The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Elliot: Our statue, ’tis of thee, singing up some old history

President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd during an event in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (Madeleine Neal/The Daily Iowan)

By Beau Elliot

[email protected]

Our Great Leader has
declared disgraced (and deservedly so) former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to actually be a great patriot. Then he pardoned the poor, afflicted sheriff.


So let’s play “Let’s See,” just because there’s nothing else to do, according to some in this fair city, but drink. And it’s too early in the year to drink, if you’re keeping track at home. (It’s a concept, but there is an app for that. It’s apps-track.)

Arpaio is a right-wing type and proud of it, because that’s so American. Yeah, the Trumpster would like that. See Charlottesville. And those fine, fine people who
shouted, Jews won’t replace us, and, Blood and Soil (Blut und Boden; it was a Nazi thing, among some other things.) Yeah, fine, fine.

Arpaio made it a normal, everyday practice of running roughshod over some people’s civil rights. Those people generally had a different shade of skin from his. Yeah, the Trumpster would go along with that; when he hears the word “civil,” he thinks civil lawsuit, and he’s gone through enough of those to last three lifetimes. And no, we’re not talking cockroach lifetimes. Tempting, though. (Cockroaches only live for a year. No comment.)

Arpaio has had a problem, it seems (some would call it a history) with racial
profiling. His problem involved not doing it, because not doing it left him feeling empty and forlorn. It appears. Because when a judge told him to stop, already, with the profiling, Arpaio apparently continued, so then the judge found the sheriff guilty of contempt, and that leads us inexorably to The Pardon. Which the Trumpster had to do because Arpaio is such a great patriot and all. And because Arpaio is such a great patriot and all, the Trumpster had to pardon him late on a Friday night when pretty much everyone’s attention was riveted on Hurricane Harvey slamming into Texas and the ensuing disaster.

Nice work if you can get it, I think is how the old saying goes. You know how old sayings go. Kind of like statues of old Confederate soldiers gazing into history with that 1,000-yard stare. No word yet on whether the 1,000-yard stare helps the statues discern history. The statues aren’t speaking.

That’s OK. Plenty of folks around happy to speak for them. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? You know, the grand, storied, old history of the South, the tradition, the Lost Cause, the Spanish moss dangling like reminders from the trees, the blood and soil.

Oops. Cancel that last one; wrong war. Maybe.

Slavery. That’s what those Confederate statues stand for: defending slavery. That’s what every declaration of secession from every Southern state included: defense of slavery.

White supremacy. Blacks as three-fifths of a person. It’s in the letters of the Confederate leaders. “African slavery, as it exists in the United States, is a moral, a social, and a political blessing.” That’s Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president.

“… The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence. …” That’s Robert E. Lee.

Statues? For these guys?

How about some dustbins of history.

Funny thing about those statues, most of them. The majority didn’t start popping up until 30, 40, 50 years after the Civil War, during the time of Jim Crow, the KKK, lynchings, and general oppression of blacks. And the statues were mostly made in the North.

They’re not made of marble, either, most of them. They’re cheap cast metal, zinc mostly.

That’s why they’re so easy to topple.

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