Mona and Jay had not talked to each other in a while — she had been moving, he had been traveling — so they have some catching up to do. They talk about “dreamers” and immigration. They talk about Trump and “Chuck ‘n’ Nancy.” They talk about the Koreas. They talk about Joe Biden (!). About New Jersey (Mona’s native state). About the Confederacy and the ongoing war over monuments. About many things.

They even talk about Taylor Swift, if briefly (swiftly). The music they go out on is not Taylor but Bach – as jazzed up by the Swingle Singers, back in a swinging era.

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  1. Lois Lane Coolidge

    Mona and Jay,

    I dislike Donald Trump (almost) as much as you do, but I don’t think you understand the South even a tiny bit.

    My great-great grandfather fought in grey at the first battle of Bull Run, yet I am quite, quite, quite happy to say that the Confederacy needed to lose that war. It is good the South lost. Slavery was a horrible evil, and the gordian knot would probably not have come undone any other way. That’s what a Southerner would say if asked that question.

    But the memorial landscape is complicated and should not be destroyed as it is being destroyed. The ripping down of statues today is not about ripping down any glorification of the Lost Cause. It’s about iconoclasm.

    Of course black Southerners get a vote in Southern communities. Of course they do. But the past isn’t rectified by what is happening now. You see a massive over-reaction, actually, fueled by feeling alone with no nods to nuance or reason.

    For goodness sake.

    If it’s really about feelings connected to our original sin, then attacks on Jefferson memorials shouldn’t be discounted. TJ actually clearly knew slavery was evil!!! (That’s worse!!!)

    To illustrate my thoughts on this slippery-slope that is created by “feelings”…

    Memorials like the Alamo should go, too.

    Why? TX was founded to be a slave republic. The maintenance of slavery was not the immediate reason Texas revolted against Mexico, but it was always a driving reason, and the TX Constitution, thereby, protected the peculiar institution in plain terms.

    The Mexican-American War that later secured the annexation of TX is also controversial and resented by many of the citizens in TX who are of Mexican heritage.

    How do these people feel when they say a pledge to the TX flag in schools?

    Additionally, the winning of the Mexican-American War was viewed as an opportunity for the expansion of slavery. All that new territory was the major catalyst for the unrest that arose shortly there-after in the country. This was much, much more important than John C. Calhoun’s musings about “positive goods.”

    Btw, Calhoun himself is not just known for what I evaluate as insidious reasoning to perpetuate an evil. (A version of the “positive good” argument is used all the time now by abortionists, actually, and it’s still morally defunct.) He was a member of the Great Triumvirate. (Andrew Jackson regretted not hanging him, but there’s another figure to rip out of New Orleans????)

    You use the language of the Left in talking about the Confederate statue issue.

    I am no apologist for the Confederacy, but you do a disservice to many Southerners whom you lump with the absolutely horrible people who marched with torches in Virginia. You abandon any nuances per their feelings. You imply that anyone who feels differently than you do is evil and misguided.

    That is wrong and not worthy of you.

    • #1
    • September 9, 2017, at 7:46 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Lois Lane Coolidge

    (Also, just to be clear, I thought that Trump conflated regular Southerners and Nazis, which was nauseating for me.)

    • #2
    • September 9, 2017, at 7:49 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  3. Petty Boozswha Inactive

    As someone who was born and raised in New Jersey but has lived in the South for many years, I want to support Lois’ comments above. If you talked to most Southerners awhile, you would find out what they want to honor by their statues of Robert E. Lee is not the war or the causes, but his sense of honor, valor and statesmanship that was inherent in their ideal of Southern manhood. Think of all the other civil wars in the last few centuries and think of how many ended in guerrilla warfare [as Jefferson Davis wanted] rather than the almost superhuman capacity to “suck it up,” embrace defeat and choose to move on.

    • #3
    • September 9, 2017, at 1:32 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  4. Lois Lane Coolidge

    Petty B (View Comment):
    As someone who was born and raised in New Jersey but has lived in the South for many years, I want to support Lois’ comments above. If you talked to most Southerners awhile, you would find out what they want to honor by their statues of Robert E. Lee is not the war or the causes, but his sense of honor, valor and statesmanship that was inherent in their ideal of Southern manhood. Think of all the other civil wars in the last few centuries and think of how many ended in guerrilla warfare [as Jefferson Davis wanted] rather than the almost superhuman capacity to “suck it up,” embrace defeat and choose to move on.

    Thank you.

    • #4
    • September 9, 2017, at 2:20 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. George Townsend Inactive

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I am no apologist for the Confederacy, but you do a disservice to many Southerners whom you lump with the absolutely horrible people who marched with torches in Virginia. You abandon any nuances per their feelings. You imply that anyone who feels differently than you do is evil and misguided.

     I want to thank you also, Lois. I didn’t quote all of your piece because it was long. But I appreciate so much that, as a teacher, and a southerner, you know so much more about the topic than I ever well. I appreciate the knowledge that you’ve imparted to us this morning.

    I am a great admirer of both Jay and Mona, especially Mona (I have to add :-) ) but it is obvious you know much more than they do about this. In their defense I would posit that they went through several topics, and, coupled with their slight ignorance (not meant as a pejorative) on the topic, they handled it in the best way they knew how. I have to admit, were I in their place, I think I would have handled it the same way. Perhaps that speaks badly of me. But we can’t always delve into the complexities of every situation.

    I’ve always admired the way you look at this topic, being able to admit that the South deserved to lose. I shutter to think where we’d be today if they’d won.

    In looking at it from their point of view, do you think that, even if they spent the hour talking about it, and if they knew a little more than they know, that even an hour would exhaust the topic?

    The left often overuses the word “complex”, but, in this case, methinks it is justified!

    • #5
    • September 10, 2017, at 6:43 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Leslie Watkins Inactive
    Leslie Watkins Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m more a libertarian than anything else, but I have always vehemently disagreed with Ron Paul’s nonsense about how the Civil War was unnecessary. For one thing, his viewpoint includes the idea that the slaves should have been returned to Africa–after their families had been here for several hundred years! It also ignores the obvious reality that the southern states (some of which wouldn’t even share shoes during the war) would have become much like the European nation-states of the late nineteenth century and battle over “disputed territories” for ever after, which would mean the North would have to revisit the issue again and again. I am from the Deep South. I love the Deep South. But it’s clear that the Deep South was horribly horribly wrong, not only to those who were enslaved, but to the South itself.

    But please hear this: Poor whites paid dearly for it. And that’s why this statue issue is so galling to me. (That and the fact that it’s clear that removing them will never placate those screaming for removal–as evidenced by vandalism against the Joan of Arc statue in the French Quarter by idiots who know no history, only rage; the defacing of Lincoln’s bust in the Englewood area of Chicago (apparently a perennial target); and, of course, anger over the very existence of Christopher Columbus. This will be a beginning, not an end.)

    From what I read, the majority of black folks are indifferent to this issue, and I say it’s because most are fair-minded and mature. Video of those who pulled down a statue of a Confederate soldier in Durham, NC, on the other hand, shows clearly that those who feel justified in telling everyone else how to view history–“We are the revolution!”–are mostly white and pretty much of college age. This is no remnant of Rosa Parks. It’s a mirror image of the alt-right.

    I think Jay and Mona might see this situation with as much complexity as they view immigration were they not so clouded by their disgust of Trump, which makes them too quick, in my opinion, to throw white, middle-class critics of Washington into the alt-right. (FWIW, I am totally in favor of the Dreamers. It’s not their fault we can’t control our own borders. And from my vantage point, Durham, NC, has been greatly enhanced by immigrants who do not take jobs from Americans willing to do the kind of work they’re willing to do and, indeed, as Mona said, who create many more jobs than they fill.)

    I grew up among Confederate statues. I didn’t take much notice of them. Nobody did. Mostly because they were overly romantic reminders of a past to which many of us had no historical link (both sides of my family came after the war) and of a horrific war that the South justifiably lost.

    • #6
    • September 10, 2017, at 3:17 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. kylez Member
    kylez Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Mexican-American War that later secured the annexation of TX is also controversial and resented by many of the citizens in TX who are of Mexican heritage.

    I can’t imagine why a Texan of Mexican ancestry would resent that. Especially anyone who isn’t poor. Though nobody is keeping them here.

    • #7
    • September 10, 2017, at 7:43 PM PDT
    • Like
  8. Taras Coolidge

    Lord, preserve us from the Balaam Republicans and suicide libertarians, who eagerly look forward to flooding the country with new Democratic and socialist voters!

    Setting politics aside, for decades studies have indicated that educated immigrants are a net plus for the economy, while uneducated immigrants are a net minus. More recently, econometric projections described in The Economist suggest that this effect persists at least into the second and third generations, too.

    The problem is, while uneducated immigrants are a minus for the country as a whole, they are a plus for the Democratic Party. They oare easier to form into political machines, and manipulate into voting against their own interests. In the mid-1960s, when they owned all branches of the government, the Democrats rewrote our immigration laws to shift the balance toward uneducated immigrants.

    In the early 1900s, things were different. Immigrants who failed went back to the old country instead of going on public assistance. The public schools taught patriotism; today, if immigrant children learn patriotism, it’s in spite of the schools.

    What is to be done? We need deport no one. Simply keep the illegal immigrant population from replenishing itself. The problem will gradually fade away.

    • #8
    • September 11, 2017, at 1:10 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. Lois Lane Coolidge

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):
    I am from the Deep South. I love the Deep South. But it’s clear that the Deep South was horribly horribly wrong, not only to those who were enslaved, but to the South itself.

    But please hear this: Poor whites paid dearly for it. And that’s why this statue issue is so galling to me. (That and the fact that it’s clear that removing them will never placate those screaming for removal–as evidenced by vandalism against the Joan of Arc statue in the French Quarter by idiots who know no history, only rage; the defacing of Lincoln’s bust in the Englewood area of Chicago (apparently a perennial target); and, of course, anger over the very existence of Christopher Columbus. This will be a beginning, not an end.)

    Amen, sister. And the fact that Duke rewarded vandals who chipped off the nose of Robert E. Lee where he stood in the face of a church further illustrates that point. Anyone who knows anything at all about why that statue was there would know that the architect put Lee with other figures from American history who were from the South and known to have exemplified Southern values. Thomas Jefferson and Sidney Lanier stood with him. In TJ’s case, one could spin “southern values” off to slavery alone if one ignored everything else about the man, which is what is happening. In Sidney Lanier’s case, he also served in the CSA because he was a poet from the South during the Civil War. Of course, Duke students don’t deface him because they don’t know history. When someone points this out to them, I guess they’ll pull down Lanier, too, without reading any of his work, and I don’t see why they’d be kind to Jefferson if vandalizing Lincoln.

    It all makes me angry in a way that I’ve never felt angry before, and I am from Georgia where we removed the VA battle flag from the state flag without me feeling the least bit sorry. That was yet another change to be considered per its own context, and while the governor lost his seat after that change, certainly didn’t hold that against him. (Not enough other Georgians did either. He lost his seat because of how he had attacked teachers, but that’s a different thing entirely.)

    This iconoclasm is totally different.

    kylez (View Comment):
    The Mexican-American War that later secured the annexation of TX is also controversial and resented by many of the citizens in TX who are of Mexican heritage.

    I can’t imagine why a Texan of Mexican ancestry would resent that. Especially anyone who isn’t poor.

    This was/is seen as a massive and unjust land grab. Mexican-Americans are very proud of their heritage. Everyone wants something to complain about? Something in the past that makes him/her a victim?

    • #9
    • September 11, 2017, at 6:07 AM PDT
    • Like
  10. Leslie Watkins Inactive
    Leslie Watkins Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Lois Lane: It all makes me angry in a way that I’ve never felt angry before, and I am from Georgia where we removed the VA battle flag from the state flag without me feeling the least bit sorry.

    I always supported removal of the Confederate flag from public buildings because the one that was usually flown was not the national flag of the Confederacy, but the battle flag, which northern as well as southern segregationists used in the sixties and seventies in opposing busing. Either way, I think both should be in a museum.

    And I realize that a lot of these statues were erected in the early decades of the twentieth century as a kind of look homeward angel romanticization of the antebellum south, largely due to efforts by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to change the narrative. See, for example, Disney’s Song of the South from 1946, which features both Uncle Remus and the actress Hattie McDaniel, who in 1939 won the best supporting actress award for her portrayal of Scarlett’s Mamie in Gone with the Wind and who was herself the daughter of former slaves. It’s terrible that McDaniel had to receive her Oscar in an LA segregated hotel, but the genuine evil that confronted her and other black Americans at that time bears little to no philosophical relationship to what’s going on post-Charlottesville. It’s an attempt at erasure, not meaningful censure, and will do nothing but spark increasingly bad behavior by the alt-right.

    Nice talking with you Lois!

    • #10
    • September 11, 2017, at 9:37 AM PDT
    • 1 like