Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bill Clinton Enables Neo-Confederates & Betrays Carol Moseley-Braun: UPDATED has picked up this story with all the documentation. 4/20/08 Direct link to story is:

I have updated this essay.


On July 24, 1993 in a New York Times’ editorial, “Ms. Moseley Braun’s Majestic Moment,” the editors praised the U.S. Senator Braun from Illinois as follows:

On Thursday, Carol Moseley Braun woke up a sleepy Senate to the unthinking way the white majority can offend minority Americans. Before Ms. Moseley Braun interrupted, that body was about to renew the patent of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Alone at first, then joined on the Senate floor by others whose awareness she raised, the Senate’s only black member stopped the renewal of the Daughters’ design patent with the Confederate flag insignia.”

Moseley-Braun’s oratory was eloquent and persuasive. In an article titled, “Daughter of Slavery Hushes Senate,” writer Adam Clymer in the July 23, 1993, New York Times writes:

The Senate’s only black member, Carol Moseley Braun, made the chamber listen today as freshman seldom do. Her oratory of impassioned tears and shouts, stopped Jesse Helms in his tracks as he defended the Confederate flag.”

The U.S. Senate reversed itself from a 52 to 48 vote in favor of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to a 75 to 25 vote against the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and the patent was not renewed.

However, one powerful white politician wasn’t touched by Moseley-Braun’s oratory. U.S. President Bill Clinton, Toni Morrison’s “first black president,” wrote his first letter, dated June 21, 1994, of congratulations to the UDC celebrating their 100th anniversary. Later Clinton wrote a letter September 8, 1994 letter of congratulation to the Georgia Division of the UDC celebrating their 100th anniversary, then August 9, 1995 welcoming to Washington, D.C. for their 1995 national convention. Each letter was given a full page with Clinton’s picture in the United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine (UDC Magazine) giving legitimacy to the UDC.

What type of organization is the UDC? Some might say that they are just a harmless organization of “little old ladies.” However, racism isn’t heavy lifting and doesn’t require physical strength. One recent example is in the Nov. 2007 issue of UDC Magazine, where in an article titled, “Confederate Classics,” in her regular column, “Confederate Notes,” Retta D. Tindal writes:

Some books are classics that never go out of style. As we approach the gift-giving season, there are four books that I treasure and use over and over, whether for research or reference or just to refresh my memory of the special heritage I have.”

Tindal recommends these books for UDC members children and grandchildren, friends, and family members saying that “these books are sure to become their treasures too.” The first book which Tindal recommends is the white supremacist racist text, “Southern By the Grace of God,” by Michael Andrew Grissom, a Ku Klux Klan praising book, not just the Klan of Reconstruction but the Klan of the 1920s, a book which recommends the racist books of Thomas Dixon, “The Clansman” which later was made into the notorious movie “Birth of a Nation,” and the movie itself, and recommends the organization of the Council Conservative Citizens, praises a lynching and much, much more. The UDC helped launch this book when it was first published by running a segment of the book in its September 1988 issue of UDC Magazine.

Nor is this a unique example of the UDC’s promotion of racism. The prior columnist for “Confederate Notes” Clara Erath promoted the neo-Confederate magazine Southern Partisan and the books it published. Erath promotes and praises Richard Weavers’ book “Southern Tradition at Bay,” an anti-democratic racist book defending slavery. Other neo-Confederate texts are also promoted, such as “Secession, State & Liberty” by David Gordon of the neo-Confederate Ludwig von Mises Institute. The horrors of the Transatlantic slave trade are minimized in a speech by Walter W. Lee III printed in the April UDC Magazine. The Red Shirts, violent white terrorists of Reconstruction in South Carolina are held up as heroes in the June/July 2001 issue of the UDC Magazine.

The racism of the UDC isn’t a new phenomenon but goes back generations of Klan praising and white supremacy to the early 20th century. In the late 1950s the UDC Magazines were clogged with denunciations of Brown vs. Brown, integration and civil rights. A typical article is “Jefferson Davis – The Man America Needs Today, an address by Bruce Dunstan printed in the June 1958 UDC Magazine. The article explains that Jefferson Davis was for states’ rights, and the nation needs states’ rights for local control of education for the following reasons:

This constant waste of America’s wealth, together with forced shameful race-mixing, that causes lowered educational standards, immorality, and finally a mongrelized people, will bring about the down fall of America, as integration of races doomed the once cultured, and prosperous cities and nations of Carthage, Athens, Rome, and Sparta; and made of Egypt the weak world power that she is today.

This is the organization that Bill Clinton congratulated. These are the “special memories,” “traditions,” and “community spirit” which Clinton’s letters congratulated. That the UDC is a proponent of racism and white supremacy is not surprising. It is the Confederacy and did not Bill Clinton or anyone in the Clinton administration know what the Confederacy was about. This well known and infamous speech by Alexander H. Stephens should have given them a clue.

The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the Constitution, was the prevailing idea at the time. The Constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly used against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it; when the “storm came and wind blew, it fell.”

Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery―subordination to the superior race―is his natural and moral condition. (Applause.)

This, our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

The larger issue is the empowerment by elected officials of neo-Confederate organizations. When a public official, whether president or governor or mayor or senator or other elected office, writes a letter to a neo-Confederate organization they lend the prestige of their office and their name to legitimatize neo-Confederate organizations and to normalize the Confederacy. Elected officials enable neo-Confederate organizations and normalize the Confederacy in other ways, by participating in ceremonies and events to celebrate the Confederacy or take actions on their own to celebrate the Confederacy.

Will the next president of the United States praise and honor the Confederacy. Will the next president of the United States annually around the time of Jefferson Davis’ birthday send a wreath annually to the Confederate monument in Arlington cemetery? When will the president of the United States serve as an example that public officials shouldn’t by their actions normalize the Confederacy and empower neo-Confederate organizations.

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