When the Civil War was won, Union brass wanted the surviving Confederates, leaders in particular, officially tried and ultimately punished, for treason. President Lincoln demurred. He was more interested, he said, in post war actions bringing the country together than in those that would further divide it.
In other words, coddle the throwbacks.
What if—today–those rambunctious leftist protesters on the West Coast attempted to overthrow the gov or to secede from it? Who would be hollerin’ treason louder than those who today support the Confederate cause of more than a century and a half ago?
And let us count the ways how not throwing the full weight of the legal book at the reactionaries yearning for the uglier aspects of yesterday set a bad precedent. Reconstruction. Jim Crow. “Separate but equal”? Puh-leese. Even those Justices who decreed it so knew the country—especially the South–was anything but equal for the darker citizens.
Seems somebody somewhere along the way should have been punished for mistreating humans like that. Bull Connor was never arrested, neither were his cohorts for smashing civil rights marchers’ heads. And were those throwbacks celebrating the lynching of a black guy right smack in the middle of those old disturbing photos even questioned by the law? And if H. Rap Brown can be arrested because words that leave his mouth promote societal indecency, what about Rush Limbaugh when he calls Michelle Obama “Moo-chelle” The specter of police officers—or their self-appointed surrogates– getting off for shooting unarmed blacks—even where is actual footage of them being shot in the back– is a logical extension of the disturbing phenomenon.
I heard Billy Graham’s kid—he like his pa a rightwing preacher, only meaner—say Trump won the presidency because he listened to those folks like those in Graham’s home state of North Carolina who’d lost their jobs at the cotton mill that shuttered. They “didn’t want to be retrained” as the new economy dictated they should, Graham conceded. They wanted that cotton mill back and Trump promised to bring that mill—or one like it—back to them. I know. Say black people loudly rejected what they had to do to survive these days and demand what they wanted to do instead. Conservatives–many of them these very cotton mill workers–would claim that those blacks wanted special privileges. “You take what’s out there,” they’d say. If not, you want to be, well, coddled.
This is not news anymore, in the sense folks don’t know it. But, since 9-11, more acts of terror have been committed on American soil by white domestic terrorists than by the, well, Muslim kind. As you know, Trump just restricted the movement of Muslims from—what?–seven countries thinking about entering the U.S. I haven’t heard anyone restricting the movement of those boys from Idaho. In fact, it was just reported that Trump removed some white nationalist groups from the FBI terror list.
All that noise! And recalcitrance! In the streets and very hallowed halls of Congress itself. Senators refusing to take their seats to either rubber stamp or silently witness Dear Leader Trump’s selections become official parts of government. Never mind that when the shoe was on the other foot, the Republicans obstructed Obama so badly that Harry Reid had to use the nuclear option—the straight up majority– to get judges Obama selected confirmed—or not one would have been.
I say this. I say conservatives–in their heart of hearts—would admit that race played a role in the obstruction against Obama, the same way they know race played a role in slavery and Reconstruction and Jim Crow and plays one now in the police shootings. How could they not? It was there for the world to see. Don’t give that so-and-so anything remotely resembling a victory. But hey, all that’s over now, and let’s move forward, they also say.
“Justice.” That’s a word we hear a lot from the lefty protesters, their resistance in proportion to the cries of a group demanding to be coddled. Again. “Stop the racism and bigotry. Now.”
Commentators and politicians, black and also white, now openly and casually calling Trump right hand man Bannon—and on particularly lucid days Trump himself—what they are—white supremacists. Dude hasn’t had a peace a day in his presidency, has he? Some his doing but there’s an awful lot of tit for tat going on too.
“Go home,” his supporters shout, maybe, just maybe a little more wearily today than yesterday.
In the air. That smell. Is that the aroma of impeachment for presidential overreach on the despised minority of the day; a cop actually going to jail for killing a black citizen; a hate radio merchant being at least fired for spewing toxicity into the atmosphere; a cotton mill worker retraining and actually, this time, competing with everyone for the job?
What if no one goes anywhere until all the coddling ends and accountability begins?