Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Confederate "Heritage" Month 2013, April 10: Civil War analogy to today's politics

Andrew O'Hehir in Welcome to the new Civil War Salon 01/05/2013 makes a thematic connection between the days of the Civil War and Reconstruction and today's politics:

You can't boil one of the most tumultuous periods of American history down to one paragraph, but here goes: Lincoln was assassinated by a domestic terrorist and replaced by Andrew Johnson, who was an incompetent hothead and an unapologetic racist. Within a few years the ambitious project of Reconstruction fell victim to a sustained insurgency led by the Ku Klux Klan and similar white militia groups. By the late 1870s white supremacist "Redeemers" controlled most local and state governments in the South, and by the 1890s Southern blacks had been disenfranchised and thrust into subservience positions by Jim Crow laws that were only slightly preferable to slavery.

So even though it's a truism of American public discourse that the Civil War never ended, it’s also literally true. We're still reaping the whirlwind from that long-ago conflict, and now we face a new Civil War, one focused on divisive political issues of the 21st century – most notably the rights and liberties of women and LGBT people – but rooted in toxic rhetoric and ideas inherited from the 19th century.
I hope he's overstating reality here: "But the activist core of the Republican Party is neo-Confederate, whether it thinks of itself that way or not. It isn't interested in common cause with Mexicans or turning down the moral thermostat. Just ask Rick Santorum: What it wants is war." About the war part, that is. He's basically right about the influence of neo-Confederate ideology. Today's Republican Party is all in with straight-up segregationist practices like voter suppression aimed at African-American and Latino communities.

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