Sunday, August 20, 2017

What it looks like when we erase history

I'm sick of this shit, and in a bad mood this morning.  More coffee means another rant.

Is taking down a statue "erasing history?"  Um, let's talk about what it really looks like when people try to erase history in this country.

At the beginning of the 112th Congress, the newly elected Republican House majority decided to go through a ceremony.  They were going to read the full text of the Constitution on the floor of Congress, alternating Members, with successive legislators reading successive passages.  The ritual was the fulfillment of a promise based on the "tea party's" notion that we had lost our way, and that the Constitution had been thrown aside.  We must return to the Constitution, and the first step was to start the new session of Congress by actually reading the Constitution.

The thing was, few tea partiers had ever actually read the Constitution.  They didn't really know what was in it.  Among conservatives, there are parts of the document that are quite unpopular.  Ask any conservative about the Constitution, and their favorite part will be...

THE SECOND AMENDMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After that?  Um....

As it turns out, a lot of conservatives really hate a key portion of the First Amendment.  Specifically, the establishment clause.  Just ask Alabama Senate candidate, former-Judge Roy Moore!  To religious conservatives, "we are a christian nation," and should be formally established as such.  They'd kind of like to get rid of that pesky establishment clause.  As much as liberals would love to get rid of the Second Amendment!  Conservatives also pretty much hate the 16th Amendment (income taxes), and a faction in the movement has recently-- and weirdly-- rallied around the idea of repealing the 17th Amendment, which was the amendment that instituted direct election of Senators.  I could keep going, but the basic point is that conservatives really aren't as keen on the actual text of the Constitution as the 2010 tea party rhetoric suggested, but back in 2010, they all put on tricornered hats and ranted about how we all needed to get back to this sacred document.  So, House Republicans said that they would read the full text of the Constitution at the start of the 112th Congress.  First thing.  Full text.  No fuckin' around!

Wanna see it?  Here it is.

That's C-SPAN's 51:23 video, edited to cut out the speaker transitions.  If you don't want to spend 51 minutes watching it, I'll spoil it for you.  The Republicans didn't actually read the full text.  Part of it was that they were incompetent, and had some glitches, but there were some more serious issues.  Aside from some behind-the-scenes squabbles over who got to read THE SECOND AMENDMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, it was only after they had locked themselves into this stupid, little promise of reading the full text that any of them actually read the full text and realized that, um... wait a minute.  That fuckin' thing talks about slaves 'n shit!  Yes, it got amended, but if you actually read through the full text, it talks about three-fifths, and things like that.  What the fuck do you do with things like that?!

What did congressional Republicans do?

They didn't read those portions.  They erased history.  Watch that fuckin' video.  You will not hear the congressional Republicans read the portions of the Constitution that addressed the existence and implications of slavery written into the founding document.

Why?  They used the excuse that those portions were amended, but "amended" isn't "erased."  Congressional Republicans "erased" those passages, verbally.  They chose not to read those passages because the whole thing was a stupid publicity stunt, and they didn't think it would be fun to get up on camera and talk about three-fifths of a person.

So, they just didn't read those passages.  That is what it looks like to erase history.

Taking down a statue doesn't erase history.  Pretending the Constitution didn't say what it said?  That was erasing history.  On camera.

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