Neo-secessionists and revisionists struggle uselessly to blame the Civil War… on Federal overreach, inequitable tariffs, and outmoded economic theory- they fail to see the forest for the trees. The historical record settles matters plainly and without ambiguity.
Future Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens delivered the clearest, most definitive explanation… for secession and the existence of a Confederate State. Less than three weeks following Lincoln’s inauguration, Stephens defiantly declared to the nation:
Cadaver with an agenda
“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago.”
Filed under Ephemera, News
Americans, largely through the efforts of a lewd media, used the Fourth of July 2017… to denigrate and trivialize Thomas Jefferson’s memory. Salacious accusations disguised as legitimate archaeology and scholarship dragged the author of our Declaration of Independence down into tabloid scandal-mongering. We have fallen to the point where Jefferson’s name cannot be mentioned without alleged slave mistresses. We forget what he gave us- focusing instead on trifling conjecture. We have forgotten what the Fourth of July truly means….
“I thank heaven that the 4th. of July is over. It is always a day of great fatigue to me”
Jefferson said… “And even should the cloud of barbarism and despotism again obscure the science and liberties of Europe, this country remains to preserve and restore light and liberty to them. In short, the flames kindled on the 4th. of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism. On the contrary they will consume those engines, and all who work them.”
Remember what Jefferson gave us…….. never forget what he gave mankind.
To stop desecrating my memory
Mel Gibson’s blueprint to “Braveheart” does a disservice to Turner’s rebellion Final Grade- D
First-time director Nate Parker takes full advantage of the Hollywood… surge in independent, minority filmmakers tackling long ignored characters and events. Parker wrote, directed, produced and stars as Nat Turner, leader of the bloodiest slave rebellion in US history. In August of 1831, Turner and a band of devoted followers murdered 60 white men, women, and children in Southampton, Virginia. Turner’s rebels killed nearly everyone they encountered, including the brutal beheading of an infant. The Virginia militia suppressed the rebellion on August 23, though Turner eluded capture until October. Virginia authorities executed 56 blacks in retaliation- historians believe as many as 120 slaves may have been killed in the aftermath. Turner was hanged on November 11.
Parker touches on the history with short strokes… choosing to follow the well-used revenge trope utilized by Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart”. Turner’s true motivation was religious- a devout Baptist, Turner claimed to receive a calling from God to free his people and punish their oppressors. Parker’s Turner is religious, but it barely serves as a set piece- Parker focuses intently on the rape and beating of Turner’s wife and the wife of his chief conspirator(conjectural.) The comparisons to Gibson’s film about Scottish rebel William Wallace are striking- martyrdom driven by bloody revenge- a simple, yet effective way to make a movie. History is complex and often messy and Parker’s film misses the mark telling the accurate story of Turner’s rebellion. Villains are beheaded by righteous warriors and the heroes fall in a blaze of glory on the battlefield. Missing are the atrocities, drunkenness, and religion that comprised those complicated 48 hours. Far from a pitched battle, Turner’s rebellion could not be sustained when confronted with better armed, and determined troops. Parker’s final battle is complete with the slow motion charging, battle axes thrust defiantly into the air, muted cries of “Freedom” drowned out by the artillery of the antagonists- minus the face paint and kilts.
There are powerful images found in Parker’s film… but the script is too conventionally written to capture the historical relevance of Turner’s rebellion. Parker only briefly touches on Turner’s confessional, a stark testimony given by Turner to a lawyer shortly before his hanging. In his own words, Turner chillingly describes every murder he and his followers committed. He leaves little doubt that he believed it was God’s will, much like John Brown’s convictions thirty years later. The ironic title Parker conceived is far from proper acknowledgment of the impact this event had on history. States throughout the South strengthened already oppressive laws limiting freedoms to slaves and their owners- including the right to unconditional manumission. Many of these changes came about to placate poor whites, who felt especially vulnerable following the bloodshed. Too much attention falls upon Parker’s Turner and his motivations- lost are the deeper religious and cultural motivations for the uprising.
Nat Turner boldly declared “I had the same revelation, which fully confirmed me in the impression that I was ordained for some great purpose in the hands of the Almighty.” Nate Parker’s film fails to appropriately portray the complexities and historical relevance of Turner’s rebellion. Conventional Hollywood treatment of historical events often lead to missed opportunities- precisely how “Birth of a Nation” treats Nat Turner.
Practically Historical Grade- C+
Steve McQueen is obsessed with startling… visuals, the kind that grab an audience and rarely let go. His first historical film detailed with nauseating frankness the hunger strike of IRA dissident, Bobby Sands. In his latest effort, 12 Years a Slave, McQueen brings to the screen the brutal captivity of freeman Solomon Northup. Based on Northup’s memoir of the same name, McQueen’s interpretation is far too concerned with shock value to capture the deeper messages of Northup’s writing. John Ridley’s conscientious script is at times sacrificed to the director’s need to visualize brutality even his subject could not describe.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor
Historians have been divided over... the academy award winning film. John Ridley’s script faithfully follows Northup’s memoir but McQueen wastes little time extrapolating the narrative with visceral images designed to enlighten, but often deliver little more than wincing. Events Northup leaves to the readers’ imaginations, McQueen brutally visualizes- primarily the whipping of Patsey. McQueen was more than willing to leave Northup’s story to show a fictional murder aboard a slave ship, again for effect, rather than plot. What saves the film from being a bloody mess are the performances. Much attention was awarded to Lupita Nyong’o for her harrowing portrayal of Patsey- but Chiwetel Ejiofor is a revelation as Northup; haunting and tragic, his performance is the real soul of the film.
Scenery, dialect, and costuming were …all well researched- this is not the glorified plantation living of Gone With the Wind, rather a dank, crumbling, stagnate world teetering on the edge of collapse. Michael Fassbender’s psychotic turn as Edwin Epps is symbolic of the self destructive nature of chattel slavery. Many critics cite McQueen’s ambivalence to religion as a weakness in the script- Northup spoke strongly of faith as well as the good Christian nature of his first master, William Ford(an understated Benedict Cumberbatch.) Strong performances, gritty scenery and cinematography, and a historically accurate script make 12 Years a Slave a must see experience. The film’s horrific depictions of violence are considered necessary by some, will be lamented by all- one has to consider whether McQueen could have told the story without as many scare tactics.
Academics say the darnedest things… in the cozy confines of the University system. Impressionable undergrads eagerly hang on every word and grad students serve as willful accomplices as they look to continued advancement. Peer review is a veiled threat at best, considering the lock step that seems to permeate academia. Even when a proven fraud like Ward Churchill is called to account, academic circles are reluctant to police their own because of the lofty standard “academic freedom.”(The investigation revealed that Churchill had received tenure without a PhD in addition to plagiarism and fraud charges.)
Devaluing the term “genocide” since 1978
So, say whatever you please, professor… tenure has your back. History professors proclaim “changing the narrative” as the driving force behind their scholarship. Everything we’ve learned about America is wrong… so, like a Seinfeld episode of note, the opposite must be true: The founding of America actually had a negative impact on human history, the Founders were greedy imperialists in training, and ALL 15 Presidents before Lincoln owned slaves…. that’s right- ALL of them.
Surely, you jest…
This would come as a shock to John Adams and his son… both from Quincy, Massachusetts. James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, and Martin Van Buren would likewise have an argument to such an absurd notion. Millard Fillmore was only in office two years, but slave owning cannot be included on his resume. Even Virginian William Henry Harrison had abandoned the practice by the time he entered public life. Members of the Founding generation hated the institution, yet felt trapped by it- Jefferson described having a wolf by the ears. As the abolition movement grew, later Presidents sought to defend slave owning rights, but their arguments were swept away in the tide. But, to listen to many academics today, the Presidency was nothing more than the last line of defense for the slave owning class. Never be surprised at what nonsense seeps out of our universities… our hard earned dollars make this “academic freedom” possible.
Filed under Ephemera, News
Little noticed Confederate monument now controversial… most in St. Louis unaware of its existence
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Trump marks Memorial Day at Arlington… President offers appropriate remarks to families of veterans
The lost cause