FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Where Sarah Gets Her Guns

by JAYNE LYN STAHL

Those who dismiss Sarah Palin as historically ignorant are wrong. In the coming weeks, as the former Alaska governor on her national roadshow exhorts members of her Tea Party fan club to “reload,” the gun reference will have peculiar resonance in light of another time in our history.

On Christmas Eve, 1865, right after the end of the Civil War, the first chapter of the Ku Klux Klan was formed by a half dozen middle class Confederate vets from Tennessee. Many think that the name itself came about because “ku” and “klux” closely simulate the sounds of loading and locking a rifle.

Apart from the image of reloading, the parallels between the founding of the KKK and the establishment of the Tea Party are striking. Once again, America is dealing with a rapidly, and drastically changing social climate. Tea Partiers, the reactionaries of our day, are the heirs of the white supremacists who tried to take back what they thought was their country in the days immediately following the Civil War.

The fact that the Tea Party is almost exclusively white doesn’t make it necessarily white supremacist, but like the founding chapters of the KKK, the Tea Party, and their newfangled leader, Sarah Palin, oppose moderate Republicans in state elections in much the same way the Klan organized a southern resistance to Reconstruction using intimidation.

The difference, of course, is that the KKK spoke openly about racism and anti-semitism, and that they didn’t just use violent imagery, or threats. They actually killed those Republicans whose politics were thought to be progressive, meaning those southern Republicans who favored emancipation. Tea Partiers, by contrast, hide behind code phrases, but when they speak of the expansion of “big government,” and say that the public option is really reparation for slavery, the underlying meaning is the same.

But, if you think the Tea Party has nothing to do with race, or white supremacy, consider this: would there be a Tea Party if John McCain and Sarah Palin won in 2008? And, not coincidentally, descendants of Fred Koch, one of the original founders of the John Birch Society, are the ones financing the Tea Party movement.

Congress should not look to the Supreme Court for leadership, but consider expanding hate crimes legislation to include threats, or violence against individuals under the rubric of political participation.

The federal government wasted no time in responding to Klan violence when, in the 1870’s, Congress passed “the Force Acts,” designed to “enforce the rights of citizens of the U.S. to vote in the several states of the union.” It was on Ulysses S. Grant’s watch that this measure passed, and the immediate effect was to curtail Klan violence. Ultimately, though, the Force Acts led southern segregationists to establish Jim Crow laws.

If the Tea Party movement is allowed to take hold, in this country, it is not inconceivable that, in a few decades from now, we will see the rebirth of a Jim Crow mentality, and a renaissance of segregationism..

Anyone who witnessed, or participated in the campaign for civil rights in the 1960’s should not only be shocked by the recent attacks on Rep. Lewis, and others, but must also be on heightened alert when hearing terms like “reload,” not just because it is extremist rhetoric, but by the inescapable, and haunting way it resonates with the signature white supremacy movement immediately following the Civil War.

Those who think Sarah Palin doesn’t know her history are wrong. She knows it well enough to repeat it.

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

WORDS THAT STICK

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

Weekend Edition
May 06, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Dave Wagner
When Liberals Run Out of Patience: the Impolite Exile of Seymour Hersh
John Stauber
Strange Bedfellows: the Bizarre Coalition of Kochs, Neocons and Democrats Allied Against Trump and His #FUvoters
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and the End of the Democratic Party
Joshua Frank
Afghanistan: Bombing the Land of the Snow Leopard
Bill Martin
Fear of Trump: Annals of Parliamentary Cretinism
Doug Johnson Hatlem
NYC Board of Elections Suspends 2nd Official, Delays Hillary Clinton v. Bernie Sanders Results Certification
Carol Miller
Pretending the Democratic Party Platform Matters
Paul Street
Hey, Bernie, Leave Them Kids Alone
Tamara Pearson
Mexico Already Has a Giant Wall, and a Mining Company Helped to Build It
Paul Craig Roberts
Somnolent Europe, Russia, and China
Dave Lindorff
Bringing the Sanders ‘Revolution’ to Philly’s Streets
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Last Gasp Imperialism
Carmelo Ruiz
The New Wave of Repression in Puerto Rico
Jack Denton
Prison Labor Strike in Alabama: “We Will No Longer Contribute to Our Own Oppression”
Jeffrey St. Clair
David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books, the CounterPunch Connection
David Rosen
Poverty in America: the Deepening Crisis
Pepe Escobar
NATO on Trade, in Europe and Asia, is Doomed
Pete Dolack
Another Goodbye to Democracy if Transatlantic Partnership is Passed
Carla Blank
Prince: Pain and Dance
Gabriel Rockhill
Media Blackout on Nuit Debout
Barry Lando
Welcome to the Machine World: the Perfect Technological Storm
Hilary Goodfriend
The Wall Street Journal is Playing Dirty in El Salvador, Again
Frank Stricker
Ready for the Coming Assault on Social Security? Five Things Paul Ryan and Friends Don’t Want You to Think About
Robert Gordon
Beyond the Wall: an In-Depth Look at U.S. Immigration Policy
Roger Annis
City at the Heart of the Alberta Tar Sands Burning to the Ground
Simon Jones
RISE: New Politics for a Tired Scotland
Rob Hager
After Indiana: Sanders Wins another Purple State, But Remains Lost in a Haze of Bad Strategy and Rigged Delegate Math
Howard Lisnoff
Father Daniel Berrigan, Anti-war Hero With a Huge Blindspot
Adam Bartley
Australia-China Relations and the Politics of Canberra’s Submarine Deal
Nyla Ali Khan
The Complexity of the Kashmir Issue: “Conflict Can and Should be Handled Constructively
Josh Hoxie
American Tax Havens: Elites Don’t Have to go to Panama to Hide Their Money–They’ve Got Delaware
Ramzy Baroud
The Spirit of Nelson Mandela in Palestine: Is His Real Legacy Being Upheld?
Alli McCracken - Raed Jarrar
#IsraelSaudi: A Match Made in Hell
George Wuerthner
Working Wilderness and Other Code Words
Robert Koehler
Cowardice and Exoneration in Kunduz
Ron Jacobs
Psychedelic Rangers Extraordinaire
Missy Comley Beattie
It’s a Shit Show!
David Macaray
Our Best Weapon Is Being Systematically Eliminated
Colin Todhunter
Future Options: From Militarism and Monsanto to Gandhi and Bhaskar Save
Binoy Kampmark
The Trump Train Chugs Along
Cesar Chelala
A Lesson of Auschwitz
John Laforge
Dan Berrigan, 1921 – 2016: “We Haven’t Lost, Because We Haven’t Given Up.”
Norman Trabulsy Jr
John Denver and My 40th High School Reunion
Charles R. Larson
Being Gay in China, Circa 1987
David Yearsley
Skepticism, Irony, and Doubt: Williams on Bach
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail