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Dissident Son of the Confederacy
By Ron West


Hello James

My further, more personal thoughts related to Charlottesville.

Was the USA founded as a nation of ‘white men?’ I think there is little question of the fact. Does this hold true today? Clearly not, considering the uncontrolled drift of history, with its’ many exploitations, related oxymorons and conflicting expectations. Will there be an amalgamation of the races? Over time, I expect yes, however pushing multi-culturalsim in the short term has absolutely been a failed experiment, raising social tensions that are easily exploited, as I’d noted in my previous piece on the subject. 

Meanwhile, here are my personal observations in a context of family history. Online with live links at:

https://ronaldthomaswest.com/2017/08/19/dissident-son-of-the-confederacy/

Ron West

http://ronaldthomaswest.com 

"The history of the great events of this world are scarcely more than a history of crime"

-Voltaire

*

Truth is seldom pure and never simple

-Oscar Wilde

I’d tacked the Oscar Wilde quote onto my preceding post on Charlottesville as an afterthought. Then, having thought about Wilde’s maxim, considering his dialect and 19th Century literary period, today he might have rather modified his short statement, in effect, ‘Truth is seldom clean and never simple.’

Since, I’ve read both; Glen Ford’s pointing to the USA founded as a racist state; Trump’s protestations of ‘where does it end’ with removing American monuments; so called ‘scholars‘ disputing Trump’s equating General Lee with General Washington; and finally, I’ve read the letter of Stonewall Jackson’s great, great grandsons, Jack and Warren Christian, natives of Richmond, Virginia.

Prior to my conclusions, allow me to inform you all; I am eligible to belong to the fraternal order “Sons of the Confederate Veterans.” In fact, if they had a ‘noble line’ of descent from the families of the old ‘southern aristocracy’, I would certainly qualify.

According to remote memory, family oral history & genealogy (I had been briefed on these in distant past, and am not intimately familiar with the material), if I recall events correctly, my own great, great grandfather was a casualty of the war, while serving in the Southern military. This orphaned my great grandfather who had been taken in by cousins; these migrated to California some years after the war, I seem to recall from the vicinity of Texarkana, Texas. As a not very interested adolescent, I may have this history transposed and it was an orphaned cousin traveled to California with my ancestor. Either way, I am informed we are somehow related to a Captain Daniel of the 9th Texas artillery or Daniel’s Battery of the Confederacy’s Trans-Mississippi Department, although this last may have no direct bearing on my ancestry, I just don’t know. What I do know is, my great grandfather’s surname was “Daniel” (no ‘s’ at the end of the family’s name) and descended from one of the ‘first’ families of Virginia, or as Wikipedia puts it “a [Virginia] family of old colonial heritage.” In any case, this last is not a distant memory’s conjecture on my part, but had been clear, I’m informed I am descended via a Confederate veteran of the Civil War who was of this ‘Daniel’ family; via my maternal line.

Now, for those unfamiliar with arcane American history, I will give example of this highly educated, southern aristocratic family’s progeny: my relative, the Virginian Peter Vivian Daniel, was author of a concurring opinion in the 1857 decision Dred Scott v Sandford in which he stated:

“the African negro race never have been acknowledged as belonging to the family of nations”

Beyond this seeming remote history (I was in Vietnam when the California branch of the Daniel family held a big reunion, drawing more than 1,000 extended family, mostly educated professionals) I can give up a couple of embarrassing family secrets, one of them pretty bad. If it weren’t bad enough one of my great uncles had been named Forrest, for Nathan Bedford Forrest, whose troops murdered en mass the captured Black Union soldiers at Ft Pillow, one of my great aunts (I had many, so her identity is not in danger) once gave me the original lyric to a certain (in)famous slave auction block ditty or southern nursery rhyme:

Enee, Meany, Miney, Moe

Catch a nigger by the toe

If he hollers

Make him pay

With fifty lashes

Every day

My-mother-told-me-to-choose-the-very-best-one

Fortunately, I was not so deeply immersed in these attitudes to prevent mental escape and, had a wider exposure to our world. Although it never crossed my mind to apply for membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I’d now looked and found lingering influence of a White slant to history, as later I’d read “Lee’s Lieutenants” (several large volumes), a “Robert E Lee Reader” and much more. All of this history has a White slant, regardless of whether the author was a Southern or Northern partisan. I should have read Frederick Douglass but I didn’t. My interest in those days had been primarily martial, not social. What I now understand is, for many, the war and the slave owning South are not exactly remote events. Particularly for Black people with Jim Crow only recently off their back, and, it would seem, for those many Whites who cling to White supremacy as a god-given right to White people.

Going to my amended statement of Oscar Wilde where ‘Truth is seldom clean and never simple”, my take on Trump versus Glen Ford is, both have it right but Ford’s truth is ‘cleaner.’ Trump equates General Lee with General Washington as unequivocal American heroes, whereas Glen Ford equates General Lee with General Washington as racists serving the cause of White supremacy. In the USA founding document, where a ‘negro’ is worth 3/5 of a White Man according to Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution…

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons” (in effect, Black people)

…according to our founding document, Glen Ford has it right. The USA was founded as a racist state based on “White privilege”

This recalls the ‘scholars’, one of whom stated:

[the monuments] “force us to contemplate the centrality of slavery to the making of the nation,” said Gregory Downs, a history professor at the University of California, Davis who studies the impact of the Civil War on the United States. But he also said the difference between the nation’s first president, George Washington, and then [sic] man who sought to secede from the nation, Robert E. Lee, isn’t complicated.

“It is obvious that traitors in arms to the nation are not equivalent to those who created it,” he said”

Pardon me Mr Gregory Downs, but both men sought to perpetrate slavery by the willful acts of their own volition in a civic context. How is a man, General Washington, who sought to found a nation (United States of America) perpetrating slavery, any different than a man, General Lee, who sought to found a nation (Confederate States of America) perpetrating slavery? This is not a case of comparing apples to oranges.

I expect there’d be many who would join a new organization called “Dissident Sons of the Confederacy” or even “Dissident Sons of the Revolution.” Maybe there is some handful of motivated persons out there would be interested to invest in such an endeavor. Perhaps they will stumble across this blog post. Meanwhile, my hat is off to Stonewall Jackson’s great, great grandsons Jack and Warren Christian, and particularly, my hat is off to Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report.

Full text of the letter by Jack and Warren Christian:

Dear Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and members of the Monument Avenue Commission,

We are native Richmonders and also the great-great-grandsons of Stonewall Jackson. As two of the closest living relatives to Stonewall, we are writing today to ask for the removal of his statue, as well as the removal of all Confederate statues from Monument Avenue. They are overt symbols of racism and white supremacy, and the time is long overdue for them to depart from public display. Overnight, Baltimore has seen fit to take this action. Richmond should, too.

In making this request, we wish to express our respect and admiration for Mayor Stoney’s leadership while also strongly disagreeing with his claim that “removal of symbols does [nothing] for telling the actual truth [nor] changes the state and culture of racism in this country today.” In our view, the removal of the Jackson statue and others will necessarily further difficult conversations about racial justice. It will begin to tell the truth of us all coming to our senses.

Last weekend, Charlottesville showed us unequivocally that Confederate statues offer pre-existing iconography for racists. The people who descended on Charlottesville last weekend were there to make a naked show of force for white supremacy. To them, the Robert E. Lee statue is a clear symbol of their hateful ideology. The Confederate statues on Monument Avenue are, too—especially Jackson, who faces north, supposedly as if to continue the fight.

We are writing to say that we understand justice very differently from our grandfather’s grandfather, and we wish to make it clear his statue does not represent us.

Through our upbringing and education, we have learned much about Stonewall Jackson. We have learned about his reluctance to fight and his teaching of Sunday School to enslaved peoples in Lexington, Virginia, a potentially criminal activity at the time. We have learned how thoughtful and loving he was toward his family. But we cannot ignore his decision to own slaves, his decision to go to war for the Confederacy, and, ultimately, the fact that he was a white man fighting on the side of white supremacy.

While we are not ashamed of our great-great-grandfather, we are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer. We are ashamed of the monument.

In fact, instead of lauding Jackson’s violence, we choose to celebrate Stonewall’s sister—our great-great-grandaunt—Laura Jackson Arnold. As an adult Laura became a staunch Unionist and abolitionist. Though she and Stonewall were incredibly close through childhood, she never spoke to Stonewall after his decision to support the Confederacy. We choose to stand on the right side of history with Laura Jackson Arnold.

We are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer. We are ashamed of the monument.

Confederate monuments like the Jackson statue were never intended as benign symbols. Rather, they were the clearly articulated artwork of white supremacy. Among many examples, we can see this plainly if we look at the dedication of a Confederate statue at the University of North Carolina, in which a speaker proclaimed that the Confederate soldier “saved the very life of the Anglo-Saxon race in the South.” Disturbingly, he went on to recount a tale of performing the “pleasing duty” of “horse whipping” a black woman in front of federal soldiers. All over the South, this grotesque message is conveyed by similar monuments. As importantly, this message is clear to today’s avowed white supremacists.

There is also historical evidence that the statues on Monument Avenue were rejected by black Richmonders at the time of their construction. In the 1870s, John Mitchell, a black city councilman, called the monuments a tribute to “blood and treason” and voiced strong opposition to the use of public funds for building them. Speaking about the Lee Memorial, he vowed that there would come a time when African Americans would “be there to take it down.”

Ongoing racial disparities in incarceration, educational attainment, police brutality, hiring practices, access to health care, and, perhaps most starkly, wealth, make it clear that these monuments do not stand somehow outside of history. Racism and white supremacy, which undoubtedly continue today, are neither natural nor inevitable. Rather, they were created in order to justify the unjustifiable, in particular slavery.

One thing that bonds our extended family, besides our common ancestor, is that many have worked, often as clergy and as educators, for justice in their communities. While we do not purport to speak for all of Stonewall’s kin, our sense of justice leads us to believe that removing the Stonewall statue and other monuments should be part of a larger project of actively mending the racial disparities that hundreds of years of white supremacy have wrought. We hope other descendants of Confederate generals will stand with us.

As cities all over the South are realizing now, we are not in need of added context. We are in need of a new context—one in which the statues have been taken down.

Respectfully,

William Jackson Christian

Warren Edmund Christian

Great-great-grandsons of Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson

http://jameslafond.blogspot.com/

Rubbing Out Palefaces

Moral Minority Survival at the End of Caucasian Time Paperback

https://www.amazon.com/Rubbing-Out-Palefaces-Minority-Caucasian/dp/1975682092/ref=sr_1_1/140-0730406-0172864?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503491421&sr=1-1

The Lies That Bind Us

The Foundational Falsehoods of the American Dream

https://www.amazon.com/dp/197576983X/ref=sr_1_3/134-3980763-3033730?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503683914&sr=1-3

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