Mama always told me life was like a box of Confederate sympathizers. (No, of course she didn’t. My mother’s advice was generally excellent, judiciously dispensed, and never cliché-based.)
The horrific violence perpetrated by white supremacists in Charlottesville last weekend is still fresh in our minds, and we’ll be dealing with its aftermath for a long time. But one of the consequences of that abhorrent display of neo-Nazi hate involves confronting the many monuments to treasonous losers of a war fought to defend slavery. Some 1,500 statues and other memorials intended to honor soldiers and leaders of the Confederacy are scattered all across the country—some in states that didn’t even exist during the Civil War.
A movement to remove these reminders of a failed insurrection to defend an indefensible institution has progressed slowly in recent years (about 60 have come down or been renamed so far), but now it seems to be accelerating.
Stone Love: Just look at North Carolina, where Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has already declared his intent to remove all monuments to the Confederacy on state property—a noble goal, to be sure, but he’s got one thing standing in his way.
It’s the thing that always stands in his way: the GOP-controlled state legislature.
Three guesses as to which way they’ll vote, and the first two don’t count.
Rebel Rousers: But North Carolina isn’t the only state whose Republican-controlled legislature passed laws designed to prevent the removal of Confederate monuments.
- Since the racially motivated massacre in Charleston in 2015, GOP-controlled legislatures in Tennessee and Alabama have passed new laws to keep their public stars, bars, losers on horses, and other things commemorating the South’s role in the Civil War intact.
Running on Empty: But Republican lawmakers in some states are pushing laws that—especially in light of recent events—are even more troubling than those meant to preserve Confederate monuments.
Heather Heyer’s murder-by-car on Saturday shines harsh light on a spate of bills pushed by GOP lawmakers in multiple states designed to protect some motorists who hit and kill protesters.
- These bills began popping up after large Black Lives Matter and Dakota Access Pipeline protesters temporarily blocked some highways as they used their significant numbers to draw attention to these causes by shutting down traffic.
- The proposed legislation would grant immunity, in certain circumstances, to drivers who struck and killed such protesters if they can’t be proven to have acted deliberately. (It’s unclear if any of these measures would protect alleged Heyer’s alleged murderer, if they were law in Virginia.)
These bills have surfaced all over the place—including Texas, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Florida, and North Dakota—and are part of a broader raft of of anti-protest legislation proposed in at least 19 states.
For What It’s Worth: Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos plans to introduce a resolution “condemning the ideology of racial hatred that was witnessed by the world in Charlottesville.”
Racism is more than statues of dudes who fought to preserve slavery and white people with hoods and torches; it also manifests as institutional measures that block certain groups from enjoying full access to the rights—like voting—to which all Americans are equally entitled.
I Can’t Help Myself: On a radio show on Thursday morning, Maine Gov. Paul LePage compared taking down Confederate monuments to removing the 9/11 memorial in New York City.
It super tough to be surprised by LePage’s outrages at this point, but this is truly special:
“To me, it’s just like going to New York City right now and taking down the monument of those who perished in 9/11.”
- And because the Republican governor maybe thought he wasn’t being horrible enough, he proceeded to call newspapers “pencil terrorists” in the same interview.
… which doesn’t even really make sense, on top of being super messed-up.
- LePage also claimed he doesn’t watch TV or read newspapers, which helps explain his general level of ignorance, to a point.
Speaking of Maine … The Daily Kos Elections team has finalized our calculations of the 2016 presidential results by legislative districts for the Pine Tree State! We all know that Maine has a terrible, volatile, temperamental Republican governor, but fewer may realize that the divided legislature is really closely divided. Democrats have a 75-71 edge in the state House, but Republicans have an itty bitty 18-17 majority in the state Senate. Both chambers are up every two years, and lawmakers can serve only four consecutive terms at a stretch. In light of who’s termed out where this cycle, Democrats have a real opportunity to establish a solid hold on both legislative chambers in 2018—and if LePage’s successor is a Democrat, a full Democratic state government trifecta.
Check out our full set of presidential results by congressional and legislative districts here!
Well, back to fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. Until next week!