Home » Feature Stories » Hate Rising Part 3: The Cult of the Lost Cause—For America to Live, the Mindset of White Supremacy Must Die

Hate Rising Part 3: The Cult of the Lost Cause—For America to Live, the Mindset of White Supremacy Must Die

by admin on 19th-August-2017

S. E. Williams

In May, when New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu spoke eloquently about why his city chose to remove, “monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy,” he said: “The historic record is clear, the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as the Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal—through monuments and through other means—to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity.” 

The Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Virginia, commissioned in 1917 and forged in 1924—the focus of last weekend’s protests—is another such homage to the “cult” described by Landrieu. 

In his speech, Landrieu quoted the celebrated author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, who, in the wake of the massacre by White Supremacist Dylann Roof at the historic Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, wrote, “The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it. That the Confederate flag is the symbol of White supremacists is evidenced by the very words of those who birthed it.” 

Coates’ writing sent this Voice/Black Voice News contributor in search of remarks made during the March 21, 1861, cornerstone speech delivered by Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens who, speaking on the formation of the Confederacy, said, “The new agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us, the proper status of the Negro in our form of civilization.” 

He continued, “Our new government is founded upon . . . the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the White man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” He stressed, “This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” 

This is the cause for which White supremacists rallied Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia. This is why Dylann Roof could dispassionately enter Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, sit, pretend to pray with the Black parishioners who welcomed him with agape love, and then massacre them. What manner of hate fosters this kind of violence? 

Hundreds of White Supremacists represented organizations from across the country and answered the call to “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville. They waved Confederate flags, held Ku Klux Klan signs, and displayed Nazi symbols. They wore helmets and carried shields as they wielded clubs, fingered brass knuckles, shouldered long guns, and carried automatic weapons, all the while spewing a plethora of racial slurs, including the infamous Nazi rallying cry, “Blood and Soil,” certainly sending a chill down the spine of the Jewish community. 

Some demonstrators physically attacked members of the clergy and other counter-protesters who had gathered in opposition to the rally’s cause. Clashes and skirmishes got so out of hand that one White Supremacist, James Alex Fields, Jr., used his car to run down counter-protestors—he killed one and injured several others.

White Supremacist, James Alex Fields, Jr.

By the time police gained control and dispersed the crowd, three people were dead, including Heather Heyer, purportedly mowed down by Fields, and two policemen, who died in an associated helicopter crash. At least 35 others were injured. Surprisingly, only five people were arrested. 

Most Americans can easily imagine how law enforcement might have reacted had hundreds of Black protesters showed up at a pre-scheduled rally, attired and armed in the same manner as the White Supremacists presented themselves in Charlottesville. Wait, that already happened. About fifty years ago, a small group of about 30 Black Panthers carried weapons during a protest at the capitol in Sacramento. It was a non-violent protest, yet the idea, the audacity of Black men legally—rightfully—carrying guns in public struck such fear in the hearts of so many White Americans that it birthed the modern gun-control movement. 

White Supremacist organizations were granted a permit to gather for a “peaceful protest” in Charlottesville on Saturday, but it was obvious from the way they arrived, weapon-clad and shouting, that their intent was far from peaceful. What the world witnessed was a frightening tableau of the historical terror perpetrated against Blacks and other minorities in this country since its founding. 

It has been more than fifty years since the courageous Civil Rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer challenged the nation in the face of unrelenting and codified racism. On national television in 1964, she asked a single and profound question: “Is this America?” Hamer’s question is as relevant today as it was more than 50 years ago. “Is this America?” The answer, regretfully, remains unchanged: “Yes. This is America.” 

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke barely contained his enthusiasm when interviewed at Saturday’s rally. “We are determined to take our country back,” he said with glee. “This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump—because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do.” 

Late Saturday, the president made what appeared a disingenuous attempt to assuage concerns of Americans shocked and disgusted by the day’s events. “We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of bigotry, hatred and violence on many sides. On many sides,” he stressed, reading from a prepared statement, Saturday. “This has been going on a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.” 

After witnessing the largest public rally by White Supremacists in decades, many were incredulous at the president’s lackluster response, never mumbling the term “White Supremacist.” They questioned how he made this about “both sides” when, so clearly, White Supremacists were the aggressors—they showed up prepared for battle. 

Next, the president seemed to give tacit approval to the rally when he said, unsurprisingly, “We have to cherish our nation’s history.” After all, he would used racist “dog whistles” throughout his campaign and his overwhelming support from White Supremacists helped propel him into office. But, by mid-day Monday, in response to mounting public criticism, he delivered a more forceful, yet obviously coerced, condemnation of the protesters. 

The president legitimized his White racist supporters when he surrounded himself in the White House with purported White Supremacists, such as Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Steven Miller, Michael Anton and others. He capped it off when he made a renowned segregationist, Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III, the nation’s highest-ranking law enforcement official.

By the time police gained control and dispersed the crowd, three people were dead, including Heather Heyer, purportedly mowed down by Fields, and two policemen, who died in an associated helicopter crash. At least 35 others were injured. Surprisingly, only five people were arrested. 

Most Americans can easily imagine how law enforcement might have reacted had hundreds of Black protesters showed up at a pre-scheduled rally, attired and armed in the same manner as the White Supremacists presented themselves in Charlottesville. Wait, that already happened. About fifty years ago, a small group of about 30 Black Panthers carried weapons during a protest at the capitol in Sacramento. It was a non-violent protest, yet the idea, the audacity of Black men legally—rightfully—carrying guns in public struck such fear in the hearts of so many White Americans that it birthed the modern gun-control movement. 

White Supremacist organizations were granted a permit to gather for a “peaceful protest” in Charlottesville on Saturday, but it was obvious from the way they arrived, weapon-clad and shouting, that their intent was far from peaceful. What the world witnessed was a frightening tableau of the historical terror perpetrated against Blacks and other minorities in this country since its founding. 

It has been more than fifty years since the courageous Civil Rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer challenged the nation in the face of unrelenting and codified racism. On national television in 1964, she asked a single and profound question: “Is this America?” Hamer’s question is as relevant today as it was more than 50 years ago. “Is this America?” The answer, regretfully, remains unchanged: “Yes. This is America.” 

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke barely contained his enthusiasm when interviewed at Saturday’s rally. “We are determined to take our country back,” he said with glee. “This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump—because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do.” 

Late Saturday, the president made what appeared a disingenuous attempt to assuage concerns of Americans shocked and disgusted by the day’s events. “We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of bigotry, hatred and violence on many sides. On many sides,” he stressed, reading from a prepared statement, Saturday. “This has been going on a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.” 

After witnessing the largest public rally by White Supremacists in decades, many were incredulous at the president’s lackluster response, never mumbling the term “White Supremacist.” They questioned how he made this about “both sides” when, so clearly, White Supremacists were the aggressors—they showed up prepared for battle. 

Next, the president seemed to give tacit approval to the rally when he said, unsurprisingly, “We have to cherish our nation’s history.” After all, he would used racist “dog whistles” throughout his campaign and his overwhelming support from White Supremacists helped propel him into office. But, by mid-day Monday, in response to mounting public criticism, he delivered a more forceful, yet obviously coerced, condemnation of the protesters. 

The president legitimized his White racist supporters when he surrounded himself in the White House with purported White Supremacists, such as Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Steven Miller, Michael Anton and others. He capped it off when he made a renowned segregationist, Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III, the nation’s highest-ranking law enforcement official.

A racist and discriminating wind has blown across America since its beginning, and far too frequently, in times like these, it reaches hurricane strength. America must be vigilant alas discrimination blows in the streets of America, and through the halls of government. 

In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, at least 18 Republican-led states have introduced legislation to curtail protests and, inexplicably, five Republican-led states are considering laws to protect/ease the liability of drivers who run down protesters with their cars. Most other countries call this terrorism, yet the terrorism laws in America are fickle— the attack on the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino was an act of terrorism, but when a White Supremacist intentionally drove his vehicle into a group of counter-protesters, it is not. 

Saturday’s rally was a premeditated and strategic flaunting of White Supremacy in the age of Trump, an unequivocal example of hate and terror emboldened by his presidency. It remains to be seen whether America has the courage to stop it in its tracks.

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