Editorial: The real American way

Those who fought for this flag were the real heroes of the Civil War.

Pardon my French, but I have had enough of this Confederate bulls–t. Americans are exceptional in many ways, one of them being that we tolerate the glorification of the losers of a war fought for one reason and one reason only: so white southerners could keep black southerners enslaved.

We up north can’t stop how the Civil War is taught, or mistaught, to kids down south. But we surely do not have to agree with or accept as valid in any way the kinds of lies and distortions Confederate sympathizers and white supremacists spout about that tragic time. Rather, Americans from all parts of the country need to affirm, loudly and repeatedly, that the south rebelled not to protect the principle of states’ rights but to keep black people as their property. Check the record — the CSA’s founding documents and fathers are crystalline on this point. “Our new government … rests, upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition,” said Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens. “This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this [sic] great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.)

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To shirk this duty of constant refutation of racist lies is to give comfort a mindset that leads to the disgrace of what happened in Charlottesville.

President Trump: The statues of Washington, Jefferson, et al. were put up to inspire all Americans. The statues of Lee, Stonewall Jackson, et al. were put up to inspire some Americans and intimidate others. The Revolutionary War was fought to expand freedom. The south launched the Civil War to keep freedom restricted.

Sure, many Confederates fought bravely and skillfully. For some, that justifies them being memorialized as we memorialize those who fought bravely and skillfully for the Union. I don’t agree. If the rebels had fought less skillfully for one of the worst causes anybody ever fought, the Civil War would have been less murderous and destructive. Erwin Rommel was a good general too, but you don’t see him lionized in Germany.

I fully support the right of the communities in which they stand to decide whether the Confederate memorials should stay or go. I also fully support their being taken down and either melted for scrap or placed in museums of bad ideas.

Back in November, I wrote this. “While I don’t quite buy the argument that everybody who voted for Trump is a sexist/racist/homophobic/transphobic bag of hate, it’s impossible to deny that the actual bags of hate have been energized, and how, by Trump’s election.” Yup.

I also wrote this. “Those who believe in diversity, tolerance and the expansion of personal, racial and sexual freedoms that began in the ’60s had better prepare themselves to defend those freedoms. They will be attacked like they haven’t been in decades.” Yup.

And this. “Also, blacks, Latinos and Muslims [I should have included Jewish people too and apologize for the omission] will face ramped-up hate and violence. It’s up to people of good conscience to stick up for them.” Yes, and thank God, people of good conscience all over the country are doing that.

Reject utterly and with great force, I urge, the concept pushed by the president that there’s some kind of equivalence between the white supremacists and those who turned out in Charlottesville to oppose them. Pardon me again, but that’s vile and pernicious bulls–t. I often think about this quote from philosopher Sidney Hook — “Tolerance always has its limits. It cannot tolerate what is itself actively intolerant.”

It’s sometimes easier for people to describe what they’re against than what they’re for. In response to seeing one of the Nazis of Charlottesville wearing a shirt with their father’s name on it, the children of the late, truly great Johnny Cash posted a message on Facebook, which included a paragraph which I think gets to the heart of the matter. “We do not judge race, color, sexual orientation or creed. We value the capacity for love and the impulse towards kindness. We respect diversity, and cherish our shared humanity. We recognize the suffering of other human beings, and remain committed to our natural instinct for compassion and service.”

There are 17 comments

  1. Dixie Kupp

    It was Sir Walter Scott and his IVANHOE that was responsible for The Civil War wrote Mark Twain. Of course, Train fled to Nevada to avoid the conflict, so what did he know? Did you know Tucson was the far west of the Confederacy but just for a couple of weeks.

  2. Bruce Canton

    Stone mountain Georgia with a bash relief of syonewal Davis and let has a cable car theme park this carving of which is 825 feet above the ground. I was there 1970 before it was a theme park. Indians of the Civilized tribes (cherokee, Seminoles) were called such because they adapted to keeping negroes slaves from Georgia to Oklahoma. There’s an Indians plantation I been on too do you know how many Robert e let toads there are in the country. I got a photo of the confederate. Soldier statue in stonewall Texas black and white film makers a negative 2 1-/4. By six and three quarter inches. Travel is a great educator, no yes

  3. Linda Volk

    I was driving by the Old Dutch Church in Kingston when it dawned on me that George Clinton’s gravestone should be removed. New York not only had slavery while he was governor, but he was vice president for Thomas Jefferson, who owned slaves and abused them. It’s time for his gravestone to be removed and his name taken off the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. In fact, while we’re at it, most of the people buried in that churchyard either owned slaves or at least tolerated it. I say we dig them up and remove them too!

    Then there’s the matter of FDR, who put Asian-Americans in interment camps and turned away Jews seeking asylum in America. He was known to regularly use the n-word in describing African-Americans. I think it might be time to remove his statue and his presidential library from Hyde Park.

    Of course, I’m illustrating absurdity by being absurd. Everyone, including the writer here, needs to take a chill pill and give the sanctimony a rest. I realize this is low-hanging fruit for the self-righteous, but reigniting the Civil War doesn’t bring Americans together.

      1. Kevin Godbey

        Actually, the people needing to take a chill pill are those that are protesting the removal of statues that should have never been built. The Confederacy was a consortium of criminals with a mission to continue the oppression of an entire race of people for economic gain and their own belief of racial superiority. To deny that fact and to take measures to preserve that legacy is an assertion of those beliefs and is worthy of the condemnation that it is now receiving.

        1. Linda Volk

          If Democrats want to continue taking down statues of other Democrats, I have no problem with that. I’m merely pointing out the rank hypocrisy.

  4. Villager

    The first document of a slave in New essWaltz was a Kingston’s doctor bill to fix the broken arm of a slave belonging to the lady Day oh who had bought the slave off of captain kid in 1690. She broke his arm in her madnless. To protect her house is a telephone pole stockade now.

  5. John Alden and Pricilla Mullens

    Ben Franklin never freed one slave in his last will and testicle. He owned one more than the family of 17 children (Ben was number 15) and not one slave as let loose. With three loaves of bread in arrived in Philadelphia from Boston

  6. History Major

    Please fact check yourself. Field Marshal Rommel was far more than just a “good general”. As a career soldier he was apolitical and in fact lost his life trying to rid the world of Adolf Hitler. There are numerous memorials to Erwin Rommel in Germany.

    1. Joshua

      Pharaoh decreed that the name of Moses be erased from all monuments and so it was done. Pharaoh and those Egyptians are long gone the laws of Moses are still around. In fact the Japanese made a movie about it entitled “Torah, Torah,Torah”

  7. D. P. Lubic

    One of my uncles, who was later my godfather, was at Normandy. Other relatives have worn the uniform. Because they did, I didn’t have to.

    If you have studied the Third Reich in even the most casual manner, you can only be revolted. Why, after what we know went on under the red flag with the twisted cross, would anyone be inspired by that murderous regime? Why, after the cost that was paid, including by us, to destroy that almost unimaginable darkness, would someone fly that flag?

    And why would those who carry the stars and bars join with those of the red flag? I thought Southerners once were among the most patriotic, contributing greatly to our armed forces in the past.

    So why this joining with the darkness? Why?

  8. Jane

    Until recently, it’s safe to say that most U.S. Citizens knew zip about history – well, save for the folk of the South who knew their Civil War history, at least. Names of Presidents, generals, etc., were just names to most. George Washington? Known. Beyond that … nothing – and most didn’t care. You saw a statue — “Oh, look. A statue.” That was it. With all this ire, and sudden interest in racism and the Who’s Who of the Civil War, it’s embarrassing. One thing I have to say about all the insanity in government, and people, in the last few years, is that more people, born in this country, (to be specific), know more history than ever before.

    No one is talking about classism, and the terrible effects of this highly classist society. Even the strongest anti-racist, diversitites (sic), don’t have much tolerance for those deemed “beneath” them. And, the people so in love with Trump and his ilk? I am convinced that, somewhere, in the back of their minds, they believe that by supporting him, he will give them a lot of money; oodles of money; make them famous, even.

    Then, there are the Evangelicals who have a very weird fixation with Israel. Now, those people, (the Evangelicals), are frightening.

    Ultimately, the twittering, facebook, internet, television culture will (finish) every “regular” thought, feeling, design, science, and logic. Saying something like that, used to indicate a backwards perception, but no longer. It’s true.

    And how about the irony of the endless discussions, protests, revelations, etc., about gender preference and expression. And yet, the Equal Rights Amendments remains hung out to dry for so long that it is in tatters. You would think that all anyone thinks about, or does, is related to sexual activity. Good grief. And, the status of women in the U.S.? Still chattel. Still to be bought and paid for, one way or another, and, worst of all, is that young and older women continue to define themselves by whether they “have” someone or not. So, this statue business, is the least of it. Get it?

  9. Paul

    These modern day white-washers and statue destroyers share the same xenophobia as the book burners and Nazi’s of World War 2 which they are ironically protesting against. President Trump is correct when he clearly identifies that the 2 sides are both to blame. The eradicators of history are doomed to repeat it and seek to usher in their own form of tyranny.

  10. endrun

    The rich get richer and the middle class gets poorer and the poor do not progress. Every large industry runs the government everywhere. Bridges and roads are falling apart. Gasoline prices are set to explode from a result of climate change in Texas. Healthcare costs keep bankrupting individuals and businesses everywhere.
    So why does all this agita about statues, symbols, flags, and such seem a bit off the mark? Gee, I wonder….(scratches head)

  11. Paul Escudero

    I apologize if this is slightly off topic but there isn’t an article about the Las Vegas shootings yet. Prior to the current synthetic discussion about undocumented immigrants or for that matter the election of the current president there have been sheriffs, municipal and state police who have been vocal about their refusal to obey or enforce the SAFE ACT. One yahoo has been in the paper trying to play “heroic defender” of the peoples rights a bunch of times. The first question I have to ask is why would a group that has lobbied successfully and vigorously for so many decades for so many reductions in citizen rights all of a sudden become their defender when it comes to guns?
    I think the time has come to force law enforcement who have publicly said that they will not obey/enforce the SAFE ACT to swear an oath to uphold that law or face serious penalties. The unpleasant reality is that the #PBAcardsystem allowed for selective enforcement of law all along so this isn’t really a both or neither issue. It is not SAFE ACT/SANCTUARY CITY both or neither. Saying that the cops need to enforce SAFE is not the same as saying We The People say that it is our will that you not automatically hassle people who look different. I’m a little color blind but even I can tell the difference between apples and oranges. Lets discuss the sanctuary city argument vs SAFE ACT further. Police are supposed to work for the people but that is not what we have in the United States here in the US police in fact work for the bar associations not the citizenry. This fact is glaringly obvious to anyone capable of honesty and objectivity. The refusal to enforce the SAFE ACT by local police predates the sanctuary city discussion. It is not for the police to decide what laws they are going to enforce its for the people. Police already decided they didn’t want to enforce the SAFE ACT and said so publicly in the newspapers. This kind of law enforcement activism shouldn’t be tolerated and frankly everyone needs to think long and hard about the rationale behind this. The people have every right to say we don’t want you hassling people you think look different. It amounts to profiling of persons they believe look Hispanic, never mind that NYC has been full of illegal Irish and British kids since the 1980s. The people also have every right to say you need to enforce the SAFE ACT. The two things are not mutually exclusive. It is not both or neither. I realize the folks with “no safe act” signs are unable to understand this so let me spell it out for them. We are within our rights to say don’t hassle brown people but we want you to enforce the SAFE ACT. It is a sad commentary on our region that we have people who seek to justify the police publicly refusing to obey or enforce SAFE by using racism. Claiming SAFE ACT is analogous to sanctuary city is racism.

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