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Before we start, a quick hit.
You’ve seen me agree with and argue against Peter Zeihan many times here. His feel for trends is fascinating. His apologist politics are pretty lame. His 1 Sep message was on the lame side.
He has allowed himself to be caught up in the hype surrounding the Tuberville hold on military promotions. This, while I am sure it is quite annoying to people waiting for their stars, is no threat to the security of the nation. Zeihan calls it the greatest threat.
In a nation with far more 4-star officers than can be justified, a hold on advancement won’t cause anything worse than out-of-joint noses. And it WILL NOT cause security clearances to be withheld. If I am ordered to serve in a position marked for an Admiral and I am a full-bird Captain, I will get all the clearances I need (and likely already have them). I, or the officer permanently designated for the post, just won’t get the corresponding star until this is settled. Any officer who shirks duties because a stripe or star is held up, should resign his commission or be arrested.
The DoD has dug in it’s heels on this while accusing Tuberville of intransigence. Ironically, Tuberville has said he’d be glad to have a vote in the Senate on the question of his “hold”. He would respect any result. Hmmmm. No one will agree to the vote.
And the argument isn’t whether the military should allow pregnant service members travel to have abortions (on demand). It is about PAYING for their travel to get those abortions. This is an anathema to a man like Tuberville and most of his constituents. And he is standing on his convictions, his generous offer to respect a Senate vote not withstanding.
Who is being intransigent? Who is actually holding up those promotions? I suggest you look no further than the Pentagon and the children on Capitol Hill refusing to call a vote.
The Main Event
History is history.
If you try to tailor it, a snip here and a slash there (all for reasons you might think quite defensible) your new narrative is not history. It’s fiction. History does not exist to make everyone feel good about themselves, their country or anything else in our lives.
History simply is. If we ignore it, refuse to see it for what it is - you know the cliche - we will repeat all the mistakes. As unarguably true as that is, we now live in a nation of 12 year olds doomed to forget facts surrounding just about every important event that has come before us.
No surprise there. As demonstrated by the discussion below, too many people, some quite long-in-the-tooth, don’t acknowledge anything that occurred before they were pubescent. Others just supplant their own storybook worldview for the truth.
I’ll open the argument with an example provided by the state of Florida.
After shit canning a garbage curriculum for elementary schools that told all white kids they are little white supremacists and that boys can be girls, Ron DeSantis appointed a board to create a curriculum that was based on factual knowledge to provide the students.
In the history product, an effort headed by a black PhD, there was one line buried deep in the text. It said, basically, that while slaves, some people acquired skills that would serve them well in their new-found freedom.
After combing through the whole program, opponents of the Florida GOP, in an effort to foment hate, chose that tiny hill on which to die.
They blew this one statement up to where you would have thought the entire curriculum project was based on it. The complaints were as ignorant of reality as they were childish.
The meat of the complaint was that the statement was saying slavery was good. To understand how intentionally mendacious this is, one need only read the entire piece and see how slavery is put into its proper moral place. The work teaches, of course, that slavery is repulsive and it catalogs why.
No matter for the Lefty loonies polishing their political resumes. They pounded away at their dishonest message anyway until you heard credulous InstaGram drones making the same claims.
Here are some facts that are as unavoidable to know as hitting the ground is after jumping from a roof.
First, there were slaves who learned many skills other than working crops. Thomas Jefferson’s right arm in the renovation of Monticello was a slave, who if he were alive even today, would be an excellent candidate for project manager, building the finest of houses.1 There were slaves who were ferriers, millers, stores managers, nurses and quite talented cooks.
About all those who were given such responsibility, we know they found themselves in positions that other slaves would have coveted. This does not say slavery is good. This does not say that these people were satisfied with their lot in life. This does not mean slave owners are to be excused. But slaves in these positions did exist.
Second, and equally true is this. At the end of the war, once gaining their freedom, these now free people certainly used the trades they learned to the benefit of themselves and their families. To think other would be to assume they were intrinsically and irretrievably stupid. Such is the nature of the racism of low expectations. Such is the nature of the arguments we’ll address here.
The case in point
Last week, in part one of this series, I reported the pending removal of a monument from Arlington National Cemetery and the disinterment of the soldiers buried there. I said in a civilized society there would be NO TALK of ever doing that to graves, certainly not over the likes of George Floyd.2
And in reality, the people trying to see this callous act through likely never gave a damn about George Floyd. What they do give a damn about is political activism and jobs as consultants for movements or candidates. This is where they can boost their credentials as activists capable of making something out of nothing. Good work if you can find it.
Last week we dealt with the disgusting disinterment question. So let’s pick apart the arguments we hear for taking down the monument. You’ll find they run very close to those of the fallacious harpies we heard from in Florida.
In a bit of impressive mind-reading, and supported by exactly nothing in the sculpture on the monument, we hear people saying that, in his work, the artist was “trying to say” that slavery was good and should be glorified.
There is nothing of the sort depicted anywhere in the piece. This, like other arguments we’ll see here, are words thrown at the art with no foundation in…anything. No truth, no knowledge of history, no knowledge of the artist’s intention, no cue at all from the work.
Slavery existed. That is an unassailable fact. In depicting a Civil War, southern plantation scene, the artist states in no uncertain terms that it existed. This, along with saying the men marched off to war at that time, is the broad message of the monument.
But what of the specifics?
I think the most debase charges made against the monument is the complaints about the presence of the “mammy”. I could write a book about the fallacies in these complaints. More than any other, they are clouded by the sheer ignorance and morally smug assessment of a different time and world than the one we live in. My conclusion is established without the least excuse given to the immorality of slavery.
Before arguing with the modern harpies, I will first, with not a little hubris on my part, deal with the complaints lodged by W.E.B. DuBois when he railed against a memorial commissioned for “mammies” specifically. In an odd approach - I’m drawing from a work of Kimberly Wallace-Sanders - DuBois said the mammy was “one of the most pitiful of the world’s Christs…an embodied sorrow.” He then went on to say that any dignity that she had was stripped away once the children she raised went on to lynch her sons.3
DuBois was referring to events that occurred during the era of Jim Crow. And I find two things wrong with his contention. First, it occurred after the Civil War, the historical event in question here. There may well have been incidents where the boy raised by a nanny later lynched her son. I don’t know if that happened, but if it did one can only hope the killer died a slow and hideous death of his own. But that is not the era depicted by the monument.
Also, why would we give credit to the shit in this world for stripping away the dignity of good work because of their crimes? Should we say that the work of Viktor Frankl is undignified because he was in the death camps in WWII? Is Chris Kyle’s talent and achievement rendered undignified because his student killed him? No.
Likewise, the work of a mammy, or all mammies, remains a beacon of real and timeless dignity in an otherwise abusive and undignified world.
From Georgian thru Victorian to the Edwardian age, wealthy people did not raise their own kids. For sons, that applies to the formative years. For daughters, that probably carried through to their debut. Among the British Royal Family this tradition seemed to be the norm until Diana. In aristocracies from Russia, across Europe, all the way to North America, if you were wealthy, it was considered unfashionable to provide care for your own children (talk about twisted morality). But that didn’t mean appointing good nurses to provide care was taken lightly.
It was expected that your kids were always well-turned out and that they were healthy, respectful and happy. If they weren’t you were the object of gossip, and of course you were worried about your kid. It was incumbent upon the nurse, the term of endearment that would become the title in some places - Mammy,4 to raise these children to be healthy and happy.
A special trust was placed in these women. And she occupied a special station among slaves at the time. I refer you back to the earlier statement on the subject, above.
So there, on the monument is the “mammy” people are crying about. Her presence is not a glorification or absolution of slavery. It is the acknowledgement that she existed! If anything is “stated” by her inclusion specifically, it can only be concluded that she was an important figure. She is holding a baby up to be kissed by the father as he leaves for war. He is clearly entrusting the welfare of the child to HER. The child clinging to her dress is not, as some have said, her own child competing with the white baby for attention. It is the same man’s daughter turning to her mammy for comfort as her father leaves. That is the most poignant image in the sculpture. It is also the kind of dignity, which the violence that occurred years later, cannot erase.
Were there bad mammies? Sure. Were there exceptional mammies. Absolutely. And as pointed out in an article I cite more than once here, it wasn’t uncommon for mammy and the children to have a lifetime bond of love and affection. You cannot overstate her importance in the formative years.
To have excluded her would have been an insult. And it would have excluded an emblematic figure in the lives of the people being portrayed in that section of the sculpture. Erase the monument and you erase her. In the name of what? Your shallow, comfortable, reason-less, 2023 concept of equality?
Everyone loves Mammy. To be certain the children she raised did. Who the hell are these professional whiners to erase her?
What of the slave marching with the Army?
It’s easy to look back in our comfortable modern existence and make emotional pronouncements about “how it was” back then. But only a cursory glance at recorded history gives pause and demands an honest assessment of life at a time that is not narrowed by empty assumptions of our own making. So it is true of the complaints about the slave marching off to war with the Confederate Army.
While researching, I saw one article discussing the monument entitled The Pernicious Myth of the 'Loyal Slave' Lives on in Confederate Memorials.
Well, friends and neighbors, I’m going to say the quiet part out loud. Yes, there were indeed loyal black slaves. There were slaves who were given tasks that would allow them to walk away and never be found. They didn’t. There were slaves that went above and beyond their calling to perform tasks that demonstrated more than that they were slaves. I recall Thomas Jefferson’s builder again. I read an autobiography some years back by a slave who traveled the Mississippi River area extensively. When his owner was injured, the slave conducted his business for him. He collected large sums of money and out a sense of honesty, and partly because he was treated well by the owner, he returned with the money, gaining further trust. I am frantically looking for the story and the title as I write this. It may be Josiah Henson I’m thinking of, but I’m not certain.
And don’t get me started with the black overseers. Some were trusted not at all. Some were trusted explicitly.
Why they did what they did, only they can understand. None of us is qualified to question it and none of our comments on the subject would be valid. The only conclusion we are free to make is that slavery was an evil.
In the case of the man depicted on the memorial marching with white soldiers, those men absolutely existed. If they were fortunate, they stayed with the plantation owner as a valet. For that to happen the plantation owner would have to be rich and of high military rank.
The less lucky were teamsters, cooks or laborers. So why did they go? How did they feel about it?
For starters, you can assume some were told they would do it and that was that.
At the start of hostilities, you can also safely assume that they heard stories about how Northern Armies would loot, rape and pillage and hoist babies on their bayonets, etc with no consideration for skin color. Not entirely inaccurate and pretty standard propaganda in war. So one shouldn’t assume an underlying longing to meet the Union Soldiers.
Among the younger men, there surely would have been a sense of getting away from the daily grind and perhaps having some sort of adventure. Among the more seasoned men, they were told to go so they did.
It was reported later that they did find common ground with their white counterparts through the shared terror of battle, seeing people maimed and killed, and in shared hardship - often privation.
Indeed, years later, many of the men who marched away from everything they knew with white soldiers would attend reunions for the units they were attached to during the war. AND THEY WERE WELCOMED. They shared many of the same war stories.
Some black groups were captured by Union units carrying arms. It isn’t clear whether they were scouts or just men who snatched weapons and were trying to escape in the fog of war. Ballsy move, I’d say.
At any rate, they existed. Did they wear the kepi hat? Probably not. The Lousiana Native Guard, an all black unit disbanded in 1862, wore the full uniform. But most of them traded that in for Union blue.
But they lived.5 They were a part of the convulsion the nation endured (1861 - 1865) and deserve to be recognized whether modern day virtue signalers like it or not.
We even bend history in real time.
I mentioned Charlottesville in the previous article. The incident that occurred there, according to the NDAA FY21 and the Washington Post and other the proponents of desecration, is a catalyst, along with George Floyd for all the un-remembering.
This, from the start, is by far the most disingenuous justification. This, aside from the deadly assault with a car by one man, was an incident with assholes on BOTH sides.
A quick review. On 11 and 12 August 2017, a group of white supremacists gathered for a PERMITTED protest and a march which was to take place the next day. The protest centered around the proposed removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.
Between Friday night and Saturday morning, UN-PERMITTED counter protesters started moving into the same general area. There was a strong police presence, but not a very useful one.
The white supremacists (about 250 of them) held a morning rally during which rocks and bottles were thrown at them. No, I’m not saying you need to sympathize with them. I am just reporting what happened.
The group then lined up for the planned march. To this point and beyond, two things are clear. The WS group was intent on completing their march peacefully. They wanted their movement to look good. Many of the “counter protesters” were there for one and only one reason - physical confrontation. They did their level best to achieve it.
Throughout the march the WS were punched and pushed. People stood on the side of the road and sprayed them with pepper spray. Other than pushing away assaults, they didn’t strike back. Until…
A group of “counter protesters”, the real troublemakers that day, formed a human barricade to block the marchers. Read a little law. Your can’t block someones right to walk - in this case an officially permitted one.
Here’s where the cops are fully responsible for what happened next. They did not clear the un-permitted people from the right of way. Also they did nothing to cool things down and prevent direct confrontation between marchers and their antagonists. A preventable riot was now inevitable. And yes, it was the result of the “counter-protesters”.
Now, to the 2023, woke, uncritical mind, I may sound like a racist because I reported what happened before the vehicular homicide. And that is the thinking that poisons any adult discussions that can be had about slavery and racism and the desecration of the graves of soldiers as well.
It is also why, when someone says something about slavery that doesn’t comport to the narrow woke view of the subject, that person is labeled racist. The listener feels justified in saying, or sometimes doing, anything they wish to the speaker. Some Black Americans may feel like they have been personally slighted by saying what happened during slavery. This is very sad for reasons we’ll discuss now.
Let’s have it said.
Neitzche posited to the effect of that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I would add a corollary to that: That which didn’t happen to you didn’t happen to you.
Too often, certainly not always, Black Americans are taught from birth to see all things through the lens of slavery. Something they, nor anyone alive experienced. Also, too often, not always, liberal do-gooders who feel themselves superior to Black Americans, fan the flames of this externally imposed worldview. This they claim to do out of altruism. Then there are race hustlers like Al Sharpton who thrive on it.
Just this week, Teachers Union president, Randi Weingarten said that people who favor charter schools, magnet schools and vouchers are (you can’t make this up) white supremacists. What does that make of the black parents who would walk barefoot through broken glass to get their kids out of the dumps we call schools on some cities.
The default position, when you have no argument is “racism” and the underlying emotional trigger is slavery - which didn’t happen to any of us or anyone we know.
As a result, anything said that makes people, so raised, uncomfortable is equated to the past sin of slavery, or in some cases Jim Crow, which only a few people still alive experienced. To be certain, this is not a healthy condition, not for Black Americans, not for America.
We’ve had do-gooders convince otherwise normal people that having black faces representing incredibly successful brands was a bad thing. Why, they were wearing old timee clothes - that MUST be praising slavery, right? Everyone knows that no thinking person felt that way, but somebody has campaigns they can brag about later.
I had Aunt Jemima CANCELLED! Aren’t I awsome? Hire me as your campaign manager.
It is a certainty that no one’s life will be improved in the least bit by removing a piece of art and digging up graves. A few people will get their 15 minutes. A few will claim some kind of perverse moral victory. Political whores will try to take credit. But soon after, we will all go back to our lives. We will have all the same problems. The legal vandalism will be forgotten. We will look askance at the unbridled ugliness and pointlessness of it all. Any claims of a better life for anyone will be a lie; an act.
We will have removed one more reminder of what happens when factions chose emotion and naval gazing over discourse.
The images of the battles, the soldiers, the slaves, the carnage, the heroism are as important as the texts we read about them in the preservation of history. And the texts are next on the chopping block. Doubt me not.
Equally certain, the removal of this memorial will do more to advance the insult of that falsely imposed, stigmatized existence (I speak only of those who pretend to share the fate of antebellum slaves) than it will to heal any modern day “wounds”. And to connect George Floyd to this is not only disingenuous, but an unforgivable insult to the actual slaves with whom the activists are trying to claim affinity.
This much is certain. Inspired by the desecration about to happen at Arlington, race hustlers, black and white, will be off in search of the next thing they can ruin FOR EVERYBODY.
The clock is ticking on this issue. To fight the government vandalism, follow us on the Political Party Pooper Play Book FB page. Just use the button. Then…
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Can you imagine how powerful his knowledge would be today when applied with power tools and computers.
Their assertion, not mine. See link. In fairness to WAPO, they also mentioned Charlottesville. I will deal with that later.
Century of Race, Gender, and Southern Memory by Kimberly Wallace-Sanders
In modern times the term for the nurse or au pair is Nanny. It isn’t a slight and the nurse is certainly not the child’s grandparent. It is affectionate slang, as was the term mammy.