Saturday, February 12, 2011

mundane history tour

i kind of know how the folks in egypt feel, living as they do in the shadow of a glorious past. of course, they had the pharaohs and pyramids, whereas here in virginia we have the patriots and state capitol designed by tom jefferson. in fact, old tom was raised down the road on tuckahoe plantation, just a couple of miles from here.

when i have some time on my hands, like on a weekend afternoon when the weather's not too severe, i like to head into some of the more historic -- if not hysterical -- avenues and byways of this historic commonwealth. virginia, mother of presidents, has slipped a long way since the glory days, unfortunately. now we've got kenny-boy cuccinelli, the darling of the gun-slinging, anti-obama, tea party revolutionaries, who doesn't seem to understand how the excesses of the past are the harbingers of sorrow in the future.

Jefferson's state capitol building
this is the embodiment of the classical ideals that animated the age of reason. the american revolution and french revolution both grew from the seeds of the enlightenment, and the founders were men of the age. they weren't christers, and this wasn't founded as a christer nation, as much as today's money-grubbing, gun-loving, fag-hating born-agains may insist it was. whether it be george washington, in his letter to the hebrews, assuring that all were welcome regardless of religious persuasion, to the early treaty with the Muhammadans, wherein the US government explicitly proclaimed itself NOT a christer nation, the historical record is clear.

nevertheless, virginia today is a hotbed of religious fanaticism, whose footsoldiers are in open rebellion against the federal government -- in spite of the unseemly dependence of the state economy on federal largesse. yet while they decry federal laws they disagree with, they aren't nearly as dogmatic as to eschew the power of the state when it comes to forcing their morality on others (read, reproductive rights, subverting science education with religious dogma).

Let's go to yonder whorehouse!
the politicians in virginia wanted to bury washington under this monument on the state capitol grounds, but he declined. i suppose he got enough of the bullshit that runs rampant here in richmond during his lifetime -- and had no interest in spending eternity here. he's a prime example of a founding father who was not a christer, nor particularly hung up on the hand of the almighty in the affairs of men. the deists, which i think he was, believed that the creator, such as it was, started the ball rolling when the world was created, and then couldn't be bothered by the trifling preoccupations of puny humans. i wholeheartedly agree: no supreme being could be the least bit interested in the silly machinations between "players" that we are so obsessed with. check out washington's secretary's account of washington on his deathbed for a better portrait of the man's beliefs than i'm giving.

this statue was a gift from 'english gentlemen'
it's a bit difficult to read the inscription on the pedestal, so let me help. thomas j. is better known as "stonewall" jackson, one of the south's most beloved generals. check out his wikipedia biography. we was a gifted military tactician, and his death -- shot by his own men -- proved to be a grave setback to the confederate cause. it's no great surprise that one of the south's great generals would be memorialized in capitol square, but check it out: it was presented to the state by "english gentlemen", and was "gratefully accepted by virginia in the name of the southern people." in 1875, the war had been over for 10 years, but it appears that the ardor for the cause of these "southern people" appears to have endured in spite of the south's crushing defeat. but wasn't all.  

william who?
this is william smith, who lived to be 90 years old. he had an extensive resume, the highlights of which are recounted on the statue: governor, congressman, confederate representative and general in the southern army. he was also, it is recounted, "a man of strong convictions, bred in the strict states rights school." of his military career, it was noted that the only criticism of his performance was his propensity to put himself in harm's way. he was evidently quite a hot-head: "when the storm of war burst, his voice was in his sword." this type of martial bluster will no doubt buck up the modern day, tea party revolutionaries, who are at heart chomping at the bit to fight the civil war over again. states rights is still the call to arms of the cuccinelli storm troopers, and all the other bozos in their tri-corner hats who think they, and they alone, have a proper understanding of the constitution.

they fancy themselves eagles, but they're only pigeons
this is what i think the suckers of the tea party movement are setting themselves up for. they seem to have remembered the glories of the past, and forgotten general william tecumsah sherman and his famous march to the sea. when the south had the initiative, the brave boys in their smart grey uniforms marched off to defend the south's way of life, only to come back to a war-ravaged wreck. they've had 146 years to stew over it, and to forget that the US government, when it finished tearing their asses out the frame, turned their attention to the native peoples, and exterminated them. what's the chance that once the plutocrats have gotten what they wanted from the tea partiers, that they won't throw them under a bus, too? useful fools, but fools nonetheless.

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