Posts Tagged ‘Confederate Flag’

Secular Talk on the Alabama Textbook Defending Slavery

August 18, 2016

This is another fascinating video from the atheist/secularist news programme, Secular Talk, commenting on an Alabama school history book that taught students in the state for a generation that slavery was beneficial to the enslaved Black population. Clyde Smith was a high school student in 1971, and he posted online pictures of the textbook used in the state schools. It was called History for Schools by Charles Grayson Somersell, and was taught from 1955 to well into the ’70s. The book told its young readers that slaves were given good quality clothes, and were better off than contemporary free labourers, White or Black. They were given the best medical care that the times could offer by their masters. The book didn’t mention the regular whippings, nor the frequent rape of enslaved women by their masters, who then did not take care of the children – a fact that is notorious to Black Americans. Kulinski makes the point that slaves weren’t viewed as people, quite literally, and were forced to work long hours. The textbook also explicitly stated that ‘Slavery was the earliest form of social security in the United States’, and states that it was illegal for a master to emancipate a slave after he was too old to work. Kulinski points out that this meant that elderly slaves remained in chains, and slaves were worked until they died.

Kulinski makes the very good point that this shows the basic, unspoken beliefs of Whites in the Southern US, the kind of ideas they express only among themselves in private. It also explains why so many of them were shocked and outraged by demands to remove the Confederate flag. To them, rather than the symbol of evil and oppression, it represented a good and beneficial order, which looked after its enslaved workers and gave them excellent healthcare, in contrast to the poverty of free workers in the North.

Finally, Kulinski explains why he’s talking about this now: because the battle is never over. You have to explain and keep explaining certain basic points about human dignity and freedom, because to people raised on this propaganda, they were the good guys and slavery was not necessarily an evil system.

I put this video up because it boggled my mind how anyone could approve of slavery, or present it as essentially beneficial as late as the 1970s. it explains some of the racism in the Deep South, as well as some of the other weird and bizarre attitudes held by the American Right. I did wonder how far the equation of social security and healthcare with slavery explained the bizarre attitude of the Libertarians that the welfare state is also a form of slavery. There was a prize exchange on American television from Congress when Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul were talking about universal state healthcare for Americans. Rand Paul, a Libertarian Republican, started spouting nonsense that state healthcare reduced doctors and other employees to slaves, and that they would be woken up in the middle of the night by people breaking down their front door to get them to treat patients. This was done when the two were taking the testimony of doctors involved in the state medicare programme. Sanders, who wants a universal healthcare like the NHS, dispatched that piece of stupidity by simply asking one of the doctors if she’d ever had this happen to her. Obviously, she hadn’t. In Britain doctors, surgeons, nurses and other employees are paid employees with all the rights of free people. They do have to treat patients, but no-one’s going to break down their doors except in emergencies, and they are perfectly free to leave the profession. Unfortunately, their status, pay and working conditions is declining, thanks to Jeremy Hunt and the Tories, who wish to destroy the state system and replace it with private enterprise.

As for the conditions slaves endured, the Alabama text books is right on some points. Defenders of slavery in both America and Britain pointed out that slaves were frequently treated better, and enjoyed better working conditions, than the ‘factory slaves’, the free workers employed in the factories of the northern US and in Britain. They’re probably right. Factory workers worked long hours in appalling conditions for miserable pay, and in some ways their condition did tremble on the edge of true slavery. Tony Robinson in an episode of Time Team devoted to industrial archaeology pointed out – with justifiable anger – how factory masters purchased children from orphanages to use as young workers. Also, when the British were seeking to improve the conditions of slaves in the Caribbean in the 1820s, they were also forced to pass legislation forbidding masters from freeing slaves who were too old to work as a way of avoid the expense of maintaining them. This was a period when the British government was passing legislation demanding that slaves were properly fed and clad.

This does not, however, make slavery any better. Slaves were worked to death. There was a debate in the 17th and 18th centuries over whether it was more profitable to work a slave to death quickly, and so make a massive profit quickly, but then have to go to the expense of buying a new slave; or whether it was better to give them moderate amounts of work and keep them working steadily so that they lived longer.

They were not given good quality clothing. The slave laws provided that the men should receive yearly a pair of drawers – that is, underpants – and the women a petticoat or shift. But that’s it. Now much did depend on the attitude of the slave masters. Archaeologists examining the material of the slaves on Ben Franklin’s estate found that the slaves there had a very high standard of living. They were well-fed, had fine crockery, and played instruments like the violin. But there were no doubt many more cases where the slaves were given very little. Visitors to the Caribbean remarked on the enslaved workers labouring naked in the fields. And Kulinski is right to talk about the flogging and sexual exploitation, though he passes over some of the other, more extreme and vile forms of punishment that existed, such as mutilation.

It’s a fascinating, grim insight into the mindset that was instilled in a generation of southern US schoolchildren, and which is still being regurgitated by Republicans across the US today.

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US State Department Supporting Fascism and Puppet Government in Ukraine

April 8, 2016

I’ve put up several articles recently discussing and critiquing the rise of various Fascist movements in eastern Europe, such as Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, and the Ukraine. None of the peoples in these countries should have anything to do with these squalid movements, and their equally grotty leaders. The Nazis when they invaded these countries and the former USSR in World War II came to enslave and annihilate them, not to free them from Communist tyranny. After they had finished murdering the Jews and Gypsies, the Nazis intended killing 30 million Poles, Ukrainians, Russians and Belorussians, in an area extending across these nations as far as Lviv/ Lvov. This was to be reserved for colonisations by Germans and other Teutonic peoples, including the English. Its indigenous people were either to be deported or exterminated. The remaining population of this part of eastern Europe, including Czechoslovakia, were to become peasant farmers and slave labourers, denied access to any form of higher education, whose purpose was to provide the agricultural produce to support the new German colonists.

The Nazis openly compared the Slavonic peoples of these nations to Black Africans under western European colonialism. The head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, declared: Eastern Europe is our Africa, and the Slavs are our Negroes. And the Nazis carried out this policy with great brutality. Seven million people from eastern Europe were forced to serve the Nazis in their own nations. A further seven million were deported to Germany to work as slave labourers for the factories in the Reich itself. And 3.7 million Russians died of starvation and horrific maltreatment in Nazi prisoner of war camps.

I’m writing about all this, not because I want to stir up old nationalist hatreds or resentment against the Germans, who are now some of the most genuinely anti-racist people in Europe. I’m doing so as I want to make it clear just what Nazism stood for. The people, who goose-step around in Nazi-inspired or blatantly Nazi uniform, shouting ‘Sieg Heil’, and showing off their SS tattoos ain’t patriots. They’re traitors. They’re the people the true patriots of these countries – those who joined resistance cells – fought against.

And what is now even more revolting and disturbing is that the US government has been supporting a coalition, which includes these thugs, in Ukraine.

Michelle, one of the commenters on this blog, sent me this link to a compilation of videos which another blogger, Dragan Stankovic, who also blogs on various left-wing and global issues, had put up on his Facebook page: https://plus.google.com/116332978520282633934/posts/TpEV2cpfcsv
It’s an hour-long collection of pieces from different news sources, including the Beeb, CNN, Faux News, and RT. Several of the pieces, including the first video, have been made by a peace group, St. Pete’s for Peace.

Many may not find this easy viewing. The footage in these documentaries includes scenes of brutal violence by members of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi far Right as they shoot and beat their opponents. It does, however, show them exactly as they are: not pacifists trying to lead a peaceful revolution in their nation, but as violent and brutal thugs.

The first video concentrates on Svoboda and its leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, one of the various far-Right groups and organisations within the Pravy Sektor, or ‘Right Sector’ grouping of such parties. The word Svoboda simply means ‘freedom’, which is innocuous enough. It was, however, previously known as the ‘Social Nationalist Movement’, which was directly modelled on the monicker of the National Socialists. They weren’t the only neo-Fascist movement to describe themselves as ‘social’. The main Italian neo-Fascist organisation, before it split with one section reforming itself as the centre right Alleanza Nazionale, was the Movimiento Sociale Italiano – the Italian Social Movement. These were full-blown Fascists, standing for the Corporate state and authoritarian rule. They were involved in attacks on Socialists, trade unionists, left-wingers generally, and immigrants. Svoboda’s name change was merely cosmetic. At various points in the compilation, leaders of Svoboda and other neo-Nazi outfits now lowering the tone in the country of Gogol, Moussorgsky and Vladimir the Great, try to claim that they aren’t really Nazis, and don’t worship Adolf Hitler. One says that they don’t want Nazism in Ukraine. Not for any good reason. He goes on to say that he doesn’t want it, because it wouldn’t work there, but it did work in Germany. The storm troopers in these groups sport tattoos with numbers ’88’. That’s a notorious design used by the goose-steppers across Europe. The ‘8’ stands for the eighth letter of the alphabet, and the two together stand for ‘Heil Hitler’. Others have the number ’18’ tattooed on them, which stands for ‘Adolf Hitler’. One of the groups shown in the video is ‘C18’, whose name recalls ‘Combat 18’, a notorious neo-Nazi outfit over here, who were set up by the American Nazi and Klansman, Harold Covington. And some of them don’t even bother to hide their Nazi sympathies. There’s a scene in one of the news reports of funeral of one of the extreme Rightists in the far west of the country. The mourners gather in their national dress, and a company of re-enactors in World War II Nazi uniform fire their rifles over the grave in salute.

And then there’s the abuse of various ethnic groups Svoboda, C18 and the like consider their enemies. There are several scenes of them screaming, or raising toasts, to the killing of Russians, Poles, Communists, and, of course, the Jews. A few of them in the interviews are rather cagey about talking about their anti-Semitic beliefs. A few start by saying that they are just against certain ethnic groups. When pressed, they then start to explain that they’re against the above peoples. At one point, one of the storm troopers says that the Jews don’t control Ukraine; they control the banks, which control Ukraine. So we’re back to the ‘international Jewish banking conspiracy’ of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Adolf Hitler, Arnold Leese and the Britons, and bonkers American Nazis. The practical effects of this have been attacks on synagogues. A couple of rabbis are interview, talking about Nazi attacks on their places of worship. One Nazi tried to burn down one with Molotov cocktails. Another suffered some damage, and abusive graffiti, which translated into English, reads ‘Jews Get Out’. Except that it used a particularly ugly term for them instead.

And if the neo-Nazi iconography wasn’t bad enough, the Ukrainian super-patriots have been importing other far-Right symbols from the USSR. One of the documentaries discusses the use by Ukrainian Nazis at a demonstration of the Confederate Flag. RT interviews a Black American activist about this, who is understandable shocked at the flag’s continued appearance and use by Nazi groups. This particular gentleman makes it clear that to him and his people, it represents slavery, and he’s trying to educate the people of Ukraine about what it really means.

What is perhaps most interesting, and deeply sinister, is the fact that the Coalition, of which Svoboda was a part, was bank-rolled and at least partly controlled by the US State Department. The first documentary plays part of a leaked phone call between Victoria Nuland, the Department’s head, and one of her aides, about how she doesn’t want the former boxer-turned-politico, Sergei Klitchko, to serve in the Coalition under Tiahnybok. This documentary states that when the recording was released, most newspapers concentrated on Nuland’s use of the ‘F’ word to express her feelings about Europe. This was a diversion from the real news, which was that Nuland and her colleague, John McCain, were effectively running the Ukraine from behind the scenes, with the Coalition merely a puppet regime.

That part of the report opens with the way the American newspapers failed to mention the true identity of the snipers, who fired on protestors during the mass demonstrations that initially overthrew the government. The papers initially reported that they came Yanukovych’s side. The supporters of the ousted president were not, however, responsible. The shots instead came from Svoboda on the Coalition side. The documentary plays part of a conversation between Urmas Paet, the Estonian Foreign Minister, and Cathy Ashton, the head of the EU foreign ministry, discussing this and how the news has been suppressed.

Several of the documentaries are extremely biased in their turn. There are several from RT – Russia Today, which is the official Russian news agency. This takes the line that Russia is the innocent victim in this, the maligned subject of the machinations of the US and its partners. It doesn’t really need to be said that Putin’s own domestic regime is hardly whiter than white itself, and has perpetrated its share of human rights abuses. But despite their bias, and some of the very extreme claims RT makes, such as that Medecins Sans Frontieres and Amnesty International are now CIA penetrated US front organisations, it does seem that they’re basically accurate. The overthrow of Yanukovych’s regime does seem to have been orchestrated by the US and its western allies as part of geo-political strategy to weaken Russia internationally, and this has involved collaboration with neo-Nazi groups as constituent elements of the puppet regime.

The Young Turks on the Racial Fears of Confederate Trump Supporters

February 28, 2016

The Young Turks sent one of their reporters to cover a Confederate rally in South Carolina. In this video, the people he interviewed expressed their fears that unless Trump was elected, there would be an ethnic cleansing of Whites in the US. They wanted the borders secured, with one person saying that even if it Trump did nothing else, it would be great if he closed the border and built the wall against Mexico. They were afraid of immigrants from the various war zones around the world. One man said that they had seen rapes and killing and other atrocities, and so ‘who knows what’s in their heads’. Another person stated that if the borders weren’t closed, then there would be domestic terrorism, bus bombings and civil war. They believed that by promoting ethnic minorities and seeking to find solutions to their grievances, the Democrats were victimising Whites, and pointed to all the Conservative college professors who had supposedly lost their jobs. They did not see the Confederate flag as racist, and felt that Black Americans had been misinformed about its historical significance by race baiters. As for gay rights, one man also stated that gays were now superior to heterosexuals under the law, as assaults on gays had been made a special crime, but not assaults on heterosexuals. This was undemocratic. And they also doubted that Barack Obama was born in the US.

On the Youtube page for the video, there’s this piece adding further information on the background to the video, the views of the Confederate supporters and the reasons why the Confederate Flag was removed.

A commemorative event hosted by advocates for the Confederate flag and the Confederate narrative of American history turned into a rally for Donald Trump on the day of the Republican primary in South Carolina.

Prior to the event, Pastor Michael Reed placed Donald Trump yard signs in the ground outside the South Carolina capitol building in Columbia. And, during a program of speeches from the capitol steps, William Carter, editor and publisher of The Conservative Action Report, announced his paper’s endorsement for Mr. Trump.

The event took place on Feb. 20, 2016 as Republican voters were going to the polls the choose a presidential nominee. It was also the first Saturday following the 151st anniversary of the burning of Columbia, many say, at the hands of General William T. Sherman’s Union army.

The grievances of Trump voters at this event mirrored the concerns expressed by Trump voters in Northern states, focusing on things like “political correctness,” terrorism, and immigration. However, we found a deeper sense of white racial anxiety here, expressed with stronger language than what we’d heard in New Hampshire, Iowa, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Whereas northern Trump supporters feel that the unfair treatment of white Americans can best be summed up with the term “political correctness,” this group preferred the term “ethnic cleansing,” perhaps because of the bitter fight last summer that led to the removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s state capitol grounds. A state senator named Rev. Clementa Pinckney had been the target of a white supremacist terrorist who gunned down the senator, and 8 of his parishioners during Bible Study at the Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston. When it was learned that white supremacy had motivated the killer, and that he saw the Confederate flag as a symbol of his hatred, Sen. Pinckney’s colleagues in the Senate authored legislation to remove the flag from the state capitol grounds.

@EricByler @JordanChariton

The Young Turks on People Seen in Klan Robes with Pro-Trump Placards

February 25, 2016

More Fascism from the Trump campaign. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian in this segment talk about the sightings in Nevada of a couple of men dressed in KKK outfits waving pro-Trump placards. The pair have naturally been condemned by several respectable politicians. They show a tweet from Senator Aaron Ford and another politico expressing their contempt for the pair. Uygur is careful to state that he’s unsure whether they really are Trump supporters, or are actually anti-Trump protestors trying to troll the tousled Nazi. In one of the photos it’s actually unclear whether or not they’re actually white. The hands of one of the men look Black, though this could simply be due to the lighting in photograph. It’s taken into the sun, so the men’s fronts are actually in shadow.

They also make the point that although these may be protestors, who are careful to hide their faces because they know they’ve probably taken a step too far, Trump’s supporters are still very extreme. They point to a poll which says that 70 per cent of Trumpistas would like the Confederate flag to be flying in South Carolina above the state legislature, and 38 per cent wish the South won the American Civil War. They naturally ask the question of how unpatriotic and un-American that is. They point out that the polling company inclines a little to the Democrats, but over all was the most accurate in predicting the results of the presidential election. And then there’s the Yougov poll which found that 20 per cent of Trump supporters, and 13 per cent of Americans generally, feel that Lincoln should not have given the executive freeing the South’s slaves during the War between the States. They also hedge this with one or two caveats, as they note that Republican voters hate presidential executive orders. The previous questions had been about how they felt about Obama’s orders, and so this could already have biased, or worked them up to condemn Lincoln’s historic orders. But even so, it’s an horrendous statistic, and the stats as a whole show how Trump’s campaign has deeply divided the nation.

Uygur goes on to say that he feels that the Klansmen in the photo aren’t really Trump supporters, because they’ve kept their faces covered. Trump supporters don’t do that. They’re open about their racism and their identities. He states that it’s because Trump is unashamed about the racist language he uses. Other Republican candidates are just as racist. Ted Cruz is actually trying to pass a law banning Muslims from the US. He’s not just talking about it, as Trump is. However, Trump doesn’t use the coded language that the others use to disguise their racism. He talks about it flatly, and is proud of the way he does so. Uygur makes the point that he’s the result of Fox News and the way the Right generally has legitimised racism and the demonization of foreigners and minorities. And Trump has turned this on the other Republicans. Marco Rubio was born in Florida, but Trump has even asked whether he was really born in America and should be running in the election.

They begin the show by being careful about whether or not Trump’s actually racist, noting that he’s distanced himself from the couple of Neo-Nazi messages he retweeted. Even so, the fact that he agreed with the message twice without looking at where it came from suggests that he’s too eager to accept information and support from this quarter.