Monuments and Mythology – It’s Time to Let It Go: Guest Post by Jeffrey Shanks

(Special thanks to my most erudite and scholarly friend Jeffrey Shanks for allowing me to publish this piece, which I think complements my recent post on lost history: I think it neatly fills in the gaps in my knowledge regarding Southern/Confederacy heritage. It helps when it comes from an actual Southerner! All images & links except the above I have added for illustrative purposes.)

I want to try have a difficult discussion with my fellow white Southerners on the Confederate monument controversy. This is an attempt to help foster understanding about why many feel so strongly about this. I know that many of you white folks from the South, when you see people wanting to get rid of Confederate monuments and the flag, feel like you and your ancestry and heritage are being personally attacked. You don’t think of yourself as racist and you feel you are being accused of it. I’ve seen good people I know express that sentiment. I understand that – but I have a very different perspective. I want you know am not coming from a place of hate and I am not judging you or virtual signalling. I just want to provide some context for this issue to help you understand the other side of it. This is long so bear with me.

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Lost Histories

I sometimes fear that
people think that fascism arrives in fancy dress
worn by grotesques and monsters
as played out in endless re-runs of the Nazis.

Fascism arrives as your friend.
It will restore your honour,
make you feel proud,
protect your house,
give you a job,
clean up the neighbourhood,
remind you of how great you once were,
clear out the venal and the corrupt,
remove anything you feel is unlike you…

It doesn’t walk in saying,
“Our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution.”
– Michael Rosen, “I Sometimes Fear…

I volunteer with a local heritage & arts group in Gourock: a wee forum where people who are interested in our Burgh of Barony’s past can discuss our history, culture, and future. This can range from the not-too-distant past of the 20th Century, all the way back to prehistoric times, and even the geological composition of the very rocks. Little stories abound, from the innovation of the original Red Herring, to the diabolical warlock Auld Dunrod, and the thing buried under St. Ninian’s football pitch featured on an episode of Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World.

There are stories that aren’t quite so delightful: the death of Mary Lamont and others in the “witch-mania of Scotland”; the sectarian violence which cropped up again and again; the expulsion of Rev. Macrae by the Synod. One of the many hazards historians must navigate in the sea of history is that dark side of humanity: no town is without its sorrows, its hatreds, its evils. It can be very easy to repurpose shame or horror from your past into denial and outrage towards others.

I was struck by this facet of the events in Charlottesville: it’s illustrative in showing how easy it is for things to go wrong.

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How Misunderstanding Wrestling Explains The Mainstream Media

Dolph Ziggler, graduate of Kent State University with a major in political science & pre-law minor. Just before he tried out for the WWE, he was accepted to Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

I’ve been watching the wrestling with my two younger cousins since they were wee guys: just as I was entering my teens, they were starting to get into it. It was the early 2000s, just the tail end of the big wrestling boom of the turn of the century, the age of Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Rock, Triple H, the Hardy Boyz, the Undertaker. We enjoyed the pageantry, the grand guignol, the spectacle of this utterly preposterous theatre presenting itself as a competitive sport. Staying up to ridiculous hours to watch what amounted to modern gladiatorial combat-cum-telenova soon became a family tradition.

But it’s fake,” you cry. “It’s so clearly not real.” And I just sigh, and continue enjoying the bonding experience with my cousins.

But the continuing insistence of some quarters to use the “it’s fake, you know” cry as if it was some sort of stunning revelation more than 28 years after Vincent Kennedy McMahon testified to its true nature at the New Jersey State Senate reminds me of nothing so much as the mainstream media confusing its role of journalism with a self-appointed role as educator.

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Wasted Years

Be like the Hairy-Chested Yeti Crab of the Hydrothermal Vents

Be like the Hairy-Chested Yeti Crab of the Deep Hydrothermal Vents of Antarctica

2016 was the worst, so the meme goes. So many deaths, so much political upheaval, so many things that just went wrong. My 2016 was not unlike any of the other 32 years of my life so far: good things happened, bad things happened, some great, some terrible. But there’s always something I remember each year.

So, as with last year, I’ll look back on the top posts of this year – 16 this time, in order of publication, while linking to some of my personal favourite posts.

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The Boy Who Cried Fascist

“How did this happen?”

I keep reading this in articles, hearing this from talking heads, constantly this repetition of disbelief. All these journalists and commentators and analysts and “experts” who are utterly blind-sided by just how recent events have come to pass. I wrote a post about the false, illogical, and deeply insulting comparison of the Scottish Independence campaign to the worst elements of the Leave and Trump campaigns. Indeed, I found myself rather vindicated by the latest Question Time from Stirling, where Billy Mitchell (who, the BBC neglected to point out, was the UKIP candidate in the 2013 Coatbridge West by-election) actually seemed to agree with my central point:

Donald Trump was elected by the American people, and the people of Britain just can’t understand that the American people believe in democracy. And democracy has been lowered to mob rule; when you don’t like the decision of a referendum, you disagree with it, you go to court, & you get rid of it. The SNP should know this, because we had a referendum: we voted No, they didn’t like it. They had a referendum on Brexit, they didn’t like that, let’s go to court, we don’t like Brexit, and now they don’t like Trump!

Democracy has been overruled by mob rule, and those people have been on the losing side of every single election, and thank God I’ve been on the winning side of every one. Mob rule wins – no democracy, mob rule. The SNP were on the losing side on five different occasions: I’m the winner, they’re the losers, let’s get them out.

Everything he says is true. Well, apart from Trump being elected by the American people, democracy being lowered to “mob rule,” the SNP bringing the indyref result to court, the EU referendum being “overruled” at all, the SNP losingevery single election” (!?!) and most spectacularly, him being the “winner.”

Think he might be a bit sore about that lost deposit?

Think he might be a bit sore about that lost deposit?

But he is, indeed, on the “winning side” of the indyref, the EU referendum, and Trump, along with the white nationalists and supremacists celebrating this glorious change in the world’s political climate.

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Cresting The Rising Tide

yesleavetrump

sheerunbridledstupidity

There’s a running theme going on here, that the No vote in 2014 was an anomaly – a rare victory of progressive, internationalist, inclusive politics over the anti-establishment, isolationist, separatist politics we’re now seeing in the wake of the EU referendum and now the election of Donald Trump. This was the case back even before and just after the independence referendum, where the Scottish Independence movement was being compared to the far-right populist movements of England, France, and the Netherlands:

At the beginning of this essay, we outlined that populism can be seen as a corrective if political parties see it as a signal to address the representative gap that has developed between citizens, public institutions and mainstream politics. However, it was acknowledged that this effort is hampered by the extremely difficult task of bridging ‘representative’ and ‘responsible’ government in a more complex era…
…These dilemmas all takes place against the backdrop of movements for Scottish independence, for the UK to leave the European Union and the steady rise of UKIP. If the economic and political status quo is maintained, populists look set to continue to prosper from the growing gap between representative and responsible government, presenting a clear and present danger to the established order.
Michael McTernan & Claudia Chwalisz

Most commentary has been focused on UK politics. This is too parochial. The real significance of the No lies at European level. The result dents the hopes of other separatist movements in Spain, Italy and Belgium. The less obvious point is that we have witnessed another defeat for populism at the hands of the emergent Europe-wide grand coalition…
… Populism has been popping up all over Europe since the financial crisis. England’s version is the United Kingdom independence party. Last Sunday, the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats doubled their share in the national parliament, while the anti-European Alternative for Germany party won seats in two more regional parliaments. In France, opinion polls suggest that the National Front’s Marine Le Pen has a serious shot at the presidency in 2017. The Dutch have Geert Wilders. Greece has Golden Dawn.
What all these different populists have in common is nationalism – along with a rather fishy admiration for Vladimir Putin, the Russian President and a model for the chauvinism-plus-authoritarianism combination that is the essence of populism in power.
Niall Ferguson

Everything of course changed just a few years later. Now, as Europe’s crisis has moved from modifier to modifier – financial and economic becoming firmly political – its effects have spread outward and upward. Discontent takes various forms. There are familiar if updated manifestations of nationalism – UKIP in the United Kingdom, France’s National Front – and the pitch of anti-immigration leaders such as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. There are protest parties such as Beppe Grillo’s Five Stars Movement in Italy that corral the contempt of younger voters who feel left behind by the ruling class.
The Scottish vote amalgamates both these currents.  Listening to the Yes voters and reading the placards still pinned up around Edinburgh, you don’t get the sense of a single unifying platform: The referendum for many became the chance to issue a catch-all protest vote.
Joel Weickgenant

Of course, the alternative view is rather simpler – that perhaps the forces that won the EU referendum and 2016 presidency also won the independence referendum.

(WARNING: While I’m not going to reproduce any of the material or quotes from some of the individuals or groups listed below on the site, I will be including archived links. While I disagree with many of the views to the most profound degree, neither do I wish to pretend they do not exist: I also want to provide sources for my conclusion as to where they stand on any of the three campaigns. Keep this in mind before you click.)

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