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The Bright Red Line

This weekend a line was crossed, a bright red line painted in the blood of over 400 thousand Americans who died to end the scourge of Nazism forever. Chanting “Blut und Broden”, or its easy translation, children with far more energy than sense attempted to define Americanism by what has been demonstrated and defined to be its exact opposite.

Like their apparent heroes, they are losers. But they having chosen the losing side of history for predictably bad reasons beyond a simple moral failure. Their inability to learn from history is a feature of a nation incapable of learning from history and thus in need to constantly redefine itself.

As much power as there is in constant redefinition, there is also a need for constant vigilance. History is calling us today. Millions of ghosts are watching us waiting for us to make the right decision.

Losers marching in Charlottesville for a cause which lost.

The call to rally in Charlottesville, Virginia started as a rally to defend a statue of Robert E Lee. His treason to the nation which put him through West Point is often overlooked by the romance of a losing cause redefined away from its defense of the indefensible institution of slavery. It’s about culture, they proclaim, nevermind how that culture was built on the brutal exploitation of those it enslaved.

The use of Nazi flags and slogans conflated a more recent despicable history in a way that only added to the disgrace. But it ignored another history close by which is far more complicated.

Charlottesville, after all, was home to Thomas Jefferson. The children who marched might be forgiven for some of their moral confusion since much of it is at the heart of America itself. The man who so eloquently defined the rights of all people was, after all, a white supremacist himself. He never regarded his own slaves as people, entitled to the rights he demanded from a powerful empire.

Thomas Jefferson, Third President and author of the Declaration of Independence.

Not to forgive Jefferson in any way, but his supremacy seems to have come from a personal inability to take care of himself. Daily life was a struggle for this ethereal man more concerned with lofty ideals than simply finding a meal or finishing the construction of his house. Rather than resolve this conflict, he deployed mental gymnastics which were never resolved satisfactorily, asserting rights while simultaneously denying them.

This conflict is at the core of our nation.

The inability to resolve this runs deeper than the obvious read of history since then, which is that Jefferson’s limitations are not something we can possibly live with. We recognized that slavery is immoral and incompatible with a democratic republic. We defeated supremacy and the death that it brings.

We stood up to fascism and must do it again.

Barataria has said many times that economic cycles appear to be the result of us forgetting the lessons our grandparents tried to teach us. So it appears to be with political thought. We forget because we appear to have that luxury, we forget because we appear to simply be lazy. But it is clear that we forget far too easily that the moral ambiguity at the core of our founding has been resolved.

The future is theirs. Let’s make it bright!

What is the way forward? Like all learning, it has to start with an open mind. High ideals are no substitute for humanity and love. This includes noble ideals such as liberty and degenerate excuses like supremacy. When we forget our humanity we lose the purpose behind any great concepts which ennoble us as quickly as we can succumb to the allure of the horrors which degrade us.

The way forward builds on history – not forgotten, but absorbed. We know better, and we have known better for a long time.

Every American must reject the cause on display this weekend completely. There is no excuse for not doing so. The way forward requires us to reject moral ambiguity and develop a strong clarity of purpose just as a generation now quietly passing did not so very long ago.

The fight is now ours. We must honor our true heritage and stand to the challenge, if for no other reason than to honor those who fell for the same challenge before.

Nazism can never be any part of Americanism.

23 thoughts on “The Bright Red Line

  1. Pingback: The Bright Red Line – The Militant Negro™

  2. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Fellow-blogger Erik Hare, writing as Barataria, has written a thoughtful, honest post about the lessons of history as they relate to last Saturday’s tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia. Please take a minute to read, as he has made his point far better than I could have. Thank you, Erik, for this post and permission to share.

  3. Thank you for your insight and moral stand. I am especially taken with your analysis of Jefferson and his moral ambivalence regarding slavery. Robert E. Lee, by the way, experienced the same ambivalence and struggled around the decision to fight on the side of the South, as his ideals were more aligned with those of the Union. Interesting that these men were both Virginians, and Charlottesville is in Virginia. Perhaps Virginia itself reflects the deep moral ambiguity at the heart of America, as it did at the time the constitution was written. I disagree with your statement that the ambiguity has been resolved. Perhaps on paper it has, but not in the deep recesses of the hearts and minds of people.

    • A good point, it has not been resolved in our hearts. Previous generations thought it was, and died to make it so. But it’s still there.
      There is something about Virginia and that is what I was trying to capture. It knows better, but it has trouble acting better. Always has. In that way it’s a crystallized essence of all of America.

  4. Dear Erik Hare,

    If there is one positive outcome from the White Supremacists actions on Charlottesville, VA. THIS PAST WEEKEND, is that the blinders that republicans have been wearing with regards to President Trump and the republicans dance with racists, neo-Nazis, etc., has been pulled back.
    The republican party members including the Evangelicals voted in favor of Donald Trump in droves when they knew full well that the president was catering to the racists for their votes.. Well both are now tainted with the brush of racism which they both richly deserve.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • They can’t play the game anymore, it’s clearly not a game. Where we go from here will be telling. It may be how it all had to come down for us to confront the ghosts which haunt us directly. This may simply be how our generation has to finish the struggle engaged long ago.

  5. Although I do know that Nazi flags and slogans are not forbidden in the US it still startles me when I see them displayed openly. In Germany and Austria those people carrying the flag would be arrested, facing court and most probably end in jail for a couple of years. Same as everyone who openly voices sympathy for that horrible regime. – I realise that in the US the “freedom of speech” is very highly valued, but for me this crosses the line.

    • Is that flag “fighting words,” and thus not protected? Part of me thinks it is. I really hate to go there, but it is something to think about. When I see a swastika I immediately become outraged – and I don’t outrage easily. It’s way, way over the line.

    • Anyone may use any content here as long as there is attribution. I would prefer that this comes in the form of a link. By all means, use what you want – and feel free to go back through some of the more constructive conversations on People’s Economics and so on. Thanks!

  6. This is an most incisive and intelligent post.
    Best wishes to you and the rest of the true Americans.
    From the UK
    Has to be re-blogged.

  7. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    ‘Their inability to learn from history is a feature of a nation incapable of learning from history and thus in need to constantly redefine itself.
    The fight is now ours. We must honor our true heritage and stand to the challenge, if for no other reason than to honor those who fell for the same challenge before. Nazism can never be any part of Americanism.’
    So very well written … reblogged from Filosofa’s Word … thanks for allowing me to do the same!!

  8. Pingback: Fighting Words | Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

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