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It’s Time for Lee to Surrender Again

HistoriansRobert E Lee say Robert E. Lee was humble and gracious in his act of surrender at Appomattox in 1865. It’s time he and his worshipers do it again. Bow out and be gone. As did Grant, I’ll let it pass without harboring feelings of vengefulness. I promise I won’t carry a grudge. Quite the contrary, I continue to carry the same respect for those parts of reality that command respect. After all, many of my ancestors fought for and with Lee on the battlefields of Fredericksburg, Chickamauga, and many others.

As an avid student of history, the era of the Civil War has long been one of my burning passions. As a child, I was regaled with stories of my family’s participation in the conflagration that was the American Civil War. Many amongst my clan rooted in the hills of southeastern Tennessee, northern Georgia and western North Carolina referred to it as the War of Secession. Some still do. Many of my progenitors served in the 7th Tennessee Infantry and fought gallantly under Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson. I have long been intrigued researching my family’s involvement. Most of the stories can be found in the history books or other records buried in the archives. Some are available to me only because they’ve been passed down verbally from generation to generation.

My passion for Civil War history was further inflamed when Ken Burns produced his epic series for PBS. I was enthused when I discovered that a Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans was named after an uncle of mine, Colonel John Fite Goodner. Hoping I’d found a great resource of historical information, I enthusiastically joined the S.C.V. I’m afraid I soon learned their interest in history had a slant that I found not totally honorable. Their primary objective didn’t seem to be enlightenment. They tended to see things in black and white. I soon deserted and became an “inactive” member.

SCVWith my pedigree, I feel as if I’ve at least earned the right to have an opinion on the question of “Should statues that glorify the Confederacy come down?” After all, as they come down, reminders of my own family history come down with them. So what do I think?

They should be removed.

Furthermore, no government entity, state, county, parish, or local, should fly the Stars-and-Bars, i.e., the Confederate Flag.

Yes, the Civil War is a part of our history. We can’t deny that. We can’t alter that. And we can neither forget it nor avoid the consequences of it. But there are two principal reasons I say bring down the monuments and bury the Star-and-Bars.

First, we must accept the facts as they undeniably exist. Was Robert E. Lee a great General and a great leader? Absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Lee’s accomplishments on the field of battle and in other areas of his life were beyond exceptional. The same can be said of other leaders of the Confederacy. However, they were NOT American heroes. They fought against the United States of America. They arguably caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans in the four years the war persisted. And perhaps you’ve noticed – they lost the war. They were “our” opponents. And when I say “our” opponents, I include my southern family in that group because when the war ended, we remained a part of “our” country, the United States of America.

I challenge you to find any other country in the world with a plethora of monuments dedicated to its invaders. Hitler was undeniably a great leader. But he was our enemy. It would be unimaginable to see a statue dedicated to Adolf Hitler in the middle of Central Park. For hell’s sake… he fought against us with the result of millions of deaths. Hirohito bombed Pearl Harbor and his armies fought us viciously in the Pacific. Hundreds of thousands died defending “our” nation. Where’s the statue of the Emperor Hirohito?

Lee was an avowed enemy of the United States and he ruthlessly pursued the objective of destroying our country. What justification can there be for aggrandizing his actions?

The other – and in my mind – and most compelling reason to bar the Stars-and-Bars and to bring down the shrines to Confederate Heroes can be explained by considering the ancient symbol for the Hindu god, Vishnu. The symbol has been used for probably more than 6,000 years. However, at some point in the not too distant past, the same symbol was usurped by a group that ultimately became one of the most despicable groups in history. The symbol that had previously represented the Hindu god of the sun was taken and made more famous – at least in Western nations – as the SCharlottesvillewastika. The Swastika came to represent hate, antisemitism, death camps, Aryan supremacy, storm troopers, Hitler and death.

Like the Swastika, the Stars-and-Bars has been stolen. It has become a symbol of hate, racism, white supremacy, antisemitism and beliefs generally held as being contrary to the moral fabric from which the great American nation has been woven. We can’t and don’t want them removed from history. The Confederate flag has its place in history along with the monuments and stories of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet, Nathan Bedford Forrest and many other symbols of a troubled time when the nation nearly broke apart. They belong in museums and in history books.

When groups of white supremacists march through the streets of Charlottesville or any other American city carrying the Stars-and-Bars alongside the Nazi flag, they’re not proclaiming the honor and goodness of my Confederate heritage. When the Neo-Nazis outwardly call for the demise of black and brown peoples, Jews, and Muslims, they, like the Confederates who rose up against our nation, are spreading hate and vitriol. That is not the spirit from which America was created.

So with all due respects to my Uncle Colonel John Fite Goodner and many of my other relatives from southeast Tennessee and western North Carolina, it’s time to lay down our weapons of hatred. I remember you and honor you. Your blood was spilled on the field of battle and it runs in my veins.

It’s time to remove the monuments.

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A Death in the Family

graveNo one’s getting out alive. One of the few constants in the universe is that there is an ultimate end to everything. If we’re to believe all of the philosophical euphemisms surrounding death, we shouldn’t fear it. It comes to all things. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is inescapable. All things are ultimately buried, even if only metaphorically.

When the end comes, whether it be expected or a sudden and shocking event, the process of grieving begins.  People deal with their grief in different ways, some constructive, others not so much. In her landmark book, “On Death and Dying”, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross spoke of what she called the five stages of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Although she directed her words to those who were dying, the five stages also apply to those forced to grieve the loss of a loved one.

As the “survivor”, I too am confronted with the five stages. I seem to be following the classic path, but having that knowledge doesn’t seem to mitigate the suffering. I remain intermittently distraught and withdrawn. Anyone who has gone through the five stages knows you can bounce back and forth as you move toward the inevitable “acceptance”.

When I first learned of the illness, my initial reaction was indeed denial. There was just no way it could be happening. As the months went by and evidence of the disease manifested itself more and more, I gradually replaced my denial with anger, at times, fairly extreme. I’m sure friends wondered why I wasn’t my usual jovial self. Occasionally, I was overtly unpleasant.

As a non-believer, I wasted little time in the bargaining phase. I’ll confess that I did contribute a substantial sum of money in the hope that it would be used to reverse the progress of this ugly ailment, but most of my time was spent in anger. I have moved on to the depression stage. My sense of humor has gone dormant, hopefully, not dead.

The only remaining stage is “acceptance”. I’m definitely not there yet. In some respects, I hope I don’t get there. To accept is to surrender. Submission has never been one of my finest attributes.

The funeral is scheduled for Friday, January 20th. I truly hope it helps me get out of my current funk, but optimism is in short supply. The funeral takes place in Washington, D.C. as a new President is sworn into office. Together with many of my fellow citizens, I will mourn the death of civilization as we’ve known it for all my lifetime. It has been said that American democracy was an experiment. It appears that in the wake of our past election, that experiment has failed.

I mourn the death of civility in American politics. I lament the passing of a great country where people of all races, religions and lifestyles had nearly gained the respect of their fellow countrymen. I shed a tear at the departure of the era of truth where honesty mattered. I’m white, male, financially comfortable and in good health. By those measures, I should be celebrating. But I can’t bring myself to turn my back on others who face the loss of their hard earned freedoms. I don’t want to see the rise of hate, a new era of bigotry, the face of misogyny and a world of misology.

I’ve never liked funerals. I especially am not going to like this one. From dust to dust.

 

Making Amerika Great One Swastika at a Time

aunt-beulahBy Aunt Beulah

Aunt Beulah is a former comatose pseudonym who woke from her slumber when the country lobbed a grenade through her nursing home window.

Is it not refreshing to see America and its citizens finally paving The Path to the Moral High Ground? It’s about time we jumped on High Horse and galloped over the Constitution of the United States of America. Just between you and me, I feel the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, not to mention the Declaration of Independence, are pretty lame. After all, the Founding Fathers of this country couldn’t even be bothered to establish a State religion or mention Christianity at all in any of these documents. I’m almost positive that was an oversight, although I can’t be sure as I wasn’t there and there was no Twitter. Perhaps they were sidetracked while separating church from state and couldn’t find their way back to the pew to ask for guidance. Damn Deists. Horrifying Humanists. Sensible Secularists.  What were they thinking by leaving the construal of those documents to the commoners?!

I, for one, think we owe white nationalist groups, evangelicals and self-abused women a debt of gratitude for electing someone as our president with the fortitude to bypass the governing documents of this country so he can make America great again. Someone like Donald Trump. Or Donald Trump. His thin skin, tiny tweeting fingers, and keen grasp on reality was instrumental in illuminating the malignant tumor of hate festering under our noses in the dank swamp of America’s fringe. Putrefying long before political correctness drove it underground, that oozing tumor popped to the surface like a pus pocket, spraying the country with a sickly yellow infection that turned half of this country into a cesspool of hate-filled cholera. What a relief that the tumor is free at last. Now we can get on with bleaching the country.

Did I mention that a Big Thanks also goes out to those who “voted their conscience”? Not sure what lurks in the gray matter above those brain stems but their moral compasses tossed them Through the Looking Glass into the clutches of the charlatan Red King. At least they can bury the Bill of Rights with their scruples intact so all is right in their world. Without actually checking the Trump box on the ballot, they guaranteed their conservative values would remain mired in the medieval bogs of millennials past but can say without blinking, “Don’t look at me! I didn’t vote for him!”

Lastly, kudos to those who sat out the election in their living rooms watching The Price is Right or Let’s Make a Deal or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, because they didn’t like either candidate, or any candidate for that matter. They all had at least one dog in the fight but won’t realize it until the canine crawls bleeding onto the porch and dies at their feet. Guess what, you lost your right to lament the state of the country from this point forward so don’t even go there. Stick your head in the cat box and think about what you’ve done.

On a particularly low note, with the KKK on the loose again we should give serious consideration to repealing every civil rights act back to1866 beginning with 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The Republican power is there. Hell, we chose the right man for the job – Donald Trump has a 43-year head start in that arena (forgive my language, ladies. I don’t mean to make you swoon. You’ve probably run out of smelling salts by now what with the ribald, raucous rallies that swirled around The Elected One. But you shall overcome. Or be overcome by grabbing, trolling, vicious, self-entitled narcissists.)

I wonder… did we choose to erase fifty years of progress due to food additives? Or mind-numbing drugs? Perhaps we are simply waxing nostalgic and long for the Sundays when we packed our picnic baskets anticipating a bit of entertainment after church.  Still dressed in our Sunday best, we strolled to the town square to watch the torture and lynching of blacks while we ate lunch under the trees. The number of sub-humans and inferiors to choose from has grown exponentially to include all people of color and religious affiliations so there will be years of fun to be had after Sunday worship.

On Liberty Island stands a statue. Perhaps you know of it or have actually visited the site. Written on a bronze plaque attached to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty is a sonnet by Emma Lazarus titled, “The New Colossus”. A section of the sonnet reads:

                      Give me your tired, your poor,

                        Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

                        The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

                        Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:

                        I lift my lamp beside the golden door. 

 

With the current climate of this country being what it is we should add a caveat: As long as “these” are white Christians and speak English, preferably without an accent (forgive me First Lady Elect). On a side note, Emma Lazarus was a New York City-born Jew, and a woman, from an immigrant family with roots in America that predate the American Revolution.

 

All of that being said, I congratulate us all for putting our best foot forward as the country aspiring to lead the free world with what we like to label as our Christian ideals. Way to trip and fall off the Plane of Values. This country, America, land of the free and home of the brave, was once a shining beacon to the world with a “lamp beside the golden door”. Wait, what do you mean no one can see the beacon through the fog of hate? Is the light on? Oh, Martin Luther King-on-a-tree-branch. Who forgot the match?

 

The Media Circus is Back in Town

A Florida couple was murdered. Their family and friends mourn. Byrd and Melanie Billings were found shot to death in the bedroom of their Beulah, Florida home. Inarguably, it was an outrageous act of perversion. As if the sickness of the crime isn’t adequate in of itself, the media has turned it into a cross between a TV melodrama and a reality show. The true sickness is in the media’s willingness to turn the event into circus proportions and in the American public’s willingness and anxiousness to gobble up every gory detail.

The most egregious instances of the media peddling the disgusting details come from the tabloidal networks masquerading as “news” channels. Not surprisingly, the drivel mongers at FOX News lead the way. I had the ill-fortune of having lunch where FOX was broadcast as if the food wasn’t bad enough already. As I ate, I watched as “Urgent Update” followed “Breaking News” with all the nonsense the dirt hounds could dig up. Based on the extent of the coverage, one could easily have been convinced they were watching the aftermath of the assassination of a major world leader. Michael Jackson was known all over the world. This coverage rivaled Jackson’s and who knew the Billings family outside of Beulah, Florida?

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Teaching Pigs to Wrestle

Monday I spent the morning in a board meeting discussing mundane but critical matters that should not need to be addressed, but, due to the creativity of the human race and its uncanny ability to wiggle through loopholes, inevitably must be addressed. Just as nature finds ways around obstacles such as the Claymore mines of pesticides, antibiotics and natural disasters, so humans dodge rules, regulations and Arizona Revised Statutes.

Never build flexibility into covenants, conditions, and restrictions. They turn around and bite you on the butt like a ferocious bear market. Not unlike a total lack of regulatory policies.

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