It’s been a big week on the symbolic front. There’s been some direct action involving statues of Christopher Columbus and Jefferson Davis as well action taken by NASCAR and a dialogue within the military about renaming bases named for Confederate generals. I’m almost dizzy from the whirlwind of activity.
I have mixed feelings about the direct actions taken by protesters in Boston and Richmond. I prefer the sort of process we had in New Orleans, but I understand the jubilation of the exuberant crowds that took matters into their own hands. I think it’s wiser to allow the Lost Causers some time to grieve but decapitating Columbus has some wit to it.
It’s a good thing The Sopranos is fictional. Silvio, Paulie, and company busted some heads in Newark one Columbus Day:
In other symbolic news, NASCAR is banning the Confederate flag at its events. Boy Howdy. This will prove to be controversial since peckerwoods and rednecks love them some racing as well as the Stars and Bars. This move took some guts, y’all. It’s unclear what the cast of The Dukes Of Hazzard thinks of this change:
One NASCAR driver, Bubba Wallace, drove a Black Lives Matter branded car after the announcement. I am not making this up:
— robert gatewood (@wrgate) June 11, 2020
I never expected to write in praise of a NASCAR driver named Bubba. The world really has gone crazy, y’all. In this case, good crazy.
The military continues to rebel against bases named for rebel generals. An early public blow was struck by retired General David Petraeus at the Atlantic. He made the point that most of the honorees weren’t even very good generals:
It also happens that—Lee excepted—most of the Confederate generals for whom our bases are named were undistinguished, if not incompetent, battlefield commanders.* Braxton Bragg, for example, left a great deal to be desired as a military leader. After graduating from West Point in 1837, he served in the Second Seminole War and the Mexican War. His reputation for physical bravery was matched by one for epic irascibility. Bragg’s temper was so bad, Ulysses S. Grant recounted in his memoirs, that an old Army story had a superior once rebuking him, “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarrelling with yourself!” Bragg’s inability to cooperate diluted his effectiveness until his resounding defeat at the Battle of Chattanooga, in November 1863, precipitated his resignation from the Confederate army.
Honoring inept, traitorous generals is a funny way to honor the troops. The Pentagon is currently in a tug of war on this subject with the Impeached Insult Comedian. It’s ironic that Donny from Queens seems to see himself as the second president of the confederacy. But there won’t be any statues of him topple when the dust finally settles; only shame and defeat.
Finally, closer to home and my heart: Plans are afoot at LSU to rename the Middleton Library. Troy Middleton was an openly racist segregationist who was president of LSU from 1951-1962. It’s about fucking time. Here’s hoping they’ll put some money into the building as well. Perhaps they should name it after this former LSU honcho:
T is for both Tecumseh and T-shirt. It’s part of the Bayou Brief collection.
The times they really are a-changin’. The last word goes to The Byrds and Bryan Ferry. The former are introduced by Michael Landon and a parrot. I am still not making this up: