Archives for posts with tag: Confederacy

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This essay is perhaps best introduced as describing where you WILL NOT find leadership and why. It is in an American historical context with superimposed Native American derived story-telling format; where interrelated metadata is strung together in such a way as to challenge the American expression of the Western cultural assumptions. It will be best understood by (and deliberately presents a challenge to) those fairly competent in the American historical & social context. However this essay might also be of interest to those international readers wishing to explore any of several aspects of the American character development, especially in regards to blind spots and related denial.

On the politics of ‘hope’

“Hope springs eternal” is a cynicism in folk proverb form. Interestingly, in this reporter’s experience, the cynicism has been employed by persons ‘working fingers to the bone’ to right the USA ship of state against very long odds. In such regard, the expression can be seen as a self-lampoon, based on principled action; where one’s devotion to pursue what is correct and honorable for the fact of any and all refusal to compromise ethics is at the core structure of one’s personal state. This person, although certainly not alone in such principled endeavor, is the exception, not the rule.

Insofar as another personality type, one that cynically exploits the ‘hope’ of simple, common people, that is the sociopath in what amounts to an intra-social predator-prey relationship, it is the ‘prey’ most needs examining where ‘leadership’ intersects in relation to “Hope.” This thought is predicated on the fact we have arrived at a place of mass manipulation of humanity on a never before seen scale of propaganda, where leaders are manufactured, whether for selling ‘hope’ or for purpose of color revolution (exploiting hope) inter alia.

“The tremendous expansion of communications in the United States has given this Nation the world’s most penetrating and effective apparatus for the transmission of ideas. Every resident is constantly exposed to the impact of our vast network of communications which reach every corner of the country, no matter how remote or isolated. Words hammer continually at the eyes and ears of America. The United States has become a small room in which a single whisper is magnified thousands of times” -Edward Bernays, ‘The Engineering of Consent’

From Johannes Guttenberg to Marconi to Microsoft Explorer, in just under 600 years, referencing ability to manipulate via a human trait the atheist Richard Dawkins has attempted to explain away as ‘memes’ (a phenomenal order of information sharing that cannot be separated from spirit), the sociopaths’ tools to manipulate have increased in power exponentially.

The most common ‘hope’ (of common people) is a misnomer; it should be better expressed as ‘desire’ that is neither particularly pecuniary nor malignant. It is the desire to have a simple, uncomplicated and meaningful life where one works and is rewarded with a sense of security, within which there should be many small satisfactions that is antithesis of personal empire or the many complications that come with reaching beyond the walls of one’s home and borders of one’s community. This hypothetical person had been (in the modern mythology) described as the ‘salt of the earth’ or it could be said the farmer, the miller, the baker… all respected in small neighborhood with few to none aspiring to affairs of state or sitting in any senate.

Then, the ‘dark side’ of literacy manifest; like a cosmic vomit of goo … ‘freedom’ insists a libertine (not libertarian) corporate neo-feudalism push the little peoples’ face into consumerism until spirit suffocates and all that is sensible seems beyond reach.

It begins with allure and infatuation; the idea “progress” is the inevitable state of humanity, and thus common people are sucked into the machine of mass media where they become consequent debt slaves in actuality, having taken the bait of self-improvement to one’s lot. Perhaps the most cynical example in history of the USA is Blacks persuaded to give up 40 acres and a mule to migrate North and work in a factory where, in a short, subsequent generation or two, capital abandoned those very factories and left these people high and dry, with no marketable skill, and self-sufficiency (personal sovereignty) a mere memory. It was only a short time preceding this event the market crash of 1857 had upended the lives of countless Whites who’d bought ‘the dream’ and their ‘hope’ seen reduced to a ‘great awakening’ that failed (other than to accelerate the economically displaced into involuntary props of “Manifest Destiny”) where a great meme or ‘hope’ inspired of despair was last seen in the Christian ‘revivals’ sweeping the Confederate armies.

Averaging something like seventy and some years, from the American Revolutionary War, to crash and the American Civil War, to crash and World War Two (American history cannot ‘own’ WWI), to impending crash and pending war to save empire, there is yet to be seen a true generation of ‘little people’ allowed fulfillment of any promise surrounding a ‘pursuit of happiness.’ In the end, everything is conscripted, repeatedly.

The opportunities for poisoning the populace via inventions of Guttenberg, Marconi and Microsoft cannot be counted but they can be quantified in a sense of social; simple people desiring only honest opportunity at uncomplicated pursuit of happiness are morphed, via imposed artificial expectations that are in turn exploited for fact of inevitable false result (predicated upon lies), and all of the associated implications, in circumstance where simple, gullible citizens become instinctively fearful for their future and many of these become numb or worse: the violently angry cynic. Behold the Tea Party and whatever will become of the liberal progressive movement repeatedly poisoned by the likes of Barack Obama’s ‘hope’, ‘the burn’ of Sanders and coming politically correct demands (deceits) of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The ‘discovery’ of Dawkins’ (memes) had long been known already in human observation; and shortly (repeatedly) poisoned by Guttenberg’s invention, example given, Generals Lee & Jackson cynical manipulation of the religious tract for morale purpose (spurring on a false spirit or ‘great awakening’) in doomed armies that served little more than to ‘convert’ the Southern soldiers of the USA into a ‘Bible believing’ embittered and bigoted postbellum social atmosphere that became the ‘Jim Crow’ South.

If religion has been historically used to manipulate, there is small contrast when ‘The Enlightenment’ had served little more than to ensnare the common man in a self-deluded trap of personal freedom underwritten by fraud from its’ inception; no different to the farmer cannot be freed from rain, the miller cannot free himself from the farmer, the baker cannot be freed from the miller nor can the cottage industry be freed from the baker. Every living person in the Western culture imagining oneself independent (having failed consideration of these preceding) is exercising nothing more than what had been described in a 2,500 years past observation:

“Their judgment was based more upon blind wishing than upon any sound pre-vision; for it is a habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do not fancy” -Thucydides

Leadership in time of crisis should not underestimate the evil humanity has subjected itself to. To be ‘disillusioned’ should be synonymous to disabused of false notions of ‘hope’ when looking forward to what is possible. The structure humankind has erected, particularly those adopting the Western model, is far removed from realistic understanding of what it means to depend on the rain. When the burden of this structure has reached point of crushing the shopkeeper, and one looks only to discover the shopkeepers support structure is gone missing, in circumstance where the community farmer, the miller and the baker are fast becoming relics of memory, intelligent dismantlement should be a radical focus (prior to collapse.) Without the spine of the community kept intact, and one cannot count on Syngenta & Monsanto to safeguard any one community’s economic sovereignty, let alone any nation’s national security, there is no spine because multinational corporations are not a backbone, rather these resemble an exoskeleton.

Leaders cannot be liars, they do not manipulate the common citizenry away from a healthy community interest and they do not conceal the reality. Religion does these things, whether the religions of science and the Enlightenment or, the Emperor of Rome’s religion of politics shaping Christianity into an instrument of state where the wisdom of the Christian culture’s historical Jesus is buried by the inventions of Paul, drawn from Greek paganism, or more properly, the blood sacrifice ‘mystery religions’ of that era. Jesus cannot save you but given attention, his authentic teachings (e.g. The Sermon on the Mount) can help people to save themselves.

Lastly, leadership in time of crisis is not to be drawn from the model that produced the crisis, that is a model of corporate sociopathy. If there is a true spirit will manifest in the so-called ‘age of liberty’ that had become the sociopaths’ media playground, it must be organic spirit fostering organic intelligence along the lines of a Native American proverb:

“Spirit puts it into the mind of a man, to know what to do”

Disabusing the people of ‘hope’, real leadership will send Guttenberg to hell when pointing community to intelligent dismantlement of existing structures in process of return to self-sufficiency; where endeavors beyond a backbone of rain-farmer-miller-baker-shopkeeper are ultimately unsustainable, particularly those foolhardy ‘pie-in-the-sky’ endeavors that dismantle the spine of a community.

Truth is seldom pure and never simple -Oscar Wilde

I’d tacked the Oscar Wilde quote onto my preceding post on Charlottesville as an afterthought. Then, having thought about Wilde’s maxim, considering his dialect and 19th Century literary period, today he might have rather modified his short statement, in effect, ‘Truth is seldom clean and never simple.’

Since, I’ve read both; Glen Ford’s pointing to the USA founded as a racist state; Trump’s protestations of ‘where does it end’ with removing American monuments; so called ‘scholars‘ disputing Trump’s equating General Lee with General Washington; and finally, I’ve read the letter of Stonewall Jackson’s great, great grandsons, Jack and Warren Christian, natives of Richmond, Virginia.

Prior to my conclusions, allow me to inform you all; I am eligible to belong to the fraternal order “Sons of the Confederate Veterans.” In fact, if they had a ‘noble line’ of descent from the families of the old ‘southern aristocracy’, I would certainly qualify.

According to remote memory, family oral history & genealogy (I had been briefed on these in distant past, and am not intimately familiar with the material), if I recall events correctly, my own great, great grandfather was a casualty of the war, while serving in the Southern military. This orphaned my great grandfather who had been taken in by cousins; these migrated to California some years after the war, I seem to recall from the vicinity of Texarkana, Texas. As a not very interested adolescent, I may have this history transposed and it was an orphaned cousin traveled to California with my ancestor. Either way, I am informed we are somehow related to a Captain Daniel of the 9th Texas artillery or Daniel’s Battery of the Confederacy’s Trans-Mississippi Department, although this last may have no direct bearing on my ancestry, I just don’t know. What I do know is, my great grandfather’s surname was “Daniel” (no ‘s’ at the end of the family’s name) and descended from one of the ‘first’ families of Virginia, or as Wikipedia puts it “a [Virginia] family of old colonial heritage.” In any case, this last is not a distant memory’s conjecture on my part, but had been clear, I’m informed I am descended via a Confederate veteran of the Civil War who was of this ‘Daniel’ family; via my maternal line.

Now, for those unfamiliar with arcane American history, I will give example of this highly educated, southern aristocratic family’s progeny: my relative, the Virginian Peter Vivian Daniel, was author of a concurring opinion in the 1857 decision Dred Scott v Sandford in which he stated:

“the African negro race never have been acknowledged as belonging to the family of nations”

Beyond this seeming remote history (I was in Vietnam when the California branch of the Daniel family held a big reunion, drawing more than 1,000 extended family, mostly educated professionals) I can give up a couple of embarrassing family secrets, one of them pretty bad. If it weren’t bad enough one of my great uncles had been named Forrest, for Nathan Bedford Forrest, whose troops murdered en mass the captured Black Union soldiers at Ft Pillow, one of my great aunts (I had many, so her identity is not in danger) once gave me the original lyric to a certain (in)famous slave auction block ditty or southern nursery rhyme:

Enee, Meany, Miney, Moe
Catch a nigger by the toe
If he hollers
Make him pay
With fifty lashes
Every day

My-mother-told-me-to-choose-the-very-best-one

Fortunately, I was not so deeply immersed in these attitudes to prevent mental escape and, had a wider exposure to our world. Although it never crossed my mind to apply for membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I’d now looked and found lingering influence of a White slant to history, as later I’d read “Lee’s Lieutenants” (several large volumes), a “Robert E Lee Reader” and much more. All of this history has a White slant, regardless of whether the author was a Southern or Northern partisan. I should have read Frederick Douglass but I didn’t. My interest in those days had been primarily martial, not social. What I now understand is, for many, the war and the slave owning South are not exactly remote events. Particularly for Black people with Jim Crow only recently off their back, and, it would seem, for those many Whites who cling to White supremacy as a god-given right to White people.

Going to my amended statement of Oscar Wilde where ‘Truth is seldom clean and never simple”, my take on Trump versus Glen Ford is, both have it right but Ford’s truth is ‘cleaner.’ Trump equates General Lee with General Washington as unequivocal American heroes, whereas Glen Ford equates General Lee with General Washington as racists serving the cause of White supremacy. In the USA founding document, where a ‘negro’ is worth 3/5 of a White Man according to Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution…

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons” (in effect, Black people)

…according to our founding document, Glen Ford has it right. The USA was founded as a racist state based on “White privilege”

This recalls the ‘scholars’, one of whom stated:

[the monuments] “force us to contemplate the centrality of slavery to the making of the nation,” said Gregory Downs, a history professor at the University of California, Davis who studies the impact of the Civil War on the United States. But he also said the difference between the nation’s first president, George Washington, and then [sic] man who sought to secede from the nation, Robert E. Lee, isn’t complicated.

“It is obvious that traitors in arms to the nation are not equivalent to those who created it,” he said”

Pardon me Mr Gregory Downs, but both men sought to perpetrate slavery by the willful acts of their own volition in a civic context. How is a man, General Washington, who sought to found a nation (United States of America) perpetrating slavery, any different than a man, General Lee, who sought to found a nation (Confederate States of America) perpetrating slavery? This is not a case of comparing apples to oranges.

I expect there’d be many who would join a new organization called “Dissident Sons of the Confederacy” or even “Dissident Sons of the Revolution.” Maybe there is some handful of motivated persons out there would be interested to invest in such an endeavor. Perhaps they will stumble across this blog post. Meanwhile, my hat is off to Stonewall Jackson’s great, great grandsons Jack and Warren Christian, and particularly, my hat is off to Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report.

Full text of the letter by Jack and Warren Christian:

Dear Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and members of the Monument Avenue Commission,

We are native Richmonders and also the great-great-grandsons of Stonewall Jackson. As two of the closest living relatives to Stonewall, we are writing today to ask for the removal of his statue, as well as the removal of all Confederate statues from Monument Avenue. They are overt symbols of racism and white supremacy, and the time is long overdue for them to depart from public display. Overnight, Baltimore has seen fit to take this action. Richmond should, too.

In making this request, we wish to express our respect and admiration for Mayor Stoney’s leadership while also strongly disagreeing with his claim that “removal of symbols does [nothing] for telling the actual truth [nor] changes the state and culture of racism in this country today.” In our view, the removal of the Jackson statue and others will necessarily further difficult conversations about racial justice. It will begin to tell the truth of us all coming to our senses.

Last weekend, Charlottesville showed us unequivocally that Confederate statues offer pre-existing iconography for racists. The people who descended on Charlottesville last weekend were there to make a naked show of force for white supremacy. To them, the Robert E. Lee statue is a clear symbol of their hateful ideology. The Confederate statues on Monument Avenue are, too—especially Jackson, who faces north, supposedly as if to continue the fight.

We are writing to say that we understand justice very differently from our grandfather’s grandfather, and we wish to make it clear his statue does not represent us.

Through our upbringing and education, we have learned much about Stonewall Jackson. We have learned about his reluctance to fight and his teaching of Sunday School to enslaved peoples in Lexington, Virginia, a potentially criminal activity at the time. We have learned how thoughtful and loving he was toward his family. But we cannot ignore his decision to own slaves, his decision to go to war for the Confederacy, and, ultimately, the fact that he was a white man fighting on the side of white supremacy.

While we are not ashamed of our great-great-grandfather, we are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer. We are ashamed of the monument.

In fact, instead of lauding Jackson’s violence, we choose to celebrate Stonewall’s sister—our great-great-grandaunt—Laura Jackson Arnold. As an adult Laura became a staunch Unionist and abolitionist. Though she and Stonewall were incredibly close through childhood, she never spoke to Stonewall after his decision to support the Confederacy. We choose to stand on the right side of history with Laura Jackson Arnold.

We are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer. We are ashamed of the monument.

Confederate monuments like the Jackson statue were never intended as benign symbols. Rather, they were the clearly articulated artwork of white supremacy. Among many examples, we can see this plainly if we look at the dedication of a Confederate statue at the University of North Carolina, in which a speaker proclaimed that the Confederate soldier “saved the very life of the Anglo-Saxon race in the South.” Disturbingly, he went on to recount a tale of performing the “pleasing duty” of “horse whipping” a black woman in front of federal soldiers. All over the South, this grotesque message is conveyed by similar monuments. As importantly, this message is clear to today’s avowed white supremacists.

There is also historical evidence that the statues on Monument Avenue were rejected by black Richmonders at the time of their construction. In the 1870s, John Mitchell, a black city councilman, called the monuments a tribute to “blood and treason” and voiced strong opposition to the use of public funds for building them. Speaking about the Lee Memorial, he vowed that there would come a time when African Americans would “be there to take it down.”

Ongoing racial disparities in incarceration, educational attainment, police brutality, hiring practices, access to health care, and, perhaps most starkly, wealth, make it clear that these monuments do not stand somehow outside of history. Racism and white supremacy, which undoubtedly continue today, are neither natural nor inevitable. Rather, they were created in order to justify the unjustifiable, in particular slavery.

One thing that bonds our extended family, besides our common ancestor, is that many have worked, often as clergy and as educators, for justice in their communities. While we do not purport to speak for all of Stonewall’s kin, our sense of justice leads us to believe that removing the Stonewall statue and other monuments should be part of a larger project of actively mending the racial disparities that hundreds of years of white supremacy have wrought. We hope other descendants of Confederate generals will stand with us.

As cities all over the South are realizing now, we are not in need of added context. We are in need of a new context—one in which the statues have been taken down.

Respectfully,
William Jackson Christian
Warren Edmund Christian
Great-great-grandsons of Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson

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