Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Back to the Future... again

Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory. ~Sun Tzu

A friend of mine recently took a trip to a vacation spot down South. While there, he took some time to visit a number of historic sites, museums, and monuments. He was excited when he returned to talk about all of the things he had learned. Among them was the idea that the South had actually engaged in the Civil War to fight back against the Federal Government for encroaching upon the rights of the States. While he did understand that there were some underlying issues as well, he seemed sure that the war was in essence about the Government over-reaching, and that the Confederate Soldiers were simply fighting to be left alone so that they could live their lives as they saw fit.

For Clarity: He didn't arrive at these ideas after having a conversation with some random guys at a bar... this was what he 'learned' after visiting historical sites and monuments in the South and taking the official tours... Nevermind the fact that the supposed "right" that the Southern States were willing to fight and die for, was the "right" to keep Black people locked in chains and to treat them like beasts of the field in perpetuity. According to these federally funded Park Service tour guides, the newly remixed Civil War was fought over Slavery Federalism.

Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi (a potential Presidential candidate in the 2012 elections), was recently in the news after boldly asserting that the old Mississippi Citizen's Councils were actually Anti-Klan organizations who helped integrate the schools. Nevermind the fact that the Citizen's Councils (which live on to this day as the Council for Conservative Citizens) actively sought to stop the passage of ANY Civil Rights related legislation or ordinances, worked tirelessly to maintain segregation, and used economic pressure to keep Blacks and others from demanding change. In the latest upgrade to history, even the bad guys were good guys.

Texas recently voted to approve new Social Studies standards for their textbooks which, because of the sheer volume of textbooks they purchase, will affect schools around the country. In the newly revised history of the Country, Thomas Jefferson wasn't one of America's great political philosophers, America is not a Democracy, Joseph McCarthy was right, Ida B. Wells and WEB DuBois were merely "muckrakers", Shirley Chisholm is no longer to be considered a significant political leader, Gen Benjamin O. Davis is no longer to be considered a WWII Military leader of consequence, and there was and is no "separation of Church and State"... Things like the Eugenics Movement, the Tuskegee experiment, Black Wall Street, the Cointelpro, the Children's march, etc., never even happened   ...anymore.

In April, Governor Bob McDonnell enjoined all Virginians to join in him a celebration of the "shared history" of the Confederacy.

And just YESTERDAY a group gathered in South Carolina to host a formal "Secession Ball" where participants watched selected clips from the infamous pro-klan film "the birth of a nation" and celebrated the history of the confederacy and South Carolina's decision to secede from the Union so they could continue to enslave their black people without any pesky government interference.

Also consider recent shifts in language... I've been writing for the last couple years about how our language concerning Race has been changing. The definition of racism, which used to connote the use of power and/or influence to benefit or harm someone on the basis of their race, has been altered. The far more common usage of the term now denotes the act of speaking about or dealing with race in any detailed or deliberate manner. Therefore, someone who talks about race is considered race-ist. For a far more detailed description of this shift, please read: Racism vs Race-ism.

Now why do I bring these things up?

Because these items when considered individually generally evoke the same responses... "This shows that there is still work to do", and "this shows we have to stay vigilant", etc... But considered collectively I believe we are witnessing something else. In the so-called "Culture Wars", we are being flanked...

History is being rewritten to attribute pure motives to all parties. Atrocities are being erased. Our leaders are being maligned, minimized, or erased. Men responsible for enslaving, beating, lynching and selling, countless Africans, and who waged war against their own Government for the freedom to continue to do so, are now being openly celebrated; their causes ennobled; our protests distorted. The very terms we used to describe the most egregious acts of bigotry and hatred are now being redefined through common usage to apply to those who fight against injustice. And to what end?

I began this post with a quote from Sun-Tzu, who taught that by the time you witness the opening salvo, the battle has already been decided. He taught that the epitome of excellence in battle is to destroy your opponents resistance without fighting.

I believe we are witnessing an attempt to do just that. To erase misdeeds so that no one and no institution is accountable. To create and promote a narrative of a self-correcting society that bends towards fairness and equality on its own, and that has no need for muckrakers or race-talkers. To sterilize the past so that in the present we lose the ability to recognize "ill-gotten" gains. And ultimately to destroy our social struggle by retroactively making it historically insignificant.

The Truth MATTERS. History is not some political football to be passed back and forth, changed or altered to confer benefit or loss... History is the story of what happened. It is the record. It is the Truth. It is the foundation of our culture and worldview. History informs our present as we shape our future...

But what if you could change it?

What if you could rewrite it and give people an alternative interpretation of the present? Could you then impact the type of future we would create?

History is a weapon...  We better damn well wake up and fight for it.

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Jung/Myers Briggs

INTJ - "Mastermind". Introverted intellectual with a preference for finding certainty. A builder of systems and the applier of theoretical models. 2.1% of total population.
Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)

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