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.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
March 23, 2017
Chip Gibbons
Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Michael J. Sainato
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Chuck Collins
Underwater Nation: As the Rich Thrive, the Rest of Us Sink
CJ Hopkins
The United States of Cognitive Dissonance
Howard Lisnoff
BDS, Women’s Rights, Human Rights and the Failings of Security States
Mike Whitney
Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate
John Wight
Martin McGuinness: Man of War who Fought for Peace in Ireland
Linn Washington Jr.
Ryancare Wreckage
Eileen Appelbaum
What We Learned From Just Two Pages of Trump’s Tax Returns
Mark Weisbrot
Ecuador’s Elections: Why National Sovereignty Matters
Thomas Knapp
It’s Time to End America’s Longest War
Chris Zinda
Aggregate Journalism at Salon
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail