« Fighting vainly the old ennui | Main | Spotlight on Frederic Rzewski with Lisa Moore (piano), 28 Feb 2008 »

07 March 2008

Comments

Andy H-D
1.

Sadly, Middle Tennessee State University (the alma mater of one of my compatriots) has a dorm named after Forrest. The history department continues to promise A's in enough classes to make a history minor to anyone who can successfully get it changed.

matt
2.

reading the wikipedia entry it looks like nathan bedford forrest changed towards the end of his life. he was no longer a racist...? whether this is correct or if so what his intentions were...i dont know. if he had truly changed tho thats something i suppose.

i went to highschool in franklin TN and our mascot was a rebel soldier with a large confederate flag. yikes...i imagine this is still the case. to say there was racial tension at my school is an understatement.

in memphis there is a road called secession way and i cant begin to tell you how many bumberstickers i saw that said "may the south rise again" on pickup trucks with large gun racks. im glad to be a northerner these days.

anyway i digress. i hope they end up changing the name of the train station. it is most definitely a slap in the face to the community at large.

DJA
3.

Hey Matt,

Thanks for your comment, and for your candor about the real reasons for Confederate nostalgia. What's frustrating about this is that the South has hundreds of years of history and culture to be proud of (including the achievements of Southern African-Americans, obviously), but instead of "Southern pride" being about all the good stuff -- like bourbon and barbecue and bluegrass and blues and Kansas City jazz and Twain and Faulkner and all the rest of it -- it's about fetishizing, well, a small gang of Southern elites who committed treason in defense of slavery. It makes me sad, because there are so many admirable things about the South and the people who live there, but some folks insist on romanticizing the worst part of their history.

As for Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Wikipedia article is pretty bad, as there are constant attempts by his apologists to alter the article in a way that casts him in a better light. (Much the same thing happens on the French Wikipedia page for Lionel Groulx.) Personally, though, it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference to me whether he eventually felt bad about the Fort Pillow Massacre or his role in the formation of the KKK -- the fact is, even if he came to regret his actions, he never did anything substantial to try to atone for the evil he'd done. One speech to the Pole-Bearers does not even begin to cut it.

Chris Becker
4.

Matt / Darcy - There's a fine book out called Dixie Lullaby (a story of music, race and new beginnings in a new South) that you might want to check out. It's sort of an until now unwritten history of Southern rock music and its relation to politics throughout the late 60's on up until the Clinton era.

Not to be argumentative or defensive, but as a former Southerner (by way of Southern Ohio, Florida, Texas and New Orleans before transplanting myself to NYC), I have to say that - unfortunately - I've found New York City as divisive when it comes to race, religion, gender and sexuality as any place you'd visit in the Deep South.

DJA
5.

I have to say that - unfortunately - I've found New York City as divisive when it comes to race, religion, gender and sexuality as any place you'd visit in the Deep South.

Did I claim otherwise?

We were talking specifically about Confederate nostalgia, which is, for obvious reasons, not as popular amongst the Yankee folk. But there are, clearly, lots of other ways racism can manifest itself, and no one region has a monopoly on hate.

Ryshpan
6.

And still people are trying to paint the renaming as a language politics issue, hot on the heels of a highly-publicized, overinflated brouhaha between an Irish pub (McKibbin's) and the OQLF. Please. There was also a big stink raised last year when the city tried to rename Parc Avenue after premier Robert Bourassa without any public consultation. The outrage was not because of francophobia but because of the travesty of democratic due process.

While I have my misgivings about whether a metro station is the best way to honour the late Dr. Peterson (and to be fair, he grew up on Delisle St., closer to George-Vanier metro), the fact that one of the highest-traffic stations is named for an unapologetic racist sticks in my craw.

Chris Becker
7.

"We were talking specifically about Confederate nostalgia..."

Right. That was clear to me. And this began with your essay where these issues are manifest WAY the heck up north. I didn't imply that you thought New York was somehow less of a racist environment than the South. I was actually excited by your post and was wondering if you and your band had traveled to the South and whether or not you had ever played or visited New Orleans!

I thought of Dixie Lullaby as soon as I read Matt's post as it mirrored some of the writing of Lullaby's author. So I thought I'd bring it up.


matt
8.

when i was in middle school having never visited yankee country (and not paying attention in history class....) i just assumed that the north was probably a better place to live ie less racist those days. i was horrified and slightly comforted to realize that the north was just as racist.

back in those days i felt ashamed of my southern heritage. it was hard to look past a large number of my fellow students waving confederate flags and spouting shit like the south will rise again. by highschool tho i had reclaimed my southernness and was able to see the south in a very positive light. american music was in a big way born there...how could i look past that? not to mention the many political and social advances that have taken place. how could i look past that!

what you say about bedford forest is true darcy. i dont go to wikipedia much and i tend to forget about it's unreliability. 1 speech to the pole-bearers doesnt and shouldnt account for years of racist actions.

i just remembered that on I65 going into nashville there is a large statue with nathan bedford forest on horse that is raised on its hind legs. i really hope this is on private property.

thanks for the book recommendation chris. sounds like an interesting book.

Chris Becker
9.

Matt - No problem. I think you will connect with the book and its author in an even deeper way than I was able to (not being a born bred Southerner but more of an adopted son...)

You also might enjoy my own Saints & Devils project - some tracks are up on my MySpace page. Take care everyone. CB

Valorie Hall
10.

I was elated that a campaign had begun to change the name of Lionel Groulx Metro to Oscar Peterson. What a sense of pride this would instill in many of our black youth who feel alienated from Quebec society.

The main reason given for selecting Lionel Groulx Metro was because of the racist views of Groulx. I wanted to find out everything I possibly could about Lionel-Adolphe Groulx, a Catholic Priest, born on January 13, 1878 and died on May 23, 1967. What I discovered about this man was not at all what I expected. There were many references about Groulx’s anti-Semitism and his belief in the superiority of the French race. I could have stopped my research there but I wanted to find the heart of this man. I found Groulx’s heart in the writings of many living and dead French people of Quebec. They loved Lionel Groulx because he gave them a sense of pride at a time when they felt they had no choice but to assimilate into the English majority. Groulx fought for minority French rights and for that reason he was considered worthy to have a metro station named after him.

I believe that the Lionel Groulx Metro name should not be changed. Instead, each and every child growing up in this minority community should be told the entire story of this flawed man who inspired a race of people to stand up and be counted as equals in Canada.

DJA
11.

I found Groulx’s heart in the writings of many living and dead French people of Quebec. They loved Lionel Groulx because he gave them a sense of pride at a time when they felt they had no choice but to assimilate into the English majority.

Thankfully, there is so much more to be proud of in the rich history and culture of Québec than a hateful little man who openly admired Mussolini and Franco. After all, those leaders inspired a "sense of pride" in their followers too -- that's kind of how fascism works.

This is not to say that the francophones of Québec were not unfairly oppressed or that the English power structure was not in need of overturning -- but lots of people managed to advocate for much-needed reform without embracing fucking fascism, fercrissakes -- real, honest-to-god, no-joking-around brownshirted WWII-era fascism.

Groulx's vision of what Québec should be -- a totalitarian state where only white francophone Catholics whose ancestors had been there for generations have any rights at all, non-Catholic immigration is restricted, "race mixing" is taboo -- is completely abhorrent. Nobody living in Québec today would want to live in such a place.

The comments to this entry are closed.