Racism and More In Our Times

Donald Trump and his supporters actions and words after the deadly riots in Charlottesburg, Virginia illuminated their racism for the world to see.  Yet, the real story is bigger than their racism. It is that their philosophy is all about conformity and conformity to their standards.

To fit into Trump’s America, you not only need to be white and Christian, but also heterosexual. To Trump supporters, Mexicans threaten our safety and jobs, Muslims are terrorists, we need more police to enforce law and order in cities because of black people’s propensity to commit crimes, Gays are a threat to our children and transgenders are a threat to little girls using the restroom, And, of course, all these groups threaten our American culture (whatever that is) because they are “different”.

As with almost everything else, Republicans don’t let peer-reviewed scientific research get in the way of what they “know” is the truth. The reality is that terrorism is committed almost exclusively by native-born citizens and not immigrants. Crime rates for immigrants are lower than for native-born Americans. Toddlers with guns kill many more US citizens annually than Muslim terrorists do.

In their quest for conformity, Republicans demand transgenders accept the gender listed on their birth certificates. Gays, well we “know” their sinful lifestyles are  their choice, so they must give up their same-sex attractions. Muslims, Hindus and other heathens must give their hearts to Jesus to become real Americans. African-Americans are crap out of luck in this era of conformity. They can probably find some level of acceptance if they dress, act and sound like former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson.

The point here is that Donald Trump supporters are terrified that their culture is under attack by people who are different. Perhaps, if they had more confidence in their culture, they wouldn’t be so paranoid.

The symbolism (actually racism)

Trump supporters aversion to facts complicates meaningful discussions. Instead, they have shifted the argument to one about symbolism. The symbolism in this case are glorified statues of Confederate generals and leaders long overdue for removal.

Trump supporters claim removing these statues is an attempt to re-write history. This is absurd. Over 50,000 books and pamphlets have been written about the Civil War. Not one has been or will be re-written as the statues are taken down. Countless textbooks contain information on the Civil War. None of these are being re-written.

History tells us is that none of these generals or Confederate political leaders ever deserved any type of statue or immortalization. First of all, all the Confederate generals were traitors.They all were active officers in the US Army before joining the Confederacy and had signed the following oath:

“I, _____, appointed a _____ in the Army of the United States, do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the rules and articles for the government of the Armies of the United States.”

Confederate officers broke their oaths and deserted their posts. Worse, not only did they refuse to defend the United States of America, they fought against the nation they swore to protect. There is no better definition of a traitor.

Second, Generals Lee, in particular was an incompetent military leader. Although he won some early battles before the Union identified  their top generals, when crunch time came, Lee’s recklessness, overconfidence and  poor judgement came to the forefront.

If you have any doubts, make a trip to the Gettysburg Battlefield. Great generals deserving immortalization don’t order 15,000 troops to march three-quarters of a mile across open fields punctuated by fences to attack a dug in force on high ground. Standing on top of Little Round Top, where Union forces turned the area below them into a killing field, one realizes that Lee cost the Confederacy the war with his blunder.

On July 4, 1863, the day after Lee’s Gettysburg debacle, Vicksburg, Mississippi fell to Union forces commanded by General Ulysses Grant, This victory gave the Union full control of the Mississippi River, effectively splitting the Confederacy into two.

Lee knew his efforts to win the Civil War and preserve slavery were lost, but he kept the carnage going for almost two more years. Even after General Sherman took Atlanta in September of 1864 and Savannah in November, Lee kept the war going.  His soldiers figured this out and the “brave and proud wearers of the Gray” deserted in such droves that even Lee admitted the desertions made it impossible to field an effective army.

Third, another myth about General Lee was his gallantry and honor. Yet, Lee’s chain of command of all Confederate forces included the Rebel prison camp in Andersonville, Georgia.

Robert H. Kellogg, sergeant major in the 16th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, described his entry as a prisoner into the prison camp, May 2, 1864:

“As we entered the place, a spectacle met our eyes that almost froze our blood with horror, and made our hearts fail within us. Before us were forms that had once been active and erect;—stalwart men, now nothing but mere walking skeletons, covered with filth and vermin. Many of our men, in the heat and intensity of their feeling, exclaimed with earnestness. “Can this be hell?” “God protect us!” and all thought that he alone could bring them out alive from so terrible a place. In the center of the whole was a swamp, occupying about three or four acres of the narrowed limits, and a part of this marshy place had been used by the prisoners as a sink, and excrement covered the ground, the scent arising from which was suffocating. The ground allotted to our ninety was near the edge of this plague-spot, and how we were to live through the warm summer weather in the midst of such fearful surroundings, was more than we cared to think of just then.”

Of the about 45,000 Union prisoners that entered Andersonville, almost 13,000 died. Most died due to disease brought on by starvation and no shelter from the Georgia sun and rain. So much for Confederate gallantry and honor.

While Trump supporters claim that Confederate memories are not being properly honored, it is worthwhile looking back in history to see how other unsuccessful rebellion leaders were treated.

Typically, they were beheaded, their heads were jammed onto a stake and left to rot in public view. Another variation was hanging, again leaving their carcasses to rot in public view. Even in the enlightened 20th Century, 50 years after the Civil War, results were similar. After the British put down the 1916 Easter rebellion in Ireland, they had a one day court-martial for the rebel leaders and executed them the next day.

So, did these Confederate traitors ever deserve statues built-in their honor?  Not hardly. If they had resigned their commissions to fight for a just cause like ending slavery, history might look at them differently. But, to knowingly lead thousands of men to their slaughter in a vain attempt to defend and preserve an unforgivable sin like human servitude, may their souls and statues rot in Hell together.

More than symbolism

As repulsive as it is for black families to go to a public park overshadowed by a statue of a general who sought to keep their ancestors, them and their future generations  in slavery, that’s not what Black Lives Matter and their supporters are focused on. There are bigger issues here for them.

An article in Vanity Fair,  https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/07/data-police-racial-bias,  cites 18 academic studies , legal rulings and media investigations chronicalling police brutality to blacks. Two of those studies are summarized below.

study by a University of California, Davis professor found “evidence of a significant bias in the killing of unarmed black Americans relative to unarmed white Americans, in that the probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police on average.” Additionally, the analysis found that “there is no relationship between county-level racial bias in police shootings and crime rates (even race-specific crime rates), meaning that the racial bias observed in police shootings in this data set is not explainable as a response to local-level crime rates.”

An independent analysis of Washington Post data on police killings found that, “when factoring in threat level, black Americans who are fatally shot by police are, in fact, less likely to be posing an imminent lethal threat to the officers at the moment they are killed than white Americans fatally shot by police.” According to one of the report’s authors, “The only thing that was significant in predicting whether someone shot and killed by police was unarmed was whether or not they were black. . . . Crime variables did not matter in terms of predicting whether the person killed was unarmed.”

Further, Department of Justice investigations in Baltimore, Maryland; Ferguson, Missouri and Cleveland, Ohio all found a “pattern and practice” of discrimination against African-Americans that targeted them disproportionately for traffic stops, use of force, and jail sentences.

Yes, there is racism in the United States. Black people have every right to call it out and try to bring about change. Along with them, other minorities, Gays, Transgenders and everyone else threatened by the Trump Administration needs to make their voices heard. Most important, they need to vote.

The enemy

Frugal Ron’s mother often told him while he was growing up that Negroes were all lazy, shiftless and always carried knives to cut up the white people they robbed. Frugal Ron figured because he was much less racist than his parents and his children are even more color blind, that eventually racism would die away. Charlottesburg ended that dream.

A cure for racism
Reason for hope…

Most of the violent Nazi and white supremacists in pictures are young. Hate is reinventing itself. Worse, Donald Trump, because of the office he holds, gives legitimacy to their prejudice and racism.

To the 39% of voters, including the 80% of Republicans ,who still support Donald Trump after his Charlottesburg fiasco, I genuinely offer you my sympathy. You’ve closed your eyes and souls to the beauty and diversity different cultures and religions bring to the United States. Your dark vision of our country  runs completely contrary to reality. Most pointedly, although you love to blame Barack Obama and liberals for all your problems, your miserable bigoted lives are all on you.

 


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