A pathetic attempt at historical revisionism

A pro-Confederate flag group on Facebook put up this deeply ridiculous meme recently. There are a few problems I can see with the it. First off…oh, you know what, let’s be fair here. I don’t want to be so overly critical of the meme maker that I neglect to offer them praise. I mean they totally deserve a slow clap or two for their ability to Google ‘how many people died in the Civil War‘ and come up with 620,000. That level of talent just boggles the mind.  So yeah, let’s take a moment to congratulate the meme maker here for the ability to find a number related to the Civil War. Now, about those problems with the meme.

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A pathetic attempt at historical revisionism
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What a privilege indeed

Content Note: Discussion of slavery and white supremacy, disturbing imagery

For much of my life, I thought I knew about slavery and white supremacy in the United States. Not everything mind you. But I knew about that ‘peculiar’ institution. I watched ‘Roots’. I saw ‘The Color Purple’. I knew stuff.

  • I knew that millions of Africans were enslaved and brought to the United States where they had no rights.
  • I knew that these Africans were not considered full human beings, and had no rights.
  • I knew that they could be bought, sold, traded, and bartered like property.
  • I knew that male slave owners often raped their female slaves and bore illegitimate children which they sold when the children were of sufficient age.
  • I knew that families had been ripped apart and destroyed. I knew that black families sought to form whatever communities they could, often in the form of churches, though white people would have none of that.
  • I knew about slave patrols, which played a role in the development of modern policing.
  • I knew about black people being whipped, chained, disemboweled, and brutally beaten.
  • I knew the tools often used to keep black people enslaved.
  • I saw the images of black people before, during, and after they were whipped.
19th century medical missionary and anti-slavery advocate David Livingstone sent weapons and tools such as these to Britain as evidence in the battle against slavery.

I knew all of that and more still. I knew that slavery was a vile institution; one that dehumanizes its victims (in this case, African-Americans), treats them as things…as property. I knew that the Civil War was fought over slavery; that slavery was the bloodiest conflict in US history. I knew the Emancipation Proclamation declared an end to slavery. But there was much I did not know. Oh boy, was there ever. Here are three things I’ve learned about slavery and white supremacy in the last year, one of which I learned about today.

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What a privilege indeed

Defending the indefensible

I’m growing increasingly frustrated by the historical ignorance on the part of many Southerners. In the wake of the June 17 act of racial terrorism that took the lives of 9 African-American churchgoers in Charleston, SC, a debate has reignited over the Confederate flag (which has flown over the South Carolina state capitol since 2000). On one side of the debate are those who argue that the flag represents white supremacy, slavery, and treason. On the other side are those who think the flag is a symbol of Southern heritage and freedom from tyranny. The supporters of the flag are attempting to revise history with proclamations such as “The Civil War was fought over states’ rights”, “The Confederate flag represents bravery, valor, and heroism”, and “The Civil War wasn’t just fought over slavery”. The only proper response to the previous claims are (IMO) “no, it wasn’t”, “no the fuck it doesn’t”, and “hell yes it was”. While I’m sure that many people are genuinely ignorant of the causes of the Civil War and the symbolism of the Confederate flag (owing to deliberate attempts to paint the Southern states in a positive light in the wake of the Civil War), I have no doubt that many other people know full well what they argue for. Whatever the case may be, it disgusts me that whether intentional or not, people are defending the indefensible. To understand the reasons why supporters of the Confederate flag are deeply wrong, a little history lesson is in order. The following is a broad overview of the causes behind the Civil War.

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Defending the indefensible

It was an act of terrorism by a white supremacist

You can’t go a day without hearing someone say “The United States is a post-racial country”. In other words, racism, racial discrimination, and prejudice based on race are all things of the past. Leaving aside the fact that people who feel this way have an incomplete understanding of racism (seriously, they need a 101 lesson), these ignoramuses are also blind to the individual examples of racism that occur all the damn time. Normally I would list 5 examples of racism in the United States, but today I’m going to focus on one example.

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It was an act of terrorism by a white supremacist

Stop honoring Christopher Columbus

Children across the country are no doubt overjoyed at being out of school today.  ‘Christopher Columbus Day’ is the second Monday of every October.  It is a day set aside to honor the Italian explorer considered by many to have discovered the ‘New World’ (aka the ‘Americas’) in 1492.  Children are taught to revere the heroic man who risked life and limb to prove the Earth was round.  They’re taught that he discovered the land that would one day be considered the greatest, most prosperous nation on Earth.  Columbus Day is intended as a celebration of this man and all his greatness.  In addition to a holiday just for him, Columbus is honored through the poem 1492.

The thing is:  his history has been whitewashed.

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Stop honoring Christopher Columbus

Kathy Jetnil-Jijiner's History Project

This week, poet and performance artist Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner stood before the world leaders at the opening ceremony of the United Nations Climate Summit.  She was one of 4 people out of 544 chosen to address the Summit.  She says she wanted to “bring my people’s message out to the world, that climate change is a threat we need to take more seriously.”  Poetry has been part of her life since she was young and she uses her poetry to address social and environmental issues.

On her blog Iep Jeltok , she writes: “My poetry mainly focuses on raising awareness surrounding the issues and threats faced by my people. Nuclear testing conducted in our islands, militarism, the rising sea level as a result of climate change, forced migration, adaptation and racism in America.”

In one such poem, The History Project, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner expresses the frustration she and her people have felt over the nuclear tests run by the United States on their island home in the Marshall Islands.

Here’s the video.  She delivers a powerful, passionate performance:

Kathy Jetnil-Jijiner's History Project

Kathy Jetnil-Jijiner’s History Project

This week, poet and performance artist Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner stood before the world leaders at the opening ceremony of the United Nations Climate Summit.  She was one of 4 people out of 544 chosen to address the Summit.  She says she wanted to “bring my people’s message out to the world, that climate change is a threat we need to take more seriously.”  Poetry has been part of her life since she was young and she uses her poetry to address social and environmental issues.

On her blog Iep Jeltok , she writes: “My poetry mainly focuses on raising awareness surrounding the issues and threats faced by my people. Nuclear testing conducted in our islands, militarism, the rising sea level as a result of climate change, forced migration, adaptation and racism in America.”

In one such poem, The History Project, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner expresses the frustration she and her people have felt over the nuclear tests run by the United States on their island home in the Marshall Islands.

Here’s the video.  She delivers a powerful, passionate performance:

Kathy Jetnil-Jijiner’s History Project

Unsolved Mysteries

There are a lot of mysteries in life.  Things we may never know (or, more likely, things I will never know, but someone, someWHEN, may figure out the answer). These are burning questions that strike at the core of humanity.  Without answers to these questions, it’s hard to sleep at night. True rest cannot be had so long as these mysteries go unsolved.

I’m your host, Robert Stack, and this is Unsolved Mysteries.

  • Why was Stonehenge built?
  • How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
  • How do they get that creamy filling inside Twinkies?
  • How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop (the world still doesn’t know)?
  • Was there a second shooter involved in the assassination of JFK?
  • Where was George Lucas going with Luke and Leia *before* he decided they were siblings?
  • Why are women, queer people, and PoC whitewashed in US public school history books?
  • Who was Jack the Ripper?

Oh, wait, we may be able to strike that last one off our list (thank all the non-existent gods in the non-existent heavens, one more hour of sleep)!  British writer Russell Edwards claims he knows the identity of Jack the Ripper!!

On the eve of the release of his book Naming Jack The Ripper, a British businessman claims that he has ascertained the real name of 19th century serial murder Jack the Ripper using 126-year-old DNA extracted from blood found on the shawl of one of his victims.

 

That’s all I’m giving you.  Go read the full story over at Raw Story.

Unsolved Mysteries