Right now I feel like one of those teachers who gives a test without thinking about how hard the test actually might be.
Well now I know. This Post-Charlottesville quiz thing was a tad challenging and a bit more involved than I realized. Oops, sorry.
But here you go, shiny friends — I give you lots of contemplation, soul-reach-down-into-ing, and of course some smart-assery.
By the way, the first part is the longest because that first question is loaded.
What do you know about the Civil War and how do you know it?
Having been born and raised in the now-notorious city of Charlottesville, my education on the subject was regionally biased, as I’m gonna go ahead and guess education everywhere tends to be on a hot topic like a war that happened on your home turf.
I grew up in the 70s, and in the South we were taught that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights.
Now in case you thought “states’ rights” was just a knee-jerk thing Southerners blurt out at the mention of the Civil War—and yes, it kind of is—it’s also a pretty good question:
Does the federal government have the power to determine what individual states do, or do individual states have autonomy to decide what suits them? There are good discussions to be had all around this question, and people are still talking about it without ever even mentioning slavery or the Civil War or states’ rights.
Read the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution some time—because questions about the federal government’s reach continue to be valid.
And here’s where I’m probably going to offend someone when I assert that even though children outside of the South are taught that the Civil War was a single-issue, morally driven war that simply had to take place in order to rid the nation of the South’s evil insistence on owning slaves, my guess (based on every other war that’s ever happened, and based on my years of interest in the subject) is that there was far more to that war than just the Moral North feeling obliged to whoop up on the Moral-less South.
So I may be bucking the system all over the place by saying that the whole fucking Civil War, which led to almost the same number of deaths as all the other wars the U.S. has fought in combined, was the same as all of them:
Neither side was superior, neither side was more upstanding than the other, and neither side was doing the work of God.
Yet another war over money, power, and ego.
You know how I’m always telling you to follow the money? Well there’s no start date or end date on that advice.
Was slavery wrong? Um, hell yeah it was wrong.
Was the South wrong to have slaves? Yes, as was everyone else in every other state as yet in existence in our 90-year-old country.
Do folks understand, though, how few Southerners even owned slaves, and how few Northerners were actually abolitionists? Why, then, would entire regions up and go to war over something that really didn’t affect them one way or the other?
What do you suppose the politicians of the day told people? How do you suppose they got that many people fired up for that many years?
Could it be that what we’ve been taught and are still teaching about this war is incomplete, at best?
What I’m saying here is that the Civil War was just like any other war, hanging onto its raison d’être by the very thinnest of threads.
In spite of our glossy and polished 20/20 hindsight where we just know for sure that the North was fightin’ for equality for black people, and the South was fightin’ to keep those slaves, it was like every other war: rich and powerful people getting poor and middling people to duke it out on their behalf.
Yeah, for sure there are always some genuinely good and decent people who believe in justice and equality, but think about it —
Abolitionists didn’t start the Civil War.
I mean, why not? We’d already stolen the whole damn place from the native peoples…
What makes anyone think we were suddenly stricken with pure hearts and a 100% lack of prejudice and racism come 1861?
So, yeah, not a conventional view of the Civil War coming from me.
Did you know anything about the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville before now?
Yep. Been seeing that statue my whole life. As a child, I used to sit under that statue and read. (The library, one of my favorite places on God’s green earth, was across the street.)
The statue was given to Charlottesville in 1924 by a local philanthropist who also commissioned several other statues in the city, including a statue of the explorers, Lewis and Clark.
What do you believe should be done with Confederate monuments and the like?
I don’t think there’s one perfect answer.
I do think that the legality and resulting monetary costs to a community of removing statues should be a consideration, so I don’t know if tearing through a community’s resources trying to legally remove one of these dubious things would be all that wise.
I’d rather see justice-seeking people do things that really, honestly make a difference in racial equality.
People think they’re doing more than they are by fighting so hard over things like this.
What difference will removing every bit of the Confederate stuff out there if some people still can’t walk down a street or drive their car or go much of anywhere without suspicion or threat and the very real possibility of violence or harassment?
Are Southerners racist?
I’m gonna go ahead and let everyone in on a little secret:
Southerners are racist and so is everyone else in the U.S. because racism is baked right into our system.
Is every individual racist? Not necessarily, but people carry more in their depths than they realize.
Yes, the South has held on more tightly, and right out here in front of God and everyone.
But dammit, this shit is all over the country — everybody else is just (usually) more subtle about it.
Are you racist?
As a white American (read: privilege), likely so, though I hope I’m not much of a racist.
One time when we were joking around, my dad got serious and looked me in the eye.
He told me he’d decided to pay more attention to what he talked and joked about (and he could be damned funny), because he’d come to realize that it was awfully easy to make some seemingly innocent comment or joke, thinking it was nothing, but all the while perpetuating an attitude of superiority toward black people.
He suggested I do the same.
So I’ve become more and more aware of what prejudices I harbor simply as a matter of culturally ill-formed beliefs, practices, attitudes, and habits.
The mayor of Charlottesville established a group of nine individuals (the “Blue Ribbon Commission”) and gave them six months to decide what to do with the statue… What did they decide?
They concluded it would be best to use the statue as a “transform in place” tool to teach about slavery, the Jim Crow era, and white supremacy. The commission stated their view that it was important to add to history rather than subtract from it.
Also, in his letter following the Commission’s decision, Charlottesville’s mayor, Mike Signer, pointed out the very real possibility of legal battles and subsequent legal costs to the city should the statue be removed.
Here’s the mayor’s letter — it’s worth the read.
How many people make up the Charlottesville City Council, and how many voted to remove the statue?
Five people form the City Council:
The mayor. The vice-mayor. Three members at large.
They voted to sell the statue.
The vote was three to two.
Were the white nationalist/supremacist group “Unite the Right” and the KKK legally allowed to protest at the Robert E. Lee statue on August 12th?
Yes, they had the necessary permit.
And yes, you heard right in the news — the ACLU stood up for their right to free speech, abysmal though that may sound on the surface.
Are all conservatives part of Unite the Right?
No, even though “Unite the Right” sounds rather general, it’s a specific faction of extremists.
Do you know anyone in the KKK?
Not to my knowledge.
How many KKK members are there, anyway?
About 5,000 nowadays.
In its heyday, the KKK has had millions upon millions of members.
The KKK was particularly numerous and active in the early to mid 1920s.
How many KKK members were in Charlottesville for the protest?
Why did the Unite the Right and KKK protestors bring so many guns and weapons?
Meanness, small penises, and other insecurity issues.
Why were they allowed to?
Virginia is an “open carry” state…
So if someone wants to “open-carry” beaucoups of highly dangerous, threatening tools designed for killing their fellow humans, they can do this, even though “Virginia is for Lovers.”
Were there any conservatives present who were not part of Unite the Right or the KKK?
I don’t know.
How many people were there altogether?
Not sure, but I think around 1,100.
How many counter-protestors were there and who were they all?
Supposedly around a thousand, composed of local and nearby activists, Black Lives Matter activists, local clergy who stood in a line holding hands while singing “This Little Light of Mine,” members of Antifa, and what one reporter called “garden variety liberals.”
Were the counter-protesters legally allowed to gather?
What else was happening on August 12th in Charlottesville in response to the Unite the Right rally?
A group/movement called “Unity C-ville” planned various activities, discussions, and events away from downtown’s protest.
“Antifa,” a group of militant leftists, has been around for a while. Why is the media talking so much about them now?
I’m guessing this newfound excitement may be another one of our media’s techniques designed to scare the shit out of us. I mean, Antifa has been showing up at things for years, but now we’re hearing all about them.
Remember who’s pulling the media’s strings… (Follow the money!)
Get us all shaking in our L.L. Bean boots, pass laws about who can be where and when, mess with the First Amendment so no one can say anything to upset anyone else, and voilá, we’re gettin’ pretty near becoming a militarized police state.
How long did the city of Charlottesville and the state of Virginia have to prepare for the demonstration on August 12th?
Well over a month.
Why did Virginia’s governor instruct law enforcement to “stand down” as violence erupted?
Honestly, who’s to say what was going through Governor McAuliffe’s pretty little head, but he claimed the militia groups were better armed than the Virginia State Police.
The good governor also pointed out that there was no property damage, so there you go: success.
What’s the difference between the way law enforcement treated Unite the Right and KKK statue removal protesters in Charlottesville and the way law enforcement treated protestors and water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota?
Law enforcement appeared to be protective of the KKK and Unite the Right protestors, shielding them to a degree from the counter-protestors.
Law enforcement shot rubber bullets at Standing Rock water protectors (people who were peacefully protecting their water supply from a pipeline).
How does Obama’s response to Standing Rock (“Let’s just see how this plays out…”) compare to Trump’s statement that there were “very fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville?
Both responses were fucking pathetic.
Obama’s “Let’s see how this plays out…” was so very let-them-eat-cake of him, and made it crystal clear that there were corporate toes he didn’t want to step on.
Trump’s “very fine people on both sides” comment was a “Tell me how you really feel, Mr. President” sort of thing. He clearly went off-script/teleprompter.
No, Mr. President, there are no “very fine” white supremacists. And no, Mr. (former) President, “let them eat cake” is not the right thing to say. Ever.
How many police officers were there within three blocks of the area where Heather Heyer was killed?
I’ve zero found evidence of any police officers near the scene.
Who responded to help the injured after the Dodge Challenger drove into the crowd?
Medics and EMS responders.
Was the violence in Charlottesville preventable, or was it inevitable?
Judging by the way the Charlottesville City Council handled its vote in the midst of a highly-charged city-wide debate, combined with how intentionally threatening these white supremacist protesters were known to be, it appears the violence was both preventable—had someone somewhere along the process made an ego-less decision, and inevitable—given the bullheadedness of both the Charlottesville City Council and some two-bit white supremacists hellbent on teaching Charlottesville a lily-white lesson.
Some people believe it was orchestrated. How do you feel about that?
Things like this feel to me like we’re all just chickens in a cock-fight.
And somewhere out there in big fat cushy chairs is a stingy little posse of hateful SOBs sitting back collecting on their bets.
It wouldn’t surprise me if this whole thing hadn’t been thrown together a la “weapons of mass destruction.”
Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in this situation?
I can’t think of a single answer to this, smart-assed or otherwise, though the media sure seems to want us to pick sides, doesn’t it?
Other than ratings, why do you think the media has been all over this story?
Distraction, diversion, lack of imagination (because there is hella more going on in this racially divided country than that one jackleg demonstration), lack of integrity (Where the hell were they during the Standing Rock protest?!?), and just general, all-purpose, never-goes-out-of-style fear-mongering.
All these things.
What are the chances that the media, both right and left, isn’t giving us the complete story on Charlottesville?
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 100%.
Is what happened in Charlottesville Trump’s fault?
In spite of his big entitled ego that wishes he could pull off something like this, this shit is bigger than Trump.
What’s the payoff for the violence in Charlottesville? In other words, who profits, and what is the currency?
1- We’re now having a discussion around dismantling part of the First Amendment in order to prevent “hate speech,” which would put that much more control over our lives in the hands of politicians we loathe and deeply distrust.
I mean, what makes folks think their own unicorn-y, rainbow-y speech will always make the cut if politicians get to decide what’s okay free speech and what’s not-okay free speech?
2- After many post-2016-election months of abysmal money-getting, the Democratic party finally had a great fundraising month in August in all that post-Charlottesville scariness.
Way to make a yummy pie out of a shitty situation, Democratic party!
Extra credit questions:
Where are we on Russia-gate these days?
The sensational and super scary Russia-gate narrative vacillates between: “sent to chill out in Siberia for an undetermined amount of time” to “headline news” depending on whatever other diversions the media has going on.
Who is that a statue of in the photo above?
This is the Thomas Jefferson statue that stands in front of the Rotunda at UVA in Charlottesville. This is the statue that the tiki-Nazis rallied around Friday night before holding their racist field day the next day.
So what should we do about our nation’s inborn racism?
Well egging on and giving TV time to an asshole-ful of heavily armed, two-bit white supremacists is a step in exactly the wrong direction.
Instead, I elect we educate our populace in the fine arts of compassion and human kindness.
Because once we stop treating one another as “us and them,”
and instead realize we’re all one living, breathing being on this island home of ours,
only then will we respect the dignity of every single sister and brother and fellow human, and be able to live peacefully,
as I believe we were intended to live.
So thanks for hanging out with me, and for putting your own thinking cap on for all that.
This thing in Charlottesville wasn’t just about racism, but so much more, seeing as how the media has been on it like fleas on a mangy dog.
But where were they during months of protests at Standing Rock? Where were they at Bernie Sanders’s rallies during last year’s primary? Where were they the other year during the Occupy Wall Street protests?
Seems they should be everywhere, yet they’re oddly selective.
As always, question everything, and follow the money.
Anyway, like I said in the original quiz, honor system on this—I just hope you got something out of it.
Peace and love, shiny friends…
All the peace and love.