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Trump supporters participate in the Million (sic) MAGA March to protest the outcome of the presidential election on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Heritage Defense: On the Lost Cause, One Nation Under God, the Ubiquity of Slavery, and Those Pesky Socialists Claiming There's Anybody Here Except White Men

Abby Zimet

When in the course of human events it comes time to mark the birth of this grand but deeply imperfect nation, damn but the zealots and squawkers emerge from the musty woodwork to proclaim their unholy certainties. In a post-George-Floyd era when, say, history books are finally noting the exalted Thomas Jefferson owned over 100 slaves - six of whom were his own children - advocates of the "Lost Cause" of white supremacy are pushing back against the current racial reckoning with everything they have, which admittedly isn't much. Thanks to a hacktivist, The Guardian has bared not only the less-than-secure database of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) - 60,000 members, including dozens of military and government employees  - but a  "Heritage Defense" manual offering detailed tactics to use against commie types who want to remove Confederate statues or flags, ban racist team names, and otherwise tarnish "southern heritage" and thus "take oppressive action against us." The manual denounces perceived enemies like the NAACP for spreading "hate and dissension" under "Marxist" leadership, repeats the claim of a 1935 book that the "War for Southern Independence" was about taxes, and urges members to avoid "talking in ways that touch on race or slavery" by "consistently addressing the opposition simply as 'opposition'"; they should also offer counter-arguments like, "Slavery has been common for centuries" and the Civil War "was about independence, period." Tell it to the brutalized 388,000.

The supposed dangers of truth-telling about history, even when we aren't the good guys, is bedrock right-wing rubbish, because of course the truth can be a pain and then you have to learn, change, do better and ewww, who wants to do that? Which is why gun-toting high-school dropout and renowned historian Rep. Lauren Boebert calls learning about our racist past "this insane indoctrination" that makes us "basically the first nation to actively teach our children to be ashamed of their nation," and never mind post-war Germany. For the 4th she turned up at both a white supremacist conclave - "There's nothing like a Trump rally!" - and a "freedom rally" where she ranted Israel is one of just "two nations created for God's glory" - no, Palestine isn't the other - and claimed the Founders "had faith in God and each other," except for that whole separation of church and state thing. "We will not back down until we have everything God has promised us," she brayed. "We are an army for everything that Jesus has purchased for us and our children." Alas, she wasn't the only one talking up theocracy: Also conflating democracy and religion was homophobic behemoth Hobby Lobby, which went full Christofascist for the 4th with a huge ad proclaiming America "One Nation Under God - Christian, duh - and "Blessed is the nation whose God (ditto) is the Lord." Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, actual Christians and garden-variety heathens - "Keep your religious beliefs 500 yards from my Constitution" - were incensed by the "asinine" claim. "Organizations like Hobby Lobby are why so many people believe all Christians are hateful, intolerant bigots," wrote progressive pastor John Pavlovitz. "The rest of us apologize for them."

Final, bonkers proof of right-wing fragility came as NPR followed their tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence - with, "in the spirit of the times," some modest disclaimers. "It says 'that all men are created equal,'" they noted, "But women, enslaved people, indigenous people and many others were not held as equal at the time." Its use of archaic terms like "Indian savages," they added gently, today renders it "a document with flaws and deeply ingrained hypocrisies" - though it also "laid the foundation for our collective aspirations, our hopes for what America could be." Those hopes have clearly not been realized, given the yahoo heads exploding at this modest assertion. "As a patriotic American, I never thought I would read such a low blow to America!" bleated  one. "NPR dares to shred America at (sic) its core. Shocking." More shocking: That so many idiots live in denial of demonstrable facts like genocide, slavery and racism; they don't know said flaws already prompted 27 amendments to the Constitution; they think trashing the truth will change it; if you can't critique your country, you're in a cult; and, amidst yet more calls by the guys always whining about cancel culture to defund NPR - "Why should we pay for them to express hatred against us?" - these dolts still don't know NPR is mostly listener-supported, with taxpayers contributing just $1.35 per head. Many fought back against the blizzard of witlessness. Some waxed eloquent: The Declaration "is a magnificent, dynamic document but it's a dichotomy of contradictions that tried mightily to state truth as best it could. We accept the American story with the good, the bad, and the ugly. Otherwise, it's a great disservice to the nation." Others were less gracious, especially to the patriot who dubbed the NPR writer who cited flaws "a piece of filth": "Eat a bowl of dicks, my dude." Mostly, there was gratitude for what we all need to, yes, learn, change, do better: "Thank you for the facts."


Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, thinning the carrots, hauling too much water, experiencing true if ragged community, and writing. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. 

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