The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 18, 2015: White Be Not Proud

When the Confederate Flag was finally removed from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds, we saw how racists (who often do not understand why they are racist) in that state reacted – with more racism. A petition to remove the African-American Monument has garnered nearly 40,000 signatures so far. Their stated reason for wanting the monument removed? Because “this monument can and does serve to invoke in the white community feelings of shame, humiliation and offense, serving as a constant reminder of the dark history of slavery.” Which is, of course, the entire point.

Keith Harmon, the petition’s author, said the flag shouldn’t have been removed in response to a white supremacist’s massacre of nine black churchgoers. He said, “I think killing nine innocent people was completely and totally wrong, (but) it has nothing to do with the flag — nothing at all.” He could not have been more wrong. The Confederate Flag had EVERYTHING to do with this crime of despicable hatred. Like many lovers of the Confederacy who have been taught an alternate reality of history, Harmon thinks the flag can’t be a symbol of hate because his ancestors fought under it. “My great, great, great grandfather and ancestors fought in this war for this state,” Harmon said. Well, Harmon, your great, great, great granddaddy fought to preserve Slavery and the oppression of the black man.

Since you mentioned “this state,” Harmon, perhaps you should read up on your history. “This state” (South Carolina) seceded from the United States specifically, unequivocally, and indisputably because they believed in Slavery, and they were very upset that President-Elect Lincoln might want to end it in America. In fact, many of the states that seceded cited this very reason. And not only did they believe in Slavery, they believed that white people were superior to black people, and that the natural state of the black man was as a slave to the white man. It’s no coincidence that the people who primarily fly that flag today do so out of racism. In fact, the very thing that has Harmon so upset – the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse – was done to correct a wrong done about fifty years ago. The flag was intentionally put on the statehouse in protest to the Civil Rights movement, so there is ample reason to believe that today, in the 21st century, the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia is primarily a symbol of racism and white supremacy.

So the African-American Monument makes you feel ashamed as a white person? Good, it’s doing its job, because you should be ashamed of what your ancestors did in defense of Slavery. There is not and never was anything noble about Slavery, no matter who’s doing it or to whom. I sincerely hope that South Carolina’s official reaction to this petition is three simple words: “Go to Hell.”

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss whatever you wish to discuss.

Sunday Roast: Confederate Flag Removed in SC

That’s what I call an excellent start.

I’m sure some you out there in the Land of the Interwebs are wondering to yourselves and others, “Why all the pomp and circumstance around removing the heinous Confederate flag?”

I’ll tell you why:  Because we were brought up with manners, and it’s best to remember that — always.

Wait…what?  Yeah, you heard me — manners.

Had the horrible, shameful Confederate flag been removed from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse by the on-duty maintenance man, who promptly tucked it under his arm, walked to the nearest garbage bin, deposited said horrible flag, and then kicked over the bin — the way we all wish it had been done (or worse) — the ENTIRE story in the media would be the weeping and wailing over the lack of respect given to an important part of our history.  Which would give rise to us missing the damn point.  AGAIN.  STILL.

The Confederate flag is a part of U.S. history — like it or not.  History that is not kind or good, nothing to be proud of, nor is it remotely humane — like much of our history.  But like so much of our history, a story was built up around the Confederate flag and the Civil War, and it became romanticized through novels, movies, television series, and even our history books.  We found a way to live with ourselves — to generously forgive ourselves — for perpetrating the unforgivable crime of enslaving our fellow human beings to lay the foundation of our promising new nation, and enrich ourselves in the process.

The flag became a fanciful imaginary symbol of “Southern Pride,” whatever that is, and Southern “heritage,” which is claimed to be in no way racist or hateful.  But here’s the problem with such notions:  They. Are. Not. Reality.  The Confederate flag was created and acknowledged as a symbol of the Confederate States of America, whose purpose was to continue slavery and enforce white supremacy, along with other treasonous ideas.  More info in this article on Vox.

So the shameful Confederate flag has had more than its fair share of exposure and misplaced pride/nostalgia, and it’s time to put it in the Smithsonian museum with all the other relics, where we’ll teach and learn (re-learn, if necessary) the facts about one of the most terrible times in our history and the fall-out that continues to this very day.

If it takes remembering our manners and a bit of pomp and circumstance to achieve that with a minimum of fuss (or what counts as a lack of fuss these days), I can live with it — because it’s an excellent start.

This is our daily open thread — Let’s brace ourselves for the backlash…

Sunday Roast: #KeepItDown

Saturday morning, Bree Newsome took matters into her own hands and removed the Confederate flag — a flag that celebrates a heritage of racism, slavery, and treason — from in front of the South Carolina State House.

Newsome and others calling themselves “concerned citizens” released a statement explaining, “Deciding to do what the SC Legislature has thus far neglected to do, the group took down the symbol of white supremacy that inspired the massacre, continued to fly at full mast in defiance of South Carolina’s grief, and flew in defiance of everyone working to actualize a more equitable Carolinian future.”

The flag was soon replaced, but the image of Newsome climbing that pole and removing it is indelible.

This is our daily open thread — Discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 20, 2015: Blame Anything But Racism

By 1852, the State of South Carolina was fed up with the Government of the United States and voted to secede from the Union. They forbore exercising the right of secession they claimed “in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States.” That was from the first sentence of South Carolina’s Declaration of Secession. They felt that Slavery was one of their “domestic institutions” and that the refusal of the Northern States to return runaway slaves, as actually required by the Constitution, constituted a breach of the agreement of the original thirteen colonies to be governed under it. So they declared their Independence in much the same manner (and at times quoting) as the Colonies did in our famous Declaration of Independence. (Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Nicholas Cage stole it once and pinned the theft on another guy.) There is no question that Slavery was a part of the Southern Heritage they defend to this day. And to defend Slavery is to defend the idea that some people, in particular black people, are less than human and can be treated morally and legally as property. That heritage is represented to this day by the Confederate Flag, in one form or another. (The “Stars and bars” come in various forms. One was the official National Flag, while another variation formed the Battle Flag.) To many of us, when you proudly display the Confederate Flag, you are insisting that the South was right on Slavery and the North was wrong. This is why the South has the reputation it does for being the home of racists. That does not mean, nor does anyone in the North truly believe, that everybody in the South is a dyed-in-the-wool racist. It does mean that racists can live in the South and not be bothered over their views.

So when a young white supremacist decided to callously murder nine unsuspecting, unarmed black citizens in one of the most famous landmark black churches in American history just because they were black, and for no other reason, the conversation ought to include the subject of racism, and why it is so acceptable to so many people in the South. (Whether or not examples of racism can be found in other parts of the country is completely irrelevant and beside the point. The discussion needs to be about the openly accepted racism in the South.) But conservatives are trying to divert from that topic and blame anything but racism as the reason Dylann Storm Roof killed all those people. People who hadn’t done a thing wrong to him. People who let him sit among them before he told them, “You have to go.” Once pictures of him wearing flags of the white-ruled nations of South Africa and Rhodesia went public, there was no doubt in any right-thinking person’s mind that this massacre was motivated by racial hatred. So it should come as no surprise that Conservatives reject the racism motivation and cling to their guns and bibles, to borrow a phrase.

[NOTE: FTR, what I am about to write I fully intended to write before I sat down to watch Friday night’s Bill Maher show. I didn’t get the idea from him any more than he got his idea from me.]

“We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” [President Obama] said at the White House. Besides the clearly displayed racism shown in the massacre, guns are another issue the Right Wing refuses to discuss openly and fairly. But we can get to what the National Rifle Association (NAMBLA) has to say another time.

And quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after four black girls were killed in the bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Ala., 52 years ago, he said the lessons of this tragedy must extend beyond one city and one church. He cited Dr. King’s words that their deaths were a demand to “substitute courage for caution,” and urging people to ask not just who did the killing but “about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.”

It seems Dr. Martin Luther King’s niece and Fox News Channel contributor, Alveda King, would disagree. [NOTE: Full disclosure/confession/cry-for-help. For reasons surpassing all logical thought, Alveda King decided to follow me on The Twitter. I’m guessing after I questioned her there she’ll be re-thinking that decision. Cool.] She made a truly bizarre leap of logic to conclude that the Charleston Massacre was linked to abortion. You heard me right. Abortion. Okay, maybe you didn’t hear me. Maybe you heard a voice in your head you thought was mine. You should get that checked. And Alveda King should get hers checked, too. Is there something they’re serving in the green rooms at Fox that makes their contributors come out and say bat shit crazy things on live television?

There is no doubt at all that this massacre was motivated solely by racism. None. Zero. But Rick Perry cautions us to wait, we don’t have all the facts. It may turn out drugs were involved. You heard me right. Drugs. (Maybe the drugs are why you can hear me. I know that’s why I can hear you.) That’s after he “misspoke” and called the massacre an “accident”.

Sweater vest aficionado and Presidential Delusions-Filled former Senator Rick Santorum believed it was an attack on our religious liberty, even though at the time he said that it was known this was a purely race-motivated attack. US Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham, currently running for First Lady, sat down with other women on The View to stress the shooting was an attack on Christianity (it most certainly was not), though he seemed to express doubts about whether or not race had anything to do with it (it most certainly did).

Fox & Friends invited Bishop E.W. Jackson who jumped to the conclusion that because this happened in a church, it’s clearly an attack on Christianity. They completely ignore the comments the killer made prior to opening fire on almost everyone in the church (reloading several times) and cold-bloodedly telling one survivor that he was letting her live so she could tell everyone what happened. Which she did. And she said he did it because they were black, and for no other reason.

Also believing the motivation was unknown, SC Gov Nikki Haley emphasized the fact that the shooting took place in a house of worship, without mentioning the racism openly displayed by the killer. NRA Board Member Charles Cotton even went so far as to blame Pastor and SC State Senator Clementa Pinckney for the dead saying his opposition to guns prevented them from being saved. The leaders of Gun Owners of America, father-son duo Larry and Erich Pratt, also blamed Rev Pinckney.

But none of these people on the right want to blame the murders on Racism. Some allow that it may or may not have been a factor (Yes. It clearly was. The killer himself said so to the person he let live so she could tell us why he did it.), but they always reach for something else to blame. And the only logical reason I can think of for why they do it, is because deep down, they don’t want to admit they feel the same way Dylann Storm Roof did. They sympathize with Roof’s racist rantings, but they can never say so publicly. Others probably will. (I’m guessing Rush Limbaugh is going to cross the line on this one sooner or later.) Because they don’t want the South’s history with Slavery and their undying support of it, their view of it as one of their domestic institutions, to come under scrutiny again.

South Carolina still proudly flies the battle flag their army followed when they killed more US Soldiers than any other army in our nation’s history. Maybe we should reconsider our decision to stop them from seceding. And they can take all those people who think racism isn’t a problem with them. The United States will recognize the birthright citizenship of any SC citizen who wishes to remain here in the states. Racists need not apply.

UPDATE: The Perry campaign insists that from the context, it’s clear Governor Perry meant to say “incident,” not “accident.”

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about Racism or any other topic you want, in case that one is a little too uncomfortable for you.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, May 8, 2013: Address Code

With the Spring Prom Season upon us, the good folks running the Charleston, South Carolina School Board announced a new dress code for girls.

“We preach abstinence only, as the only way to prevent pregnancy and socially transmitted diseases.” a school board spokeswoman said. “It is our goal to keep our young ladies pure.” The spokeswoman went on to note that at this time of year, young men’s hormones are raging, and they cannot control themselves. “Why, they get excited at the barest hint of female flesh.” She said.

The School Board’s new policy is aimed at preventing boys from “getting carried away” with the women-folk by requiring girls to dress appropriately for the Spring Proms. “Dresses this year will be modest. There will be no showing of any part of the female breast, nor legs, nor arms.”

Girl’s dresses are to be loose fitting, so as to avoid presenting any semblence of the female form to impressionable young boys. However, they are to be available in a wide variety of colors.

Photos of acceptable attire have been posted on the District’s website:

The basic white dress approved by the Charleston, S.C. School Board.

The basic white dress approved by the Charleston, S.C. School Board.

A blue number, with an exotic look for the more daring.

A blue number, with an exotic look for the more daring.

DAERHT NEPO

The Watering Hole: Tuesday January 17 – Fort Sumter

The siege on Fort Sumter was the starting point for the civil war in 1861. I keep reading allegations to this in lots of tweets and blog posts that refer to yesterday’s debate. It must have been quite a spectacular show, for those among us, who are not queasy and, of course, for us Europeans who won’t be living under a Republican President, if one was elected this year.

The crowd must have been especially mean-spirited leading one of the Economist’s live bloggers to comment

I think this crowd will be disappointed when informed that there will not in fact be a public hanging later in the evening.
by W.W.4:18 AM

and another says:

As crowds go, only the Tea Party audience in the Nevada debate came close to this level of red-meatism. Agree/disagree?
by A.K. 4:26 AM

You can read all live-blog comments, many very amusing, on The Economist here.

The Guardian mentions the hem..hem.. let’s call it rather unusually rowdy atmosphere as well, but only in passing

The debate was conducted against a noisy background, with 3,000 partisan Republicans in the hall, booing and heckling, saving applause for their favourites, mainly Gingrich and former senator Rick Santorum. Romney, viewed as too moderate in right-leaning South Carolina, appeared to have failed to fill the hall with his supporters.

While Der Spiegel thinks it’s worth a full story:

Und so wird es immer schlimmer. Perry fabuliert, die Türkei werde von islamischen Terroristen regiert (Jubel). Er verwechselt die Taliban mit al-Qaida (Jubel) und den Irak mit Afghanistan (Jubel). Er verwehrt sich dagegen, die mutmaßliche Taliban-Leichenschändung durch US-Marineinfanteristen zu kritisieren (Jubel) – die Männer hätten doch nur “einen Fehler gemacht” (Jubel). Ach ja: Und er will die Immobilienkrise lösen, indem er verschuldete Hauseigentümer sich selbst überlässt (Jubel).

And thus it gets worse and worse. Perry opines Turkey was governed by islamic Terrorists (Cheers). He mixes up Taliban and Al Qaida (Cheers) and Iraq and Afghanistan (Cheers). He refuses to criticise the (alleged) desecration of Taliban corpses by US Marines (Cheers) the men had just “made a mistake” (Cheers). Oh yes: And he wants to solve the real estate crisis by  leaving indebted home owners to fend for themselves (Cheers).

So, back to Fort Sumter. All kinds of civil war are going on in the US. The “War on the Middle Class” (that will turn into a War on the Poor for want of a Middle Class soon)  and the “War on Civil Liberties” being the ones fought most prominently. There may even be a break-up of the Union in the not so distant future, politically the “War on the Federal Government” will be fought this summer when the Presidential campaigns will be in full swing. And won’t the 1% just love it to sick the states against each other to get all remaining regulations off the table and make the states compete for their attentions. Don’t believe it ? The USSR only took a couple of years to fully break apart, something that was unthinkable only 30 years ago, remember ? The US is in not much better shape these days. And people like the ones in yesterday’s audience are the perfect footsoldiers for such a development.

I almost regret that I won’t be watching Thursday’s debate either. On second thoughts, no I don’t.

As a matter of form: Newt Gingrich was dubbed yesterday’s winner and Mitt Romney the loser in most news sites I read.

This is our Daily Open Thread.

Graham: Sanford Can Stay if he Reconciles with Wife

Hi, fellow critters.  It’s been quite a while.  As a native South Carolinian, I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time to talk about the scandal surrounding our “governor,” Mark Sanford.  The first thing that should be addressed is the fact that even before news of his affair with an Argentian broke, Sanford was a terribly ineffective governor.  He has few allies in his own party, and his veteos have been overturned a staggering 198 times since he took office (note: that figure is likely higher now, as the post linked to above was written nearly four months ago).

I’m not of the opinion that his affair with Ms. Chapur has any relevance to his effectiveness as governor.  But going AWOL for five days while leaving absolutely no one in charge, and tacking on a trip to Argentina at the tax payer’s expense merely so he could visit his “soul mate,” amounts to gross negligence and a total dereliction of duty.  I don’t think anyone needs to be convinced of that, and truthfully, that’s not what this post is about.

What I’d like to address is the statement Lindsey Graham made on Meet the Press last weekend:

If Mark can reconcile with Jenny, and that’s not going to be easy, that he can finish his last eighteen months.

I’ll note firstly that there’s wiggle room in this statement as to whether Graham is referring to his personal opinion of what Sanford must do in order for Graham to support Sanford remaining South Carolina’s governor, or whether he’s referring to what the people of South Carolina will require for them to see him as a legitimate governor.  But living here as long as I have, I’d suspect Graham meant the former.  But what does Sanford’s ability to hold his marriage together have to do with his abilities as governor?  Nothing.

It’s interesting to me that Graham had nothing to say about the total abdication of authority Sanford engaged in when he left the country without telling anyone where he was going, and the lack of admonishment over the governor’s misuse of tax payer funds.  I believe this speaks volumes to the bizarre moral reckoning of the modern Republican party.  Failing your public is acceptable, but failing your wife is not?  The Right’s continued obsession with sex and infidelity, especially in light of our current economic woes, reflects their misplaced priorities.  South Carolina has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation (standing at 12.1 percent as of May), the governor is one of the least effective in the nation, a point made clear by the staggering number of times his own party has overturned his vetoes, and yet, Graham’s concern — a concern which he projects onto the whole of the South Carolina population — is whether his marriage is stable.  A poll conducted by Survey USA; however, indicates that South Carolinians overwhelmingly believe the governor should resign (60-34).

Is Sen. Graham really so out of touch with his own constituents?

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Gov. Sanford: By Accepting Education Funds = ‘Fiscal Child Abuse’

South Carolina lawmakers Thursday attempted to turn up the pressure on Gov. Mark Sanford to accept $700 million in federal stimulus money intended to balance state budgets by funding schools and public safety.

Without the money, lawmakers said, the impact on the state budget would be chaos.

But U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., said the U.S. Department of Education may send the money to S.C. schools – even if the governor or lawmakers do not request it and argued state lawmakers should include the money in their budget.

Without half of the $700 million next year, Leatherman said, schools will lay off teachers, prisons will close and many state agencies could have their budgets virtually eliminated. State colleges, others said, could require double-digit tuition increases.

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South Carolina Student’s Plea Gets Shot Down By GOP Governor

Ty’Sheoma Bethea wrote a letter about her school were the roof leaks, the auditorium is condemned, and debris is falling from the ceiling. Her impassioned plea for help in rebuilding her school was so compelling, that it made it all the way to the White House.

“I said we’re not quitters and we can make a change,” Ty’Sheoma said. “And we’re just students who want to be lawyers, doctors, congressmen and also presidents.”

Her letter landed Ty’Sheoma an invitation to sit next to the first lady at the president’s “state of the nation” address to Congress last month.

She anticipated that her school, JV Martin Junior High in Dillon, South Carolina, would receive some of the stimulus money to help them rebuild. Unfortunately, her hopes were obliterated by the Governor of  South Carolina, who had this to say on the subject.

Mark Sanford, announced he wouldn’t use his share of the stimulus money on projects like rebuilding her school.

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Child Labor: Employers Face Few Consequences

We need to protect these children.  Instead, we are seeing Child Labor go largely unchecked, they are being exploited at every turn with little or no real consequences to the employers.  The Charlotte Observer reports in this two part series about a local victim, Nery Castañeda a Guatemala native, who was trying to tackle a job that was never intended for a kid his age.

Charlotte Observer

One afternoon last fall, the 17-year-old ran a machine to grind damaged pallets into mulch. When a co-worker at the Greensboro plant returned from another task, he didn’t see Nery – until he looked inside the shredder. “A person shouldn’t die like this,” said older brother Luis. “…He came with a dream and found death.”

Decades after the enactment of regulations designed to prevent such tragedies, thousands of youths still get hurt on American jobs deemed unsafe for young workers. On a typical day, more than 400 juvenile workers are injured on the job. Once every 10 days, on average, a worker under the age of 18 is killed, federal statistics show.

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Voter Suppression In Colorado By Republican Clerk

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Republican county clerk Robert Balink lied to Colorado College students, telling them that if they’re from outside the state they could not register to vote if their parents claimed them as dependents on their tax returns. It seems that Balink’s shenanigans are being used by election officials in Virginia and South Carolina as well. More from McClatchy Newspapers:

At a news conference in Colorado Springs, Democrats also criticized Robert Balink, the El Paso County clerk and recorder, who was a delegate to the Republican National Convention, for taking other steps they said would dampen voting by college students, who are expected to heavily favor Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

“When election officials spread false information about who is eligible to vote and remove, not add, polling places, we need to be concerned that eligible voters will be denied their right to vote,” said Pat Waak, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party.

Balink issued a statement saying his office had misinterpreted state law and “mistakenly published information that was incorrect.”

This is just another tactic by Republicans to discourage college voters, many of whom have put great effort into the Obama campaign. The manager issued a statement on the matter:

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