"The Second Hundred Years" Edition
This was a week of miracles piled on historical moments moving so whipcrack fast it was hard to take it all in, so it is right and proper to set aside the soul-sucking bothsiderburgers which the Sunday Gasbag Cavalcade serves up in favor of spending your time and emotional energy celebrating so many Progressive victories coming back-to-back.
As such, I will keep it brief. Just a note to ask that you be attentive in the coming weeks and months to the strategy which the Party of Jefferson Davis is now deploying to contain their little white supremacy problem: a pawn sacrifice.
Sure, yeah, the American Swastika sucks and it's high time to haul it down. Hey, maybe it's even time to consider rechristening some of our roads and bridges which are currently named for the Confederacy's most famous general (David Brooks "The Robert E. Lee Problem"):
Lowering the Confederate flag from public properties is thus an easy call. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Southern heritage and Southern life without choosing one so enmeshed in the fight to preserve slavery.The harder call concerns Robert E. Lee. Should schools and other facilities be named after the great Confederate general, or should his name be removed and replaced?
And after much backing --
The case for Lee begins with his personal character. It is almost impossible to imagine a finer and more considerate gentleman.As a general and public figure, he was a man of impeccable honesty, integrity and kindness. As a soldier, he displayed courage from the beginning of his career straight through to the end...
and forthing ---
The case against Lee begins with the fact that he betrayed his oath to serve the United States. He didn’t need to do it. The late historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor demonstrated that 40 percent of Virginia officers decided to remain with the Union forces, including members of Lee’s family...
-- Mr. Brooks magnanimously arrives at the same conclusion reached by most non-Dixiecrats generations ago:
My own view is that we should preserve most Confederate memorials out of respect for the common soldiers. We should keep Lee’s name on institutions that reflect postwar service, like Washington and Lee University, where he was president. But we should remove Lee’s name from most schools, roads and other institutions, where the name could be seen as acceptance of what he did and stood for during the war.
Well, bully for him! And thank you, Mr. Brooks, for tracing the outlines of the real battlefield.
Because while Conservatives are now willing sacrifice a scrap of cloth and perhaps even the names of a few public buildings to provisionally acknowledge that America's record on race and civil rights from, oh, let's say (just to pick a number), 1861 until, say, 1962 was pretty terrible...
...they are all loudly and conspicuously silent about the fact that the core ideology of the Confederacy -- the hate and terror which the American Swastika represents -- has been processed and refined and forged into a Ring of Electoral Power which has been handed down generation after generation like a family heirloom right up to the present day.
So while we apparently can all now get together and call for the furling of a flag and the rechristening of some roads and schools, what shall we say about the cultural movement and electoral strategy which has been carefully mortared together out of that hate and denial? Where do men like Mr. Brooks stand on the issue of modern day Republican -- a Reagan, let us say, or a Nixon -- gathering up the dark and terrible power inherent in that reverence for the South's bloody, toxic past for use as a present-day licence to print money and battering ram to drive the worst people in America into elected office?
Because as every modern day member of the Conservative brain caste knows damn well, we don't really have a "Robert E. Lee Problem".
But we sure as hell do have a "Harvey LeRoy 'Lee' Atwater Problem" (from The Nation)
Exclusive: Lee Atwater’s Infamous 1981 Interview on the Southern Strategy
The forty-two-minute recording, acquired by James Carter IV, confirms Atwater’s incendiary remarks and places them in context.
Rick Perlstein November 13, 2012So where do men like America's most famous Spokesmodel for Humility and Morality stand on this issue? The one which has been the single most important and morally depraved component of their entire political movement for their entire adult lives?
Funny you should ask.
Here is Mr. Brooks from 2007 in the New York Times, jettisoning all pretext of modesty and humility and back in full Weekly Standard mode, up on his hind legs and berating anyone who would dare suggest that the modern Republican Party has a little problem with racism:
History and CalumnyOver the course of the next few days, Mr. Brooks has his ass absolutely sawed off and served up on the good china pretty much everyone who dwelt in the sunny lands beyond the Fox News bubble and could wield a keyboard and
Today, I’m going to write about a slur. It’s a distortion that’s been around for a while, but has spread like a weed over the past few months. It was concocted for partisan reasons: to flatter the prejudices of one side, to demonize the other and to simplify a complicated reality into a political nursery tale.
The distortion concerns a speech Ronald Reagan gave during the 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., which is where three civil rights workers had been murdered 16 years earlier. An increasing number of left-wing commentators assert that Reagan kicked off his 1980 presidential campaign with a states’ rights speech in Philadelphia to send a signal to white racists that he was on their side. The speech is taken as proof that the Republican majority was built on racism.
The campaign debuted at the Neshoba County Fair in front of a white and, at times, raucous crowd of perhaps 10,000, chanting: “We want Reagan! We want Reagan!”Paul Krugman:
Reagan was the first presidential candidate ever to appear at the fair, and he knew exactly what he was doing when he told that crowd, “I believe in states’ rights.”
Reagan apologists have every right to be ashamed of that appearance by their hero, but they have no right to change the meaning of it, which was unmistakable. Commentators have been trying of late to put this appearance by Reagan into a racially benign context.
That won’t wash. Reagan may have been blessed with a Hollywood smile and an avuncular delivery, but he was elbow deep in the same old race-baiting Southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon.
Everybody watching the 1980 campaign knew what Reagan was signaling at the fair. Whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans — they all knew. The news media knew. The race haters and the people appalled by racial hatred knew. And Reagan knew.
He was tapping out the code. It was understood that when politicians started chirping about “states’ rights” to white people in places like Neshoba County they were saying that when it comes down to you and the blacks, we’re with you.
And Reagan meant it. He was opposed to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was the same year that Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were slaughtered. As president, he actually tried to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He opposed a national holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He tried to get rid of the federal ban on tax exemptions for private schools that practiced racial discrimination. And in 1988, he vetoed a bill to expand the reach of federal civil rights legislation.
So there’s a campaign on to exonerate Ronald Reagan from the charge that he deliberately made use of Nixon’s Southern strategy. When he went to Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1980, the town where the civil rights workers had been murdered, and declared that “I believe in states’ rights,” he didn’t mean to signal support for white racists. It was all just an innocent mistake.And my own, humble, four-part effort here ("A Rose for Bobo: Part 1") which includes link to a buncha other vituperative, foul-mouthed bloggers of the Left, including the late Steve Gilliard:
Indeed, you do really have to feel sorry for Reagan. He just kept making those innocent mistakes.
When he went on about the welfare queen driving her Cadillac, and kept repeating the story years after it had been debunked, some people thought he was engaging in race-baiting. But it was all just an innocent mistake.
When, in 1976, he talked about working people angry about the “strapping young buck” using food stamps to buy T-bone steaks at the grocery store, he didn’t mean to play into racial hostility. True, as the New York Times reported.
The ex-Governor has used the grocery-line illustration before, but in states like New Hampshire where there is scant black population, he has never used the expression “young buck,” which, to whites in the South, generally denotes a large black man.
...And after all of that rain of "Hellfire prose"?
Which demonstrates, if nothing else, the true, sad state of American journalism: that a deceased and relatively obscure blogger named Steven Gilliard is still a vastly more vital, thoughtful, passionate and powerful writer from inside the Narrow House than is the allegedly-living New York Times columnist named David Brooks.
And which, in the end, leaves nothing left standing to debunk or refute.
Indeed all of the above would be an embarrassingly one-sided exercise in bouncing the rubble of where Bobo’s career used to be were it not for this simple fact: Bobo still works for the NYT.
Punching most days so desperately far out of his intellectual weight class that he can barely climb up the Big Boy stairs into the ring, Bobo nonetheless continues to punch clock every damned day on the most valuable piece of real estate at the New York Fucking Times.
He worked for them last year.
Works for them this year.
Will work for them next year.
And through the smoke of Hellfire prose tearing his idiocy to flinders, this became the part of the story-behind-the-story which began to fascinate me.
End Part 1 of 4.
Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3
Click here for Part 4
No correction. No emendation. No apologies. No penalty for continuing to peddle these horrific lies.
Instead, like virtually every other Conservative in America, when confronted with the blunt and irrefutable history of modern Conservatism, Mr. Brooks just turns around and runs away.
Deny, deny, deny and move into the next thing.
Well, the next thing has arrived as next things always do, and rather than daring to refight the battle of Saint Reagan and the Southern Strategy, these days, like virtually every other Conservative in America, Mr. Brooks opts to just skip completely over the last half century of American history and talk about the safely long ago and far away.
So what has any of this to do with the Sunday Mouse Circus?
Because it brings me around at last to this almost unnoticed quote from none other than Mr. Newton Leroy "Advocate of civilization, Definer of civilization, Teacher of the rules of civilization, Arouser of those who form civilization, Organizer of the pro-civilization activists and Leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces" Gingrich himself on Meet the Press, which sums up everything awful about the whole wretched weekly carnival of Beltway navel-gazing and radical denialism better than almost anything (emphasis added at no additional charge):
Are you comfortable with the flag the way it is now? You know, it is modeled, it is the original Confederate flag, just with the Georgia seal on it, the way it's modeled.
I think that may well be changed now that people are into a new cycle. But let me tell you what I think is crazy. It's crazy for Amazon to come along and say, "Here is an educational game about Gettysburg, which is used widely in schools to teach people to think." And by the way, it has a Confederate versus an American flag, and therefore they've taken the game out of Amazon. Now there's a point here however we begin to get towards Orwell's memory hole, in which we try to hide from the past. I think it's one thing to say you should not have a symbol which is very offensive to a large part of your population, it's another thing to say, "Let's erase our history and pretend it never occurred."
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:
So what is that balance?
The fact that the entire Republican Party has long since moved into a gated Assisted Living Community in the lowest circle of Orwell's Memory Hole is what makes this little moment so rare and wonderful.
The fact that no one thought to mention that Newt Gingrich has been the Nancy Faust of the wingnut racist dog-whistle pipe-organ since he rose from the swamps of Georgia --
-- is what made it art.