Chasing a Northern Confederate Out of the South

The Washington Post proclaims: “Protesters mob provocative Va. governor candidate as he defends Confederate statue.” Six seconds of video of the incident involved is likely to show up eventually here or here.

I was there on Saturday shouting down the “provocative” celebrator of racism and war, together with my kids and some friends. The only hostility I saw came from supporters of keeping the giant statue of Robert E. Lee in the park here in Charlottesville.

This was an email I had sent around the night before:

“Republican Candidate for Governor Corey Stewart is coming to Charlottesville Saturday to do a Facebook Live event at 10:00 AM in Lee Park to denounce the Charlottesville City Council for voting to remove a symbol of racism and war. Here’s a report on his efforts to deport immigrants. Here’s an announcement of Saturday’s event. Please show up at 9:45 and bring posters. Here are some ideas:
Black Lives Matter
Celebrate Racism and War Somewhere Else
Love Beyond Flags
Love Trumps Hate
Welcome Refugees, Not Bigots
make up your own!”

These were the chants that were chanted and which I joined in on:

“Hey Hey Ho Ho White Supremacy Has Got to Go!”
“You take Lee. We’ll take freedom!”

“Well what are you?” demanded a bewildered elderly white man of me when I opposed white supremacy and failed to be impressed by his showing me an American flag and shouting “This is an American flag!”

Presumably he didn’t suppose you could look at someone and tell that they were a white supremacist. Presumably he just didn’t make a distinction between being white and being a white supremacist. What am I? I’m a human being. You can put whatever antiquated labels you like on my appearance, but I’m not on your team if everyone isn’t.

“But he wasn’t a racist!” a woman explained to me about General Lee. Is that the point? To arrive at the mental state of the dead guy depicted in the sculpture? This monumental soldier on a horse was put in a whites-only park by a wealthy racist in the 1920s. And if that urban “benefactor,” too, was “not a racist,” that hardly impacts the fact that thousands of people are offended by the statue and its glorification of war — and of war for the maintenance and expansion of slavery.

“You don’t want war? Well, this statue makes people think before they go to war?” I was told.

“Yeah, a glorified giant on a horse does that?”

“Yes, look at how he’s contemplating.”

“A realistic depiction of war would show missing limbs and screams of agony.”

“Why in the world would you want to do that?”

“To make people think before they go to war.”

“But that’s what this does.”

Are these useful conversations? Perhaps.

Should we let racist, bigoted, glorifiers of war and demonizers of immigrants parade through our town denouncing democratic decisions like the one made after lengthy public debate to remove an old and obnoxious statue? Do we have to let Candidate Confederacy — actually a racist Northerner who claims to out-Trump Trump — have his video-op on the corporate news, and then wait our turn until we’re six feet under to offer an appropriate rebuttal?

I don’t think so. I don’t think this is that moment.

First they came for the Muslims and the pacifists. And we said: “Not this time!”

I spoke with a friendlier individual away from the Confederate flags and shouts of “Anti-American!” This person agreed with my point that wars make the United States less safe, but within the next breath came: “But my only concern is if some of the people serving in the military defending us might not like the idea of removing the statue.”

The wars are endangering us. The people fighting in them are “defending us,” even if they aren’t. This is what we’re up against. Un-indoctrinating people with troop propaganda requires conversations that don’t fit on television. Those are very worthwhile, but they take lots of time.

A political commercial for racism and war glorification is a different matter entirely. Let the would-be governor send his comments in via Skype. Our message is: Charlottesville is no place for that.

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  • diogenes

    Thank you David Swanson for your work and your spirit. A comment:

    I agree it’s important to confront incendiaries but I want to remind you — as I think you know — that it is FAR more important that we resist the divide-and-conquer strategy of the 1% that is served by these incendiaries and, instead, and with much more energy, build bridges of understanding to dissolve these divide-and-conquer oppositions and grow a common understanding among all of us of the common concerns that unite 99% of us in true opposition to the plundering 1% of hereditary absentee owner predatory greed and warmongering and oppression. That’s who operates the system and they are our common enemy. They have usurped and subverted and perverted our government to serve their own hateful insatiable consuming greed for wealth and power, and until we understand that, together, and address it, things will just keep getting worse.

    Shouting at each other while these puppet-masters snicker behind the curtain is counterproductive. The true interests of all of us unite us. We are all human beings wanting to live decent lives in decent communities and build a good, decent, human world for our children and grandchildren. But we can’t do it as long as we’re shouting at each other. We need to stop shouting and start talking and tell eachother the truth, and uncovering the truth, and thinking how to get our country out of this horrible trap.

    I copy below a comment I posted to your previous article, because it is still pertinent and essential to what I’m talking about here.

    It would be more useful and instructive, instead of focusing on attacking symbols of the past and blotting them out, for America to become better informed about the past. For instance, the slave trade proper was centered on ship owners living in and operating out of New England and Manhattan. The slave markets in Charleston and New Orleans were RETAIL operations; the slave market on Wall Street was WHOLESALE. Many New England and New York City hereditary fortunes that survive and are powerful to this day were founded on this trade.

    More, the financial economy of the entire South was in the hands of Wall Street from before 1810 (this has been well attested by numerous historians for over 100 years — whose works are even more blotted out of contemporary knowledge than Robert E. Lee’s statue will be). The entire export trade of the South (principally cotton) was controlled by New York City merchants and shippers and financiers and the import trade (in retail goods) of the South was also completely under their control. And right up until 1861 Wall Street bankers wrote mortgages on slave bodies — a financial service without which the Southern slave economy could not have operated.

    After the Civil War, Wall Street control of the south’s economy continued, in the form of control of local retail credit. This too, is well attested by historians hardly any Americans have ever read. And that oblivion is not an accident.

    Or course, there’s no doubt at all that America has a problem with black-white racism but one reason for this is that black-white racism has been used since the 1890s by the wealthy few in power to divide-and-conquer Americans of all colors. We are told about the discrepancy between average white wealth and average black wealth in America, which exists, but we seldom hear a word about the hugely greater discrepancy between the 2% of Americans who own over 60% of America because 60% of Americans own less than 1% of it. This brutal inequity encompasses all races and is the primary cause of nearly all of America’s problems — as is established as a matter of FACT by Wilkinson & Pickett’s extremely imporant and revealing book, The Spirit Level.

    Similarly, we are told about the serious and disturbing difference between the per capita rates of killings by police of blacks and of whites in America, but we hear nothing about the HUGELY greater discrepancy between the numbers of Americans of all colors killed by American police compared to any other country on the planet. Every single year, American police kill more than a thousand Americans, and every single year they kill more Americans than all the police in all the countries in Europe have killed Europeans combined in total for the last 20 years. In 2015 British police killed 4 English citizens and German police killed 2 Germans and American police killed far above a thousand.

    The spectacle of self-described “liberals” getting their panties in a knot about Jefferson’s mulatto mistress or some statue of Robert E. Lee or a confederate flag on some good old boy’s pick-up truck is a ludicrous charade, an exercise in collective fatuity, yes, but it is also a smoke-screen that conceals and prevents an awareness of this KEY fact — that exactly the same interests and forces, in the north far more than in the south (and even some of the same families) that profited off the ante-bellum slave economy are still in control of America’s economy, which they have transformed into a wage-slave rent-slave mortgage-slave debt-slave plantation. This is not a ‘manner of speaking’ — it is a fact of historical economics. And you better believe not one single student-loan debt slave ever heard a word about it in their “American history classes. But they know all about Jefferson’s girlfriend.

    • Marko

      Exactly. Somehow , the main focus and message of Occupy – ” We are the 99% ! ” – wasn’t absorbed by the 99% in any lasting or meaningful way.

      I think the problem was that Occupy was largely perceived as a movement of the left , and the right-hand side of the 99% reflexively smelled a rat and kept their distance. It’s a shame , because if we were united on the problem of class division , we could fix it , and our other divisions would then become much easier to solve.

      If we had it to do over again with this foreknowledge , I bet we could have produced an Occupy movement that was perceived as neither left nor right , but rather as representing the whole of us , with just a bit sliced off the tippy-top.

      • Marko

        Related :

        Robert David Steele is trying to help Trump avoid the sabotage attempts from both inside and outside of his administration. His suggestions aren’t partisan – he’s trying to help Trump wrest control from the Deep State and put it back in the hands of the people. Read this short description and share it widely if it suits you , as time may be short for Trump and Steele wants to generate as much popular support as he can :

        http://tinyurl.com/Memo4Trump

        • diogenes

          Trump’s having dinner with Stephen Schwartzman, principal of Blackstone, owner of over 160,000 peoples’ apartments in America, all from offices in Manhattan, consummate classic rent-serf debt-serf wage-slave owner type. He’s Trump’s kind of people. “Won’t get fooled again!” Trump’s Chumps. Blackstone owns the recently renamed student rent-serf tenement in Berkeley whose balcony fell off and killed a half dozen, mostly Irish, and crippled a half-dozen more. Strictly an absentee investor predator operation. The 0.01% in action. The law of falling bodies. And rising rents. All you Trumps’ Chumps, let’s hear you cheer.

          • Marko

            Screw you. I hate Trump as much as anyone , but I know I’m stuck with him. If there’s a chance that he would govern differently if he didn’t have to suck up to big money , and if there’s a suite of policies that would achieve that but about which he’s too clueless to understand , and if someone like Steele has a hunch that he might be able to influence his thinking on the topic , I think it’s worth supporting.

            Don’t worry , you can sit back and vegetate. You won’t be missed.

          • diogenes

            Screw you isn’t discussion. Sucking up to Big Money is the root of the problem, and you’re for it. Go ahead, suck.

      • diogenes

        The lasting and most important contribution of Occupy is an awareness of those two numbers, 1% and the 99%, which give the whole game away. Starting there, how the system works is stripped naked and we can begin to consider what changes need to be made, and how, to level America’s table. without upsetting dinner.

        Not so many people had any idea of the true proportions of the maldistribution of wealth in America, where one person in ten owns nine “shares” in ten everything, and 2% own 60% and more than 60% of us own less than 1% all together. In fact, the glaring reason 2% have 60% is that 60%$ of us have zilch. The question is how this happens and persists over 120 years and gets worse. A society put together this way, and economy that produces these results — for 120 years now — is not working.

        Or rather, it’s working for a very few. The key controlling share of ownership in America — 28% — is in the hands of one-in-a-thousand, the other nine-tenths of the 1% make do on another 23% and between them own the show. And it shows.

        Thanks to Occupy, way more people know now, that that’s a start. Occupy was stupid,futile tactics. We need to

        The kind of corrections of bad legislation and judicial fiat that need to be taken to level our table have been on the American table from the start in the works of Henry George, Brooks Adams, Thorstein Veblen, Louis Brandeis, William O. Douglas, Jerry Voorhis. Ted Nace’s Corporate Gangs of America is a good layman’s look at the crypto-legal underpinings, Michael Hudson’s Killing The Host is a good look operations of finance working in the nucleus of the virus and on the pervasive toll-taking, something for nothing, on which the financial dominion of the 1% is based — all of it by crypto-legal contrivance.

        America doesn’t have to be a plantation of debt-slaves managed from headquarters on Wall Street. Our Constitution provides us means to effect our will through Congress, by electing sufficient number of representatives who we see to it effect our specific programs of legislation instead of bills written by Wall Street law firms and the like, as presently. This takes an alert, active, informed citizenry, as Eisenhower says. History demonstrates, early and late, that this can’t be done through the two-party system or by money. We have to contrive a way to act around the political system contrived by the oligarchs to baffle constitutional practice in the interest of the public welfare.

        The two-party system is the official name brand Political front of the universal tactic of the oligarchs — divide & conquer.

        • Marko

          “….The question is how this happens and persists over 120 years and gets worse…..”

          There are big changes in the trends within that 120 years. From 1940 to the ’70s , both income and wealth shares increased significantly for the bottom 90%. Since the ’70s those gains have shifted right back to the top. I don’t think it’s a big mystery – policies changed regarding unions , minwage , top marginal tax rates , estate taxation , financialization ( ” let them eat debt ” ) , etc.

          There was a determined effort to do something about inequality after the Depression. Nowadays , there’s an even more determined effort not to.

          http://cdn.static-economist.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/original-size/images/print-edition/20141108_FNC156.png

          http://www.motherjones.com/files/income%20share%20saez.png

          • diogenes

            No, there are small, superficial changes over the last 120 years. The underlying situation remains exactly the same. The majority of the wealth in America is in the hands of 2% (over 60% of wealth) and 90% of it is in the hands of 10% and over 60% of us are left with NOTHING besides he shoes on our feet, maybe a used car. That fundamental reality was first established by the 1890 census and it hasn’t changed significantly since. The CONTROLLING INTEREST in America is in the hands of one person in a thousand and it is overwhelmingly inherited wealth. It is a hereditary oligarchy.

            Picketty’s numbers are from the Federal Reserve (a trustworthy source!) and conceal as much as they reveal. The actual holdings of the top 0.1% today is at least 28% — half-again (50%) more than Picketty’s phony numbers claim. And either way, since it’s concentrated in key financial, corporate, industrial, mercantile and commercial institutions, it’s a CONTROLLING INTEREST. For the authoritative critique of these phony numbers and a presentation of the real ones see my essay, published elsewhere on this site, The Distribution of Wealth In America, Part One. Search Edward N. Wolff for references to the authoritative discussions.

            Hired academic liars like Picketty and Saez are part of the problem. Their discussion always leaves the corruptly legalized enablements of this system unquestioned. See my essay on this also.

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  • Brisa25

    Hey, they recently put up a bust of de facto war criminal Dick Cheney in DC. Hopefully some future authority will remove it.

  • great share its really worth to read thanks

  • LeseMajeste

    From OCCUPY WALL STREET to raising hell about some VA statue? The banksters have you in their pockets, and have successfully directed the anger against them to hate against We the People. When those TBTF Wall Street casinos implode again, pat yourself on the back for helping them escape notice.
    Keep dividing the people and the banksters will laugh all the way to their Cayman Islands banks.

  • Erinviene

    Those who actually study the life and character of Robert E. Lee might conclude that their ought to be a statue of him in every park in America, much less his beloved home state of Virginia.

    Decrying Lee as a racist and wanting to obliterate his honorific statuary is the height of arrogance, ignorance and anti-South bigotry.

    You have become what you pretend to decry, Mr. Swanson. You have violated MLK’s maxim to judge men on the content of their character, not the color of their skin (or where they happened to be born). Time to reflect on the words of one Robert E. Lee who foresaw in 1866 the present-day American nightmare as clearly as we do now, 151 years later:

    “I can only say that while I have considered the preservation of the constitutional power of the General Government to be the foundation of our peace and safety at home and abroad, I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.” – R.E. Lee to Lord Acton, 12/5/1866

    • diogenes

      The direct result of the Civil War was the consolidation of total predatory control over America’s national economy on Wall Street. Since Wall Street already had total control over the South’s slave economy by 1810 (see below), Lee knew whereof he spoke. And here we are today. Now we’re all slaves — debt slaves, shelter slaves, rent and mortgage serfs, wage slaves, perpetual dwellers in student-loan-debt peonage.

      Isn’t that cute? Educators must be really proud to have converted “education” into the slave-mart of 21st century America.

      But slime trickles down, doesn’t it? It’s the Wall Street way, which replaced has replaced the American way.

      The reason the Civil War failed to free all the slaves (while turning the black ones into sharecroppers and debt peons) is because, after killing the monster, it failed to cut off its oligarchic head and drive a stake through its heart (Wall Street). And here we are.

  • artguerrilla

    1. thanks to Diogenes and a couple other posters who took swanson to task for demonizing fellow human beings… this ‘righteous’ hate on the part of libtards (which is NOT hate-hate, doncha know, ‘cuz it is -like- righteous hate, okay ? ? ?) for anyone and everyone who does not pass any of a hundred litmus tests for ‘deserving’ to live in their world, is arrogant, wrong-headed, and anti-freedom…
    2. here is the thing, much like if you are for free speech (FAR too many people are not), you must abide by your worst enemies worst speech; IF you believe in freedom in general (again, far too many do not, they believe in ‘what they want’) you must abide by the fact that people will make bad decisions and wrong choices… if you do not so allow, but aver everyone/everywhere must think/do/eat/respect/speak/act as you demand, then you are not really for Freedom, now are you, li’l Mussolini ? ? ?
    (oh, and fuck this auto-capitalization shit, I did not mean to capitalize much of anything, but when I do, I will do it… guess I am just a little bit -if trivially- less free…)
    3. um, I don’t know what mssrs swanson and all the other pwecious pwotesters think they are going to accomplish with their baiting -if not beatings- of t-rump supporters; but -and this is not said threateningly, it is said observationally- if they think libtardia is going to win a civil war against conservatardia, whoa, you *are* addlepated…
    how many of your tofu-eating blac bloc, antifa, faux-revolutionaries grew up hunting deer/etc with guns and bows ? are used to slaughtering livestock and butchering them ? I can guaran-damn-tee around these parts a good 2/3rds to 3/4s of the home boys (and grrls, albeit a lower percent) have grown up with guns and hunting, etc…
    um, I, uh, just which way do you think the police, natl guard and/or military are going to fall in the eventuality of such a full-scale conflict ? ? ?
    uh, just what are you pampered city mice going to do when the cities are blockaded and all the truckers and supplies, and food, and oil, etc which you depend on all the deplorables in fly-over country to supply stops ? ? ? is *that* how the zombie apocalypse starts ? ? ?
    sorry, civil war breaks out, I bet my money on the ones with the guns, hunting skills, and food supply…

    • diogenes

      “demonizing fellow human beings… this ‘righteous’ hate on the part of libtards”

      giggle. try not to trip over your shoelaces in the first sentence, idiot.

  • As the desecndent of American Negro slaves from Georgia, I dont want to be forced to look at Robert E Lee, the confederate battle flag, etc, etc, in public places but I know that some of my fellow Americans adore him as an icon that stood up against Yankee imperialism and federal over reach. Ok. Do me a favor. Build monuments to the great Nat Turner https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat_Turner's_slave_rebellion and make them equal in stature to the Lee statues. Put them alongside every Lee monument. Then let´s talk about our southern heritage and our southern history as equals 🙂

    • diogenes

      It would be far more beneficial to stop fighting about statues and get more of the real history on the table. It’s not a question of hating or adoring Lee or Turner or Aunt Jemima or Colonel Sanders. What matters is that we understand the continuity of predatory operations and even of personnel — hereditary wealth — that the Civil War was used to entrench in America with toxic results that have been snowballing ever since and our now freezing our democracy and poisoning our society. Much more pertinent than Lee or Turner to our present difficulties is understanding the implications of the background of the Goldmans of Goldman-Sachs in southern debt peonage banking and of the Monsantos in the New Orleans slave trade.

      Mr. Bruno should read some history. He could start with De Bois’s Black Reconstruction and Lawrence Goodwyn’s Democratic Promise and William Appleman Williams The Contours of American History. It would give him something to think about, way beyond the reach of wikipedia.