“In defense of the Confederacy, the word ‘heritage’ is romanticized. But its literal definition is property that is or may be inherited. Even if the property you inherit is your little brother.”
Tag Archives: Confederate monuments
We’ve heard it so many times before. History has always been written by the victors. It’s a sad reality, yet very true. It means that much of the history of Africa and the Western Hemisphere has been recounted with a decidedly European viewpoint. As someone of mixed European and Indigenous American extraction, I always felt conflicted about this disparity. While trying to find information about Native American Texans in an encyclopedia during my grade school years, for example, I noticed that references to pre-Columbian peoples were treated dismissively. It wasn’t just archaic history in standard academic circles. It was irrelevant. Even mention of the state’s Spanish colonizers – the first permanent European settlers – was dubbed “pre-history.” It seemed Texas history didn’t actually begin until the likes of Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston arrived. And it didn’t matter that these men weren’t even born and raised in the state.
Only within the past half-century has the truth about various indigenous societies been revealed with advances in archaeological research and detailed forensic analysis. Lidar, for example, has taken the concept of neon lighting from the banal presence of liquor store signs to the jungles of Central America where long-abandoned Mayan structures remain shrouded by the foliage. As a devotee of Archeology magazine, I’m constantly amazed by discoveries of ancient settlements across the globe. Areas once thought to be occupied by nomadic hunter-gatherer types at best are revealing the ghosts of thriving population centers.
Yes, history has always been dictated and composed by those who somehow managed to overcome the locals – usually through the casualties of disease and pestilence or the sanguineous nature of war and violence. But the blood of history’s victims seeps into the ground and eventually fertilizes the crops that feed the newly-minted empires. That blood eventually metabolizes into the truth of what really happened – albeit many centuries or millennia later. Still at that point, it can no longer be ignored.
Here in the U.S. we’re now seeing statues and other emblems of the American Civil War come down by government decree. Supporters of that conflict have maintained its genesis was the battle for states’ rights, while truth-tellers insist it was a battle over slavery. They’re both correct, in some ways. It was a battle over the right of some states to keep an entire race of people enslaved. I certainly feel removal of these statues is appropriate. Those who fought for the Confederacy wanted to rip the nation in half over that slavery issue and therefore, should not be venerated as military heroes. They’re traitors.
The debate has now shifted to renaming many U.S. military bases. In my native Texas, one military base is named after John Bell Hood, a Confederate general who – like so many other Texas “heroes” – wasn’t even born and raised in the state. Hood also wasn’t an especially adept military commander; having lost a number of individual conflicts. And yet, a military base is named after this treasonous fool?
The U.S. Pentagon has expressed some willingness to rename military bases that reference those ill-fated Civil War characters. Naturally, it’s upset many White southerners who annually reenact various Civil War conflicts; not realizing how ridiculous they look in their antebellum garb. I can’t help but laugh at them. They’ve been fighting the war for over 150 years and STILL haven’t won!
In his usual brusque and toddler-esque manner, President Trump announced last month he would veto a USD 740 billion defense bill if it included an amendment that would rename many of those military bases. He declared, “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.”
Remember, the Confederacy lost that war. A million reenactments won’t change that reality.
Some 30 years ago my father discovered that Spain’s Queen Isabella (who funded Christopher Columbus’ voyage) was an ancestor of his mother. According to documentation my father found, Isabella learned of the atrocities Spain’s military officials were committing against the indigenous peoples of the “New World” and ordered them to stop. That’s one reason why Latin America has a stronger connection to its native peoples than the United States and even Canada.
It should be worth noting that, while Italians celebrate Columbus as a national hero, he probably wasn’t even a native son. For centuries he was considered a Genoese sailor with grand visions of finding a westward route to India and subsequently gain an edge in the then-contentious spice trade. Contemporary research, however, has declared he was actually the son of Polish King Władysław III; often dubbed the twelve-toed king because allegedly had 6 toes on each foot. And I have to emphasize that Columbus couldn’t get Italian leaders to finance his ventures, so he turned to Spain. In the 15th century C.E., Italy was actually a conglomeration of city-states.
In one of my earliest essays on this blog, I lamented the term “redskin”; a derogatory moniker for Native Americans that has figured prominently into the names of many sports teams, from grade school to professional. Just this week the Washington Redskins football team announced what many previously considered unthinkable: they might change their name. Team owner Daniel Snyder conceded he’s bowing to pressure from its largest corporate sponsors (big money always has the loudest voice in the corporate world), as well a growing cacophony of socially-conscious voices demanding change. Snyder said the team has begun a “review” of both the name and the team’s mascot. Detractors, of course, moan this is political correctness at its worst. But, just like Civil War reenactors still haven’t won, Eurocentrics still won’t admit they didn’t obliterate North America’s indigenous populations.
Change on such a grand scale is always slow and painful. But, as with time itself, change will happen; it can’t be stopped.
We can never correct or fix what happened in the past. Nothing can ever atone for the loss of millions of people and the destruction of the societies they built. But we can acknowledge the truth that is buried. It’s not rewriting history; it’s writing the actual history that remained entombed in that bloodied soil for so long. It’s adding the needed and long-absent color to reality.
A few nights ago, amidst extensive coverage of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, a national news network abruptly mentioned that Tom Brady recently signed a contract to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I guess it was supposed to be a bright spot in yet another tension-filled day in the U.S. and the world. And who wouldn’t want to take a break from this madness? But it startled me, as it came even before news about a massive storm system that had swept in from the Pacific and was approaching the middle of the country; bringing heavy rain and strong winds – some possibly tornadic – upon tens of millions of people. I’m well aware Americans love their football and that sports usually brings people together – excluding stupidly angry parents at kids’ softball games.
In the midst of this pandemic, I could care less about Tom Brady or any other professional athlete – especially the overpaid, over-celebrated types. Like Tom Brady. The COVID-19 death toll is rising rapidly in the U.S.; gradually becoming more real and more frightening. Just as a mudslide creeps down a rain-slogged hill, picking up rocks and vegetation, the virus has been gathering unsuspecting victims – slow, but unstoppable. Here in my native northeast Texas, the Dallas / Fort Worth metropolitan area’s nearly 8 million residents have found themselves in an unexpected lockdown capsule. Not much scares Texans, native or transplant. But COVID-19 is more terrifying than the thought of the federal government snatching up our firearms, or bars and restaurants running out of beer and tequila.
With my elderly mother’s fragile health in even more jeopardy and my gym forced to shut down, I wonder if I’m fatally mistaking my usual spring allergy symptoms for that wicked Wuhan menace. And, as matters intensify, there are some aspects of American society I don’t care about right now. I don’t care …
If another wedding or funeral in either Afghanistan or Iraq is interrupted by an ISIS bomb. U.S. troops have been embedded in Afghanistan for nearly two decades, and we still haven’t been able to tame the bearded and burqa-covered savages who occupy the nation’s rocky environs. I’ve long championed the complete removal of American troops from Afghanistan; whether or not the energy titans who have insisted they remain like it or not.
If Israel and its venomous neighbors let yet another peace pact collapse. There never has been peace in the Middle East and – at the current rate – there never will be. For one thing the U.S. has been kissing Israel’s kosher ass for as long as I can remember. We’ve bequeathed literally billions of American dollars in aid to Israel, and they’ve reciprocated with little more than self-righteous angst.
To hear more about the British royal family. As I’ve noted previously, the American media harbors a fascination with the Windsors that the majority of American citizens do not. To put it in more common vernacular, we mostly don’t a shit what the British royals do. That Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, won’t adhere to some ancient, traditional Buckingham duties is about as important to the American populace as a grasshopper binging on a blade of Augustine grass.
About the plight of illegal immigrants lined up along the Mexican border. Yes, I know many of them are desperate for a new life; free of poverty and crime. But, right now, we can’t help them. I’m genuinely more concerned about the health of my mother (who was born in México in 1932) and myself than some illiterate wetback who’s either too stupid or too lazy to follow established rules and laws to enter the U.S. legally. If they can afford to pay several thousand American dollars to a coyote, or smuggler, to help them cross the Rio Grande, they can use that money to acquire the proper documentation.
About the anxiety of the transgendered. Personally, I’m almost sick of hearing gender-confused folks clamor for equal treatment, then publicly lament that no one understands their “struggles”. No, I don’t comprehend that you have trouble figuring out whether you should have indoor or outdoor genital plumbing and I don’t want to take the time and energy to do so. For years the TG community demanded to be included within the overall queer community; now they want to piggyback on the rest of us and still have their own revolving closet.
About Confederate monuments. Throughout the southeastern U.S., generations of redneck assholes have been fighting the American Civil War and – goddammit – they STILL haven’t won! They keep hollering that the conflict that took some 800,000 lives was about states’ rights, when in fact, it was about the right of said states to keep millions of Negroes enslaved like wild animals. The conservative morons who approve school text books have tried to dance around the issue by making such asinine claims that African slaves were “immigrant workers” or that slavery was actually “work for food and shelter.” If anything, these are the people I’d love to see infected with COVID-19 and die. When education and information fail to enlighten people, I view death as the only viable alternative.
About the Kardashian clan. As with the British royal family, I’m about as concerned with the Kardashian gang as I am with a bug’s ass. In fact, like with professional athletes, I don’t give a shit for the antics of overpaid, over-hyped celebrities; people who live in gilded mansions and consider limited bandwidth a problem.
Whether or not Oprah Winfrey can eat bread. For more than thirty years I’ve heard the former talk show host bemoan her struggles with weight and body imagery. Here’s some body imagery for you: I have an uncircumcised penis and hair covering my butt and my chest. Does anyone genuinely care? No! And I don’t give a flying fuck if Oprah can eat an entire loaf of unleavened bread in one sitting without feeling guilty. Her wagon loads of chicken fat (emblematic of her butt cheeks) failed to impress me; instead, just making me laugh. I recall, during her 2009 visit to the Dallas area, Oprah waddled onto a stage at the Texas State Fair clad in jeans and a cowboy hat (trying to look so…you know, Texan). My mother glared at the TV screen and uttered, “God, I didn’t realize how fat she is until now…seeing her in those jeans. You know, fat gals have no business wearing jeans.” Thus remember, despite her self-aggrandizing proclamations, Oprah doesn’t really care if you like bread, or if you can distinguish real mashed potatoes from processed cauliflower. She just cares if you buy her magazines. Which might not be a bad idea right now. Toilet paper has been in short supply lately.
Now, dear readers, please tell us what you care about most (or least) in these critical times. I fully believe in the power of the pen and the keyboard, and as bloggers and writers, we are obliged to keep the unbridled truth – and the hand sanitizer – in motion.