial building names. I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. A dormitory building at Yale University is named after John C. Calhoun. A petition with over 700 students and alumni has been submitted, asking that the building be renamed. John C. Calhoun was respected as an extraordinary American statesman, which is why the building was named after him. Unfortunately, he was also an extremely active defender of slavery and “white supremacy.” And it isn’t just the building; the college, within Yale University which the building is a part of, is also named after Calhoun.
In fact, there are a lot of things named after Calhoun. I have relatives in Kentucky who live in a town called Calhoun, which happens to be the county seat of McLean County. The town’s name has changed several times. It was originally named Rhoadsville, but was also known as Fort Vienna and Vienna Station. When a post office was established in 1849, it was called Calhoon, after a Kentucky representative, but, presumably because people confused it with “Calhoun” (for John C. Calhoun), it was later changed to Calhoun, which means that it too is now actually named after John C. Calhoun.
Wikipedia has a page that lists places in the US named after John C. Calhoun. That list includes a US navy vessel, the USS John C. Calhoun, SSBN-630. Fortunately for the Navy, the Calhoun was scrapped in 1994 after serving since 1965 and it doesn't have to consider renaming the boat (renaming ships is considered bad luck by sailors). The page also lists one unfortunate place, Calhoun Street in Cincinnati, Ohio, which is actually named after a large and prosperous family which lives in Cincinnati, and is unrelated to John C. Calhoun. Unfortunate, because I doubt that will stop folks from wanting to rename it anyway, whether from ignorance, or simply from a desire to want to “be on the safe side.”
As for county names; a cursory Google search turned up Calhoun Counties in Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, and Mississippi. There is a Calhoun County here in Texas. Don’t think this limited only to formerly slave states; there are Calhoun counties in Michigan and Iowa as well. And this was just page one of the search. It may well be that not all these “Calhoun” counties were named for John C. Calhoun, but what’s in a name anyway? If it is named “Calhoun” then it must be John C. Calhoun, right? Time to be offended! Time to file a lawsuit, or get your 15 minutes of fame by sponsoring a petition to have the name changed. We need to root out all offensive names from our nation’s past, right?
What about counties named Lee, or Davis, or after other prominent (or not so prominent) historical Confederate figures? Here is an incomplete list of such counties in the US.
In Orlando, Florida, a group of activists is petitioning to remove a monument to soldiers who fought for the South in the Civil War and relocate it to a museum “where such an oppressive image of racist American culture would be appropriately housed for historical reference.” The statue, erected in 1911, has stood at Lake Eola Park for nearly 100 years. It was put there to honor soldiers, not slavery or racism. Still, says Commissioner Regina Hill, a black member of the City council, “times have changed. We’re a progressive city, and we’re all about inclusion, so I think, due to the climate that’s associated with the Confederate flag and Confederate objects, they more so belong in a museum.”
You will note that “inclusion” does not mean everything. Some things, such as monuments to Confederate soldiers, can be excluded in order to make things more “inclusive”. And excluding those things makes everything more inclusive for everyone. It doesn’t have to make sense it just has to be politically correct. Just remember, everything is awesome!
What about movies? Lou Lumenick, writing in the New York Post, feels that “Gone With The Wind,” a film fraught with “subtle racism” which “is in some ways more insidious,” should be banned. I am sure that there are other films as well that might come under the ax. Disney has forbidden theatrical re-release of “Song of the South” since 1986, and has only marketed it to home video markets in some European and Asian countries.
Where does it stop? Here in San Antonio, we have a Robert E. Lee High School. Should its name have to change? I am sure someone must be offended, and I would be very surprised to find that there are no black students there. Should a black student be “forced” to attend a school with the name of a Confederate slave holder? And of course, there is already a move afoot to do just that. Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development has called upon the North East ISD to change the name, stating that “there are other, more appropriated (sic) individuals to honor and spotlight as role models.”
After all, if schools have to change the names of their sports teams and mascots because “Native Americans” might be offended, doesn’t the same argument apply with Civil War icons and African-Americans?
George Washington, the Father of our Country, owned slaves. Should he (and others) be banished from our currency? Should the State of Washington and Washington D.C. have to change their names? Should Jefferson City, Missouri; Madison, Wisconsin; and all other cities across the country named after people who owned slaves be renamed? Or should we just pretend that they were named after some other Jefferson, Madison, or Washington? What about street names?
What if your name is Jefferson, Madison, Jackson, Johnston, or some other “bad” name? Should you have to have your name legally changed as well? What if some of your ancestors owned slaves? Should you just commit suicide?
Many of the founders owned slaves. Should their names be stricken from the public record, their statues removed, their pictures burned, and all mention of them be expunged from history texts nationwide? How then, pray tell, would we teach American history?
What about U.S. Army bases named after confederate generals? It’s funny – we recoil in horror when we hear of “cultural cleansing” being carried out by ISIS and other such groups, but seem to be more than willing to embrace it here in our country when it is about something that is not politically correct, or embraced by the left.
On June 23, Rush Limbaugh predicted that progressives wouldn’t settle for just coming after the Confederate flag – they would be after the US flag next. After all, slavery existed under the US flag far longer than it did under the Confederate flag. The slavers that snatched blacks from Africa and delivered them to markets in the US flew the US flag, not the Confederate flag. On my way home that afternoon, I heard the idea pooh-poohed on the Michael Medved show. “How ridiculous” the guest opined.
The very next day, Louis Farrakhan gave an address at the Metropolitan AME church in Washington DC. And what does he say? “I don’t know what the hell the fight is about over the Confederate flag! We need to put the American flag down because we’ve caught as much hell under that as the Confederate flag!” Of course, it is Farrakhan. We shall see if his “call for justice” has any legs.
Then there is the darker side of this. Malik Zulu Shabazz, the leader of the new Black Panther party, called for the completion of the mission of Denmark Vesey, a slave who planned a slave revolt in Charleston nearly 200 years ago. “Vesey had a plan to kill all the slave masters in the state,” Shabazz said, “All of their [expletive deleted] families. We need some Denmark Veseys today. We got to complete what Denmark didn’t finish.”
Since there aren’t any “slave masters” or their families alive today, who do you suppose Shabazz might be talking about? White folks in general?
You know, I would call this a terrorist threat. Surely, if I make such comments about blacks, I would probably end up in jail for making terroristic threats. Somehow though, I doubt seriously that will happen to Shabazz.
I would submit that it is impossible to disentangle all mention and reference to the confederacy and slavery from our nation’s history and still have a national history. Nor should we. How can you remember not to do something ever again if you can’t even remember that you ever did it in the first place?
So am I a racist now if I think it a bad idea to raze the Jefferson Memorial? Heck, I guess we would have to burn the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as well (Madison, the father of the Constitution, was a slave owner)? This whole thing is starting to resemble the French Revolution! Or the Cultural Revolution in China under Mao.