Monday, July 13, 2020
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Spoons and Small Brushes Not Bulldozers and Backhoes

First African Baptist Church photo 140718FirstAfricanBaptistChurch_1_zps887db9c9.jpgUnfortunately for the preservation of Virginia's African American history, Richmond's Mayor, a man of color and the book, is either morally corrupt or benignly ignorant. Doesn't matter which, the result may be the same. It is not surprising that a typical American does not value the history of a place.

But failure to grasp his own heritage is a mortal flaw. There are a few stories here. The ground under Shockoe Bottom is one. The legacy of what went on there and in Jackson Ward and throughout Richmond is another. That legacy screams for every effort to remedy the high unemployment among blacks in Richmond and the accompanying fratricide. A properly funded and directed school system and full-time employment opportunities should be job one. Instead, places for games that feather already well-healed nests and half million dollar studies of half-cocked ideas consume Richmond City revenues. Great photo ops, though.

"...we are totally opposed to a stadium in Shockoe Bottom. Agreeing to this demand by Mayor Jones and the developers he represents would clearly state the following position: Yes, the history is important, but not so much that we can't play games on top of it. And that would be a continuation of the same disrespect that formed the basis for the acceptance of slavery and the slave trade in the first place." - statement by Phil Wilayto and Anna Edwards of the Sacred Ground Project

Compound this with the arrogant, aloof stance that Richmond is immune from federal Section 106 regulations which is even more insulting than any tea party nullification rant. If Jones were Mayor of Jerusalem, he'd solve that whole Temple Mount thing by razing both al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock then build condos and concessions surrounding a miniaturized, motorized laser show of popular myths: Abraham and alternating sons; Moses (I know, I know, but authenticity is not important) delivering an Ark of the Covenant emanating lightning bolts; Jesus in a fit turning over tables; Mohammad gliding in on his horse; you get it, something for everyone.

Maybe the race to succeed Virginia state Senator Henry Marsh (D-16th) whose former district includes much of Richmond's East End will provide a vehicle for Delegates McQuinn (D-70th), whose current district encompasses less and Dance (D-63rd) whose current district covers none to help crystalize the debate. McQuinn seems to be able to straddle both sides of the issue, which hasn't been helpful and could make it quite a tango for Dance. Both probably believe Jones' endorsement would be to their advantage in the contest. In reality, electoral influence is likely the only reason any politician patronizes Jones. Developers seem to believe there are other purposes.

Cuccinelli compared slavery to abortion in 2008

Ken CuccinelliThe Washington Examiner is a conservative DC area paper, owned by right-wing billionaire Philip Anschutz, which this coming June will stop its daily print run and be replaced by a weekly magazine. That makes this story all the more delicious. The context of the story is that Democrats in Virginia have been pushing out a video taken by a tracker at a small small gathering of religious conservatives in Williamsburg, VA, in which the Virginia Attorney General and putative Republican nominee for Governor of Virginia equated abortion and slavery, as you can read in this AP story at Salon

The Examiner story's 2nd paragraph reads

The outspoken conservative and candidate for governor made an almost identical statement in a 2008 "Cuccinelli Compass," a regular letter he writes to supports to supporters, The Washington Examiner has learned. In it, Cuccinelli reviews a biography on British abolitionist William Wilberforce and draws a connection between Wilberforce's fight against slavery to his own efforts in the Virginia Senate to curb abortions in the state.

The story also offers Cuccinelli's defense of those remarks:  

The New and Not-So-New De Facto Slavery

Two recent articles show the lengths that Republicans will go to appropriate the time of the unemployed and the jailed for free labor. First, the Senate Republicans now want to punish the unemployed even more.  Not only do they want to impose a drug-test tax, and deny benefits to those without a high school education, they also want the unemployed to work for free (i.e., de facto slavery).  Given that the economy has downsized more people of color, with African American unemployment running as high as 50% in some places, this move has rather sinister and historic non-subtle overtones.  It should be a federal crime to demand anyone work for free.  But here we are with the Senate GOP demanding exactly that.  

Sen. Richard Burr wants to make those on unemployment prove they have applied for a job at least 20 hours a week AND work for free another 20 hours a week, just to get the paltry insurance they are owed.  Unemployment insurance is paid by companies to cover employees when the same companies lay off workers.  It is the last disincentive to firing and downsizing, and as we have seen, not nearly enough so.  When it is a choice of further enriching the already rich or paying workers, you know what the corporate CEOs decide.  With at least 2/3 of the unemployed unable to find work, that is a large number of conscripts into servitude.  Why, maybe the very same employers who eliminate their jobs can gain their free labor (sarcasm)?

Unhinged by the right

originally written for Daily Kos.  Crossposted at Lowell's request

The video you have just seen, at least the first minute thereof, is a campaign ad for Rick Barber for the Republican runoff for the opportunity to oppose 1st term Democrat Bobby Bright in AL-02 (Bright won in '08 by 1,766 votes).

Ruth Marcus has this op ed in today's Washington Post, which has the same title as this diary, and which caused me to go find the video of the ad to be sure people saw it.  

Let me offer a few excerpts from her column, and a few words of my own.

Slavery Is a Mere “Nit” to Republicans

Here is a revealing interview of Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, defending Governor Bob McDonnell's declaring "Confederate History Month" without ever mentioning slavery. Slavery is a "nit," says Barbour, as in "stop picking at nits."

Governor Haley Barbour and Governor Bob McDonnell are two birds of a feather in the same flock. Guess "R" for Republican stands for "Racist." Must be in the Republican DNA.

McDonnell Stirs Up Confederate Hornet’s Nest

Let me start with my Confederate heritage. Five of my great-great-grandfathers fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Two of them never returned to their wives and young children and lie in unmarked graves on battlefields. Another was a prisoner of war for a time.

Having said all that, I think the way Bob McDonnell chose to sneakily - and without mentioning slavery - proclaim April as "Confederate History Month" was both ridiculous and cowardly. Evidently, he was fulfilling a old campaign promise he made to the Virginia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. In the process, he blew a hole in his "Mr. Moderate" image so big that Gen. Lee could have marched Pickett's division through it.

The Washington Post reports:

We've known for quite some time we had a good opportunity {for the proclamation} should he ascend the governorship," Brandon Dorsey of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said. He noted that McDonnell had indicated that back when he was interviewed by them during his 2005 attorney general's race.
In that same article, Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta), responded to the growing Confederate proclamation controversy. "It would be totally inappropriate to do [a proclamation] that would just poke a stick to stir up old wounds...I think it's appropriate as long as it's not fiery."

I don't know what Hanger thinks of as "fiery." Perhaps it has to be as bad as the diatribe former Gov. George Allen unleashed in his Confederate proclamation, which called the Civil War "a four-year struggle for [Southern] independence and sovereign rights" and made no mention of slavery.  McDonnell followed Allen in one sense. He also had no mention of slavery and simply called the Civil War "a four year war between the states for independence." (The entire text of McDonnell's proclamation in on his website.)

No, the Civil War was a war to preserve the institution of slavery in the South and to spread slavery to as many of the western territories as possible. The goals were to be achieved by seceding from the United States. The rationale used to justify the declaration of war by the Confederacy was states' rights and secession.