Tuesday Reads: A New Civil War?

Good Morning!!

This morning I’m feeling an overwhelming sadness at what is happening to our country. I’m not at all knowledgeable about Civil War history, and now I feel I should learn more about it. It feels to me as if that long ago conflict is still going on and may never end.

Trump is only a symptom of the festering evil of racism that has haunted the U.S. since before it existed. Our “republic” was built on a foundation of slavery and the slaughter of Native Americans. How can we ever cleanse that evil from the nbational bloodstream?

Josh Marshall has a fine piece on this tortured history and how it relates to the confederate statues that are just beginning to be taken down:  Thoughts on Public Memory. He begins be discussing the mixed history of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence and at the same time owned slaves, one of whom was forced to bear his children. But what about Robert E. Lee? What public acts could mitigate his role in trying to protect slavery?

Lee is known for one thing: being the key military leader in a violent rebellion against the United States and leading that rebellion to protect slavery. That’s it. Absent his decision to participate in the rebellion he’d be all but unknown to history. He outlived the war by only five years. There’s simply no positive side of the ledger to make it a tough call. The only logic to honoring Lee is to honor treason and treason in the worst possible cause.

Lincoln and his war cabinet had little question what Lee deserved. Look at Arlington National Cemetery. That’s Lee’s plantation. The federal government confiscated it and dedicated it as a final resting place for those who died defending the United States. It is a solemn, poetically rich, final and ultimately righteous verdict on his role in our national life. The entire project was very much by design: to punish Lee and shame him in public memory for betraying the United States. (During the Civil War, a Freedman’s Village was also established on the estate for ex-slaves making their transition to freedom.) The generals, particularly Union Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs who spearheaded the effort, wanted to be certain the Lees would never be able to reclaim their estate. Making it into a hallowed national cemetery was a good way to accomplish that.

I didn’t even know that.

What is little discussed today is that the North and the South made a tacit bargain in the years after the Civil War to valorize Southern generals as a way to salve the sting of Southern defeat and provide a cultural and political basis for uniting the country with more than military force. That meant the abandonment of free blacks in the South after the mid-1870s. It is important to see this not only as the abandonment of the ex-slaves of the South. It is difficult to pull away the subsequent history to realize that it was entirely possible in the aftermath of the Civil War that the US would be condemned to perpetual warfare, insurrection and foreign intervention. But if the opposite, the United States that went on to become a global superpower, is what was gained it was gained at a terrible price and a price paid more or less solely by black citizens.

However one judges that past, knowing its full history leaves no reason or rationale for continue the valorization of Lee. He was a traitor and a traitor in a terrible cause. That is his only mark on American history. Whether he was a personal gentle man, nice to his pets or a decent field general hardly matters.

Even this though leaves the full squalidness of Lee’s legacy not quite told. There is the Lee of the Civil War and then the mythic Lee of later decades. Today the battle over Lee’s legacy is mainly played out over the various statues of Lee which still stand across the South. The notional focus on this weekend’s tragic events in Charlottesville was a protest over plans to remove a Lee statue. But those statues don’t date to the Civil War, the years just after the Civil War. In most cases they date to decades later.

I can’t do Marshall’s article justice with excerpts. Please go read the whole thing at Talking Points Memo.

At the New Yorker, Robin Write asks: Is American Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?

A day after the brawling and racist brutality and deaths in Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe asked, “How did we get to this place?” The more relevant question after Charlottesville—and other deadly episodes in Ferguson, Charleston, Dallas, Saint Paul, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, and Alexandria—is where the United States is headed. How fragile is the union, our republic, and a country that has long been considered the world’s most stable democracy? The dangers are now bigger than the collective episodes of violence. “The radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year than in half a century,” the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in February. The organization documents more than nine hundred active (and growing) hate groups in the United States.

America’s stability is increasingly an undercurrent in political discourse. Earlier this year, I began a conversation with Keith Mines about America’s turmoil. Mines has spent his career—in the U.S. Army Special Forces, the United Nations, and now the State Department—navigating civil wars in other countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan. He returned to Washington after sixteen years to find conditions that he had seen nurture conflict abroad now visible at home. It haunts him. In March, Mines was one of several national-security experts whom Foreign Policyaskedto evaluate the risks of a second civil war—with percentages. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years. Other experts’ predictions ranged from five per cent to ninety-five per cent. The sobering consensus was thirty-five per cent. And that was five months before Charlottesville.

“We keep saying, ‘It can’t happen here,’ but then, holy smokes, it can,” Mines told me after we talked, on Sunday, about Charlottesville. The pattern of civil strife has evolved worldwide over the past sixty years. Today, few civil wars involve pitched battles from trenches along neat geographic front lines. Many are low-intensity conflicts with episodic violence in constantly moving locales. Mines’s definition of a civil war is large-scale violence that includes a rejection of traditional political authority and requires the National Guard to deal with it. On Saturday, McAuliffe put the National Guard on alert and declared a state of emergency.

Based on his experience in civil wars on three continents, Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction: entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution; increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows; weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary; a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.

President Trump “modeled violence as a way to advance politically and validated bullying during and after the campaign,” Mines wrote in Foreign Policy. “Judging from recent events the left is now fully on board with this,” he continued, citing anarchists in anti-globalization riots as one of several flashpoints. “It is like 1859, everyone is mad about something and everyone has a gun.”

Again, I hope you’ll continue reading at the New Yorker link.

Can racism ever be defeated or can it only be suppressed?

Catherine Rampell at The Washington Post: Trump’s lasting legacy is to embolden an entirely new generation of racists.

If there was one silver lining to President Trump’s election, it was supposed to be this: Those who voted for Trump because of, rather than despite, his demonization of Muslims and Hispanics; who fear a “majority minority” America; and who wax nostalgic for the Jim Crow era were mostly old white people.

Which meant they and their abhorrent prejudices would soon pass on — and be replaced by generations of younger, more racially enlightened Americans.

The white nationalist rally this past weekend in Charlottesville clearly proves this to be a myth. Racist grandpas may be dying out, but their bigotry is regenerating in today’s youths.

Yes, there were swastika-tattooed, Ku Klux Klan-hooded 50-somethings on the streets of Charlottesville. The most chilling photos, however, show hordes of torch-bearing, fresh-faced, “fashy”-coiffed white men in their teens and 20s….

The public faces of the white supremacist “alt-right” movement are likewise skewing younger. David Duke is still around, but as a charismatic figurehead he has mostly been displaced by the likes of 39-year-old Richard Spencer, 26-year-old Matthew Heimbach and 29-year-old Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet.

These are not people whose backwardness we can write off as an unfortunate product of their time.

That is, we’re not talking about young white Americans whose happy formative years took place in a world with (de jure) school segregation, redlining, anti-miscegenation laws and phrenology.

If any had family who fought for the Confederacy, they’ve been dead for at least a century. No one is telling them about the good ol’ days on the plantation.

One more from the Washington Post before I have to rush off to a doctor’s appointment: Why are people still racist? What science says about America’s race problem.

Torch-bearing white supremacists shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans. Protesters and counter protesters colliding with violence and chaos. A car driven by a known Nazi sympathizer mowing down a crowd of activists.

Many Americans responded to this weekend’s violence in Charlottesville with disbelieving horror. How could this happen in America, in 2017? “This is not who we are,” said Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D).

And yet, this is who we are.

Amid our modern clashes, researchers in psychology, sociology and neurology have been studying the roots of racism. We draw on that research and asked two scientists to explain why people feel and act this way toward each other.

Read what science shows at the link.

The illustrations in this post are from the rallies in Charlottesville.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

Please visit website for more.

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57 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: A New Civil War?”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    One question that has never been examined is how history is viewed so differently between the northern and southern states.

    Enlightened people understand the horror that was slaveholding and how a civil war had to take place because those “owning” slaves were not about to voluntarily give them up.

    Two hundred years later the southern half of our nation is still fighting a war with the other half over this intolerable issue. Unbelievable that those grievances still live on in the year 2017. How does an “enlightened” person justify this thinking and behavior?

    The “south was lost” due to voting rights in 1964. Simple humanity was ignored and lives were again lost because of voting registration. Freedom fighters were beaten and murdered and not that long ago. Martin Luther King was shot dead on a hotel balcony. John Lewis among others was brutally assaulted for no other reason except for the color of his skin. Bull Conner unleashed dogs on marchers who merely wanted to secure their right to vote.

    Most of these displays of hate erupted in the south. In broad daylight and in front of television cameras. Why has this region, supposedly part of the United States of America, continues to wallow in grievance of what “they lost”?

    A person with half a brain would rightly condemn slavery and the abuse of people of color.

    I guess it would be safe to say that the people condoning these obscenities fail to possess the intelligence needed to accept the theory that all are created equal regardless of who they are and where they live.

    A sorrowful day in our nation’s history.

    • palhart says:

      Pat, the South is not re-fighting the Civil War. All the haters weren’t southerners; the car driver was from Ohio and a North Dakota family has disowned their son for his participation over the weekend. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not let the North off in its racism. My city in 1970 was the national example as to a southern community successfully integrating its school system. Since then we have had 2 black mayors, There was a peaceful protest against the Charlottesville racial hate groups over the weekend in one of our downtown parks.

      Trump, the stoker of these racial flames, is not a southerner. Republicans re-lit these fires decades ago to win elections. I’m not clouding over the racial problems that rupture here from time to time. Actually from the SPLC map, the hate groups pop up predominately from the east coast to the mid-westt. The haters’ shouts did not include the South shall rise again, but we will not be replaced, blood and soil, etc. The haters will use the South as a springboard, but their display of racism is a national problem that would hardly have had a punch if they had protested in Idaho, which falls in the top ten states of high numbers of hate groups.

      • palhart says:

        I am using the MSN,”10 States With the Most Hate Groups”, which lists the states as to the number of hate groups per million (pop.). 7 are southern states, but the second is Idaho and the first is Montana. 10th is Indiana, Mike Pence.

        • Fannie says:

          That’s want I read too. Idaho has a hell of a history. Many racists have come here, saying they come to be free and hunt. They come here to stir the pot up, just like all the others. We had a lawyer who was handling a case, and he was black. What did she do, started whistling Dixie in the middle of his trial. We had white students who assaulted a black student with a coat hanger, and they said it was an accident. I hear to tell you, many police officers retired and live up North……….looks like they are part of the numbers of growing haters moving in.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      Whenever I see a “South Will Rise Again” bumper sticker or anything similar, I wish I had a bumper sticker that says:
      From: North
      To: South

      “Don’t make us come back down there!”

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The Hill: Justice demands 1.3M IP addresses related to Trump resistance site

    The Department of Justice has requested information on visitors to a website used to organize protests against President Trump, the Los Angeles-based Dreamhost said in a blog post published on Monday.

    Dreamhost, a web hosting provider, said that it has been working with the Department of Justice for several months on the request, which believes goes too far under the Constitution.

    DreamHost claimed that the complying with the request from the Justice Department would amount to handing over roughly 1.3 million visitor IP addresses to the government, in addition to contact information, email content and photos of thousands of visitors to the website, which was involved in organizing protests against Trump on Inauguration Day.

    “That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” DreamHost wrote in the blog post on Monday. “That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”

  3. dakinikat says:

    I’m just so tired of all the stuff Trump has dredged up in this country. It’s like he summons demons and monsters.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      He is the epitome of an “empty vessel” with no core principles that also brings onboard his overall lack of intelligence.

      Pathetic.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Bob Cesca: It’s a dark moment for America — and our president personally made this possible

    “Donald Trump hasn’t just tolerated this upsurge of fascist violence — he enabled and encouraged it. Now he must go.”

  5. bostonboomer says:

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    • Enheduanna says:

      I see Trumpka is still in and so is the evil Dow Chemical and Lockheed Martin (where I worked as a travel agent floater from American Express decades ago). Even then Lockheed was a miserable place to work and you could tell it was just wingnut welfare.

      Good on all the others who left.

  6. NW Luna says:

    There are times I think I’m handling the horrors of Trump fairly well. Then I realize it’s only a few months, and so much has happened already, and wonder how much more I can manage. And I’m lucky enough to live in a fairly benign part of the U.S.

    That interview with Mines is sobering. I’d not have thought the %s were so high for a civil war. I don’t want to think about Charlottesvilles occurring all over this country.

  7. NW Luna says:

    Thank the deities this was cancelled.

    Texas A&M cancels ‘White Lives Matter’ rally planned for Sept. 11

    …Wiginton, a former Texas A&M student, was not invited by a campus organization, nor had any agreed to sponsor him, the school said. His notification to the press about the event was headlined: “Today Charlottesville Tomorrow Texas A&M,” which A&M noted in its statement.
    ….
    Wiginton said he wanted to hold the event on a day when many students would be on campus, and one that would be easier for non-students to attend. He said the date was not selected because of a connection to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    “Not at all. I consulted with many Millennials,” he said. “And the Millennials don’t really relate to 9/11.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/08/15/texas-am-cancels-white-lives-matter-rally-planned-for-sept-11/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_texasam-8am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.a3ef6ab8861d

  8. quixote says:

    Taking the view from orbit (which I think is what the post is doing by looking at the roots of the hatred?), it’s essential to remember that racism is one of the tumors of this metastatic cancer.

    This nauseatingly antisemitic tweet quoted by Rosenberg — coming from a leftist — shows how the disease is spreading.

    And then there’s the biggest group of all, being tortured and dying in hate crimes in isolation by the dozens every day and rarely even mentioned. If they were mentioned, we’d be a lot clearer on the likely perps of terrorism. (delete space after “h” & copy and paste link to make it work. h ttp://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2017/06/many-terrorists-first-victims-are-their-wives-were-not-allowed-talk-about?amp )

    Unless we actually change the programming at the level of cultural DNA, these horrible and lethal tumors are never going away.

    Mines’ five conditions sound about right to me. Which is depressing because there’s not even one on his list that we could get a handle on in the current climate. But he also left out a big one: fear. It’s the root. And, yes, it can be fear of poverty, the whole “economic anxiety” thing is not totally bogus. But it can be any kind of huge existential fear: loss of status, just plain fear of the unknown, genetically primed brain chemistry to be anxious about everything.

    Some of those can be calmed with nothing but little pills. Some, like the unknown, can change with good information campaigns. Fear of poverty gets less with good social laws.

    None of those fight racism, or any other -ism, directly. But I’m not sure you can ever fight it directly. Any more than cutting out one metastatic tumor does much for a patient.

    • NW Luna says:

      Wow, quixote, very good article.

      What we haven’t talked about, what it feels like we can never talk about, is male violence.

      And now we hear that the monster who killed Heather Heyer threatened and beat up his own mother. Uh-huh. Does not surprise me at all. These R-wing types, even the ones not acting as Nazis in public, are abusing their wives and children in private.

  9. dakinikat says:

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Trump just doubled down on defending nazis and white supremacists. It was ghastly. He has to go. He should resign.

  11. bostonboomer says:

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  12. palhart says:

    2 things: Catherine Rampell, for all her education and awards, comes across as very naive if she thought racial prejudice would pass away when the older white male haters died. The “enlightened” teens and 20 year olds are easily incited on the internet and yearn for notoriety. She also missed Trumps’ dog whistles.

    Trump said on tv this afternoon that the jobs he’s pushing forward will greatly calm the racial unrest (?).

  13. bostonboomer says:

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  14. bostonboomer says:

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  15. dakinikat says:

  16. Fannie says:

    You know, Elaine Chao stood up with him. She was introduced last. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of woman stands up with a man who has been talking dirt about her husband for weeks now? Don’t you think that’s weird? I mean she allows him to fuck around all day long. But then don’t all the republicans let this warped man turn them into knots of hate. Trump went crazy over the fact that they changed the name of the Park from Robert E. Lee, and he couldn’t even mention the current name, which is Emancipation Park. Dammit, they better get this idiot out, he keeps the hate and violence going all the time.

  17. quixote says:

    So let me get this straight. The Orange Mess had some kind of press thing and he stressed the “both sides” BS?

    Really?

    It’s that important for him to Do It His Way?

    Kind of funny in a deeply gallows-humor sort of way that this is the one thing he can’t bring himself to lie about.

    • dakinikat says:

      No, he basically said they were all those Nazis and Klansman were just Civil War historian interested in historic preservation and were mostly kind people.

      • quixote says:

        Jeeeeeeesus. And it echoes the lines about somebody or other (Hitler? SS officers?) being kind to their dogs so what was the problem.

        You know the worst of it? Not what he is. It’s been obvious what he is since he first opened his duck mouth on television decades ago. The worst of it is that he still has support.

  18. Pat Johnson says:

    If Kelly had the “balls” he,would resign immediately. A military man who served and defended the nation for decades cannot just stand there hanging did,head in shame.

    Trump is undeserving of any form of loyalty.

  19. dakinikat says:

  20. NW Luna says:

    Poor things are worried about their abilities, so they try to raise themselves by cutting down others.

  21. NW Luna says:

    Could they finally be seeing the reality?

    • Enheduanna says:

      It’s been obvious what he is since he started the birther cr@p, and before that his eugenics and “right genes” interviews. The minute Steve Bannon appeared that was the clincher – it’s been obvious for a long long time. He has a Nazi adviser and an alt-right speech writer!!!!!!!! And the “press” is just now figuring it out?

  22. Enheduanna says:

    This is hilarious:

    http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/millions-willing-to-work-for-mueller-for-free-if-that-would-speed-things-up

    Mueller’s team is getting thousands of resume from people who want to help…

  23. RonStill4Hills says:

    Let’s not take the Washington, Jefferson bait.

    That is another ALT-Right trick, if they can get you arguing about founding father hypocrisy and America’s original sin, whatever evil they are currently up to goes unnoticed.

    The founding fathers is a different discussion for a different time.

    Funny how nobody laments the absence of statues to Benedict Arnold, but R.E. Lee and T.J. Jackson, “Well it’s an outrage! Suh! An outrage!”

    Words games and sophistry. That is the life blood of the New Racism.

    Used-to-was racist could just bully and name-call blacks and jews and latinos, but New Age racists try to disguise there evil in circular logic and other fallacious claptrap.

    They name check Washington and Jefferson hoping to create a “slave holding” diversion on one hand, and also to lead the unwary white person to wonder if the left is out to get revolutionary icons on the other. You see it in internet comments all day everyday.

    It is all a dodge. Trump through Washington under the bus to protect his own backside.

    • quixote says:

      Yeah. It’s the same as the aged ploy of telling women to shut up about not being paid for their work because women in Saudi Arabia have it even worse.

      Except even stupider because can we do anything at all about Washington’s problems? No. Could we do something about our own? Yes. Yes, we could.

    • NW Luna says:

      Funny how nobody laments the absence of statues to Benedict Arnold

      Yes! That’s putting the vile Confederacy “heroes” in the right perspective. Hope you don’t mind — I just tweeted your analogy and credit to you.

  24. Sweet Sue says:

    In tears. Could we have Susan Bro as President. Please?

  25. NW Luna says:

    Hah! Though they were rats leaving a sinking ship.