Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Scalawag #2

The meme was from a so-called "common sense conservative." It had the picture of the statue of Robert E. Lee being removed from its pedestal in New Orleans, to the accompaniment of words from Orwell's 1984:
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
A common sense conservative should be able to summon a basic tenet of conservative education: that the essence of learning is to be able to make distinctions.

In this case: what distinguishes the world of Orwell's Big Brother from what is happening in New Orleans? The answer is so obvious as to be laughable: in fact, it is just the opposite of history stopping, of books being rewritten, of dates being altered.

Far from stopping or altering or changing, it is all those things being preserved and being held open to the bright light of day. It is the penetration of euphemism--the notorious, Yankee-fooling, misdirectional doublespeak of institutionalized Southern white rule--by a plain understanding of the reality inside the nimbus: that the Confederacy rested upon slavery, and the South before Civil Rights rested upon the violent political and social subjection of African-Americans.

And those things are what statues of Robert E. Lee symbolize. Keep in mind we are dealing with symbolism here. It is an important distinction (the essence of learning). None of what I say vilifies Robert E. Lee the man, the soldier who fought a war. It vilifies Robert E. Lee the statue, the symbol of a South that refused for years to back away from its vicious system of apartheid.

And that is what his statue symbolizes. That is what the Confederate battle flag symbolizes. Unless you live in a euphemistic world. And if you do, don't go calling yourself a common sense conservative. Because you've just surrendered your common sense at Appomattox and entered a state of altered reality. All I can say is thank god you're no longer the Big Brother you used to be.

Shown is my version of the meme. Let lynching victim Laura Nelson face Lee on her own pedestal. Let disgust rise in your gorge. This is the Calvary of Southern history.

1 comment:

  1. Well-written and well-reasoned, as usual. In my family, I was known as a scallywag. I can't account for the different spelling. My parents must have been scalawags of some sort, too, because they voted Republican in Alabama in the Jim Crow era exactly because of their distates for George Wallace and Big Jim Folsom and Lester Maddox, altough that Republicanism has morphed into a traditional Fox-viewer mode now. Mayor Landrieu's speech was spot on.