Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Abyss: Updates

So many corporate CEOs on two presidential advisory boards resigned or supported disbanding that the White House itself disbanded both.  But many CEOs acted under immediate pressure from the public, in some cases reversing the stands they made just hours before:

“The collapse of the CEO councils is not due to an outbreak of conscience,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Instead, it is public pressure — pressure for the CEOs to evidence a measure of decency — that is driving them off the councils. That’s not exactly the most inspiring example of moral leadership. No profiles in courage here.”

Score one for the Resistance.

But even though stories continued to emerge of dismay in the White House and the administration, there were no resignations on Wednesday.  Jonathan Chiat notes that White House staff were shocked only that Homegrown Hitler made his racism public--they've been working hard to hide it, since they've heard him in private.  It's unlikely then that these cowardly enablers will step out of the moral abyss.

There were a few more measured statements from Congress but no profiles in courage there either so far.  A challenge has been made however, as several House Dems introduced a resolution to censure the apprentice dictator in the White House.  Supporting that is the only way out of the abyss for Republicans, but breath is not being widely held.  NBC and Fox new shows couldn't get a single Republican officeholder to talk on camera about this situation.

However, pretty interesting that dissidents to HH's rhetoric came from leaders of the US military.  The NYTimes:

Five armed services chiefs — of the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines and the National Guard Bureau — posted statements on social media condemning neo-Nazis and racism in uncompromising terms. They did not mention Mr. Trump by name, but their messages were a highly unusual counter to the commander in chief.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that Homegrown Hitler was pleased with his Tuesday performance, and so apparently was his alt.right aide:

The president was not alone in his pleasure at the news conference. Chief strategist Steve Bannon, whose nationalistic views helped shape Trump’s presidential campaign, was thrilled with the remarks, according to a friend of Bannon. Even though Trump on Tuesday failed to offer full-throated confidence in Bannon, saying, “We’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon,” the controversy has brought some additional job security for the strategist, who has been on the outs with Trump and other White House aides."

This suggests to me that while some White House staff may have been blindsided by HH's statements on Tuesday, Bannon wasn't--he probably was the one who prepared the notes that HH was seen slipping into his coat pocket just before the press questioning began.  Enough of these notes was visible to determine they were about Charlottesville.

Add another to the White House roster of Nazis--the NY Times reports that the lead lawyer for HH on the Russian investigation forwarded an e-mail "echoing sucessionist rhetoric."

The Governor of Virgina followed the governor of North Carolina calling for all Confederate monuments in their states to come down. Meanwhile the city of Baltimore quietly took down four Confederate monuments, literally overnight.

On the history and its significance, Adam Goodheart writes persuasively in Politico that the erection of statues commemorating the Confederacy were deliberate political acts in times of renewed racial oppression, giving them a significance now that might be lost outside their local and historical context.

For example, the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville was not installed immediately after the Civil War but in 1924, the height of the Klan revival.

It is important for non-Southerners to try to understand the local context, from both sides of the racial divide.  At the same time, resurgent racism is not just a Southern phenomenon.  The Nazi who killed Heather Heyer and injured others came from Ohio.  Self-proclaimed Nazi groups hide out in isolated areas of the West.

As for history, a striking aspect of all this for me is the coincidence of my recent research into the old Post Office building in my hometown of Greensburg, PA, which turns out to be modeled very closely on the old Court House in Charlottesville.  In fact, I thought I spotted that Charlottesville building--now a library--in a photo of the strife there.

While Greensburg (being in a Union state) doesn't have a Confederate statue, it does share a history of hosting the Klan resurgence in the 1920s.  According to a local history, the Greensburg chapter was formed in 1921 and "was said to include many prominent county and Greensburg men."

Update: Here's an interactive map of the 917 hate groups in the US, as compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

No comments: