This Juneteenth, remember the GOP is the neo-Confederate party

Juneteenth doesn’t just celebrate the end of nearly 250 years of black property slavery – a brutal institution of forced labor, sexual abuse and exploitation, and wanton violence.

The day also celebrates the defeat of the Confederacy, a treacherous entity based on the fundamental belief of white supremacy and the perpetual subjugation of black people, as declared by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens.

For this reason, amid the rejoicing of the occasion, it is also essential to recognize that while the Confederacy may be long dead, Confederate ideology is alive and well, especially among Republican stalwarts.

America as a whole has a white supremacy problem, but perhaps nowhere is it more pronounced than on the political right, where openly vengeful, authoritarian and undemocratic powers constantly prove they are driven by resentment. and the revenge of the white race. In short, the GOP is the neo-Confederate party.

This is neither hysteria nor hyperbole — the GOP’s neo-Confederate agenda is often open and explicit. With the exception of Virginia, the so-called “heritage laws” that have long prevented the removal or alteration of Confederate monuments in seven states were not put in place by Republican legislatures until the 2000s ( when they sensed growing opposition to the statues), and they are still fighting to keep them on the books.

The top half of the statue of former Confederate General Robert E. Lee is lifted after it was cut and removed from Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. September 8, 2021.

Ryan M. Kelly/AFP via Getty Images

Florida attempted to codify a similar law this year, and though it died in committee, GOP lawmakers vowed to try again in the 2024 legislative session. This year in Mississippi, the most nation’s black, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves once again proclaimed April Confederate Month. (Ten southern states still have holidays that celebrate the Confederacy; Alabama and Mississippi actually observe Martin Luther King Day on the same date they commemorate Robert E. Lee.)

Under the guise of stopping voter fraud, the New Confederates are using the same tactics as ever.

April has also been declared Republican History Month by Tennessee’s Congressional Republicans, whose celebrations appear to have included the expulsion of two elected black lawmakers – a display of white power’s utter contempt and contempt for democracy.

Nationally, GOP Sens. Both Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley voted against a proposal to rename bases named for Confederates who carried out attacks on the country’s military forces.

Just days ago, in their respective speeches at the Republican convention in North Carolina, former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis each promised the presidential campaign to change the new base of the Army of Fort Liberty in its former name of Fort Bragg. Never mind that General Braxton Bragg was the biggest traitorous loser among an entire insurgent nation full of traitorous losers. (Bragg is considered perhaps the most incompetent and ineffectual general in the Confederacy, whom one of his own men noted “not a single soldier in the whole army ever liked or respected”. )

In 2023, restoring Confederate names should not be on the priority list of stump speeches by presidential candidates. But DeSantis and Pence acknowledge that neo-Confederates make up much of their base.

This is why the GOP is currently consumed by the myth-making Lost Cause, which, according to scholar Mary Anne Franks, requires “whitewashing the role of slavery in American history; selectively defending the rights of States; and promoting racial, sexual and religious supremacy. Just as the United Daughters of the Confederacy banned the teaching of authentic history and banned books that challenged the ahistoricism of the Lost Cause, white conservatives across the country are currently waging censorship campaigns against historical accuracy, with the same end goal of persevering in a white supremacist national memory.

Between January 2021 and December 2022, a UCLA Law School study found that lawmakers at all jurisdictional levels proposed 560 actions against what the right erroneously labeled “critical race theory,” of which some 240 have been adopted. Like their predecessors, conservatives campaigning for book bans and removals are only too willing to resort to white terror, harassment and violence, including threatening teachers, administrators and librarians, and often associating with far-right groups like the Proud Boys.

Soldiers walk past a newly unveiled sign after a redesignation ceremony officially renaming the military installation Fort Liberty June 2, 2023 in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

When Governor DeSantis’ administration announced that an advanced high school African American studies course “significantly lacks educational value,” he was reassuring his status-worried supporters that there was still strength in white power and its will to flex the same. He was also signaling a deal with people like the Alabama mother who recently told local media that there was already “too much black history” being taught.

There is also the GOP’s large-scale opposition to black enfranchisement.

The conservative effort to suppress black voting, one of the main rights of American citizenship, has a long history, from deadly anti-black violence at the ballot box during Reconstruction, to campaigns of white terror against black people trying to vote during Jim Crow.

The neo-Confederate GOP undermined black voting with repressive legislation — voter ID laws, limited early voting, and the closing of 1,700 polling places in nonwhite neighborhoods. A Republican from Arizona even suggested testing for voters, though he refrained from proposing poll taxes.

It’s no coincidence that accusations of invalid votes in the 2020 election have centered on those cast in the majority black cities of Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. It was anger specifically against black political power that drove gun-wielding white conservatives to show up outside vote-counting centers. New Confederate politicians called for an increase in “poll watchers” and extremists self-deputized and staked out polling sites.

It was the furious anger over the votes of blacks and other non-whites that drove violent mobs of white supremacist insurgents to scale walls, smash windows and smear various bodily fluids throughout the US Capitol. Under the guise of stopping voter fraud, the New Confederates are using the same tactics as ever.

And speaking of the Capitol insurrection, there’s the right’s open embrace of white supremacist vigilantism, as evidenced not only by Capitol terrorists labeled “patriots,” but in celebration and fundraising for murderous figures, from Kyle Rittenhouse to Daniel Penny, whose only claims to fame are their willingness to kill black people and anyone perceived to be in alliance with them. Neo-Confederates have always used the rhetoric of law and order as a signifier of racial order, where white anarchy is justified and black protest is criminalized.

Demonstrators protest Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ plan to eliminate advanced placement courses in African American studies in high schools as they stand outside the Florida State Capitol on February 15, 2023 in Tallahassee, Florida.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post via Getty Images

And we are once again witnessing the invocation of “state rights” on issues ranging from marriage equality to immigration to abortion. Perhaps the least discussed (yet most important) case currently before the Supreme Court is Moore v. Harperthat would essentially give unchecked power to hyperpartisan, bad faith red state legislatures, i.e. the majority, to reject the election results until the presidential vote. These are the very real extremes we face with the Neo-Confederate race to turn back time.

It’s frightening, with potential consequences that amount to those seen after the overthrow of Reconstruction.

Christopher Rufo, the right-wing propagandist who proudly admits to cynically misinterpret critical racism to incite outrage among white conservatives, and Matt Walsh, a right-wing commentator whose obsession with trans people begs for therapeutic intervention, aren’t just very online dudes leading to CRT misinformation and anti-trans paranoia, they are active participants in a movement that seeks to erase black people from history, trans people from public existence, and women from everything beyond the home.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) can be seen as a madwoman who repeatedly promoted secessionist sentiments, but so-called “sensitive” Republicans, including former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, did the same.

The GOP’s neo-Confederate march is real — and players from DeSantis to Green, Rufo to Walsh — with their appeals to “tradition” that really mean racial and gender policing — may not be. not always in formation, but they have their eyes on the same regressive endpoint.

Juneteenth – which we must never forget has been called “divisive” and reverse racism by many elected Republicans – reminds us that the fight for liberation never stops. Especially when the GOP, a neo-Confederate party in all but name, hopes to free so many of us.

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