HERITAGE, HATE AND THE LIBERTY PLACE OBELISK

I’m not sure where I stand on the removal of monuments celebrating the “Lost Cause” mentality of the War for Southern Independence…well I guess I am sure. People have pontificated about the removal of monuments as being paramount to removing history itself. I doubt it. Jefferson Davis is still going to be the only president, ever, of the former Confederacy, Robert E. Lee, it’s most noted general and P. G. T. Beauregard, the commander of Confederate forces who first fired upon Fort Sumter, regardless of what monuments are removed. Southern history will remain, including Southern history contained within the pesky primary documents written prior to 1866. I view the dismantling of later memorials as removing the CELEBRATION of certain histories not removing the history itself. I view the Liberty Place obelisk, recently dismantled and removed from Iberville Street in New Orleans, as one of those monuments which should be hidden from sight…except for those who WISH to see it in a museum somewhere…and yes it should be treated with the respect it deserves.

We Southerners WILL continue to wage war defending our heritage, but the monument celebrating “The Battle of Liberty Place” had LITTLE to do with our late great, great grands attempting to stem the tide of a Federal invasion in 1861. Rather, the obelisk had everything to do with the memorialization of white supremacist attempting to disenfranchise one group and re-establish a government run by and for whites just before the end of Reconstruction. The original inscription, added by the City of New Orleans in 1932, leaves little confusion as to why the 1874 battle was fought. An all-white militia, made up of members of the Crescent City White League, fought a pitched battle against racially diverse metropolitan police for control of the city of New Orleans. The inscription stated, before being covered later, the battle was fought for the “overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers” and that “the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.” No confusion at all.

With the Compromise of 1877, Reconstruction ended and Federal troops marched out of Southern states leaving the Redeemers to usher in constitutional changes reflecting their beliefs; disenfranchisement, Jim Crow and placing whites back on the top of the pyramidal pecking order. It was not only true in Louisiana but true in most, if not all, Southern states after President Hayes ended Reconstruction as part of a backroom political deal even modern Americans should be familiar with. This is a part of OUR Southern heritage and it too should not be erased…or ignored.

MY DIFFICULTY with monuments which praise of our Confederate forefathers, including the Battle Flag, has much to do with the other side of the coin. If we embrace our heritage, do we not have to recognize the other side of the argument? I read posts from many ardent supporters of Southern heritage espousing the “need for some people to just move on.” Isn’t “moving some people along”, while wrapping ourselves in the Confederate Battle Flag and lamenting the removal of memorials such as the obelisk, a bit hypocritical? Shouldn’t we just come out and say, “Our glorious heritage is MUCH more important than the pain YOUR forefathers experienced?” If we are going to own one side of the coin, do we not own the other?

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DONALD TRUMP RACIST? QUIT IT! HE’S NOT THE PROBLEM!

Countless people are pointing a finger, no not that finger…ok maybe that finger…. Starting over, countless people are pointing out the racism seemingly enabled by President-Elect Donald Trump. Nine hundred documented examples of hate crimes have occurred since his election. Some people seem to believe somehow, this one man is responsible for it all. I also heard a similar argument regarding our lame duck executive, President Obama. “We are more racist now than ever” resounded through my social media accounts. Remember the old quote, “When you point your finger at someone, three fingers are pointing back at you?” I’m sure you do.

I believe both arguments are misplaced. I don’t know when the concepts of racism, anti-Semitism, bigotry, or any other -ism or -phobia de jure came into being. They may well have been around since a Neanderthal looked at a Cro-Magnon and said “Hey man you are different.” Yes, Neanderthals had a language and could have said such although I’m sure we would have needed a translator.

I believe our bigotry, anti-Semitism, etc., etc., etc., were just covered up in the same way that a person might add a layer of fresh kitty litter to a soiled cat box. Everything appears well, might even smell well…until your favorite feline steps in and begins to cover up its leavings. The more it tries to cover, the more the unsavory stuff gets uncovered. When Felix gives up, nobody is happy including the cat.

Our racism, bigotry, etc., etc., etc. simply got uncovered. It had been just under the surface waiting to be exposed to the light of day. No amount of legislation or executive action can actually bury it until those three fingers point in some other direction. We must want to change and some of us have tried. The problem is, when the litter box gets uncovered, even those of us who are not overtly racist, anti-Semitic, etc., etc. etc., suddenly feel the need to defend ourselves with statements like “Some of my best friends are (fill in the blank)” or “People just need to let go of (fill in the blank)”

Just because we have a few (fill in the blank) friends doesn’t mean we are not part of the problem, so just quit trying to deflect from the problem and quit pointing fingers at Donald Trump. Our country has been anti-whatever since before we were a country. Until we actually believe, deep in our hearts, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, all men (women and those unsure) are created equal” it really doesn’t matter who is in the White House. We should worry about the cleanliness of our own home (hearts) before we point out another needs cleaning.

More of Don Miller’s misplaced rantings maybe accessed at http://goo.gl/lomuQf

EVERYONE SUCKS 2016

My brother put a campaign poster in his front yard, EVERYBODY SUCKS 2016. According to him, and I believe him, a Trump supporter left a letter suggesting that since he was so disgruntled he might consider “moving to Uganda.” I am unsure of why Uganda? If life gets so bad in these United States I am probably not going to pick a corrupt, violent and land locked country in Africa. I would just take my chances and stay put in my little piece of heaven that is landlocked in the corrupt and violent nation of the United States or move to a country with a lot of coastline, sea breezes, dark rum AND scantily clad beach bunnies.

I find my brother interesting. More than I would ever admit to him personally so don’t dare let him know I said such a thing. He tends to be irreverent, infuriating and refuses to admit that he is probably as much a SOCIAL liberal as his older brother. Well, nearly. I am probably closer to some of his conservative ideas than I would EVER admit to. Despite this fact, there is STILL plenty for us to disagree upon. This is not one of THOSE disagreements however…yet. It may become one.

“If you are unhappy with the US just leave” seems to be the patriotic “cover all” when someone uses their First Amendment rights to suggest that there might be a “fly in the soup” that is the United States. I’ve seen it directed toward Colin Kaepernick and any other athlete who dared to kneel during the National Anthem, toward BLM protesters in general, Muslims citizens or refugees, gay and lesbians, transgender, anyone who mentions gun control, even entertainers, etc. AND NOW MY BROTHER. It is beginning to look like a very crowded pool…and I don’t mean gene pool.

For some reason “If you are unhappy with the US just leave” reminded me of another “patriotic” quote I heard a lot during my childhood and teen years in the Fifties and Sixties. “My Country Right or Wrong.” Anyone of my age remember that? I have an idea I learned of it during a civics class or as I like to think of it “Cold War Propaganda 101.” It became the mantra of our jingoism or extreme patriotism and is originally attributed to Steven Decater of USS Philadelphia fame during the First Barbary War. Carl Schurz (a German revolutionary, American statesman and reformer, U.S. Minister to Spain, Union Army General in the American Civil War, Secretary of the Interior, accomplished journalist, newspaper editor and orator, who in 1869 became the first German-born American elected to the United States Senate) is responsible for another similar quote that I am much more comfortable with. “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

I would guess my brother’s anonymous letter leaver probably prefers the Steven Decater version. I find saying that My Country, right or wrong,” is somewhat like saying “My Mother, drunk or sober” and I just can’t see my mother drunk. I would think a sober country would be in all our best interest, setting wrongs right rather than suggesting dissenting folk just leave. What would happen if our potential Albert Einsteins, Enrico Fermis or Joseph Conrads decided to take us up on our suggestion, much like the real ones did when faced with the Nazi takeover of Germany. Do we want some of our best just to leave? Remember the only difference between our nuclear program and the Soviet nuclear program were our German scientist. (By the way, you should not take that as a reference to Godwin’s Law)

When I viewed my country during my youth I saw us “wearing white hats,” the cavalry coming to the rescue in the nick of time. As I have gotten older, and hopefully wiser, I have found that not to be true. I still love my country and believe it has done great things despite some bad intentions. I still hold out hope we can unite to do GREATER things for the BEST of intentions…yet.

For more subtle humor by Don Miller visit his author’s page at http://goo.gl/lomuQf

VOICES

If I go missing interrogate the squirrels, they are gathering nuts for the winter

Allow me the illusion that I am not crazy…rephrase…allow me the illusion I am not insane. I am crazy but not to the point of tearing wings off of flies, wearing tin foil hats or using those last words “Hey y’all watch this.” I’m more like Jimmy Buffett’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, if we weren’t all crazy we’d all go insane” crazy. However, I do hear voices and am crazy enough to believe they are attempting to tell me something…possibly something important. It has grown quite crowded in my head lately as a chorus of voices attempt to lead me down a path that is on the straight and narrow…or not.

The voices I hear are usually having some type of debate…or an argument may be a better description. I am reminded of the angel and devil from Animal House or maybe the food fight. Yes, more like dozens of angels and devils throwing food at each other while they debate the eternal damnation of my soul. A chorus of former acquaintances metaphorically yelling “F@#$ her, F@#$ her brains out,” followed by the chorus of former dead church members, led by the angelic voice of my mother, countering with “Fore shame Donald, I am surprised at you!” All the while, creamed potatoes are flying through the air. Maybe I should rethink that statement about insanity.
For the last few days my voices have sounded like shrill blue jays having such a particularly raucous squabble, my ear buds and running can’t seem to drown them out. Usually running will drown out everything except the pain of my running.

These are depressing voices…trying to pull me down by taking advantage of my predisposition toward depression. Voices heralding the end of the world, protest, death… disrespect. For some reason Stephen Stills voice reverberates with the words from “For What It’s Worth,” …” Paranoia strikes deep, Into your life it will creep, It starts when you’re always afraid, You step out of line, the man come and take you away.” A voice I can’t recognize points out, “Maybe the world hasn’t changed that much, maybe we are still protesting the same things. Maybe this is a never ending film loop. Maybe….” Other voices try and shout him down point out how fine things were until President Obama opened up a Pandora’s Box full of racism and somehow created ISIS.

I wonder about the order of issues bellowed out by my voices; end of the world, protest, death…disrespect. Another voice is now asking if a lack of respect for ourselves is the underlying culprit. Yet another is shouting “No it is the devaluation of life…if there is a lack of respect it is for the sanctity of life…my life and the lives of those I love.” More cacophony of dissonance…or is it? My angel and devil have now some taken on the persona of our presidential candidates…except I don’t know which is which, angel or devil.

It is a beautiful Sunday morning for a walk and run but I worry my voices will ruin it for me. Despite my trepidation I push on. My exertions seem to have quieted the voices. They became quieter and quieter as I ran along. While not in unison, as the quiet themselves they all began to ask the same question, a simple one-word question…” Why?” Their silence now worries me more than their question. Could it be their silence is an admission that there is no answer to the question?

For more unique life stories by Don Miller visit his author’s page at http://goo.gl/lomuQf

DISSENT AND WHY?

In a previous blog I presented the post REPUGNANT. I am not going to repost it but it’s still there if you would like to read it. I did write the following and I quote…should one quote themselves? Anyway…

“The United States has a long tradition of protest. It actually dates back to before the United States was the United States. Anyone remember the Boston Massacre? It began as a protest by a group of people who believed an unjust government and its “minions” was marginalizing them. Granted the protest probably began with one or five too many drinks at a local tavern but it escalated to the hurling of insults and snowballs (maybe rocks too) at British Redcoats guarding the Customs House on Kings Street in Boston. It ended with five dead colonists and was heavily used as propaganda by the likes of Paul Revere and Samuel Adams. In a “no matter how much things change, they remain the same” moment, six of the soldiers were acquitted of their “crimes” and two others were given light sentences. Five dead colonist along with six wounded didn’t seem to amount to much.”

I now ask the question why did we protest? The answer is easy because we all have 20/20 hindsight and the benefit of great teachers and texts…well hopefully. Since we all know why I won’t waste time repeating it and simply go on to the point of this essay, DISSENT AND WHY?

Much has been written, posted, telegraphed or smoke signaled about Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful dissent along with certain allies’ such as Megan Rapinoe and a lot of it ain’t been good…and I guess that would depend on which side of the argument you are on. I don’t have an opinion; I just want to find answers to questions like why do Colin and Megan feel the need to dissent, would our Founding Father’s not also be proud of their protest since our Founding Fathers are responsible for our having the old First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech placed in the constitution, and why whenever a person of color, Muslim, transgender, lesbian, gay or three-eyed green alien with antenna dissents, the overwhelming suggestion is “If you ain’t happy here why don’t you leave?”

Dissent involving patriotism or the flag has never been popular, just ask John Carlos, Tommie Smith and Muhammad Ali…or the thousands of Viet Nam War protesters. But they had real reasons to protest, right? Old Number Seven makes millions, has adopted white parents, blah, blah, blah. I posed the question to a friend of color and he answered my question with a question and this is his quote not mine. “Do you know the difference between a rich n!@@#$ and a n!@@#$?” After pondering what I thought was a trick question I answered, “Money?” He was quick to respond “No, there is no difference. A rich n!@@#$ is just a n!@@#$ to some folk.” I will just throw out a question for you to ponder, “Why is that?”

The second question is a slam dunk. Our Founding Fathers are spinning with glee in their graves…well maybe. If I remember my history courses focusing on the period before our biggest example of dissent, The Civil War, The War Between the States, The War of Northern Aggression or The War of Southern Independence…see we still can’t agree and neither could our Founding Fathers, but they knew how to compromise…well except for the Burr-Hamilton duel. Again dissent used to be a good thing…well except for Alexander Hamilton.

The third question deals with the pitfalls of social media I hope. There seems to be a small, what I hope is small, group who wants the fabric of the United States to be the same…as in white. Diversity be damned. My question is why are we not calling them out. What happened to the so-called “Moral Majority” because I believe such suggestions to be immoral! We should be able to disagree without the suggestion that we should just leave. During my first year of teaching in 1973 our black assistant principal was disciplining one of our white students. This period was just three years after forced desegregation and people were still…a…bit…irritated. When the discipline was administered, the young man expressed his displeasure with her by stating, “I wish you’d go back to ‘whare’ you ‘come’ from!” She replied, “Why do you want me to go back to Greenwood?” The young man was silent…and I just don’t think he meant anywhere in the United States.

Dissent creates conversation…and hopefully THOUGHT! It should create an open dialogue for most of us. It should provide an opportunity to study and learn. None of us are perfect nor is the United States. Instead of “Making the United States Great Again” maybe we should have a little dialogue on how to correct our ills to simply make the United States great period.

No I am not moving back to Indian Land because you disagree with me. Again don’t just disagree, ponder why we disagree.

For more unique outlooks on life by Don Miller visit his author’s page at http://goo.gl/lomuQf