But it’s Nazi flags

But it’s Nazi flags.

Of all the images coming out of Charlottesville, VA, August-12-weekend protests, that is the predominate one as I try to understand the events.  I also see the confederate flag in amongst these demonstrators, but at least there is some clever argument on what the bars and stars means with some historical context. (Note: I disagree with it.)  However, there is not much wiggle room on what the swastika-emblazoned flag means.

But one of the things that make this country great, is our First Amendment rights to Free Speech.  Even if we disagree with them, they have the right to say what they think.  But that’s been qualified.  We can advocate for violence as long as we don’t incite violence (Brandenburg vs Ohio, 1969).  We can’t incite someone to suicide (Massachusetts, 2017 although it is under appeal).  “Fighting Words” are not protected by our First Amendment if they are commonly understood to incite an immediate fight (Chaplinsky vs New Hampshire, 1942).  The right of the “heckler” is also protected, although specific definitions are hard to come by.  A general consensus is as long as the heckler does not stop the speaker, both are protected.

Jason Kessler, the organizer for the Unite the Right protest, claimed to object to the proposed removal of the Statue of Robert E Lee in Emancipation Park (formerly known as Lee Park).  He applied for the permits, which the city granted on condition that he move his protest to McIntire Park, some two miles away, where the city felt the police could better protect the community.  Kessler objected.  To protest the removal of the statue and then not be at the statue in question, was an infringement of his First Amendment rights to free speech.  The ACLU represented Kessler and Friday before the event, won his case (Federal Judge Sides With Kessler).

Stand Up for Racial Justice also applied for a permit to protest the Unite to Right protests.  They also obtained a permit to protest in McGuffey and Justice Parks.  Justice Park is formally known as Jackson Park, where a statue of Stonewall Jackson is also slated to be removed.  McGuffey and Justice Parks flank Emancipation Park.  All three are all within 4 blocks of each other.  It is interesting to note that the city did not ask SURJ to move two miles to McIntire Park.

Are both of these protestor groups about the removal of a statue?  Is the Stand Up for Racial Justice about removing images celebrating a general that fought against the United States?  Is Unite the Right about preserving American heritage?  Are we in danger of revising our history, forgetting the tragic past?

The base of a statue is called a pedestal.  We have an idiom about pedestals.  What we put on a pedestal is glorified, idealized and perfect.  Statues on pedestals have symbolic meaning.  Placing heroes of the Confederacy has a specific meaning.  Are we idolizing the heroism and bravery, or the slaveholding and white supremacy? Granted both can be true within the same man.  General Lee was complex in a Jeffersonian way.  A slaveholder that decried slavery yet felt it was the only natural relationship between Whites and Blacks.  He agonized over his decision to join the succession; his final reasoning was not to uphold the institution of slavery but to remain loyal to his State of Virginia.  In letters after the Civil War he appeared glad that the war he lost had ended slavery.  When asked, he specifically requested people not to build statues of him.  Reminders of a war lost was an impediment to healing a nation, he wrote.  Unlike many Confederate Generals honored in statues, General Lee did not become the leader of a local KKK.  Out of such complexity, when we put General Lee or any of the other heroes of the Confederacy, on a pedestal, which value are we upholding?  (Republican Vindicator, September 1869 and Robert E Lee’s “Severest Struggle”)


Roughly 80 to 90% of monuments commemorating Confederate soldiers were built during the Jim Crow Laws, with a huge flurry around 1910, about when the NAACP was formed.  The bulk of schools named after Confederate Heroes happened during the 1960’s, when the Civil Rights movement started gaining traction (Southern Poverty Law Center timeline).  Many of these monuments are a protest against the civil rights of Blacks.  Interestingly enough the Monumental Bronze Co, in Bridgeport Connecticut made a lot of money selling identical statues commemorating the fallen soldier to both Northern and Southern states (Why Confederate Soldiers Statues look a lot like their Union Counterparts).

There is a surprising lack of historical restoration groups in this protest.  Even the local Confederate Keepers, a group dedicated to preserving Confederate monuments, publicly announced their non-attendance (Groups speak out against Unite the Right).  What do the organizers of the Unite the Right and the Stand Up for Racial Justice say their motives for the protest are?  It’s hard to find anything that Jason Kessler said or any of the Alt-Right groups involved because after the events of August 12th, their blogs and websites have been taken down.  Depending on your viewpoint, this may or may not be a good thing.  However, Solidarity Cville documented several online chats between Alt-Right groups planning to go to the Unite the Right protest.  They sent the documentation to the Charlottesville’s City Council in an attempt to have the Unite the Rights permits revoked, citing public safety concerns.  In the chat sessions, there is little mention of saving a historical monument but a lot of talk of arming, preparing and a chance to “take out” and “crush” their opponents.  The posts waver between apprehension over the presence of the Nazi and White Supremacy groups, however glad for the numbers, to others gleeful that certain groups known for starting fights would be showing up (Solidarity Cvill Documents).   Teresa Sullivan, President of the University of Virginia, cautioned students not to attend for fear of physical confrontation, quoting an unnamed Unite the Right organizer saying, “We should aim to draw the SJWs [social justice warriors] out in Charlottesville and create a massive polarizing spectacle in order to draw as huge a contrast as possible. They will reveal themselves to be violent, intolerant, opposed to free speech, the insane enforcers of political correctness, etc.” (Sullivan asks members of UVA community to avoid Aug. 12 rally).

Specific reasons that Stand up for Racial Justice organized the counter protest are found in their website Show up for Racial Justice.  Primarily they are organized to fight white supremacy.  And they will go where ever the Alt-Right goes.   Solidarity Cville appears to be another organizer for the counter demonstrations.  Their site advocated non-violent confrontation, advised to expect violence from either the police or the Alt-Right and focused heavily on organized medical and legal help.  No weapons were mentioned (How to prepare for Aug. 12).

Ultra-conservative militant groups, like the Oath Keepers, who are willing to take up arms to protect Confederate monuments refused to show up.   Navy Jack of the Oath Keepers mustered more specific condemnation of the White Supremacist groups than our President Donald Trump did when he penned a critic saying, “If you truly are a patriot, you must stand against and condemn NPI, Identity Evropa and Vanguard America as organizations that seek to divide us”.  The groups that showed up vied with each other in their extreme views from outright adulation of Hitler like Jeff Sheop of the National Socialist Movement and Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Workers Party, both heavily influenced by Nazism, to Richard Spencer’s whole hearted embrace of 1861 Alexanders Stephen’s cornerstone speech declaring that Jefferson was wrong and restated the Declaration of Independence quote with “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created unequal”.  (read more on the groups that showed up). They showed up bearing the swastika and fasces symbols for German and Italian fascism and the Confederate symbol of slavery.

The counter-protesters were made up of university students, clergy, local citizens, SURJ, Solidarity Cville, BLM, and Antifa.  All with the singular goal of stopping White Supremacy and Fascism.  The Antifa are considered an extreme militant leftist group.  However, many of the counter protesters expressed gratitude for their presence to counter the prepared violence of the Alt-right (yes but what about the alt-left).

One segment of the national dialog insists that this is about removing Confederate monuments, losing our national heritage and revising history to suit some liberal agenda.  The groups that specifically organized to protect Confederate monuments and groups willing to arm themselves to protect Confederate monuments were not present.  The rhetoric of the people in the Unite the Right did not talk about the historical context of the Confederate monuments.  The rhetoric of the counter demonstrators did not touch on the historical context of the monuments nor advocated for their removal.  Both groups where there for one reasons; to voice their opinions on White Supremacy and Fascism.  Both topics we as Americans fought to defeat.

We can argue the belligerence of both sides.  Both sides did plan for it.  One group planned to incite violence, the other planned to resist it.  One side told its members to arm themselves, the other told its members how to call for medical attention.  One side fought righteously for a cause that history has declared evil, the other fought righteously for a cause that history has declared good.

They flew a Nazi flag.  It doesn’t get any more black and white than that.

Why I will not “unfriend” anyone.

This past elections has been very emotional for many people.  Some feel that the end of civilization is nigh, others feel that their opinions where vindicated, some feel we are progressing, others that we are degenerating.  It does not matter what name each group calls themselves, they seem to be interchangeable.

Do not get me wrong.  I have my own biases.  However, with this omnipresent divide we see in politics I see more admirable qualities in the people around me, more things we have in common, than how political pundits wants to define us.

We all have our opinions.  We all have our passions.  Sometimes we post some bat-shit crazy stuff online.  Is that the definition of who we are?

I know a woman at work.  She is a cancer survivor.  She shows up to work every day to walk miles delivering our internal mail.  Does she post some bat-shit crazy stuff?  Yes she does.  Do I want to unfriend her?  Hell no!  I admire her.  I admire her strong work ethic.  I admire her passion for our veterans.  I admire her love of her grandchildren.  She is a great person I would be proud to call my friend.  I do not want politics to define our relationship.

I know a man at work.  His wife and son died within a year of each other.  A horrible tragedy I do not want to imagine.  Does he post bat-shit crazy stuff?  Yes he does.  Do I want to unfriend him?  Hell no!  I admire him.  I admire his dedication to show up to work every day.  I admire his sacrifice to give his grandchildren a good stable life.  I admire his constant optimism.  He is also someone I am proud to call my friend.  I do not want politics to define our relationship.

I have so much in common with these people and many others.  We worry about our jobs.  We love our children.  We are concerned about the future.  We struggle and survive together. These people are that friend with a pickup truck that helps you move.  These people are that friend that consoles you when a loved one passes away.  These people are that friend that helps you rebuild your house when it burns down.

From my perspective, I may think they post some bat-shit crazy stuff, but I will not let politics define the relationship of us as a people.   I will not let an ambitions person, running for any office, pushing any agenda, define my relationship to these hardworking, dedicated and passionate people because of a contrive political perspective.

I will not unfriend you.


Who Are Donald Trump Supporters?

Stumbled across a post “Who are Donald Trump Supports?” which proceeds to give a list.  Out of curiosity I decided to take a closer look at this list.

We are sick of political correctness. 

This seems like a free speech issue and on the surface it is.  Just underneath the surface is using words and phrases that make people uncomfortable.  Sure “sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt me” sounds great but when we are insulted we are, well, insulted.  And to continue to purposely insult people is kind of being a dick.  Dig further down and the power of words can shape our perceptions of reality.  When people are traumatized it takes only a word to create a trigger that will make the person relive the trauma.  Would we treat our veterans this way?  Would we be exercising our freedom of speech if we expressed ourselves by suddenly yelling at a veteran suffering from PTSD and watching them dive under the nearest table? (For those of us who love irony, seeing the prankster pummeled in the face).  Words shape our reality and define who we are.  When we refer to people in terms that makes them second class citizens, they see themselves as second class citizens.  We often perpetuate generational misconceptions, adding one more obstacle to an already difficult road.


We like the fact that he is self-funded – he does not owe any favors

That is great, no special interest pulling the strings on the top executive.  But it is not entirely true.  He does self-fund his campaign more than the other candidates but approximately half of his campaign money comes from donors and super-pacs.



We are fed up with the corruption in DC

I agree with this.  Who wants corruption in our capital? But how much power does the president have in “cleaning up” the town?  But how uncorrupted is Trump?  Trump University seems to be non-stop scandal.  He has bankrupt his business four times, yet has come out on top.  He is associated with ACN Inc. which has been accused as a pyramid scheme.  It’s multi-level-marketing is, well, scandal riddled.  Donald Trump is a business man who plays hard ball.  Being corruptible or not corruptible is not a business man’s question.  It is how much money can be made with as little risk.  What that means if there is money to be made, he will probably go for it.


We hate liberal ideology

I have to question this, do they know what liberal ideology is?  Do they not like the liberal ideology of free speech, free press, and freedom of religion, free markets, or representative democracy?  Are they opposed to the natural right to life, liberty and property?  Is it the civil rights they are against?  A secular government?  Our country was founded on liberal ideology.  Are they for curbing free speech, censoring the press, state religion (often not yours), monopolies, and absolute monarchy?  Do they not believe they have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of property?  To most liberals to hate liberalism is to want to be shackled and chained.  Is this what Trump supporters want?


We are tired of supporting illegal immigrants

Not sure what support.  With recent anti-immigration laws being passed around the country, many farm economies are suffering because of a shortage of workers.  http://globalcomment.com/how-anti-immigration-laws-are-creating-farm-worker-shortages/ Claims of huge sums of welfare money goes to illegal immigrants are unsubstantiated. http://www.factcheck.org/2009/04/cost-of-illegal-immigrants/ Crime rates are also unsubstantiated.  Data is murky but according to http://cis.org/ImmigrantCrime incarcerations are roughly the same as the general population.  Although the studies don’t differentiate between illegal immigrants and legal immigrants it appears foreign born residence do not appreciatively raise the crime rate.

Hillary belongs in prison

I had to look this one up.  As far as I know she has done nothing out of the ordinary, aside from the concept that all politicians are crooks, which is a large net to cast.  One article http://conservative-daily.com/2015/04/21/hillary-clinton-belongs-in-prison-period/ claims that as secretary of state she accepted gifts without congressional approval which is Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution also known as the Title of Nobility Clause.  Gift exchanges between governments are so common that in 1961 congress passed the Fulbright-Hays Act as a blanket approval of gift giving and receiving.   The gifts have to be registered, which you can find here, http://www.state.gov/s/cpr/c29447.htmCondoleezza Rice has a very long list of gifts received, along with Bush, his entire staff, congressmen etc. etc.  This is a non-issue.

Clinton’s emails and the nonuse of government emails and servers has been a big concern.  But according to http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/03/hillary_clinton_private_email_scandal_no_one_gives_the_clintons_the_benefit.html those rules and regulations concerning the use of emails and using government servers to keep records were not in place until after Clinton left office.  Many previous cabinet officers also used private emails.  John Kerry is the first Secretary of State to follow the new regulations. 

We want a wall on the southern border

This goes back to the no support of illegal immigration above.  Whether we like it or not, immigrant workers make up a huge part of our labor force in agriculture.  To such an extent that when threatened with deportation, millions of dollars’ worth of crops rotted in the fields due to lack of a labor force.

People who want to build a wall have never built a wall.  With differing terrain and weather conditions any wall in remote areas will soon be undermined by the elements.  We can continue to research and build better walls but the cost effectiveness that most security experts http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-the-united-states-build-a-fence-on-its-southern-border/why-a-border-fence-wouldnt-work agree is better spent elsewhere, either in more manned patrols, or more electronic surveillance.

Remember that Great Wall of China?  It was built to stop the Mongol invasion.  It didn’t stop the Mongol invasion.

We want jobs back from over seas

Aside from the fact of what business is it of the president to solve economic woes the economic forces that push jobs overseas is much too complicated for a single president to solve.  This is part of the globalization of our economy, which is driven by both cheaper labor overseas, emerging markets http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2011-05-17-Multinationals-send-jobs-overseas_n.htm and possibly our own energy consumption http://www.morssglobalfinance.com/the-loss-of-american-manufacturing-jobs-what-are-the-facts/ .  These are all business decisions, not political.  And Trump, if nothing else, is an astute businessman.

We want Isis eliminated, not “contained”

To eliminate a group is a long process and historically it has never been successful, think of Nazis final solution, Turkeys attempted genocide of the Armenians and our own attempts to eradicate Native Americans.  All of these examples, and others, failed and left with a stronger political force than before.  Even WWII’s attempts to eradicate fascism failed as there are still fascist elements in all societies.  Cost effectiveness of an all-out war is weighed heavily by our military elite.  Do we sacrifice more American soldiers on foreign soil in a war that can be easily fought by proxy?  So far the elimination of ISIS is pretty standard rhetoric amongst all of the political candidates.  We may differ on course of action but no one is advocating acceptance of ISIS and no one knows the best solution.  It would seem that ISIS will eventually implode.  They are a violent group that has no allies, even amongst other violent groups.  Even the Taliban has distanced themselves from ISIS.  They have declared Jihad on each other.  Would it be better to save American lives and let those two duke it out?

We want Obamacare repealed

Privatization of our health services never made sense to me.  In order for the free market of private companies to work, you need the competition.  When was the last time you shopped around for a hospital or an ambulance service?  You usually go to the nearest hospital and ambulance services cover specific areas. For profit insurance companies look to profitability first, your health second.  That’s just business.  Health Insurance will gladly take your money but as soon as you are cutting into profits, they find ways to wiggle out.  I am not a big fan of the Affordable Health Care Act but I do support a single payer system.  “Obama Care” does provide coverage for more Americans and it comes down to do we have a right to be healthy.  Some argue that the right to health is not in the constitution.  We should leave it as you are as healthy as you can afford to be http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2009/11/1035/ .  The problem with this is poor people are forced to used emergency services.  They often wait until a preventable disease reaches its critical stage, often costing, what ends up being the taxpayers, more money in the long run.  There is nothing stopping us from adding a right to health into our constitution.  Only our dogmatic political beliefs.

We want our military built back strong

We have the strongest military in the world.  We have the biggest military budgets in the world http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/02/18/republicans-wont-stop-saying-our-military-is-weak/. There is no other country in the world that can plan and execute an invasion half a world away.  Russia can’t do it and China can’t do it.  We can cut our military budget in half and still have the strongest presence known in the history of the human race.  Our spheres of influence around the globe remain unchallenged.  Whatever wars the US has lost is not because of the ineffectiveness of our military but the ineffectiveness of our foreign policy.  We have modernized our military to the point that troop’s numbers are not as important as they once were.  We already have a nuclear arsenal that can destroy the world several times over, if we cut that in half we still have an arsenal that can destroy the world several times over.   And as WWII and WWI demonstrated, we can increase our military virtually at a moment’s notice.

We want vets taken care of, they deserve it

No one that I know of will disagree with this.  I believe that our vets should get carte blanche support for their re-entry into civilian society.  Republicans have constantly blocked or politicized most veteran’s benefits http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/23/1249904/-GOP-s-actual-track-record-on-supporting-veterans .  True that Trump is not part of this group and feasibly if elected and with a Republican congress, Veteran’s benefits could be easier to pass, it doesn’t detract from the fact that people’s lives have been politicized for partisan gain.

But what about Trumps views of vets?  His comment of John McCain’s status as a war hero should send a red flag to every veteran.  McCain criticized the support for Trump, undiplomatically calling them “the crazies” http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/john-mccain-has-a-few-things-to-say-about-donald-trump .  Instead of coming to the support of his supporters, Trump attacks McCain’s war record http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2015/07/18/trump-says-mccain-is-no-war-hero/ . Does this mean that Trump agrees with McCain?  That his supporters are “The Crazies”?  You can’t dismiss a veteran’s record and still say you support veteran’s benefits.  Dismissing veteran’s experiences is an attempt to remove veterans from the status of being a veteran.  Another way to reject the benefits they deserve.  John Kerry is a bona fide war hero.  You can dislike him because of his political views but you can’t take away his experience as a veteran.  John McCain is a bona fide war hero.  You can disagree with his opinion but you can’t take away his experience as a veteran.

Granted Trump tried to backtrack but the take away from this incident is Trump immediately attacked on the reputation of McCain and did not address the content of McCain’s opinion.  Couldn’t he have said that his supporters are true Americans, passionate in their belief and frustrated with government?  That they have a right to act a little crazy because they are not being heard in the halls of government?  He has said similar things in the past, why not this time?

Actually the veteran’s support for Donald Trump is questionable, http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jul/25/donald-trump-veterans-john-mccain as the there is some confusion if the names are those that actually support or Trump thinks should support him.

It seems to be politics as usual.  Some of the issues are fabricated some are real.

Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an

Just finished reading Denise Spellberg “Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an”.  Spellberg, a historian, uses Jefferson’s ownership of the Qur’an as a launching point to explore the perceptions and the discussion of Americans religious freedom concept, and how much Islam played in that discussion.

For centuries various individuals had advocated a religious toleration for all differing perspectives and have been crucified for it, both literally and figuratively.  The evolution of this thought process culminated in the ratification of our 1st amendment.

Europeans perceptions of Islam was for many years based on the Ottoman Turks Empire, a very real political threat to European countries.  In the propaganda written about the new alien invaders, early European writers on Islam denigrated the religion of their political enemy.  Greatly misunderstood and seldom studied these early impressions of Islam continue to exist today.

Christian Europeans used Islam as the example of the alien “other”.  A comparison that both denigrates political rivals and produces imagery of barbarism.  It is interesting to note that Protestant Europeans viewed Catholics, Jews and Muslims as equally threatening to their world view and political lives.  With Jews as a suspicious minority, Catholics a real threat and Muslims as a vague concept on the other side of the horizon.

The evolution of religious freedom found its champion in Thomas Jefferson.  The largest Protestant denomination had the government support in the majority of the colonies and early States.  Many of the early arguments were led by the minority denominations that felt oppressed by the governmentally forced support, both financially and physically (tax supported preachers and requirements to attend the dominant denominational church services).  They argued that religious views and civic duties were two different things.  The government should only concern itself with the civic duties of its citizens.  It should not matter what religious or even no religious views a person had, if they were a good citizen then they should have all the benefits of a citizen, including elected to public offices.

Islam was used as the extreme example in this context.  The early constitutional framers could agree to allow other Protestant denominations full civic freedom, but the real test was the hypothetically one of a Muslim becoming a full citizen of the US.  The final answer, over many years of arguments, was a yes with the passing of the First Amendment.

Although Islam was considered hypothetical for the early Colonist and framers of the Constitution, few people of that day considered the religion of their African Slaves, many who came from parts of Africa where Islam was practiced. The only clue to early Muslims in Colonial America are their Islamic influences names.

The contrary arguments against inclusion of Islam in the late 1700’s are the same ones we hear today.  Along with the misunderstanding of Islam that began centuries earlier.  One gets the impression that early agreements to religious freedom was done by self-centered preservation rather than any universal good will.  No one knew if or when their specific denomination would be persecuted by the government.  It would be better to allow governmental inclusion of all religious ideas so one can practice their own form in exclusion.

It feels today that mainstream Christians have forgotten what it feels like to be randomly persecuted by the government for one’s beliefs.  It has emboldened them to push for government exclusion of differing world views and government support of mainstream Christian ideals.  Religious freedom is one of the few concepts in our constitution that actually makes America exceptional.  If we become a “Christian” nation then we are no different, not exceptional, than the many other “Christian” European countries in the past.

Black Laws of Virginia

June Purcell Guild painstakingly went through all of the laws of Virginia from the earliest records and compiled everything pertaining to slavery and African Americans. As a lawyer she may have enjoyed it. She published her works, Black Laws of Virginia, in 1938 with the hope of shedding light on the plight of African Americans, whom she felt were unjustly maligned for and often held responsible for social conditions that they did not create.  It was her hope that a historical understanding of the laws that created the social class of the African Americans would help us understand their condition better.

Legal description of early African Americans in the early 1600s was problematic.  They were treated as indentured servants, and as long as they remained “heathen”, the plantations had no problem.  But many African Americans became Christian, and this was an early problem the colonial legislature struggled to understand.  They were also concerned about intermarrying, illegitimate children of mixed unions, and extension of the civil equality to emancipated slaves.  By the end of the 1600’s, Virginia had decided on the unique direction it would treat the African Americans.

Some of the earliest laws solved the problem of whether being a Christian could impact one’s servitude.  No.  Being a Christian did not automatically free a person.  This also applied to White indentured servants, but their indentured was often limited to seven years.  The African slave was often held longer than seven years before being emancipated.

Virginia broke with English tradition of the status of illegitimate children following the status of the father.  Some of their first laws stated that children followed the status of the mother, regardless of the race of the father.  If the mother was a servant or slave, the child was a servant or slave.  However, lifelong servitude was not yet practiced, and these children were often indentured for 30 years before being freed.

Intermarrying was penalized and not legally recognized.  The recalcitrant couple was fined, but the minister that performed the ceremony was often penalized ten to twenty times more.  The way fines continually increased over time for the ministers, makes one wonder if there was some conflict between the clergy and the legislature.

Legally African Americans, regardless of their status of being slave or free, were not allowed to testify against White people in court.  Free Blacks were not allowed to have white servants or even own slaves.  They were not allowed to sell medicine, and buying alcohol was very restrictive.  Although Virginia allowed emancipation of slaves, the legislature greatly encouraged free Blacks to move away by taxing them heavily.  There was a brief time in history that Virginia tried to get funding to send free Blacks to Liberia, but that didn’t last long.  And in the decade before the civil war, an emancipated slave who stayed longer than a year could be enslaved and sold for the public benefit.  The free Blacks became an unwanted second class citizen in Virginia.

During the early 1800’s Virginia pushed hard for free public schools for poor white children.  In the succeeding years, the legislation increased fines to parents if their children did not attend the free public schools.  Free black children were not obligated to attend; if apprenticed, the master was not obligated to educate them. It was illegal for free Blacks of any age to attend any place for the purpose of education. Such groups were determined an unlawful assembly and forcibly dispersed.  People who taught slaves and free blacks to read and write were fined.

Virginia did take seriously the status of free Blacks.  For people who captured free Blacks and sold them into slavery was a capital offense.  People who did participate in this enterprise were truly part of the criminal element.  Although this may seem like a benevolent side of the Virginia legislature, they became outraged when New York passed a law that held the person buying the “contraband” liable.   For the most part, slaves and to some extent free Blacks could be convicted without a jury; punishment was swift, and owners compensated.

Slaves were often emancipated for faithful service.  They were freed for exemplary service in the Revolutionary war.  Virginia set up a pension fund for confederate veterans that included faithful slaves.

After the civil war there were immediate legislation that recognized common law marriages and increased the civil liberties of the newly freed slaves.  Soon after reconstruction ended in the 1870’s segregation laws began to pop up, and many of the civil liberties laws were overturned.   Poll taxes had to be current, that last three years paid up and a literacy test, often based on the constitution, was codified.  This was after half a century of enforced public education for white children and prohibition of educating African Americans.

Although separate education facilities were legislated during the late 1800’s, segregation as we know it did not happen until after the 1900’s.  Race legislation often considered a person who was ¼ African American to be Black.  Often, before the civil war, people who had less than ¼ could be considered White, and there are examples of whole families’ legislated to be White with all the privileges associated with being White or without the disadvantages of being Black.  But Virginia doubled down after the 1900’s, and the One Drop Rule came into being. Anyone with any Black ancestor had to be segregated.  Anyone with any Black ancestor could not marry a White person.

During the 1840’s and 1850’s the acrimony between the Northern and Southern states increased and ultimately led to the civil war in the 1860’s.  Virginia appeared to have a running feud with New York, evidently a hotbed for dissidents and troublemakers.  Virginia was furious at the lack of support from New York and other Northern States for the Fugitive Slave laws — accusing them, and for the time rightly so, of disregarding Federal law and passing unconstitutional State laws.  They made an official statement of sympathy but nonsupport for South Carolina’s first attempt at succession, and later  displayed a mixed joining of the Confederacy.  Virginia’s government split into two during the civil war, each calling the other the fake government of Virginia.  Throughout this time period any printing or disseminating literature advocating or even mentioning abolition of slavery was illegal.

The laws were passed to create a class of slaves.  Even when those slaves were free they were legally treated as second class citizens.  Although not as straight-forward as one would expect, and often confusing, these laws were crafted to ensure an uneducated, unrepresented, legal piece of inheritable property.  Although there were attempts to treat slaves humanely, convictions for crimes were swift, with no jury or legal counsel, often based on one or two “credible” witnesses.  After Reconstruction many of these laws “doubled down” on the differences, exacerbating segregation and the differences of race.  We have around 300 years of legalized slavery and segregation.  Laws that not only shaped African Americans’ situation and culture but shaped White America’s perception of them.  Can it be reasonable that we can resolve racial issues only one generation after the civil rights of 1960’s?

Nits make Lice

Nits make Lice.

This is an old quote.  It is a justification for killing children.  General John Chivington is attributed to saying that during the Sand Creek Massacres in 1864.  It is first attributed to the first Tennessee governor, John Sevier, or to one of his subordinates, after killing a captured Indian boy in the early 1800’s.  It was a popular saying.

This seems to be the response to the 14 year old boy in Texas, Ahmed Mohamed, who built a clock that was mistaken for a bomb.  Reading the fringe websites is outrageous but seeing these memes picked up and reposted is just depressing.  And it is too depressing to deconstruct the comments entirely.  So instead of annotating as I usually do I’m just going to summarize.

One meme is making its rounds showing the picture of the suitcase clock.


The poster claims to be an electronics engineer and computer expert.  I also have a degree in electronics engineering and I work in IT.  I suppose that makes me an expert on suitcase bombs also.

The poster makes the claim that the clock is not a real clock and it is actually a deconstructed countdown timer and that this may not be a bomb per se but the detonation device.  That sounds ominous enough but your kitchen timer, for those of us that still cook, is also a countdown timer.  Your alarm clock, which young Ahmed claims his device to be, is a type of countdown timer.  The poster claims there are two leads, one positive and one negative that are not attached to anything.  It could go to the absent explosives.   It could also go to an electric bell, to a piezo buzzer, or some electric motor that spins a unicorn around.  You can pop the back off of every single kitchen timer, disconnect the wires from the electronic buzzer or bell and plug them into C4 plastic explosive and have a bomb (at least that is what it looks like in the movies to detonate C4).

The poster suggests that if a student were to create an electronic clock he would use a breadboard.  A breadboard is an electronic board full of holes and each set of holes are connected.  It is used in electronics to experiment with circuits.  It is quit useful.  You can buy one fairly cheaply at Radio Shack.  You can also buy fairly cheaply at Radio Shack a PCB circuit board.  A PCB circuit board is one that is just full of holes that you solder your circuit in.  Normally you would use your breadboard to design the circuit and then transfer it over to the PCB board and solder it in place.  This is not unusual.

The poster makes much of a small white bag in the corner of the suitcase.  What is it for?  What was in it?  It is a mystery.  The bag serves no purpose for the electronics.  And the poster is correct.  The bag serves no purpose.  Absolutely none.  Not for the electronics in the suitcase nor for his argument.  I may have a degree in electronics but the picture is not clear enough, even magnified, to see enough detail to be certain of anything.

I have to ask.  Why anyone building a bomb would put the digital counter on the outside of the suitcase?  Visible to all?  And why would they immediately show it to the first authority figure they find?  Wouldn’t this undermine the surprise effect?  And why was the school not shut down until some expert verified that it was not a real bomb.  A teacher can’t do that.  A principal can’t do that.  For those teachers out there that know your policy, isn’t the school evacuated until the police or bomb squad determines if there is a threat or not and only then do they call it a hoax?  No one in that school believed it to be anything else but a clock.

Further into the website, away from the clock making boy in Texas, is another article about Syrian refugees.  The article links to a Colonel Oliver North interview on Fox News, warning about the potential of terrorist hiding in among the refugees.  That in itself is generic Fox news.  What is troubling is the links title.  They turn “refugee” into Muslim colonist.  These desperate mothers, and fathers and their children are no longer fleeing a savage civil war, brought on by extreme fundamentalist, but are invaders out to colonize us.

And further still into the site I read a comment about Obama, “What kind of follower of Jesus Christ would allow the slaughter of Christians, denying them safe haven in America yet allowing any and all Muslims free entry into our neighborhoods”.  I am not certain but I would bet there must be some Syrian Christians mixed up with the “Muslim colonist”.  The New Testament parable of the Good Samaritan seems to be lost here.

Are the fundamentalist Christians and extreme Right so anxious to see blood they are willing to kill children?  Or do they assuage their conscious with a play on words.  They are terrorist. They are colonist.  They teach their children to be suicide bombers so they are potential suicide bombers.

As long as we can demonize young people that are “different” than us, we will be the ones creating terrorist.  Nits make lice.

Why We Need Black History

History influences our current lives. We might react positively to our historical past or negatively to our historical past but we seldom react neutrally. To fully understand events today it helps to understand the historical context. Otherwise we are left with “don’t know why that happened!”
Often we look at history to feel good about ourselves when we are not doing something great at the moment. Or we look at history to compare our progress, see which direction we have traveled. Sometimes it is just to understand. Granted sometimes history is reduced to little tidbits of information that don’t seem to have any significance. But ultimately we don’t know what people find significant. Even historical perspectives change as we move from “great man” history to social and economic history that tries to understand the unknown common people.
To understand racism today we need to understand the history that brought us here. By reducing racism to individual actions we fail to understand the historical context that created it. The positive progress in race relations should be celebrated. We no longer condone lynching’s. But one never realizes how widespread, how accepted and how recent lynchings were. There are people still alive today that witnessed the last official lynching. If there is no acknowledgement of this we are just sweeping it under the rug and hope that those that remember are not resentful.
Our images of people are based on past experiences — history. If we meet someone for the first time, our impression is based on a historical perspective. What can I guess about this individual based on what I know? When it comes to hiring someone we base some of our impression on attitudes we grew up with. When a police officer pulls someone over they are basing their initial impression on a cultural perspectives. Our cultural perspectives are influenced by the history we are taught.

This perspective manifest itself in public policies today. Granted we no longer have separate drinking fountains but we spend a tremendous amount of both federal and state money, your taxes, combating drugs in predominantly Black neighborhoods. We send a disproportionate amount of African Americans to jail for drug use than any other race, ignoring studies that show that drug use is relatively equal amongst racial groups .
An accurate history helps us refine our awareness, helps us understand the contributions all people made to our culture. We are not ignoring the contributions our White ancestors have made; that has been up front and center for all of our lives. Knowing the contributions other people have done helps us polish our perspective of ourselves. True some bits of history may be trivial, in which case we can impress someone at a party. But knowing that the first African American to receive a patent was a woman in the 1800’s not only moves her away from “barefoot, pregnant and hysterical” to a contributing member of society but also knowing she was Black in the 1800’s moves her from beasts of burden to creative human beings (barely 20 years after slavery ended). Knowing that the fictional character of the Lone Ranger is based on a real frontier lawman who was an ex-slave gives us heroes that can be any race. By knowing a real history gives us a dynamic background.