Congress voted yesterday to restrict the use of Confederate flags at national veterans cemeteries. There was a heated battle behind the scenes, but the proposal, an amendment to a spending bill for veterans and military construction projects, came with support from 84 Republicans and all but one Democrat.
"Over 150 years ago, slavery was abolished," said Rep. Jared Huffman (D) of California, who sponsored the amendment. "Why in the year 2016 are we still condoning displays of this hateful symbol on our sacred national cemeteries?"
Representative Huffman's amendment makes it illegal to drape or hoist the flag in national cemeteries, including at mass graves. Those who hope to mark an individual grave with the flag can do so with a small one, but only on Memorial Day and Confederate Memorial Day.
ALL Democrats voted for the action. 158 Republicans voted against the proposal. Some lobbied against it privately but publicly, no one spoke in opposition to the proposal on the House floor.
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R) of Georgia, for example, likened the effort to ban the flag to terrorists from the Islamic State destroying cultural landmarks in the Middle East. Later in the day a spokesman for Westmoreland sought to distance the Congressman from the comments.
Late Wednesday night, Democrats also attempted to force a procedural vote on a proposal to take down the Confederate flag at the Citadel. That effort ultimately failed, divided along party lines.
Huffman also proposed a similar amendment in Congress last year. It initially passed by a voice vote, but was then scuttled after opposition from some Republicans. "This time was different," House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters after the vote on Thursday.
OBAMA PETIONED TO DISHONOR CONFEDERATE VETERANS
Congress passed a law in 1958 giving Confederate veterans status under law as U.S. veterans. Through the years the Sons of Confederate Veterans has cited the 1958 law to make the case that all Americans should honor Confederate veterans. An undated official history of the Department of Veterans Affairs that covers the period up to 2006 cites the law to justify the VA purchasing headstones for Confederate soldier graves. The VFW Magazine has also referred to the 1958 when justifying their activities to honor Confederate veterans.
The law was proposed by Sen. Russell Long of Louisiana. Sen. Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas), the Senate's majority leader and presiding officer, said during floor debate over the measure, according to the Congressional Record, "The bill was unanimously reported by the Committee on Finance. There is much interest in it, and I hope the Senate will act on it unanimously."
Now a petition has been presented to the White House asking the Obama administration to take action to change the law.
The section of the law that the petitioners want Obama to strike is:
"(e) For the purpose of this section, and section 433, the term 'veteran' includes a person who served in the military or naval forces of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, and the term 'active, military or naval service' includes active service in such forces."
The current opinion of the White House, which was also used in this week's House debate to remove the flag from cemeteries, is that the only thing accomplished by the 1958 legislation was to make Confederate veterans eligible for the same VA benefits as Union soldiers were. It did not make them U.S. veterans, make any other official change in their status, or extend any particular protections to their graves or to other monuments.
ANOTHER MONUMENT UNDERGOING RELENTLESS ATTACK
For more than a century, the soldier has stood before the Talbot County Maryland Courthouse, a half-furled Confederate flag draped over his left shoulder like a cape. The "Talbot Boys" monument, named for the 84 local Confederate veterans whose names are etched into its base, has weathered decades of debate.
The county branch of the NAACP asked the Talbot County Council last year to take the monument down. A group called "Save the Talbot Boys" formed and gathered more than 1,200 signatures for a petition supporting the memorial, and the County Council voted to leave it where it is.
It didn't end there. The NAACP and the ACLU have challenged the decision process, which included a closed-door administrative meeting, to the state Open Meetings Compliance Board. The board ruled this month that the meeting should have been open to the public and had violated state law. The council acknowledged the board's ruling last week. But council President Corey W. Pack, who is black, said, "We were not going to remove the Talbot Boys statue...We felt it would be disrespectful to the family members of those Confederate relatives still alive in Talbot County."
Its didn't end there either. Richard Potter, president of the county NAACP branch, said a memorial to Confederate veterans doesn't belong on the grounds of a public courthouse. Potter's ongoing legal actions have revived another once thought dead issue from a decade ago, when the county considered placing a statue of Frederick Douglass across the lawn from the Confederate statue. The abolitionist is Talbot County's most famous native son. But veterans groups petitioned to reserve the courthouse lawn for memorials to veterans. (It also holds a monument to Vietnam veterans. Supporters of the Douglass statue accused the Veterans of racism. The Veterans labeled the NAACP unpatriotic. The council has voted 3 to 2 to approve the statue believing it can offset the Talbot Boys memorial.
Philip C. Foster, who served on the County Council from 1998 to 2010, said the Talbot Boys memorial is an important commemoration of veterans, including Adm. Franklin Buchanan, the first superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. "The statue is not a statue to slavery," said Foster, an Easton attorney. "It's a recognition of the individuals that are on it."
But its still not over! Empowered by the approval of the Frederick Douglas statue, the NAACP has petitioned the county to replace the Talbot Boys statue with a "Civil War" monument that would recognize both Union and Confederate veterans.
The council won't budge on the Talbot Boys, Pack said. But he said members are open to suggestions for erecting a second monument to Union veterans. Council President Pack has stated that, "We agree that the Confederate statue alone does not accurately depict Talbot County's role in the Civil War....If the NAACP of Talbot County or any other group wants to file a petition for the erection of a Union statue we will be more than happy to look at that."
HAMPTON VIRGINIA RENAMING SCHOOLS?
The majority of people who addressed the school board on Wednesday night were against renaming two schools.
"We need to focus on the children's education, not changing the names of schools," said one.
"Education is about learning the history and teaching it, not eradicating it," said another.
The school board is considering renaming Jefferson Davis Middle School and the Campus at Lee, named after Robert E. Lee.
Andrew Shannon from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (a political machine that organizes political protests in black churches) proposed renaming the schools. "Students should not be required to attend schools named for those who fought to keep a race of people in bondage," he said.
Another man, who supports renaming, called Davis and Lee traitors.
Many others say they're worried about how much renaming would cost and contend there are bigger issues to focus on in the school division. "Members of the board, I charge you with this question," said a ninth grade student at Hampton High. "Would you rather focus on the children and their education or changing a school name due to the climate of our nation?"
The school board is scheduled to hold a similar hearing on June 1 and then to make a decision later in the month.
STUDENT EXPELLED FOR FLAG NOW ALLOWED TO GRADUATE
A Minnesota high school senior was suspended on Monday of this week because he displayed a Confederate flag in his car. Yesterday it was decided that he will be allowed to graduate with his class this evening.
Senior Cody Nelson, of the Crosby-Itornton High School, was suspended on Monday after he refused to take down the Confederate flag from his car window. Nelson's suspension notice was posted on his mother Doreen Nelson's Facebook page. "My son was kicked out of school for his flag and freedom of speech. He is a senior this year. Please show your support," Nelson wrote.
School principal Jim Christenson signed Nelson's suspension. He did not respond to an email request for comment.
After Tuesday's student rally in support for Cody Nelson several school officials sat down with the student and his mother to discuss the situation. It was decided that Nelson would be allowed to graduate with his class. As for his car, displaying the Confederate flag: "He volunteered to park his car across the street."
IRELAND ASKED TO BAN CONFEDERATE FLAG AT SPORTING EVENTS
It's feared that the Confederate Flag will appear in Semple Stadium for this Sunday's Munster SHC quarter-final clash.
Last summer, GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail called for supporters to be vigilant about the brandishing of the flag after it appeared at two Cork games in the space of six days. Sport Against Racism Ireland has recommended the GAA ban the flag from matches.
The Munster Council are hoping Sunday's game will attract a crowd of 25,000 to 30,000. They have not enacted the requested ban against the flag.
Shortly after Patrick County Judge Martin Clark committed the disgraceful act of having a portrait of Patrick County native and Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart removed from the Patrick County Courthouse, and following a swift and very vocal outcry of disgust with Judge Clark's action by her citizens, the Patrick County Board of Supervisors voted to display the portrait on the "Wall of Honor" on the second floor of the Patrick Veterans Memorial Building. The portrait has been restored and encased in special glass, and a new bronze plaque has been installed.
Thursday, May 12th, the J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust held an official and public unveiling of the portrait, on the anniversary of his death. The ceremony included Patrick County and town of Stuart officials, Stuart family members, and JEB Stuart re-enactor Wayne Jones, who organized and led a rally to protest the removal on the Courthouse steps shortly after the portrait was removed.
Please take a moment to thank the members of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors for their efforts in having the portrait installed on the Wall of Honor, and their courage in going against the popular trend to dishonor our veterans.
Contact info here: http://www.co.patrick.va.us/county-supervisors
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I know, Black Confederates are NOT supposed to exist. But Yankees be damned, there were tens of thousands of them. The picture above most likely having been taken years after the war at a Veterans reunion where the old veterans would don their grey kepis and shell jackets and pose for pictures. Would this veteran have believed the photograper had they told him that 100 years later his portrait would be hanging in a restaurant?
SPEAKING OF BLACK CONFEDERATES
Our friend, H.K. Edgarton, former NAACP president and proud descendant of black Confederate Veterans, has been busy this week traveling throughout Florida. He sends the following report of his activities on behalf of our heritage:
I would greet them both with open arms; thinking of course that the other gentleman was part of the contingent of Jim's who would host our visit in Jacksonville.
We would walk around to the Confederate soldiers monument that was in the central part of a square filled with people of whom were mostly Black folks eating, playing chess, or checkers, holding conversations, or just plain walking back and forth. It was our plan to just pose for a photo or two at the monument.
However, with the Southern Crosss in hand, and don in a Dixie OutFitters shirt with the Honorable General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his Black Confederate soldiers with the caption that read..." "these men stayed with me to the end, and no better Confederates ever lived"; would spark a heated debate between myself and many of them, of whom one, "Rock" would be the most adamant to speak against the nerve of me showing up with the Southern Cross. He would ask of me several questions, never allowing me to answer one.
Suddenly several other white men would walk up and stand next to me, and getting very cozy with them was the young man I had previously hugged. One had on a shirt that read: "Life member of the Ku Klux Klan". I would ask of them pointing at the shirt; "whats up with that?" I would be told that the Klan had come to protest my presence with the Southern Cross.
Before I could retort , Rock (my now Black friend) would say to them: "y'all got a lot of nerve to come here to protest HK carrying the Confederate Battle Flag. He has every right to carry it, just like all the other Black Confederate soldiers did."
All of a sudden the Klan found themselves having to deal with a lot of Black and White folks supporting Rock's statement. For me the worm had turned. "Why do you hate us another Black man would ask the Klan?" The response from the Klan would be; " we don't hate you or anybody".
For the first time in my memory, to their credit the Klan was holding a dialogue with a group of Black folks without using a lot of explicitaves.
I want to make it clear to all the drama writers that not just because the mighty honorable Jacksonville Sheriff's office had a contingent present, but to be clear I at no time felt threatened by anyone. After a time I would say goodby to all, thanked them profusely for allowing all to engage in a peaceful and fiery dialogue, and make my way to the Honorable House of Represenative Member, Lake.
Later in the evening I would speak to a packed house at the Museum of Southern History and accept a Medal of High Honor.
FROM ONE OF OUR READERS
- Peter is an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland
Powerful computers, handheld devices, robots, and artificial intelligence make our lives easier and workers more productive but destroy jobs at an alarming pace. The new opportunities created require a better education than most Americans receive.
These pressures are exacerbated by competition from Germany and other northern European countries where job training is better and Asia where labor is much cheaper. This is multiplied yet again by Washington's failure to negotiate good international trade agreements and adequately defend Americans from foreign cheating on those agreements.
Politicians at all levels-obsessed with political correctness, victimhood, and identity politics-have dumped billions into failing public schools and universities, financed an increasing array of entitlements instead of adequate public investments in R&D and the infrastructure needed to support a technology-based economy, and sowed divisions and suspicion among ethnic groups, between men and women, and the successful and those deserving a genuine hand up.
No surprise, high schools churn out students unprepared for college or vocational programs, and many university graduates lack the critical thinking and technical skills needed to prosper in a technology-intensive workplace. Businesses constantly complain about the shortage of adequately skilled job applicants.
Since 2000, annual GDP growth has slowed to 1.7 percent, new business startups and the percentage of adults working are down, and average annual family incomes have slipped $4000. During the Reagan-Clinton years, the economy grew at twice the rate and otherwise performed much better.
The middle class is shrinking, suicides and drug abuse are up, fertility has dropped precipitously, millions of college graduates are stuck at places like Starbucks, and home ownership is at a 48 year low.
The Obama Administration has doubled down on the policies that manufactured these conditions. It intensified pressures on businesses and universities on racial and gender quotas, and imposed political indoctrination of employees and students through mandatory diversity and sexual harassment training and the like.
It has expanded Medicaid, food stamps, the earned income tax credit and other income support programs, and increased loans and grants to students ill-prepared to acquire much of anything at college except burdensome debt and an impulse to vote for more government handouts.
Now, Hillary Clinton wants to further expand these initiatives, for example, by generalizing to the national level the California Fair Pay Act, which would require businesses of all sizes to justify virtually every hiring and salary decision to the Labor Department, jacking up the minimum wage to unstainable levels, extending Medicare to Americans over 50, establishing broad federal funding for child care, and making tuition, room and board virtually free to students at state universities. All this funded by further raising what are among the highest taxes on business in the industrialized world.
Donald Trump indicts the tyranny and destructive consequences of political correctness and identity politics, but no politician can run and win the presidency by promising to cut social programs. He does promise to do something about bad trade agreements and high taxes smothering new business startups and investment.
Trump's language may be crude, but after 40 plus years in the trenches of academia, managing bureaucrats and in policy battles of Washington and advising corporate leaders, I can attest he is absolutely right.
The big problem he or any Republican faces running for president is that too many poorly-educated Americans, minorities, and women have become dependent on government largess and preferences for employment opportunities, and none can speak honestly without being branded a racist, sexist, homophobe, and otherwise ridiculed to their demise in the New York Times, Washington Post, and major network newscasts.
Simply, there are more Americans on the dole and in government mandated sinecures than engaged in productive activities.
The takers can outvote the makers to block any effort to end the madness.
This is the kind of dysfunction that brought down Rome.
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