I’m writing this piece on Friday afternoon, officially the first observation of Juneteenth as a federal holiday. After decades of waiting, it came in as a rush job. Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday is a wonderful thing but what concerns me much more are many of the events happening around it.
I’ve been familiar with Juneteenth for decades. I originally come from metro Buffalo where Juneteenth has been celebrated in the Black community for decades. I recently read Forget The Alamo by Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford. The book reinforced the truth that the Alamo, Texas and the Civil War were all primarily about slavery. Lincoln freed the slaves via the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 however the word didn’t reach the enslaved Black population of Texas until June 19, 1865 – hence Juneteenth. (Note the slave owning whites knew but kept it a conveniently and profitably secret.)
One of the current big fights is the right wing is trying to prevent the teaching of what they are calling Critical Race Theory. Like “conservative” it is a term they have appropriated and conveniently redefined. I guess Cancel Culture has run its course for them. It is simply the newest edition of the Lost Cause and just as twisted. Basically, what they want to do is prevent the teaching of the truth whenever it portrays the white population in a bad light (i.e. slavery). Remember this is the same group who went apoplectic over teaching critical thinking because it’s difficult to indoctrinate informed thinkers. To them right wing mythology is scared and that is that.
I believe that sum and total America is the greatest country in the history of the planet. That doesn’t mean it is perfect or ever has been. Going back to my coaching days you learned more from a loss than from a win. The same can be said of political science (which is agnostic as to Party or philosophy). A good political operative dissects a loss and sees where changes are needed.
The enabling legislation passed the Senate unanimously after Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin removed his objection. In the House it passed 415-14-2. The 2 not voting were Republicans Dan Crenshaw of Texas and Patrick McHenry of North Carolina. I don’t know the details. The 14 who proudly proclaimed their racism and rejection of reality are (no surprise) all Republicans. They are Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona, Mo Brooks and Mike Rogers of Alabama, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Ronny Jackson and Chip Roy of Texas, Doug LaMalfa and Tom McClintock of California, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Matthew Rosendale of Montana along with Thomas Tiffany of Wisconsin.
When you think of all the racists that were smart enough to realize this was going to pass and hid behind a throwaway aye vote you have to wonder just how stupid the 14 are.
My bottom line is that the Juneteenth federal holiday is great. The much larger issue is that we must teach the truth about America – the abundant good, the bad and the ugly.
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