By Bob Ferris
This whole hateful gathering in Charlottesville is so disturbing—and at the site of Mr. Jefferson’s University no less. So let’s start with him. Thomas Jefferson was a man who epitomized science and reason. Not much science and reason here. Tons of tattoos, ignorance and unchecked testosterone, but rarified thinking of the type advocated by Jefferson: No.
Jefferson was also not one who embraced religious dogma blindly being a Deist and famously carving up a Bible to retain what he felt were the good parts and discarding the “hocus pocus” of it all. He also studied other cultures, fathered children with a woman of color, and festooned the front hall of his home with Native American artifacts. It is hard in here to find a man like him, but modernized, that would be marching at the front of this collection of louts. Jefferson was a progressive among those of a more conservative nature which seems a pole away from conservatives pulling us backwards in a progressive world.
“I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all and always well-informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive..... Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon, and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” Fuller quote from Thomas Jefferson’s “Tree of Liberty” letter referencing Shay’s Rebellion.
I am sure that there are those who having nothing else to defend their actions would quickly point out the shorten quote from Jefferson’s “Tree of Liberty” letter (see above in bold). Fine. Grab a sentence and distill meaning. I am sure that works for those with a short attention span—not naming any names here—but the rest of us read the whole thing and also check the context for meaning and understanding. Those in Charlottesville are mentioned in Jefferson’s letter but probably not in the way they think.
I am baffled too by the claim of this action being history-driven. Certainly there is a faction that adheres to these white supremacy philosophies and there has been an element embracing this collective stance in the past, but those elements have traditionally been minorities and losers rather than majorities and victors. Of note too these groups have traditionally been the tools—in all that this term implies—of the monied forces not wanting to give up some method of societal abuse be it slavery, externalization of environmental costs or economic inequities. So nothing changes.
The imagery in Charlottesville is both shocking and ironic. I suspect that there are few who served in World War II who do not feel revulsion when seeing anything that resembles the profile of the helmet popularized by the Nazis. Seeing these helmets or their lookalikes at any event on US soil dishonors those who fought in that war and also is a recognizable outline that defines a regime that perpetrated despicable acts.
|Made in China. Imagine that?|
But the Tiki torches used by many of the white supremacist are blindingly ironic. Here we have an iconic Asian yard accessory more than likely purchased at a retail outlet that at times seems nothing more than a vehicle for increasing our trade deficit, killing American manufacturing and increasing food stamp use. I wonder how many of these “brave” marchers considered the cultural roots of their flaming scepters or where they were made? Not many I would guess.
The title of this piece is close, but wrong, which is perfect and appropriate. This event was built on a rickety platform of broken bricks fired into a form that never truly existed. The event is also a stew of un-American and inappropriate imagery that is so contradictory to the stated premise that it has to be considered silly, but for the violence and death it wrought. And all of this is sweetened by the sticky candy of easily disproven lies made all the more sugary by repetition. In point of fact, this also applies all too well to this presidency and that needs to be remembered by us in our efforts or history if we fail to save America.