S is for Statues of Robert E. Lee

The Confederate memorials were an attempt to erase history.

The conversation about Confederate statues in the United States is highly charged, as recent events in Charlottesville, VA have shown.

I absolutely agree with The Hill:
“Please don’t direct the discussion towards the ownership of slaves. Then we just get into the argument that people like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. That’s not the point! Washington and Jefferson are well known in history from the beginnings of our country. [General] Robert E. Lee was a traitor to his country. These monuments were constructed well before African-Americans were permitted to vote, and they are only a reminder that racism still exists.”

But, as The Week notes in How America forgot the true history of the Civil War: “Ex-Confederates and associated sympathizers began to think up alternative histories that sounded better [than slavery], starting right after the war ended. The major plank of this was the ‘Lost Cause,’ which argued that the war was not actually about slavery — instead, it was about ‘states’ rights.’

“The antebellum South was cast as a sepia-toned paradise of noble gentlemen, virtuous ladies, and happy slaves.” John Oliver reveals The Ugly Reality Behind The ‘Lost Cause’ Cult.

In other words, the Confederate memorials were an attempt to erase history, as this southern white male and this one note.

Most of those statues were erected during the Jim Crow era before and after World War I, after the re-imposition of white supremacy. As Smithsonian magazine makes clear, We Legitimize the ‘So-Called’ Confederacy With Our Vocabulary, and That’s a Problem. “Tearing down monuments is only the beginning to understanding the false narrative of Jim Crow.

More than 4,000 black people were lynched in the South — where are their monuments?

To understand how toxic the period was, read Before its subversion in the Jim Crow era, the fruit symbolized black self-sufficiency. So, what changed? And Lynching and Antilynching: Art and Politics in the 1930s.

Robert E. Lee was NOT “invariably kind and humane” to the people he enslaved, despite scuttlebutt of his benevolence. Here’s W.E.B. DuBois on Robert E. Lee. My fellow TU blogger Rob Hoffman noted:”The last thing we need in our divided nation is to excuse the behavior of a man, even one as talented as Robert E. Lee, for betraying his country at a time when it really needed him most.”

Moreover, Lee himself said: “I think it wiser …not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.”

I’d like to see some of those statues in museums, where context can be explained. Listen to the semi-comedic The Ballad Of General Robert E. Lee’s Statue.

October rambling: Twilight Zone & the Confederacy

We are living in a kakistocracy

Hands up, don’t shoot (Nah, that never happened…)

The Twilight Zone and the Confederacy.

In 1939, 20,000 Americans rallied in New York’s Madison Square Garden to celebrate the rise of Nazism

How the Nazis Used Jim Crow Laws as the Model for Their Race Laws

Trevor Noah: Race and Identity (NY Times interview)

No longer a convicted murderer, Carl Dukes faces life after 20 years in prison

A Fire Story -Brian Fies

Journalists’ lament

Heather Fazio’s exodus from the Times Union blogfarm

John Oliver: Why The Equifax Breach Is A Big, Scary Problem

The lie that poverty is a moral failing was buried a century ago. Now it’s back

How the Elderly Lose Their Rights

Labour will lead NZ Government

LIGO Detects Fierce Collision of Neutron Stars for the First Time

The day the sky turned red in the UK – but what caused rare phenomenon?

The Story Behind the Chicago Newspaper That Bought a Bar

We are alienating each other with unrestrained callouts and unchecked self-righteousness

Chuck Miller: Crossing past my failures

Burger King ad: Bullying Jr.

Vikings Razed the Forests. Can Iceland Regrow Them?

Archaeology in Albany

How did people sleep in the Middle Ages

The shortest regularly scheduled airline route on earth

Swedish death cleaning is the morbid new way to de-clutter your life

28 Boring Words and What to Use Instead

Where do mansplainers get their water?
From a well, actually.

How to Pronounce Paraskavidekatriaphobia

5 Zombie Walks to do for Halloween

Magazine of the Living Dead: The bloody rise and frightful fall of Fangoria – at FantaCo in 1980-1988, we sold a ton of back issues; #9 was considered rare

A brief history of Bat-marriage

The Great Catnip Caper Of 1909

Now I Know: Why Things are Tawdry and When Baseball Players Left it on the Field and The Special Sound a Mercedes-Benz Makes Before a Crash

Steve

THE MADNESS OF DJT

We are living in a kakistocracy

Taking Hostages and The chaos grows

The Self-Dealing Presidency

Rigged: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump

Grief, compassion -advice ignored

George W. Bush: Bigotry in any form is blasphemy

Lawrence O’Donnell: ‘Stunned’ by John Kelly’s attack on Rep. Wilson and video of her 2015 speech at new FBI building

How Badly Is Neil Gorsuch Annoying the Other Supreme Court Justices?

MUSIC

We Will All Go Together When We Go – Tom Lehrer

Almost like Praying – Lin-Manuel Miranda and friends sing for Puerto Rico support

Since I Don’t Have You – Skyliners

What goes on – Beatles (Lennon vocal)

Coverville 1190: Indie Hodgepodge & Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute

K-Chuck Radio: But they’re not doing the Time Warp…

Hey Ya! – Walk off the Earth (Outkast Cover)

Up In A Puff Of Smoke – Polly Brown

You’re Still A Young Man -Tower Of Power (1972)

Go Go Shoes / Go Go Place- Lonnie Youngblood with Jimi Hendrix, May 1966.

Shocking Omissions: Joan Armatrading’s ‘Walk Under Ladders’

Female-female songwriting teams

Joni Mitchell: Fear of a Female Genius

Hallelujah! The Songs We Should Retire?

Why we really really really like repetition in music

Who first said, “Writing About Music is Like Dancing About Architecture”?

CAREER IN MUSIC IS DAMAGING TO MENTAL HEALTH

April rambling #2: Smartest place on earth

A World Awash in Purple

Librarian.gang

The 2016 Pulitzer Prize Winners, with links to many of the written pieces!

The Vlogbrothers — John and Hank Green — summarize the tax proposals of the folks who want to be your next President.

John Green: Here’s to civil discourse and David Kalish: Comparing Facebook to a pee-soaked lamp post.

Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy.

Mississippi Interracial Couple Evicted For Being In An Interracial Marriage. In 2016.

Michigan mechanic refuses to serve people from the ‘ghetto’ — but insists he’s not racist – he was a bit coarser than that. “But Jim S. insists he’s not racist — which is exactly what racists usually say. ‘Race has nothing to do with this, let me clarify,’ Jim S. told Mic. ‘What we’re trying to avoid is people who number one can’t afford service.'” In 2016.

Michael Rivest: Thoughts on White Privilege and Colorblindness.

Why You Should Care about Felon Voting Rights.

Jeff Sharlet: Airbnb’s Paris “Open”, during the Paris attacks.

This is what happens when you bury a mass murderer in a small town.

John Oliver: Credit reports and Lead poisoning and Hollywood Whitewashing.

1939 news clipping re: Jack Benny’s “valet”, Rochester.

New York Times: How to Explain Mansplaining.

“Leftover women”, those unmarried by 25, in China.

Greg’s daughter Mia turns 13.

Dustbury: The years take their toll on a body.

Neuroscientists Can Identify You by Your ‘Brainprint’ with 100% Accuracy, and related story.

Albany, New York: Smartest place on earth? Probably.

16 Things I Would Want If I Got Dementia.

Jaquandor has been posting poetry all month, of many varieties.

How to Insult Like Shakespeare.

Now I Know: How Brazil Got to the 1932 Olympics (Mostly) and “We Won’t Give Up Until You Bleed” and A Weighty Issue (about clipboards!)

There’s a Scientific Reason Why Indian Food Is So Delicious.

Funnies

TWC Question Time #33: Part Two– Killing the King.

These Millennials!

Superman: tax evader.

NewYorker.newspaper

BBC have broadcast TWICE as many obituaries in 2016 compared to last year at this point.

The Prince section

“Am I black or white, am I straight or gay?
“Do I believe in god, do I believe in me?”
“Controversy” – Prince

A World Awash in Purple.

Arthur addresses how the Internet Age didn’t create social mourning.

Prince on Arsenio Hall’s show.

Prince & Tamar Davis(Good Morning America 2006)/a>, which I watched in real time.

Former Warner Bros. CEO Mo Ostin Recalls His Long Relationship: ‘He Was a Fearless Artist’.

Weekly Sift.

Prince refused to be a commodity and took a protective stance on music copyrights.

Paul Westerberg: ‘I Can’t Think of Anyone Better’.

Is the water warm enough? Cartoonist Hazel Newlevant discusses Wendy & Lisa’s contribution to Prince’s legacy.

Times When He Showed Us His Great Sense of Humor.

Do It All Night: The Story of Prince ‘s Dirty Mind. An in-depth look back on the 1982 album that allowed Prince to cross over as a rock’n’roll star.

From Bat Dance to his Alter Ego comic.

A guy on Facebook noted: “‪‎Prince‬ was a huge fan of Bonnie Raitt and when he covered I Can’t Make You Love Me for his Emancipation album (1996), in the liner notes, he wrote: bonnieisanamericantreasure. When Bonnie was between labels, before signing to Capitol, Prince wanted her to sign with Paisley Park. They worked together a bit to see where it would go, but then he had to go to Europe to film Under The Cherry Moon. In the meantime, the stars aligned with Bonnie, Don Was and Capitol Records. What followed was Bonnie’s breakthrough success with ‘Nick Of Time’. Whatever they did together remains in Prince’s vaults.”

More music!

Lonnie Mack, RIP.

Amy Biancolli: Music to vote by.

Coverville 1122: Cover Stories for Roy Orbison and Paul Carrack. Roy would have been 80.

Harry Hipster Gibson – Who Put The Benzedrine In Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine (1944).

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (1967 Broadway Soundtrack).

Lawrence Welk Meets Velvet Underground.

Connecting the historical dots: Ferguson to Charleston

“People should not spend their days mourning relatives they never knew from a war that ended 150 years ago, especially if that feeling is so paramount that it outweighs the sense of brotherhood they might feel toward fellow humans who are alive…”

Little Rock, 1957
Little Rock, 1957
At my relatively diverse, but still primarily white, church, I am the de facto organizer for Black History Month each February. I’ve noticed that 2016 will mark the 90th anniversary of what what was Negro History Week, designed by Carter G. Woodson in 1926. “Besides building self-esteem among blacks, [it] would help eliminate prejudice among whites.”

I think the argument that the United States is “post-racial”, now that Barack Obama has been elected President twice, has been pretty well negated by the events of the past six years. There are those who will seriously argue that because Obama, and for that matter, actress Halle Berry, had white mothers, they shouldn’t be considered black. Anyone passingly aware of the historic obsessive nature of the US government to define race Continue reading “Connecting the historical dots: Ferguson to Charleston”

The “national conversation”: guns, flags, race

Our “national discussion” is coming out of both sides of our collective mouth.

guns.AmericaTackling more Ask Roger Anything questions, where a theme seemed to emerge:

New York Erratic wants to know:

What is the #1 thing that annoys you on social media?

Mostly that so much of it is so banal. I post these blog posts to my Facebook and Twitter and get a few comments. I write, in response to an Esquire clickbait article, “If you think I’m going to click on this 80 times, you’re crazy;” it’s gotten over 120 likes, many of them in recent days.

Sometimes, though, it does some good. Which nicely segues to…
***
Jaquandor muses:

I often hear calls for “a national conversation” to deal with Big Issues. What would a “national conversation” look like?

Since we can’t seem to agree on simple concepts, such as facts about science, I think the “national conversations” bubble up in ways that I don’t think can possibly be entirely controlled.

The Ice Bucket challenge last summer was one of those events. WE decided, via social media, to triple the amount of money for research for a disease most of us had been either unaware of or wasn’t of interest.

The sudden rush to remove Confederate battle flags from Wal-Mart, Amazon, and other retailers in recent days clearly was a conversation WE had. That emblem was obviously not a significant issue to most folk the day before the Charleston shootings. But when those people died, and their loved ones showed such grace in mourning, WE decided, or most of us, that the “stars and bars” that the presumed killer embraced were suddenly toxic.

Now if you WANT to have a “national discussion,” such as the ones President Obama has periodically attempted to instigate about race, it’s usually a flop. “He’s a race baiter.” “Ooo, he used the N-word,” without any understanding of the context of what he was trying to express. “There’s just one race, the human race,” which is both true and irrelevant.

In this age of increasing partisan division, I am finding it harder and harder to even empathize with the “other side” (in my case, the political right in this country). I used to at least understand how they arrived at their worldview, if not share it, but now I increasingly can’t fathom how or why they would look at the world that way at all. Does this make sense to you, and if so, what can be done about it?

For me, this is less of a problem of left/right, and more an issue of “Do they really mean what they say, are they just trying to be provocateurs, or are they just intellectually lazy?”

I get the sense that some of them just SAY things because it’s sensational. Ann Coulter attacked Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) as “an immigrant” who “does not understand America’s history” because she changed her mind about having the Confederate battle flag on state grounds. Let’s ignore the fact that Nikki Haley was BORN IN SOUTH CAROLINA to immigrant parents. Facts need not get in the way of a convenient narrative.

My own defense mechanism is to declare that certain parties – Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Congressman Louis Gohmert (R-TX), and certain others – as unreliable reporters. I don’t mean “reporters” in a news sense, but that what they say, what they report, is, based on a great deal of observation, not worthy of my consideration.

This is actually useful because it minimizes my outrage. I don’t spew in anger ranting, “How can Hannity say such a stupid thing?” Instead, I can calmly note, “Oh, there’s Hannity saying something inane again. Ho-hum.” It’s SO much better for my blood pressure.

George Carlin said, over ten years ago on an album (closer to fifteen): “Wanna know what’s comin’ next? Guns in church! That’ll happen, you’ll see.” Nervous tittering laughter from the audience, and yet… here we are. How inevitable was this, and how do you see future historians looking back on our incredible resistance to the mere idea of giving up our guns?

Sure, Australia has a mass shooting in 1996, and the people decide to limit their guns. In 2012, 20 children and six adults were murdered at a school in Connecticut, and since then, nationally, there have been about as many laws expanding gun use as there have been restrictions. In other words, our “national discussion” is coming out of both sides of our collective mouth.

To be fair, history will also laugh at us for being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and yet:
has massive income inequality
is the only industrialized nation without paid maternity leave
is ranked only 12th in freedom
is 14th in education
*is a whopping 33rd in Internet download speed
plus relatively lousy scores in children’s health, and a bunch of issues about which we might consider having a “national discussion”, but can’t.

But we’re tops in gun deaths per capita AND in the number of prisoners. WE’RE #1! There’s some “national discussion” around the edges about the evil of mass incarceration; we’ll see where that goes.

At least the gun thing comes from an interpretation – a faulty one, I’d contend – of the US Constitution, backed, I’m afraid, by our Supreme Court.

After Charleston, I was watching a LOT of news. One security expert said churches, and other “soft targets,” need to have “situational awareness” when someone comes in who is a DLR, “doesn’t look right.” As someone who sits in the choir loft, I have seen a number of people walk through the church doors, who, some would suggest, “don’t look right,” but who have subsequently become members of the congregation.

Padlocking to keep “them” out is a formula to kill a religious body as sure as bombs or bullets would, just more slowly.

Moreover, I listened to two sisters of one of the murdered congregants of Mother Emanuel, and they talked about a fearlessness that comes from loving God. This is why, a week to the day after the shootings, they and over 250 others were present for the Wednesday Bible study.
***
SamuraiFrog interjected:

What is your opinion on the #WeWillShootBack hashtag that popped up on Twitter?

Thanks for pointing this out, because I was unaware of it. Not surprisingly, I’m generally opposed to it on both theological and strategic grounds. Nonviolent direct action as done by Gandhi and Martin Luther King was very effective, and shows the higher moral position; of course, both of them were eventually assassinated.

Did I mention that I LOVE Bree Newsome?

Sad but often true: when enough crap happens to black people, eventually a positive outcome is generated. Use fire hoses on black children, and white people get upset enough to want to do something about the situation.

The civil rights crusade has almost always needed white supporters, and they are welcome, although making sure white people are comfortable can be a drag.

Still, forgiving white supremacy can be a real burden. Mother Emanuel’s Bible study the week after the shootings was reportedly from the New Testament book of 1 Peter. I don’t know the verses they studied, but here are some representative verses from chapter 2, verses 19-21: “For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God… if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this, you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

I can imagine some black folks thinking, “To hell with THAT!” So I UNDERSTAND #WeWillShootBack. I don’t endorse it, but I know where it comes from.
***
Thomas McKinnon says:

With all that is going on in the news, have you talked to your daughter about racism?

Tom, it’s post-racial America. What’s to talk about?

Actually, The Daughter and I often watch the news together and discuss what it means. When she’s seen stories from Ferguson to Charleston, from Freddie Gray, who died in Baltimore in police custody, to Tamir Rice, who died about two seconds after the Cleveland police arrived. There’s fodder for a lot of conversation.

We both found the Donald Trump piñata story terribly funny. (Here’s a better picture.)

Current events have been a great point of entry, actually. I was loath to just dump on her some of the crap I had endured over the years. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” I was thinking, maybe hoping, that we were getting there sooner than it’s turned out.
***
Arthur@AmeriNZ picks up on a theme from others:

Thinking of race relations in the USA, and maybe racial politics, who has surprised you the most?

Jon Stewart. I didn’t think, in his political analysis on The Daily Show, that race was particularly his thing. By his own admission, he was slow to hire correspondents of color. Larry Wilmore, who now has his own show, might get to pontificate occasionally from 2006-2014.

But Stewart started taking on the issue of race from his own voice. It may have started before this, but the pivotal program for me was the August 26, 2014 episode, where he first experiences the Ferguson Protest Challenge, then ends the Race/Off segment with, and I’m slightly paraphrasing here: “If you’re tired of hearing about racism, imagine how exhausting it is to be living with it.”

More recently, Stewart parodied the “Helper Whitey” effect… in a segment with Jessica Williams and Jordan Klepper. “First Williams [a black woman] would make a point, but Klepper [a white man] wouldn’t listen to her. When Stewart made the exact same point a few seconds later, Klepper jumped to agree.”

Who has disappointed you the most?

Bill Clinton, who got dubbed by someone as the “first black President,” for some reason, but who gutted the economic safety net, and continued the process of mass incarceration. Yeah, he did have a decent record overall on civil rights, but I guess I expected more.

Though the first person to really disappoint me was Jesse Jackson. He was running for President in 1984 when he used a slur against Jews in describing New York City, and that ended my support for him.