Friday, July 17, 2020


Extended version!

•   I know it must seem like old news by now but there are still Confederate statue defenders out there in Conservativeland. And I'm not talking about the bullshit variants invented recently, like when someone tears down a non-Confederate statue and they blame liberals. I'm talking about straight-up hell-yeah-Robert E. Lee at National Review by Bruce Westrate, who "teaches history at a prep school in Dallas."

It's got all the hits. First, the usual Harper's-letter bellyaching about being ganged up on: "I find myself consigned by the media to the ranks of would-be Nazis... simply because I’ve always enjoyed such venues [as Civil War memorials], along with the commemorative Civil War art that abounds among them." I can't find any evidence of a Twitter or web kerfuffle over Westrate's love of Civil War stuff, so I assume he means people who know him think he's a jerk.

Westrate goes on about "young people, abetted by the feckless opportunism of politicians, turning to the likes of the Taliban" and decides "it's all about safe spaces," "all complexity is lost, and context is rendered subservient to a cleansing," etc. and similar sentiments set adrift in a river of high-flown gush. Also, "Shall the FDR monument be removed to appease the descendants of interned Nisei Japanese," ha ha shall it not answer me libs. The guy really loves him some Lee; since he's a historian he must know the General was a slaver and not an especially kindly one either, but he never mentions that, and even defends the Jim Crow era vintage of many Confederate monuments as a misunderstanding:
And while the erection of commemorative statues unfortunately coincided with the emergence of the “Jim Crow” South, there are more understandable motivations that, I would argue, took precedence. These were martial creations, after all, intended to commemorate battlefield feats. Historians have long observed that veterans typically (and understandably) avoid public remembrance and consecration of battlefield combat until decades after the event. The erection of these statues coincides with the dedication of most of the larger American battlefield parks and cemeteries. So, they were aimed less at betrayed freedmen then at kindling popular remembrance of the slain, along with the suffering wounded Confederate veterans had endured.
There, now, black folks, now let's have Jeb Stuart back on his pedestal in Richmond so you can see him on your way to work every day. Also, did you know black people were involved in the slave trade?

If you can't imagine anyone who isn't brain-damaged or already a Neo-Confederate going for this, you must remember that the salvation of the statues is a new Lost Cause, something normal people increasingly abhor, which wingnuts lament in the sort of hurt tones with which they also used to lament that America was not Great anymore before they decided to fix that by electing a senile criminal President. And now that the U.S. military has just banned the Stars 'n' Bars, I guess Westrate and his fellow Rebs have a lot more to cry about. 

•   If you haven't subscribed to the newsletter yet, here, have some freebies -- not only the previously cited cancel-culture one but also one on how amid all his crimes and catastrophes Trump is doing one good thing

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