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pr24317

Civil War reenactment, Baker County, Florida

It’s nice that not only does the Baker County, Florida have a courthouse mural heroically portraying the Ku Klux Klan, but that said mural was painted in 2001.

Since we all know our racist past and modern politics are totally unrelated, I’ll just note that Baker County was Mitt Romney’s second strongest showing in the state, winning it 79-20.

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  • Aimai

    To quote John Cole “The BALLS on these motherfuckers.” How is it not definitionally terroristic to plaster symbols of race murder on or near a courthouse?

    • Barry Freed

      It’s incredible. Just wow.

    • Now now, as the artist says (read the story) they were just preserving law and order at a time when the state wasn’t doing it. Basically citizen volunteers who filled an essential need. I don’t know why people are upset.

      • wjts

        And, really, we only have the artist’s word as evidence that those are even Klansmen in the mural. Maybe Florida has a rich tradition of equestrian ghosts? Why is our first instinct to cry “racism!” whenever we think we see members of a terrorist group dedicated to violently enforcing the ideology of white supremacy?

        • MeDrewNotYou

          I know the reason why, but the truth is ugly and will hurt: We’re the real racists here.

      • King Goat

        ” citizen volunteers who filled an essential need”

        Sort of like those Minutemen on the border..

      • they were just preserving law and order at a time when the state wasn’t doing it.

        Oh, like the Taliban then.

    • ajp

      Ah Cole, that reminds me. I was visiting an old friend in Morgantown a few years ago (when I lived in DC and it wasn’t a bad drive). Morgantown itself was ok but on the way over I saw a couple of confederate flags. I wonder if those bozos appreciated the irony of flying a confederate flag in West Virginia. Those who don’t know their history…are bound to look like idiots. Or, as Errol Morris said-those who do not know history are bound to repeat it without a sense of ironic futility.

      • Manny Kant

        Yeah, one year when I was in college at UVA, we decided to go to the West Virginia state fair for some reason (okay, I actually know the reason: my Vietnamese-American friend was super into Alabama). Confederate flags everywhere. It was very strange.

        • GFW

          West Virginia … reason … Alabama

          This confused me until I realized you meant the band Alabama.

      • Mudge

        If you equate the flag with their false heritage claims, then flying it in WV makes no sense. If you equate the flag, flown since the 50s, with resistance to desegregation, then WV as a segregated state would have its share of admirers.

      • Origami Isopod

        If you live in a bubble of idiocy, no, you’re not going to appreciate your own.

    • FlaMark

      To quote the late great George Carlin re: Civil War Re-enactors : “They ought to give these motherfuckers live ammunition to improve the gene pool in America”

      Mr. Show did a good skit about how every year “They pretend to be brave”

      We all need to call out these cowards. Repeatedly. I got this scumbag thrown out of a park last week. He was waving the Stars and Bars to passers by ….I mean really, the people murdered in Charleston had just been buried and this piece of shit had to do this, thinking himself cute….so I slowed down the car, rolled down my window and said loudly “The flag of treason!” He screamed Fuck you! and a cop heard it (there were some young kids there) came by and tossed him out. I was hoping for more but…I’ll take it. We have to speak out against these horrible people who are ruining everything.

  • King Goat

    But-but, the Confederates were all Democrats! Also, Woodrow Wilson and Robert Byrd!!!!

    • MacK

      And the Dixiecrats shuffled en masse over to the Republican party when Nixon and its then chairman George HW Bush ran the southern strategy.

      • King Goat

        Yes. I’m always amused by conservatives who throw out the ‘the Democrats were the party of the Confederacy and Jim Crow’ line as if political parties are static things. When they add that more Democrats voted against Civil Rights legislation than Republicans I always tell them to look at a map of the districts of who voted how and then look at the current party affiliations of the representatives of those districts now. Of course the districts whose reps voted against the legislation are now GOP.

        • Bufflars

          I can never tell if people making this “argument” are so invested in their team (the Republican Party) that they actually buy the reasoning, or if they think their target audience is so dumb that they’ll buy it.

          • Rob in CT

            I think it’s mostly the former. Nu-UH! I know you are but what am I?!

            It all circles back to the idea that for a white person, like the worst possible thing is being accused (directly, indirectly, or not even really accused but possibly associated with) of racism. Discussion of bigotry/racism is, in this framework, just a game of gotcha.

            • brugroffil

              There’s a TNC article for that:

              Racism vs. the Race Card
              The conservative movement doesn’t understand anti-racism as a value, only as a rhetorical pose

              I think this sort of thinking is endemic to how the conservative movement thinks about racism. For them it isn’t an actual force, but a rhetorical device for disarming your opponents. So one does not call Robert Weissberg racist and question his ties to National Review because one seeks to stamp out racism, but because one hopes to secure the White House for Democrats. Or some such. Even if you have a record of calling out bigotry voiced by people deemed to be “on your team,” it doesn’t much matter because there’s no real belief in it existing to begin with.

              You can see this over and over again if you talk to conservatives.

    • ajp

      Yes! And for the grand prize, what was Robert Byrd’s DW-Nominate score?

  • Mudge

    Baker County appears to be the site of the Olustee/Ocean Pond civil war battle (2/20/1864), the only battle in Florida. The Confederates are considered to have won. Union units included the 8th US Colored Troops and the 54th Massachusetts (see “Glory”). There are a number of unverified stories (think Fort Pillow) about the fate of the captured black soldiers, but one that is verified is that captured black officers were sent to Andersonville instead of officers’ prison camps.

    It appears Baker County still lives as if it’s 1864.

  • King Goat

    I live in the South and since the flag controversy has become newsworthy I’ve overheard bunches of people defending it. Here are some of my favorite ‘arguments’ I’ve heard:

    1. “Lee didn’t even own slaves and was against it, I wonder if they even know that!” (of course wrong)

    2. “The Civil War wasn’t even about slavery it was about the federal government pushing everyone around.” (pushing them about slavery, yeah)

    3. “Why do they want to erase history?” (my personal favorite, because of course not having memorials praising the cause of slavery on public property is ‘erasing history.’ I mean, we all know those against the flag will be razing slave museums next, right?)

    4. “Why are they so worked up about an old flag or statue” (of course, why they’re so worked up to erect and maintain these memorials isn’t asked…)

    • NonyNony

      2. “The Civil War wasn’t even about slavery it was about the federal government pushing everyone around.” (pushing them about slavery, yeah)

      This one really gets my goat (heh) for a lot of reasons. Starting with the fact that the federal government had done bupkis as far as slavery goes when the treasonous dirtbags who made up the political class of the secession states decided to take their ball and go home after losing an election. They had lost in the court of public opinion because the popular vote (and electoral vote) went to an mild abolitionist, but the feds hadn’t even done anything yet at the time the dirtbags pulled their states out of the Union. And there’s also the fact that the Feds had passed the Fugitive Slave Act in an attempt to push the non-slave states around.

      Anyone who declares that the secession was about States Rights is either ignorant or lying – there really isn’t an alternative.

      • King Goat

        Yes, as is often the case their horrible racism was accompanied by feverish paranoia.

        • DrS

          Fortunately for everyone involved they have moved past both of these.

      • Hogan

        the federal government had done bupkis as far as slavery goes when the treasonous dirtbags who made up the political class of the secession states decided to take their ball and go home after losing an election.

        Oh, I wouldn’t say the Fugitive Slave Act was bupkis. Although it definitely counts as pushing people around.

        • NonyNony

          Admittedly I should have phrased that “done bupkis as far as taking their slaves away from them.” That one’s on me.

          (The Feds had done as much to take their slaves from them as the Feds now have done to take their guns away from them. History certainly does repeat itself, and I guess I’d rather live in the farce than the tragedy…)

          • UncleEbeneezer

            No the Feds have definitely taken away their guns. They’re all stored in a bunker under the FEMA camps. Just take the second left after you pass the Black Copter refueling station.

            • MeDrewNotYou

              If you hit the gay marriage chapel you’ve gone too far.

      • ajp

        2. “The Civil War wasn’t even about slavery it was about the federal government pushing everyone around.” (pushing them about slavery, yeah)

        I remember when this theory was really en vogue among otherwise intelligent and even moderately liberal people. It’s what my AP American History teacher taught (in Florida, granted). It was a mishmash of really “complicated” economic reasons. Slavery was…incidental.

        Back before people realized Chuck Klosterman isn’t all that witty or insightful, he wrote a dumbass essay in which he had a throwaway sneer that went something like “People who think [blank] are like people who think the Civil War was about slavery.” It was so profoundly arrogant and misinformed and stupid that I still remember it over a decade after reading it. Like…what? I call it the Malcolm Gladwell Effect, although that bit of Klosterman dumbassery predates Gladwell’s rise. But the point stands-people are for whatever reason drawn to counterintuitive reasoning.

        My theory is that they think it makes them smarter-they’re able to see the “truth” while the average person is misled. What amateur intellectual wannabe doesn’t love to say “Most people think [X] but what they don’t realize is . . .” It’s the first page in the pretentious faux intellectual phrasebook.

        For the first time I’m actually seeing a lot of pushback against this revisionist “not about slavery” bullshit, and I’m fucking thrilled.

        • Joseph Slater

          I sometimes hope it’s at least in decent part a generational thing, in that a lot of older folks today (and that includes me) were taught the “well, it was complicated . . . economic reasons . . . states rights” version of the Civil War in high school. Plus the “Reconstruction was a horrible punishment on the south that went way too far” version of those events. I think it’s only in the last couple of decades that the general narrative has really changed in many places (although I’m sure it hasn’t in some). So, if you’re not keeping up on “what we’ve learned / are now willing to admit about the Civil War” discussions in the past couple of decades, you might be shocked to hear the [correct] interpretation, because it wasn’t what you were taught.

          • ajp

            I think this also tends to betray a lack of curiosity. Not that everyone should be a Civil War buff. But, I mean, it’s not like keeping up with shit like whether Pluto is still a planet or not, or whether oxford commas are still stressed in school, or color symbolism in The Great Gatsby…it’s the history of your own goddamn country.

            It wasn’t that long ago and we are in many ways still feeling its effects today. So, like…pick up a book sometime.

            • Joseph Slater

              Maybe, but on political blogs we may tend to overestimate the interest people in general have on actually keeping up on politically-charged historical events. Remember, these are people who think they basically understand what happened, because they remember how they learned it in school. For many, probably most historical events, that’s good enough for being an adequately-informed citizen. After all, they don’t need to periodically check whether the Nazis were the bad guys in WWII.

              So I’m not as dismayed that the *initial* response of many folks in my generation and older is, “but wait, the civil war wasn’t mostly about slavery. . . .” I’m only dismayed if they refuse to accept the overwhelming, absolutely explicit evidence that is now really easily available (all those Confederate document original sources that really do spell it out that are now all over the internet, e.g.). And the recent debates over the confederate flag are convincing me that there is steadily even less of that. So, it’s the job of folks who know to show the folks that don’t.

          • muddy

            Just last week I saw a show called America The Story of US and the episode about the treasonous interlude began by saying, The war was fought about slavery, amongst other things.

            Amongst other things? FFS. I turned it off.

          • sparks

            I was taught in CA in the ’70s that the Civil War was about slavery. No hedging, no prettifying. However, Reconstruction was taught pretty much as you describe.

            The strange thing was I don’t remember ever being taught about the numerous financial panics that swept this country in the 19th Century.

        • Origami Isopod

          I remember when this theory was really en vogue among otherwise intelligent and even moderately liberal people.

          Ken Fucking Burns gave it a giant shot in the arm by relying so heavily on Shelby Foote for The Civil War. He has never been excoriated nearly enough for that.

          • Davis X. Machina

            I watched the first episode of The Civil War (“The Cause”) recently — first time in 25 years — and was actually surprised how prominent the issue of slavery was in that episode, considering what I read all the time to the contrary. “All Night Forever” didn’t pull many punches.

            • Origami Isopod

              I haven’t watched the miniseries since it was new. Given the vagaries of my own memory, I will take your word for it.

              • brugroffil

                I’ve watched it within the last couple of years. Shelby Foote may have been annoyingly sentimental at times, but I don’t recall much if any at all of Lost Cause bs. Slavery was front-and-center.

          • Here’s a mind bender: I bought the CD set a few years ago and it came with out-takes from the interviews. One of the out-takes was Foote being incredibly harsh about slavery, about southern mythologizing of slavery, and about the south’s attitude toward the war. IOW, the Foote that was shown in the series was at least partly Burns’s invention, for reasons that escape me.

        • UncleEbeneezer

          My theory is that they think it makes them smarter-they’re able to see the “truth” while the average person is misled. What amateur intellectual wannabe doesn’t love to say “Most people think [X] but what they don’t realize is . . .”

          Just this week I got to overhear a guy explaining Agenda 21 to his buddy and why it only sounds crazy at first but…

          It was quite a distraction, being only 15 feet or so away from my tennis match.

  • wjts

    The Pioneer Hall murals are real!

    • DocAmazing

      I’m growing more partial to a campaign to erect a series of Nat Turner memorials all through the South.

      • King Goat

        THIS! I mean, because you know those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it.

      • Lee Rudolph

        With regular re-enactments! (Well, not of the end.)

    • ColBatGuano

      I loved those murals.

  • Todd

    When you decide to name your county after a Senator of the Confederacy, a KKK mural will not seem like a bridge too far.

  • D.N. Nation

    What the shit. Just, what the shit.

    Why is “you shouldn’t paint the Klan on a county courthouse” somehow worthy of further debate and careful consideration? I work in marketing- you may now hate me now at your leisure- and “ya probably shouldn’t do anything KKK-related” is a very, very, very easy-to-follow Rule #1A, I figure. Who are these people?

    From the petition to keep the mural:

    “I’m signing because this is our history. Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it. I’m proud of our history and heritage. During field trips to the courthouse I loved seeing this mural. Now that I live in texas and everything that is going on in the world and on Social media, I tell people about the mural in our courthouse. I tell them that Baker County is a place of heritage and love of God. Although people complain and try, We would never take down the 10 Commandments, we will always pray before a football game and that no matter what anybody says, media, outsiders, yankees (lol), etc. We are who we are and we should be proud and never change. When I go back home to visit, I want Baker still to be my home.”

    Mighty pleased with a record of mass violence against black people. Wouldn’t mama be proud. Jesus Christ.

    • King Goat

      “I’m proud of our history and heritage.”

      What the hell? Proud of the bad, oppressive parts? That just doesn’t register. It’s like saying “I’m proud of my sins because they’re part of my past!”

      • Davis X. Machina

        Das Erbe, nicht der Hass.

        • wjts

          I misread that as “Das Erbe, nicht der Hase“, which confused me mightily for a moment.

          • Origami Isopod

            I conflated my Romance and Germanic languages for a sec and thought you were saying, “In the grass, no hare.”

            • Eh, what’s up OI?

    • Tehanu

      we will always pray before a football game

      I truly hope that God doesn’t give a shit who wins the game.

      • Lee Rudolph

        For when the One Great Scorer comes
        To mark against your name,
        He writes – not that you won or lost –
        But how you prayed His Name.

  • c u n d gulag

    (Not-at-all) Dear folks who do Southern Civil War reenactments, no matter how many times you reenact the Civil War, you bigoted assholes still fucking lose!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    But it you love replaying losing, go fer it, you Goobers!

    • When I lived in Mississippi they would do an annual reenactment.

      I forget which battle(s) were fought in Northern Mississippi so I can’t tell you which one.

      They would actually reenact it twice. Once so the Confederates could win, and once how it actually happened.

      • UncleEbeneezer

        They would actually reenact it twice. Once so the Confederates could win, and once how it actually happened.

        I’m only surprised they did it accurately at all. Iirc, in Tony Horwitz’ Confederates In The Attic, one of the big challenges to reenactments was that they could never find enough people play the Union troops.

        • wjts

          The climax of Elmore Leonard’s Tishomingo Blues is set at a reenactment of the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads in Mississippi. I’d say it was worth a read, but you all knew that when I said “Elmore Leonard”.

  • CaptainBringdown

    Lawlessness among ex-slaves and troublesome whites was the rule of the day.

    That’s one way of putting it, I suppose. Christ.

    • Manny Kant

      His whole defense is basically just the Dunning School/the title cards from Birth of a Nation.

      How on earth did this get approved to begin with? I’m kind of astonished that even in the most ridiculously conservative, deep south county in 2001, there wouldn’t be someone to say, “um, guys, maybe we shouldn’t include a heroic depiction of the KKK in this mural?” Hell, by 1939, outright celebration of the Klan were considered enough beyond the pale that they de-Klannified the Klan bits of Gone with the Wind.

      • sparks

        Hell, by 1939, outright celebration of the Klan were considered enough beyond the pale that they de-Klannified the Klan bits of Gone with the Wind.

        Yes. When the Klan was resurgent in the early ’20s, they tried to get into the entertainment business. Instead of Chatauquas, they’d have Klantaquas. Later on it was found some who ran these Klantaquas were pocketing the funds and not paying the acts, and it all fell apart. By the late ’30s some parts of the entertainment field were receiving sharp criticism for their depiction of blacks on stage, screen, and radio. Things didn’t change so quickly, especially in film and on radio, but at the end of WWII it was widely discussed in Variety, often by soldiers coming back from the war criticizing what entertainers were doing with black characters.

    • Manny Kant

      His whole defense is basically just the Dunning School/the title cards from Birth of a Nation.

      How on earth did this get approved to begin with? I’m kind of astonished that even in the most ridiculously, backwards, conservative, deep south county in 2001, there wouldn’t be someone to say, “um, guys, maybe we shouldn’t include a heroic depiction of the KKK in this mural?” Hell, by 1939, outright celebration of the Klan were considered enough beyond the pale that they de-Klannified the Klan bits of Gone with the Wind.

      • Manny Kant

        Ack, sorry for the double post.

        • D.N. Nation

          Hey, it needed to be said twice.

      • Randy

        If he had said “I painted a warts-and-all picture of our history, and wasn’t going to leave out the crimes of the past,” that would have been an arguably good point. But yeah, he’s going all Thomas Dixon/D.W. Griffith with this defense.

        It reminds me of the theory that “separate but equal” on trains and streetcars started as a GOOD thing. It was to protect African American women from the attentions of lascivious white men who had never been so close to someone so exotic.

  • King Goat

    “I’ll just note that Baker County was Mitt Romney’s second strongest showing in the state, winning it 79-20.”

    That overwhelming support for a religious minority just shows how really tolerant that county is.

    • Hogan

      heh

  • Malaclypse

    Every neo-Confederate who spouts off about “heritage” or “history” should be required to read every fucking one of these, before ever again claiming they just care about the past.

    • Origami Isopod

      It might be helpful for the younger ones. Most of them, though…. they won’t care. They don’t have the empathy to care. Waste of time unless you have fence-sitting onlookers.

  • Rob in CT

    its artist, Gene Barber, declared the anger totally unwarranted, stating that he “did not follow the current and unfortunate fad of revising history for the sake of making it fit the wishes of any special interest segment of society.”

    You want revisionist history serving a special interest, motherfucker? How about a bunch of elite slaveocrats who tried to break the country because they wanted to preserve (and extend) their ownership of other human beings, lost, and then spent the rest of their lives lying about what they had done (at a minimum. Some of them used violence to try and undo their defeat, for which you glorify them, asshole). THAT’s revisionist history serving a special interest.

  • Bruce Vail

    Is the mural even historically accurate?

    I read somewhere (here?) that the white robes and hoods were a refinement added by the 1910-1920 “second generation” of the clan. Contemporaneous drawings of the 1870-1900 ‘first generation’ don’t show the distinctive peaked hoods.

    • wjts

      Illustrations from some of Thomas Dixon’s novels like The Clansman and The Traitor from 1905-1907 show Klansmen in white robes and masks with a peak. (It looks like a Pickelhaube wrapped in white cloth to me.)

    • Just_Dropping_By

      I thought the main “innovation” of the second generation Klan was adopting the various titles for officials (e.g., “Grand Wizard”) and initiation rites for new members to give it more of a Masonic flavor.

      • Bruce Vail

        The second generation introduced the official regalia, including the standardized uniform. The earlier generation was much more informal.

      • witlesschum

        That and being national, as opposed to Southern.

    • wengler

      All I know is that in The Birth of a Nation they looked like really dumb unicorns.

  • Origami Isopod

    FWIW there’s a Change.org petition to remove the painting. (There’s also a competing petition to leave it up that has received more votes.)

  • JMP

    But remember, engaging in identity politics like fighting racism is just a distraction from the REAL issues – which are only being fought by those of us at the Ending Capitalism Pipe Dream meetup at Daily Kos. Also, you children probably didn’t even protest the Vietnam war, because anyone under 65 is too young to seriously discuss politics anyway.

  • rewenzo

    “I’ll just note that Baker County was Mitt Romney’s second strongest showing in the state, winning it 79-20.”

    Silly, Erik. They all vote Republican because they’re frustrated at the length of time it’s taking to desegregate the South. Also they wanted single payer.

  • ChrisTS

    If the artist wants to accurately depict history (the real version, not his weird whatever-it-is), he could repaint the Klansmen lynching someone or burning a church.

  • Karen24

    My grandparents were all born between 1898 and 1903, and demonstrated the racial enlightenment one would expect of white people born at that time in Winnsboro and Fairlie, Texas. They all loathed the Klan. My maternal grandmother had a brother who moved to Ohio during WWI and joined the Klan up there. She refused to speak to or about him until, according to my mother, 1949 when he was dying of lung disease. These people have failed, in the 21st century, to live up to the standard of racial enlightenment reached by 19th century Texas hillbillies. Way to go, guys.

  • Brad Nailer

    “No relief was given by the carpetbag and scalawag government or by the Union troops.”

    That’s rich. It’s almost as if the troops just up and left of their own accord after 1876, like they figured it was just too damn hot down there. Not to mention that all those black voters must’ve just gotten tired of gettin’ up and goin’ to the polls to elect their own black representatives. It was nice while it lasted “but things was gettin’ outta hand and we definitely needed us some Ku Klux Klan to keep things nice and orderly ’round here. We black folks definitely appreciated all their hard work for our benefit.”

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