Tag Archives: Confederacy

The Covid -19 Pandemic: The Crisis that Comes Late in Life

Today Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards meets Washington with President Donald Trump to discuss Louisiana’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a time to remember that the crisis affecting my life is a crisis affecting the whole country and the whole world. But I am not a public official and do not exercise much leadership these days. So for me the struggle of this era is a personal struggle.

It would be nice to say that this current crisis makes me feel how little my own suffering is compared to other suffering. It would make me more likable to say that normal times seem much better compared to this crisis. However, none of that is true.  My general state of alienation has not changed for the better. I still long for a different vision of the future than is available. The struggles of many people and myself going back over a period however many years one chooses to look at and going on into the present has been marked at least by as many defeats as setbacks and victories. I think had more of the battles fought been won then the world would be in better shape right now.

This pandemic is something that comes after a long series of crises that I have known in my life and that life has gotten me to a certain place that is not any other place. I am where I am and am doing what I am doing.  What stage of life one is in depends on what life has brought the individual in question in previous decades or years. Over all this is the stage of life of trying to make a settlement with the past. Setting records straight and putting things in order. This is a period for setting up the exit. I know that for most world leaders my age is in their past but they have had very different lives.  Much of my life is a nightmare beyond my ability to ever transcend  in the remaining years of a lifespan.

While the Confederate heritage has gone from being very controversial to being more or less  universally maligned across the country. General Alfred Mouton’s death in the last major confederate battlefield victory. The Battle of Sabine Crossroads or the Battle of Mansfield was long after the high water mark of Gettysburg but although doom hung all about it was in victory that the old veteran of many  struggles who was not yet an old man gave his life. As fates go in the real and troubled world it is not such a bad fate.



This may well be the beginning of the end for me even if I get through the economic crisis and the infection crisis  more or less unscathed. But I can say that while it has been a battle so far it has not been an all out defeat. I was able to send a second donation through Family Missions  Company and my family there to a friend in the Philippines who is not only trying to help feed her village but trying to keep spirits up during the crisis.   The pictures below are just some of those that she sent me.  Giving children treats may not appeal to most agencies but I know such things can make a positive difference  in morale.The truth is that there are different ways in which each of us fight the battles of life. For me this struggle with the Coronavirus Pandemic is just another struggle and conflict on the road of life.

To simply remain engaged in the struggle is a kind of victory. Whether one is fighting for a truly lost cause or as part of a revolution not to be victorious until much later after very great cost there will be times on the route when the only thing to be said in favor of the campaign is that one gave battle to one’s enemy. Simply keeping an army in the field has to be enough.

The struggle of life is going on and has gone on for a good while but I am engaged both in my own personal struggle and in the larger struggle as well. Battle is of course a metaphor. But the metaphor is a compelling one in this case for me. I have hit some setbacks. My effort to publish one of my books has hit a big snag and that may be yet another obstacle I cannot overcome. I have had some health issues. My extensive repairs on the very old car I drive may still not be enough to have it in truly good shape when the time comes to press forward again.

I have managed to consolidate my finances but not enough feel secure in these trying times. I am grateful to have a good home where I can rest up and recharge my batteries. But I am also feeling the cost of being a late middle aged guy living alone in a crisis. I try to be really careful but I am not laboratory careful. I have tried to help my Parish (like a County) to achieve its good record with the virus so far. But I know that in the long run things are likely to get worse here before they get better and in the end I am likely to catch the virus. My mind, soul and body are taking their licks and even if I win this battle I am still facing the outcome of many years of coming up short. But to be in the struggle is a kind of victory.


America and the Nature of Political Will

Obama ran on “Hope and Change” as his motto in 2008. He is term limited by the Constitution. He cannot run again as things stand. When he won he used the crises of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the financial crisis to power the election bid. Now we have a complex and brewing racial violence crisis which has reached a new peak and focus with the  Charleston shooting and its aftermath. This comes out of a long past and  the struggle with that past is also deeply relevant. It is also in the news.

It is clear that political mileage will be made out of all of this. What is not clear is who will make this situation most effectively part of their plan to change things. The main change is often to increase their own political power.

The Democrats on their official site do not at the time I am typing this reference the Charleston shooting or the Confederate flag on their home page or the prominent pages of their website. It may be that the events and their coverage have affected placement of other website elements on their site. The Republicans on their official website had not yet singled it out either but the homepage prominently displays an image of Abraham Lincoln who founded the party and fought against and destroyed the Confederate States of America. In the most prominent montage on the site featuring prominent current Republicans as I just looked the site had the Republican Governor of South Carolina who has called for the flag to be moved and removed place in the most prominent upper left corner of the group of images.

Gettysburg settled upon our country many parts of a new consensus . . .

Gettysburg settled upon our country many parts of a new consensus . . .

What then is the significance of this killer’s use of the flag in a set of pictures? What is the response to the response to those images? There was a small box prominently placed on the front page or homepage of the NAACP website related to the Confederate flag being removed from the Capitol Grounds in South Carolina. The article presumably will move around the site but still be available here. Well Alabama has lowered and removed the Confederate flag as can be followed here. That is as significant at least as the fact that the flag continued to wave nearby as Clementa Pinckney laid in state as was his right in the nearby capitol.  In Virginia it seems they will discontinue Confederate emblem license plates. These two former Confederate States certainly demonstrate a great deal of serious and prompt action on this subject. These various governor’s calling for symbolic changes are not politically identical. But there is a presumption in some places that partisan politics is at the heart of this entire discussion.  Prominent novelist, my long-time Facebook friend and blogger David Brin takes a partisan view as a democrat that you can reach here. His take is at least bordering on hate-mongering but David Brin is a relatively unique person coming from a relatively unique place and neither a politician nor a journalist.

When I led the Crater Cap Colony COncept Group on Facebook we had a very diverse group from around the world but some American memebers were unique in approaching me with the request that I discontinue the emblem featuring the American flag.

When I led the Crater Cap Colony Concept Group on Facebook we had a very diverse group from around the world but some American memebers were unique in approaching me with the request that I discontinue the emblem featuring the American flag.

Certainly politics will continue to play a role in the direction in which things move. But the issue transcends electoral politics. Walmart, Amazon, E-bay and others have decided not to sell images with the Stars and Bars anymore.  The cost of exhibiting any sense of Confederate identity may well be going up in the next few years at least. What difference these actions will make to American society is not so easy to determine.  What is certain is that the reality of the nexus of race and violence in America which I outlined here is not the focus of attention for very many people in seats of power and influence and neither is it likely to become the center of a great deal of discussion. Although their has been some discussion. I look forward to the  reality of a decline in the level of really open and honest discussion about history as the vestiges of this opposition force are attacked in a new way.  Nonetheless, there is no magic formula that determines in my mind where this set of emblems should and should not be honored. The Confederate heritage is not the only nor even the primary heritage that I honor.

The seal of the Confederacy ties the Lost Cause to the Revolution and the past long before that war.

The seal of the Confederacy ties the Lost Cause to the Revolution and the past long before that war.

The crisis going on in the United States of America today is a complex and difficult  set of social circumstances to understand.  There is a great deal going on in journalism and near journalism and some has been collected by people like me and also by people like the University of North Carolina Press. It’s also true that talk radio is full of discussion, oration and preaching that is in some way connected to the Charleston shooting and before the shooting there the radio waves were to a lesser degree busy with discussion of the events related to race and violence in the rest of the country. The struggles of the people who are most affected by the violence in the country, by problematic government policies and by the racial context of our time do not constitute struggles to get elected, increase ratings or even preserve churches, flags or monuments. As it was when I posted this, I did not really much like the UNC grouping and said this about it in another place on the web.

This may be a historical perspective on a group of journalistic articles dealing with history but neither has the balance of classic American journalism nor the depth and fullness of good history. That is a fairly damning and extreme comment about something bravely and proudly showing the UNC banner. It’s good to be sensitive to the horrors and the grief occasioned by a terrorist attack on a Bible study in an historic church.

Now may be difficult time to write things which associate the victims with people for whom they have no legal and little other responsibility. Yet, I do not think it is excusable to foster a bouquet of nearly total denial of vast parts of the truth from terrorism from the North before the Civil War, to Union atrocities during and after the war, and unceasing violence from the hardly reported (and rare) violence of the fringes of the Civil Rights movement, to dangerous and massive civil disobedience in the mainstream Civil Rights movement, to criminal acts with a racial element by African American assailants, all the way to the current nexus of race and violence centered in places like Ferguson, Baltimore and Chicago. Dylann Roof was a terrorist perhaps with psychological problems and perhaps without an organization but he was not a young man living in paradise who was crippled and consumed by delusional fantasies of race related violence. It’s alright for liberal, moderate and left-wing professors to hope that this event will boost book sales and class enrollment. It is less alright to be ridiculous even when you have isolated yourself from most of the people who could disagree with you…”

So far the official site of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has shown little evidence of being affected by this very intense time of reacting to the fact that the Charleston shooter posed with the American flag. The website for the United Daughters of the Confederacy also seems as yet to be unchanged. Both of those characterization are relevant as of the time of typing these lines and may not be the case forever. Dylann Roof has also got a site up but I have not yet examined it myself nor will I link to it from this blog until it is very old news if it survives that long. But his life has shown that people form opinions for which they are willing to kill and die outside the halls of power. His murderous invasion of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopalian Church was part of a series of actions that responded to real concerns and was expressed in real planning and preparation — at least that seems to be the case. The Bible Study was within his vast and undisciplined hatred perhaps but not in a delusional or fantastical way primarily. David Duke, the  old Louisiana Klansman who has become far more of a champion for anti-Semitism than for white supremacy in recent years did have a few links discussing banning the flag. One is here, if Brin can be offensive then be prepared that this David can be very offensive at many levels and repeatedly.  Unlike a lot of people with opinions on Southern politics I live in the South. Although I have traveled a great deal  I am very deeply rooted here. I am doubtful that I will  really be a political prisoner in the United States. It could happen but here we are less open with oppression in most cases. The folks with Duck Dynasty, a popular Louisiana family with a national television following  are seen by some as being free from Confederate controversies. You can link to that website  which has investigated that here. I on the other hand do pay tribute to the Confederate Ordeal and its dead. The struggle is not without resonance for me.  We are not yet in a state of tottering on the edge of any kind of Civil War. We are not yet doomed to collapse into any kind of really massive form of violence. But such a thing is not impossible.  We have what it takes to find a better way forward and I have blogged a good bit about what that way might be.  For now it might  be good to look around at all the reasons for hope — there are many. But we have our problems and this is one of them– this vast problem with race and violence and politics which is finding its voice and center in new ways around the actions and images of one violent young man.

A Few Reflections on the Passing of Days

I have been working a lot on a novel about the life of Jesus Christ. You can see parts of that novel here, here and here.  I have also struggled with the vast wear and tear on my body and have lost a friend who was my most continuous non familial relationship since childhood. Dr. David Link Silar’s funeral was the Saturday before my Monday birthday. In addition I buried another friend that day. We will get to some prosaic concerns I had that day and every other day and yet politics matter enough that I made it to the Acadiana Press Club Forum that birthday when I turned fifty-one. The issues of the last legislative session matter a great deal to me.

Louisiana State Senator Fred Mills leafs through the budget...

Louisiana State Senator Fred Mills leafs through the budget…

But amid my fully preoccupied and not very smooth and easy life the shooting of a pastor who was also a state senator in South Carolina and many members of his Bible study. Nine people have died of the incident so far. Dylan Roof may be executed for it in time.  I did an earlier post linking to material relevant to this tragic outcome of an act of racial and political violence. But this is a post about my own since of things in the world being filled with reports of this man’s acts. It is about my life at the same time.

The truth of the last few months has been comparable to the years that have preceded those months in as much as I have almost always been very much on the side of things which notes and declares how wrongly the world was arranged on a variety of matters. But I think real change has also occurred in my life. That change is connected to change in the larger world but not so very directly and intensely as in the lives of some people.

I’m in the mode of just falling apart this month it seems. I’m not at all surprised as that is a kind of predictable and more or less cyclical consequence of the life I have lived as well as the world in which I have lived it. I have had many times when I was under the limits of my body or of other resources and was required to step back and slow down.

The truth is that there are reasons as diverse as my returning foot problems, the loss of an old friend Dr. David Link Silar and the assault on my life by a relatively large number of relatively minor physical and financial stresses. I’m blogging now after letting my blog slip or not.

I have been dealing with a large fallen tree limb in the lawn tthat I take care of normally. It has been an evolving process with lots of ancillary problems. Generally my life is always plagued with ancillary problems.

The orange tree panted and nurtured on the new house site on old family land.

The orange tree panted and nurtured on the new house site on old family land.

There are lots of stresses on the plants but it is my own life which is most stressed by the relationships and interpersonal situations that form the context of even my own now very limited life and work. I have dealt with the fallen tree in the context of wearing ankle and foot braces. I have done it in the context of a damaged chainsaw that I have not yet used at all and an axe that I have used. I have dealt with it in the context of having a trailer driver start driving off while the twenty five foot spread branch system was still hooked both into the trailer and into my hands — the jolt strained my back for a while. I took some of the pictures of the main limb and the branches I had cut in a driving rain that interfered with my schedule.

Fallen limb cleared of branches by me with my axe.

Fallen limb cleared of branches by me with my axe.

I struggled to move the cleared branches across the lawn at the time when they would damage the lawn the least. The rain poured down again just after I got the branches into a pile beside the driveway. As I have stated earlier this picture was taken in the pouring rain.

Pile of cleared branches in a heavy rain lit by the sun.

Pile of cleared branches in a heavy rain lit by the sun.

In addition the lawn has a fairly large wildlife population. I protect in one way or another the toads, non-venomous snakes, squirrels and other creatures. But I have had to kill a lot of pit vipers at close range with blades while I worked. That has also been a source of stress. I mind it less than most would but it affects me.


Vipers jaws protrude from the smooth and even sides...

Vipers jaws protrude from the smooth and even sides…

In addition to all of this I have been distracted from the Louisiana budget and marijuana issues of the last legislative session which mattered to me a great deal. I did attend an Acadiana Press Club Forum on my birthday. I was glad I did but Dylann Roof’s fatal shooting of nine people in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopalian Church in South Carolina overshadowed those political issues. I still think that those issues matter a great deal.

Congratulating Louisiana State Senator Fred Mills on reforming Marijuana law...

picture taken on my camera by Richard Mergist Congratulating Louisiana State Senator Fred Mills on reforming Marijuana law…

What comes next in the gubernatorial and senatorial elections matters and should be covered in this blog. The terrorist attack by a young man claiming that he is inspired by the Confederate ideals clearly demands that I confront his interpretation of a symbol that I respect. I did so briefly in my last post and will do so again. I have also stated that this tragedy occurred in a context of widespread racial political violence in contemporary American life.

Sad and troubled days will be the norm for a while at least….

The seal of the Confederacy ties the Lost Cause to the Revolution and the past long before that war.

The seal of the Confederacy ties the Lost Cause to the Revolution and the past long before that war.


Union and Secession and Identity

Almost nothing is ever permanently resolved in politics. Scotland may soon leave the United Kingdom (it may also not do so) that has been one of the most settled unions in modern and late medieval history .In the South of the United States of America one of the issues one grows up with is what to call the war fought between 1860ish and 1864ish. There is a spectrum of answers: The War of the Rebellion, The Civil War, The War Between the States, The War for Southern Independence and The War of Northern Aggression are the chief choices. I am proud of an in touch with my own Confederate heritage and I seek to honor it in many ways. However, while I seek constitutional change my ancestors were secessionists and I am not I seek to preserve the Union. Secession is not the part of the past I want to make alive today. Scots currently feel it more and more likely that independence is necessary. I commented on “The Lords of the Blog” about this and other issues:


10/02/2014 at 3:57 am
Lord Soley,

It would be a tedious process difficult to prove to your readers or yourself to show my family connections over millennia to a sizable number of crucial uniting and dividing number of processes of creating and dissolving unions. I think clearly there can be unintended consequences. While it does not seem likely Europe and a separate UK would go to war in a generation it might happen in bit longer time. Clearly the UK benefits from the ties to the great diversity of human and other resources in Europe and the UK.

Perhaps your compatriots who want to leave wish it for many reasons. However, the chief may be a concern about where this is all headed. Clearly the European Common Market has evolved a great deal and is headed in certain direction. My Acadian ancestors migrated to the New World and abandoned their deep network of roots as an existing society around La Rochelle because the modern era was destroying the union of Languedoc–”Paix(s) des Coutumes” and Languedeouil –”Paix(s) des Lois” which was how they saw France. After much bloodshed it seemed the way to preserve who they were into the future. They and my ancestors who may or may not have been qualified to be in the Cincinnati sought independence from a British Empire which was centralizing after a great victory in the previous world struggle against France. The failed attempt to achieve an independent Confederate States of America attracted my ancestors and their friends because it seemed the only way to preserve a recognizable facsimile of the future they intended when they joined the Union. In my case this theme goes much further back in time.

You are I believe of a party and ideology which seeks broad and global change and adaptation most of all. I do not mean you are always reckless or ill-advised. But if you wish to communicate with those who wish to leave seek to answer how the changes they foresee can be true to the reasons their ancestors in ideas, beliefs and blood agreed to the unions in the first place.

Whether I could have been a great success if I had behaved very differently I do not know. But at nearly fifty I seem to have paid a high cost for certain choices of priority but feel I had little choice. I would imagine the relevant groups you are addressing feel much the same way. For them a real risk of ceasing to be Scot or British is not endurable if they can do anything to stop it.”

Greece is a tiny shadow of what it once was for centuries but it emerged from total eclipse as a political unit. Israel with Hebrew as an official language is another such miracle. The world evolves continually and its maps evolve continuously. I cited the Ukrainian revolution in an earlier status update and wish that nation the best as it struggles forward. The truth is that Western Ukraine has a larger portion of its heritage who are of old Greek diaspora stock from the Byzantine Empire mixed with Slavs than the Eastern Ukraine. But Ukraine’s western people are more likely to be Greek Catholic Uniates with Rome or Roman Catholics while the East is more Orthodox in Union with what is left of Christian Byzantium through Russian Orthodoxy or elsewhere. But they are more Ukrainian than anything else and have a nation together. On my Facebook list I am honored to have had (and still seem to have thought there names do not tag here) some of the leadership of the Sons of Confederate Veterans such as Michael Givens, Chandler Givens, Tom Hiter and Frank Powell III. They have a fraternity which allows differing views on how independence relates to current Confederate heritage and I do not know what their personal view are, but members do support the USA while it endures. The Scots would keep the British Monarch as Queen of Scotland which she already holds as a title.

So what would the issues be? Well, here are some raised rather well.


“Likely questions
Areas the Committee are likely to cover with the witnesses include:

What legal principles should govern negotiations for Scottish independence in the event of a “yes” vote?
Is the timetable of independence by March 2016 realistic? What impact will the timing of the UK general election in May 2015 have on this timetable?
What legal measures would be needed to allow negotiations to take place?
Who would negotiate for the remainder of the UK and to whom should they be accountable?
What would happen if the two negotiating teams could not agree on an issue?
What would be the status of the 59 MPs for Scottish constituencies in 2015–16?
What impact would Scottish independence have on the work and membership of the UK Supreme Court?”

I post this rambling discussion to stimulate thought and inform. But not to make too much any single part of it.