Chapter 76: COVID Chronicles

June 12, 2020

By Karen

Day 93

Toilet Paper Review & A Confederate Symbol That REALLY Needs to Go

When I accepted 14 rolls of Scott toilet paper my parents rejected after my mother complained it was too thin, I thought she was just being picky…

Turns out she wasn’t. I started using a roll, and this is the same paper you find in public restrooms on those big industrial rolls, where you have to pull off 6 feet to keep from soaking your hand and dripping dry.

This paper is so thin, they could almost make contact lenses from it.

The upside is that every other toilet paper in the house will now feel luxurious. I got a 32-pack of Quilted Northern at Sam’s Club back in April that I haven’t tapped yet. It’s going to feel like I’m wiping with pillows.

No other Confederate statues got ravaged last night, but yesterday the Richmond Police Memorial statue commemorating officers killed in the line of duty was removed for its own safety from Byrd Park after protesters hit him with red spray paint…

Photo Richmond Free Press

I assume he’s now comparing notes somewhere with Jefferson Davis and Columbus.

I read today that Virginia has the second highest concentration of Confederate statues in the South. Only Georgia has more. The Richmond area alone has 13.

Well, 11, since Davis and Wickham came down. Columbus doesn’t count because he had no dog in the Civil War fight.

But this is not to say that Richmond has made no headway in honoring African Americans. We’ve got statues of tennis champion Arthur Ashe, dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Maggie Walker, a prominent black teacher businesswoman from the early 1900s, and the newest statue in front of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, “Rumors of War,” which depicts a black man wearing Nikes, posed like the statue of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue…

Photos Left: VMFA. Right: Richmond.com

What really should go is the Confederate flag. It causes far more mayhem than any statue because it’s portable and wearable. Amazingly, NASCAR just banned it, although that will be hard to enforce once NASCAR fans are allowed back in.

These are people who watch cars drive in circles for hours. Instead of expending any thought to design a flag depicting whatever it is they DO stand for — if not racism and white supremacy — they wave a symbol of the dead Confederacy as if the South has a prayer of rising again, populated by morons who still carry a grudge against black people 155 years later.

Moving on to cat news, this morning while I was reading the paper I could hear Tony being cute with the Chewy box. As soon as he realized I noticed, here’s what he did (watch the middle of the paper)…

A few minutes later, I tried again. This time he circled me like a shark…

After I gave up and went back to the newspaper, he settled in his perch and allowed me this shot of his adorable toes…


My Belated Intro to Richmond’s Civil War Past

July 14, 2015

By Karen

Until recently, most of my Civil War knowledge came from Gone With the Wind.

Since moving to Richmond, Virginia, in 1972 and watching this city nurse a chip on its shoulder over the “Lost Cause,” I just assumed Richmond somehow suffered similarly to Atlanta during Sherman’s march to the sea, although I knew Sherman never laid a paw on Richmond.

As it turned out, no Northern army ever invaded Richmond, although it was the capital of the Confederacy and a prime target. However, battles were fought all around it.

My ignorance in this seems incredible, I know, but I went to school up North, and the Civil War was a chapter in American history. Down here, I’m told it’s a whole high school year’s curriculum.

Since 2015 marks 150 years since war’s end, Richmond has reveled in it yet again — until the Charleston massacre and its aftermath brought everybody up short.

The daily Richmond Times-Dispatch, which was in overdrive publishing Civil War dispatches and articles to avoid the real work of covering current events, opened my eyes on Richmond’s past, and it was jaw-dropping in light of the decades of pouty “Yankee Go Home!” attitude I’ve seen.

Picture this

Early April 1865 and the Union Army was attacking Petersburg, south of Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, when the Confederate Army faced the fact that it couldn’t defend Richmond.

President Jefferson Davis lammed off to Danville, deserting his mansion for U.S. Major General Godfrey Weitzel to use as HQ when he arrived. During his stay, Weitzel found in a desk a letter to Davis from General Robert E. Lee dated October 1864, containing the news flash that the cause was lost and they should make the best terms they could. But Davis sat on that intel and let the killing continue.

Before abandoning Richmond, Confederate soldiers broke open all the liquor and either poured it into the streets or drank it, then they set fire to warehouses holding munitions and tobacco so the Yankees couldn’t have them, and looting broke out.

The fires quickly raged beyond control and began consuming most of the downtown business district while the rebel soldiers marched away, leaving the civilians defenseless and in utter chaos and confusion.

When Gen. Weitzel and his men rode into Richmond, which no Yankee army had yet laid a finger on, it was being rocked by explosions, burning to the ground, and ransacked — by its own inhabitants.

The Union Army quickly distinguished the blazes, restored order, and began distributing food and tending to those in need.

And here’s the most ironic twist: Robert E. Lee had a brick residence downtown, near the fire zone, where he’d left his daughter and invalid wife. Unable to evacuate, they introduced themselves to the Union soldiers, who posted guards and kept an ambulance on standby for Mrs. Lee. General Lee was able to return to his unburned home after his surrender at Appomattox a week later, thanks to the Yankees.

Gen. Weitzel later wrote his memories of all this, stating that the people of Richmond (especially the blacks) were so thrilled by his army’s arrival that they kissed his soldiers and their horses.

Two days later, Abraham Lincoln himself came to assess the damage. Lincoln showed great compassion and mercy, and the future looked promising. That lasted less than two weeks, when an actor and Southern sympathizer named John Wilkes Booth, who’d spent some time performing in Richmond, assassinated Lincoln.

Resentment, spite, and racism have been allowed to flourish in the South ever since, and statues of defeated Civil War players are everywhere. It took the killing of nine innocent black people by an ignorant little white bigot wrapped in a Confederate flag to get the rest of the country to finally do a double-take at the South’s festering obsession and the latent racism that usually goes with it.

By all reports, many Southerners seem to be accepting that the Cause was wrong, the South lost, it’s part of the United States again, and it’s time to move on. And a good first step is to pull down that divisive flag that has become America’s Swastika.

In Virginia, we’re getting the Confederate flag off a few license plates, but a huge one still proudly waves beside Interstate 95, on private property, to signal that not everyone is welcome here yet.


Lose the Confederate Flag, Keep the Statues

July 2, 2015

By Karen

I moved to Richmond, Virginia, from the North 43 years ago this month, and it only recently hit me that I’ve been here nearly one-third of the time the Civil War has been over, and I’ve been reminded of it nearly every blessed day and resented it every time.

After the Charleston shootings, words can’t describe how thrilled I was to see some Southern states begin rethinking the preservation of their blockheaded “heritage” and getting with the 21st century.

In Alabama, without asking anybody’s permission, the Republican governor ordered four Confederate flags removed from the statehouse grounds. Amazing!

In VIRGINIA, our Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, ordered Confederate flag license plate issued only to the Sons of Confederate Veterans discontinued and all such plates in use (1,600) replaced. Hallelujah!

The plates were a small gesture, yet the SCV have vowed to fight it — even after the exact case in Texas recently went to the Supreme Court and LOST. (That old, “The South shall rise again!” mentality.)

OK, the flag once stood for the Glorious Cause, but the SCV refuse to acknowledge it’s been hijacked by racists, and racism is what it stands squarely for today.

Some Southerners are wringing their hands over the flag, saying it’s a slippery slope, and what comes down next?

Richmond has a big statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, on Monument Avenue (more on that in a sec) that just got defaced twice. One guy spray-painted an “L” on it to signify “Loser” (which was pretty “Lame”). Someone else painted “Black Lives Matter.”

Monument Avenue is a beautiful tree-lined boulevard with a wide green median, lined with lavish, historic homes and dotted with impressive statues of prominent Civil War figures like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on horseback.

It also has one odd, puny statue of black Richmond native and tennis great, Arthur Ashe, who’s posed as if lobbing a book to a bunch of sawed-off kids. Trust me, getting him on Monument Avenue caused everyone no end of angst.

Anyway, people are worried these statues will get torn down à la Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.

If that happens, are statues of slave owners George Washington and Thomas Jefferson safe?

I’d say the distinction is that the statues haven’t been embraced as racist symbols. They’re of people who played key roles in significant events in our past.

Let’s leave the statues of major historical figures alone. They don’t bother anybody, and in most cases they’re works of art that attract tourists and may be a comfort to some.

But statues and busts of relatively minor figures, like Nathan Bedford Forrest who helped start the KKK, belong in museums as curiosities.

Even though all the funerals in Charleston are over, I hope the South keeps progressing toward accepting that the United States is one country again, founded on the principle that all men are created equal — in spite our many, many lapses and some people’s lingering refusal to face it.


The South Finally Gets Real

June 23, 2015

By Cole

In my nine lives, I never thought I’d see the South accept the fact that the Civil War is over, that most of us are sick of hearing about it already, and that the Confederate flag has become nothing but the American Swastika.

It must be a real punch in the gut to Dylann Roof to see that massacring nine innocent black strangers didn’t start a new race war, but gave blacks and whites reason to bond. And that bonding comes thanks to the victims’ families, who displayed superhuman grace and forgiveness when they were asked to tell Roof what they think of him.

Their utter refusal to take his hate-bait freed whites to finally admit that their obsolete flag belongs in a museum — not atop or near any government building that purports to represent all citizens.

Hot as it is around here, we’ve now got a snowball rolling downhill. Mississippi is thinking twice about the Confederate stars and bars in its state flag. Tennessee may remove a bust of Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from its statehouse.

Even Walmart is pulling all Confederate-themed merchandise from its shelves. Let’s hope other retail chains follow. If racist punks with an imaginary axe to grind want to rock that rebel look, let them sew it or draw it themselves.

May this phenomenal progress continue until mentioning the Civil War in a way that implies it was anything but a horrible, embarrassing mistake labels the speaker an ignorant bigot.

Certainly, the South can keep laying flowers on the graves of its Confederate dead. It can even admire the bravery of those who gave their lives. But it can also have the decency to admit they died in a self-serving attempt to continue degrading and exploiting people who had done nothing to deserve such treatment, and any claim to the contrary is just revisionist thinking.

It’s time for the South to free itself from the shackles of its history so everyone can feel welcome here — even Karen.

 


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