AS JOHN ''STONEWALL'' Ashcroft marched past the crisped bodies of the Democratic slaughter in the Senate to plant his flag as attorney general, I swear I heard him hum, ''I am now in Dee Cee, hooray! Hooray! In Dee Cee Land, no laws will stand, when I am done in Dee Cee.''
With the Ashcroft confirmation, the antebellum America of George W. Bush is complete. They may have left the land of cotton, but the old times are not forgotten. With the constellation of Confederate sympathizers Bush has around him, the people of color in his Cabinet are just isolated black holes. Just as the Confederate flag is being downsized at Southern state houses, Bush has unofficially hoisted the Stars and Bars high above the nation's capital.
Think this is crazy? We have a president who in the year 2000 campaigned at the most officially bigoted university in America. Bush said he would defend ''our conservative philosophy'' last winter at Bob Jones University in South Carolina, which until last year banned interracial dating, still bans visits from gay and lesbian alumni and considers Catholicism a cult.
At Bush's inauguration, the oath of office was administered by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Rehnquist was the lone dissenting vote in an 8-1 decision in 1983 to deny tax-exempt status to Bob Jones. Rehnquist is known for singing ''Dixie'' at the 4th Circuit Judicial Conference. Rehnquist voted to end the Florida recount and hand Bush the presidency. In Dee Cee Land, democracy will never stand. Hooray, hooray.
Then Bush nominated Ashcroft. The former Missouri senator will run the Justice Department despite his opposition to school desegregation, abortion even in the case of rape and incest, opposing a gay ambassador for homophobic reasons, praising Confederate war heroes and picking up an honorary degree from, you got it, Bob Jones.
Ashcroft survived his nomination process because Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott kept all 50 Republican senators in a lockstep military obedience, forcing Democrats like Zell Miller and Russ Feingold to conclude that it was better to serve Bush cocktails in the big house than plan a rebellion from the field. It does not take much to see that when these Democrats waved the white flag of bipartisanship, they were also surrendering to white sheets.
It was Lott who urged President Reagan in the early 1980s to make Bob Jones tax-exempt. Lott had significant ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens. The CCC is descended from the Southern white citizens councils that bitterly resisted black civil rights.
When news surfaced in 1998 of his involvement with the group, Lott claimed ''no firsthand knowledge'' of it. Later it was found out that he gave three speeches before the group, in the 1990s, saying that the council stands ''for the right principles and the right philosophy.''
In 1997, he was photographed in his Senate office, smiling with the national leaders of the CCC. Once Lott was exposed, he had to go through the public ritual of distancing himself from the CCC. But there is no mistaking what Lott meant by the ''right principles and the right philosophy.''
The CCC's current Web page links you directly to its ''On-Line Market for Southern Patriots and Euro-Folk.'' You can order your choice of flags of the Ku Klux Klan and a sew-on patch that depicts a hooded Klansman, a burning cross, and the phrase: ''Department of the Interior: Bureau of Negro Control.''
As for Interior, Secretary Gale Norton, too, has Confederate epilepsy. She said so much was lost for states' rights during the Civil War. She said it was an unfortunate coincidence that the ''bad facts'' of slavery gave states' rights a bad name. Someone forgot to tell Norton that states' rights remained a primary form of ''Negro Control'' for a century after the Civil War.
It was not as if the Confederate flag was not already visible in some corners on Capitol Hill, from Jesse Helms, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee to Bob Barr, who led the charge to impeach President Clinton. Barr also spoke before the CCC. You have John McCain, who, like Bush was just another Confederate chicken on the campaign trail. In South Carolina, McCain's chief strategist was Richard Quinn, editor of the very Southern Partisan magazine, the Negro Control magazine that Ashcroft made his pro-Confederacy statements in.
Until Bush took over, no one worried about Confederate epilepsy being a communicable disease. Now, before anyone realized it, the South has risen again, with delerious troops who cannot wait to bayonet civil rights, abortion rights, gay and lesbian rights, and environmentalists. They've won the second round of the Civil War. There is no more need to look away, look away. They are singing, ''Lookie here! Lookie here! DeeCee Land!''
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company