“The more things change the more they stay the same” as some wag said at some point in the past. And it does appear to have a kernel of truth at the center of it.

I am reading The Personal Memories of P.H. Sheridan, one of the three central figures in the victory of the North over the South in our Civil War. We know him as General Sheridan and together with Grant and Sherman, the Yanks were finally able to prevail — after one of the bloodiest wars in history.

But after Lincoln’s death the nation went through even greater trials in an attempt to bring the tattered Union together again. After the war was officially over — and while renegade troops of Rebels continued to fight and cause havoc in the South — Sheridan was sent to head up a peace-keeping force in New Orleans and Texas. Neither of these states, together with the other Rebel starts, wanted back in the Union. In New Orleans in 1866 there was a “massacre” (to use Sheridan’s word) in which nearly 200 black citizens together with Northern sympathizers were slaughtered by a large group of angry Southerners — including the New Orleans police.

Sheridan wrote about it after the fact:

“No steps have been taken by the civil authorities to arrest citizens who were engaged in this massacre, or policemen who perpetrated such cruelties. . . As to whether the civil authorities can mete out ample justice to the guilty parties on both sides, I must say it is my opinion, unequivocally, that they cannot.”

We are now engaged in a “Black Lives Matter” movement in which we are reminded that the history of racism in this country goes back many years. Many do not like being reminded, but it is assuredly the case — as this incident shows cleary. Today we still have instances, more than we care to count, in which those hired to protect and serve shoot defenseless black people. There does seem to be something deep in the collective DNA of a great many people in this country that drives them to hatred and contempt of those with different colored skin.

We just need to remember that when we are tapped on the shoulder and asked to do whatever we can to help eradicate racism that (a) it may not be possible and (b) we need to do it anyway.


4 thoughts on “Change?

  1. Wise words, my friend, and I especially like your last sentence. Yes, we need to do it anyway. Those of us who embrace diversity, who don’t judge people by skin colour, gender, religion, etc., must lead the way to better understanding. That was mostly my point in my ‘Saturday Surprise’ post — animals don’t hate or cause harm based on the colour of their fur, or even the difference in their species. Humans seem to have some fatal flaw that makes, at least some of them, highly flawed. They seem to have a superiority complex based, not on what they’ve done, but simply on how they look.

  2. Hugh, good post. Your conclusion is sound, but worrisome. I was reminded just last night of what happened in Tulsa to their Black Wall Street about hundred years ago. We can never go back this far. We must walk the talk and be exemplars. We must ask people who spew racist BS, do you really feel that way? And, we must remind people that the BLM movement for the very large part a peaceful, multi-racial protests, while condemning any who cause violence. Keith

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