I’ve stated that the proposed construction of a new Wal-Mart on the Wilderness battlefield is a bad idea and, along with 252 other historians, signed the Civil War Preservation Trust’sletter addressed to the CEO of the company. But even with all of the attention generated in newspapers over the past few weeks it is only a matter of time before permits are handed out and the ground paved over. What I want to know is at what point should preservationists begin to work with Wal-Mart to propose ways to minimize the site’s impact on the surrounding battlefield. Are there ways to configure the entrance, the parking lots, as well as the building itself in a way that would preserve some of the viewsheds? While I admire the efforts of the CWPT to bring the issue of battlefield preservation to the attention of the general public, it seems to me that an opportunity would have been lost if company executives are not engaged at all. How about asking Wal-Mart to buy a parcel of land in the area and donate it to the CWPT in the name of battlefield preservation?
That’s just one idea. What other ideas are out there?
You would think that a party that has struggled to attract black voters would be extra careful when it comes to the distribution of material that could be construed as racist. That didn’t seem to be a concern for Chip Saltsman, who distributed a CD to RNC members that included the song, “Barack the Magic Negro.” Saltsman is a former chair of the Tennessee Republican Party and a top adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist; he most recently managed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign. Click here if you haven’t heard the song. “I think most people recognize political satire when they see it,” Saltsman told CNN. “I think RNC members understand that.” Don’t get me wrong, I have a high threshold for political satire and for political comedy generally. That said, this little spectacle does nothing more than remind me of the sad history of how white Americans have used stereotypes as a means of racial control and as a means to maintaining a political system steeped in white supremacy. We can go back to Reconstruction for an example..
or even to the beginning of the twentieth century.
Given that there are still plenty of people in this country who continue to hold tight to their racist beliefs it is inexcusable that a prominent member of the Republican Party would distribute such a song. It’s one thing if a lard ass such as Rush Limbaugh wants to play it on his idiotic radio show, but intelligent people with even a modicum of good taste ought to steer clear of what is potentially hurtful and insulting to many. What I find most striking is that this individual apparently didn’t think twice about the broader historical context into which such a song must be placed. And the RNC – the party of Lincoln and emancipation – wonders why they struggle to attract African Americans.
The award recognizes National Park Service employees who have demonstrated initiative and resourcefulness in promoting environmental protection and who have taken direct action where others may have hesitated in order to promote the principles and practices of good stewardship of the national parks,” according to the press release.
Latshar has been instrumental in restoring wartime viewsheds, dismantling the ugly observation tower, and helping create what I believe is the most important Civil War exhibit to be found anywhere. Public historians like Latschar are easily worth their weight in gold. It is reassuring to know that he will be involved in affairs at Gettysburg for the foreseeable future as the president of the Gettysburg Foundation.
Sorry guys, but once again I’ve had to scrap my plans on using Intense Debate to manage comments. I encountered a number of problems, including a much slower load time – perhaps some of you noticed this. The forum boards are filled with other users who are experiencing similar problems. Perhaps ID will fix these bugs, but for now I am going to play it safe. A few comments were lost, but I managed to post the rest manually, which is why you will see my gravatar next to the comment. Everything is back to normal.