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If you keep picking at that thing, it’s going to leave a scar


So I started off this morning with a post about nondestructive testing — you know, where you slather a special dye on cast metal and shine a blacklight on it and any flaws or cracks fluoresce. I had this whole political metaphor going about how McCain was the dye and the Republican coalition was the machine and…oh, trust me, it was working. Then IE hiccuped and I lost the whole thing.

When I went to retrace my steps, I got totally distracted. First I ran across this article about the nondestructive testing that was done on the Liberty Bell after this nutcase walked up behind it and began whaling on it with a sledgehammer (remember that? I didn’t). That brought me to this cool site about the Liberty Bell, which is where I ran into these people. The ATAC people, from the graphic.

Oh, it’s okay. The “Avenging” doesn’t appear to involve smiting of any kind. The group wants to ensure any monuments commemorating the President’s House in Philadelphia are constructed employing sufficient persons of African heritage and that it is officially noted that Washington kept slaves there. The usual shakedown, in other words.

Which is why “avenging” is such a jarring choice of words, with its hint of violence — or punishment, anyway. And their position paper:

ATAC requires the commemorative project because justice demands it. Justice demands it because our ancestors as forced laborers transformed America into the economic world power that it remains today, because our ancestors died for America in all of its wars, and because our ancestors had their freedom, culture, family, language, land, religion, name, and often their sanity, limbs, and even lives ruthlessly stripped from them for three centuries by America (and other European-initiated slave trading countries) in a manner unlike anything ever experienced in the history of humankind. ATAC also requires the commemorative project because it an essential step toward telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about American history.

Jesus! Can we turn up the AC a couple of notches? Slavery is a shameful blot on America’s founding — and we took to it embarassingly close to modern times — but it was hardly “unlike anything ever experienced in the history of humankind.” As historical atrocities go, US slavery was middlin’ atrocious.

Has this ahistorical sense of unique grievance been simmering out there all along? Am I just becoming aware of it on account of Obama’s racial two-step? Being a white girl from Tennessee, I reeeeally don’t like to talk about race, but maybe white cringe is partly how we got here.

This is not headed anyplace good.

March 17, 2008 — 2:02 pm
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