2015 DC protest against 'Southern Heritage Confederate Flag Rally.' Photo: Elvert Barnes, Creative Commons license 2.0

The House of Representatives voted yesterday to remove all Confederate statues from display in the US Capitol's Statuary Hall, what with those guys being traitors and all. In addition, the measure calls for the removal of a bust of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney that's in the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Capitol. Taney wrote the infamous 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision that declared African Americans weren't US citizens, and therefore had "no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

If the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law by President Biden, Taney's bust will be replaced with a bust depicting Justice Thurgood Marshall, who actually deserves admiration.

Roger B. Taney? More like Roger B. Tainty, amiright?


The measure passed in the House by 285 votes to 120. All votes against it came from Republicans, who should be ashamed of themselves. No Democrats voted against it, which makes House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's comments about the bill pretty fucking craven:

Repeating the bullshit line that's been such a money-maker for history distortionists like Dinesh D'Souza, McCarthy said, "Let me state a simple fact: All of the statues being removed by this bill are statues of Democrats." As Roll Call puts it with more than a bit of understatement, McCarthy's comments left out "the context that the modern two-party system does not compare neatly to the political dynamics of the antebellum period and late 19th century."

Odd that the Republicans didn't unanimously vote to remove those supposed "Democratic" heroes, to really stick it to the Dems.

McCarthy then tried to draw a parallel between the vicious racists who supported the enslavement of Black Americans and the latest rightwing outrage hobbyhorse, critical race theory, which contends that anti-Black racism pervades US law and institutions.

Today the Democratic Party had doubled down on what I consider this shameful history by replacing the racism of the past with the racism of the critical race theory.

How true this is. What could be more precisely like slavery than saying that slavery and Jim Crow have left a deep stain on US history? Saying so makes white people feel bad, so it's exactly like chattel slavery.

Nonetheless, McCarthy did at least support the legislation, if only so he could condemn Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton for attending the funeral of Robert C. Byrd, who once belonged to the KKK, bet you didn't know. Funny, McCarthy also forgot the part where Byrd thoroughly repudiated racism and embraced the cause of civil rights. The NAACP issued a statement mourning his death, saying Byrd's career "reflects the transformative power of this nation."

Gee, McCarthy left out a whole LOT of things. If nothing else, it's pretty persuasive evidence against the idea that we need to keep Confederates statues around to help us remember history.

As Roll Call notes,

Congress authorized the National Statuary Hall Collection in 1864 to allow each state to donate two statues of notable citizens "illustrious for their historic renown or for distinguished civic or military services" for display in the Capitol.

Not surprisingly, a lot of southern states chose to honor Confederates. In 1931, for instance, Mississippi donated statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and a Confederate colonel, James Z. George. Neither was a native Mississippian, but both represented the state in the Senate, and honoring them in the Capitol sent the important message that white supremacy was what mattered most.

We should add that the placement of Confederate statues in the Capitol was opposed by some, even in Olden Times, particularly by northerners who for some reason thought the South had lost the Civil War. Historian Kevin Levin noted on Twitter that in 1910, at the height of Lost Cause revisionism, Republican Senator Weldon B. Heyburn objected to having a statue of Robert E. Lee in the Capitol:

I have not changed my mind about that Lee statue. You would not want to place Benedict Arnold's statue there and you want to put Lee's. It's the same thing.

Still Lost Causes die hard, and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) offered — what else? — a statement making a goddamned states' rights argument for preserving the heroes of enslaving human beings.

I support federalism and a state's right to decide for itself who it should honor. As such, I will proudly vote "No" on H.R. 3005. Alabama, not New Yorkers, Californians, or anyone else, should decide who we wish to honor in Alabama's contribution to the National Statuary Collection

Under the legislation, Confederate statues that are owned by a state, like South Carolina's contribution, a statue of slavery and white supremacy advocate John C. Calhoun, would be returned to the state by the Architect of the Capitol. Others that don't belong to a state will be left up to the Architect to deal with.

Maybe they could be incorporated into a nice tasteful landfill, or crushed and used to protect DC from sea level rise, doing some good for their country for once.

[NPR / Roll Call / USA Today / WNYC / Photo: Elvert Barnes, Creative Commons license 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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