". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Thursday, July 9, 2015

It's Coming Down

That flag.  That flag that used to fly from the South Carolina State House, starting in 1961 in the Civil Rights Struggle, then moved to the grounds next to, in front of, the State House.  That flag.  It's going to be taken down and put away. The South Carolina Senate, and now the South Carolina House, has so voted it done.

I can hardly believe it.

It's long past time. Indeed, the time never was that that flag should be displayed in any honorary, public place.

Greg Grandin has published this month a couple of very thought-provoking essays that examine that flag's continuing relationship with our military, that flag of traitors to the nation.

Here is the one published in the Nation:
What Was the Confederate Flag Doing in Cuba, Vietnam, and Iraq?
The Confederate flag’s military tenure continued long after the Civil War ended.
To that list of places where the flag was displayed, though Greg doesn't mention it, is Haiti, during the U.S. military invasion and occupation, 1915 - 1934, ordered by Woodrow Wilson. The U.S. marines' commander, Colonel Smedley Butler, appears to be a descendant of the infamous Butler who created the largest slave auction in history, selling off long established families from his low country rice plantations to recover a fortune that he'd dissipated in drink and gambling.  Like Cuba, Haiti, was always a preoccupation and obsession of the antebellum southern slave power.  As was, even Central America, where Butler and the U.S. marines were part of many invasions and occupations on behalf of U.S. corporate interests.

In fact the U.S. flag and that other flag went with the U.S. occupation of most of the Spanish Caribbean, Central America and the Philippines. Many of the commanding officers were the sons and grandsons of officers of the Army of Rebellion, who carried their firm conviction of white supremacy with them, and which had strong effect on their decisions and choices.  Recall that Cuba was "won" for democracy by Theodore Roosevelt, whose mother was a planter's daughter from Georgia and whose uncles were infamously deep in the Trent Affair of Mason and Slidell, as well as very successful privateers preying upon Union merchant and naval ships.

Charles Francis Adams, Sr. (1807- 1886)
This is the affair that kept Charles Francis Adams, Henry Adams's father, U.S. minister to the Court of St. James awake for many nights -- as well as his son, since he was the minister's private secretary.

The second essay by Greg Grandin   that flag is here:

Greg Grandin
 Greg Grandin, How Endless War Helps Old Dixie Stay New

Union Troops, U.S. Civil War

What else is significant about this decision is that a woman, a Southern woman, a woman who is descended from the Jefferson Davis family, Jenny Horne, was instrumental in getting the vote to haul down that flag.

Southern women have played an enormous role in keeping alive the mythology of the glorious lost cause.

Now a Southern woman's voice, hoarse and broken from hours of debate, has pushed that flag into the past of Southern public, ceremonial, celebratory, political spaces.  Finally.

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