Friends of Padre Steve’s World
In a week and a half I shall be off to Gettysburg again with a new band of students, bracing the very cold and possibly even nasty winter weather to experience and learn about the people, whose courage, sacrifice and service helped change this country for the better.
That is not to say that we have arrived in any sense of the word. Today I was confronted on a social media site about a quote that I posted from the late Associate Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall which said:
“None of us got where we are solely by pulling up our bootstraps. We got there because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony, or a few nuns, bent down and helped us pick up our boots…”
When I posted it I wasn’t thinking of anything more than that all of us owe something to someone else for what we have achieved.
The person who confronted me on this, a retired Navy Chaplain chastised me because of “institutionalized affirmative action programs.” When I defended Marshall’s comments I got a a comment that “those days are long gone….”
When I read that with or new puppy Izzy snuggled beside me I thought, “what the fuck?” I really didn’t know how to respond. I was astounded to hear those words coming from a person who served a full career in the military. Heck the Admiral I work for, who is one of under twenty African Americans serving at that rank today was told by a white Commanding Officer that he would never command anything because he was black. He entered the military a year after I did during the early part of the Reagan build up. I enlisted in 1981 and was commissioned in 1983, he was commissioned in late 1982.
So please keep telling me that institutional and personal racism does’t exist. It does and it is still a part of life, no matter what Ben Carson, Alan West or Starr Parker say. Those people are no different than Stephen, the character played by Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained. They benefit from being the black henchmen of those that oppress other blacks. In Harriet Beecher Stowe’s era they were called Uncle Tom. The sad thing is that such people never understand that the system that they defend and advocate still hates them. I’ll go back to that in another two articles this weekend, which will be entitled They Still Hate You and another We the Good White God Fearing Citizens of Rock Ridge Again both will have a film reference and if you don’t know those films you should.
Sadly it seems they one people that really believe that are white American conservative Christians. But I digress….
The heart of why over 600,000 Americans died in the Civil War, and the country was devastated by a total war, the effects of which still linger today was rooted in racism, the institution of slavery, the belief that Blacks were less that human and that States, backed by legislative “compromises” and Supreme Court decisions could and should be able to maintain and even expand an evil social and economic system that treated Blacks as less than human, enslaved them and treated them not as human beings but as the property of slave owners.
That my friends is not just a fact, it is history and it is uncomfortable as hell because my family owned slaves and fought for the Confederacy, something that I am neither proud of or ashamed to admit. It is history. It is reality, and it is shameful. I will not simply resort to the lie that my ancestors who owned slaves and fought to keep that right were simply products of their time. They and thousands of others like them knew better, and they not only intellectually assented to the system, but the profited from it and fought for it.
What I am saying, and this will not be comfortable to those who want to believe that racism, or other forms of social discrimination exist and are being re-legislated into law in certain state legislatures in actions to roll back voting rights, civil rights and economic liberty.
No they will not, especially to those who hold those beliefs and back them with their religion. Just because an elected official, or a law enforcement officer who happens to be Black expresses an opinion that racism still exists and that the laws on the books designed to ensure equal rights are enforced does not mean that they are racist. It seems to me that the racism label today is used by the very proponents of racism, racism that seeks to assign blacks, women, other people of color, and gays to less than full social, political and racial equity. But then I could be wrong, maybe in the words of Supertramp’s Logical Song I’m just a radical, liberal, fanatical, criminal…. but then maybe all the world is asleep…. and my questions run too deep….
That my friends is just one of the reasons that I believe that history matters and that such evils, and yes they are evil, need to be confronted today. The history must be told and it cannot be varnished with the lacquer of the myth of the Lost Cause, or any sort of neo-Confederate romanticism, the politicians, pundits and preachers who do so be damned to the pit of the hell that they so adamantly assign those that do not agree with them.
So tonight I am reposting a link to the first of three previously published articles, which are one full chapter of my Civil War and Gettysburg text. They are uncomfortable as hell to read, because I know for a fact that from my own research, and family history that they are just that. The accounts, the words of the defenders of slavery and the racist ideology behind it and today behind much of the preachers, politicians and pundits of the Tea Party must be confronted. Not just because it is part of their ideology, but because it is an integral part of the ideology of the Islamic State, Boko Haram and all evil that go with them. Ideology, religion and racism matters, not just in the past but today.
So tonight I give you
I’ll repost part two tomorrow and part three Friday with a few more editorial comments because as you an see I am really spun up about this.
Have a great night.