Was the Battle of Charlottesville the white nationalists’ Gettysburg?

A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is removed from the University of Texas campus, early Monday morning, Aug. 21, 2017, in Austin, Texas. University of Texas President Greg Fenves ordered the immediate removal of statues of Robert E. Lee and other prominent Confederate figures from a main area of campus, saying such monuments have become “symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.” (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Good morning Austin:

Sunday evening I spoke by phone with Jared Taylor, the influential white nationalist who presides over American Renaissance 

Taylor said he defends Confederate memorials both because of his Southern pride, and in solidarity with those Confederate heroes’ race consciousness.

But, he told me, not everyone who venerates Confederate memory has a racial motive.

I think there are people like my mother, she’s dead now but she was a liberal in every respect – civil rights, gay right, feminism, all that, but she was a loyal daughter of the South and revered Robert E. Lee and all the Confederate generals. She loved those monuments. For her it was not an expression not of a political view but of an ancestral heritage. She grew up in Kentucky.

She had an ancestral fidelity to the  Confederacy that is not political. And then there racially white Northerners who have no ancestral affinity with the Confederacy, but see the Confederates as racially conscious white men and that’s why they respect them. Those are very different points of departure, and my guess the Unite the Right Rally (in Charlottesville) was more the latter than the former.

Had his mother been in Charlottesville, Taylor said:

She would have gone nuts. She would have been on the other side. She would have been horrified. She loved Robert E. Lee, thought he was the greatest American who ever lived, but she also hated Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacy and all of those things.

Today most defenders of Confederate statues probably do have some kind of racial and not just heritage- related motive.

I wrote about Taylor in the last First ReadingMake America white nationalist again. On Charlottesville and Donald Trump, and called him yesterday after reading an Op-Ed in the Sunday New York Times by R. Derek Black, who was identified as a graduate student focusing on the early Middle Ages, headlined What White Nationalism Gets Right About American History

I was startled by it. I had covered four American Renaissance conferences between 2000 and 2008, and I had seen a teenage Derek Black at at least a couple of those conferences.

As Eli Saslow of the Washington Post wrote in a remarkable profile of Derek Black October – The White Flight of Derek Black –  even as a young man:

He was not only a leader of racial politics but also a product of them. His father, Don Black, had created Stormfront, the Internet’s first and largest white nationalist site, with 300,000 users and counting. His mother, Chloe, had once been married to David Duke, one of the country’s most infamous racial zealots, and Duke had become Derek’s godfather. They had raised Derek at the forefront of the movement, and some white nationalists had begun calling him “the heir.”

But the story tells how Derek went to New College, a progressive public college in Sarasota, Florida, where, some students, after learning who he was, chose not to denounce or attack him but to befriend and engage him.

And so, here he was writing in Sunday’s New York Times:

My dad often gave me the advice that white nationalists are not looking to recruit people on the fringes of American culture, but rather the people who start a sentence by saying, “I’m not racist, but …”

The most effective tactics for white nationalists are to associate American history with themselves and to suggest that the collective efforts to turn away from our white supremacist past are the same as abandoning American culture. My father, the founder of the white nationalist website Stormfront, knew this well. It’s a message that erases people of color and their essential role in American life, but one that also appeals to large numbers of white people who would agree with the statement, “I’m not racist, but I don’t want American history dishonored, and this statue of Robert E. Lee shouldn’t be removed.”

I was raised by the leaders of the white nationalist movement with a model of American history that described a vigorous white supremacist past and once again I find myself observing events in which I once might have participated before I rejected the white nationalist cause several years ago. After the dramatic, horrible and rightly unnerving events in Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend, I had to make separate calls: one to make sure no one in my family who might have attended the rally got hurt, and a second to see if any friends at the University of Virginia had been injured in the crowd of counterprotesters.

On Tuesday afternoon the president defended the actions of those at the rally, stating, “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” His words marked possibly the most important moment in the history of the modern white nationalist movement. These statements described the marchers as they see themselves — nobly driven by a good cause, even if they are plagued by a few bad apples. He said: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists.”

But this protest, contrary to his defense, was advertised unambiguously as a white nationalist rally. The marchers chanted, “Jews will not replace us”; in the days leading up to the event, its organizers called it “a pro-white demonstration”; my godfather, David Duke, attended and said it was meant to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump”; and many attendees flew swastika flags. Whatever else you might say about the rally, they were not trying to deceive anyone.

Almost by definition, the white nationalist movement over the past 40 years has worked against the political establishment. It was too easy for politicians to condemn the movement — even when there was overlap on policy issues — because it was a liability without enough political force to make the huge cost of associating with it worthwhile. Until Tuesday, I didn’t believe that had changed.

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Yet President Trump stepped in to salvage the message that the rally organizers had originally hoped to project: “George Washington was a slave owner,” he said, and asked, “So will George Washington now lose his status?” Then: “How about Thomas Jefferson?” he asked. “Because he was a major slave owner. Now are we going to take down his statue?” He added: “You’re changing history. You’re changing culture.”

Until Trump’s comments, few critics seemed to identify the larger relationship the alt-right sees between its beliefs and the ideals of the American founders. Charlottesville is synonymous with Jefferson. The city lies at the foot of Monticello and is the home of the University of Virginia, the school he founded. Over the years I’ve made several pilgrimages to Charlottesville, both when I was a white nationalist and since I renounced the ideology. While we all know that Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence, which declared that “all men are created equal,” his writings also offer room for explicitly white nationalist interpretation.

Until Tuesday I believed the organizers of the rally had failed in their goal to make their movement more appealing to average white Americans. The rally superimposed Jefferson’s image on that of a pseudo K.K.K. rally and brought the overlap between Jefferson and white nationalist ideas to mind for anyone looking to find them. But the horrific violence that followed seemed to hurt their cause.

And then President Trump intervened. His comments supporting the rally gave new purpose to the white nationalist movement, unlike any endorsement it has ever received. Among its followers, being at that rally will become something to brag about, and some people who didn’t want to be associated with extremism will now see the cause as more mainstream.

Taylor, driving back from Canada to Washington, D.C., had not seen the Times. When I told him there was a piece by Derek Black, he responded, “Oh God, oh dear, all right.”

I described Black’s thesis, and Taylor said he thought Charlottesville had been an unmitigated disaster for the white nationalist movement.

 

Aside from Donald Trump, the Charlottesville rally was a catastrophe for any Southern heritage movement. As you have noticed, it has accelerated the dismantling the Confederate monuments.

In the dead of night, I noted, referring to events in Baltimore but not knowing that the same was about to occur on the UT campus.

Charlottesville, Taylor said, would have “extreme negative consequences for white advocacy.”

Taylor backed Trump beginning in the primaries.

I asked him how he judged the president’s performance so far.

That is a very difficult question to answer.

Insofar as he is not Hillary Clinton, he has gotten an A-plus-plus so far. But compared to what he could have done, and what he said he would have done, I’d give him a C-minus, maybe a D-plus.

He’s attacked Jeff Sessions, attacked Mitch McConnell. His opponents are right, he has a very strange temperament for a president of the United States and I would rather someone who was a steadier hand on the wheel.

Of Trump’s comments on Charlottesville, which provoked a firestorm of controversy and condemnation, Taylor said:

I think that it’s true that Donald Trump is the only politician I can think of that would say the obvious – that there’s blame for the violence on both sides. To me that’s a completely obvious observation.

No matter how evil and deplorable you think someone is, you don’t have right to attack them physically. And the point that I have been making, but has yet to make it into print, is that the inevitable pattern it that when anyone stands up and speaks as white, it attracts opponents who do not just disagree but want to harass and shut his event down and shut him up, and some of them arrive prepared to do battle and fight, whereas the opposite is never the case.

There’s never an NAACP, or a Black Lives Matter or a National Council of La Raza event that is harassed or menaced or shut down by racially conscious whites. It never happens. And so when racially conscious whites meet along you have an American Renaissance Conference, or you get a peaceful rally the likes of which e had last May, at which there were no counter-demonstrations and no violence. The main demonstration in the same park for the same purpose did not have any counter-demonstrators and there was no violence. The same group . Jason Kessler, who organized this one organized that one.

So when people talk about white supremacist rally turns into violence, it sounds as though a white supremacist or a racially conscious demonstration just has in it, inherently, violence, whereas people never say that about a Black Lives Matter demonstration, which can degenerate into throwing bottles at the police, beating up bystanders with no counter-demonstrators at all. That’s the point I’m making.

The tone was aggressive, I agree with that, but if there had not been aggression from the other side, I feel quite sure there would have been no violence. To me the fact that the police, in addition to this fellow who drove the car, arrested only three people, shows me that they were not doing their job. Where were the police? I think they did a terrible job.

And the other thing that has to be pointed out that nobody seems to care about is that those who hate the very idea of white racial consciousness succeeded in shutting down the event.  And it annoys me when someone like (Virginia Gov.) Terry McAuliffe, claims they are all haters, Nazis, white supremacists, without having even heard what they had to say.

And then one other observation worth making, is that when the (Unite the Right) organizer, Jason Kessler, attempted to hold a press conference the next day, he was attacked by a mob, which would probably been beaten to a pulp if he had not been rescued by the police.

Just imagine if there had been a Muslim terror attack of some kind and the spokesman for an Islamic organization had tried to hold a press conference to put this in perspective and a group of whites had attacked him and chased him away from the microphone and would have beaten him up without police protection, there would have been immediate Department of Justice investigation, there would have been many arrests and it would have been a scandal coast to coast. But because it is a white man standing up for the rights of whites, the whole event is met with an enormous yawn.

The idea of the entire political and media establishment that the violence in Charlottesville was exclusively the fault of Unite the Right is astonishing to me. There was violence and there was a desire for violence on both sides, and only President Trump seems to be prepared to say that.

I think this has solidified bipartisan hostility toward Trump. I think the grassroots are unchanged.  It’s elected officials and editorial writers who are all reacting in horror.

But he’s explicitly not on the side of the white nationalists. He denounced them and I think sincerely denounced them. He doesn’t like Nazis and white supremacists. He doesn’t like them.

But he’s fair-minded enough to realize that the other side was itching for a fight and  shares some of the blame, that’s all he’s saying, and to me that’s by no means an endorsement of racial nationalism. It’s just a statement of fact. Any statement of fact that doesn’t place all the blame, regardless of the facts, on the white nationalists, that’s considered an endorsement of white nationalism. Here he is saying a rather obvious and banal thing, but to say so is to put you in the camp of the sinners.

He said white nationalism is repugnant to everything we hold dear. I take people at their word. And when he says that and then says that there’s blame on both sides – he says there was hate, bigotry and violence on both sides. I don’t think racial nationalism is based on hate and bigotry. I thinks it’s perfectly moral and rational. But for him to say there was hate, bigotry and violence on both sides, I think that there probably were people on both sides who were hateful and violent, but isn’t that obvious?

And it’s certainly not an endorsement of either side, it’s a condemnation of both sides. But, we live in such a time that condemning both sides makes you a partisan of one side.

Taylor said, “It goes to show you a movement is starved for praise when it gets into a conflict and then someone says both side are filled with hate, bigotry and violence,” and it takes that as affirmation.

“That’s not an endorsement,” Taylor said.

Taylor said that, “Kessler, the organizer, said absolutely no Nazi or KKK symbols or regalia, but you just can’t control that stuff. There were some pretty hard-boiled customers there.”

Were there, as Trump said, some good people there?

I think so. I wasn’t there but I think so, certainly to my way of  thinking. People who are peacefully defending the legitimate rights of whites. And, there may have been some who were just protesting the removal of the Lee statue.

On Friday, David Barton, the Christian conservative political activist and author from Aledo – he is a former vice chair of the Texas Republican Party and was a member of the Platform Committee at the national convention in Cleveland last summer –  talked about these issues on Joe Pags radio show.

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Here is a partial transcript and critique of his comments fromWarren Throckmorton followed by excerpts of my interview with Barton last night.

Throckmorton blogs at Patheos, which describes itself as hosting the conversation on faith, and where he keeps a critical eye on the Christian right.

Throckmorton teaches at Grove City College, an evangelical liberal arts college in Pennsylvania.

Barton:

We’re looking at taking Confederate monuments down, and by the way, from a historical standpoint, if you know your history those monuments don’t scare you. If you know your history in Germany, the fact that you have ovens where the Holocaust occurred. The fact that you have Gestapo headquarters that are now mu – that’s not a problem because you know it’s wrong. And because you know it’s wrong, you can teach the next generation and that’s why you’ll find that Germans are particularly sensitive toward neo-Nazi movements arising in Germany. They don’t tolerate it.  So even though they’re there, they don’t – and so you can do that with history. In Israel, they got great kings like David, but you know what, they’ve also got a monument to Absalom, who was a (unintelligible). They’ve also got a street named after Ahab who was a lousy king. But that helps them know the good, the bad, the ugly.

So when you do Confederate monuments today, we don’t know enough about our own history to know the balance that used to be there and that was part of it. So to put the balance in perspective, when you talk Confederacy, let’s cut right to the chase and say it’s not Confederacy, it’s Southern Democrats, straight out, hands down.

From Throckmorton:

Barton’s faulty reasoning.

Tributes to the Confederacy aren’t necessarily scary; they are offensive. The analogy Barton attempts to make is bizarre. The ovens and Gestapo headquarters were not preserved by the German government as tributes to the Nazis. Confederate statues are tributes erected many years after the events of the Civil War took place. They were erected to elevate the image of the Confederacy. What the Germans kept was not to elevate the image of the Nazis but to demonstrate the evil. The Confederate symbols and monuments which are being targeted were not erected to show how bad the Confederacy was.

For Barton’s analogy to make sense, there would need to be a movement to bulldoze over the battlefields and other historical locations. I don’t know of any efforts to do this and the conversation between Barton and Pagliarulo didn’t touch on any such movement. Removing monuments placed to sanitize the image of the Confederacy isn’t in that category.

Barton came close to making sense when he accurately said the Germans are sensitive to neo-Nazi elements. In fact, Holocaust denial is a criminal offense as is displaying Nazi symbols. If we take that German example and translate it to the U.S., it would suggest that we should be very sensitive about neo-Confederate elements, such as white supremacists, the KKK, and neo-Nazis. It would suggest that we should not build tributes to the Confederacy and remove the tributes already in place. If Germany could teach us anything, it would be that those monuments should never have been erected in the first place.

About the Gestapo headquarters: Barton seemed to be about to say that the headquarters was a museum. However, those facilities were destroyed after the war. More recently, a museum dedicated to showing the horror of Nazi institutions was built. Again, what the Germans built was not a tribute to Nazism, but what is called the Topography of Terror Documentation Center.  I don’t believe any of the Confederate monuments at issue document the horrors of slavery or the Jim Crow laws which followed.

Barton and Pags Real Target: The Democrats 

I think the reason Barton has such a hard time with this issue is because he really wants to make Democrats look bad. He really wants people to understand that the Democrats favored slavery and were behind the KKK.

Barton:

So when you do Confederate monuments today, we don’t know enough about our own history to know the balance that used to be there and that was part of it. So to put the balance in perspective, when you talk Confederacy, let’s cut right to the chase and say it’s not Confederacy, it’s Southern Democrats, straight out, hands down.

 When Landrieu the Governor or the Mayor of New Orleans takes down 4 Confederate monuments, let’s point out that it’s a Democrat mayor taking down 4 Democrat heroes that were heroes in the South. Now would that change the narrative if people knew that today. You bet it would. 

The racism narrative would change if, for example, people knew that Democrats openly acknowledged in Congressional hearings that yes, the Ku Klux Klan is our organization, that’s a Democrat arm. Who knows that today? We know so little about our own history that we can’t even tell the good from the bad anymore so we think we have to wipe it out. And does that mean if conservatives take over, we’re going to get rid of the FDR memorial because he was a progressive liberal? Or if liberals get it, were going to get rid of Calvin Coolidge’s home because he was a conservative Republican? Where does it stop at that point? But you don’t worry about it if you know history, but we just don’t know history today.

Throckmorton:

True, Southern Democrats were defenders of slavery. However, this fact is well known. Anyone who studies the Civil War even a little bit realizes that the party of Lincoln and emancipation was the GOP. However, it is now a Republican president who is defending what he calls the “beautiful statues and monuments.” The Democrats want to take the statues down. It doesn’t matter much that long dead Democrats were racists when the party of Lincoln has shifted to a defense of the Confederate symbols. Why would Republicans want to leave them up? It makes no sense to me.

Barton’s New Lost Cause

When Barry Goldwater failed to support the Civil Rights Act, Martin Luther King, Jr. urged his followers to vote against Goldwater. Although African-American voters had been steadily moving Democrat for several years, Nixon got about one-third of the African-American vote in 1960. The turning point was Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act. The historical direction of the African-American vote isn’t about African-Americans not knowing the history of segregationist Southern Democrats, it is about the choices made by GOP leaders over the past 50 years.

Barton’s efforts to bolster Republicans by constantly reminding people about the Lost Cause Democrats is a new kind of Lost Cause. The failings of the modern Republican party are not going to be sanitized by reminders of the failings of the Southern Democrats of the past. If anything, it is admirable that modern Democrats want to make amends and, if possible, atone for the history of the party. Shouldn’t Democrats want to remove these symbols? And shouldn’t Republicans, members of the party of Lincoln, be cheering them on?

Barton’s Take on the KKK

Near the end of the broadcast, Barton brought up the KKK. Because the KKK targeted black and white Republicans, Barton minimizes the white supremacist nature of the KKK’s goals.

Barton:

That’s when the Klan arose and by the way, the Klan did not arise to take out blacks, it’s stated purpose was to take out Republicans. That’s why if you look at lynchings all the way up until 1962, you have 3500 black lynchings, but 1300 white lynchings, so what you have is an organization going after Republicans. Not after blacks per se. It’s just at that time, any black in the South was a Republican. You couldn’t hang any whites, because some of them were Democrats.

Throckmorton:

The Klan arose to reestablish white supremacy in the South, not just to go after Republicans. Since Republicans at the time stood in the way of that goal, they were targeted by Klan violence.  Barton’s description has some truth to it, but he makes the history more about political party than race. For the most part, white Republicans were targeted if they helped African-Americans.

Barton’s lynching numbers are pretty accurate but a little misleading in the way he uses them. Some of those white lynchings were in Western states for reasons unrelated to white supremacy. As noted, whites who helped blacks were also targeted in the South, but the figures on white lynchings includes people who were killed as victims of frontier justice.

A Couple of White Guys on Slavery

One of the more surreal discussions happened near the end of the segment. Barton and Pagliarulo discussed slavery. For some reason, Barton thought it important to say that 43% of free blacks in South Carolina owned slaves. He added that the first slavery law “done in America provided for white slaves, Indian slaves, and black slaves. How come we don’t hear that slavery is a human issue not a race issue.”

Pagliarulo chimed in to say that the first slave owner in the U.S. was a black man – Anthony Johnson. He was one of the first but what difference does that make? What is the point of this discussion? Are these white guys trying to change the history of slavery in America to make it about something other than race?

I really don’t understand the point of highlighting the exceptions as if they were the rule. The reason we don’t hear that slavery was a human issue is because in America, it quickly became about race. The fact is slave laws evolved so that black slaves were treated differently than all others. Slavery in the United States was about race and by the time of the Civil War, the vice-president of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, asserted the following about slavery and race:

MR. STEPHENS rose and spoke as follows:

Mr. Mayor, and Gentlemen of the Committee, and Fellow-Citizens:- . . . We are in the midst of one of the greatest epochs in our history. The last ninety days will mark one of the most memorable eras in the history of modern civilization. . . .

I was remarking, that we are passing through one of the greatest revolutions in the annals of the world. Seven States have within the last three months thrown off an old government and formed a new. This revolution has been signally marked, up to this time, by the fact of its having been accomplished without the loss of a single drop of blood. [Applause.]

This new constitution, or form of government, constitutes the subject to which your attention will be partly invited. . . .

But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other — though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution — African slavery as it exists amongst us — the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind — from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics; their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just — but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails.

I spoke with Barton about the arguments he had made on the show.

He said he highlighted the role the Democratic Party played in slavery and white supremacy because not many people know that.

I just don’t think anybody knows that these guys were Democrats.

But, he said, he is not placing that burden of guilt no the modern Democratic Party.

I think it’s a different party since the early 1970s. By the time they got to the 1970s they were pretty much a different party

Of his assertion that the Klan targeted people because of their party affiliation and not their race, Barton said:

There was racism involved. No question there was racism. but the Klan wasn’t exclusively racists. The Klan was after Republicans. Now they were racist along with that, but they were happy to kill Republicans just as much as they were happy to kill blacks.

The Klan was racist then. They are racist now.

I asked if there wasn’t a difference between the maintaining of Nazi sites in Europe as a grim reminder and the heroic glorification of Confederate memorials.

Aren’t the Confederate memorials celebratory?

They were for that period of time, in the same way that the Stalin statues that are still up in the Soviet Union were celebratory for him, but now you point at them and go, “Look, look at what they represented”, but that was in a period of time. They are up because they  were celebrated at the time.

And there’s no doubt in my mind that every one of those Confederate heroes was celebrated at the time because of where they were, the part of the country they were in, the people that supported them, but they were racist. That’s an easy teaching lesson at this point. Or it should be.

But, he said, it’s turned not to be so easy.

Confederate Post Master General John Reagan statue is removed from the south mall of the University of Texas at Austin early in the morning of Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. UT president Greg Fenves ordered the removal of Confederate statues from the campus late Sunday evening. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Why not?

We are at point now where two out of three Americans say there is no absolute right or wrong. Well, I think there is and I think that slavery is one of them. But if you’re at a point where two out of three Americans think it’s all individually determined, you can’t teach about history. You can’t teach about what’s right or wrong with history.

What do you think is the appropriate approach to the Confederate memorials?

It is kind of a case by case thing. With Robert E. Lee, I totally dislike the Confederacy, I have no sympathy for them at all. But Robert E. Lee is not a racist in any way, shape, fashion or form. He fought for Virginia, and there’s no indication of racism on his part. Now you want to go to Nathan Bedford Forrest, you bet, he’s a founder of the KKK. I’ve got all sorts of problems with him. What those guys did at Fort Pillow, the massacre there of black Union soldiers is unbelievable. So it is a case by case basis in some ways.

But for me there is no excuse for what the Confederacy did historically and I’ll be happy to make that point to anyone who wants to listen. But right now we’ve created a slippery slope where we can tear down anything we disagree with, and even on the basis of free speech, there are going to be things you don’t like. If you are going after a culture where you purge everything that offends you, that’s a real slippery slope and I think that’s a dangerous place to be.

I hope in ten years we will have come to our senses and have done a little better job of teaching history and will think that certain things are right or wrong and racism is one of them and we can deal with them without violence. I don’t know of a good solution. Would love to put up a little explanation plaque explaining why it was wrong and why what they did was wrong and use it as teaching tool, but then again there are going to be the white supremacists who are going to be all upset on their side like they were in Charlottesville and all we’re doing now is polarizing the sides. Knowledge is what bring sides together and right now what we’re talking about is platitudes and soundbites, not knowledge.

“Out of the 56 (signers of the Declaration of Independence) only 14 were pro-slavery, and three-fourths of them were anti-slavery,” Barton said. And yet, he said, nobody knows that. “Jefferson devoted about 60 years on the anti-slavery issue.

What about Trump’s comments on Charlottesville?\

I thought he was trying to be a lot morebalanced, a lot more neutral. He was actually trying to have more of a discussion instead of just coming out with a soundbite or a press release, and I appreciated that. There were more nuances there than people cared to talk about right now. And the nuances give a lot of insight and that’s what I thought he was headed toward.

But Republicans jumped on it. Democrats jumped on it. He got up from every side.

I didn’t have trouble for where he was trying to go.

 

We used to know enough to let the Klan have their rallies and not confront them. Just make them look radioactive. Didn’t have to confront them. Before they went there and after they were there everyone condemns them.

But trying to get right in their face and get a violent confrontation with white supremacists, that’s crazy. That’s a whole different combative approach. Everything is volatile. Everything is an immediate reaction.

We could join, hand in hand, we can get  blacks and whites,and get all denominations and races, and Jews, and Christians and Protestants and Catholics  and condemn and make them radioactive and make it where nobody wants to be around them. But to get in their face and create violence … 

There are a lot of people who think this has  gone too far. That they want to push back. They don’t  want the monuments should be taken down, which doesn’t necessarily mean that  they’re racist.

Results from the NPR/PBS NewsHour/ Marist Poll of 1,125 adults  taken just after events in Charlottesville.

 

 

Barton:

I don’t think the monuments need to be taken down. I think they are a teaching tool, but I’m definitely not a racist. I think that’s where we’re headed with (Trump’s) comments. But we deal in soundbites and we don’t get an explanation and the news runs with, “he supports white supremacists, says they are good people,” and there it is.

 

 

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