Happy Lee-Jackson Day

A reporter from the Augusta Free Press sent me the questions below for an article. No idea what he will write, but here’s my piece.

1. Do you feel that Lee-Jackson Day has gotten the short end of the stick, so to speak, with the split of the holidays in Virginia?

No. Lee-Jackson Day is secondary to Martin Luther King Jr. Day because MLK is a Federal holiday. Federal holidays carry more weight, just like the Federal government does. Folks notice when the Post Office closes.

2. Did you prefer the way it was done until 2000-2001 – with Lee-Jackson Day and MLK Day being noted on the same day?

The combination holiday of King-Lee-Jackson was uniquely Virginian, but it’s history. The combination isn’t coming back. A separate day for MLK answered Black political sensitivities for separate, stand-alone recognition and respect.

3. Is there a stigma attached to celebrating the efforts of Confederate heroes? If so, what can be done to overcome that stigma?

Stigma? Duh.

Send a politician separate invitations to a MLK and a Lee-Jackson celebration on different dates and see what response you get. Elected officials fear anything taiknted ‘Confederate’, especially the Confederate Battle Flag, more than Dracula fears the cross, a wooden stake, a mirror and morning sunlight – combined. Find out how many public schools (out of 134 systems) take off on Lee-Jackson Day. Go to any 100 schools (K-12) and check out how many bulletin boards recognize Lee-Jackson and how many highlight MLK. Do the same for assemblies and guest speakers. Lee and Jackson are part of the Standards of Learning (SOLs), but are ignored as a state holiday because they are politically incorrect.

The three reasons that Lee and Jackson are ignored suggest the answers to fix the problem.

Culture War. The same Liberals who declare War on CHRISTmas can’t stand Lee and Jackson because they served the Confederacy – which equals racism in their paradigm, were devout Christians and heroic warriors. The Liberals who control most of the media and public education simply are following their agenda. Since culture ‘commands’ in a civilization, the winner, Liberal or Conservative, of the U. S. Culture War will predominate in politics, the media and public education. Conservatives have lost the main stream media and government schools for now. Much can be done in public communication, like the decade plus dramatic shift towards pro-life attitudes, if someone has the resources – money.

Historical Ignorance. The History SOLs had to be ‘re-normalized’, dumbed down, because so few schools could pass them, right? When the teachers don’t know history or teach the Liberal trinity of race, class and gender(s) (as my youngest daughters AP History textbook bragged) then Lee and Jackson will not be honored appropriately. Years ago in Arlington, I learned my 4th grade Virginia history from a New York City native, Mrs. Scharf, who cheerfully taught us that Lee and Jackson were heroes indeed. I also learned history from walking the battlefields with my grandfather and father. Keeping alive the oral history at home for Virginians with ancestral ties Lee and Jackson is important. Newer Virginians can learn and share the same common historical heritage by visiting our many Civil War sites – just as they would visit Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown as part of our common history.

Evolving Culture. Cultures evolve or die. Virginia as part of Southern culture is changing its identity. The culture used to be so powerful that most, even newly arrived, immigrants from the North and foreign lands joined their Virginia neighbors of a few years to take up arms in 1861 against their relatives and absolute strangers. 6 out of 7 Black slaves stayed on their farms, even after the Union Army conquered, and many, slave and free, served the South in war. Today, the power of our culture with many, many more immigrants from the North and foreign lands is less powerful. And it’s profoundly different. Southern culture isn’t about being a sovereign nation. Southern culture isn’t about race any more for the White majority. Southern culture is about Christian identity with Bible reading and believing, as well as absolute, unchanging, truths in the Ten Commandments, Declaration of Independence, and Constitution, extended families, love of land, sense of place, men are men and women are women, honor, personal freedom, more fun-loving than money/work-driven, admiration for the military and willingness to fight.

4. Other thoughts on this issue.

What is right for the future? Not a worship of the past, but pushing the best of the past forward. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the symbol of victory of the Civil Rights movement. The morally superior idea of racial integration was a victory for all Virginians. Lee and Jackson should be seen as symbols of military genius, devotion to duty, and honorable leadership that motivated unparalleled acts of courage by all kinds of Virginians. Dr. King will get more recognition as a fact of life in a Federally-dominated America. Yet, Lee and Jackson deserve considerable recognition, significantly more than today, for future Virginians to follow their example as heroes. All three heroes need to be carried into the future as part of our Virginia culture. It’s up to the Good People of Virginia to make it so.

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51 responses to “Happy Lee-Jackson Day”

  1. Ray Hyde Avatar

    “What is right for the future? Not a worship of the past, but pushing the best of the past forward. “

    That’s a great line, in or out of context.

    I don’t always agree with you, but I love the way you say it.

  2. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    There is a not famous enough painting of Robert E. Lee, after the war, bowing in prayer beside a young black man. True or romanticized, I have always seen that painting as symbolic of what should have been the outcome of the Civil War, each man equal in God’s eye and man’s law, and why the dignified General Lee should be remembered.

    If we would judge historical figures by the standards of their time, instead of our time, we would understand the world much better and see history as a continuous process of progress in thinking, not as a set piece where “good” and “evil” were always clear-cut to the participants.

    [The earlier post was deleted because of miscellaneous edits that hadn’t been cleaned up before I hit “publish.”]

  3. kingfish Avatar

    There can be little doubt that:

    1) Robert E. Lee lived a life worth emulating;

    2) JAB can write;

    3) Poor JAB mistakenly believes he is bing persecuted for his beliefs

  4. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Kingfish, I’m not being persecuted – thanks for attaboy on writing. Maybe if I were in HS and had read a history book, I might be persecuted for showing Historical Correctness.

    The U.S. is in a Culture War I call ACW II. One side has an agenda to not recognize what you do that Lee lived a life worth emulating. Thanks.

  5. kingfish Avatar

    JAB- Like many, probably most, people, I am tired of culture wars. I long for the cordial, pragmatic approach to life that handles disagreement collegially. Most Virginians agree upon more things than we disagree. We all want good schools, safe streets and a vibrant economy. Yet we demonize our friends from across the aisle because of life style differences?? How can it be that the first item of business is in the GA is a ban on gay marriage when we have so many other pressing concerns? Culture warriors, right or left, turn me off.

  6. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Kingfish: You are absolutely right about most Virginians wanting the same things. ACW II is a fact that is imposed on The People. Remember the great movie (Shenandoah?) with Jimmy Stewart about the family trying to stay out of ACW I? You can tune out, turn off and drop out, and the conflict will be resolved while you are not engaged – perhaps not to your liking.

    Preserving marriage isn’t about demonizing homosexuals, polygamists, polyandrists (sp?), bestiality nuts and group marriage advocates. Nor is it about ‘life styles’. It is about the foundational institution for civlizations – marriage and family. In the long run it’s kinda important.

    ACW II is tedious as are all conflicts.

  7. kingfish Avatar

    JAB- I loved the movie.. also saw Virginia Musical Theater present the show on stage and enjoyed it very much.
    As mutual admirers of General Lee, I would think we could agree to allow ourselves the dignity of the privacy of our own affairs and respect for that of our neighbors. Therefore, have the Christmas celebration you like and pass upon it if you would rather; have whatever medical procedures as seems meet to yourself and your doctor, or forego the same. I will defer to your right to live your life as you will and expect you to extend me the same courtesy.

  8. Rtwng Extrmst Avatar
    Rtwng Extrmst


    Your point above is well taken and for 99% of human relations it makes sense. However, the problem is where do you draw the line? There are certain activities and even medical procedures that should be illegal for society’s good. I don’t think you would be in favor of legalizing murder or marriage to children. Also, the definition of human life and when it begins and ends is of particular importance and relevant to our foundational human rights. These are only a couple of examples. They may be lofty subjects and difficult pursuits that some may consider “non-pressing” and certainly are difficult to be totally pragmatic with, but they are issues of import all the same that have to be addressed in a vibrant, free society.

  9. kingfish Avatar

    Extermist- Society criminalizes certain activities because they violate either individual or collective peace, privacy and security. Given that we wish the freest possible society, criminalization of activity should bear meaningful relationship to genuine individual or collective harm. Medical procedures should not be criminalized. The Doctors I have known are honorable men and women who care for their patients welfare. I will tell you this my friend, at the end of my days, I do not want some activist Judge or Governor interfering with the decisions of myself, my family and my doctor.

  10. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    Will – the picture’s the story of Lee at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, June 4th 1865.

    Shortly after the end of the War, Lee attended communion at St. Paul’s Church. It’s “list of communicants read like a Who’s Who of the Confederacy.” When the invitation to come forward and receive communion was given, a tall-well dressed, black man stood and strode to the rail. There followed a pregnant pause. According to one witness, “Its effects upon the communicants was startling, and for several moments they retained their seats in solemn silence and did not move, being deeply chagrined at this attempt to inaugurate the ‘new regime’ to offend and humiliate them…”. Then another person rose from the pew and walked down the aisle to the chancel rail. He knelt near the black man and so redeemed the circumstance. This grace- bringer, of course was Lee. Soon after he knelt, the rest of the congregation followed his example and shuffled in turn to the rail…Lee’s actions were far more eloquent than anything he spoke or wrote.” – Emory Thomas, Robert E. Lee: A Biography (1995)

    The 1919 Sequel of Appomattox, A Chronicle of the Reunion of the States by Walter Lynwood Fleming (1874-1932) has a version of the story, but Douglas Southall Freeman’s monumental biography R. E. Lee does not. Dr. Philip J. Schwarz, Director of the Stratford Hall Seminar on Slavery critiques it here.

    Legend or not, the story’s been carried by generations of Virginians, and carries more than the seed of truth. More than any single person, Robert E. Lee led Virginia, and the South, to acceptance of the new order.

    Lee’s life was exemplary; reluctantly leading in war, and leading in the reconciliation after.

  11. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    kingfish – Glad you enjoyed the play. Please bear in mind neither it nor the film has any connection to the Civil War, Virginia, the Shenandoah, or persons living or past.

    The props crew couldn’t even be bothered to paint mountains in the background. Mind you, it’s a fair screed against the Vietnam war though, which is what’s intended.

    PS: I heard that the 3rd assistant to the grip had a cousin who could locate Virginia on a map 2 out of 3 tries. If so, that’s the Virginia ‘connection’.

  12. NoVA liberal Avatar
    NoVA liberal

    JAB – you may have a point about Lee-Jackson Day not recieving the same attention as MLK Day (or that it deserves, because yes, they were heros of Virginia), but I can’t help but laugh at you trying to link this to the ‘war on christmas’. The supposed war on christmas was a pet issue taken up by several national conservative personalities with absolutly no truth to it.

    I hate to break it to you, but in this ‘culture war’, the big bad liberals don’t really care what you do or don’t celebrate. They just care about you making them celebrate it. Have your own Christmas celebration, as my liberal family does, or don’t. I could care less. But asking, ney, demanding that the private sector bow down and never say ‘happy holidays’ instead of ‘merry christmas’?? I’m not sure how my Christ, who threw the money changers out of the temple, would react to that.

    As for ‘medical procedures’, I don’t want the government legislating whether or not I can get a wart removed. Seriously though, you want to establish the legality based on when human life begins? Fine. Lets ask the scientists who study those things for a living. And when they break the news to you, that no, an embryo (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/01/guess_which_one.php) is not a human life, you can sit down and stop forcing women to go through childbirth when they don’t want to. Or I guess you could try to pass of Intellegent Design as science again…

  13. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    NOVa Liberal: There was a War on CHRISTmas in York County Public Schools.

    The issue is not about your freedom to say Happy Holidays or anything you darn well please. The issue is schools and businesses saying an individual may NOT say Merry Christmas. And other cultural cleansing.

    I taught Research and Methodology for the Social Sciences at West Point. I don’t pass off Intelligent Design as science. And I’ll be happy to show the flaws in Macro-evolution and the rational empiricism supporting Micro-Evolution.

    The legislature should decide if and when medical procedures need legal guidance. Not the courts. You would like, most likely, some health standards in medical facilities – those are legislated.

  14. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar

    I take no issue with preserving the facts of history for posterity, however I do take issue with conservative posturing that promulgates the notion that only “liberals” engage in historical or political correctness to me, saying “What is right for the future? Not a worship of the past, but pushing the best of the past forward” is itself an act of PC because it asks us to basically ignore the whole historical record simply because Southern White or Pro-Confederate sensibilities will be offended.

    While I cannot attest to whether, “Southern culture isn’t about race any more for the White majority,” I can comfortably say that indeed this is the problem. Race is still critical to the sizable Black minority, and until the full historical record is recognized, and the plight and triumph of the Black South is fully incorporated into the story of the South – worts and all – no amount of “Bible reading and believing” will cure it.

    The sentiments expressed here often seem to reflect that of a conservative, White Southern elite – intellectual, economical, political – versus the White hoi polloi. By virtue of position and tendency toward punditry, we are all elitist. As such, it is easy to ignore how race-centric life is for the Black and White masses of the South, even if it operates subconsciously.

    Thus, while it may be acceptable, or even, commendable to admire the noble aspects of Lee, Jackson and their contemporaries, we cannot simply brush aside the tragedy of their actions and the fruit – for Blacks: he attempted preservation of slavery, KKK terror, Jim Crow, Bull Connor’s fire hoses and Prince Edward County’s closed schools/ for Whites: the loss of 25% of NC’s White male population, driving the South into economic disrepair that didn’t subside until the mid-20th century, etc. As Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar, “the evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” So, while you dig up the goodness of those old bones, make certain that you recognize the evil that those bones helped perpetuate.

    — Conaway

  15. Rtwng Extrmst Avatar
    Rtwng Extrmst

    NOVA Lib:

    You can point to any definitions a scientist might want to make up but bottom line, a human embryo is not the mother, is not the father. If it’s not a separate human life, then what is it? Science may be able to break down what the embryo is made up of, but to rely solely on science is a shortfall in determining when human life truly begins. Philosophy and ethics must also weigh in. Otherwise, we might just define just as arbitrarily that humans under the age of 10 for example are not truly “human life”. They are just a collection of chemicals and water.

    Also, I’m assuming the same definition says a human life is certainly at least in existence at the stage of implantation in the womb. If this is so, why are we allowed to take away that human’s basic right to life through abortion or through the use of “contraceptive” drugs that themselves can end it’s life?

  16. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Conaway Haskins: Usually you are so articulate, but I don’t get it this time. Are you saying that celebrating Lee and Jackson should be done wearing sack cloth and ashes? While crying?

    I would never ask anyone to ignore a historical fact. Self-flaggelation over history you never lived is a personal choice.

    Identity for Southern Whites isn’t about being White. Not the way it was as recently as the 70s. Not even close. Southern identity is changing as the culture changes. I don’t buy that most of the peasants live a race-centric life. Too many Blacks choose to do so.

    I recognize the fallen nature of man. All men sin and fall short of Jesus. Including Marse Bobby and the Blue Flame. But, as I wrote, I look for what is worthy of emulation and a strength for the future and say, “Hooah” for that.

    Obviously, I’m missing something.

  17. spankthatdonkey Avatar

    I wish I had visited the Museum of the Confederacy today to mark the occasion…. Lee, Jackson, and the Museum deserve respect.

    Unfortunately, the everyday pressures of “modern life” squeeze the life from all Holidays.. meant to reflect upon the sacrifice of others, to include Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and MLK Day.

  18. Lucy Jones Avatar
    Lucy Jones


    Race is still critical to the sizable Black minority, and until the full historical record is recognized, and the plight and triumph of the Black South is fully incorporated into the story of the South…

    What unrecognized history are you referring to?

  19. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    Conaway Haskins said…
    [Lee, Jackson and their contemporaries] “…attempted preservation of slavery, KKK terror, Jim Crow, Bull Connor’s fire hoses and Prince Edward County’s closed schools/ for Whites: the loss of 25% of NC’s White male population, driving the South into economic disrepair that didn’t subside until the mid-20th century, etc.

    Lee, Jackson and their contemporaries attempted preservation of state sovereignty, which would have preserved slavery for the time. All the rest is a result of Federal actions.

    At the end of the American Revolution, leaders of the new nation recognized the importance of reconciliation, and prohibited sanctions against former Crown supporters to reunify our fledgling nation. At the end of the Civil War no such sentiment existed. The judgement was for punishment, retribution, and subjugation; President Johnson was almost impeached for promoting reunion.

    The resulting era of ‘Reconstruction’ abolished existing Southern governments, disenfranchised ex-Confederate military and civil authorities, divided the South into military districts, had the army register voters and run elections, instituted martial law, set guidelines for rejoining the union, and ensured only black and white Republicans would rule.

    The war’s physical devastation was completed by economic and political destruction. The only proposal Radicals failed to impose was total land re-distribution and mass executions.

    It wasn’t until after WWII that the Southern economy began to catch up to the rest of the country. From industrialization 50 years delayed, black civil rights and urban ghetto poverty, to military bases still on the vestiges of the occupation districts, or the unresolved legal issues — the Civil War was a disaster for America.

    The standard myth of Southern resistance to black voting rights by the Black Codes, or ‘Jim Crow laws’, rings hollow in light of the fact that the laws were all started under Federal occupation and Radical control. It’s true the Southern establishment didn’t want black equality; it’s equally true the Northern-controlled interim governments didn’t want it either. Blacks’ franchise lasted until Republicans gained full control; then the black vote was no longer needed and discarded.

    …KKK terror, Jim Crow, Bull Connor’s fire hoses and Prince Edward County’s closed schools/ for Whites: the loss of 25% of NC’s White male population, driving the South into economic disrepair that didn’t subside until the mid-20th century, etc.

    Every bit is the direct, foreseeable, and intention result of US Congress in a Federal system.

  20. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Jim Patrick: I love it when someone knows their history. One quibble – after the Revolution, Philly, NYC and Boston lost 25-40% of their population because they didn’t want to live under the new government and Patriots let them know they were not welcomed.

    One of the reasons for the 13th Amendment (ironically enough ratified by Southern legislatures with ex-Confederate soldiers who would be disenfranchised by the 14th Amendment) was the 5 of the victorious Northern states amended their constitutions to NOT allow Blacks to vote (this is after the Confederate surrender in April 65!)

  21. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    Lucy Jones asked, “What unrecognized history are you referring to?

    Probably not what Conaway’s refering to, but the standard myths today imply Rev. King and the NAACP were the primary, perhaps only, advocates for civil rights. They were important contributors to the struggle, but the Civil Rights Movement was not all about nonviolence.

    The Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) led by James L. Farmer was protesting non-violently as early as 1947. At the height of the struggle, CORE was an organization as large and as involved as the NAACP, but subsided after 1964. Farmer later became Assistant Secretary of Health Education and Welfare in the Nixon administration, taught at Mary Washington University before his death in 1999.

    The Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced ‘snick’) was another large organization equally involved in the civil rights struggle, decidedly not always non-violent.

    The single most important work on civil rights for modern conservatives is Tyson’s biography of Williams – Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams & the Roots of Black Power.

    Williams’ story is one of a normal person, who when attacked, defends themselves. Williams (Negroes With Guns, 1962) risked his life for democracy and freedom, was hounded by government at every level, ignored by every political organization, and shunned by the NAACP. It’s the story of when a person can’t turn the other cheek, and the long-term consequences of short-sighted political expediency.

    It is the most infuriating and most tragic story in modern domestic politics, and the most painful to read for those that love liberty.

  22. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar

    The “unrecognized history” that I refer to is the tendency toward hero-worship of Lee, Jackons and other Rebs, without considering the effect that their actions and the war itself had on the lives of Black Southerners. Blaming it on federal intervention is convenient, but not the prime mover. The antebellum slave codes were the result of federal inaction and state action. Col. RE Lee helped snuff out John Brown’s freedom raids (or terrorism for Southern partisans), thus having federal force tacitly preserve slave inaction. Additionally, it was the federal Supreme Court that preserved both Dred Scot and Plessy. That’s what I’m talking about in terms of the whole record.

    As for Federal action in the 20th century, it was the result of the total legal degradation of Black life – Tulsa riots, lynchings, segregation – by “states rights” Southern legislatures acting to codify racism even further. Thus, government was forcing racial segregation. In Virginia, the Constitution of 1902, which disenfranchised blacks and that Constitution was not rewritten until 1972. Reconstruction was well over by 1902, thus I don’t see the federal genesis of the disenfranchisement.

    — Conaway

  23. Lucy Jones Avatar
    Lucy Jones


    Are you saying that Americans should stop celebrating Lee, Jackson, soldiers of the confederate army, Thomas Jefferson (a slave owner), the Supreme Court, etc.?

    I’m really interested in your statement that “race is still critical to the sizable Black minority”. I don’t disagree with you on the statement but I’m confused as to why this is true.

    Do you feel that black people want race to continue to be a critical issue or is it an issue because of the actions of white people?

  24. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Conaway Haskins: Liberals never let this happen: “tendency toward hero-worship of Lee, Jackons and other Rebs, without considering the effect that their actions and the war itself had on the lives of Black Southerners”. That is part of the Culture War to suppress those heroes who happened to fight for the CSA, when they served Virginia.

    We might have to part company politely on how we honor heroes.

    I don’t see the need to say, “Lee was a hero, but… slavery, segregation, yada yada – sins for which Lee was not personally responsible.

    Likewise, I don’t see the need to say, “Dr King was a hero, but a serial adulterer while a preacher, yada yada – sins for which King was personally responsible.

    All the heroes can be understood in the context of their times for what was heroic about them.

    It just isn’t necessary to say, “Lincoln was a hero, but yada yada he wanted Blacks shipped back to Africa – sinful prejudice he is personally responsible for.”

  25. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    Conaway Haskins said, “…without considering the effect that their actions and the war itself had on the lives of Black Southerners.

    What would you have had them do? The fact of the matter is –for 145 years– there isn’t an answer that’s close to being realistic.

    The disenfranchisement of blacks was entirely set in motion by Federal action. The codification that A) Blacks were technically citizens, but B) Some citizens could be denied rights is a post-war construct. “Reconstruction ended because disfranchisement could be obtained by economic, political, and legal intimidation in the open and in broad daylight” —Ronald L. F. Davis.

    Your exposition demonstrates the Civil War was about states’ political rights; slavery was just a convenient issue to stir up popular support. Once the conflict was over, the Fed’s lost no time insuring blacks were suppressed; either through Federal case law or now-hypocritical support of state discrimination. The SCOTUS Slaughterhouse Cases (1873), Cruikshank (1876), striking the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and ’75 are just a few examples.

    The Virginia Constitution of 1901 (PDF, well worth reading) didn’t disenfranchise blacks at all; it enshrined the previous laws in effect under the Constitution of 1872. And no, blacks could not vote; but it’s clear the 1872 version doesn’t preclude any of the 1901 restrictions.

    Trashing a region’s economy, government institutions, and stability “without considering the effect that their actions … had on the lives of Black Southerners” was a Federal action. It’s time -145 years now-to quit hating caricatures, to stop blaming the wrong people.

    Impoverished, permanently disenfranchised, all his land and property confiscated, dead bodies buried in the yard of his family home; Robert E. Lee bore it with quiet composure. He promoted reconciliation and urged former Confederates to take the loyalty oath. No other post-war leader did as much to bandage the wounds of the war.

    Lee and Jackson were exemplary men; it’s good to remember and admire such people.

  26. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    Deriding Lee for his role to “snuff out John Brown’s freedom raids (or terrorism for Southern partisans)” shows a personal, irrational bias; and it’s illogical to boot.

    Brown assaulted and took over a Federal arsenal, murdered a number of innocent Harper’s Ferry citizens, and took 60 of them hostage. Federal authorities ordered Federal Col. Robert E. Lee to the Federal armory with a force of Federal troops to capture Brown.

    Getting his start by hacking five men to death for supporting slavery, although none owned slaves, it was Brown who solidified the idea that slavery would only be ended with hatred, cruelty and violence. Brown’s attack on Harper’s Ferry was an attempt to spark a bloody revolution; it failed because slaves had better sense, not for want of trying on Brown’s part.

    If there is any group to blame for not “considering the effect that their actions … had on the lives of Black Southerners” (your quote) those who glorified John Brown, northern abolitionists, are the premier choice.

    If there’s one person to blame for not “considering the effect that their actions … had on the lives of Black Southerners” (your quote) John Brown is the one.

  27. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar

    All: Attacking me as irrational or illogically-biases or questioning my level of articulation does what for this discussion? This, in the midst of a debate about honor and decency.

    — Conaway

  28. Lucy Jones Avatar
    Lucy Jones


    I am not attacking. I’m asking about current society. I take from your statements that you do not believe it is a colorless society. I agree with that.

    Do you think black people want a colorless society? Is it black people that are keeping the racial lines drawn or is white people?

    It may appear to be mocking just because I’m asking but it’s not. I really don’t know the answers. I don’t think most white people do.

  29. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar

    Lucy: Thanks. In all honesty, it works both ways. Do black people want a colorless society? I think that some do and some don’t. People like me see blackness and whiteness as cultural orientations, and we also see “race” as a specious concept that attempted to force a social contract from perceived biological differences. Thus, race itself becomes a concept that we all hold onto. I think that most black people don’t believe in a colorless society because in their lifetimes, the US has never been colorless. Simply because white people say they’re colorblind doesn’t make it so. I think that’s what you’re hearing from many black voices.

    As for who’s keeping the racial lines drawn, I think that there is guilt to go around on all side. I think that once the Civil Rights Movement effectively ended (late 1960’s post-MLK assissination), a lot of the fissures among blacks revealed themselves. What integration meant was that some of us could basically escape into the newly-opened world of integration with whites. I also think that some whites thought that the “problem” had been solved now that the laws were in place to fight discrimination.

    Basically, when some blacks hear “colorblindness” or “assimilation,” they believe that we are being asked to abandon our own cultural compasses. For some whites, this is exactly what they’re looking for – for black people to simply because dark-skinned versions of white people. This tended to happen more in the North, where in the pre-Civil Rights days, certain kinds of blacks would be called Black WASPs (today, derogatorily known as Oreos). For example, Ralph Ellison, the great black American writer, was a model of this kind of black.

    The problem in the South is that Southern culture at-large was implicitly white and explicitly non-assimilating of blacks. As such, black Southern culture took on a life of its own and interacted with white Southern culture as that – a separate creature that provided outlets for black people to live equally. Thus, you will not necessarily find a “black Redneck” or “black Bubba” in the South as you will find a “black WASP” in the North. The other thing is that in the South, black people knew white culture but whites for hte most part were clueless to black culture beyond the food, gospel music styles, and so forth. That’s become less so as black culture – including the black South – has become more commercialized via the entertainment industry or more “fossilzed” via the “folk” movement.

    Still, at the root of it all is a sense of detachment or dualism – black but also American/Southern – that is fed by the politics of race.

    — Conaway

  30. If people didn’t want the Confederate Battle Flag to become primarily a symbol of racism, Jim Crow, and segregation, then they should have objected to its use as a symbol for those causes and fought those who sought to claim its legacy for those ugly purposes.

    Most didn’t object, and those who did were drowned out by those that accepted it. So, guess what, the CBF is inextricably a sybmol of racism, like it or not. If you want a symbol of Confederate pride, why not a cultural symbol that speaks to the art, culture and intellect of the pre-war South instead of something that became the rallying point for segregation?

    Personally, when we start talking about heroes, King or Lee, we’ve left the subject of history. I suppose this is sort of interesting for first-graders, but I’d want the high-school level to actually get into the real stuff of the discipline rather than this glorified “make a macaroni picture of Martin Luther King or General Lee!” stuff.

    I’d personally love to hear more about the flaws of macro-evolution!

  31. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Conaway: I’m not attacking your ability to articulate, but questioning because, usually, I think I get you in a heartbeart. It may be my reception, not your transmission.

    I must say one point of disagreement in your clear response last.

    WEB Dubois wrote about how the Black had entered into the White and the White into the Black in the South in terms of mixing the sub-cultures. I think he was right.

    The recent book from Thomas Sowell on Black Rednecks describes the mixing well – although I don’t agree with all of his findings.

    I especially applaud and see your comment about older Blacks who have felt the sinful sting of racism, personally, not trusting the message of colorblindness from the same faces that once preached separation based on race. I think I get that.

  32. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Plunge: go to http://www.americancivilization.net and look at my archive for 2005 – see ‘Doubting Darwin’.

  33. Hmm, seems like a bit more than just some flaws in the current thinking on macroevolutionary processes. Seems like you think common descent is completely unfounded.

    This is incredibly offtopic in one sense, but it plays into the idea of the validity of the culture wars in another, and you do blame evolution on “liberals” (despite the fact that quite a lot of prominent conservatives are on the side of biologists, and plenty of liberals, like Deepak Chopra (ugh!) are on your side) so perhaps it bears some discussion (if not hear at length, then perhaps elsewhere, though since the issue of teaching evolution and how is sure to come up for Virginia this year, it might behoove some discussion). I noted that your article contains a number of pretty common misunderstandings, some of them rather pernicious myths. Suffice to say: while it pays to be skeptical of science (that’s how it operates) that doesn’t mean that every critic is giving it to you straight either. For every yet unrecognized genius revolutionary, there are million charlatans and cranks, and so it pays to be skeptical of what they claim as well. Sure, it may be that all scientists are just blinkered dogmatic conspiracists. But I think you also must consider the possibility that perhaps the opposite is true: perhaps the assault on evolution is a politicized attack on an idea unpopular with certain sects which mangles facts and evidence to make its case to the public and whip up furor. Perhaps instead the most common claims against evolutionary theory are unfounded and counterfactual. Just because someone can write a book called “miracle cures THEY don’t want you to know” doesn’t mean that those cures really ARE effective after all. Snake oil comes in many forms, and while mainstream science isn’t immune to selling it, by and large most would-be revolutionaries are selling it along with their books. Whipping it all up into a neat little package, putting the label “liberalz!” on it is a great way to catch attention, but does it lead to accurate critiques? You yourself seem to agree that revisionist historians mangle the history of Southern heroes: couldn’t it also be that the movement against macroevolution is of the same bad faith and misleading scholarship?

    Well, I think so, and I think I can present a strong case that many of the arguments in your article mistake science (which is not your fault, certainly, since you were getting these ideas from other sources). For instance,

    The idea that the 2nd law renders life impossible (even everyday cellular chemistry!) just isn’t a sustainable idea. Most creationists don’t bother to use this argument anymore (which always begs the question of how it keeps getting recycled, nevertheless). The 2nd law concerns the ultimate energy inefficiency of all processes. But it simply is not a law saying that each and every process moves unrelentingly and unswervingly towards disorder. If that were true, then freezing water would be impossible, let alone biological life. I would hope you’d give scientists more credit than to claim that they’d believe a law that would render virtually every known chemical reaction and phase change impossible.

    I also don’t know where you got the idea that the fossil record somehow stands in contrast to evolution, though I certainly have my suspicions. Fossilization is rare (especially in particular environments like forests with highly acidic soils), and the main functional weakness of the record is that it is always more likely to turn up a cousin than a _direct_ descendent of any modern animal (just as if we picked a person out at random from your extended family tree, we’d be far more likely to pick a distant cousin of yours than someone in your direct line). But that’s the weakness of the way the fossil record comes to us, not of evolutionary theory. As it happens, especially over the past few decades, new techniques for finding fossils (including the all important innovation of a sort of genetic “clock”) have fleshed out the history of life on earth better than we could have ever expected. You speak of transistional or interim forms (which is a bit of a misunderstanding: if evolution is true, then ALL forms are interim, since all life lives on a contintuum that extends into the future as well as the past) as being missing, but in reality there is no such troubling lack. We have fossils marking out the journey from fish to tetrapods (the first large land animals aside from insects), from dinosaurs to birds (recently spectacularly confirmed again when we discovered T-rex sample that was preserved enough that we could see that dinos had a tissue layer that only birds, among all modern animals, retain), from early artiodactyls (land mammals) to whales, and so on. And there are important exceptions to the rarity of fossils. In some really rare areas of the planet, we have seabeds where the dead shells of creatures settled and were preserved one after another, litterally thick with generation after generation. In these beds we find ample demonstration of exactly what macroevolution would predict: gradual changes in morphology over thousands and thousands of years leading to things like speciation events and radical alterations of size and shape of this or that feature. What would you say is conspicously missing that by all rights should have been found, but hasn’t?

    I mean, ironically, Darwin never expected the fossil record to be anywhere near as lush as its turned out to be: in his day, his reliance on fossils was only to establish that life is different age to age and that most forms of life went extinct.

    There certainly have been arguments within mainstream biology about the exact patterns of speciation and how the fossil record proves one or another. But these arguments have been grossly misrepresented in order to try and paint a picture of there being no clear overall patterns of continual transition in the fossil record writ large.

    And today, fossil evidence is not only worlds richer than we ever could have hoped, but it’s just one element of many of a much much larger web of evidence that all fits together in a very particular way. It isn’t just fossil evidence alone that is convincing: it’s the fact that the family relationships suggested by fossils match up with those suggested by genetics (the same exact tests used to prove that you are your father’s son work just as well across species barriers), which also match up with what we know of the earth’s geology and the distribution of species on the planet (for instance, that species of birds on islands near continents are more genetically like the birds on the continent than on any other place, and the fossil evidence bears out the rough dates of their various appearances in both places, and so on). All of this convergence of evidence on the exact same patterns of relationships would be an utterly incredible and near impossible coincidence if what each of these indepedent lines of evidence were not true (if any one were false, what are the odds that they’d be false in such a consistent, detailed way across the board? One can never rule out error, but why would the error of entirely different methods of inference be so coordinated in so much fine detail?)

    Darwin’s lack of knowledge of genetics certainly is interesting, but not particuarlly relevant since the truth or falsity of a theory is not based on even someone as historically important to a field as Darwin. Darwin himself was wrong about a great many things, most famously his concept of inheritance (he thought it was analog, and it turns out that it’s digital). That’s why science is about evidence, not the authority of any one person. And against that evidence, arguments like Behe’s just aren’t particularly convincing. He claims that the evolution of this or that is inconcievable. Well, that’s just the first part of that debate. The next part involves some biologist who has been studying that very system cropping up and saying that, well, geez, it’s not only concievable (and here’s how) but the main problem now is figuring out which of the many ways it _could_ have evolved is the historically correct one!

    And so on. I hope I’ve at least made enough points to suggest that many of the arguments you’ve heard about how macroevolution is bunk are themselves pretty flaky and suspect. I don’t expect to convince you right off the bat, but the fact that many of the arguments you cite are clearly based on phony information that someone fed you should at least inspire skepticism of the other side as well.

    I’d strongly recommend this primer on common descent for a deeper discussion of why scientists think common descent and macroevolution in general (if not the specific forces that determined its course historically) are on more than enough solid ground to call them facts, and don’t really see why there should be apologies made for calling them so.

    And by the way: as I understand things, theories in math and physical sciences don’t really become laws. Heck, if they did, then number theory would be “number law” by now since unlike empirical science, in mathematics you can conclusively and deductively prove the correctness of something with absolute certainty, and that already has been done for number theory. “Theory” isn’t generally a term on the heirarchy of certainty (in fact, we still commonly refer to things we know to be WRONG as “theories”), but rather a term used for something that is far too complex and wide in its explanatory scope to be described by a single description or relationship. Natural laws are generally unitary and single simple observations that seem to hold in every instance. Theories can employ and involve multiple laws as well as explanatory frameworks.

  34. Lucy Jones Avatar
    Lucy Jones


    Thanks for your reply.

    I think I see where you are coming from. You know, it’s funny, I think we can learn from our children here. My youngest daughter goes to a public school in what I would call the heart of “bubbaville”. The school is pretty much 50/50 in black/white ratio. There are, of course, a few redneck offspring who would never “hang out” with black kids and there are just as many black kids who would never “hang out” with the white kids. I think in both cases that’s a reflection of their parents. But on the most part, the children seem to really only notice race when it comes to who can dance and who can’t. That’s not saying anything bad. You should see my daughter practicing at home trying to get the newest steps and how much fun the girls have trying to teach her. (It’s hopeless, by the way) And you are right about culture, foods, dress, etc. She brings home something new every time she visits one of her non-white friends’ homes whether it’s a new hair style, music, recipe, way to wear her clothes, etc. The cultures mix and blend just fine.

    It’s interesting to watch the older kids in the neighborhood who are products of this same environment. Race doesn’t seem to matter until they start entering the “adult” world. They see that many of the top-earners in society are white males but on the other hand there are many black-only colleges, college funds, etc. There’s something to be learned from that. I think it’s our generation that’s promoting the race differences. It’s far too often that we tend to say “that race” does/did something instead of “that person”.

    The children know how to enjoy the culture differences. Many adults just can’t/won’t do it. If our generation can stop whatever we’re doing to keep the biases alive, our children would blend just fine.

  35. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    plunge: We disagree. I don’t know where you learned your science.

    Re;”you do blame evolution on “liberals”. No. I find fault with Macro-evolution as rational empiricism. I see it is more theology than science to Liberals and very, very important to them who want to reject the soveriegnty of the Judeo-Christian God. It is part of the Pagan theological basis of the Liberal side of the Culture War.

    Virginia ought to teach good science. That means teach evolution as it is as a body of knowledge and include the holes in the theory.

    Submit your post to Jim Bacon if you want to make the case for Macro-evolution for another post.

  36. “We disagree. I don’t know where you learned your science.”

    This isn’t really a subject on which we can agree to disagree. The 2nd law just doesn’t say what your article says it does. The fossil record isn’t as you claim it is. These are matters of fact, not of politics, and the fact that your complaints are based on known misunderstandings of basic concepts undermines your whole case. That’s why I discussed them in detail instead of simply saying “you’re wrong.”

    “I see it is more theology than science to Liberals and very, very important to them who want to reject the soveriegnty of the Judeo-Christian God. It is part of the Pagan theological basis of the Liberal side of the Culture War.”

    This demonstrates my point. An otherwise apolitical subject is transformed, by the needs of fueling more culture war, into what claims to be a partisan battle. Unfortunately, if it were really all a liberal plot, then why to many prominent conservatives (and really, most conservatives outside of the US), like John Derbyshire or George Will, and prominent religious scientists, like Kenneth Miller, reject the above conspiracy theory? The above opinion sounds like the views of Phillip Johnson. The most charitable thing I can say about that man is that is you are an evangelical lawyer whose been taught that evolution is a liberal/atheist plot and have no background in either biology or chemistry, then oftentimes when you encounter some biological problem, the fact that you don’t know anything about biology can lead you to always suspect evil conspiracy and coverup when in fact you just don’t know some basic biological fact. Going outside ones area of expertise and saying something useful or accurate is not impossible, but it should always be done with great care. Johnson, unfortunately, takes no such care, and his writings are as such riddled with factual and proceedural errors for it.

    “Virginia ought to teach good science. That means teach evolution as it is as a body of knowledge and include the holes in the theory.”

    I certainly agree. However, the sorts of holes you note, and the sorts of holes that actual scientists discuss, are radically, radically different. Good science, as defined by you, would selectively declare most of biology to be a partisan plot and toss out the consensus of biologists that common descent is a solid, established fact if anything can be. You really would want to teach our kids in the physics class that phase changes and endothermic chemical reactions violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics? Or that fossils like natans simply don’t exist and don’t, in fact, bear unique features of both ancient land mammals and modern whales?

    “Submit your post to Jim Bacon if you want to make the case for Macro-evolution for another post.”

    I’m just some guy. Why would he be interested? I’ll be gone for the next four days, but I would be interested in continuing this discussion in some form then.

  37. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Plunge: Nobel laurate scientists disagree on science. Others can disagree with you and be on high scientific standing.

  38. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    This thread on Lee-Jackson Day, a state holiday, reflected on how ‘political correctness’ criticized these men by imposing false stereotypes on them.

    To lay the blame for a long litany of ills ––over two centuries of English, Colonial, Commonwealth, and American law and jurisprudence—— at the feet of two people, or even on the entire South; isn’t honest or decent, and simply isn’t the truth.

    The issue of slavery had no simple solution. It was simply beyond the ability of Lee or Jackson to change; they had to deal with the reality of their time. Both performed to their utmost defending their home state of Virginia; both embodied the best of humanity.

    While I disagree with Bowden on some points, attacks on Lee and Jackson begets an analogy: Must any celebration of Jesus Christ be censured “because it asks us to basically ignore the whole historical record” ?

    Jesus preached to a subjugated people; under Rome’s thumb in a system of slavery, brutality, and inhumane exploitation. It can’t be ignored that His followers were slaughtered and persecuted whenever possible; but that He left Rome’s rule intact.

    Christians hold that all these results were known to Him: From continued subjugation of Jews, Masada and destruction of the Temple, persecutions of Christians, the Crusades, Christian versus Christian, even to the rise and fall of American slavery.

    Does this negate the message He brought because: “While it may be acceptable, or even commendable, to admire the noble aspects of Christ and his disciples, we cannot simply brush aside the tragedy of their actions and the fruit.”

    Agnostics are faced with the conundrum, driven home by recent confrontation with the mid-East, that the end of chattel slavery is a uniquely Christian consequence. No other significant belief system holds enough value of humanity.

    Robert E. Lee did more than any other human to promote reunion after the War; rejecting every suggestion of continued resistance, government in exile, guerilla war, or reprisals. Blaming Lee for past or future racism is simplistic; and utterly indifferent to the lives, black and white, spared by his post-war leadership.

    It is fitting and proper to remember and celebrate the life of such people, to carry them into the future as part of our Virginia culture.

  39. Jim Patrick:
    I read your post about the 1872 and 1901 [sic] constitutions in which you assert that there wasn’t anything added in the 1901 [sic] constitution that intended to disenfranchise the significant number of black voters registered during reconstruction. The facts are at odds with your assertion. And, I’m still trying to figure out how the 1902 state constition can be laid at the feet of the federal government.

    Here’s an excerpt from a brief I wrote for the Legislative Black Caucus in the 2001 redistricting case that traces the history of Virginia’s supression of black voting rights dating back to the 1902 constitution (the convention was in 1901-02 and the constitution became effective on July 10, 1902):

    Virginia has a long and sad history of using every means available to deny its minority citizens the right to participate in the political process and to vote.

    Following the Civil War, for three decades Virginia’s constitution provided for universal suffrage for men, and Virginia sent an African American to Congress in the last decade of the 19th Century. Lawson, Black Ballots: Voting Rights in the South, 1944-1969 (Lexington Books, 1999) at 7.

    At the turn of the century, however, Virginia joined other southern states in a concerted effort to disenfranchise black voters. Id. at 11 (“all southern states rewrote their constitutions between 1890 and 1910”).

    A “paramount concern” that gave rise to the 1902 Virginia Constitution was the disenfranchisement of African American voters:

    When the 1901 Convention decided on the present voting qualifications, the reason which seems to have prevailed with a majority of members was the belief that the Negroes had to be excluded from suffrage. “Report of the Subcommittee for a Study of Constitutional Provisions Concerning Voting in Virginia,” The Poll Tax in Virginia Suffrage History: A Premature Proposal for Reform (1941) (Institute of Government, University of Virginia 1969) at 23.

    In accordance with this belief, the 1902 Constitution included Article II, Sections 18, et seq., that conditioned voter registration on the payment of a poll tax, the unaided completion of a written application, and the ability to answer questions regarding an individual’s “qualifications” as an elector. Id. Enabling law gave registrars unfettered discretion in judging whether an individual was qualified to vote, and some registrars frankly admitted that they acted “on general principle never to register a Negro or a Republican.” Id. at 27. “In Virginia, the effect of the constitutional provisions was to reduce the black electorate from 147,000 to 21,000.” Lawson at 14-15 citing, Virginia Writer’s Project, The Negro in Virginia (Arno Press, 1969) at 240.

    The Subcommittee recommended the repeal of the poll tax in 1941, Id.. There was also an effort to get the judiciary to strike down the poll tax under Section two of the Fourteenth Amendment during the same period. See, Saunders v. Wilkins, 152 F.2d 235 (1945).

    Nonetheless, the poll tax remained until abolished in federal elections by the Twenty-Fourth Amendment to the federal Constitution, and invalidated in state elections by passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (over the vigorous opposition of Virginia representatives, including then chair of the House Rules Committee, Howard W. Smith, “who called it an ‘unconstitutional’ vendetta against the former Confederate states”). Davidson, “The Voting Rights Act:: A Brief History, Controversies in Minority Voting: The Voting Rights Act in Perspective (Grofman and Davidson, Eds., The Brookings Institution, 1992) at 18. See also, Lawson at 288-328 (describing legislative consideration of the Voting Rights Act including the active opposition by Virginia representatives to the provisions banning poll taxes).

    The state constitutional limits on voter registration were not the only formal steps taken by Virginia officials to ensure disenfranchisement of black voters:

    According to the Richmond State and the Petersburg Index and Appeal, Virginia’s petty crimes provision [a law disenfranchising people for having committed various minor crimes], along with the poll tax, effected ‘almost … a political revolution’ in cutting down the black vote. Kousser, “Undermining the First Reconstruction: Lessons for the Second,” Controversies in Minority Voting: The Voting Rights Act in Perspective (Grofman and Davidson, Eds., The Brookings Institution, 1992) at 35 n.31.

    When the poll tax was made unconstitutional in federal elections by the Twenty-Fourth Amendment, the Virginia legislature passed a law to substitute a residency certificate. Harman v. Forssenius, 380 U.S. 528, 544 (1965) (residency certificate unconstitutional under the Twenty-Fourth Amendment).

    These “legal” means to ensure disenfranchisement of black voters were accompanied by active intimidation, fraud and overt acts of terror designed to further discourage black voters. Lawson at 7, 15-16. Unfortunately, passage of the Voting Rights Act did not end formal efforts to suppress black political influence in Virginia.

    Multi-member legislative districts became the primary barrier to “black voters gaining representation of their choice in southern state legislatures,” including Virginia, in the years following passage of the Voting Rights Act. Parker, “Racial Gerrymandering and Legislative Reapportionment,” Controversies in Minority Voting: The Voting Rights Act in Perspective (Grofman and Davidson, Eds., The Brookings Institution, 1992) at 88. Section 5 objections or lawsuits eliminated multi-member districts in most states in the 1970s. Id.

    Nonetheless, Virginia continued using multi-member districts through the 1980 redistricting cycle until forced to replace them with single member districts by the federal courts. Elam v. Dalton, consolidated with Cosner v. Dalton, 522 F. Supp. 350 (E.D. Va. 1981)(three judge court).

    The 1981 legislative redistricting plan also incorporated other measures designed to diminish or retard minority voter choice. For example, the 1981 plan for redistricting the Virginia legislature, “cracked,” “stacked” and “packed” black voters in order to reduce their growing political strength. The 1981 plan split up, i.e., “cracked,” four majority black counties in Southside that had been in one legislative district and distributed their voters among five separate majority-white legislative districts. Parker at 91-92 n.26. White voters in Colonial Heights were added, i.e., “stacked,” on the black majority in Petersburg changing a black majority district into a 56% white single-member House District. Parker at 96 n. 37. The 1981 plan also “packed” black voters in Hampton and Newport News into a single member legislative district that was 75% black instead of creating two majority-black districts in these two cities. Parker at 99.

    As recently as 1996, the United States Supreme Court was asked by one of the state’s two major political parties to exempt from preclearance requirements the charging of a fee to participate in its candidate nominating procedures that was the functional equivalent of a poll tax. Morse v. Republican Party of Virginia, 517 U.S. 186 (1996). The party did not contest that the fee had a potential for discrimination against minority voters, but argued it should be allowed to impose the fee without seeking preclearance because it was not “acting under authority” granted by the Commonwealth. Morse, 517 U.S. at 195.

    The Supreme Court rejected the party’s argument and held:

    The imposition by an established political party – that is to say, a party authorized by state law to determine the method of selecting its candidates for elective office and also authorized to have those candidates’ names automatically appear atop the general election ballot – of a new prerequisite to voting for the party’s nominees is subject to 5’s preclearance requirement. Morse, 517 U.S. at 219.

    This unfinished history is what led Virginia to be a specific target of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, and it is why Virginia remains covered border to border to this day. Morse, 517 U.S. at 193.

    You can read the entire brief at Legislative Black Caucus Amicus Brief

    One last interesting footnote to this history:

    “[F]ear of large numbers of Negro women voters” fueled opposition to the women’s suffrage amendment which was “decisively rejected” by the General Assembly. Robert K. Gooch, Introduction, “Report of the Subcommittee for a Study of Constitutional Provisions Concerning Voting in Virginia,” The Poll Tax in Virginia Suffrage History: A Premature Proposal for Reform (1941) (Institute of Government, University of Virginia 1969) at 5.

  40. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Thanks for all the facts CG2. Other than the gerrymandering following the 2000 census and the requirement under the Voting Rights Act to have Minority majority districts, do you see any voter discrimination based on race in Virginia in 2005?

  41. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar

    Jim Patrick: I hope that you weren’t trying to compare the role of Lee & Jackson (and my criticism of them) to the role of Jesus. Your analogy falls short, to put it mildly. And, your continued implict insults – “isn’t honest or decent” – do also.

    — Conaway

  42. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    The analogy is precise and accurate; the logic is yours alone.

    While it may be acceptable, or even commendable, to admire the noble aspects of __________, we cannot simply brush aside the tragedy of their actions and the fruit.” – Conaway Haskins

    Fill in the blank as you want; I used Christ’s name to show the absurdity of the reasoning. The idea that you can blame someone –anyone—for the conditions before or after their life, circumstances over which they had no control; is absolutely outrageous.

  43. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    CG2 said, “I read your post about the 1872 and 1901 [sic] constitutions in which you assert that there wasn’t anything added in the 1901 [sic] constitution that intended to disenfranchise the significant number of black voters registered during reconstruction. The facts are at odds with your assertion.

    Let’s hope the good people in VLBC didn’t pay for your tale of Virginia as a land of freedom and equality for all until 1902, when POOF! the magic bigot-fairy appeared, and blacks were disfranchised. That’s simplistic, politically correct nonsense.

    The process of stripping black voting rights was steady, predictable, and consented to by Federal authorities. In 1869 there were 27 blacks in the General Assembly. “African Americans actively participated in electoral politics in Virginia until … the 1877 Hayes-Tilden presidential election …By 1891, no longer were there any African American legislators in Virginia. The only black candidate for the legislature in 1892 was shot.” – Andrew Buni, “The Negro in Virginia Politics, 1902-1965”

    Virginia’s poll tax was enacted in 1877. Literacy (reading, writing, and ‘understanding’) tests, in concert with segregated schools were misused to reduce black voters. Petit crime disfranchisement; whites-only Party primaries and membership; ‘grandfather’ clauses; and racial-redistricting were law before 1902.

    The 1902 Constitution didn’t disfranchise blacks, it enshrined a quarter century’s worth of progressively harsher disfranchisement.

    It’s a dishonorable time in our history, but just as predictable as each morning’s sunrise. Today it seems just as predictable that mentioning ‘Confederate’ gets special interests crawling out to play the race card.

    CG2 said, “…I’m still trying to figure out how the 1902 state constition [sic] can be laid at the feet of the federal government.”

    It wasn’t. Although each voting restriction had been tested and judged lawful in US courts, it was written and ratified by Virginia Democrats.

    The shame of all this debate is that there’s more than enough room for the whole historical narrative, black and white, good and bad. But Veteran’s Day isn’t the time to explore the full historical record of German or Japanese families; it’s to honor those who’ve served our country. Lee-Jackson Day isn’t the time to debate voting; it’s to honor two leaders who gave their utmost for Virginia.

    Leaders in one of Virginia’s greatest crises and the most difficult circumstances, Lee and Jackson acted with the best traits of humanity; well worthy of commemoration to “push the best of the past forward”.

  44. NoVA Scout Avatar
    NoVA Scout

    A lot of history here – good, bad, indifferent. Virginia is unique in that so much of the fighting in the bloodiest war of American history occurred on its soil. Very impressive historical figures were involved on both sides, each of whom acted from a variety of motivations. Perhaps the best thing to do to preserve memory and understanding would be to honor these people on Appomattox Day, 9 April. Then we could all reflect on the noble and the ignoble, and do our part to make certain that the baser elements of human nature that influenced the War are not given a free hand in the future.

  45. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    NoVa Scout: Honor these people on 9 April? How about having a Confederate History Month in April? That’s an idea. Oops, Gov. Tim Kaine won’t do the proclamation – too divisive.

  46. Nova Scout Avatar
    Nova Scout

    We shouldn’t short-change ourselves by limiting it to “Confederate” history. Virginians are well represented on the Union side also, and many present-day citizens are descendants of Union fighting men. I think you’d get a broader appreciation of the enormity of the War and Virginia’s role in it if you made the focus more expansive. You’d also draw in the growing number of Virginians who have no geneological tie to the conflict. Call it “Appomattox Day” Get the reenactors out. Sound the guns, play the fifes, mourn the 600,000 + dead and gone and reflect on the folly of fratricidal war. Confining it to “Confederate History Month” would be the sound of one hand clapping.

  47. “Nobel laurate scientists disagree on science.”

    Sure. But find me a Nobel laureate that things that the 2nd Law precludes endothermic chemical reactions, as your piece implies. Heck, find one in biology that thinks that common descent is impossible.

    The reason there is a scientific consensus on various things is because of the preponderance of evidence. If you disagree with the consensus, then that’s fine, but you’ve got a high burden to overcome, and you overcome it with evidence.

    “Others can disagree with you and be on high scientific standing.”

    Is it possible to disagree with me? Certainly. But does that mean that any thing you happen to believe is good science? Nope. Simply saying “we disagree” isn’t good science: scientists care about the truth, and when there is disagreement, they seek to figure out, by experiment and evidence, who is right. That’s why I was careful to explain in detail where I saw that you were mistaken (or misled, I’m perfectly willing to consider that possiblity): not to show you up but to explain my reasoning and the evidence behind it.

    Your piece suggests that we should toss most of evolutionary history and biology out of Virginia’s public schools and that most biologists are part of a conspiracy to cover up the weakness of evolutionary theory. I would think you’d want more than vague and shaky science and “we disagree” to back up such severe accusations.

  48. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    NoVa Scout: The geneological tie to the War of Northern Aggression is irrelevant to support Virginia’s Confederate heroes. Fewer Virginians have ties to the Revolution of 1776, but we celebrate the Patriots as common adopted ancestors. The same can be done for the ‘recent unpleasantness’.

    Actually, I was thinking about 4 Virginia holidays to strengthen our common cultural heritage. I know the bean counters and businesses would hate it. I was thinking about Maggie Walker, Booker T Washington (born in old Virginia before the unConstitutional secession of 50 counties), the Founders, Confederate heroes – just mulling the thought of what holidays would bring us together for Virginia values.

    I think April as Southern History month is nice and more inclusive.

  49. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    plunge: FYI, Charles Darwin knew nothing about molecular biology. Nothing. The field hadn’t been discovered yet. Which is why the idea of macro-evolution falls apart at the cellular level – see Darwin’s Black Box by Lehigh Univ biologist.

    Here is what Darwin knew
    “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savages throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes..will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest Allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state,as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as the baboon, instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla.”

    Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 2nd ed. (New York, A.L. Burt, 1874), p 178.

  50. “FYI, Charles Darwin knew nothing about molecular biology. Nothing.”

    For my Information? Yes, thanks, but I think most people knew that Darwin didn’t know anything about molecular biology considering that there was no such field in his day nor the tools TO know anything about it.

    Of course, the discovery of this field, DNA, and other such things were amazing confirmations that Darwin was on exactly the right track despite his ignorance of genetics. The fact that the molecular machinery fits into EXACTLY the same taxonomic pattern (clades within clades) that large scale morphology does, and that genetic homology paints EXACTLY the same pattern of relationships that the fossil record points to, are both amazing factual confirmations of the common descent explanation for the diversity of life. The details of the molecular level are no less characteristic of evolutionary design instead of that of an architect. Messy Rube-goldbergian mechanisms built out of parts that are largely slightly altered copies of each other or adapted from other components in the cells? That’s exactly the sort of thing that characterizes the results of an evolution (the same sort of thing we observe when we use natural selection algorithms in the technological world to, say, design circuits or programs: messy, repetative and redundant designs that nevertheless occasionally hit on some surprising solution or unexpected new function)

    “Which is why the idea of macro-evolution falls apart at the cellular level – see Darwin’s Black Box by Lehigh Univ biologist.”

    The mere claim by you and Behe that it falls apart is not tantamount to that claim being true. The vast vast majority of Behe’s collegues think he’s wrong, and more than just SAYING he’s wrong, they’ve actually presented arguments as to why with evidence more copious and complete than anything in his book (which, you’ll note, was pitched to a general audience as part of a political movement, instead of containing new research or evidence on a higher technical level of expertise). I find those arguments quite convincing. We can discuss them if you’d like, and in fact we MUST discuss them if we are to come to any conclusions about whether Behe is correct or not. Mere rhetoric is not enough. In my opinion, Behe offers little more than the same sort of layperson incredulity many people have about evolution on the macro-level, repackaged in what turns out to be a rather unremarkable way. Regardless, he’s backtracked on so much of the exorbitant claims that he makes in his book that it hardly seems worth it to discuss his ideas as if even he still fully supported them.

    As far as Darwin’s racism, it’s truly bizarre that you would bring that up, as far far worse quotes can be pulled up for virtually any figure of the time (even abolitionists believed worse, and the two Christian views of the time both considered Africans a degraded form of Caucasian either created separately or just degraded over time). Even the African American activists of Darwin’s time believed that racial differences ran deep.

    If you actually read even a tiny bit more of the Descent of Man beyond this passage, you’ll see that Darwin is not in the least advocating the elimination of anyone, but includes this passage in the midst of a discussion of how populations over time tend to drive out close relations. And despite sharing the common prejeduces of his day, Darwin vehemently opposed slavery and supported legal equality: which is a lot more progressive than you can say for most of the folks you’ve lauded as heroes. You can’t seriously criticize Darwin for his fairly tame racism and racialism when you laud people who held the same beliefs and worse.

    Of course, this is a mostly historical aside: Darwin’s particular opinions are irrelevant to the validity of evolutionary theory. As we’ve already noted, he was mistaken about many many things concerning evolution. That he held the common prejudeces of his day is far less remarkable than the fact that it was his and Wallace’s discovery of the theory of evolution that was the eventual impetus for the scientific discovery that racial differences and ancestry are so minor as to be inconsequential: thus for the very first time in history delegitimizing racialist beliefs.

  51. Robert Fowler Avatar
    Robert Fowler

    Have you read Joseph Pierro’s incredibly good piece about the episode of Lee taking communion with a black man in the Jan. 2006 issue of Civil War Times Illustrated? Normally, it’s an inferior magazine, but this article is an amazing job of historical detective work–and balanced reporting (all too rare these days).

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