Spell C-A-L-H-O-U-N across the steel grey sky

Spell C-A-L-H-O-U-N across the steel grey sky May 3, 2017

• “I have been the victim of one of the most horrendous civil rights violations in recent U.S. election history.”

Who said this? Was it:

A. Evelyn Turner, who worked with her husband to register black voters in Alabama and thus was prosecuted and persecuted by then-U.S. Attorney Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.

B. Any of the millions of voters disenfranchised by white-nationalist Trump adviser Kris Kobach’s “Crosscheck Program.”

C. One of the millions of Americans disenfranchised due to a “felony” devised by the so-called “War on Drugs.”

D. Carter Page, who was able to vote and to participate in a presidential campaign, but is also being investigated by the FBI due to credible suspicion of espionage on behalf of a hostile foreign government.

Did you guess “D,” the white guy? Because it was D. The white guy whose right to vote and participate in a campaign was never restricted.

• President Donald Trump’s comments on the Civil War were surprisingly ignorant, even when accounting for the high threshold for surprise when it comes to the seemingly expanding ignorance of Donald Trump. The president’s remarks came in an interview with the right-wing, Trump-friendly Washington ExaminerTrump’s comments further proved the complete reversal of the Republican Party, which can no longer claim to be the party of Lincoln but, rather, the party of Calhoun and, as Trump argues, of Andrew Jackson.

The best summary presentation of Trump’s actual words comes from Twitter:


“He really said this about Jackson and the Civil War?” Yale historian David Blight said. “God help us.”

I suspect this comes from Trump’s boundless admiration for those he regards as “strong men.” He thinks of Andrew Jackson as an unstoppable Green Lantern, and thus envies and admires him the same way he envies and admires Vladimir Putin, Rodrigo Duterte, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Unshackled by law, such leaders, Trump imagines, can do anything based on their sheer willpower.

This is also, if you’re paying attention, what Trump is telling us he wants to do as president. Especially the unshackled by law part.

John Fea has a good collection of reactions to Trump’s Civil War remarks. Jamelle Bouie also responds.

After retrieving my eyebrows from the ceiling, my next thought about Trump’s comments was that it might serve as a kind of writing prompt. There’s a fun alternative history that might arise from this idea of what if Andrew Jackson had been born a generation later?

Pondering such a thing risks falling into the kind of “great man” errors that Trump falls for here, but to me the interesting part is trying to re-imagine the Jackson Era without Jackson. We could imagine a different outcome in the Seminole Wars, thus giving the Underground Railroad a southern destination and perhaps creating a very different Florida, with a possible alliance between Seminoles and former slaves. Maybe President Clay grants it statehood sooner, and on those terms. Meanwhile, in Georgia, the growing presence of a vibrant community of Cherokee Baptists — not decimated and displaced by Jackson in this timeline — might just mean a different trajectory for the Baptist conventions of the 1840s. …

As for Jackson himself, I’d have him born 50 years later in this alternative timeline, as Trump suggests. That will make him just 19 years old, in my story, when he dies at the Alamo.

Imagining the Jackson Era without Jackson could be a lot of fun. But not as much fun as imagining the Trump Era without Trump.

• “He treats racism like a distraction from sharing the gospel. When will white evangelicals realize, addressing racism is inherently a gospel issue?

That (via Field) is Jemar Tisby discussing a social media fail by a bunch of white faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a Southern Baptist institution that still thinks: 1) Racism is not “inherently a gospel issue;” and that therefore 2) the gospel can be preached without ever addressing white supremacy; and that, therefore, 3) they can be confident their version of the gospel is right and true and good and orthodox, without ever examining how it has been shaped and misshaped by white supremacy. Oy.

So, then, I haven’t really provided any news today. Carter Page said something craven and foolish; Donald Trump said something astonishingly ignorant; and Paige Patterson said something tone-deaf and racially appalling. Dog bites man.


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