Saturday, August 19, 2017

Bad News

On Tuesday in Durham, North Carolina activists brought down the Confederate Soldiers Monument. Demanding amnesty, one 22-year-old female participant declared

Everyone who was there—the people did the right thing.  The people will continue to keep making the right choices until every Confederate statue is gone, until white supremacy is gone. That statue is where it belongs. It needs to be in the garbage. … That statue glorifies the conditions that oppressed people live in and it had to go.

More conventionally and amicably

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) tweeted on Wednesday night that he would introduce a bill taking down Confederate statues in the building, though he did not give a specific timeline or indicate when the bill would be brought forward....

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) joined Booker’s call to action on Thursday.

“If Republicans are serious about rejecting white supremacy, I call upon Speaker Ryan to join Democrats to remove the Confederate statues from the Capitol immediately,” Pelosi said.

Whatever their methods, all are pursuing a righteous outcome. However, they might consider that emphasis on "white supremacy."

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll of 1,125 adults conducted by landline or mobile phone on August 14 and August 15 featured several questions related to the violence the previous weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

The answers to at least one question were staggering.  Respondents were asked "Do you think statues honoring leaders of the Confederacy should...." and were given choices of "remain as a historical symbol," "be removed because they are offensive to some people," and "unsure."

I know, I know- the responses were tilted, intentionally or otherwise, in the pro-monument direction. While "honoring leaders" is almost always a positive thing, removing something because it is "offensive to some people" suggests that these individuals are reserving for themselves some special right. (And we all know who "some people" are here.) Additionally, there is an additional reason(s) to remove the monuments.

Still, it is significant and discouraging that 62% opted for for "remain" and only 27% for "remove" (with 11% unsure).  More than twice as many individuals want these shrines to slavery to remain as to be removed.

The phrasing of the question no doubt affected the outcome. Nonetheless, the conclusion is inescapable: most people support continuing to commemmorate slavery. Moreover, 44% of African-Americans came down on the majority side.

This emphasis on "white supremacy" clearly is not working. A new argument- or rather a greater emphasis on an old argument- probably would resonate with more Americans, and certainly a wider cross-section of Americans.

The Confederate generals and other of their military leaders took up arms against the United States of America.  We'll leave it up to the lawyers to determine the legal definition of the term, but we laypeople can put it simply: they were traitors (video below from June, 2015).

The modern-day hero of the statue supporters has painted for over two years a portrait of a country deeply flawed and almost beyond redemption, one that can be saved only by him and be made "great again." Many conservatives, wrapped tightly in the symbol of the flag, won't accept that their heroes of an earlier age committed treason.  But if the left and the center are to take hold of this issue, they must emphasize that the statues celebrate treason against the United States of America.

And to complement the message, we can repeat (in less profane fashion) what Penn Jillette stated on Friday night's Real Time: "if you want a statue, win the goddamn war."

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