South Carolina State Senator Katrina Frye Shealy recently declared that the state should “get past race and fix current problems.”   Dr. W. Kirk Wood, Professor History Emeritus at Alabama State University, wrote this in reply.

Dear Sen. Shealy,

Your recent letter to the editor of the State newspaper of 12-7-2015 (“Let’s Get Past Race and Fix Current Problems”) was welcomed and reflected the views of many of your constituents mine included.   Writing as a retired Prof. of History from Alabama State University (1986-2011), which school is a historically black university by the way, I can tell you that African-Americans and “Politically Correct” white liberals (and Democrats) do not want to get beyond race.   It benefits both to keep an exaggerated legacy of racism from slavery days alive for the sake of the politics of “victimization” and blaming the larger society of color prejudice for their individual ills and shortcomings rather than looking at their own personal agency caused by poor life decisions.  In turn, this fits the liberal, Democratic Party agenda of ever more government to solve all the ills of America. Nowadays, however, instead of entitlements, government has become the agent of reverse discrimination and, ironically, intolerance  of any one or entity judged to be insensitive toward minorities.

The Civil Rights’ Movement, about the content of one’s character, soon became “Affirmative Action” and positive government action to assure equal outcomes.  Since the 1970’s, multi-culturalism and the privileging of all peoples of color and cultures above European (white) civilization has been transferred over into the political sphere and Democratic Party politics where “Political Correctness” is now a matter of public policy to be pursued and enforced.  The quote at the mast head of Frontpage Magazine (published by David Horowitz’s Freedom Center) says it all: “Inside every  liberal is a totalitarian screaming to be heard.” (There’s a lot of history involved here but please see books by William Voegeli, Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State, Michael  Savage’s Liberalism is a Mental Disorder, Stephen R. C. Hicks, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, and Richard J. Ellis, The Dark Side of the Left: Illiberal Egalitarianism in America.)

Locally, the recent disruptive student incident at Spring Valley High School is just one example of many of exaggerated racism.  The student’s misconduct to some was not the problem but the action of the SRO who over-reacted because he was not sensitive to the student’s background and less than ideal home life.  For that matter, the whole issue of misconduct in schools has become a means of “criminalizing” behavior on the part of some.  If more minorities are suspended, it’s not because they violated the code of conduct but the code itself that reflects a racial bias.  So, we hear about “the school-to-prison-pipeline” for blacks that begins early in their lives. Along similar lines, a local Democratic state legislator has pre-filed a bill to expunge the state’s Student Misconduct statute.  I oppose this very much.  Non-expulsive measures for unruly students along with more multi-cultural studies and sensitivity training are no substitutes for legally enforceable legislation.

Also, the new slavery is not the “Sex-Trafficking” to which you refer but the “Mass Incarceration of blacks” in our jails and prisons notwithstanding real crimes committed.  In my view, if you do the crime, you do the time. While many are drug related to be sure, the liberal-PC solution is to de-criminalize all drugs.  On another historical note, the original push for stiffer punishments against crack cocaine came from blacks themselves back in 1986 in the wake of the death of U. of Maryland basketball star Len Bias’s death.  Drug abuse is now epidemic and the cause of other crimes for habit supporting including distribution.  It is easy to forget the past and untold lives destroyed and still being destroyed by illegal drug addiction.  The crime shows on Investigation Discovery channel and others provide visual proof enough of the lives negatively impacted with consequences for family and loved ones.

More recently, and locally, there are the instances of white police officers shooting and killing blacks. Instead of letting justice take its course, there is now a rush to judgment by an assumption of automatic guilt on the part of the police.  Witness the shame of Ferguson, MO when the officer there was finally acquitted and absolved including forensic evidence that the black male he shot had been done so justifiably.  On the other hand, when hundreds of  blacks are murdered by other blacks in Chicago, there is no outcry on a large scale at all only the sadness and hurt of immediate family and friends.  This double standard proves that politics and political correctness have more to do with “Black Lives Matter.”  It only matters when blacks are shot by white cops because this can be used to prove racism is still alive and well and big government is needed to eliminate it even if the civil rights of others are denied.

History is now the battleground of competing views of America, past and future.  On the left-liberal-statist side, multiculturalism and P.C. are the new tools of post-modern and neo-Marxist history language, culture, and philosophy informing a future America that needs an exaggerated past of slavery, racism, imperialism, conquest, exploitation, impoverishment, and injustice to provide the needed dialectical element for a new synthesis.  That it is more fiction than fact makes no difference at all.  History on the left is a tool of political propaganda to distort the opposition.  George Orwell understood all of this a long time ago when he wrote: “Whoever controls the present controls the past, and whoever controls the past controls the future.”  Even further back than Orwell, Confucius is credited with saying: “When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom.” This is especially true when “Freedom” and “Liberty” are key words involved and “Constitutionalism” and the “Rule of Law” are somehow left out (as in President Obama’s many and different Executive Orders as well as his and his administration’s refusal to enforce the law at all  that by default means rule by P. C. for left-liberal ends).

History is about what happened and why, for both good and bad.

We need to understand the past and neither forget it nor distort it for left-liberal ideological and political purposes.  For the conservative opposition, traditional history continues to be sufficient enough to study  and  inspire and to know when it is being misused.  In the substantial copied material to follow  by slow mail, points above are reinforced by the views of other scholars.  You know there’s more to the CSA flag controversy when the same P. C. is used against the California Bear Flag.

At the same, time CSA flag opponents somehow overlook the American flag as a symbol of slavery and race before the Civil War and for a longer period.


W. Kirk Wood

W. Kirk Wood holds a Ph.D in American History from the University of South Carolina. He taught history at Alabama State University from 1986-2010 and is the author of two books on nullification.

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