Tuesday, October 05, 2010

"Endless noise, signifying nothing."

That's what Atlantic journalist-blogger (and war-with-Iran booster) Jeffrey Goldberg found himself getting from Haley Barbour at a "Washington Ideas Forum" which, despite the second word in its name, invited Barbour to speak. "I asked Barbour if he thought the Republicans could have it both ways -- black support and worship of the Confederacy -- at the same time." You can click through for Barbour's responses, if you want to do that to yourself.

Goldberg's conclusion:
The true, spin-free, answer, obviously, is that the Republican Party would rather not risk offending mythopoetic white Southerners by calling the Confederacy what it actually was -- a vast gulag of slavery, murder and rape. As an electoral strategy, it's a fine one -- an immoral one, but a practical one, something that has worked for the Republicans for more than 40 years (though the gains it has made in the South have been tempered by losses in the Northeast and elsewhere). But what I don't understand is why African-Americans, in the south as well as the north, don't simply rise up as a collective and say: No more. That's it. Stop the veneration of evil men.

Just imagine if this discussion was about the Holocaust. Do we really think the world would allow Germany to venerate the Nazis? Well, slavery was the Holocaust of the African-American experience, and yet, here we are, listening to respectable governors of large southern states rationalize the celebration of evil.

I'm so interested in this issue I'm going to keep pursuing it -- the two sides of the issue, actually: The seeming black acquiescence to publicly-endorsed Confederacy-worship, and the reasons some white people -- and their leaders -- feel compelled to perpetuate such worship.
Good luck with that.

The "gulag" reference is one I've thought of. Subdivisions around here are often named "Plantation Pointe" etc. Visiting a black physician and his family in a knockoff Greek Revival mansion, in one such subdivision, I completely lacked the nerve to ask how *that* felt. Not too awful, I gather.

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