- 3. ‘Apocalyptic Power’ Theories: These are the most dangerous conspiracy theories. The conspiracy theorists who hold these beliefs argue that a group of people, either large or small, is attempting to destroy the cultural, social and/or political world of the conspiracy theorist. The conspiracy theorist argues that he/she is not only ignorant of secrets, or out of the loop of secret power, he/she is actually a threatened victim of the conspirators. Usually, these conspiracies focus upon governments, but they also can tie into the ‘Secret Power’ conspiracies in the belief of a small cadre having control over levers of power. These conspiracies are the most dangerous because of their absolutist, zero-sum focus. For the believers in these conspiracies, there is no middle ground. You either fight, or you die. You gain your freedom, or become a slave. Every event that is read into the conspiracy is another sign of the endgame; the theorist’s world is believed to be crumbling down, and hence, it is only natural that violence may be necessary. Those who do not hold to these conspiracies then are more than ignorant sheep to be looked down upon. The person not accepting the conspiracy becomes part of the conspiracy. This type of conspiracy theory promotes a Manichean notion of reality. The conspiracy theorist is not laughing. It is deadly serious to him/her.
A bit of humor at the expense of Ol’ Scratch
When foolish mortals,
A species who wasted
The gift of Free Will,
And is on the verge
Of destroying the planet
With which they were gifted,
Try to tell me,
The Prince of Darkness
And Ruler of Eternal Hellfire,
That the current temperature
Is hot as Hell!
Why do they speak
With such confidence
About things of which
They have absolutely no knowledge?
The coldest corner of Hell
Is exponentially hotter
Than the warmest place
On the precious planet
They seem absolutely hellbent
Stop inserting the name
Of my beloved kingdom,
Which will still be here
Long after you have all
Returned to the dust,
Into your weather reports!
You have no concept
Of how hot it is
But mark my words,
That will change
For so many of you
In the coming years!
Speak not of Hell again,
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Words of advice for any community…hating what you do not understand or that which makes you feel uncomfortable does a disservice not only to the people you direct that negative perception onto but to yourself…how can people see the good in oneself if all there is is words of irrationality
Hate in any community is terrible, but when it happens in a community you are part of it always seems worse than others because you are directly affected by it. Being part of the LGBTQ community I have encountered a lot of hate from outside the community as well as inside the community. When I identified as a lesbian it was lesbians against gays and vice versa. I find the hatred to be even worse in the trans community. I’m not really sure why its worse in the trans community and maybe its my own perception, but I feel like its worse in the trans community than it was for me in the lesbian community. The hatred isn’t just transmen against transwomen it’s also transmen against transmen and transwomen against transwomen. We are all apart of the same community and should be supporting one another through our journeys whether they…
View original post 692 more words
“We keep each other honest, we keep each other good with our feedback, our intolerance of meanness and falsehood, our demands that the people we are with listen, respect, respond—if we are allowed to, if we are free and valued ourselves. There is a democracy of social discourse, in which we are reminded that as we are beset with desires and fears and feelings, so are others; there was an old woman in Occupy Wall Street I always go back to who said, “We’re fighting for a society in which everyone is important.” That’s what a democracy of mind and heart, as well as economy and polity, would look like.”
A Conservative-to-English Lexicon
a resource for non-native speakers of the Conservative language
For an explanation of what the Lexicon is, see the post that introduced it, and the follow-up. The short version is this: Conservatives have begun using English words in ways that diverge from the definitions you might find in a standard dictionary. Just to give one example — there are gobs of others in the definitions below — moving DREAMers to the bottom of the deportation priority list is an example of tyranny, because tyrants are so famous for not arresting people and instead letting them continue living their lives.
OK, one more: People whose incomes are too low to pay income tax are lucky duckies in Conservative-speak; that’s got to be the first time in history that low income was non-satirically considered an example of luck. (In standard English, lucky is a synonym of fortunate, from which we get the word for a bundle of money: a fortune.)
Things get even harder to follow when two or more new usages combine in a single sentence. For example, when conservatives talk about using their Second Amendment rights to defend against tyranny, they mean that if they need to overthrow the government to prevent ObamaCare from extending health insurance to the unworthy, they’re ready.
The definitions below were abstracted from actual examples of conservative usage, many of which I reference. Within the definitions, words in italics refer to the Conservative meanings rather than the English meanings., i.e., the difference between the Constitution the Constitution.
Activist judge. A judge who applies the Constitution and other laws, rather than the Bible or the Constitution written by the Founding Fathers.
American exceptionalism. The belief that the United States is exempt from all legal and moral standards. Example: Waterboarding is a capital crime when done to Americans, but legally and morally acceptable when practiced by Americans.
Amnesty. The basic English meaning is unchanged since Bierce: “The state’s magnanimity to those offenders whom it would be too expensive to punish.” In conservative usage, amnesty is an abandonment of all moral standards if applied to undocumented immigrants, but “makes perfect sense” when applied to corporate profits held off-shore to avoid taxes. To spin amnesty positively, use holiday. Example: a tax holiday, but not an immigration holiday.
Appeasement. Hesitating before attacking or overthrowing the unfriendly government of an oil-rich nation.
Balance. 1. Providing Democrats as well as Republicans the opportunity to criticize President Obama. 2. Providing blacks as well as whites the opportunity to indict black culture. Usage: “Fox News is fair and balanced.”
Bankrupt. Requiring taxes that the wealthy do not want to pay. Usage: “The government is bankrupt.”
Celebrity. A disparaging term applied to a liberal who can draw a crowd. Usage: Barack Obama “is the biggest celebrity in the world.” Not to be confused with a politician who is popular in Real America, like Sarah Palin, or with statesmen like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Ronald Reagan.
Class warfare. When the 99% fight back against the 1%. Usage: “Obama’s priority is class warfare. That’s why he relentlessly denounces job creators as ‘millionaires and billionaires.’ That’s why he demands that they be punished with higher tax rates.”
Collateral damage. Humans whose deaths would rattle the conscience of a nation not blessed with American exceptionalism.
Color-blindness. Fighting racial injustice by refusing to see it, much as an ostrich avoids danger by sticking its head into the sand.
Common sense. The opinion of the People, as opposed to the opinion of experts who have devoted their lives to studying the subject. See: science, junk science.
Common sense solution. A (usually unspecified) way to make a problem vanish without inconveniencing any job creators or real Americans, or making them pay taxes. Usage: “All across this country, women are standing up and speaking out for common sense solutions.”
Confederacy. An early attempt to restore the freedom envisioned by the Founding Fathers. Still an object of nostalgia in the GOP’s southern base.
Constitution. A holy scripture written by the Founding Fathers. Like the Bible, it means whatever conservatives want it to mean, regardless of its actual text. The Constitution, for example, protects corporate personhood, and the near-infinite powers it assigns to Republican presidents vanish when a Democrat takes office. Unlike the real-life Constitution, the Constitution includes the Declaration of Independence, and so really does mention God.
Contract. An inviolable pledge, except when made to a union.
Controversial. An adjective applying to any fact or set of facts that conservatives don’t want to believe. Examples: evolution and climate change. Once facts have been labeled controversial, stating them as facts is evidence of liberal bias.
Dependent on government. Anyone receiving welfare, encompassing retirees, students, and the disabled. Usage: “there are 47 percent … who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”
Dividing the country. Talking about the concerns of voters other than real Americans. Examples: Starting a class war by encouraging the 99% to fight back, or discussing the effects of racism. Usage: President Obama “won by dividing the country.”
Elite, Elitist. Those who challenge common sense by insisting on facts. Usage: “The power of the knowledge elite does not stem primarily from money, but in persuading, instructing and regulating the rest of society.”
Europe. A hellish dystopia governed by liberals, where people belong to unions, have guaranteed health care, and earn high wages with long vacations. Soon to be overrun by Muslims. Usage: “I want you to remember when our White House reflected the best of who we are, not the worst of what Europe has become.”
Fair. Favoring the wealthy. Usage: “A true free market is always fair.”
Family. A group of people related by blood to, and under the control of, a straight white man wealthy and powerful enough to protect and control them.
Family Farm. Any piece of land controlled by a single family, no matter how vast it might be. This is how Paul Ryan can say that an estate tax that only applies to estates over $5 million “hits the little guy — like the small business and the family farm.”
Fascism. An insult with no meaningful content, similar to “bastard” or “asshole”. The previously well established Mussolini/Hitler sense of the term — a militarist, nativist, corporatist style of totalitarianism claiming to restore a nation to the greatness of its mythic past — is now archaic, having been successfully jammed by tangential usages like Islamo-fascism and oxymorons like liberal fascism. Usage: “The quintessential liberal fascist isn’t an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade-school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.”
Founding Fathers. Loosely based on the American generational cohort that fought the Revolution and wrote the Constitution, the conservative Founding Fathers are heroes of a great mythic past constructed by pseudo-historians like David Barton. Divinely inspired, the Founding Fathers intended to create a non-denominational Christian theocracy, but inexplicably failed to mention God in the Constitution. They were implacably opposed to Big Government, even as they were writing a constitution that vastly extended the powers of the national government beyond those laid out in the previous Articles of Confederation. They “worked tirelessly” to end slavery, while owning hundreds of slaves themselves, and without actually ending slavery until long after they were all dead.
Free market. A system of decision-making based on the only fair principle: one dollar, one vote.
Freedom. 1. The ineffable quality that exempts the United States from all moral standards. (See American exceptionalism). Usage: “They hate our freedom.” 2. The right of the powerful to use their power as they see fit. Usage: “The minimum wage is a freedom killer.” 3. The right of job creators to use public infrastructure without paying taxes, or to exploit common resources (like air, water, or public land) without regulation. Example: Cliven Bundy.
Freedom of religion. The right of conservative Christians to shape society and define social acceptability. Intended by the Founding Fathers only to protect expressions of religion, not atheism or Islam.
Freedom of speech. 1. The right of a conservative to speak and write publicly without criticism. (See persecution.) Synonym: First Amendment rights. Example: Sarah Palin’s objection in 2008 to the characterization of her charge that Barack Obama was “paling around with terrorists” as “negative campaigning”. “If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.” While no one had disputed Palin’s right to say what she said, the fact that she faced criticism for it violated her freedom of speech. 2. In election campaigns, the right of the rich to drown out all competing voices. Usage: “Citizens United gives freedom of speech back to the People.”
God. Jehovah, the father of Jesus, as revealed by a literal reading of the Bible. Non-Christians do not believe in God, but in other supernatural beings like Allah. Some liberals claim to believe in God, but they use the word incorrectly.
Hate. Criticism of conservative ideas or disputation of facts alleged by conservatives. See persecution.
Holiday. A temporary suspension of tyranny. Usage: “tax holiday“.
Illegal immigrants (or illegals). Hispanics. Usage: “the more illegals that vote, the better the Obama administration thinks it will do.”
Impeachable offenses. Anything President Obama does or fails to do.
Impeachment. A means of reversing elections, when voters mistakenly choose Democrats. Established by the Constitution, impeachment requires impeachable offenses. Failure to make use of impeachment may necessitate “Second Amendment remedies”.
Indoctrination. Teaching historical or scientific facts that are controversial.
Innocent human life. The unborn, who possess souls of infinite worth. At birth, a child inherits the soul-value of his parents, which — if they are black or poor — does not amount to much. Consequently, abortion in the United States is a moral crisis equivalent to the Holocaust, while our third-worldish infant mortality rate (34th in the world, just behind Cuba) is no big deal.
Institutionalized racism. Racial advantages and disadvantages explicitly written into the law, like Jim Crow. Other embedded racial advantages, like legacy admissions to Ivy League schools or the extra-zealous policing of black neighborhoods, are just the way things are. Usage: “Today the system and philosophy of institutionalized racism identified by Dr. King no longer exists.”
Job. An expression of generosity by a job creator, who allows a small amount of wealth to trickle down to a person who does exactly what he’s told. As John Galt told workers at the Rearden factory: “The standard of living of that [medieval] blacksmith is all that your muscles are worth; the rest is a gift from Hank Rearden.”
Jobs bill. A cut in taxes or regulations for job creators. Usage: “If lawmakers are really serious about creating jobs, they should simply repeal ObamaCare.”
Job creator. A wealthy person, who may or may not be an employer, and who may even have become wealthy by firing people or shipping jobs overseas. Usage: “Let’s cut taxes for job creators.” Does not apply to public works, public schools, or any other government program, no matter how many Americans such a program might productively employ.
Judicial activism. When activist judges rule against corporate interests or white supremacy, or in favor of separating Church from State.
Junk science. Research not funded by a corporation whose profits depend on the outcome. Examples: climate research not funded by fossil fuel companies, tobacco research not funded by cigarette companies, etc. All you really need to know about the term is that JunkScience.com is run by Steve Milloy, who is also Director of External Policy and Strategy for Murray Energy, the largest privately owned American coal company. Usage: “It’s just an excuse for more government control of your life. I’ve never been for any [greenhouse-gas reducing] scheme or even accepted the junk science behind the whole [climate change] narrative.” See sound science.
Liberal media bias. The fading tendency of certain portions of the journalistic establishment to require supporting facts before promoting a conspiracy theory. For an example of the frustration this causes conservatives, consider the following quote from Jonah Goldberg shortly before the 2012 election: “If you want to understand why conservatives have lost faith in the so-called mainstream media, you need to ponder the question: Where is the Benghazi feeding frenzy?”
Lucky Ducky. Anyone whose income is low enough to escape the punishment of income tax. Collectively, lucky duckies are known as “the 47%“. Usage: “Who are these lucky duckies? They are the beneficiaries of tax policies that have expanded the personal exemption and standard deduction and targeted certain voter groups by introducing a welter of tax credits for things like child care and education.”
Marxist. One who regrets the increasing concentration of wealth. Unrelated to any theories contained in the writings of Karl Marx. Example: Pope Francis. Usage: “Elizabeth Warrren, who has almost confessed to her Marxist views”. (Synonyms: communist, socialist, liberal.)
Objective. Adjective describing a person (especially a journalist) who tells it like it is.
The People (or We the People). All real Americans, considered collectively. Usage: “I believe Owen Hill is one of those future leaders and must be supported by ‘we the people’ to take back our country and to restore our constitution as the law of the land.”
Persecution. 1. Denying conservatives the special rights they believe they are entitled to. Example: The War on Christmas, in which conservative Christians are persecuted if they are not allowed to dominate all public space for the month of December. 2. Criticism directed at conservatives. Example: If a conservative says something racist and you point that out, you are persecuting him. (See freedom of speech.) 3. Enforcing laws broken by conservatives. Example: Dinesh D’Souza. 4. Limiting the privileges of privileged groups.
Personhood. A quality shared by fertilized ova and corporations, but not by Afghans, Iraqis, or Pakistanis who become collateral damage. Usage: “Corporations are people, my friend.”
Political correctness. 1. The bizarre liberal belief that whites, men, straights, Christians, the rich, and other Americans in positions of privilege should treat less privileged people with respect, even though such people have no power to force them to. 2. Avoiding offense to a group unworthy of regard. Example: Saying “Happy Holidays” to avoid offending non-Christians is politically correct. Saying “Merry Christmas” to avoid offending Christians is not.
Politicizing. When a particularly dramatic or tragic event demonstrates how wrong conservatives have been, a liberal who points that out or proposes new policies to prevent future tragedies is politicizing the event. Correct usage: After the Sandy Hook school shooting led to calls for tighter gun laws, Rush Limbaugh said: “You’ve got a horrible event here, and they’re already looking to politicize it.” Incorrect usage: any application to 9-11. The Bush administration’s massive response to 9-11 was not politicization.
Poor. Lacking in gumption or virtue, undeserving, black.
Punishing success. Restoring upper-level tax rates to their levels during the Clinton administration, a dark time of peace and prosperity when no one bothered to become rich because it was too painful. Usage: “If you want to punish successful people, vote for Democrats.” Synonym: punishing job creators.Usage: “We shouldn’t be punishingjob creators.”
Racism. Calling attention to racial injustice with an intention to rectify it. Also called “playing the race card”. (See color-blindness.) Example: the Fox News commentator who said, “You know who talks about race? Racists.” Also see institutional racism.
Rammed (or forced) down the throat of the People. Any government action taken against the will of a majority of real Americans. Usage: “They’re going to do what they have to, the Democrats are, to force this [ObamaCare] down our throats.”
Rammed through Congress. Passed by majority vote, without granting an extra-constitutional veto to the conservative minority. Usage: “Senate Democrats rammed through what would later be called ObamaCare … The vote on Monday, in the dead of night, was 60 to 40.”
Rape. 1. A liberal myth used to persecute men who get sex through “consensual conquest“. 2. An excuse made up by women who want to murder their babies. 3. The exceedingly rare act the previous usages are based on, i.e., sex acts committed by thugs, Bill Clinton, and other moral degenerates. When using rape in this sense, it’s important to add a qualifying adjective like real or legitimate.
Real America. Rural areas and small towns, where the majority of voters are real Americans. Usage: “the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America.”
Real American. 1. A white conservative Christian born in the United States at least 30 years ago. 2. A typical resident of real America. Usage: “Real Americans do not recognize [Obama] as a president.”
Religion. Christianity, not including degraded liberal variants that accept evolution or gay rights. Sometimes qualified as “real religion” or “true religion” to differentiate from false religions like science.
Religious. Having to do with religion, i.e., Christian.
Religious freedom. 1. The right of religious people to ignore laws they don’t like. 2. The right of public officials to implement their religious views rather than the law. 3. The right of a religious majority to use public resources to promote their religion.
Science. 1. A false religion devoted to conquering the world in the name of the No God it worships. Usage: “Science, like God in the Old Testament, behaves jealously against any other religion. So science will say to its followers: ‘You shall have no other gods before me’. If you have any doubts, try asking an audience at a scientific convention to join you in a prayer.” 2. A conspiracy to impose world government through hoaxes like global warming. Usage: “Global warming is not about science, but about politics — that is, about expanding the power of elites using the coercive instruments of government to control the lives of people everywhere.”
Second Amendment rights. The right of whites, Christians, the wealthy, and other traditionally privileged groups to commit violence when their privileges are threatened by democratic processes. (People not from privileged groups may be gunned down by police — with full conservative support — if they are even suspected of being armed.) Best expressed by Sharron Angle in her 2010 Senate campaign: “if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.” Also by Virginia Republican Catherine Crabill: “We have a chance to fight this battle at the ballot box before we have to resort to the bullet box. But that’s the beauty of our Second Amendment right. I am glad for all of us who enjoy the use of firearms for hunting. But make no mistake. That was not the intent of the Founding Fathers. Our Second Amendment right was to guard against tyranny.”
Slavery. The Old South’s enlightened system for taking care of blacks without a welfare state. Usage: “And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
Small business. Any economic entity not in the Fortune 500, and maybe a few that are. At various times, small business has included privately-owned firms like Bechtel or wealthy individuals who incorporate, like billionaire George Soros. Since it evokes images of Mom-and-Pop diners or three-chair beauty salons, tax breaks for small business are always popular. But since one mis-categorized multi-national giant can outweigh a thousand Main Street card shops, the bulk of the breaks always end up going to the big boys. (See family farm.)
Social justice. A plot to turn mainstream Christian denominations Communist. Usage: “I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words.”
Sound science. The opposite of junk science. Coined by The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, “a front group set up by Philip Morris in 1993 … to question the science showing detrimental effects of cigarette smoke.”
States rights. 1. The belief that the 14th Amendment‘s guarantee of “the equal protection of the laws” was never intended to be taken seriously. Usage: “I believe in states’ rights … and I believe that we’ve distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the Constitution to that federal establishment.” — said by Ronald Reagan near the site of the KKK’s Mississippi Burning murders, which were solved by federal investigators after being covered up by local police. 2. The real cause of the Civil War, which had nothing to do with slavery.
Take back our country. Restoring the dominance of the People. As Hank Williams Jr. sang in “Take Back Our Country“: “Move over little dog, cause the big dog’s moving in.” Usage: “It’s time to take our country back.”
Taxes. A method of stealing money from job creators and giving it to poor people. Unrelated to Social Security, Medicare, roads, schools, lowering the deficit, or any other useful goal.
Telling it like it is. Pandering to people who resemble the speaker. Usage: Middle-aged white guy Wayne Allyn Root: “Donald Trump tells it like it is.” Alternate form: Calling it like he sees it.Usage: Ted Nugent writing, “Donald Trump … calls them like he sees them.”
Terrorist. 1. A Muslim. 2. Any violent person conservatives don’t like. Cannot be applied to violent anti-abortionists, white supremacists, or tax resisters. (See Second Amendment rights.)
Thug. 1. Young black male. Usage: “Trayvon Martin was a thug. His parents know that, you know that, I know that.” and “The Ferguson thugs aren’t alone. The overwhelming majority of violent crime across America is conducted by young, black males.” 2. An agent of government tyranny who might descend upon real Americans at any moment. Usage: “”jack-booted government thugs [who have] more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us.” 3. A union organizer.
Traditional marriage. The type of marriage commonly portrayed in the media when the speaker was a child. Does not include common features of marriage from earlier eras, such as the inability of the wife to own property, the impossibility of divorce (except by act of the Pope), the right of the husband to beat his wife, or the right of the husband to take multiple wives. (Biblical marriage may not have been Adam and Steve, but it was Jacob and Leah and Rachel and Bilhah and Zilpah. Don’t think too hard about why the link also has a picture of a sheep.)
Trumponym. (This is said about conservatives rather than by them, but was too good to leave out.) A word used in defiance of all known definitions. Example: “Obama is the founder of ISIS.” Coined by Nathan Heller.
Tyranny. When a Marxist gets elected and then tries to carry out the platform the people voted for. Example: ObamaCare.
Values. Beliefs that condemn gays or promiscuous women. Usage: the Values Voters Summit.
Voter fraud. Any votes cast by people whose demographic profile makes them likely to vote Democratic, i.e., blacks, Hispanics, or students. Alternate form: election fraud. Usage: “Obama likely won re-election through election fraud.”
Welfare. Any payment from the government, including (when convenient) Social Security, unemployment compensation, or student loans. Usage: “Unemployment compensation is just another welfare program.”
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
The New Orleans mayor gave a speech for the books explaining the necessity of taking down the confederate monuments at long last:
Thank you for coming.
The soul of our beloved City is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way – for both good and for ill.
It is a history that holds in its heart the stories of Native Americans: the Choctaw, Houma Nation, the Chitimacha. Of Hernando de Soto, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the Acadians, the Islenos, the enslaved people from Senegambia, Free People of Color, the Haitians, the Germans, both the empires of Francexii and Spain. The Italians, the Irish, the Cubans, the south and central Americans, the Vietnamese and so many more.
You see: New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures.
There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum — out of many we are one.
But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.
America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.
So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.
And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.
So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission.
There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth.
As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”
So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other.
So, let’s start with the facts.
The historic record is clear: the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity.
First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy.
It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.
These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.
After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.
Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy.
He said in his now famous ‘Cornerstone speech’ that the Confederacy’s “cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”
Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears, I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us and make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago so we can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and more perfect union.
Last year, President Barack Obama echoed these sentiments about the need to contextualize and remember all of our history. He recalled a piece of stone, a slave auction block engraved with a marker commemorating a single moment in 1830 when Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay stood and spoke from it.
President Obama said, “Consider what this artifact tells us about history … on a stone where day after day for years, men and women … bound and bought and sold and bid like cattle on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet. For a long time the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as history with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.”
A piece of stone – one stone. Both stories were history. One story told. One story forgotten or maybe even purposefully ignored.
As clear as it is for me today … for a long time, even though I grew up in one of New Orleans’ most diverse neighborhoods, even with my family’s long proud history of fighting for civil rights … I must have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought.
So I am not judging anybody, I am not judging people. We all take our own journey on race. I just hope people listen like I did when my dear friend Wynton Marsalis helped me see the truth. He asked me to think about all the people who have left New Orleans because of our exclusionary attitudes.
Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it?
Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too?
We all know the answer to these very simple questions.
When you look into this child’s eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can’t walk away from this truth.
And I knew that taking down the monuments was going to be tough, but you elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing and this is what that looks like. So relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, this is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once.
This is, however, about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile and, most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves, making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong.
Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division, and yes, with violence.
To literally put the confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past, it is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future.
History cannot be changed. It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong.
And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African Americans — or anyone else — to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person’s humanity seems perverse and absurd.
Centuries-old wounds are still raw because they never healed right in the first place.
Here is the essential truth: we are better together than we are apart. Indivisibility is our essence. Isn’t this the gift that the people of New Orleans have given to the world?
We radiate beauty and grace in our food, in our music, in our architecture, in our joy of life, in our celebration of death; in everything that we do. We gave the world this funky thing called jazz; the most uniquely American art form that is developed across the ages from different cultures.
Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think. All we hold dear is created by throwing everything in the pot; creating, producing something better; everything a product of our historic diversity.
We are proof that out of many we are one — and better for it! Out of many we are one — and we really do love it!
And yet, we still seem to find so many excuses for not doing the right thing. Again, remember President Bush’s words, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”
We forget, we deny how much we really depend on each other, how much we need each other. We justify our silence and inaction by manufacturing noble causes that marinate in historical denial. We still find a way to say “wait, not so fast.”
But like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “wait has almost always meant never.”
We can’t wait any longer. We need to change. And we need to change now. No more waiting. This is not just about statues, this is about our attitudes and behavior as well. If we take these statues down and don’t change to become a more open and inclusive society this would have all been in vain.
While some have driven by these monuments every day and either revered their beauty or failed to see them at all, many of our neighbors and fellow Americans see them very clearly. Many are painfully aware of the long shadows their presence casts, not only literally but figuratively. And they clearly receive the message that the Confederacy and the cult of the lost cause intended to deliver.
Earlier this week, as the cult of the lost cause statue of P.G.T Beauregard came down, world renowned musician Terence Blanchard stood watch, his wife Robin and their two beautiful daughters at their side.
Terence went to a high school on the edge of City Park named after one of America’s greatest heroes and patriots, John F. Kennedy. But to get there he had to pass by this monument to a man who fought to deny him his humanity.
He said, “I’ve never looked at them as a source of pride … it’s always made me feel as if they were put there by people who don’t respect us. This is something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. It’s a sign that the world is changing.”
Yes, Terence, it is, and it is long overdue.
Now is the time to send a new message to the next generation of New Orleanians who can follow in Terence and Robin’s remarkable footsteps.
A message about the future, about the next 300 years and beyond; let us not miss this opportunity New Orleans and let us help the rest of the country do the same. Because now is the time for choosing. Now is the time to actually make this the City we always should have been, had we gotten it right in the first place.
We should stop for a moment and ask ourselves — at this point in our history, after Katrina, after Rita, after Ike, after Gustav, after the national recession, after the BP oil catastrophe and after the tornado — if presented with the opportunity to build monuments that told our story or to curate these particular spaces … would these monuments be what we want the world to see? Is this really our story?
We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city’s history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations.
And unlike when these Confederate monuments were first erected as symbols of white supremacy, we now have a chance to create not only new symbols, but to do it together, as one people.
In our blessed land we all come to the table of democracy as equals.
We have to reaffirm our commitment to a future where each citizen is guaranteed the uniquely American gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
That is what really makes America great and today it is more important than ever to hold fast to these values and together say a self-evident truth that out of many we are one. That is why today we reclaim these spaces for the United States of America.
Because we are one nation, not two; indivisible with liberty and justice for all, not some. We all are part of one nation, all pledging allegiance to one flag, the flag of the United States of America. And New Orleanians are in, all of the way.
It is in this union and in this truth that real patriotism is rooted and flourishes.
Instead of revering a 4-year brief historical aberration that was called the Confederacy we can celebrate all 300 years of our rich, diverse history as a place named New Orleans and set the tone for the next 300 years.
After decades of public debate, of anger, of anxiety, of anticipation, of humiliation and of frustration. After public hearings and approvals from three separate community led commissions. After two robust public hearings and a 6-1 vote by the duly elected New Orleans City Council. After review by 13 different federal and state judges. The full weight of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government has been brought to bear and the monuments in accordance with the law have been removed.
So now is the time to come together and heal and focus on our larger task. Not only building new symbols, but making this city a beautiful manifestation of what is possible and what we as a people can become.
Let us remember what the once exiled, imprisoned and now universally loved Nelson Mandela and what he said after the fall of apartheid. “If the pain has often been unbearable and the revelations shocking to all of us, it is because they indeed bring us the beginnings of a common understanding of what happened and a steady restoration of the nation’s humanity.”
So before we part let us again state the truth clearly.
The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered.
As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history. Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause.
Anything less would fall short of the immortal words of our greatest President Abraham Lincoln, who with an open heart and clarity of purpose calls on us today to unite as one people when he said:
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to do all which may achieve and cherish: a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
What does it mean?
White nationalism is a sector of the U.S. right-wing political sphere that is characterized by a white supremacist ideology.
As Chip Berlet explained, in a 1992 piece co-authored with Margaret Quigley, white nationalism “oscillates between brutish authoritarianism and vulgar fascism in service of white male supremacy” and white nationalists believe that “social problems are caused by uncivilized people of color, lower-class foreigners, and dual-loyalist Jews.”
Political Research Associates identifies white nationalism as a faction of what it calls the “xenophobic right.” Under the umbrella of white nationalism, it identifies four different major groups:
- “cultural supremacists,” who believe that non-white people can, and should, adopt white culture
- “biological racists,” who rely on (false) essentialist views of race
- “segregationists,” who want race-based enclaves within a country
- “separatists,” who want separate nations for different races
What’s the difference between white nationalism and white supremacy?
White supremacy is an ideology—a way of understanding the world—as well as a system of oppression, whereas white nationalism is a political faction that practices that ideology and upholds that system.
Some, such as Barbara Perry in her 2001 book In the Name of Hate, and Mana Kharrazi, at “Beyond the Safety Pin,” have argued that white nationalism is a coded term for white supremacy, or a rebranding of white supremacy.
Although the terms aren’t synonymous, it is true that white nationalist groups trade in using coded language to obscure their white supremacy. As Perry points out:
In their search for respectability, some hate groups have rejected explicitly racist terms for more “subtle” code words that act as proxies for traditional rhetoric. Primary among these is the assurance that they don’t hate blacks or Jews or gays; rather they simply love their own race.
This is what makes it possible for blatantly white supremacist leaders like Richard Spencer and David Duke to deny being white supremacist while simultaneously saying things like, “America was until this past generation a white country, designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”
White nationalists often claim that it’s not that they hate people of color, it’s just that they naturally, as white people, love white people best—and, importantly, they wholeheartedly believe that white people and white culture are under attack.
They see white people and white culture as inherently or “naturally” superior, but instead of understanding that this is actually the definition of white supremacy, they are convinced it’s simply an unassailable truth.
Should I use this term?
Yes, but when you do, be clear that white nationalism and white nationalists are white supremacist in nature.
A good standard that many media outlets use is to say “white nationalist and white supremacist,” to avoid the risk that a reader may interpret white nationalist as a neutral term divorced from racism.
What’s your take on white nationalism? Comment below! Want to ask a radical copyeditor something? Contact me!
Note: Many thanks to Jessica Campbell, co-director of Rural Organizing Project, for her help with this post.
This article is adapted from George Lakoff’s the ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant! (September 2014) and is printed with permission from Chelsea Green Publishing.
FDR, in giving his Four Freedoms speech of 1941, suggested that Democrats’ mission was to expand human freedom. Yet today Democrats have ceded the very concepts of freedom and liberty to Republicans. It’s time to take freedom back as the central Democratic issue.
Conservatives talk constantly about freedom and liberty, defining the nation’s understanding of these core values. But conservatives and progressives understand the concepts of freedom and liberty very differently.
For conservatives, individual responsibility is central: democracy provides the “liberty” to pursue your own interests, without any help from others (which would make you dependent and weak) and without any responsibility for others.
This is the exact opposite of the progressive view, perhaps expressed best by Elizabeth Warren. Senator Warren often repeats a central truth that the conservative view misses entirely: democracy is about citizens caring about one another and working through their government to provide public resources that allow freedom for all.
How do public resources create freedom? Consider the business world. It’s hard to run a business without sewers, without roads and bridges and airports, without an electric grid, without satellite communications, the internet, GPS systems, and without healthy and educated employees. The public—you and me and the rest of us over decades—have, through our government, provided all these public resources. The development of computer science depended on government funding, as did the development of the computer chip industry. Our pharmaceutical industry required NIH research funding. In short: the private depends on the public! Without collective investment, Americans would not be free to start, run, and work in businesses.
The same is true of individual private life. Physical well-being is fundamental to a free life. If you do not have access to health care and you get cancer, you are likely to be trapped not only in debt peonage by the healthcare industry, but in physical anguish or death. So-called “women’s issues” are freedom issues, too—the freedom for individuals to be able to control their own bodies, and follow their doctors’ advice. Without safety regulations for our food and water supply we are not free. Without highways or air traffic controllers or an air force that trains most of our pilots, we would not be free to travel without fear for our safety.
Freedom of opportunity is created through public education, without which most Americans would lack the knowledge and skills that free you to choose a path in our society. Early childhood education is crucial. By the time a child is about five years old, half the neural connections she was born with have died off—the half least used. A huge range of life’s opportunities are made possible or choked off in those early years.
Equality? Serious financial inequality cuts off life’s possibilities. If you are facing an accelerating decline in wealth or long-term financial insecurity, you are less free. Further, your ability to change your position is circumscribed by how expensive it is to be poor — not just financially but in the poverty of educational opportunity, social know-how and connections, pure joy, and breadth of life experiences. And a recent Princeton study shows that with escalating inequality, the wealthy come to exercise vastly more power over our political process.
Unions? Without them, workers can be subject to unpredictable working hours, workplace dangers, unfulfilled pensions, and other forms of corporate servitude. Pensions, after all, are delayed payments for work already done. They increase your freedom in your senior years. Unions also guard against discrimination on the job, whether by race, or gender, or ethnicity.
Foreign policy? The military, economic and political effects of globalization and high technology make it more and more apparent that threats to freedom in other regions of the world become threats to freedom here. The economic policies of China and India make it increasingly difficult to deal with global warming, compounding a problem in which the US has long been complicit. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has led to greater investment by the US in upgrading nuclear weaponry while our domestic budget shrinks. Low wages and anti-unionism abroad has led to major job losses here as companies seek out the cheapest labor internationally. Freedom abroad and freedom at home are always linked.
Global warming? The freedoms affected are enormous: freedom from monster storms, droughts, fires, and floods—as well as the economic disasters that will follow. Freedom to experience nature as we have known it—not just for us but for future generations. On this issue, Democrats have had to battle intransigent Republicans who would sacrifice the freedom of future generations to enjoy the security that we have now.
The freedom to control one’s life and participate in our democracy is what unites progressives. Yet, very few progressives actually say this out loud. Progressives are bad at communicating the interdependence of issues and hence the links among forms of freedom.
The answer lies in an understanding of framing. Frames are mental structures that organize our thoughts. All words evoke larger frames: “tax relief” frames taxation an affliction, for example, instead of a tool for solving collective problems. “Pro-life” evokes the ultimate morality of preserving human life, and makes abortion seem immoral. Speaking of the Affordable Care Act as a “government takeover” turns health care into enslavement. Speaking of the “Islamic State”—or ISIS or ISIL—leads one to think of several thousand militants as a nation on a par with other nations. Using the word “cause” only to mean direct, rather than systemic, causation makes it impossible to see the reality that climate disasters are systemically caused by global warming, and leads to climate denial and its ultimate imposition on the freedom of most people on earth.
In politics, the highest frames are moral frames—ideas of what is right and wrong. Policies are proposed on the assumption that they are right, not wrong or morally irrelevant. Words activate not just policy frames but moral frames, and each time the words are used, the stronger those moral frames get. Even arguing against conservative ideas using conservatives’ language make oppressive frames stronger. Imagine someone saying, “Don’t Think of an Elephant.” It then becomes impossible not to. One can’t negate a frame while using that frame—a concept treated in-depth in my new edition of Don’t Think of an Elephant!
Instead, we should reframe the issues we care about. We should describe the regulations and services we need, not in conservative frameworks of cost and control, but in the language of freedom described above.
Because about 98 percent of thought is unconscious, none of this is obvious to most people. Progressives tend to think that just communicating the raw facts on a given issue is sufficient. It isn’t. The facts matter, but their moral relevance is what resonates. People identify with their deepest moral views much more than with facts about policy issues. Freedom is about as deep a moral view as one finds in a democracy. One has to communicate the intimate connection between freedom and fact.
He sat down. The waiter approached. 'Would you like to see the menu?' he said, 'or would you like meet the Dish of the Day?' 'Huh?' said Ford. 'Huh?' said Arthur. 'Huh?' said Trillian. 'That's cool,' said Zaphod, 'we'll meet the meat.' - snip - A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beeblebrox's table, a large fat meaty quadruped of the bovine type with large watery eyes, small horns and what might almost have been an ingratiating smile on its lips. 'Good evening', it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, 'I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in the parts of my body?' It harrumphed and gurgled a bit, wriggled its hind quarters in to a more comfortable position and gazed peacefully at them. Its gaze was met by looks of startled bewilderment from Arthur and Trillian, a resigned shrug from Ford Prefect and naked hunger from Zaphod Beeblebrox. 'Something off the shoulder perhaps?' suggested the animal, 'Braised in a white wine sauce?' 'Er, your shoulder?' said Arthur in a horrified whisper. 'But naturallymy shoulder, sir,' mooed the animal contentedly, 'nobody else's is mine to offer.' Zaphod leapt to his feet and started prodding and feeling the animal's shoulder appreciatively. 'Or the rump is very good,' murmured the animal. 'I've been exercising it and eating plenty of grain, so there's a lot of good meat there.' It gave a mellow grunt, gurgled again and started to chew the cud. It swallowed the cud again. 'Or a casselore of me perhaps?' it added. 'You mean this animal actually wants us to eat it?' whispered Trillian to Ford. 'Me?' said Ford, with a glazed look in his eyes, 'I don't mean anything.' 'That's absolutely horrible,' exclaimed Arthur, 'the most revolting thing I've ever heard.' 'What's the problem Earthman?' said Zaphod, now transfering his attention to the animal's enormous rump. 'I just don't want to eat an animal that's standing there inviting me to,' said Arthur, 'It's heartless.' 'Better than eating an animal that doesn't want to be eaten,' said Zaphod. 'That's not the point,' Arthur protested. Then he thought about it for a moment. 'Alright,' he said, 'maybe it is the point. I don't care, I'm not going to think about it now. I'll just ... er ... I think I'll just have a green salad,' he muttered. 'May I urge you to consider my liver?' asked the animal, 'it must be very rich and tender by now, I've been force-feeding myself for months.' 'A green salad,' said Arthur emphatically. 'A green salad?' said the animal, rolling his eyes disapprovingly at Arthur. 'Are you going to tell me,' said Arthur, 'that I shouldn't have green salad?' 'Well,' said the animal, 'I know many vegetables that are very clear on that point. Which is why it was eventually decided to cut through the whoile tangled problem and breed an animal that actually wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly. And here I am.' It managed a very slight bow. 'Glass of water please,' said Arthur. 'Look,' said Zaphod, 'we want to eat, we don't want to make a meal of the issues. Four rare stakes please, and hurry. We haven't eaten in five hundred and sevebty-six thousand million years.' The animal staggered to its feet. It gave a mellow gurgle. 'A very wise coice, sir, if I may say so. Very good,' it said, 'I'll just nip off and shoot myself.' He turned and gave a friendly wink to Arthur. 'Don't worry, sir,' he said, 'I'll be very humane.' It waddled unhurriedly off to the kitchen.
From the book “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” by Douglas Adams