Here's what we think we know:
We think we know that Republicans regained power in the late 20th Century because many Whites deserted the Democratic Party for backing integration and civil rights.
We think we know that Lott's disgrace gives the Republicans an opportunity to continue their racist policies by endorsing quiet, respectable, grey-flannel opponents of civil rights, instead of shoot-from-the-lip, bellicose, confrontational race-baiters like Lott.
We think we know that the Democrats play from the Republican political playbook by delivering Republican-themed family values speeches while sacrificing core, Black constituents in a naked grab for White middle-class votes. (Al Gore did not defend 90,000 mostly Black, mostly Democratic votes in Florida in 2000, because the Democrats didn't want their White middle-class voters to think they would stand up for Black issues.)
OK, what's the big deal? Everyone condemned Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, now ex-Senate majority leader, for wishing aloud that segregation was the rule of the day, even though polls said 4 to 1 that he should not resign as Republican leader.
The White supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) are calling for a mathematics professor's head because he condemned the Confederate slaveowners as traitors whose crimes against humanity should have been punished. Liberals are saying the professor went too far.
What's going on in America? Should Trent Lott have resigned and should the Confederacy have met the gallows instead of hallowed ground? More still, should liberals stick up for the Confederacy, and should America stick up for Trent Lott?
Nothing's going on in America which hasnt gone on for the last 400 years. This is just the same old same old. Why shouldn't Senator Lott comfortably state that this country would have been better off under segregation? This country has always been comfortable with racism and segregation.
If you don't believe it, listen to what a progressive, the council of conservative citizens, a descendent of Andrew Jackson, a member of the Sons of Confederate
Veterans, a California Confederate, and a mini-Trent Lott conservative and neo-Confederate sympathizer all have to say.
"For me, the peaceful non-violent path means letting go of anger, aggression, pain and judgment. And instead work with the mind, body and spirit to instill peace." "AG", a progressive
"Take your sh*t skin self back to Africa and see how it is when your kind (the descendants of your ancestors) are left to make rules and laws for themselves. In the meantime, don't presume to offer your opinions and advice to White Americans, it's not welcomed." Douglas Story (White American and descendant of Andrew Jackson)
''The Confederate flag is a symbol of people willing to fight and die for freedom. It represents a group of men willing to fight against overwhelming odds to defend a country they loved.'' Jack Leard, Sons of Confederate Veterans
"[The professor's] simple-minded tirades against the Confederacy indicate how low prestigious universities will stoop to dole out fancy degrees to Blacks. Perhaps he received his PhD in mathematics when he stopped counting his fingers to do arithmetic." The Editor --- Council of Conservative Citizens
''Slaves were valuable property; they were not tortured or murdered for fun and sport any more than a modern farmer would take a sledge hammer to his new John Deere. Slaves consumed 90% of what they produced and lived at a level higher than that of the toiling masses of Europe." Gary Waltrip, former president of the Confederate Society of America
''Vanderbilt is going to be a real university again and not merely a four-year boot camp for radicals. Who knows, you might even have to start educating again.'' Tim Chavez, Tennessean columnist, and local mini-Trent Lott conservative and neo-Confederate
See, I told you.
Nothing new is going on in America. The so-called progressive wants forgiveness for Confederates if the victims of anger, aggression, pain and judgment are Black. Andrew Jackson's descendant wants African-Americans to go back to Africa. A son of the Confederacy wants the Confederate flag to wave. The Council of Conservative Citizens want universities to stop handing out degrees to Blacks. A California Confederate wants us to be happy and says slaves were not tortured or murdered for fun. A Tennessean columnist wants Vanderbilt to stop hosting radicals.
Just the same old same old! Nothing's going on in America which hasnt gone on for the last 400 years.
Who is this mathematics professor and what did he say to enrage these "good White folks and one Mexican"?
The mathematics professor in question is an African-American at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, a summa cum laude graduate from Harvard University in 1991, a Marshall Scholar who went to Oxford University where he earned his D.Phil. in 1995 at age 25, a man who is one of only four persons in the country to win a 2001-2002 Fulbright Distinguished Scholar Award to the United Kingdom. To say he is brilliant is an understatement even if the Council of Conservative Citizens said "he received his PhD in mathematics when he stopped counting his fingers to do arithmetic."
Well, what did he say about the Confederacy?
Quite simply he said "Every Confederate soldier, by the mores of his age and ours, deserved not a hallowed resting place at the end of his days but a reservation at the end of the gallows." And also, ". . . the race problems that wrack America to this day are due largely to the fact that the Confederacy was not thoroughly destroyed, its leaders and soldiers executed, and their lands given to the landless freed slaves . ."
I for one, totally agree with the mathematics professor. If Confederate traitors were dealt with in the same manner as suspected traitors (you know, dark skinned people) we would not have the race problems that wrack America to this day. America needs to discuss the crimes against humanity committed by Confederates---the rape, torture and murder of millions of people. America doesn't need to discuss racist Whites showing homage to a racist past.
But, when it comes to White people, we care more about the wellbeing of ex-Confederates who died a hundred years ago than the thousands of Blacks murdered, and millions suppressed, by the same unpunished ex-Confederates. This is the stigma of White supremacy and 400 years of slavery and Jim Crow.
America doesn't need a national dialogue on race and racism. It needs a national hemispherectomy.
What is the difference between the arrogance of a Trent Lott, his equally bigoted Republican replacement, the Democrats, and arrogant Confederates? If you answered "Zero," you are mathematically correct.
The words of an intrinsically racist Trent Lott and the actions of White supremacy---whether enacted by a progressive, a descendant of Andrew Jackson, a son of the Confederacy, the Council of Conservative Citizens, a California Confederate, or a mini-Trent conservative---all have the same consequences: the criminalization of a race, the bureaucratic madness of prisons, and the denial of freedoms.
400 years of slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation destroyed the moral fabric of this nation.
So is it a big deal that Senator Lott longs for a return to segregation, and the Council of Conservative Citizens and the United Daughters of the Confederacy want a return of the Confederacy?
No. As long as America reveres the Confederacy and de facto segregation enslaves Black people, it's no big deal for White supremacists to be themselves in America - its the status quo.
Donna J. Warren is a native of South Central Los Angeles and a former Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor of California (www.donnawarren.com). She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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