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“We Have Been Teaching Fiction Instead Of American History”: Unraveling The Threads Of Hatred, Sewn Into A Confederate Icon

This blighted boy with red hate in his eyes but otherwise colorless curdled milk skin — this boy is a failure. It takes more than a weak stick like him to start a race war.

Personally, I pray that the lives of nine Charleston, S.C., martyrs serve this purpose: Instead of hammering and whispering on racism, we finally reach a tone of agreement based in simple self-truth. Surely we all can shake on the idea that the murder of preachers, teachers and librarians in the name of color demands that we examine how such an old, infectious poison got into the veins of a newborn American boy. And that requires admitting that we have been teaching fiction instead of American history. We have romanticized the roots of hate with crinoline and celluloid.

If you went to Germany and saw a war memorial with a Nazi flag flying over it, what would you think of those people? You might think they were unrepentant. You might think they were in a lingering state of denial about their national atrocities. The Confederate battle flag is an American swastika, the relic of traitors and totalitarians, symbol of a brutal regime, not a republic. The Confederacy was treason in defense of a still deeper crime against humanity: slavery. If weaklings find racial hatred to be a romantic expression of American strength and purity, make no mistake that it begins by unwinding a red thread from that flag.

Yet it is easier for the governor of South Carolina to call for the execution of this milkweed boy than it is for her to call for the lowering of that banner. Why?

This lack of political will and failure of self-recognition is not hers alone. It has repeated itself, on a large scale and small, generation by generation for 150 years, a self-lying sentimental tide. “It seems inconceivable,” Stanley Turkel wrote in “Heroes of the American Reconstruction,” “that the losers of the bloodiest war in history were allowed to wrap their traitorous acts in the description of their so-called noble cause.” Yet in 1957, John F. Kennedy won the Pulitzer Prize for “Profiles in Courage,” in which he distorted and maligned the character of Union Medal of Honor winner Adelbert Ames, chased from the Mississippi governor’s office during Reconstruction by White Line terrorists, while instead lauding L.Q.C. Lamar as the more heroic figure. Lamar drafted Mississippi’s ordinance of secession and raised the 19th Mississippi Infantry Regiment.

Maybe it wouldn’t have done any good for Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Roof, who we’re told repeated the ninth grade, but he and his classmates should have been required to read “The Bloody Shirt” by Stephen Budiansky, which describes in vivid detail how between 1867 and 1877 the defeated South was permitted to overthrow new state governments representing black citizens, killing more than 3,000 of them with terrorism. Roof should have been required to read “Redemption” by Nicholas Lemann, who documents how President Ulysses S. Grant effectively gave back everything he had won in the war when he lacked the will to enforce the 14th and 15th amendments with troops, instead abandoning Ames to the White Line terrorists.

All wars are romanticized by those who have never felt bullets fly through their coats. But there is something deeply pernicious in the continued attempts to soft-focus the causes of the Confederacy, its aftermath and its lingering effects. South Carolina’s part of the Declaration of Causes of Seceding States, also signed by Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia and Texas, stated that secession was the direct result of “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding states to the institution of slavery.”

We will have truthfully reckoned with our racial history when high school and college students quit going to Heritage Balls wearing butternut military tunics and sashes and understand that Jeff Davis and Bobby Lee should have spent the rest of their natural lives in work camps, breaking rocks with shovels, instead of on their verandas — and the fact that they didn’t was a profound miscarriage. And when they understand that the South was in fact deeply divided along class as well as racial lines. Enforced conscription and edicts such as the Twenty Negro Law allowed the wealthiest slaveowners to sit out the fight. Something else Roof should have been required to read is Mark A. Weitz’s book “More Damning than Slaughter,” which shows that dissension from within and the desertion of well over 103,000 disillusioned Confederate soldiers defeated the South as much as any battles.

In 1872, another much-maligned patriot, Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, introduced a resolution that would have forbidden placing the names of Civil War battles on regimental colors of the U.S. Army. Sumner felt that conflicts in which Americans killed Americans should not be romanticized or celebrated. He was shouted down and censured.

Maybe Dylann Roof’s alleged acts have killed the impulse to romanticize atrocity anymore. Maybe instead of provoking a race war, he has provoked the wish to clean out this brutal wound once and for all with the astringent of truth. We are all unutterably weary of bloody internal estrangements. Can we not agree to run up the same flagpole? And to lower those crossed and starred banners, the bloody shirts with their inverse reds and blues? Personally, I would like to burn them and bury the ashes in an unmarked grave, keeping just a few for the museums.


By: Sally Jenkins, Sports Columnist for The Post and Co-author with John Stauffer of “The State of Jones”; The Washington Post, June 20, 2015

June 21, 2015 Posted by | Charleston SC Shootings, Emanuel AME Church, Race War | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Voodoo, Jeb! Style”: Mr. Bush Imagines That He Is Privy To Secrets That Have Evaded Everyone Else

On Monday Jeb Bush — or I guess that’s Jeb!, since he seems to have decided to replace his family name with a punctuation mark — finally made his campaign for the White House official, and gave us a first view of his policy goals. First, he says that if elected he would double America’s rate of economic growth to 4 percent. Second, he would make it possible for every American to lose as much weight as he or she wants, without any need for dieting or exercise.

O.K., he didn’t actually make that second promise. But he might as well have. It would have been just as realistic as promising 4 percent growth, and considerably less irresponsible.

I’ll get to Jeb!onomics in a minute, but first let me tell you about a dirty little secret of economics — namely, that we don’t know very much about how to raise the long-run rate of economic growth. Economists do know how to promote recovery from temporary slumps, even if politicians usually refuse to take their advice. But once the economy is near full employment, further growth depends on raising output per worker. And while there are things that might help make that happen, the truth is that nobody knows how to conjure up rapid productivity gains.

Why, then, would Mr. Bush imagine that he is privy to secrets that have evaded everyone else?

One answer, which is actually kind of funny, is that he believes that the growth in Florida’s economy during his time as governor offers a role model for the nation as a whole. Why is that funny? Because everyone except Mr. Bush knows that, during those years, Florida was booming thanks to the mother of all housing bubbles. When the bubble burst, the state plunged into a deep slump, much worse than that in the nation as a whole. Taking the boom and the slump together, Florida’s longer-term economic performance has, if anything, been slightly worse than the national average.

The key to Mr. Bush’s record of success, then, was good political timing: He managed to leave office before the unsustainable nature of the boom he now invokes became obvious.

But Mr. Bush’s economic promises reflect more than self-aggrandizement. They also reflect his party’s habit of boasting about its ability to deliver rapid economic growth, even though there’s no evidence at all to justify such boasts. It’s as if a bunch of relatively short men made a regular practice of swaggering around, telling everyone they see that they’re 6 feet 2 inches tall.

To be more specific, the next time you encounter some conservative going on about growth, you might want to bring up the following list of names and numbers: Bill Clinton, 3.7; Ronald Reagan, 3.4; Barack Obama, 2.1; George H.W. Bush, 2.0; George W. Bush, 1.6. Yes, that’s the last five presidents — and the average rate of growth of the U.S. economy during their time in office (so far, in Mr. Obama’s case). Obviously, the raw numbers don’t tell the whole story, but surely there’s nothing in that list to suggest that conservatives possess some kind of miracle cure for economic sluggishness. And, as many have pointed out, if Jeb! knows the secret to 4 percent growth, why didn’t he tell his father and brother?

Or consider the experience of Kansas, where Gov. Sam Brownback pushed through radical tax cuts that were supposed to drive rapid economic growth. “We’ll see how it works. We’ll have a real live experiment,” he declared. And the results of the experiment are now in: The promised boom never arrived, big deficits did, and, despite savage cuts to schools and other public services, Kansas eventually had to raise taxes again (with the pain concentrated on lower-income residents).

Why, then, all the boasting about growth? The short answer, surely, is that it’s mainly about finding ways to sell tax cuts for the wealthy. Such cuts are unpopular in and of themselves, and even more so if, like the Kansas tax cuts for businesses and the affluent, they must be paid for with higher taxes on working families and/or cuts in popular government programs. Yet low taxes on the rich are an overriding policy priority on the right — and promises of growth miracles let conservatives claim that everyone will benefit from trickle-down, and maybe even that tax cuts will pay for themselves.

There is, of course, a term for basing a national program on this kind of self-serving (and plutocrat-serving) wishful thinking. Way back in 1980, George H.W. Bush, running against Reagan for the presidential nomination, famously called it “voodoo economic policy.” And while Reaganolatry is now obligatory in the G.O.P., the truth is that he was right.

So what does it say about the state of the party that Mr. Bush’s son — often portrayed as the moderate, reasonable member of the family — has chosen to make himself a high priest of voodoo economics? Nothing good.


By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, June 19, 2015

June 21, 2015 Posted by | Economic Growth, Economic Recovery, Jeb Bush | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“After Charleston Massacre, Uneasiness For Black Churchgoers”: This Sunday, I’ll Be Keeping An Eye On The Front Door

The Black Church is one of the most welcoming places on Earth. The Black Church will take you in when others turn their backs, doors are locked in your face, and no one else seems to want you around.

So when a white person enters a Black house of worship and quietly takes a seat, that person is immediately accepted as someone seeking God or, at least, as a person curious about what’s going on inside that particular church.

Either way, African-American worshipers are expected to make room, and provide a seat in the pews, or at the table, or wherever the gathering is taking place.

That’s the way it is and it has always been.

What’s more, and it’s not said aloud, we are glad when a white person decides to join us in fellowship to worship the same God since, on so many other occasions they find reasons to keep us at a distance.

But as a result of the slaughter at Mother Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, at this coming Sunday’s worship services, things may be a little different.

Oh, the choir will give voice in song, and the preacher will teach and preach from the Gospel. The ushers will pass the plates, and the doors of the church will be opened to all who have not entered and joined as members before.

But this weekend, something else will enter the minds of even the most loving, forgiving, all-embracing congregants.

That white face that we have never seen before, that man who nods but doesn’t seem to warm up to the people around him? This question will enter the mind: Could that individual be a Charleston copy cat? Could he be a visitor with the same white-hot, anti-black fury burning within him as that within Dylann Roof, who, with his gun, ended the God-given life of nine souls?

I am a member of a predominately African American church-St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Foggy Bottom here in Washington. It’s one of the oldest black churches in our nation’s capital.

This weekend, I will join my rector and fellow congregants in prayer for the nation, for the people of Charleston, and my family and fellow worshipers.

But this Sunday, as God is my witness, I’ll be keeping an eye on the front door.


By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 19, 2015

June 21, 2015 Posted by | African Americans, Black Churches, Emanuel AME Church | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Does Jeb Bush Know Anything?”: There’s Something A Little Odd About Running A “Who’s To Say?” Campaign

Jeb Bush has worked in politics for 35 years, and has been a potential presidential candidate for at least 10, but there’s still so much he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know what’s causing climate change. He doesn’t know whether the Iraq war was a good idea. He doesn’t know if a racist shot up a church because black people were in there. There’s something a little odd about running a “Who’s to say?” campaign for a job that by definition answers that question with “me.”

On Friday, Bush said of the Charleston church shooting, “I don’t know what was on the mind or the heart of the man who committed these atrocious crimes. But I do know what was in the heart of the victims.” We don’t have all the facts about this terrible crime. But the alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, appears to be an open book. He wore the flags of the racist governments of Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa. He used racial slurs. He said he wanted to start a “civil war.” So while Jeb is technically right that you can never know exactly what’s in another person’s head at any moment, there’s enough evidence of Roof’s motivations to hazard a guess. But not Jeb, not even when a Huffington Post reporter caught him in a hallway and pressed him on the question:

Huffington Post: Mr Bush do you believe the shooting was racially motivated?

Bush: It was a horrific act and I don’t know what the background of it is, but it was an act of hatred.

Huffington Post: No racially motivated?

Bush: I don’t know! Looks like to me it was, but we’ll find out all the information. It’s clear it was an act of raw hatred, for sure. Nine people lost their lives, and they were African-American. You can judge what it is.

You can judge, just please don’t make Jeb Bush do it!

In many cases, admitting your own ignorance is an act of bravery. For Jeb Bush, it’s probably the opposite. Today’s Republican presidential candidate has to take conservative positions to win the nomination and then, just a few months later, moderate them to appeal to swing voters. So you could imagine he might see an advantage in a different tactic: claiming you just don’t know what to think in the primary and then come to an understanding in the general.

Whatever the reason, “I don’t know” is one of Bush’s favorite phrases. Here are some of the many things he should probably know about but doesn’t.

On whether the federal government should enforce laws against marijuana in states that have legalized it:

“In medical marijuana states? I don’t know. I’d have to sort that out.” – August 15, 2014.

On whether man is causing climate change:

“I’m a skeptic. I’m not a scientist. I think the science has been politicized.” – July 8, 2009.

“I don’t think anybody truly knows what percentage of this is man-made and which percentage is just the natural evolution of what happens over time on this planet.” – May 21, 2015.

On whether he would have invaded Iraq, knowing what we know now:

“Yeah, I don’t know what that decision would have been, that’s a hypothetical.” – May 12, 2015

On whether “religious freedom laws” that allow discrimination against gays are a good thing:

“I don’t know about the law, but religious freedom is a serious issue, and it’s increasingly so, and I think people that act on their conscience shouldn’t be discriminated against, for sure.” – March 19, 2015.

On whether the Florida legislature should compromise and accept the Medicaid expansion:

“I don’t know. That’s their job, frankly. Expanding Medicaid without reforming it is not going to solve our problems over the long run.” – April 16, 2015.

On whether Hillary Clinton should turn over the private server that stored her State Department emails:

“I don’t know. I don’t know what the laws are. I think being clear and transparent in a world of deep disaffection where people don’t trust folks is the right thing to do.” – March 26, 2015.

On a potential Sarah Palin presidential candidacy:

“I don’t know what her deal is.” – February 24, 2010.

On the quality of his own potential candidacy:

“I have no clue if I’d be a good candidate, I hope I would be.” – December 14, 2014.

On the quality of his own potential presidency:

“I think I could serve well as president, to be honest with you. But I don’t know that either.” – December 14, 2014.


By: Elspeth Reeve, Senior Editor, The New Republic, June 19, 2015

June 21, 2015 Posted by | Charleston SC Shootings, GOP Primaries, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Yes, It’s The Guns”: Charleston Is More Proof America Needs To Fix Its Shameful Gun Laws

Hillary Clinton is right. As she told Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston last night in response to his question about taking action after Charleston, “Let’s just cut to the chase. It’s guns.”

Damn right, it’s the guns. In Newtown and Oak Creek and Aurora and Charleston and Columbine. In churches and schools and movie theaters and hospitals and police stations. In homes where one-year-old Braylon Robinson was accidentally shot to death by a 3 year old. In a nation where 300 million guns result in a mass shooting every two weeks.

And in an historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, called Mother Emanuel, where worshipers took a diffident stranger into their midst in Jesus’ name to pray with them. And he killed them for their kindness and the color of their skin.

Other countries have virulent racists and the mentally unbalanced. We’re the only developed country with unfettered access to deadly weapons and an unwillingness to do anything about it nationally. Australia enacted strict gun laws after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. Both gun homicides and gun suicides declined sharply, and they haven’t had a mass shooting since.

After Aurora, Colorado was one of the few states to pass gun safety laws. Colorado State Rep. Rhonda Fields, whose own son, Javad Marshall Fields, was shot to death in 2005, sponsored the background checks bill. Anyone who doubts the racism of gun nuts didn’t see her email or the #copolitics Twitter feed during those votes. The barrage of vileness directed at the Colorado women legislators who sponsored the bills, including explicit threats of sexual and physical violence, are something I’ll never forget or forgive.

Victim families from three different massacres – Columbine, Aurora and Newtown – helped get Colorado’s gun laws passed. Arapahoe County Coroner Mike Doberson, whose office received victims from two of them, concluded simply, “Please pass these bills. I’m tired of taking bullets out of kids.”

Three state legislators lost their seats over Colorado’s attempt at sanity – two by recall, one by resignation. And every year, Colorado Republicans have attempted to overturn the laws.

Jane Dougherty is a bridal alterations consultant in Littleton, Colorado. Her older sister Mary Sherlach was murdered at Sandy Hook, after running at the gunman to protect the children. So for the two springs since, as the days of March and April warm to the weddings of June, Jane has returned to the legislature to fight for the laws she helped pass in Mary’s name. She calls it “guns and brides season.”

As the president has pointed out, it is shameful that federal legislators lack the courage to do the same. How are former Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., feeling about voting against gun reform measures these days? Pryor voted against background checks in a vain hope of saving his seat. The NRA spent $1.3 million in ads against him anyway. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., lost too, but at least one of her parting gifts was voting the right way. Republicans are utterly worthless on the issue.

I’m all for love and peace and tears and atonement, anger and grief in equal measure. I’m also for passing some serious gun control laws and telling members of the NRA what they can go do with themselves. Dear public officials: There’s a side. Pick one. Because it’s the damn guns.


By: Laura K. Chapin, U. S. News and Wrold Report, June 19, 2015

June 21, 2015 Posted by | Emanuel AME Church, Gun Violence, Mass Shootings | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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