Tag Archives: Ku Klux Klan

No Confederacy, No Common Sense

SOURCE: Ringo Chiu/Getty Images

I was 12 years old when I saw a confederate flag for the first time outside of a classroom. I was at first disoriented by the sight: confused that after a war had ended for nearly 150 years, a flag was still being hoisted that wasn’t our own. I asked my dad why that flag was hanging on the back of our neighbor’s truck. He said that she was “representing her Southern pride.”

I’ve never understood why someone would be proud enough to represent the Confederate flag. It makes no sense. Take away the racial and historical implications behind the flag for a second. Who in their right mind would be proud of something that is most known for losing? That would be like admitting that you’re a Detroit Lions fan, or that you like listening to Nickelback. Once those opinions have left your lips, everything else that comes out afterwards has an embarrassing odor of stupid trailing it everywhere. You support the Confederacy? Good luck being taken seriously after confessing that, folks. I would probably find it funny, if it wasn’t already so pathetic.

Regardless of what you think, the open display of the Confederate flag is a debate that rages on, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to deescalate anytime soon. The more recent controversy spurring on the discussion is the “Unite the Right” protests going on in Charlottesville, VA, where white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members flooded the streets and caused a state of emergency before killing three people and injuring 38 others.

“Unite the Right”? Ha. More like “Unite the White.”

I’m not going to lie, when I first heard about these protests, it broke my heart. I lived briefly in Charlottesville for a time last year, and the city that I remembered leaving was a bright, friendly place where you could strike up a conversation with anyone you met on the street. It wasn’t a hateful, divisive place. It wasn’t unsafe or shady. It was simply a beautiful city, and I roamed the downtown restaurants and venues freely and with ease. I will always have fond memories of Charlottesville and even plan to revisit at some point in the future, preferably before David Duke blows it to hell with a wooden cross burning over it.

So when I heard that once again racist and hate-fueled bigots were protesting in the town, the first thing I asked myself was why? Why were they making all of this fuss? Of course, racists like the KKK don’t need much reason to destroy public property, but nevertheless I was curious of their reasoning. What led them to such a violent escapade?

Well apparently all of this started when the Robert E. Lee statue was reportedly being taken down back in May. After news came out, white supremacists took to the streets in June, July, and August before their most violent outing yet on Saturday. By the way, after all of their protesting, Lexington mayor Jim Gray said they’re going to bring down two more confederate statues in response to their protests, and many more are following in his example. The “Unite the Right/White” march ended up harming the supremacist’s cause rather than helping it.

Like I said, an embarrassing odor of stupid trailing them everywhere.

Cartoon by Andrew David Cox

But it did get me thinking. White supremacists are very protective of their Confederate paraphernalia when it is threatened by the masses. Seriously, they turn into the most fragile little snowflakes you’ve ever seen, turning red anytime they see a pixel of blue floating near their precious flags. This overprotective mentality shows a rare vulnerability in white supremacists. At that point, you would reasonably think that the best way to disarm white supremacy would be to tear down confederate artifacts. After all, Germany doesn’t have Nazi symbolism publicly displayed anymore. Why would America have Confederate symbolism still exist 150 years later?

This is where things get really confusing, because while white supremacy is still very much a real threat, people continue to defend these supremacists and their hateful symbols. That to me is even weirder, because who in their right mind looks at a Nazi beating up somebody in the street, gives a thumbs up and says “You keep doing you, sir! You have every right to hate whoever you want!”

There are many arguments that pro-confederate advocates use to defend their claims. Allow me to deconstruct each of them.

“It’s for historical preservation.”

First of all, there’s a big difference between remembering history and reliving it. Remembering history means recounting past events and allowing them to influence your future decisions. Reliving it means re-enacting past practices to keep those ideologies alive.  A good way to differentiate is by judging the quality of the object’s preservation. Is the object properly stored away and maintained in a proper condition? Or is it constantly in use and faces regular wear-and-tear damage?

This is why the “historical” argument makes no sense to me. The core argument is based on preserving history, but the open public use of the flag is not even for preservation. It’s for decoration. And who in their right mind would want to decorate their belongings with something as ugly and putrid as the Confederate flag?

Then asks the Neo-Nazi “But if we can’t fly it, where do we put it?” You know, there are these amazing institutions called MUSEUMS that are specifically made for the purpose of storing and preserving ancient artifacts. You should try visiting one sometime, you might learn something for a change.

“Those people are exercising their freedom of speech.”

Nobody is denying that someone has the right or ability to openly share and express these ideas. That’s not the point. The point is should they express them? And if they do, does that automatically take away our right to speak out against them?

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence. If you’re going to say or represent hateful ideas, you should reasonably expect blow back from your critics, and you equally shouldn’t discourage those people for exercising the same rights as you do.

Here’s another way to view it. Say a man walks up to a woman in the middle of the street and calls her fat. The woman starts crying, local on-lookers start rushing to her defense and criticize the man for his hateful words. Now, with you bearing witness to all this, are you more likely to defend the woman for being victimized, or are you more likely to defend the man and his right to free speech?

The correct answer is, of course, the woman, because any decent person would defend those who are being unnecessarily harassed. If you, however, answered the man under any circumstance, then you misunderstand the rights that our constitution grants us and should never be allowed to comment on politics ever again.

“We have to remember history so we don’t repeat it.”

Well we pretty much failed in that mission, haven’t we? After all, 46 percent of the country elected a president who was publicly endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, hate groups have grown by 17% since election season began, and literal Nazis are marching in our streets. At this point, preventing history from repeating itself is no longer an option for us. We’re living in it right now.

COURTESY: The Inquisitr/ Rob Cotton

Look, I could counter every point thrown in my direction, but it’s not like it would make any difference. If this political season has shown anything, it has shown that people would rather sit inside their sheltered echo chambers instead of getting out and facing reality as it is. And right now the reality is we are living in one of our nation’s most divisive times in modern history.

Everyone is saying we need to end the hate and come together as one. This much is true. However, the people who divided us with their hate in the first place must be proactive in taking the first steps towards healing our nation. Because of this, white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and the KKK must allow themselves to be disarmed as we tear down the symbols that inspire their racist-fueled agenda. This includes publicly displayed Confederate and Nazi artifacts.

I don’t want it to be like this. I would like a nation that is civil with each other and allows free, respectful discussion of these issues. But if one side is going to be intolerant with their movement, they cannot blame us if we in turn refuse to tolerate their insolence. It’s okay to tolerate different political ideas. It is not okay to tolerate overt racism and hatred. Unfortunately, our nation has come to that point.

I understand that the removal of Confederate and Nazi images won’t stop the issues this country is facing. Still, we need to take a stand. We must. If we claim that America is for the land of the free and home of the brave, then we must demonstrate that by being brave and fighting for those freedoms.

Removing Confederate symbols won’t cure this country of the hatred that has infested it. But it’s a good place to start.

– David Dunn

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A Reflection On My Racial History

How do you think it feels knowing that your race caused decades of inhuman suffering and cruelty on a group of people that didn’t deserve it?

It’s the end of Black History Month, and after African-American citizens spent four weeks reflecting on their own history, I thought it was important that I took a moment to reflect on my own.

When I was thirteen, my great grandmother informed me that her father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Wearing the white robe of evil and judgement as if he were as clean as snow, he marched with his brothers in uniform against those of a different color from him with a sign filled with spite in one hand, and a torch burning with hatred in the other. She never learned if her father quit the organization or not. She found his uniform in the attic later on when she was an adult.

The rest of my family’s history isn’t much better. My dad’s uncles thought African Americans were selfish, lazy human beings, sputtering racial slurs at them while they drank their glasses full of whisky. Friends of my mother’s parents jokingly called them “jungle buddies.” Things only started getting better for my family when my mother stood up to her white classmates for her black friends when she was eight years old in elementary school. She was ridiculed and called by her classmates a “nigger lover.”

Bad as that is, I know it isn’t half as bad as what some of her friends had to face during that time.

Nowadays, with everything that has been going on in Ferguson and Staten Island, I sometimes find some people judging me and labeling me as a racist just because of the color of my skin. They don’t say this in words, but in silence: in the eerie, guarded ways they stare at you and in the sharpness in their breathing that feels like blades to your character.

I understand their contempt, and if I were in their shoes, I would probably judge myself too.

I’m not proud of the things my ancestors has done. I’m not proud of the things my entire race has done. In fact, I have to live with the fact that I’m living in a former slave state back when the south was considered the Confederate States of America. How can I say I’m proud to be a Texan, when I know all of the gross, unforgivable things we’ve done as a state?

But here’s what I need to keep reminding myself: it’s not me. I am not my family. I am not my origin. I am a passionate citizen of the United States of America. I love my brothers and sisters of all ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. I smile when I see them exercising their rights of freedom of expression, and I cry when I see them discriminated for their beliefs and appearances. I am filled with joy when their voices are heard, and I am filled with grief when their voices are silenced.

I am not my history, and for that matter, neither are you. We all should be proud, equal citizens of the United States. It’s high time we start acting like it.

– David Dunn

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“THE BUTLER” Review (✫✫✫✫)

A humble heart living through harsh times.  

When we watch movies like The Butler, we are reminded of our history and why we must never return to the horrible origins that we came from.  When I say that, I am saying that regardless of race.  The film is obviously centered around the issues of slavery, segregation, and racism, and asks us to feel sympathy towards the African population for all of the horrible things they’ve been through.  But the movie evokes a more powerful emotion from me personally, a deep sense of regret and shame that my own race, the Caucasians, were at one point responsible for all of the death and cruelty we inflicted upon our own African brothers.  And why?  Because they have a different pigment than us?  That’s the sort of hate and bias that lead us to World War II when Adolph Hitler led the Third Reich against the Jews.

Based on the career of real-life butler Eugene Allen, The Butler follows the story of Cecil Gaines, a black butler who grew up during the slave era, growed up learning how to be a white man’s servant, got a job at the White House, and continued to serve there for almost 35 years. Throughout his career he witnesses history unfold in itself, from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s (Robin Williams) decision to enforce desegregation laws in Arkansas, to witnessing the assassination of John F. Kennedy (James Mardesen), to seeing the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the Black Panthers, to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., to the eventual inauguration of Illinois Senator Barack Obama into office.

The Butler is an earnest, humble film, parts approachable and observant yet equally ambitious and honest. Like movies such as Ghandi, The Hurricane, and The Shawshank Redemption, this is a movie that looks into the reality of situations and shows them exactly how they were, no matter how tragic or heartbreaking those circumstances were.

Take, for example, the scene where the Ku Klux Klan is introduced.  During his college years, Cecil’s son Louis (wonderfully portrayed by David Oyelowo), was on a bus to protest against a racist Alabama.  While on their way, their bus stops suddenly as they stare at the white-robed, torch-bearing Klan staring at them with their hateful eyes.  Equal parts petrified and terrified, the protestors desperately tried to escape before the Klan started igniting the bus with fire and molotovs.

I sat there watching these scene, equally infuriated and enraged as I was emotional and mournful.  How could this be our country?  How could this have once been our land, our people who so hypocritically claimed to be the land of the brave and home of the free?

To watch these scenes and to incur such an emotion takes great skill and courage, and I think Lee Daniels does a great job orchestrating these scenes in ways that makes them so emotional and powerful.  Daniels, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2009 for Precious took quite a fall last year when he made Paperboy, a idyllic, preposterous, and morally reprehensible film that was anything except relevant, coherent, and well, good.  Here Daniels redeems himself, and leads a star-studded cast through such a gripping, overwhelming story that I think it surpasses his accomplishes even with 2009’s Precious.

Oh yes, the cast.  The cast is what makes this picture, but you already know that if you take the time to simply read the cast list.  Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan.  Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan.  John Cusack as Richard Nixon.  Liev Schriber as Lyndon B. Johnson.  Minka Kelly as Jackie Kennedy.  John Mardesen as JFK.  Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower.  Alex Pettyfr as a plantation owner.  Terrence Howard as Cecil’s neighbor.  Cuba Gooding Jr. as a head butler.  For Pete’s sake, Mariah Carrey is in the film as Cecil’s mother and she doesn’t even say a line of dialogue.

The best performances, however, are the lead ones by Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey.  Whitaker, who won the academy award for The Last King Of Scotland in 2006, steals the show in every single scene he’s in, showing the still portrait of a man who is tired, weary, and emotionally strained, a man who has seen endless ages of wrongful suffering but can do little to change it because he’s worrying about himself and his family.  Winfrey is equally as striking as his wife Gloria, a woman who is also hurting and in deep suffering because of her situation and because of a drinking problem she has long struggled with.  Both of these characters are central and integral to the plot and to the progression of the story, and at many times, they’re the only ones carrying the movie through as a whole.

The Butler is one of the best films of the year.  Period.  I know there’s a lot of movies about African-American history being released later on this year (Such as Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom and 12 Years A Slave), but there’s no denying the power, drama, or the history the movie so brilliantly provides us.  Yes, there are some inaccuracies to the butler’s real-life story (Starting with his name, with the real name being Eugene Allen), but the fact that it is loosely told is the best asset Daniels has towards his narrative. Since the figure is so little-known in today’s world, it allows Daniels to let loose and tell the story that he wants to tell, not the story that he’s committed to tell.  This is a movie that shows the history of a great man and a humble servant who was simply trying to support his family and to get through the days of wrongful judgement and discrimination.

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