Diary

The target of rage this week for daring to acknowledge Southern history

As RedState’s Warner Todd Huston has covered recently here and here, and as I’ve noted over at PeachPundit.com here, it is increasingly anathema for anyone to acknowledge the history of the Confederate States of America without the typical slinging of allegations of racism and bigotry.

The usual race pimps find any acknowledgment of heritage they disapprove of to be unacceptable. For instance, peruse with me the ravings of Bishop Carlos McKibben of Albany, Georgia concerning Confederate Heritage Day:

I think it has something to do with this is Deep South and they still consider – sometimes some people consider whites superior than blacks and we still have a problem with that.

Or, for a more vapid viewpoint, Georgia State Representative Tyrone Brooks (D-Bigotville):

“These Southern states really still have not come back into the Union,” he said. “That is why it’s been so difficult over the years to get the states to recognize that flying the Confederate emblem on the flag, holding reenactments and pushing these calendar events as a matter of law is a reflection … of their Confederate mentality.”

“This is a new day. The Confederacy lost, and the majority of the American people will not accept these ideas about a renegade group of folks.”

No doubt State Representative Brooks is horrified that so many people are daring to acknowledge history or that youth may use it as a foil to learn about their ancestors. We can’t have that!

But now the goons who get their ire up over people celebrating their Southern heritage and ancestry have found something so vile, so incredible, that the very foundations of our Republic are at risk. Its very presence is, we are told, horrifying and offensive and will, I predict, soon because a much bigger deal once the “race pimps” on the left learn of its existence in the Georgia Department of Agriculture headquarters in Atlanta. This time, though, they are not upset about heritage or ancestry…but about history:

It’s a mural depicting an actual, factually correct period of United States history with black slaves working for white landowners. Oh, the horror! Cast your eyes upon this travesty…if you dare!

DO NOT LOOK AT THIS HORROR!!!

My Lord! Just look at how this honest portrayal of history is wreaking havoc:

DO NOT LOOK AT THE LIGHT, MARION!!!

As you can see, Security officer Phyllis Jones is forced to work in such inhumane conditions with this mural right behind her. And she’s smiling…surely the result of “the man” forcing her into accepting her fate, right?

As night follows, day, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s intrepid reporter found some who were (brace yourself) shocked:

Bruce Wade, an associate professor of sociology at Spelman College, showed his class a photo of one of the slavery murals. He said they felt it simply reinforces an image of blacks’ subservience to white people.

One thing the generations in his classroom agreed upon: “My students and I were shocked that [the slavery mural] is so prominent in a government building.”

Yes, it’s better to hide history rather than acknowledge it and move along. But the outcry doesn’t stop there.

Ronda Racha Penrice, a Grant Park history buff who recently saw the murals and picked up one of the handouts, said that even after looking over the printed information, she found the murals “disturbing.”

The display should be updated, Penrice said, because it makes contributions of black people to the development of agriculture appear to be limited to what they did as slaves.

“I think we have to understand that in the time when they were created, there would absolutely be no problem with them. But I don’t know that they’re appropriate for 2009,” Penrice said.

What people like the youth at Spelman College and Ms. Penrice seem to believe is that an honest acknowledgment of the past is not acceptable and necessary for a truly enlightened society.

But the mural that some are all bothered by is simply one of many:

Upstairs are more contemporary scenes — a farmers market; truck farming, with a black man and a white man working side by side; and researchers in a lab. An eighth painting that showed a farmer consulting with his county Extension agent was removed when a hallway was reconfigured, Schronce said.

The murals were commissioned for the building that was completed in 1956, the year Georgia’s state flag was changed to incorporate the controversial Confederate flag. They were painted by the late George Beattie, a noted local artist who was executive director of the Georgia Council for the Arts from 1967 to 1975.

The new handout describing them includes a quote from Beattie, who acknowledged in a 1995 article that his slavery murals were troubling to some.

“As a human being, I am vehemently opposed to slavery, as anyone should be,” Beattie was quoted as saying, “but it was a significant epoch in our history; it would have been inaccurate not to include this period.”

And Beattie is right. It is history. It is a part of Georgia history, now discredited and universally viewed as a dark time, never to be repeated. But to prefer illiteracy over historical fact is just wrong and opens the door to a panacea of different viewpoints and historical facts that some would rather remove from the public record than use as a teaching tool to improve society and the individual by avoiding such horrific periods in the future. This, simply put, is not an example of the Georgia Department of Agriculture throwing its support behind a return to slavery.

At least one person understands how all the hubbub is pointless:

But Brenda James Griffin, who retired in 2005 as the Agriculture Department’s assistant commissioner of public affairs, said she finds the paintings inspiring. She said she looks at them and sees people who did what they had to do to survive and thinks about how far their descendants have come.

“We have had some people who have found them to be offensive,” said Griffin, who worked in Agriculture for 30 years. “I say I as a black woman see it as a part of history. … We can’t just roll out history when it’s convenient.”

Indeed, Ms. Griffn, indeed. Unfortunately, I fear that many would prefer to cry “racism” and seek to use their “offense” to wash away another historical fact for their thin-skinned convenience.