Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Silly me, I thought THAT "master narrative" was back-burnered

Cross-posting a couple of Civil War celebratory items, courtesy of Tuesday JJP commenters:

(1) From Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic, who states: "I think we need to be absolutely clear that 150 years after the defeat of one of the Confederacy, there are still creationists who seek to celebrate the treasonous attempt to raise an entire country based on the ownership of people."

NOV 29 2010, 10:54 PM ET

The Times notes that in Charleston, the Sons of Confederate Veterans are planning a 150th anniversary "Secession Ball." Jeff Antley, a member of the SCV, explains:

"We're celebrating that those 170 people risked their lives and fortunes to stand for what they believed in, which is self-government," Mr. Antley said. "Many people in the South still believe that is a just and honorable cause. Do I believe they were right in what they did? Absolutely," he said, noting that he spoke for himself and not any organization. "There's no shame or regret over the action those men took."

It really annoys me the that Times used someone who they felt they had to ID as a "liberal sociologist" to counter Antley. Far better to simply quote from the founding documents which those 170 people authored. In that way we can get some sense of precisely what they were risking their lives for, and the exact nature of the fortune they were protecting:

We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof. The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: "No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."

This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River...

(2) From Katharine Q. Seelye at the New York Times, who reminds us: "Commemorating the Civil War has never been easy. The centennial 50 years ago coincided with the civil rights movement, and most of the South was still effectively segregated, making a mockery of any notion that the slaves had truly become free and equal.

"Congress had designated an official centennial commission, which lost credibility when it planned to meet in a segregated hotel; this year, Congress has not bothered with an official commission and any master narrative of the war seems elusive."

Well, let us not say that a master narrative is hard to find-- we seem to be tripping all over them-- but I suppose she meant that in another sense.

November 29, 2010
ATLANTA — The Civil War, the most wrenching and bloody episode in American history, may not seem like much of a cause for celebration, especially in the South.

And yet, as the 150th anniversary of the four-year conflict gets under way, some groups in the old Confederacy are planning at least a certain amount of hoopla, chiefly around the glory days of secession, when 11 states declared their sovereignty under a banner of states’ rights and broke from the union.

The events include a “secession ball” in the former slave port of Charleston (“a joyous night of music, dancing, food and drink,” says the invitation), which will be replicated on a smaller scale in other cities. A parade is being planned in Montgomery, Ala., along with a mock swearing-in of Jefferson Davis as president of the Confederacy.

In addition, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and some of its local chapters are preparing various television commercials that they hope to show next year. “All we wanted was to be left alone to govern ourselves,” says one ad from the group’s Georgia Division...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Voting rights in the South: a drive-by update to push your hot buttons

I am in the throes of pre-Thanksgiving Week weirdness (have you ever SEEN a gaggle of caged, crazed college students planning & executing a prison break?) so with hat tip to Prometheus6, here is a must-read from The Defenders Online.

Posted By The Editors On November 16, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

Alabama case threatens to have ‘heart’ of VRA declared unconstitutional

(New York) – Yesterday the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) filed a brief in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, a case challenging the constitutionality of two core provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The law requires jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to have voting changes reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice or D.C. District Court to ensure they are free from discrimination.

LDF’s brief asks the District Court for the District of Columbia to deny Alabama’s motion for summary judgment –which seeks to have the Section 5 preclearance provision declared unconstitutional based on recycled arguments that have been rejected previously. Instead, LDF asks the court to grant its motion for summary judgment on the grounds that a detailed Congressional record demonstrates that ongoing discrimination remains pervasive in those states and jurisdictions around the country where Section 5 applies...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What do Godot and Lefty have in common?

by Brian Edgar

Someone walking out of the theater having just seen Davis Guggenheim’s documentary Waiting for “Superman” shouldn’t be blamed for feeling a breezy confidence about the direction we should be headed with our nation’s schools. “The problem is complex, but the steps are simple,” the film assures us. We simply need to build more charter schools, get rid of lazy and incompetent teachers, create accountability regimes and—oh yeah—hire better teachers. But, first we need to get rid of the archaic bureaucracies and unions that protect these cretins. This would be great if it were true. Unfortunately, the film amounts to propaganda for the reform efforts beginning with President Bush’s No Child Left Behind initiative of 2001, not a prescription for reform.

Superman tells the story of five children as they attempt to transfer from their local public schools (and one parochial school) for better opportunities at nearby charter schools. These stories are poignant and devastating as we watch families pin their hopes and their child’s future on lottery systems to gain entry to charter schools with few openings. Guggenheim’s film creates a sense of urgency about the problem—low graduation rates, poor literacy and math skills, and the associated costs of an inadequate educational system on individuals and society. This sounds like a snoozer, but the film is emotionally charged, compelling, and well-made. While the film does a good job of depicting the overall context of reform from the policy perspective from charter schools, standardized testing, and merit pay, it cherry picks its cases to push an agenda and fails to illuminate what these reforms mean to teachers and students in the classroom, where learning presumably takes place...

More at The Brooklyn Rail

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Not sure what else to say post-Election Day

From Theodore Sturgeon (1918-1985):

"What do we look for now, Joe -- space ships?"

Monday, November 1, 2010

Proof of citizenship? Not so fast, Arizona

In a serious smackdown of Arizona, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals apparently wants people to vote. It gets a bit conflicting as you look at various provisions and rulings on showing ID and proving residency, but this particular decision means proof of citizenship is not a valid state test.
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A state can't require people to submit proof of citizenship when they register to vote, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in overturning a key provision of a 2004 Arizona initiative.

Federal law already requires voters to swear that they are U.S. citizens and meet age and residency criteria, and a state can't impose additional rules, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said in a 2-1 ruling.

The 1993 national law was intended "to reduce state-imposed obstacles to federal registration," the court said.

The majority included retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a former Arizona legislator and state judge who has been temporarily assigned to various federal appeals courts.

The court unanimously upheld another section of the Arizona law that requires voters to show poll workers proof of their identity. The judges cited a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing Indiana to require photo identification at the polls.