The South has risen again

April 18, 2010


The flag of the Confederate States of America flapped in the breeze last weekend outside a second-hand store alongside U.S. 2, a come-on to Stevens Pass travelers but perhaps a harbinger of things to come.

The "Stars and Bars" is staging a comeback in certain quarters. By contrast, our resurgent political right is beating up on revered American leaders from Thomas Jefferson to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Jefferson is on the face of Mount Rushmore, but that doesn’t forgive his sin of coining the concept of "separation between church and state." The Texas Board of Education voted last month to cut Jefferson from a list of individuals whose writings inspired 18th and 19th Century revolutions.

Jefferson was replaced with St. Thomas Aquinas, William Blackstone and John Calvin. "The Enlightenment was not the only philosophy on which these revolutions were based," Cynthia Dunbar, a board member who thinks America was founded on Christian beliefs, told The New York Times.

Gov. Bob McDonnell recently declared April to be Confederate History Month in Virginia, a proclamation designed to promote tourism in the Old Dominion.

He made no mention to slavery, and said: "There were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia."

Citizens of the Old Dominion were called on to "understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War."

As his prospects of getting on Republicans’ 2012 ticket evaporated, McDonnell quickly apologized. But Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour wondered what the fuss was about.

Controversy over slavery "doesn’t amount to diddly," Barbour told CNN. "I don’t know what you would say about slavery, but anybody that thinks that you have to explain to people that slavery is a bad thing, I think that goes without saying."

Not quite. A seminar led by one Thomas DiLorenzo was on the agenda at February’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. DiLorenzo is author of "The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War."

The "real" Lincoln, as seen by DiLorenzo, was committed to mercantilism — or socialism as it is interpreted — as well as to "centralized government and the pursuit of empire."

"Lincoln decided that he had to wage war on the South because that was the only way to break loose the constitutional logjam behind which the old Whig economic policy agenda had languished."

If Lincoln was a big government liberal, the C-PAC conference also saw FOX News mouth Glenn Beck blow the whistle on "progressive" Theodore Roosevelt. He read, in sternly negative tones, a quote in which TR declared "we grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used . . . so long as the gaining represents benefits to the community."

"Is this what the Republican Party stands for?" Beck asked. A chorus of "No!"came in response.

Just entertainment, you ask. Not quite. Remember, the hero and role model for Bush’s guru Karl Rove is Mark Hanna, the Gilded Age political boss who put William McKinley in the White House.

"Now that damn cowboy is president," Hanna declared, after McKinley was assassinated and Teddy Roosevelt became president.

Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt were denounced from the dais at last Thursday’s Tea Party rally in Everett. FDR "threw us into the Great Depression," said MC Kelly Emerson, who effused over Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

How is a "progressive" region like the Northwest to adjust to revisionist reality, especially if it becomes accepted truth?

We could offer token gestures, say removing Franklin D. Roosevelt’s pictures from Grand Coulee and Bonneville dams, or rename Roosevelt Elk as a way of making Theodore Roosevelt a non-person.

It would, however, be tough to talk about the "Voyage of Discovery" of Lewis and Clark without making mention of Thomas Jefferson.

One action could burnish our image in places like the Old Dominion.

A "progressive" legislator, state Rep. Hans Dunshee, stumbled across a marker at Peace Arch Park in Blaine some years back. It declared U.S. 99 to be the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway. In 1941, the state allowed the United Daughters of the Confederacy to place markers in Blaine and Vancouver, Wash., honoring the president of the Confederacy.

Rep. Dunshee forced removal of the Blaine marker: The one in Vancouver was removed a few years earlier by the city manager. "I got nastygrams from all over the Union (and Confederacy)," said Dunshee.

Both markers are up on private property in Blaine and Vancouver.

What better tribute to "states rights," and to the heritage celebrated this month by McDonnell, than to restore those markers to a visible, honored setting beside U.S. 99?

The deed could be done here just as a Palin (or Huckabee or Gingrich) administration sandblasts quotes on church-state separation from walls of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

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