Southern Girl, Liberal Heart

Richmond still clings

Since there are many hundreds of books about the Confederacy (and many about Lee himself), many movies, much historical documentation and still entire college classes devoted to the study of our Civil War, it is beyond ridiculous to claim anyone is promulgating that Lee “is a man best forgotten”!

Yes, Lee “was a complex man, worthy of study, remembrance and, for some things, respect” which is all borne out in the many books about him and his life as well as the documented writings and stories about him, so it is ludicrous to claim people see him as “one-dimensional”. Lee was and remains “a major historical figure” even to those who oppose publicly celebrating the Confederate iconography and neo-confederacy cult of ‘the Lost Cause’.

What many fail to grasp is that no one needs you to bow down and acknowledge that slavery was an abomination. What people of good conscience and integrity want is for Southerners who “worship” Lee and the Confederacy to stop sounding like racists and stop lying that there were so many “other reasons” the Confederacy was formed, seceded and caused war in our nation. The atrocity of slavery is decided and cannot be changed, the excusing it, and claiming honor among those who practiced it or defended it to the point of war is the problem.

One may consider any “aspects of the war” you please but you need to concede that the South, the Confederacy, brought that “widespread death and destruction” on themselves! The North did not set out to make war on the South, the North did not fire on the Confederacy without cause, the North did not even set out to free the slaves or take anything from the South. The South spoiled for secession and war and when they lost they wanted to blame the North, blame Lincoln, blame anything and anyone except themselves, even God. That was the birth of the Lost Cause cult that still exists. The Civil War was not done to the South, it was done by the South.

The United States Constitution, once ratified was not just something any state could just walk away from, that federal property would just be ceded to you. That land claimed by the United States of America would be freely given up.

Oddly enough, much of history is just “a set of facts”, “static dates and events” and the reality as recorded by those who lived it. Interpretation does not allow for the embarrassing contortions of neo-confederates and Lee worshipers. That is why there is so much push-back.

Do you assume that Lee and other Confederates were the only people who might have felt for the South and their predicament? Do you suppose no other military leaders held an allegiance to both the South and the United States? You act as if Lee’s choice was the only one before him but that is just not true. Others faced the same decision and they chose to hold their nation together rather than fight to divide it and there is just as much, if not more honor, integrity and Christian duty in that decision but you neo-confederates never see that, much less concede it.

In the heat of conflict people may end up on the ‘wrong side of history’ and there is only so much fault that can be attributed in their time. But 150 years later, all but fools can see that the Confederacy was not “on the right side of history”!

This was not a “messy divorce” as there was no divorce. There was a ‘leaving and keeping all I have gained’ but that was never agreed to. The Confederacy did not wait to see if secession could have been negotiated. They felt they had ‘king cotton’ and superior might if not superior numbers and they wholly misunderestimated Lincoln’s resolve to hold the Union together.

Like any propaganda campaign, the neo-confederates try to muddy the water with “Northern aggression” while ignoring the same of the Confederacy. “Northern obstinacy” while ignoring the same of the Confederacy. Saying the North “simplifies the story and adds details that are construed as justification of wrongdoing” while ignoring the same from the Confederacy.

Even if you totally ignore the issue of slavery, whatever other state right you believe they wanted, whatever tariff you believe was wrong, whatever political minority they were becoming, whatever tax burden you think was too much, STILL cannot justify what the Confederacy did. Therein lies the crux of your problem and of Lee’s. That is why men like Lee are still relevant today. Why we study them, try to understand how honorable men could take up arms against a nation they swore to defend, turn against their fellow Americans. The issue of wanting to keep and expand slavery just makes the other issues worse.

You are correct that the personal “tension between freedom and control” still “plays out in the lives of all of us every day” but it is because of Lee, because of the Confederacy, that so many are ready to make war again in a second.

What you need to accept and admit is that if Lee had “consciously tried to do the right thing, not by the standards of our day, but in his own time and place” he still could have chosen to leave slavery. Many already had, even in the South. It was not a foreign concept, it was just one he would not accept, a fight he would not take on.

In today’s world, do good qualities cancel bad? Do good works cancel bad? Did they then? Confederates did not and do not think that of Grant, Lincoln or Sherman but they cling to it for Lee, Davis, and Jackson.

Lee is not going to ever just “fade away as a hypocrite and a loser” but he was both and why 150 years later is that such a problem to admit when it is so freely screamed about Lincoln?

History is indeed a harsh judge, but unless plied with propaganda like Confederate iconography, a fair one.

Lee_Park,_Charlottesville,_VAA serious student of Robert E. Lee and the Civil War, knows well why racists who aggressively “wrap themselves in the Confederate flag” are “all floating in one slimy cesspool”. Those who refuse to see the truth and the connections down through the decades are missing some very important lessons. It seems we are doomed to “still fighting the Civil War.”


Good Effort, but…


I do not know Richard Meagher but I applaud his courage in taking to the lion’s den to make his stand. This is my message to him:

Your efforts are worthy but your pearls will be mostly wasted if you concentrate on the comments. This indoctrination starts early and is lifelong for most. They will always be the most vocal (and they call out the troops when a commentary such as yours shows up) because they have an industry of sorts in neo-Confederacy. Many have blogs, run websites, Facebook pages and groups. Most are just brainwashed devotees who have read and believed the books they offer as evidence and no accurate history is going to affect much less shake their “certainty” in Lincoln and the North as the aggressor, the tyrants and the cause of the war. Blame is not something they will ever accept for the South, not even for the efforts to create a slave republic within the continental US and still claim to be Americans. You will often see the same voices offering their appalling brand of logic and their disguised hate. It is like a cult in many ways. Most people of the South just avoid them and their mindless browbeating comments because engaging is useless.

BUT, many in the South and of the South are indeed experiencing a revival of honor, integrity and activism and therefore the narrative of Dixie is and will continue to die as we fight back. I best honor my Confederate ancestors by knowing history and telling the truth. My Southern heritage demands integrity not hoods, racism, bigotry and defense of the indefensible. As my favorite comics have made their mantra “Draggin’ Dixie outta the dark”, I think we are seeing more and more “liberal rednecks” who have made the connections that JD Vance (and many others) have made about us being our own worst enemies and trying to kill the stereotypes before they kill us.

We know our disease and we repudiate it even if we do not take it on in the public forums they so love to dominate. That is never where this sickness will be cured. But we will be cured. We will restore honor, integrity and greater good activism to the Southern mantra! Dixie’s darkness is not our future!

It is well past time for Virginia and the South to let go of the Confederacy and nurturing of the divisions in this nation but insulting them by calling it “nonsense” is never going to be what wins the peace.

Of course some of the neo-confederates are nonsensical, irrational, dishonest and totally lacking in an honest application of our comprehensive history but so are many who rail against them all as racists, traitors and bigots just because some still demonstrably are.

The South is many things and much of it is good (or people would not keep coming here) but ‘The Lost Cause’ ideology runs deep, as deep as those who fool themselves into blaming Lincoln, the North, abolitionists and liberals for all the South’s (and indeed the world’s) ills and choices.

No one forced slavery onto the South. No one made the South base their economy on owing human beings. It was the quickest way to own massive land and make maximum profit. And very few in the South wanted to let go of that power and gain.

No one made the South choose then defend slavery rather than adapt as much of our nation and the world was doing. They chose the rigid paternalistic hierarchy of the South and they chose to defend it, advocate for it and in the end fight and die for it. They even convinced non-slave owners on the “rightness” of it, both by Heaven and by liberty which is an obscene thought to this very day. And after their defeat the continued efforts at suppression, oppression and denial of rights to black Americans only proved their bigotry and racism was the real problem all along.

The South has much to atone for but until we can grow the human decency to admit the wrong of slavery and stop defending it as just the times they lived in, we cannot grow past the sin of slavery we pursued with a vengeance or the sin of treason as we did so.

Which way is forward?

s-BEAR-largeIt has taken me some time to put my thoughts into a commentary. I was not prepared for Donald Trump to win the presidency on November 8, 2016 and there are parts of my psyche that are still reeling.

I knew America was divided, but I did not see how divided. I knew that the right-wing media empire had saturated and brainwashed a huge swath of Americans, but I did not know how huge. I knew Clinton was flawed and I knew the in-fighting over the Sanders candidacy has been corrosive, but I did not see how corrosive. I knew that it is the American way to blame someone for whatever happens; I just did not see how pervasive that mentality was. President Barack Obama being elected twice has lulled me into a false faith in American voters and I have paid dearly (as will America) for that denial.

As the anonymous post circulating on Facebook says: “I am not mad at you that Clinton lost. I am unconcerned that we have different politics. And I don’t think less of you because you vote one way and I vote another. No… I think less of you because you watched an adult mock a disabled person in front of a crowd and still supported him. I think less of you because you saw a man spouting clear racism and backed him. I think less of you because you listened to him advocate for war crimes, and still thought he should run this country. I think less of you because you watched him equate a woman’s worth to her appearance and got on board. It isn’t your politics that I find repulsive. It is your personal willingness to support racism, sexism, and cruelty. You sided with a bully when it mattered and that is something I will never forget. So, no… you and I won’t be “coming together” to move forward or whatever. Trump disgusts me, but it is the fact that he doesn’t disgust you that will stick with me long after this election.”

That, more than any other sentiment I have read, speaks to how I feel. As the Dixie Chicks song says, “I’m not ready to make nice”. I am still appalled that so many American voters would choose an ignorant bully who believes he has a mandate to be the boss not an elected president. He is an authoritarian that can lead to Fascism. He is dangerous in so many ways, destructive in so many ways and will have the wind at his back as he dismantles whatever progress he sets his short-sighted eyes on and whatever he can articulate in a tweet. Otherwise we will be left to the mercy of the venomous snakes and alligators he is adding to the swamp instead of draining.

America, what have you done to us? How will progress be possible? How can he possibly keep even some of his promises and how can we pay for them? How can lower taxes, less regulation, and less oversight end with lowering the deficit and paying our debt?

I wish that Trump’s exposure of the total hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of the right-wing Christians was enough. I wish that the consequences would fall first on Trump voters. I wish that Democrats had the minority power to stop some of the carnage. I wish that the Trump supporters had the collective integrity to realize the dangerous things they have set in motion. I wish that the last nine years of right-wing lies, distortions and hate-filled memes would now end but no, winning has emboldened them and they are doubling down, just like their dear leader. May God have mercy; I am just trying to find some daylight in the despair.

I am thankful that I have fewer days in front of me than behind me and that is no way to live. I am thankful I do not have grandchildren and I wish I had more to leave my children as this new America that is rising is here for some time and some damage is to come because it is so driven by irrational hate.

I know now how we got here, I just have no clue how to get away from it.

The path to healing and redemption written by John D. Wilsey:

To Breathe Your Free Air


A new president has been elected. Under normal circumstances, the supporters of the new president are thrilled and the supporters of the defeated opponent are depressed. But for the most part, just about all Americans are willing to fall in behind the new administration and give it a chance to govern.

But those circumstances, alas, are not ours. A polarizing figure has been elected. Another polarizing figure was defeated. It is unfortunate that these were our two major choices. According to the New York Times, only 9 percent of Americans voted to nominate Clinton and Trump. That in itself is a galling reality. But it is still the reality.

There are protests all over the country, less it seems over the fact that Clinton lost and more over the fact that Trump won. But as I see it, the consternation goes deeper than that. Trump, because of his own…

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John is so right here. we ALL need to stand up to the insanity and quit trying to believe it is benign when it is not!


Note: an earlier draft of this was previously posted on Facebook.

Yesterday on my Facebook feed I posted an explainer article on Clinton’s emails. A lot of you liked it. A handful of people did not.

You know the type. They pat themselves on the back for ignoring mainstream professional sources and reading fantasy conservative clickbait only slightly less transparent than that Nigerian Prince who needs your checking account number. If you post politically moderate to liberal stuff on Facebook you probably have your own regular delusional deplorables.

Here is the original post:

Once I thought we could ignore these people, but Trump shows we can’t. Once I thought we could persuade them, but showing them facts seems to entrench them further. They seem suspicious of the very idea of (self)critical thinking.

For years I have watched friends and family do a frankly better job than me at the tolerance…

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So well said. Chris Henson is brilliant!

IdleHands Workshop


by Chris Henson

Emails, people! EMAILS! Just in time for Election Day! Who could have ever seen this coming?

Basically, the GOP views a Hillary administration as inevitable (and even preferable to a Trump presidency) and they’ve predicted it for nearly three decades. At this point, all this email bullshit is intended to impact the down-ballot races, weaken Hillary before she is inaugurated, and keep her down by maintaining a dark cloud over her for her first term. Expect obstructionism like you’ve never seen over the next four years and a safe as milk Republican presidential nominee in 2020. This was always the plan. Just sayin’…

The lesser of two evils?

Let’s be honest. I don’t know how anyone can look at an electoral contest between a woman — who has for her entire adult life served her nation in one way or another and yet been hounded and lied…

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My last LTE

I have been a, not just loyal, but vocal supporter of our local newspaper for most of my life. I have been a spirited contributor to the forums online and the occasional LTE.  At 58 I am giving up on them.  I understand economics but I am hard pressed to think selling their integrity will save them.  I understand that Dixie does not want to come out of the dark but that is still no excuse for aiding the Bible Belt tightening.  Catering to the right that has done and will do nothing but condemn any media not solidly right-wing is all for naught. 

I grew up with a Roanoke Times that challenged the Bible Belt mentality, that championed what was right not popular, that served the community as a conscience and a voice for the outnumbered.  Now we have a new direction of repeatedly publishing the dark, dishonest, and dystopian right and giving them another soapbox in addition to the business, church, organizations and numbers they have enjoyed for decades.  And for what, what exactly are you serving? 

The South has voted against our own interests for a very long time because the Bible thumpers have had more sway than the Bible followers.  The proof is in the fact that the only sins they cannot forgive are being outspoken blacks, equality wanting gays or any version of a liberal.

Dan Casey is the last remaining vestige of integrity left and I wonder how long he can hold out in such a changed environment seeking safety over challenge, false equivalencies over actual contrasts and faux knowledge over reality checks.  This “gray lady” is down and it is only a matter of time before you are totally irrelevant.