Canada’s National Day redefined over unmarked graves

Hidden graves at Kamloops residential school
Nicholas Rausch/AFP

Celebrations of Canada’s national day were more subdued than usual in parts of the country Thursday amid mounting fury and grief over the recent discoveries of more than 1,000 unmarked graves on or near the grounds of former residential schools for Indigenous children…

In a statement Thursday, Trudeau acknowledged that “for some, Canada Day is not yet a day of celebration.”

“We, as Canadians, must be honest with ourselves about our history because in order to chart a new and better path forward, we have to recognize the terrible mistakes of the past,” he said. “The truth is we’ve got a long way to go to make things right with Indigenous peoples.”

Indigenous leaders expect to find many more unmarked graves as communities across the country turn to ground-penetrating radar to unearth dark secrets buried for decades…

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said in a 2015 report that many of the students were subjected to physical and sexual abuse at the schools, which barred them from practicing their traditions and speaking their languages. It said that schools carried out “cultural genocide” and effectively institutionalized child neglect.

Some folks from nearby tribes, students from today’s version of these schools, visited the graves. Some leaving children’s toys, most bringing their own shoes to leave at gravesites. I hope someone brings strong justice to lay on the heads and hearts of those responsible for a childhood of religious slavery.

Juneteenth – here’s what it celebrates

The United States has a new federal holiday. On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that officially designates Juneteenth—observed each year on June 19—as an American holiday…Known to some as the country’s “second Independence Day,” Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of enslaved people in the United States at the end of the Civil War. For more than 150 years, African American communities across the country have observed this holiday.

At the stroke of midnight on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation came into effect and declared enslaved people in the Confederacy free—on the condition that the Union won the war. The proclamation turned the war into a fight for freedom and by the end of the war 200,000 Black soldiers had joined the fight, spreading news of freedom as they fought their way through the South.

Since Texas was one of the last strongholds of the South, emancipation would be a long-time coming for enslaved people in the state. Even after the last battle of the Civil War was fought in 1865—a full two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed—it is believed that many enslaved people still did not know they were free. As the story goes, some 250,000 enslaved people only learned of their freedom after Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, and announced that the president had issued a proclamation freeing them…

With Granger’s announcement, June 19—which would eventually come to be known as Juneteenth—became a day to celebrate the end of slavery in Texas. As newly freed Texans began moving to neighboring states, Juneteenth celebrations spread across the South and beyond.

“Say, Amen!”

A majority of voters want to abolish the electoral college

Only the Republican Party wants to keep this crap anachronism…because they believe more often than not, they benefit from avoiding a democratic vote.

89% of Democrats, 68% of Independents and 23% of Republicans support amending the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College and base the presidential election on the popular vote, according to the poll, which was conducted between August 31 and September 13.

Overall support for abolishing the Electoral College is at its highest point since 2011 (62% supported abolishing it) and six points higher than in 2019, and support among Democrats is the highest it’s been at any point since Gallup began tracking the question again in 2000.

Crank up your favorite search engine and wander around looking for “abolishing the electoral college”. You’ll even find a state or two that have moved to avoid it on their own with a compact regulating their state results to choose electors who represent the percentages cast exactly.

The 1619 Project

In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point Comfort, a coastal port in the English colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed. On the 400th anniversary of this fateful moment, it is finally time to tell our story truthfully.

Here’s the link. Forgive me, but, I don’t presume that very many Americans have ever read – or studied – this tale and its effects down to this day.

Never forget


Click to enlarge

“Mrs. Fanny Parrott, wife of former slave near Siloam, Greene County, Georgia.” — By Jack Delano, Farm Security Administration Photography program (FSA). May 1941.

Click through to the large version of this photo. The quiet dignity, self-contained beauty of age and experience tolerating this camera-carrying record keeper.

Juneteenth — and where to honor the end of slavery


Click on the photo for details

Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army announced to the assembled crowd at Ashton Villa in Galveston, Texas, “In accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

It was June 19, 1865.

Never mind that President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had been written and read more than two years earlier. Juneteenth, named for the June 19 declaration, started as a celebration of emancipation day in Texas and eventually spread to other states. With celebrations dating back to 1866, Juneteenth now commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

“America cannot understand its own history unless the African-American experience is embraced as a central factor in shaping who we are and what we have become as Americans,” writes Lonnie G. Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington…

In honor of Juneteenth, the museum helped CNN.com choose six destinations that will enlighten and educate visitors about a complicated period of American history, the road to emancipation.

They are in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Kansas, two in South Carolina and one in California.

For me, it has become Lubbock, Texas.

Most of my life I lived in New England and the choice was easy among friends and family. We’d drive up north of Torrington, Connecticut to the small plot of land saved as memorial as the birthplace of the abolitionist, John Brown. A peaceful country road, a pleasant spot to picnic and remember turmoil and death and change. And Freedom.

I was on the road my first year in the Southwest when Juneteenth came up and I was in Lubbock, Texas. My only clients in town were white and had no idea of the holiday. The Confederate history of Texas didn’t make it likely there would be much official celebrating going on in cotton country. But, at the end of the afternoon I drove to the Black end of Lubbock and looked for a church with lots of cars parked nearby – on a weekday. And found one.

I walked round to a picnic area behind the church and there were a hundred or so folks celebrating the day with music and speeches, music and arms that welcomed a white stranger into the anniversary like I had always lived there. As it should be throughout this land.

American Racism — Precursor to Hitler

❝ Americans have an especially insatiable appetite for Nazi-themed books, films, television shows, documentaries, video games, and comic books. Stories of the Second World War console us with memories of the days before Vietnam, Cambodia, and Iraq, when the United States was the world’s good-hearted superpower, riding to the rescue of a Europe paralyzed by totalitarianism and appeasement. Yet an eerie continuity became visible in the postwar years, as German scientists were imported to America and began working for their former enemies; the resulting technologies of mass destruction exceeded Hitler’s darkest imaginings. The Nazis idolized many aspects of American society: the cult of sport, Hollywood production values, the mythology of the frontier. From boyhood on, Hitler devoured the Westerns of the popular German novelist Karl May. In 1928, Hitler remarked, approvingly, that white settlers in America had “gunned down the millions of redskins to a few hundred thousand.” When he spoke of Lebensraum, the German drive for “living space” in Eastern Europe, he often had America in mind.

❝ Among recent books on Nazism, the one that may prove most disquieting for American readers is James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law” (Princeton). On the cover, the inevitable swastika is flanked by two red stars. Whitman methodically explores how the Nazis took inspiration from American racism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He notes that, in “Mein Kampf,” Hitler praises America as the one state that has made progress toward a primarily racial conception of citizenship, by “excluding certain races from naturalization.” Whitman writes that the discussion of such influences is almost taboo, because the crimes of the Third Reich are commonly defined as “the nefandum, the unspeakable descent into what we often call ‘radical evil.’ ” But the kind of genocidal hatred that erupted in Germany had been seen before and has been seen since. Only by stripping away its national regalia and comprehending its essential human form do we have any hope of vanquishing it.

❝ …In our current age of unapologetic racism and resurgent authoritarianism, the mechanics of Hitler’s rise are a particularly pressing matter. For dismantlers of democracy, there is no better exemplar.

Often pedantic, sometimes dry, always factual – which is why conservatives ranging from Holocaust deniers to Trumplicans will hate this article as much as they hate the whole history of the fight for civil rights in America..

Yes, Trump really is stupid enough to ask “Why was there a Civil War?”

❝ Donald Trump expressed confusion in an interview published on Monday as to why the civil war had taken place. He also claimed that President Andrew Jackson, who died 16 years before the war started, “was really angry” about the conflict.

Trump also said Jackson, a slaveholder and war hero who led a relocation and extermination campaign against Native Americans, “had a big heart”.

On Monday night, Trump sought to clarify his remarks, arguing in a tweet that Jackson had predicted the Civil War and would have prevented it had he not died 16 years prior…

Clarification? More like tweaking his ignorance after someone pointed it out.

The civil war was fought over slavery – the enslavement in the United States of African Americans – and related territorial, economic and cultural struggles. Jackson died in 1845. The first shot was fired by forces of the secessionist, slaveholding states on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, on 12 April 1861.

Defenders of Trump’s creative approach to history argued on Monday that the president was referring to a successful effort by Jackson in the 1830s to put down a secessionist threat. Nothing in Trump’s statement, however, indicates knowledge of the earlier episode, which was not part of the civil war.

And nothing in the resolution of that secessionist skirmish included the later attempted expansion of slavery to the American West.

❝ Trump’s statements drew expressions of extreme disbelief and consternation online. Many scholars noted that the investigation of the civil war’s roots was one of the richest veins in all of US historiography.

“Footnote for non-US readers,” tweeted the Guardian contributor Sarah Churchwell, a professor of American literature at the University of London. “There are probably as many books about the origins of our Civil War as about the origins of world war II.”

Time and again Trump relies on the core racism infecting his supporters. Yes, yes, often they are the sort of bigots who’ve realized that public expressions of racism aren’t acceptable in front of most Americans. They’ve learned all the Republican code words. They know the rote rationales for the Civil War tuned and tempered by generations of self-deception. They’re never going to offend their neighbors who are open bigots – rather than stand up for Constitutional standards of equal opportunity.

They will accept every excuse blathered out on Fox Noise over the coming week – by Trump and his acolytes.