Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.
Reprinted with permission from American Independent
Sixty-six House Republicans voted to uphold Donald Trump's veto of a must-pass annual defense authorization bill on Monday, despite 25 of them previously voting for the exact same legislation weeks ago.
Despite the defections, more than the required two-thirds of the House voted to override Trump, 322-87.
The annual legislation passed in the House and Senate earlier this month with a bipartisan supermajority in each chamber. Then, 140 House Republicans and 42 GOP senators backed the $731.6 billion legislation to set funding levels and policies for the nation's defense and authorize pay increases for America's armed service members.
Trump ultimately vetoed the bill on Wednesday — at the last possible moment — objecting to provisions that required the renaming of military bases named for Confederate figures and to the fact that Congress did not insert unrelated provisions to punish social media companies he believes unfairly are biased against conservatives.
"My Administration respects the legacy of the millions of American servicemen and women who have served with honor at these military bases, and who, from these locations, have fought, bled, and died for their country," Trump wrote in his veto message. "I have been clear in my opposition to politically motivated attempts like this to wash away history and to dishonor the immense progress our country has fought for in realizing our founding principles."
Under the Constitution, if the president vetoes a bill, Congress can override it if both two-thirds of the members of the House and two-thirds of the Senate vote to do so.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy voted for the original bill, but later made clear that he would put loyalty to Trump over support for the military.
"I don't believe Republicans, in our work with the president always, that you vote to override a veto," the California Republican told reporters before the original vote, though he predicted that he and the rest of his caucus "would stand with the president," and sustain a veto if Trump killed the legislation.
McCarthy skipped Monday's vote.
Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS) also voted for the bill initially, but voted with Trump on Monday. In a press statement, he explained that he was doing so because members of the military "bravely defend the rights and freedoms of Americans every day," claiming that "our freedom of speech is also under attack here at home from big tech companies. This has been especially evident in acknowledging voter fraud on social media that is then flagged or censored."
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) said he flipped entirely because Trump said to. "I had some reservations with certain provisions in the NDAA; but, as a veteran, I felt responsible to ensure our national defense and military were properly funded, which is why I voted for the NDAA earlier this month," he wrote in a statement. "However, no one has a better pulse on the security of this nation and our military than the President of the United States, and I believe his objections to the bill are reasonable and intended to protect all Americans."
Among the other prominent Republicans who voted for the bill before Trump's veto but later defected were Republican Policy Committee chair Gary Palmer of Alabama, National Republican Congressional Committee chair Tom Emmer of Minnesota, recent party-switcher Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, and Rep. Devin Nunes of California.
Now, the bill goes to the Senate, where an override vote attempt was planned for Tuesday, although Sen. Bernie Sanders has vowed to slow the veto override unless the Republicans permit a floor vote on a $2000 pandemic relief payment. If at least two-thirds of the senators follow the House's lead, it will mark the first veto override of Trump's presidency — days before he leaves office.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
The Senate rejected an effort by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) just before the July 4 holiday to preserve the names of U.S. military facilities named after leaders of the Confederacy.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed a cloture motion to end debate on the bill without a vote on Hawley's amendment.
The amendment would have eliminated a requirement — agreed to on June 11 by the Senate Armed Services Committee — that the Defense Department remove the names of Confederate generals from 10 major military bases within three years.
The bipartisan provision was included as part of the larger annual defense package, the National Defense Authorization Act.
Hawley sought unanimous consent to get a vote on removing it, but a colleague objected.
"I've been told that we can't even have a vote," Hawley lamented afterward, in a floor speech. "No vote! We can't even call the roll on this. No, we've just got to swallow it and move on as the woke cancel culture moves on, steamrolling our history and our traditions, and yes, our best traditions as Americans."
The move comes as the nation reckons with its racist history and present.
Protesters around the world have marched to demand an end systemic racism and, in the United States, have pushed to remove statues of those who led and fought with the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who proposed the name-change rule, said previously that it was "long past time to end the tribute to white supremacy on our military installations."
"This latest effort to unilaterally rename bases and remove war memorials, all behind closed doors, smacks of the cancel culture the Left wants to impose on the nation," the first-term senator said. "Any discussion about renaming bases should be had in the light of day, out in the open, and it should involve military families, veterans, and state and local stakeholders."
He added that "the mob will keep marching through all our cultural institutions until every American whom the woke crowd deems unjust is cancelled."
Hawley's proposal would have removed the renaming requirement and replaced it with a commission to "gather input from military families and veterans" and suggest specific name changes to Congress.
Donald Trump has similarly defended keeping the names of Confederate figures on U.S. bases, tweeting in early June that "these Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom."
He vowed that his administration would "not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations."
If the House and Senate pass the annual Defense authorization — which is generally regarded as "must-pass" legislation — with the renaming language in it, Trump will have to decide whether to veto the whole bill or accept the new requirement.
He claimed Tuesday that he would veto if the name-change requirement were included.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
WASHINGTON — Eleven Confederate statues still stand tall in the Capitol. Let the ghost of the "Lost Cause" be gone for good as the nation undergoes a wrenching racial awakening.
Oh, no, says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. He refuses to "airbrush the Capitol."
Call me a Yankee, but I have no love for men who praise men who took up arms against the United States and shed the blood of 750,000 on both sides of the Civil War. If they were dashing rebels — "rebby boys" — the Confederacy itself was a crime against humanity.
Statues take up public space and also cross into our psychic space. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., understands this point perfectly. "This is a perfect time for us to move those statues," she declared.
However, senators say today, she can't make that decision.
Don't they know the past can oppress us with whispered, weighted and coded messages when utterly wrong figures are honored for throngs of visitors to see?
Gen. Robert E. Lee gives a history girl flashbacks to Gettysburg. The Confederacy's president and vice president, Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens, also haunt the halls of American democracy's house. These openly racist men — and traitors — tried to tear this nation in two. They almost succeeded but for President Abraham Lincoln, who never lost a fight in this life.
Days ago, I asked Pelosi if the Senate was willing to work with her to remove the statues. "Public sentiment is everything," she said, "because other times, people may think, I never go there anyway." The first female Speaker makes no secret of her desire to breathe Confederate-free Capitol air.
But the chairman who oversees statues, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told me Tuesday he has not even responded to the Speaker's letter urging removal. That's the lull where the Confederate statues live another day.
They call the Senate the "plantation," and not for nothing. Verandas and fine rich food abound, served with fresh lemonade in summer and sugary ice tea all year round.
At times, it feels like the Civil War never ended in surrender, with South Carolina's John Calhoun, who invented states' rights as a way to save slavery, glaring from the wall.
McConnell speaks in a Kentucky drawl. Blunt, keeper of the statues, represents a former slave state. During this crisis on racial police violence, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., held up passage of an anti-lynching law.
For a white male Southerner to block such a historic step was not a good look. The scene made one Northern senator feel raw. But the Senate is in no hurry to change. In fact, it's split into red and blue states, along the lines of the Civil War.
Fancy that, 155 years later, we're still in a "house divided" under the Capitol dome.
Stephens of Georgia put it plainly in a speech on the Confederacy: "Its cornerstone rests upon the truth that the negro is not equal to the white man." Slavery is a "natural condition."
White supremacy and slavery caused untold misery among people of color, in cotton fields under the lash and often separated from families forever. Young Frederick Douglass, born in bondage, never saw his mother again — a scar that never healed.
Slavery ruined the character and work ethic of rich, white Southerners who developed a taste for the caste system.
I ran into Lee in marble, the Virginian in riding boots. So, I stayed a while to talk across time. A black maintenance worker walked by. I asked, "Did you know he was the slave master of Arlington?" A well-kept secret.
Lincoln seized Lee's grand plantation and started burying soldiers in the front garden to literally water it in Union blood. A career Army officer trained at West Point, Lee betrayed his nation and military when he turned down Lincoln's offer to take a command. Lee's rolling acres are now Arlington National Cemetery.
Lee was the dark antebellum past; Lincoln, who freed 4 million enslaved people, was the man of the future. Let's not live in a divided house anymore.
Jamie Stiehm can be reached at JamieStiehm.com. To read her weekly column and find out more about Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, please visit creators.com.
The injustices of the present are forcing a confrontation with our past — a past wreathed in nostalgia and myths that conceal grim realities. The Civil War ended 155 years ago, but only recently have Americans begun renouncing flags, statues and monuments paying homage to Southern traitors. Other symbols of racist oppression are also under attack.
Lately, the movement has gained momentum. A committee in the Republican-controlled Senate voted to strip the names of Confederate generals from Army bases. Protesters in Richmond pulled down statues of Jefferson Davis and Christopher Columbus. The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has removed a statue of a Spanish conquistador.
In Texas, the shift has put one of the world's most storied law enforcement agencies under harsh scrutiny. City and airport officials recently removed a statue that had stood at Love Field since 1962 — of a Texas Ranger.
The Rangers have always been widely revered in my native state. We learned they were fearless guardians of civilization whose exploits went back to when settlers were fighting Comanche warriors.
They were immortalized in Larry McMurtry's novel, Lonesome Dove. There was a TV series that starred Chuck Norris. The Major League Baseball team in Arlington is called the Texas Rangers.
The legends omit a lot of the reality. A magisterial new book by journalist Doug J. Swanson, Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers, lays bare their long record of savagery, lawlessness and racism.
"They burned peasant villages and slaughtered innocents," he writes. "They committed war crimes. Their murders of Mexicans and Mexican Americans made them as feared on the border as the Ku Klux Klan in the South."
A century ago, during the fighting that took place along the border during the Mexican Revolution, blood flowed like the Rio Grande. "The terms 'death squads' and 'ethnic cleansing' would not enter common usage for another sixty years or so," Swanson notes, "but that was what the Rangers were and what they did."
Later, they were a bulwark acting to hold back racial equality. When black students tried to enroll in the segregated Texarkana Junior College in 1956, angry whites barred the way, hurling gravel and racial slurs and forcing the students to leave. The Rangers stood idly by.
The message to racists, said a member of the Texas Civil Rights Advisory Committee, was plain: "If you will only assemble a mob, or threaten to do so, the power of the Texas Rangers will be on your side to deny civil rights to school children."
When farm workers, most of them Mexican-American, went on strike in 1966, some were beaten and arrested by Rangers. An old saying is: "Every Texas Ranger has Mexican blood. It's on his boots."
The revelations in Swanson's book were the impetus to take down the Love Field statue. That decision is a good start in coming to grips with the Rangers' poisonous past.
But the baseball club still carries the name of an agency that struck terror in many nonwhites.
This is not, it turns out, a new issue. Domingo Garcia, a former Dallas city council member who is national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, recalls that when the Washington Senators baseball franchise moved to Arlington after the 1971 season, the organization held demonstrations to protest naming the team after the Rangers. "We've been the victims of Texas Ranger violence since the 1800s," he told me.
Benjamin Johnson, a Texan and history professor at Loyola University Chicago, acknowledges that the Rangers no longer murder people or block integration. "But for most of their nearly 200 years of existence, they have been an instrument of white supremacy in Texas," he says.
In light of all this, the name, like the Confederate names on Army bases, deserves to be relegated to the garbage dump of history. It's an undeserved tribute that reflects a widespread ignorance, at best, of the Rangers' malignant past.
It may be argued that the team name honors the current agency, not the worst elements of its history. But without the history and the legends, the franchise would not have adopted the name. No one would name a major league team "The Police" or "The Highway Patrol."
The Rangers name is an affront to Hispanics, African Americans, and anyone who favors racial equity. It should be an intolerable embarrassment to the owners and fans.
Even the Aunt Jemima brand had to go. And Aunt Jemima never murdered anyone.
Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
In 2015, after a white supremacist gunned down nine Black worshipers in a Charleston, South Carolina, church and calls to dismantle the symbols of racism and slavery grew louder, Fox figures rallied around the Confederate flag. When state leaders, led by then-Gov. Nikki Haley, ordered the flag's removal from public buildings, Bill O'Reilly used his Fox prime-time perch to say it "represents, to some, bravery in the Civil War because the Confederates fought hard." Then-Fox personality Kimberly Guilfoyle speculated about whether the American flag would be next.
In 2017, when a white supremacist mowed down a crowd of protesters at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia -- which was spuriously organized around the city's plan to remove a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee from a local park -- the same pattern emerged. Fox figures defended President Donald Trump's false equivalence between white supremacists and the counterprotesters at the rally. And they asked whether book burning or removing the U.S. Capitol stone by stone would come next.
Today, the Confederate battle flag and other racist monuments are back in the news. Amid continued nationwide protests over police brutality against Black Americans in the wake of George Floyd's killing, protesters have begun toppling statues of Confederates and colonizers alike.
Last week, Politico reported that the U.S. Army leaders are open to "bipartisan discussion" to rename military bases like Fort Bragg and others that honor Confederate leaders -- an idea Trump and CNN-commentator-turned-press-secretary Kayleigh McEnany both mocked.
In the past week, Fox figures have continued to defend racists and their monuments with a slightly more lukewarm tone. Here's what they're saying now and what they said after the violence in Charleston and Charlottesville.
Fox figures are defending the "history" of racist monuments
- During the June 10 edition of Fox's Outnumbered Overtime, Fox News contributor and Marine veteran Johnny "Joey" Jones made the bizarre claim that military bases were named for Confederate officers not because of racism but because of "Reconstruction and the more damage that was done during that time." In reality, the bases were created and named during the two World Wars, not during Reconstruction, the short period in the South that preceded Jim Crow laws when African Americans achieved broad suffrage, better education, and more political power.
- On Sean Hannity's June 10 Fox show, network correspondent Chad Pergram suggested during a report on possible removal of statues that it didn't make sense to single them out because "Confederate statues are not the only controversial statues in the U.S. Capitol," mentioning "race baiter" Pat McCarran and KKK supporter Wade Hampton.
- On June 11, Fox's Laura Ingraham spent most of her prime-time show chastising liberal protesters -- "Birkenstock Bolsheviks" -- as "performance activists who ... don't believe in free speech or freedom of worship, or even academic freedom for anyone who disagrees with them." She added: "History means nothing to these folks. Free inquiry means nothing to them. They want trophies, maybe, mounted on the wall, though, heads of old Confederate generals or pink slips for academics who defy them." She also wrote on Twitter that Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam was "an absolute disgrace" because protesters toppled a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis at the state Capitol.
- On June 11, during a segment about the debate swirling around whether to rename U.S. military bases, Fox anchor Ed Henry asked a guest, "What's the point of erasing our history?"
- On June 11, when asked by Fox's Martha MacCallum about protesters toppling statues, Fox anchor Chris Wallace compared the toppling of Confederate statues by protesters to what Maoists did during China's Cultural Revolution.
- On the June 12 edition of Fox & Friends, retired U.S. Army Gen. Jack Keane backed the White House's position on whether to rename U.S. Army bases named for Confederates. "I don't think we should trample over the history -- the 100-year history -- of these bases. It was absolutely wrong to name these bases after Confederate generals who committed treason, and that's the reality of it. That was a mistake, but our soldiers for 100 years don't associate it with those Confederate generals. They associate it with … their home. … I'm inclined to keep it as it is." But then he said he'd be open to changing base names if there's bipartisan agreement.
- On June 12, Tucker Carlson opened his Fox prime-time show with a monologue devoted to the future of various statues and monuments. He ridiculed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would require the Defense Department to rename bases, ships, and other military assets that honor Confederate officers or the Confederacy. Carlson called the law "vandalism" and claimed that it also requires the "desecration of war graves," mentioning monuments in cemeteries. (The proposal actually exempts grave markers.) Then he called CNN political commentator Angela Rye, who is Black, an "idiot" for calling for removal of statues of racists and predicted that it wouldn't be long before the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. will be taken down.
Fox has been defending racist monuments for years
- Just a week after a white supremacist killed nine Black people at a church in Charleston in the summer of 2015, Bill O'Reilly asserted that the Confederate flag "represents bravery," telling Fox's Juan Williams that "it represents, to some, bravery in the Civil War because the Confederates fought hard."
- In June 2015, Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes framed the possibility of removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House as "a full-fledged cultural cleansing of the Southern states."
- On Fox News' The Five, shortly after the Charleston shooting, Kimberly Guilfoyle responded to calls for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from South Carolina's State House grounds by asking whether the American flag would be next.
- In a July 2015 news report about backlash to a Republican amendment that would allow the Confederate battle flag to be draped over headstones in national cemeteries, Fox News reporter Doug McKelway speculated about whether the U.S. Capitol, "which is here only because of the back-breaking labor of African American slaves," would be next.
- On August 15, 2017, just days after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, when a white supremacist murdered a counterprotester with his car, Tucker Carlson compared removing statues of Confederates to the extremism of the Taliban, Khmer Rouge, and China. A few weeks later, after the Southern Poverty Law Center released a list of Confederate monuments that should be removed, Carlson accused the organization of threatening violence.
- After the Charlottesville protest, frequent Fox guest and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich went on Fox to say that mayors who take down Confederate statues are pandering to a Black audience.
- In response to criticism of Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville, conservative columnist Star Parker said on Fox & Friends that waving a Confederate flag was no different from waving a LGBTQ pride flag.
- On Fox & Friends in August 2017, Laura Ingraham decried the removal of Confederate statues and speculated about whether burning books would be next. "This is not about racial healing," she said. "This is about the control of the narrative and a destruction of historical recognition." On her Fox prime-time show more than a year later, Ingraham would compare Confederate statues to priceless antiquities and protesters to ISIS.
- On two separate occasions in 2017 and 2018, in news stories about communities removing Confederate monuments, Fox & Friends host Jillian Mele said the removal was erasing history.
- On the morning of September 11, 2017, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade asked then-Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke whether he thought people would one day try to take down 9/11 memorials in the same way they were removing Confederate statues.
- That same month, on Fox & Friends, Kilmeade and Fox's Tomi Lahren discussed what Kilmeade called the "war on history" being waged by liberals. Lahren labeled the impulse to remove Confederate statues an attempt "to erase history and to erase every shred of patriotism."
Ignore President Donald J. Trump, whose latest tactic to mollify his base is to forbid the renaming of military installations that honor Confederate officials. Trump issued that defiant declaration after reports that top Pentagon brass were mulling a process for stripping the names of Confederate commanders.
The president and his reactionary constituency are losing this battle. Around the country, Confederate statues and insignia are being stripped from places of honor as business, political and cultural leaders belatedly recognize their odious symbolism.
As a black woman born and bred in the Deep South, I have spent decades pondering the stubborn staying power of the Lost Cause mythology, which transformed a treasonous war with a racist foundation into a virtuous rebellion against government oppression. That lie pervades history texts, cultural and political institutions, and public spaces -- not only in the 11 states of the Old Confederacy, but also throughout the nation, which has been force-fed falsehoods about the causes and controversies that led to war.
Now, finally, more than a century and a half after the Civil War ended, the symbols of the Lost Cause mythology are giving way. The protesters who have taken to the streets in the wake of the murder of George Floyd have not yet managed to curb the excesses of violent police officers or blunt the insidious racism that permeates the criminal justice system, but they have nonetheless accomplished something significant: The Confederacy and its flags and markers and monuments are falling as they march.
Consider this: NASCAR -- as explicit a representation of Southern good-ol'-boy culture as there is -- has now banned Confederate battle flags from its events. That's near-miraculous. If you've ever watched a NASCAR race on TV, you've seen scores of flags sporting the St. Andrew's cross-with-stars floating above the largely lily-white crowd. The Confederate battle flag is as much a symbol of NASCAR as drivers with names like Earnhardt and Petty.
The statues of Confederate hate-mongers are also tumbling, no matter how fervently their defenders cry, "Heritage, not hate!" Tell that to my ancestors, who were enslaved -- their children sold, their marriages violated, their backs scarred by the whip -- for that "heritage."
Oh, I've heard the lie that slavery was not the reason those 11 states seceded. The war was fought over tariffs, Confederate defenders say, or states' rights. States' rights to do what? Enslave black people, of course.
In March 1861, Alexander Stevens, vice president of the Confederacy, laid out the reasons for secession in his infamous Cornerstone Speech, in which he argued that the new Confederate constitution was based on ideals that were the opposite of Thomas Jefferson's founding principles.
"Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; 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," he said.
After the South was defeated -- its great plantations in ruin, its great men destitute, its cities scarred -- its white defenders sank into self-pity. So they set about creating a story that would make their racist war seem just, the deaths of their young men a noble sacrifice, their poverty another cruel blow by Yankee tyrants. Most Confederate monuments were built not in the ashes of defeat but in the late 19th century, decades after the Civil War and just as the white South was embarking on a hundred years of Jim Crow.
It's long past time that the saints of the Lost Cause lose their esteemed places at the entrances to courthouses, in carefully tended public parks, even in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. And it makes no sense that U.S. military installations would honor men who embarked on treason against their country.
There are still those who are deeply invested in keeping their version of history in place, enshrined in monuments that glorify Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Bell Hood, among others. As recently as 2017, the Republican leaders of my home state of Alabama joined other Southern legislatures in passing laws to prohibit the removal of Confederate monuments.
They are coming down anyway. The Lost Cause is losing.
Suddenly confronted with the enduring realities of racism in our time, white Americans are looking back at the history we have too often forgotten — and the ways that our amnesia has distorted the nation's culture. Now we have arrived at a time for remembrance, and reckoning.
Perhaps the most damning proof of our neglect over the past century or more are the flags, monuments and other remnants of the old Confederacy displayed all over the country. While the pressure of the moment is prompting institutions as diverse as universities, city governments and even NASCAR to remove those stains from our public life, the usual suspects are defending them, led by President Donald Trump, the clown who proclaims his superiority to Abraham Lincoln.
Only this president, with his strangely un-American affinities, could so brazenly uphold the emblems of slavery, segregation and treason. And, of course, he claims to be standing for American civic and military traditions. Yet it should be obvious that to raise the banner of secession has always meant rejecting patriotism — and has never meant anything else.
We should have seen that truth five years ago, when neo-Nazi Dylann Roof displayed Confederate banners before he walked into a church in Charleston, South Carolina, to murder defenseless black congregants. In the same demented video, Roof desecrated a Stars and Stripes, declaring his hatred for the American flag.
Long after the Civil War ended, the Confederacy was not much commemorated outside local cemeteries and regional museums. Robert E. Lee, a reluctant but revered Confederate hero, was spared from ignominy as a traitor — and in turn had declined to fetishize the Stars and Bars, which was originally the battle flag of his Army of Northern Virginia. Lee had believed it "wiser ... not to keep open the sores of war."
But with the advent of the modern civil rights movement, white supremacists ignored Lee's wisdom and, as they embarked on a campaign of racial terror in the 1930s and 1940s, found powerful allies among the Nazi-affiliated leaders of the German American Bund. Towering crosses burned next to swastika banners at rallies where the speakers cursed President Franklin Roosevelt and praised Hitler.
As demands for black civil rights grew after the Second World War, Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond and the "uptown Klan" known as the White Citizens Councils made the Confederate flag their standard. After the White Citizens Councils fell into disgrace during the 1960s, they eventually returned as the Council of Conservative Citizens — a hate group that has embarrassed many Republican politicians caught pandering to its leaders. The CCC festoons its chapters with the Dixie flag, as does the neo-Confederate League of the South, a revanchist group that still openly advocates secession. So do racist and anti-Semitic organizations all over the internet.
Stormfront, the notorious neo-Nazi website, continues to promote the mythology of the Southern cause. And owing to the influence of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, the Confederate flag has long been substituted for Nazi banners in "white nationalist" demonstrations in Europe — where the symbols of the Third Reich are broadly outlawed.
Not every American who has displayed the Dixie flag endorses the treason and bigotry that it now represents to so many other Americans. There have been sincere patriots who insist that it merely represents the bravery of their ancestors.
But that flag and the racist treason it represented are utterly irreconcilable with American patriotism. We have witnessed over and over again, in recent days and decades past, how the enemies of democracy and the exponents of bigotry rallied behind it. Every decent American ought to acknowledge that inescapable reality.
To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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