We used to say “over time things get better” but that hasn’t been true for decades. Things have gotten much worse in the 21st century. Two of the more offensive phenomena are historic memorial removals and imprudent attempts to create equality. Removal of monuments and other historic tributes began as a result of complaints from aggrieved malcontents. But ruling class elites are also eliminating traditions, especially Southern heritage in order to create social justice.
Who are these ruling class elites ? This cabal of smug , self-important prodigies who have usurped Constitutional powers and make decisions for we uninformed denizens of middle America. Because of their wealth, power, and position, they are essentially the upper echelon of society. But even though some might have expertise in certain fields, they aren’t necessarily capable of determining what constitutes social justice or what heritage is acceptable.
Social justice hasn’t been clearly defined but it is basically equality of groups including equal wealth and opportunities. Ruling class elites prefer the term ‘equity’ over ‘equality’. Equity means equal outcomes whereas equality means only equal opportunities. Of course, ruling class elites decide who is treated unfairly and who should get wealth and opportunities. Elites also chide the celebration of Southern heritage because it may project hurtful images of White supremacy.
In the previous century, we had common sense rather than social justice. There was also a general agreement that success resulted from individual skills, work ethics, intelligence, and stamina. These attributes were largely innate and individuals were mostly independent and resilient. Although essentially self-sufficient, similar individuals formed together into groups.
But self-reliance essentially ended when ruling class elites decided that wealth and opportunities should be divided equally among groups. Elites apparently saw no conflict between making groups equal while telling us that ‘diversity is our strength’. But redistributions of wealth and opportunities will not satisfy disgruntled groups. And social justice is more a placebo than a panacea; not an actual condition but only contrived language.
Ruling class elites felt encouraged in the early 21st century. In 2007, Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House and the following year, Barack Obama became the first Black President. Media fawned over Pelosi and Obama, portraying them as successful even before they had spent any significant time in office. But actual performances didn’t match media reports. Pelosi’s Speakership and Obama’s Presidency were more symbolism than substance.
The election of the first Black president set off impulsive nationwide tributes to Barack Obama. Schools, libraries, government buildings, streets, highways, and even animals were renamed after the new president. Many of the bloated tributes to Obama occurred before he had spent enough time in office for his performance to be evaluated. And this renaming epidemic provided an opportunity for elites to eliminate tributes to famous Confederates, a trend that had been under way for some time.
A case in point was the J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia. This former Confederate General’s name was removed and the facility was renamed Barack Obama Elementary School. Students preferred to change the name to Northside Elementary and many residents recommended using the name of some important local Black person. But the school board rejected all other recommendations and held firm to the Obama designation. The irony of a Black named school in the former capital of the Confederacy was not lost on the media.
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi often uses the manipulative language of social justice to justify actions that go against the public’s wishes. For example: the majority doesn’t approve of the removal of statues or tributes honoring famous Confederate heroes. But in her first term as House Speaker, Pelosi removed a Robert E. Lee statue from a place of honor in National Statuary Hall and replaced it with a statue of Rosa Parks. She also pushed through legislation that eliminated all capitol statuary venerating famous Confederates. Pelosi justified her capitol cleansing with this language: “There is no room for celebrating the bigotry of the Confederacy in the Capitol or any other place of honor in our country.”
Speaker Pelosi also arrogantly ignored the majority opinion by encouraging the passing of a bill to rename all military bases honoring famous Confederates. Pelosi’s justification: “These names are white supremacists that said terrible things about our country,” Media never questions or censures Pelosi’s overblown verbal harangues. Getting media attention is more important to her than addressing public concerns.
The needs of the public are also not a concern of ruling class elites although their politicized language makes it appear otherwise. Elites generally engage in symbolic, trendy behaviors rather than substantive ones. Denigrating Southern heritage is typical and currently fashionable with elites. But the majority of Americans aren’t fooled and have no problem with Southerners celebrating their heritage.
Gail Jarvis is a Georgia-based free-lance writer. His writing is influenced by witnessing how versions of news and history were distorted for fashionable political reasons. Mr. Jarvis is a member of the Society of Independent Southern Historians and his articles have appeared on various websites, magazines, and publications for several organizations. He lives in Coastal Georgia with his wife.