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If It Offends You, Sandblast It: the Movement to Erase the Confederacy

July 16, 2015


It hasn’t been a good month for Southern white guys.

The much-awaited publication of Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s long-hidden, pre-written sequel to her revered classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, revealed that lawyer and liberal icon Atticus Finch was actually a racist curmudgeon who attended Ku Klux Klan rallies and railed against integration. He may have defended an unjustly accused black man in court, but he probably wouldn’t have invited him over for dinner.

Meanwhile, the Memphis city council voted unanimously to dig up the remains of Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife from their resting place in a public park. Forrest, you see, was not only a Confederate general but a Klan leader during its formative years. No matter that he later advocated racial reconciliation and, in his last public appearance, addressed a group of Southern black representatives in a most un-Klanlike manner:

We were born on the same soil, breathe the same air, and live in the same land. Why, then, can we not live as brothers?… I want to elevate you to take positions in law offices, in stores, on farms, and wherever you are capable of going.

Pretty bold words for a white Southern eminento in 1875. Still, his crumbling bones have to go.

Even lightweight Confederate-friendly entertainment faced the executioner. TV Land, the nostalgia-themed cable channel, announced that it was yanking reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard, the amiably cheesy good-ol’-boy comedy-action series featuring a vintage Dodge Charger named General Lee. No reasonable soul could accuse the show of harboring racist sympathies… but the anti-Confederate tide swept it out to sea, where it would join Walt Disney’s Song of the South, Amos ‘n’ Andy and Al Jolson musicals in the special Davy Jones’ Locker reserved for racially incorrect pop culture artifacts.

The movement to evict Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill continues apace. The Dixie-born general and seventh U.S. president was, of course, a slave-owner and oppressor of Native Americans, so despite having preserved the Union in the face of secessionist legislation in South Carolina, he appears to be headed for the dumpster.

Finally, earlier this week, the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP called for the removal of all Confederate symbols from nearby Stone Mountain Park — including the monumental 90-by-190-foot relief sculpture of Confederate icons Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis carved into the side of the mountain. Said chapter leader Richard Rose:

Those guys need to go… They can be sand-blasted off, or somebody could carefully remove a slab of that and auction it off to the highest bidder… My tax dollars should not be used to commemorate slavery.

No matter that the park isn’t publicly owned or operated… the sentiments are clear: if it offends us, out it goes.

The culture of offended sensibilities is flourishing in twenty-first century America. Right-wing groups are offended by the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage — just as they’re offended by abortion, gun control, illegal immigration, welfare, Islam and (of course) Barack Obama.

But despite all the joyless noise emanating from the right, I’m awarding the top prize in the readiness-to-take-offense contest to the enlightened left — those perennial opponents of the capitalistic white racist heterosexual Christian imperialist patriarchy. That’s a lot to be offended by in one fell swoop, and I’m not denying their right to take offense. What alarms me is their collective eagerness to denounce, censor and exile anyone who takes issue with their issues.

Renegade speakers are either banned outright from college campuses or accompanied by “trigger warnings” so that sensitive young progressives can retreat to special rooms equipped with teddy bears and coloring books. Aging conservative blowhards like Rush Limbaugh must be brought down by boycotting their sponsors. (No free marketplace of ideas for these illiberal liberals.) News stories must be cherry-picked to perpetuate pet narratives that agitate the faithful. And of course, the Confederacy and its symbols must be sandblasted from our consciousness.

According to the latest lockstep wisdom, the Confederate rebellion — and its infamous battle flag — began and ended with slavery. Those prematurely dead Confederate soldiers moldering away in military cemeteries for the past 150 years? Traitors and slave-drivers, every one. No other issue (states’ rights, Southern solidarity, defending one’s land and family against Northern invaders) can be admitted into the debate. Anyone who claims that the Civil War was fought for any cause other than slavery is deemed a racist and expelled from polite company. Ditto for anyone who sees no harm in letting Confederate flags adorn the graves of the men who died for their breakaway republic.

I get the impression that, come the revolution, those sorry heretics (including me, and possibly you) would find themselves relocated to remote “re-education camps.” It’s already happening, more subtly, in the endless references to white privilege and patriarchy in the progressive press. The left is constantly telling the rest of us that we need to feel bad about ourselves, and that’s no way to win friends (or influence people).

Do I sound predictably contrarian, wrongheaded… even cynical? Could be. After absorbing a half-century’s worth of anti-white, anti-male rhetoric, with no end in sight, even a confirmed moderate like me has to wonder if the noise assaulting my head from the left will ever stop.

Yes, today’s right-wingers are a noisy lot, too. Of course I recognize that the Confederate battle flag has been appropriated by rabid racists over the years, and that much (if not most) of the irrational hatred directed at President Obama is tied to his African parentage. I’ll never align myself with right-wing fanatics who insist that the Bible should dictate our nation’s laws, or that dark-skinned Americans aren’t American enough, or that we need to arm ourselves against our own government.

So why pick on the left during its campaign to eradicate all traces of a defeated, much-discredited Southern rebellion? Because they insist on zero tolerance for dissenting beliefs. Because they’re generally educated enough to know better. Because, ISIS-like, they seem hellbent on destroying historic icons that offend their sensibilities. Today it’s Nathan Bedford Forrest, tomorrow it’s Robert E. Lee, five years from now it could be George Washington. They love to see those dominoes fall.

Isn’t the radical, gun-toting right at least as dangerous as the revisionist left? Of course it is… but what we’re witnessing is a desperate backlash against half a century of radical social change. Much of that change has been for the good, some of it is questionable, but nearly all of it (the recent concentration of wealth being a notable exception) has favored the social left at the expense of the social right.

Bible Belt conservatives — those latter-day heirs to the lost Confederacy — are smart enough to sense that their salad days are over. They represent the last generation of America’s white Christian old guard. They’re scared and angry. By constantly poking them, ridiculing their beliefs and destroying their icons, we just make them angrier.

By contrast, the progressive left represents the future — a diverse multicultural nation with a darkened complexion and often-bewildering nontraditional values. (Do we really need to refer to non-transgender individuals as cisgender?) If those progressives truly intend to embrace diversity and remain faithful to their liberal roots, they could start by showing a little more tolerance for diverse opinions.

That means recognizing that there are at least two legitimate sides to nearly every debatable issue — including abortion, gun control, illegal immigration, welfare, race relations — and yes, even the tattered old Confederate battle flag. Once we’ve removed the flag from public buildings, it’s time we let the Civil War rest in peace. We don’t want a second one on our hands.


Rick Bayan is founder-editor of The New Moderate.

56 Comments leave one →
  1. Rob Anderson permalink
    July 16, 2015 3:12 pm

    My-oh-my. Where to begin?

    Alexander Stevens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America, gave a now-famous speech in which he stated quite plainly that the “inherent inferiority of the negro race” – and their consequent subjugation as slaves – was the “cornerstone” of the Confederacy. Every single Confederate state included in their declaration of secession more than one paragraph indicating that the “right” being infringed by the federal government was their right to keep and hold slaves. Moreover, the entire Confederate leadership, and not a few of the CSA military’s generalship and admiralty, expressed the desire to spread their brand of slavery to Mexico and Central and South America; in fact, that was an express goal to be undertaken once they had defeated the federal forces. Last but not least, academic survey studies of surviving letters from Confederate soldiers to their families shows beyond any doubt that the majority of them – all throat-clearings by the likes of Shelby Foote aside – likewise fought to maintain the peculiar institution of slavery.

    The CSA was, therefore, one of the very worst regimes ever to spring up on the earth. Even by the standards of its time, it was a brutal, genocidal and hysterically racist entity that was quite rightly defeated and destroyed. The tragedy was that Reconstruction never had the chance to finish the job and bring the South in line with the rest of the civilized world. That is a mistake for which we are all still paying. But that does not obviate the simple fact that every cultural trace of the CSA must be expunged. If the current efforts appear unseemly, that is only because the grotesque massacre in the AME Baptist Church has opened up a precious cultural window in which to act, and left-progressives are therefore moving as fast as they can. Yes, Forrest and his wife should be removed, along with his statue. While it is laudable that he reformed in old age, the fact does not expunge his hideous record, a record that is implicitly celebrated in that park, if not explicitly. Yes, Stone Mountain must be “sand-blasted”, though I do believe it should be left to the Georgians to eventually do it themselves. And yes, GOD YES, that damnable flag must be locked away in museums dedicated to the history of slavery and racism in this country, not the “glory” of the “Lost Cause.”

    We have been lying about the Civil War and the Confederacy in this country for too damn long. It is time for the truth to set us all free, including the southerners who – by this point – should know better. Such an endeavor is not “political correctness” but a correction of 150 years of craven lies piled upon falsehoods. It is simple, human decency.

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 16, 2015 5:28 pm

      Rob, it’s a fact that Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s VP was a pro-slavery Democrat, chosen by Lincoln to get Democrat votes. After Lincoln’s assassination, Johnson did everything within his power to thwart Republicans in granting civil rights to ex-slaves, and that continued as the (pro-Union) Democrat party fought civil rights and enforced racist Jim Crow laws right through the 1950’s. Oh yeah, and exactly zero Democrats voted for the 14th and 15th Amendments. None from the South, and none from the North.

      It is likely that Johnson was the most racist president that we have ever had ( “This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men.”~ Andrew Johnson

      But he was a strong supporter of the Union, and a sworn, deadly foe of the Confederacy. So he gets a pass? Or should we dig him up from wherever his sorry ass is buried? Should we teach that all members- and ONLY members- of the CSA were pro-slavery? Because that is factually false.

      No doubt, the history of the Civil War has been dumbed down on many levels, and one of the things that always bothered me was that the Southern states got waay too much sympathy from historians who wrote of the Confederacy’s “dependence” upon cotton, as if those states were incapable of transitioning their economy to one that functioned without slaves. That is also factually false.

      But, as we used to say as kids, 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

      Once we’ve dug up every pro-slavery leader, burned every Confederate battle flag, destroyed every monument, sand-blasted every plaque, cancelled every stupid 70’s TV show about the South, what then?

      • Rob Anderson permalink
        July 16, 2015 6:43 pm

        Yes, Johnson was a rabid racist. So were many others in the North. But the man did not join the Confederacy, and while that may not mean much to us today it was, at the time, a decision that demonstrated enormous stores of character and moral conviction.

        As to “what then?”, that’s easy. Start teaching the truth, and use the expunging of Confederate symbols and traitors as an object lesson.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 17, 2015 8:44 am

        Not to go all Kierkegaard on you, Rob, but this truth that you refer to seems subjective to me, in the way that religions seek complete devotion to truths that can’t be proven. Burning symbols and pushing historical facts down a memory hole may indeed serve as an object lesson. But it won’t end racism or heal divisions in society. And it will require the teaching of subjective lies, in order to get everyone on board with the subjective truth.

        So, why not go with Rick’s position of recognizing more than one legitimate side to most divisive issues and teach all of them?

      • Ron P permalink
        July 17, 2015 11:35 am

        There are those that are offended by anything that does not fit their agenda. They can not disagree, debate and accept others positions, just like they can not accept history and the fact others may have a differing view.

        There are those that claim the confederate battle flag is a symbol of the sacrifice that many made in the south. Many understand that the south had inscription as a method of manning their army and many dies that did not volunteer for fighting the union. Many also understand that the south used blacks in their confederate army for various functions including armed fighting and many blacks died. They may or may not have believed in what they were doing. For those that understand these facts, the flag is a symbol of that hiostory.

        There are also those that cling to the flag just to preserve what they believe is “being southern”. Call them rednecks, racist, uneducated or whatever, these individuals do not base their belief in the flag other than being “Bubba, in the truck with giant wheels and two guns in the gun rack” with the bumper sticker “The South will Rise Again”. In these cases, the flag is a symbol of division.

        And then there are those that did not have a belief one way or the other until the movement to ban the flag from everywhere and now they have one because they reject anything government does, so now they support the confederate flag.

        As for myself, I would not support the flag flying over any state buildings as they are no longer official symbols of the current environment. I would also not support removal of any and all confederate statues and symbols from other public lands as they are part of history. People need to understand history, all of it, and this is a way to educate people. Kids ask who or why and others explain who and why something exist today.

        (By the way, for those that read my long previous post and thought I was being serious, I apologize for wasting your time. Sometimes stupidity can only addressed by more stupidity.)

      • Pat Riot permalink
        July 18, 2015 10:39 pm

        I don’t know where this reply will go, but well said up there, Priscilla!

    • July 17, 2015 10:51 pm

      Rob: Admirable post, well-argued and eloquent… but of course I’m going to take issue with a few points. Yes, I’ve read that the Confederacy, if victorious, planned to spread its bondage empire into Latin America. I’ll have to check the sources to make sure, but I can believe it. And of course we all need to be thankful that the Union won the war.

      That said, I still can’t fault rank-and-file Confederate soldiers for fighting in defense of the CSA. First of all, the vast majority of them were too poor to own slaves, so that reviled institution couldn’t have ranked too high on their list of priorities. They probably looked upon blacks as lesser creatures, but so did just about every white person at the time with the exception of active abolitionists.

      Their primary motivation was the defense of their land against invading Union soldiers. (After all, virtually every Civil War battle with the exceptions of Gettysburg and Antietam took place in the South.) If I lived in Georgia and General Sherman was about to ravage the local countryside, you can bet I’d be roused to action on behalf of my home turf.

      My second concern is the practice (common among progressives) of condemning historical figures based on our enlightened contemporary values. Imagine future progressives reflecting on our times and recoiling in horror at our casual massacres of hundreds of millions of sentient animals for food each year. Imagine… we’d go out to dressy restaurants and exchange pleasantries while forking the sliced muscles of our innocent fellow-creatures down our waiting gullets.

      Did FDR, JFK and Martin Luther King ever stop to think about the crime of eating flesh from slaughtered mammals who, as it turns out, are considerably more intelligent than we used to assume? Probably not. Should future progressives then condemn them for their cold indifference? Well, you get the picture.

      I’m not comparing slaves with livestock… just noting that we can develop judgmental attitudes based on the convenience of hindsight.

      My final concern is the rush to destroy the relics of regimes we don’t like. This is precisely what ISIS does, and it leads to monstrous crimes against history. Imagine if the Romans, after converting to Christianity, had destroyed the Colosseum because of the savage amusements that took place there at the expense of their early Christian ancestors. Should we demolish Mount Vernon, Monticello and other great Southern plantations because they housed slaves in the past? If we allow Stone Mountain to be blasted away, I’m afraid it would open the door to atrocities like that in the near future.

    • July 18, 2015 9:42 am

      I could go long on this one Rob but basically you are full of crap. Then again, it is your own constructed reality so have at it.

      • July 18, 2015 1:49 pm

        Play nice, jb. Attack the ideas, not the person. ‘Nuff said.

    • moonstroller permalink
      January 20, 2019 3:28 pm

      Well, when we consider the utter brutality and bestiality of the Roman empire could it be suggested we put away all their monuments as well. Or, perhaps if we do nothing to Confederate monuments in the future they might become Art as well. If we did away with all Art that illiterates inhumanity we are stuck with Religious Art and then, not much of that. If we hate our children because they are bad…… should we just kill them for humanities sake?

      • moonstroller permalink
        January 20, 2019 3:42 pm

        Perhaps we should just send all Europeans away so that the children of former slaves can have peace in the United States or….. Maybe send them back to where they were stolen. The problem with both methods is that a person is a citizen of the country in which they are born.

        Is not Art a product of the nation that produced it? Considering “Modesty” as a measure of the sophistication of a social community, of course we should ban all “Pornography”.

        The question is…. are monuments to be considered, not art, and appalling due to the implication that they raise-up an ideal that some, but not all, consider to be abominable? We are forced to judge between art and pornography. Who is proper to judge?

  2. jbastiat permalink
    July 16, 2015 3:14 pm

    That means recognizing that there are at least two legitimate sides to nearly every debatable issue — including abortion, gun control, illegal immigration, welfare, race relations — and yes, even the tattered old Confederate battle flag.

    Well written and reasoned as always, good buddy. One knit to pick: what is the debatable side to abortion or is selling body parts now an accepted practice of politic liberals everywhere?

    • July 17, 2015 11:04 pm

      Thanks, jb. If you talk to a feminist, she’ll also insist that the topic isn’t debatable. That’s the problem… because abortion is a classic gray issue. We can argue that an unborn child is a human life, or we can argue that a woman has the right to control what goes on in her body.

      For me, of course, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, it’s a potential human life, and it shouldn’t be treated as casually as having an appendix removed, but a woman certainly shouldn’t have to carry the child of a rapist or incestuous relative to full term… or risk her life if her health is impaired by the pregnancy.

      As for “convenience” abortions, that’s where we hit the gray zone. My own imperfect solution is to outlaw those abortions after a certain point in the pregnancy (say four months), when the fetus begins to move and display human attributes. That solution won’t please either side, but it means I’m doing my job as a moderate. 🙂

      • July 18, 2015 9:33 am

        Well, I don’t talk to “feminists” as they are so annoying. I can’t talk to aborted babies because they are, well, dead.

        Tell me this: who is the extremist here? People who know that children are being forced from the womb and killed or the so-called feminists, who insist on the right to order the killing under the name of their so-called rights?

        And, just to pile on, would selling selected organs from the victims be OK with you moderates?

        Greg Gutfield asked yesterday what the reaction would be to the PP video if they were discussing dolphins.

        I bet you and I both know what the reaction would be. Dolphins (which I love) versus babies (which apparently OK once they are born with the mother’s permission).

        PS-if you think an abortion involves a “potential life” go watch one. As they suck the baby out of the mom and crush its head, how “moderate” do you feel about this? When the cull out “salvageable organs” is your middle position still intact? Well, at least they wait until the heart stops beating (I think).

        Let me know.

  3. Ron P permalink
    July 16, 2015 4:34 pm

    It is time that we remove from all federal buildings and public lands the following presidents since they were slave owners and supported slavery before or during the presidency and that offends people.
    1) George Washington, 1st President, Virginia
    2) Thomas Jefferson, 3rd, Virginia
    3) James Madison, 4th, Virginia
    4) James Monroe, 5th, Virginia
    5) Andrew Jackson, 7th, South Carolina/Tennessee
    6) Martin Van Buren, 8th, New York
    7) William Henry Harrison, 9th, Virginia
    8) John Tyler, 10th, Virginia
    9) James K. Polk, 11th, North Carolina
    10) Zachary Taylor, 12th, Virginia
    11)James Buchanan, 15th, Pennsylvania
    12) Andrew Johnson, 17th, North Carolina
    13) Ulysses S. Grant, 18th, Ohio
    If fact, Zachary Taylor owned a slave during his administration.
    In addition, people are offended by slave owning presidents and we need a major push by the politically correct to remove Washington and Jefferson from Mount Rushmore. Nothing displayed in our public parks should support anyone who owned slaves.
    As for money,people are offended by Washington, Jefferson, Jackson and Grant. They need to be removed from our money as using their likeness on our money is just a sign of the federal government supporting slavery.
    Those attending any schools like Andrew Jackson High School (many sites) Washington and Lee University, John Tyler community college, Van Buren High School and many others need their names changed as those are offensive to people.
    Anyone living in the 8 countries in the USA named “Lee” should ask their county commissioners to rename their county so Lee’s name is expunged from public uses.
    And lets not forget that we need to eliminate any music originating from the south like “Dixie” as that offends people.
    We also need to eliminate any reference to fried chicken, greens and watermelon from all the cook books as those could be considered racist because that was a staple of the black diet in the south.

    But maybe the easier way to be less offensive is to eliminate anything that is historical in the USA since the passage of the civil rights act. That will make learning history much easier for kids in school, we won’t have to put up with all those men riding horses displayed in stone in the parks and we can bury our heads in the sand like history never happened.

    By the way Rick, you forgot to mention that Bubba Watson had the confederate flag removed from the roof of one of the General Lee’s Dodge he owns and drives. And when someone like Bubba bows down to political correctness, one knows things are not changing for the good as Bubba does not bow down to anything PC.

    • Rob Anderson permalink
      July 16, 2015 4:49 pm

      Neither Buchanan, Johnson nor Grant owned slaves. As to the rest, yes, definitely. It would be a great tonic if we started facing up to the reality of this nation’s true history. While were at it, we can get rid of Sherman and Sheridan, both of whom held genocidal attitudes about Native Americans and acted them out in the West after the Civil War. You’ll get no argument from me.

      As to the rest of your comment, it is too stupid to remark upon one way or another.

      • July 16, 2015 4:57 pm

        That’s what I meant it to be as I find all of this PC crap stupidity. But then I find most of what the Liberals believe in stupid crap anyway. ( And don’t take that personal as I don’t believe liberals are stupid crap, just their beliefs)

      • July 16, 2015 5:03 pm

        You might want to check this. If it is wrong, sorry, but since it was from a college I believed it.

        According to other sources, some time before becoming president, Buchanan purchased two slaves in Virginia from a brother-in-law, and immediately converted them to “indentured servants.” One slave served under indenture for seven years; the other — who was five years old when assumed by Buchanan – was indentured for 23 years. Both servants were female.

      • July 18, 2015 12:59 pm

        You would know stupid, Rob. You’ve spent your entire life there, apparently.

    • July 17, 2015 11:16 pm

      Ron: Aside from a few historical inaccuracies, you’ve successfully illustrated the dangers of “condemnation by hindsight.” Yes, it’s a slippery slope… we can find something to dislike about nearly every great historical figure. Once we finish with the slave-owners and heave them into the dumpster, we could move on to harping on the flaws of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Mother Teresa. It never ends.

      • July 18, 2015 9:38 am

        “But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

        I guess the “Reverend” Al missed this verse in his rigorous religious training?

    • July 18, 2015 9:34 am

      Indeed, anything in our history that is unpleasant must be removed. Imagine the new employees in this line of work.

  4. July 17, 2015 12:21 am

    I believe that the whole point of civilization is to continue to improve and better itself. If one can look back one, two, or three hundred years ago and see that there has been no moral improvement, then I would say that civilization is on the downhill slide. I also want to say that I am disturbed by the tendency of some Americans to hold America to this standard to which no other group of people have been held accountable. There is an inherent racism in this if one thinks about it: White people need to be held to a higher standard than the peoples around them. Moreover, I would say that our forefathers (it doesn’t matter that they were white or men) implemented ideas as America’s foundation that were not only radical for their time but would also create an ideal for which we continue to reach and aspire. This ideal, once set forth in our constitution and argued about in our courts, has had such an impact on the planet that there are many who look back at our progenitors with disdain and contempt, reminding me of how the grandchild of immigrants looks at his funny grandparents with disdain and contempt — even though his grandparents made it possible for him to live such an enlightened and privileged life. Thus, I view those Americans, who disdain the founders and the history from which we were birthed with disgust, passing that on to our children in places of learning, as ungrateful and ignorant. If America is able to withstand this assault, all the enlightened 21st Century thinkers should recognize that in 200 years they will be seen by their children’s children’s children as just as ignorant. Hence, the previous commentator’s suggestion of getting rid of all history together would be of necessity. Instead, we should be honest with our children about the mistakes or our country’s past while also recognizing the ideas that our forefathers fought, bled, and even died for which made it possible for the modest minds of the 21st Century to stand upon their shoulders and say “We’re better people than they were.” I can only hope that we are.

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 17, 2015 8:47 am

      Excellent, RG.

    • July 17, 2015 11:22 pm

      RG: Well said… and you beautifully illustrated the unfairness of “condemnation by hindsight” (see my replies to Rob and Ron P). I’m afraid this phenomenon will become more and more prevalent as the old white majority fades in America and the former minorities start writing the history books.

      I wish I could share your belief that every generation represents an improvement (or even an aspiration to improve) over the previous one, but I’m just an old curmudgeon. Time will tell.

    • July 18, 2015 9:35 am

      Well said, RG. The sad thing is, there are so few “enlightened thinker left.

  5. July 17, 2015 4:37 pm

    Excellent analyses Rick, Priscilla and Redland Girl. How can so many millions of people be blind to the reasoned logic of your thinking?

    • July 17, 2015 11:25 pm

      Thanks, RP. We live in polarized times, and it’s easier to argue for one side (especially if it’s your own “team”) than to deal with the complexities and ambiguities of balanced opinions. It’s our lot as moderates to acknowledge that we’ll probably never rouse the faithful as effectively as the extremists do.

  6. July 18, 2015 6:50 pm

    Back in the 70’s, 60’s, and 50’s, Americans of all ethnic backgrounds drove home drunk from family gatherings and events. It was common. And we didn’t put kids in seatbelts or car seats because we didn’t have seat belts and car seats. Was everyone a monster then? Of course not. They lived within their times. Then people try to change things for the better.

    When someone in my physical proximity starts in on which Founding Fathers owned slaves…well I just drop whatever I’m doing and head over there.

    “Hey, have you seen reports about working conditions in China—they’ve had to install nets around some buildings to stop suicides, the workers live in cubes and the equivalent of hamster tunnels, all packed in like…”

    “Oh I know. The workers need to get some kind of representation. It’s like the U.S. coal mines all over again…”

    “Yeah but we continue to perpetuate the system by buying the cheap imports. We turn a “blind eye” to it. We all do to an extent. Who made the clothes you’re wearing? How about that electronic device? What were THOSE conditions like? And how about the sex-trafficking that’s going on? Have you done anything about sex trafficking? What have you done to eliminate or lessen the slavery of today? Have you quit your livelihood, stepped away from your income, pledged your life and your fortune to stop sex trafficking and slavery around the world? Should we start arresting people who don’t end world hunger?

    And what did the Founding Fathers do within the context of their time? How about after thousands of years of rule by kings, queens, pharaohs, with rigid caste systems and no upward mobility, the Founding Fathers pledged their lives and fortunes to change the course of human nature by instituting an unprecedented system BY THE PEOPLE, a system that allowed THE PEOPLE to vote to end slavery…

    Embarking on a systematic attack of the past using values of today, is indeed a slippery slope. It is also egregiously hypocritical and shows a dangerous misunderstanding of what we need as a society to truly move forward. We can’t change everything overnight, and we’ve a lot to do, so where should we direct our energies? Retro witch hunt? It’s like turning in your parents or your grandparents after they raised you and fed you and paid for your college. No you don’t celebrate their shortcomings as human beings, but you don’t destroy them. That goes against human nature. It’s wrong.

  7. Pat Riot permalink
    July 18, 2015 10:29 pm

    Thanks RP. It really works me up when people attack the Founding Fathers. I noticed on one of the History Channel attempts to re-write history they portrayed Ben Franklin as a creepy sleazebag. After all of Franklin’s accomplishments they introduced him to young audiences as a creep. Descendants of King George financing that script?

  8. Pat Riot permalink
    July 18, 2015 10:35 pm

    I’m with Rick on defending George Washington. They’ll only tear GW down over my dead body!! OK I’ve got to go do some meditation and breathing exercises!

  9. Roby permalink
    July 19, 2015 10:35 am

    This is why I have such disdain for Howard Zinn. My father, a lifelong liberal to the nth degree, but also the holder of a doctorate in Civil War history, long ago pointed out to me that one simply cannot hold the actions of people from the 16th century to the standards of the 20th century, that is just revisionism.

    The Civil War discussion is difficult however, because by that time many people did know better and in fact died to defend their belief that slavery was immoral and inhuman. Not to mention not consistent with the teachings of Christ.

    I actually agree in part with everyone here and think there have been some very well thought out posts by all sides, starting with Rick.

    The confederacy was a vile entity that was based on a vile idea. Thank god they lost and lets not romanticize them. At the same time, if you were a young man born in the south, you would have joined and believed, that was the culture.

    I have no love for PC and yes, this is a liberal/left failing. I’m not sure that there is much danger of George Washington being dug up, and digging up long dead people is clearly disturbing and beyond reason.

    As a moderate I still cling to the absurd notion that common sense and common decency ought to dictate that we not dig up dead civil war figures, that there ought not to be a bust of Rush Limbaugh in the Missouri Capital or a statue of the ten commandments in the Oklahoma capital, that children out to be able to sing the beloved old Christmas songs in school assemblies, etc.

    I’m not a Christian, but on a related topic there are those, led by Richard Dawkins, who think it wise to try to extirpate religion completely and remove any sign of it from public life. That is PC as hell. As a moderate, is there not some middle ground?

    At the little Vermont college I have a part time job at, a committee of concerned students convened and went looking for a cause and found one in teh need to have bathrooms on campus that did not make transgender people feel bad by labeling said toilet as male or female. It turned out that there were plenty of such bathrooms already. Everyone ignored them (the committee). PC so often undermines its own goals by being a caricature of reason.

  10. Priscilla permalink
    July 19, 2015 11:17 am

    Well, Rick, you have clearly struck a nerve with this post…..most interesting and passionate commentary that I can remember for a while.

    The far left is basically utopian in its world view and sees the world as made up of oppressors and oppressed, with oppressors largely empowered by capitalism. The US, as world history’s largest and most successful and powerful nation is, by definition, the most oppressive and evil one as well. Destroy America and capitalism, and – voila! -the oppressors are essentially defeated, leaving the world to live in peace and harmony.

    Oversimplified, yes, but, for me, it is the only way that I can wrap my brain around the idea that people can turn a blind eye to the evils of Islamism, while vilifying American culture and values on almost every level. I mean, how can you simultaneously attack a Christian world view that seeks to maintain a traditional man/woman definition of marriage, but, at the same time, ignore the fact that homosexuality is punishable by death in societies ruled by Sharia? It has to be a willful ignorance, or an extreme willingness to accept that the end justifies the means – even if those means are brutal and barbaric.

    So, when Pat speaks of a retro witch hunt, that is precisely what it is. A necessary rooting out of any historical facts and figures that might mitigate against the argument that utopia can be achieved by the destruction of capitalism.

    Your moderate view that there are two debatable sides – or maybe more – to be considered in an imperfect world is not acceptable. (I fully expect some push back here, especially from Rob, Roby and maybe others… so have at it)

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 19, 2015 11:20 am

      That last parenthetical comment was not meant passive-aggressively, btw! I actually am looking for the debatable arguments to my logic.

      • Roby permalink
        July 19, 2015 11:51 am

        “Your moderate view that there are two debatable sides – or maybe more – to be considered in an imperfect world is not acceptable. ”

        “I actually am looking for the debatable arguments to my logic.”

        I don’t see a logic, I see a blanket statement. Yes, I don’t agree, but logic is not the issue, you have left no room for debate, simply you state that the moderate view is unacceptable.

        I can agree with most of what you wrote up to that point, but then in my view you went off the rails.

        Yes, there is a moderate view of the cultural war and it is not only acceptable its the path to a society based on common sense and common decency.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 19, 2015 12:06 pm

        And this is why Rick is the writer and I am the commenter! I’m sorry, Roby, that I gave the impression that my “your moderate view is not acceptable” was actually MY opinion. In fact, I find that the ONLY acceptable view in an imperfect world, as you do. Just poor wordsmithing on my part.

        What I meant was that, in the utopian leftist world view that I had described, Rick’s view is not acceptable. In my attempt to be less wordy than I already was, I left out that clarifying bit.

  11. Roby permalink
    July 19, 2015 11:55 am

    One thing I can say is that in America, while you can do stupid things like digging up politically incorrect corpses you cannot hide historical facts or make them vanish, that is not possible in our society, unlike say Japan or China, where historical revisionism to hide the sins of the country culture does attempt with some success to make facts disappear.

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 19, 2015 12:10 pm

      Yes, agreed. But are we going in that direction? It seems to me that this business of digging up politically incorrect corpses really is the slippery slope that will make it possible for us to end up like China.

      • Roby permalink
        July 19, 2015 12:26 pm

        Its a disgusting business, yes, really weird. I’m not sure why you are expecting me to push back against your post, especially after your clarification.

        Yes, I don’t quite think we are in danger of getting to the point of China, fear of government, love of freedom are in our cultural DNA. Anything is possible in some sci-fi scenario, but China has never been a free society and the USA has always been. My only quibble with your ideas is that I think you are not giving enough credit to the ability of our culture to resist such an outcome. As I said long ago, our fears are a major factor that define our political opinions and the fear that the US will become China via PC far leftists is much higher on your list than it is on mine. Other than the weight you give to the possible reach of the PC police, I do not disagree with much that you said.

        If we want to argue on this Sunday morning I guess we could argue about how large and powerful the “far left” actually is, you may (and I do mean may) believe its 30% of the voters and I may believe its actually more like 1%, 10,000 person rallies for Bernie notwithstanding.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 19, 2015 12:50 pm

        Right- that is exactly the push back that I was looking for. 😉 And, it’s true, I do subscribe to Reagan’s belief that freedom is always only one generation away from extinction.

        I didn’t always, and I am comforted by the thinking that I am somewhat of an Eeyore (or maybe I’m a Chicken Little), and that Americans will never stand for the kind of tyranny that exists in other cultures.

        But I look at the rapid changes that we have seen, and I’m not encouraged.

        And, I agree with you about the “far left” not being all that large in numbers – just as think you (and Rick, too) often exaggerate the size and influence of the “far right”. But leftist ideas dominate in academia and, more and more, in the media. I think that is the basis of my concern, and any fear that I have…..

        We can argue more on another day. Enjoy your Sunday!

  12. July 22, 2015 8:06 pm

    Mostly agree with the sentiments here. However, I’m forced to point out that the issue isn’t really political correctness.

    I criticize what I see as ill-thought PC everyday, but the thing about criticizing PC is that it can easily become an ideological shield of its own. And frankly, that’s what I’m getting whispers of here.

    All of us know full well that the battle flag of an enemy of the United States has no business being on a government building, anymore than an ISIS or North Korean flag. But because extreme leftists happen to have a moment where their broken clocks are telling the right time, there’s this urge to antagonize them regardless. This is an example of PC-bashing defeating its own purpose, and it’s why we have to be careful not to let our disdain for political correctness overshadow truth. If we’re blindly throwing our fists in the scuttle, then we’ve no right to claim to be above the fray.

    There’s no doubt that many leftists very childishly ridicule and persecute people who fly or express any affinity for that flag, and that is indeed sad and counterproductive. But here’s where the anti-PC position contradicts itself: if you’re going to express any such sentiment, then be prepared for opposition, even if that opposition is unruly.

    I don’t read anyone here expressing that the ISIS flag “means different things to some Muslims and that it should be respected.” We know what the stars and bars represent, because we know the ACTIONS of the people who used it, not their “sentiments.”

    Of course no rational person supports the leftist effacing (and subsequently revising) of certain aspects of the culture and history. As you pointed out, though, Rick, a great many southern rightists support such symbols just to oppose multicultural leftists, even when they know their own position on a particular issue is wrong.

    EVERYONE must accept criticism when they express themselves, despite how juvenile that criticism can be. This is the price of freedom of speech.

    • Priscilla permalink
      July 23, 2015 8:05 am

      Hey sgf, nice to see you around these parts.

      And, I do think that the term “political correctness” is an overused term, and not always accurate when applied to First Amendment infractions.

      Multiculturalism is an interesting term, as well, and often used in a defensive way, I think. I live in NJ, possibly the most diverse and multicultural state in the country. There are neighborhoods in Jersey City, where the ISIS flag is flown freely outside of apartment homes and shops.

      I have to admit that I do not see this as an expression of multiculturalism – I see it as an expression of support for the enemies of the US. It’s a battle flag, just like the stars and bars, with a big exception. The Confederate flag is an historical relic, symbolizing an ugly period of our past. The ISIS flag represents a present struggle, and there is legitimate reason to fear that the people who fly it are our enemies. As in, people who want to kill us, black or white. Honestly, although I am a strong First Amendment supporter, I have a problem with people in my state flying the flag of an actual, actively fighting enemy.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        July 23, 2015 8:20 am

        Priscilla, I haven’t been surprised in a long time. People are flying ISIS flags in Jersey City?? Wow. I would agree that there is a difference between current battle flags and relics of the past, although the Confederate flag is a curious case as it has taken on a variety of meanings that are still relevant today. What a mess.

      • July 23, 2015 8:26 am

        Yes, and slavery was ended how many years ago? It would go much easier on everyone to grow up and think rather than react. A thicker skin would not hurt either.

        Once upon a time, there were only native americans (Indians to you and me). Now, well, you get the point. If one wants to go backwards and general moral outrage, on one is safe.

        The flag issue is bogus and only seized upon as a political chit (by the GOP no less).

      • July 23, 2015 8:22 am

        Totally agree. On the other hand, if they fly the flag, they are easier to find. Easier to find, easier to deal with. Problem solved.

      • Ron P permalink
        July 23, 2015 11:50 am

        Maybe we need to do the same thing to those that fly flags representing other forms of government other than our nations flag and do the same thing to them as we did during WWII to the Japanese Americans. Take everything they own, ship them off to a rural part of the country behind barbed wire and other fences they can not escape and leave them there until this “war” is over.

      • July 23, 2015 5:43 pm

        Priscilla, as usual, you make a very point. Certain southerners moaning over the Civil War are indeed mostly harmless boobs who refuse to just get over it, while support for ISIS or any Middle Eastern terrorists is a clear and present danger. Let me only point out that I didn’t mean to imply that Confederate support was an expression of multiculturalism (though one could attempt a case for that); I tend not to like “multicultural” as a term, either–I was using it the same way that many rightist ideologues use it so derisively, though I was doing so ironically.

  13. Pat Riot permalink
    July 23, 2015 8:14 am

    sicklygreyfoot, that’s a good caution to bring up. We’d be taking a great step in a healthy direction if everyone in our multi-cultural society (confused, dumbed-down society I say, but that’s another topic) learned to better handle criticism–by respectfully debating the issue at hand rather than finger pointing, labeling, and bashing. And so for example to react with the sentiment that “all lefties are PC Police scum and I’ll do whatever I damn well please” is to be not so different than extreme lefties who say “such and such offends me and it must be stricken from the earth”. I think that’s at least close to your point and I would agree.

    The Confederate flag: Symbols can be VERY tricky because of course different people assign different meanings at different levels. The Confederate flag is not understood very well by the shallow, knee-jerk elements of our “culture.” To some it is partly a symbol of the valiant fighting of the Confederate soldiers, and before anyone throws the first stone…how common today is it for people to say “I don’t agree with the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, but I honor the brave soldiers…” To some it is partly a symbol of a “NO THANK YOU” to “fast-paced Northern abruptness and rudeness” as one might find in large northern cities, as opposed to a more relaxed, rural “wholesomeness.” To some it is partly a disdain of black ghetto culture, without being racist. That will be difficult for some out there to grasp. And to some it is racist. I don’t think ANY of those “assigned meanings” includes a condoning of slavery. Nevertheless, the stars and bars was the Confederate battle flag, and slavery was the most salient of the war’s issues, and a disgrace of a time past, and so I think it’s reasonable to remove it from government buildings, and for people to think carefully about having it on their pickup truck, etc, but attacking the past with a mob-like vengeance is a hint of the same disgrace.

    • dhlii permalink
      September 13, 2015 7:02 pm

      While symbols mean different things to different people, that is irrelevant.

      If the cracker flying the confederate flag from the back of his pickup is intending to send an overtly racist message – he is within his rights to do so.

      The freedom of speech afforded government is much narrower.
      The use of confederate flags by government – regardless of their intended meaning is inappropriate.

      Returning to my main point. There is no freedom of speech (or thought) unless we are free to express vile and repugnant thoughts. As Brandeis noted over a century ago the remedy for offensive speech is more speech not less. There is no right not to be offended.

      We are free within our own lives to judge others – on their speech or whatever criteria we wish, as politely or harshly as we choice – and to be judged by others just the same.

      We are not free to initiate violence against them, we are not free to actually harm them, and government’s legitimate role is to bar and punish those actions.

      But we are free to speak as we please no matter who we offend. Just as those offended are free to speak (or act in whatever non-violent fashion they choose) in response.

      Stupid vile and offensive speech can have consequences – just not ones imposed by force, either through the sanctions of government or the actions of individuals.

      It does not matter what is symbolized. If free speech does not include the right to offend – then there is no right of free speech at all.

  14. Pat Riot permalink
    July 23, 2015 11:12 am

    Hah! “easier to find” – I like it. Also a fan of thicker skin. What happened to teasing people so they could get over themselves??

    • jbastiat permalink
      July 23, 2015 11:49 am

      Pat, that is so yesterday. It started when we couldn’t tease or poke Obama.

      • July 23, 2015 11:55 am

        JB…you can not “tease” people anymore. That is being a bully.

      • jbastiat permalink
        July 23, 2015 12:31 pm

        So I have heard. The challenge is that grow up to be a bunch of pussies who cannot take or make a joke. What the hell kind of world would it be if there were no humor?

        Jerry Seinfeld won’t even perform at a college anymore.
        Too PC.

  15. dhlii permalink
    September 13, 2015 6:48 pm

    If you wish to be offended – be offended.

    Federal, state and local governments have no business commemorating the confederacy either in symbol or elsewhere – regardless of whether confederate flags etc. are about slaves or revolution.

    Nathan should probably rest in his grave, but if Mephis must move him that is not my business.

    If you want to fly the confederate flag from your home (or trailer or pickup truck) so be it.
    And if others wish to protest, or boycott – they are free to do so.

    Freedom includes both the freedom to offend and be offended – as long as you do not actually harm someone else.

    I have major problems with the left wing nut censorship that occurs on most college campuses today – and that would be a factor in where I might send my kids to college.

    If Stone Mountain wants to sandblast Lee and company off the side of the mountain – their bussiness. If they want to place a 50′ inflatable likeness at their entrance – again their business. And I can decide what I think of their choices and how I will respond.

    In the past I have supported the right of the KKK to parade through my town – and was present at the protests to those parades.

    Freedom includes the right to offend, and to be offended.

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