On Historical Eclipses and Bigotry

Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel takes a look at how America obscures its past to its future peril.

According to Webster, an eclipse is the obscuring of the light from one celestial body by the passage of another between it and the observer or between it and its source of illumination.

An eclipse seems to be what is obscuring the political debate about the U.S. confederate days.

To the right, General Robert E. Lee is the symbol of white supremacism that needs to be honored and revered. They of course seem to ignore that General Lee was considered in his times a wet feet kind of southern leader.

Indeed, General Lee wrote a letter to the New York Times indicating that contrary to what had been reported, the people enslaved on his family’s property, in what was then known as Alexandria County, were not “being sold South.” And he implied that he would free them within five years. He thus could not be counted among those rabid pro-slavery leaders that deemed colored people as subhuman; However, Lee represented every southerner in a battle against the other half of the country that rightly had defined slavery as morally untenable.

So, when the White Supremacist movement chose to build a monument to Lee in the 1920’s as a means to threaten the African American population that was demanding civil rights, the KKK exhibited then just as they have done now a high degree of ignorance about American history in general and Robert E. Lee in particular. They even ignored that Lee was married to a relative of Martha Washington and that his network of relationships was rather wide. He thus was not the fire-eater supremacist leaders have made of him. But today’s bigotry has placed him side by side with Nazi leaders.

Then there is yet another eclipse. To the liberal establishment anything that bears the most remote remembrance to confederation must be destroyed.

They, of course, act like those that when asked about their links to Western Culture reduce it to Greece and Pericles. But Western civilization includes war, racism, nationalism, antisemitism, imperialism and other forms of exclusion and crimes against humanity that are neither enlightened nor morally acceptable.

Because, as submitted by Arnold Toynbee, history is the road that takes mankind from barbarism to perfection, its knowledge is key to progress. For bad and ugly confederacy is part of the American History and it needs to be told and retold so that the U.S. civic body does not fall prey to mistakes of the past.

We are approaching an era where robotics seems to be taking over all aspects of human activity. Should we forget the pain caused to a large section of our population (4.4 Million African Americans at the outset of the Civil War), we can inflict similar pain to those that lack digital skills. The ongoing pandemic of opioid addiction could be a warning signal that we are about to repeat the same mistake made by supporters of confederacy. This time however the scourge touches the lives of a much larger section of our population and impacts only the poor.

Lest we think like John Calhoun did that these human beings are not entitled to a life in freedom and prosperity and thus let them die in a societal tolerated euthanasia, America is about to be rattled by the disintegration of its melting pot. This seems to be what we are now witnessing with the ongoing burst of violence in Charlestown.

We need thus to correct course and take a cue from Germany. Germans continuously bring to their present their horrific past with a view to crush any possibility of its resurrection. Remembering our confederate past to embrace solidarity to those that today are condemned to poverty and unemployment by technology advancement to create avenues for their pursuit of happiness is a much better tribute to the Founding Fathers and our nation. Because it would enable our society to live up to its promise of freedom and progress to all.

Published by LAHT.com on August 21st, 2017

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