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The purview of the Rittenhouse Trial is not new


Are you familiar with the Reconstruction & Post-Reconstruction periods? It feels like Post-Reconstruction now, around 1911. Reconstruction was between 1865 and 1877. It was a period immediately following the Civil War. Reconstruction was an attempt to use policy to employ racial equity measures to bring up the quality of life of those who had been enslaved. The Radical Republicans instituted these actions & policies. That might sound confusing to some. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, Republicans were more progressive, and the Democrats were largely unabashedly white supremacists. That is where the term Dixiecrat originates. Many Southerners into the 1980s refused to call themselves Republican, because Lincoln was a Republican, and he stole their property and took their gun.

During Reconstruction in 1870, the U.S. had its first African American Senator from Mississippi, Hiram Revels. During that time, U.S. House Reps (R-MS), Benjamin S. Turner (R-AL), Robert DeLarge (R-SC), Josiah Walls (R-FL), Jefferson Long (R-GA), Joseph Rainey, and Robert B. Elliott (R-SC) were also elected. Alonzo J. Ransier and Richard Howell Gleaves both were Lieutenant Governors in South Carolina. Birth of a Nation (1915) “lovingly” portrayed Gleaves and Ransier as one character, Silas Lynch.

The Klan first documented appearance is in 1865. In their first iteration, it was more of a fringe group. A blood-curdling horrifying fringe group that was more than likely responsible for the 50,000 murders of Black people immediately succeeding the Civil War. The Klan viewed itself as the Invisible Empire of the South. The grand wizard at the time was Former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forest.

Republican President Andrew Johnson’s lack of enforcement of Reconstruction policies allowed the “South to Rise Again.” His most damaging actions were cutting off funding to The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (State’s Right issue, he said), removing the military enforcing the racial equity measures, and granting amnesty to Confederates. This allowed the traitors to elect new governments.

These action led to the Lost Cause Neo-Confederates to then enact Black Codes.
Lost Cause definition- “The Lost Cause of the Confederacy is an American pseudohistorical negationist mythology that claims the cause of the Confederate States during the American Civil War was just, heroic, and not centered on slavery.” (Duggan, 2018)

The first thing Mississippi did was hold a convention to institute the 1890 plan, which was: “[To] manifest intention to secure to the State of Mississippi white supremacy.” Measure 2 of that plan was voted away in 2020. That is not a typo.

The Klan began to gain hegemony as an effective violent reactionary force in Post-Reconstruction.
Freed from their “oppression” by a dismantling of racial equity policies and the lack of enforcement of the remaining ones, they rose to power in the early 20th century. Many call this —the Second Rising of the Klan.

They were inspired in part by Southern Revisionist fiction which included Thomas Dixon’s 1905 book “The Clansman” and D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film adaptation, Birth of a Nation. Empowered by 28th President Woodrow Wilson (former President of Princeton), a renewed vigour inspired the Klan. They had a convention in 1915.

By 1925 they had over 5 million members across all states, including the North.

This iteration of the Klan terrorized anyone not white and not Protestant. Their targets included immigrants, Catholics, Jewish people, and Labor. They also were not fond of the government, specifically the Republicans and Progressives in government. Black people remained their favorite target as no one brings America together quite in the way the idea of Black people or Black people as people. And also, it was about the principle of the matter. Black people were their former property (in their mind).

By the way, their rage at the North aka the Federal Government, is still a thing. Don’t assume white anti-government people are leftist anarchists. Many are just racist harkening back to Lost Cause fantasies. In fact, most of them who speak like that are.

To wrap this up quickly— to stop the terror against white people, Labor and others, the government, industrialists, and oligarchs, capitulated to the demands of the neo-confederates. Segregation, dehumanization, and murder of Black people once again became OK and institutionalized to keep the peace in white America or maybe non-Black, that's pretty much what all groups were using back them to gain rights, "We're not Black, so you can't treat us badly."

The people who did not agree to this were murdered, deported, and erased from U.S. history books.
In 1905 groups like the IWW organized across racial lines. That momentum came to a screeching halt in 1919 owing to the Palmer Raids. A series of raids were conducted in November 1919 and January 1920 by the Department of Justice under orders from President Wilson and led by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Palmer was for Civil Liberties, for white people. Italians and Jewish people were not white until after WW2. The orders were to capture and arrest suspected leftists, socialists, mostly Italian immigrants and Eastern European immigrants and specifically anarchists and communists, and deport them from the United States or murder them, but that murder part was silent.

On the East Coast, people say Italians are more conservative; possibly they’ve had harsher consequences than others for not being conservative.

What is happening now is not a new story. The story behind Rittenhouse is not a new idea, and you don’t have to go to Germany to pick an ending. It is a U.S. story and it is written in English and blood.

Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals


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