Will wonders never cease? Rob Kailey, Mark Tokarski, Craig Moore and liz (aka William Skink) all agree: worrying about symbols is a waste of time.
Symbols are powerful: the swastika, hammer and sickle, crescent and star, stars and bars, stars and stripes … people have shed blood over them. Yet, according to this foursome, we need to overlook these symbols for the deeper, underlying causes.
And Democrats that are concerned about them are guilty of “optical illusion.” Folks that rail against the Confederate flag or a Confederate fountain have shallow motives and ignore the “institutional racism” that plagues our country.
Yes, institutional racism exists today in America. Yes, there was plenty of racism in the North before, during and after the Civil War. There is much work yet to be done. But I don’t believe that precludes people from opposing the symbols tied to slavery.
Skink, of course, holds the Democrats in contempt, particularly President Barack Obama (our country’s first African-American President):
Obama chose to protect the Wall Street perpetrators of a subprime loan system that was overtly racist … While the optics of Obama eulogizing one of the nine dead black victims of the Charleston massacre may be nice to see, on the surface, beneath the surface structural racism persists, while opportunities to make substantive changes have been squandered by the Obama regime.
To accuse Obama of institutional racism holds no logic. There may be other factors in play for Obama’s Wall Street choices, but racism? No President has spoken more eloquently against it than Obama.
Then there’s Tokarski, who takes the Ronald Reagan approach: “You cannot do for others what they must do for themselves.” Pull yourselves up by the bootstraps! He continues: “And it would not hurt to read the Southern side of that war, as the version we read these days has been Spielberged, or turned to sloppy sentimentality.” Read a Texas history textbook lately, Mark? They’ve got that “Southern side of the war” covered.
Moore says: “The southern colonies had developed culturally different from the North long before the Civil War.” Well, yes, if you want to call slavery “culturally different.” I realize that slavery existed in the North but by 1804 all Northern states had voted to abolish the institution of slavery within their borders. That’s nearly 60 years before the Civil War.
He also blames tariffs and state’s rights as the culprits. But I ask again, if not for slavery would there have been a Civil War?
Kailey, as a metaphor, points to the Big Hole “Battlefield” as an example of a name that we happily keep on the record books. He is correct that it wasn’t a battle, it was a massacre, but he then goes on to say: “The visitor’s center makes that quite clear … ” Isn’t that what many Helena citizens want; clarification, not admiration, of the Confederacy? He’s working the meme that if we criticize Confederate symbols, then we have to do the same with anything named after slave owners Jefferson and Washington, or Copper King exploiters of workers Daly, Clark and Heinz. That’s a straw man argument.
I personally don’t think that the fountain should be removed but a little extra signage that better explains the Confederacy’s role in the Civil War should not be mistaken as acquiescence to political correctness.
We should celebrate this awareness that racist symbols should be eradicated or at least have a valid interpretation. It could lead to policies that advance social and economic equality, and there’s nothing wrong with that.