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Tag: neo confederates

Mississippi Governor Secretly Promotes ‘Confederate Heritage Month’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Mississippi Republican Governor Tate Reeves has signed a declaration making April Confederate Heritage Month.

"The new document, which Reeves apparently signed on April 7, 2021, appears on the Sons of Confederate Veterans' Camp 265 Rankin Rough & Ready's Facebook page. Reeves is from Rankin County," reports Mississippi Free Press' Donna Ladd. "The proclamation does not yet appear on the secretary of state's official proclamations page at press time."

It still does not.

But here it is, from the aforementioned Facebook page (screenshot below.)

"Darn' tootin' it is!" the post reads. "It's official- April is Confederate Heritage and History Month in our state of Mississippi and we observe it with pride!"

Ladd explains why Reeves' proclamation is exceptionally problematic.

"Reeves," she writes, "takes a more 'all sides matter' approach—hearkening back to the 'reconciliation' approach of the United Confederate Veterans and the Daughters of the Confederacy. Led by former Confederate officer and first Mississippi State University President Stephen D. Lee of Mississippi after Reconstruction ended, Confederate revisionists pushed for a strategy that ended in 'lost cause mythology' through textbook censorship and public marketing, including through the proliferation of Confederate statues and memorials across the South."

This "redemption" ideology—which actually advocated for maintaining white supremacy and turning back new-found rights for Black Americans–taught that the north was just as responsible as the south, if not more so, for what some southerners still call the "War of Northern Aggression." "April is the month when, in 1861, the American Civil War began between the Confederate and Union armies, reportedly the costliest and deadliest war ever fought on American soil…," his proclamation begins.


Trump’s Re-Election Is Confederacy's New ‘Lost Cause’

You can tell a lot about people by studying their priorities.

President Donald Trump is not spending too much time worrying about coronavirus surges and more than 270,000 Americans dead, as Dr. Anthony Fauci offers warnings about being vigilant while waiting for vaccine distribution. You did not hear the president express sympathy for those waiting in long lines for food over the holidays.

Instead, he has played a lot of golf and wailed on Twitter and television, refusing to accept his loss last month to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. Oh, yes, and the Justice Department found time to amend protocols to allow firing squads and electrocutions as a means to execute as many federal prisoners as possible before a new administration takes over.

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On July Fourth, A Message For The Patriotic Resistance

On this Fourth of July, Americans live restlessly under a presidential administration hostile to the ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Most Americans despise the president — a blustering, feckless lout who ignores those documents as he undermines freedom of the press and the free exercise of religion. He has appointed a government of plutocrats, mostly mirroring his own unfitness for office, who appear determined to dismantle the institutions that have made this country humane, strong, prosperous, and respected. Along with his political associates and members of his family, he has encouraged and emboldened the very worst elements in American politics, including so-called white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and neo-Confederates, all echoing his promise to “Make America Great Again.”

They cannot make America great again. Anyone who has studied the past should know that those right-wing extremists, always insisting on their supreme patriotism, are traditional enemies of the nation they claim to love. When a demagogue like Trump wraps himself in the Stars and Stripes, he is defiling the flag and denying our history.

For decades right-wingers have sought to establish a near-monopoly on patriotic expression, all too often assisted by some on the left. But every July 4, I remind myself why that reactionary attitude is so ironic, and so fraudulent. Only our collective ignorance of our history could permit conservatives to assert an exclusive franchise on the flag, the Declaration of Independence, and the whole panoply of national symbols.

We need not imitate their style of politics to argue that liberals are just as entitled to a share of America’s heritage as conservatives — and much more entitled than Trump’s far right. To vindicate that claim, in honor of the national holiday, the place to begin is at the official beginning.

While “right” and “left” were not the terms of political combat in 18th-century America, there isn’t much doubt that behind the Revolution, and in particular the Declaration of Independence, were not only the members of a colonial elite, but a cabal of progressive radicals as well.

How otherwise to describe such revolutionary leaders as Thomas Paine and Samuel Adams, who declared their uncompromising contempt for monarchy and aristocracy? Their wealthier, more cautious colleagues in the Continental Congress regarded Adams as a reckless adventurer “of bankrupt fortune,” and Paine as a rabble-rousing scribbler (although George Washington, influenced by Paine, ordered Continental Army officers to read his eloquent American Crisis pamphets to the troops in 1776.) The kind of popular democracy promoted by Paine and Adams was a wildly radical doctrine in the colonial era, tamed in the writing of the Constitution by the new nation’s landed planters and slaveholders.

Pat Gallen reports on all of the 4th of July festivities.

The right-wingers of the Revolutionary era were Tories — colonists who remained loyal to the British crown, fearful of change and, in their assistance to the occupying army of George III, the precise opposite of patriots. Only after more than two centuries of ideological shift can the republican faith of the Founding Fathers be described as “conservative.”

The Civil War can be likewise framed as a struggle between left and right, between patriots and … well, in those days the leaders of the Confederacy were deemed traitors — and then permitted to escape punishment in the interest of national unity. . As libertarian columnist Steve Chapman notes, those nostalgic for the Lost Cause have never celebrated Independence Day with much enthusiasm. Academics may argue about that war’s economic origins, but there was a contemporary left-wing movement that sought to abolish slavery and preserve the Union, arrayed against a right-wing aristocracy that fought to preserve slavery and dissolve the Union.

Today, reverence for the Confederacy is an emotional touchstone among right-wing Southern politicians and intellectuals, as well as neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and other denizens of the “alt-right.” These fanatics hate Lincoln, father of the Republican Party, and wax nostalgic for the cultural heritage of the plantation.

At the risk of offending every furious diehard who still waves the Stars and Bars (usually while wearing a #MAGA cap), it is fair to ask what, exactly, is patriotic about all that?

Yet another inglorious episode preceded the global war against fascism. Long before Trump adopted “America First” to express his xenophobia and bigotry, it was a slogan mounted by Hitler’s witting and unwitting allies in the United States. Camouflaged in red, white and blue bunting, the America First movement proved to be a haven for foreign agents plotting against the United States. Perhaps it is again.

The overwhelming majority of conservatives honorably joined the war effort after Pearl Harbor. But the “Old Right” of Joe McCarthy and Pat Buchanan, the John Birch Society, and yes, the Koch brothers — can be traced to those prewar sympathizers of the Axis.

So when Trump and his far-right supporters swathe themselves in Old Glory, while committing yet another offense against the Constitution, remember: On this holiday, and every day, that flag and the promise it symbolizes are not theirs to abuse, but belong to a nation that will uphold and someday vindicate them. 

License Plates Are Not Bumper Stickers

A group called the Sons of Confederate Veterans has asked Texas to issue a license plate featuring the Confederate battle flag, which many consider an emblem of slavery. Texas said no, and the Sons are suing because the state accepts other messages for specialty plates.

The Sons have a point.

North Carolina issues a license reading, “Choose Life.” When lawmakers there refused to allow a competing abortion-rights message, the American Civil Liberties Union sued.

The ACLU has a point, as well.

States have jumped on the slippery slope of letting various business and social interests promote themselves on the specialty license plates. Now they have slid into the U.S. Supreme Court, which has taken the Sons of Confederate Veterans case.

The justices have examined license plates before. In the 1977 Wooley v. Maynard case, Jehovah’s Witnesses held that the New Hampshire state motto stamped on all license plates, “Live Free or Die,” offended their religious convictions. The court ruled that New Hampshire residents had a right to cover up those words on their plates.

How about no messages on state-issued license plates? Or perhaps limiting them to such neutral bragging as Wild, Wonderful (West Virginia), Evergreen State (Washington), Sweet Home (Alabama) or Garden State (New Jersey)?

I’ll admit to a soft spot for environmental messages — such as calls on Florida plates to protect whales, dolphins, sea turtles, manatees and largemouth bass — but not for blatant advertising. Sports teams are big businesses, and they have specialty plates.

Rhode Island offers a plate featuring Mr. Potato Head, marketed by the local toymaker, Hasbro. The fees car owners pay for such plates may go to a good cause (in Mr. Potato Head’s case, a food bank), and states take their cut. Still, it’s an ad.

But when license plates take on an obvious political tinge, sparks fly. And that’s why a blanket “no” to specialty plates is the right way to go.

Corey Brettschneider, professor of political science at Brown University, doesn’t agree. He sees license plate messages as “mixed speech.” Because the United States allows a freedom of expression unmatched by any other country, the state has an obligation to defend its values, he writes in his book When the State Speaks, What Should It Say?: How Democracies Can Protect Expression and Promote Equality.

Brettschneider believes that Texas was correct in turning down the plates displaying the Confederate Stars and Bars but that North Carolina was wrong in rejecting the abortion rights plates.

I asked him, What about the argument that many see the Confederate flag more as a historical artifact than as an endorsement of slavery? Brettschneider responded that the flag’s history, including its use in opposing civil rights legislation, suggests otherwise. And even if the intent of some of its backers is pure, the considerations are bigger than the views of a private person.

Texas would be tied to the symbol, he said. “Texas has a deep duty to avoid an association between the state’s message and a racist message.”

But who speaks for the state? What happens when one set of officials is replaced by another with entirely different interpretations?

“The Constitution requires deference to the democratic process,” Brettschneider answered, “but it also sometimes requires limits on that process.”

We do agree that bumper stickers are a great invention. They are a frugal way to advertise one’s religion, preferred candidate, dog’s breed, football team or sense of humor. State approval not required.

As for specialized messages on license plates, I persist in opposing them all. Professor Brettschneider’s approach is well constructed and certainly more nuanced, but managing its tensions would be a hard job.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Photo: Stephen J. Conn via Flickr