Category: struggle against slavery
Sorry is the Hardest Word: Why Dutch are Not Alone in Refusing to Apologise for the Slave Trade
worker | July 7, 2021 | 8:49 pm | Africa, African American history, struggle against slavery | Comments closed



Get short URL

An independent panel in the Netherlands has told the government it should apologise for the Dutch role in the transatlantic slave trade. But what would be the implications if it did, and what about all the other nations involved in the slave trade?

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte set up an independent panel last year – in the wake of the death of George Floyd and under pressure from the Black Lives Matter campaign – to look into the role played in the slave trade by the Netherlands.

After publishing the report on 1 July, the chair of the panel, Dagmar Oudshoorn said: “History cannot be turned back. However it is possible to state the intention that this historical injustice…whose ill consequences are still being felt today, be corrected as far as is possible, to make that the starting point of policy”.

​On the same day, Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema, said: “On behalf of the city, I issue an apology for the Amsterdam city council’s active involvement in the commercial system of colonial slavery and global trade of people reduced to slavery”.

Amsterdam’s bankers and merchants were key to the slave trade in Dutch colonies such as Suriname, Curacao, and Aruba.

​But Mr Rutte has said his government will not apologise for slavery because he did not want to divide public opinion by passing judgement on Dutch history.

The Dutch West India Company operated a chain of fortresses in what is now Ghana and shipped around 500,000 African slaves to the Caribbean and Brazil.

The Netherlands banned slavery in all its overseas colonies, including Suriname, in 1863.

But what about the other nations involved in slavery?

Great Britain

The British Empire – or England as it was until 1707 – did not invent slavery but it was responsible for turning it into a huge wealth-creating industry.

From the middle of the 17th century until the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, English ships were exporting iron goods, guns, cloth, and other manufactured products like glass beads to Africa where they would be used to buy slaves from local African chiefs.

The slaves would then be put in chains and transported across the Atlantic to the Caribbean or to the southern states of what would become the United States, where those that survived would be put to work on sugar, tobacco, or cotton plantations.

Protesters throw a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest on 7 June 2020.
The statue of Edward Colston is thrown into the harbour in Bristol.

The crops would then be sent back to Britain on the same ships and the triangular trade would go on.

Merchants and bankers in Bristol, Liverpool, and London played a leading role in the slave trade but the monarchy, the government, and the church all benefited from it financially and saw little unethical about it until independent MP William Wilberforce embarked on a campaign to end it.

In recent years, the Bank of England and the Church of England have both apologised for the role they played in the slave trade and there has been much debate in cities like Bristol about renaming venues and removing statues of slave merchants like Edward Colston who also happened to be philanthropists.

​In June of last year, the Lloyd’s of London insurance market apologised for its “shameful” role in financing the slave trade and promised to fund job opportunities for black people.

In 2007, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair said during a visit to Ghana: “I have said we are sorry and I say it again …It is important to remember what happened in the past, to condemn it and say why it was entirely unacceptable”.

But Hilary Beckles, chairman of a Reparations Commission set up by Jamaica and several other Caribbean countries, told Reuters: “It is not enough to say sorry. We are not asking for anything as mendicant as handing out cheques to people on street corners. The issue of money is secondary, but in this instance the moral discharge of one’s duty does require in a market economy that you contribute towards development”.


Spain bears a heavy responsibility for the slave trade as it was the Spanish monarchy which funded Christopher Columbus’ expedition in 1492 and then followed up shortly afterwards by sending a fleet of conquistadors to crush the Aztec and Inca empires and subjugate indigenous people from Mexico to Peru and Cuba to Argentina.

The Spanish were the first to bring slaves to Jamaica – which England conquered in 1655 and turned into a thriving slave-owning economy – and they also exploited the agricultural wealth of Venezuela and Colombia by using African slaves.

When Simon Bolivar – who himself owned slaves – liberated Venezuela and Colombia in the 1820s he failed to persuade local plantation owners to free their slaves and slavery was only abolished in 1852.

Slavery continued in the Spanish colony of Cuba until 1886, only 10 years before the US ousted the Spaniards and began their own period of neo-colonial rule.

The Spanish government has never formally apologised for enslaving millions of people in Latin America, or for the atrocities committed by the conquistadors, who often enslaved indigenous people who refused to convert to Christianity.

The closest it came was in 2001 when then-Labour and Social Affairs Minister Juan Carlos Aparicio, said: “We profoundly regret the injustices of the past”.


During the 18th century, France competed with Britain, Portugal, and Spain when it came to building empires and dominating trade and it was not shy in getting involved in the slave trade.

France took almost 1.4 million African slaves to the Caribbean to work on plantations in Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and the western half of the island of Saint Domingue – now known as Haiti – which would become a major sugar exporter and the jewel in the French empire.

When Toussaint L’Ouverture led a successful slave revolt in Haiti, Napoleon Bonaparte was so affronted that he ordered the island be recaptured and slavery reimposed.

But the campaign was a bloody failure and Haiti became the first black republic and abolished slavery in 1805.

France finally abolished slavery in its colonies in 1848.

In 2006, then-President Jacques Chirac oversaw a ceremony which commemorated the “indelible stain” of slavery in French history, but France has never formally apologised.


Portugal was one of the first countries to see the potential for profits in slavery.

Only 12 months after Columbus discovered the Americas, the King of Portugal had claimed what is now Brazil and this was accepted by a papal bull and then the Treaty of Tordesillas.

By the 16th century, Portugal, having pioneered slave plantations on Madeira and São Tomé, introduced the slave trade to Brazil and began bringing in hundreds of thousands of slaves from what is now Angola, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to cut sugar cane on “engenhos” in Brazil.

Brazil became independent from Portugal in 1822, but the economy was built on slavery and it was not abolished until 1888.

It is estimated that around five million enslaved people were brought from Africa to Brazil between 1501 and 1866.

Portugual has never formally apologised for its role in the slave trade, but in 2017 President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa visited Senegal and said he recognised the “injustice of slavery”.

United States

The southern states – Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Virginia, and North and South Carolina – inherited slavery when the US threw off the shackles of British control in the late 18th century.

There is even a theory that the war of independence was begun because American slave owners feared the British Empire was about to end the slave trade.

Slavery remained integral to the US economy, especially in the south, until the 1860s when the Civil War tore the country apart.

Alison Lane gestures as she celebrates Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in Texas, two years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves elsewhere in the United States, in Washington, D.C. U.S., June 19, 2021.
Alison Lane gestures as she celebrates Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in Texas, two years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves elsewhere in the United States, in Washington, D.C. U.S., June 19, 2021.

Abraham Lincoln finally freed the slaves and defeated the Confederacy in 1865.

In July 2008, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution apologising for slavery and for the Jim Crow laws which discriminated against blacks for decades after the abolition of slavery.

Nine US states have also made official apologies for enslaving Africans and their descendants.

African Nations

Possibly the most politically awkward subject is the culpability of various African nations – or their ancestors – for enslaving other Africans in the first place.

Toyin Falola, a Nigerian professor of African studies at the University of Texas, told The Wall Street Journal in 2019: “The organisation of the slave trade was structured to have the Europeans stay along the coast lines, relying on African middlemen and merchants to bring the slaves to them. The Europeans couldn’t have gone into the interior to get the slaves themselves”.

The author of the article, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, wrote about her great-grandfather, a chief in the Igbo tribe of eastern Nigeria, who had sold slaves in the 19th century.

The slaves tended to be from inland tribes while the slavers tended to be from tribes like the Igbo who lived along the coast of West Africa.

Confederate ‘monuments were a lie,’ Landrieu says on ’60 Minutes’
worker | March 11, 2018 | 9:28 pm | Local/State, struggle against slavery | Comments closed

Confederate ‘monuments were a lie,’ Mitch Landrieu says on ’60 Minutes’

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu appeared on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday evening (March 11), during which he described the four Confederate monuments he removed as “a lie,” and discussed how they had been erected as an attempt to redefine history.

Landrieu went on to explain how the statues, as well as others still in place, misrepresented history and continued to oppress people of color over 150 years after the Confederacy lost the Civil War.

“In a city that I represent, that’s 67 percent African-American, to have a young African-American girl pass by that statue and look at it every day, I ask myself, ‘Am I really preparing for her — a really good future? Is she feeling like she’s gettin’ lifted up by the government or is she being put down?’ I mean, I think the answer’s pretty clear,” Landrieu said during his interview with Anderson Cooper.

He also described the battle that went into taking the monuments down, including the threats against contractors hired to remove the statues that ultimately forced his staff to get equipment from out of state.

Landrieu brought Cooper to the storage facility currently housing Robert E. Lee, P.G.T Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and the Battle of Liberty Place monuments, where Landrieu called them “daunting.”

Cooper summed up Landrieu’s argument when he stated, “You look at these monuments. You wouldn’t know the Confederacy lost.”

To which Landrieu replied, “The whole point was to convince people that actually they won, and even in their defeat, (the Confederacy) was a noble cause.”

Robert E. Lee Mardi Gras beads are for losers | Opinion

Like the monument whose removal they bemoan, the “Forever Lee Circle” beads that some revelers are planning to throw for this year’s Carnival are tailor made for losers.  Only losers would purchase them as throws, and only losers would want to catch them and take them home.

The Robert E. Lee monument itself honored a loser to make other losers feel better about losing.  The same is true for monuments to Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard.  Those monuments gloriously depicted losers so the losing side in the Civil War could maintain its delusions of grandeur and supremacy.

The monuments were the embodiment of that old aphorism:  If you can’t beat ’em, put up statues that pretend you did.  Or could have.  Or should have. Or will eventually.

The people responsible for the “Forever Lee Circle” beads are reportedly affiliated with the R.E. Lee Monumental Association, which, according to its website, was formed in New Orleans after Lee’s death in 1870.  The group lists three main goals on its website:  1) Ensure that the R.E. Lee monument be placed in the most honorable and respectable location as possible in the greater New Orleans area; 2) Educate and promote the historical importance of Robert E. Lee and Lee Circle in New Orleans; and 3) If bullet #1 is unattainable, build a new R.E. Lee monument in the greater New Orleans area.

A representative of Save Nola Heritage told WWL-TV that about 10,000 of the beads were produced. They’ve reportedly sold out.

The administrator for the “Forever Lee Circle” Facebook page, somebody whose online name is Mikas Eaux, said in an email to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “I hope the beads serve as a conduit to take the stigma out of southern history. People shouldn’t be afraid to be proud of their heritage.”

The person insisting that people should be proud of their heritage declined to give the SPLC his or her actual name.

This development should have been expected.  If people were defending monuments to Confederate leaders more than 150 years after the South’s surrender, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that less than a year after New Orleans removed four obnoxious monuments, we would see people on the losing side of the issue expressing their hurt in just this kind of way.

Hey, we didn’t win, so let’s troll the people on the streets of New Orleans! Let’s roll through a majority-black city and toss out beads that celebrate a person who fought to extend black people’s enslavement!

The monuments were obviously a greater offense than these beads.  They were bigger, they were intended to be permanent, and they were erected at a time when segregationists were in control.  They celebrated losers and were put up by losers, but at the same time they served as a reminder to black people that white people weren’t so defeated that they weren’t still on top.

Beads aren’t as big as monuments. They’re not immovable.  Indeed, they’re trifles. And they will be tossed in a city where black people are the majority and, by and large, control the politics.

The people who toss them may feel big and powerful from their elevated position on a float, but they’re in the political minority in New Orleans and are resorting to such provocation because they lacked the power to keep the Lee monument and the other problematic monuments in place.

The beads are no more about Southern heritage than the monuments were.  They are about celebrating the people who were fighting for slavery’s expansion.  There’s no way around that. But the R.E. Lee Monumental Association tries to get around that with some tricks of editing.  Go to the group’s website, and the first thing you see is an excerpt of an 1856 letter Lee wrote his wife: “In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country.”

Six years later Lee was leading the army fighting to preserve and expand slavery; so maybe we shouldn’t put much stock in his letter.

Or maybe we should find the whole letter and read past the part the Lee monument group quoted.

Lee claims slavery “is a greater evil to the white man than to the black race.” According to an 1859 newspaper report, Lee gave administered 39 lashes to a woman who’d run away when the plantation’s resident “slave-whipper” couldn’t bring himself to do it.  But, you know, his whipping her probably hurt him more than it hurt her.

Lee goes on to say in that 1856 letter that “blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa” and calls slavery the “painful discipline they are undergoing.” He says abolitionists are pursuing “an evil course” meddling in the affairs of others, and he accuses abolitionists of being intolerant of slaveholders’ “spiritual liberty.”

Why do you think the R.E. Lee Monumental Association doesn’t quote Lee in full?

Could it be they fear we’d think of Lee as a big ole loser?

He was.

Plus, he lost the war.

Jarvis DeBerry is deputy opinions editor for NOLA.COM | The Times-Picayune. He can be reached at or at

Libya in 2017 Is Home to the Slave Trade… Yes, You Read That Right
worker | November 22, 2017 | 7:07 pm | Libya, struggle against slavery | Comments closed
A member of the Libyan National Army runs during clashes with Islamist militants in Khreibish district in Benghazi, Libya, November 9, 2017.

Libya in 2017 Is Home to the Slave Trade… Yes, You Read That Right

© REUTERS/ Esam Omran Al-Fetori

Get short URL
John Wight

NATO’s military intervention in Libya in 2011 has justifiably earned its place in history as an indictment of Western foreign policy and a military alliance that since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been deployed as its sword. The destruction of Libya will forever be an indelible stain on the reputations of those countries involved.

But now, with the revelation that people are being sold as slaves in Libya (yes, you read that right — in 2017 the slave trade is alive and kicking Libya), the cataclysmic disaster to befall the country has been compounded to the point where it is hard to conceive of it ever being able to recover — and certainly not anywhere near its former status as a high development country, as the UN labeled Libya in 2010, a year prior to the “revolution.”

Back in 2011, it was simply inconceivable that the UK, the US and France would ignore the lessons of Iraq in 2003, just nine years previously. Yet ignore them they did, highlighting their rapacious obsession with maintaining hegemony over a region that sits atop an ocean of oil; this regardless of the human cost and legacy of disaster and chaos this particular obsession has wrought.

When former UK Prime Minister David Cameron descended on Benghazi in eastern Libya in the summer of 2011, basking in the glory of the country’s victorious “revolution” in the company of his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, he did so imbued with the belief he had succeeded in establishing his legacy as a leader on the global stage. Like Blair before him, he’d won his war and now was intent on partaking of its political and geopolitical spoils.

Then British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) gestures next to then French President Nicholas Sarkozy as they arrive at Benghazi airport on September 15, 2011.
© AFP 2017/ Stefan Rousseau
Then British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) gestures next to then French President Nicholas Sarkozy as they arrive at Benghazi airport on September 15, 2011.

Cameron told the crowd, “Your city was an inspiration to the world, as you threw off a dictator and chose freedom.”

Pondering the former UK prime minister’s fatuous boast, I am reminded of a conversation I had recently with the driver of a cab taking me home to my apartment in Edinburgh, Scotland one evening. During our exchange he informed me that he was originally from Libya, before going on to reveal that he was forced to flee the country after his family were massacred by Cameron’s freedom-loving revolutionaries in 2011. In Libya, prior to the “revolution” and NATO’s air campaign, he’d been a petroleum engineer with a PhD. Now he was working ten hours a day driving a cab in Scotland in the middle of winter.

The destruction of Libya by NATO at the behest of the UK, the US and France was a crime, one dripping in the cant and hypocrisy of Western ideologues for whom the world with all its complexities is reduced to a giant chessboard upon which countries such as Libya have long been mere pieces to be moved around and changed at their pleasure and in their interests — interests which are inimical to the people of the countries they deem ripe for regime change.

The word extremist is perhaps overused in our lexicon, but it is entirely appropriate when describing the pro-war neocon lobby that exerts inordinate influence on Western foreign policy. We are talking a class of rich, privileged and expensively educated men and women who are bent on purifying the world in the name of democracy. The end result has been a litany of countries, destabilized and turned upside down with the lives of their citizens completely upended in the process.Nonetheless, war and regime change without end remains their credo, driving them ever onwards as they lurch from one disaster to the other, intent on, per Beckett, failing once, trying again, and failing better.

In 2011 the Libyan people fell victim to the West’s crude attempt to hijack the momentum of the Arab Spring at the very point at which it came to the end of its reach. The speed of its spread and mass support in Tunisia and Egypt, where it succeeded in toppling two pro-Western dictators in the shape of Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, caught Washington and its allies by surprise.

Libya is where they decided to try and place themselves at the head of its momentum. They did so, motivated not by the desire to help effect democratic change in the country, but to ensure that the extensive and lucrative oil exploration contracts and economic ties forged with the Gaddafi government were protected and upheld after its demise. This was their motivation, and the result six years on is a failed state in which the slave trade now exists.

Washington and Europe have never been a source of stability in the Middle East or North Africa. On the contrary, their presence and double-dealing has only ever brought the people of this part of the world unremitting suffering and despair.

It is just as Gandhi said:

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

He was right. Bombs and missiles dropped in the name of democracy kill and maim and destroy every bit as those that are dropped in the name of dictatorship. To infer otherwise, as proponents of war and regime change without end do, is grotesque.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Check out John’s Sputnik radio show, Hard Facts.

Black men get longer prison sentences than white men for the same crime: report

Black men get longer prison sentences than white men for the same crime: report

Inmates put their hands behind their backs as they return to their dormitory from the cafeteria Sept. 21, 2011, at Richland Parish Detention Center southeast of Monroe.
Inmates put their hands behind their backs as they return to their dormitory from the cafeteria Sept. 21, 2011, at Richland Parish Detention Center southeast of Monroe.(File photo by Scott Threlkeld)

African-American men in the criminal justice system serve longer sentences than white men who commit the same crime, according to a new federal study reported by ABC News Friday (Nov. 17).

After a review of demographic data of the country’s prisons from 2012 to 2016, the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that sentences for black men are 19.1 percent longer than for white men. When the commission accounted for violence in an offender’s past, black men last year also received sentences that were 20.4 percent longer than their white peers.

“After controlling for a wide variety of sentencing factors, the Commission found that Black male offenders continued to receive longer sentences than similarly situated White male offenders, and that female offenders of all races received shorter sentences than White male offenders,” the report stated.

The full ABC News report can be read online.

A New Joke – “Jim-Crow Helps The Negro Race”
worker | September 30, 2017 | 8:38 pm | African American history, struggle against fascism, struggle against slavery | Comments closed

J.R. Johnson

A New Joke – “Jim-Crow Helps The Negro Race”

(5 May 1941)

The Negro’s Fight, Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 18, 5 May 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

“Oh, Judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason.”

This, is what Shakespeare makes Mark Anthony (that great faker) say in the famous speech over Caesar’s dead body. Often when one looks at capitalist politics today one is tempted to say the same thing.

Friends, Americans and countrymen, lend me your ears. This war is a war for “democracy.” It is a war to preserve “a way of life,” it is a war against tyranny, persecution, aggression. It is a war for freedom. So our modern Mark Anthony, Franklin Roosevelt, says. And all the liberals and the labor leaders follow him shouting “Hosannah!”

State Attorneys Give Their View

Now one of our most precious “free” institutions is Congress, and in this Congress is one solitary Negro, Representative Arthur W. Mitchell. Brother Mitchell tried to travel in a Pullman coach in the South and was kicked out and made to go into another carriage. He filed an action. The case is before the Supreme Court. So far, nothing unusual. This happens regularly. (Since this column, was written, the Supreme Court has upheld the right of Negroes to travel in Pullmans. We will comment on this decision next week. – Ed.)

But note now what has been the result. The attorney generals of ten states, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, these men who are the expounders of the laws of democracy, they drew up an appeal and sent it to the Supreme Court, asking it not to take any decision on this question. These lawyers of democracy say that the Jim Crow jungle laws (most elegantly called, “segregation statutes”) “were enacted for the purpose of promoting the welfare, comfort, peace and safety of the people of both races.” And these attorney generals of “democracy” say that “it” is a matter of common knowledge, which this court probably knows, “that in those states which are parties to this brief, where large numbers of both races reside, such statutes do, in truth and in fact, promote the welfare, comfort, peace and safety of the people of both races.”

In other words, these men of “democratic” law say this:

“If Representative Arthur Mitchell or any black man travels with whites, he is personally offensive to the whites. We don’t want him. He offends our welfare and our comfort.

“If he insists on traveling, we southerners are going to beat him up. That will offend his peace and safety. In the course of beating him up of lynching him, he and his friends may hurt some of us. That offends OUR peace and safety. So the laws are for the benefit of both of us. Therefore, Supreme Court, do not interfere.”

These Is a Reason for What They Say

Is it any wonder that Hitler laughs at Franklin Roosevelt’s pretentious to being a defender of “democracy”? There are ten million Negroes in the South whom these and similar laws directly affect. There were only about half a million Jews in Germany. If Hitler had said that the laws against the Jews were passed for their comfort, peace, welfare and safety, how. Mark Anthony Roosevelt would have thundered. Hitler, however, says simply and plainly: “We don’t want you Jews. Get out.” But these southern democrats say that their fascist types of racial laws are FOR the BENEFIT of the Negroes; and the men of law, the attorney generals, write to the Supreme Court and say the same thing.

We began by quoting the passage from Shakespeare, saying that men had lost their reason. Have these southerners lost their reason? Oh, no! They want to keep the Negro where he is in order to exploit him, to work him hard and pay him cheap. That is why they tell these abominable lies and talk this abominable legal nonsense. They SEEM to have lost their reason. In reality they have very good reasons for saying what they do. But the Negroes have very good reason for saying:

“You and your holy war against fascism may suit you, but they don’t suit me! I have my war. And it is against you, Messrs. Attorney Generals, to break that system which is so rotten that it compels its defenders to talk like men who have just come out of a lunatic asylum.”

The peculiar patriotism of Confederate monument huggers | Opinion

Updated on September 25, 2017 at 2:05 PM

In “Bart-Mangled Banner,” a 2004 episode of The Simpsons, 10-year-old Bart Simpson offends the town of Springfield when it appears to them that he’s mooning the United States flag.  It’s all a big misunderstanding, one that can only be understood by watching the whole episode which includes Bart going temporarily deaf, Bart taunting a donkey at a donkey basketball game and that donkey ripping Bart’s shorts off with its teeth right before the flag is displayed for the national anthem.  The people of Springfield are outraged at Bart’s apparent disrespect.

“How dare he?!” a character of obvious Southern extraction yells.  “That’s the flag my grandpappy rebelled against!”

I think we need to stop pretending that episodes of The Simpsons don’t predict the future.  “Bart-Mangled Banner” aired more than 13 years ago, and, yet, it seems to precisely predict the contradictions being noisily aired in 2017:  so-called patriots shedding tears over the erasure of Confederate iconography from the public landscape while simultaneously professing allegiance for the flag the Confederates opposed.

Consider Beth Mizell, the Republican state senator from Franklinton who failed in her attempts to protect four Confederate monuments in New Orleans from being removed.  In June, she released a 4-minute video explaining her opposition to the monument-removal trend.  It includes this doozy: “No real citizen was screaming for those monuments to be torn down, but now they’re gone.”

You’re a citizen of the United States at birth if you were born in the United States or one of its territories; or if you were born abroad to parents who were citizens. You can also be foreign-born and apply for naturalization.  Everybody I know personally who was opposed to the monuments to Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard and the White League is a citizen, a real citizen.

Mizell is doing that thing that so many conservative politicians do: dismissing people who disagree with their opinions as phony or fraudulent Americans, as inauthentic. She doesn’t even concede that the anger at the monuments might be real, vowing to keep fighting to protect disputed monuments “regardless of who wants to pretend to be offended.”

In her mixed-up worldview, being an American means honoring those people who took up arms against America to perpetuate the enslavement of black people.

If Mizell were by herself, we could respond to her comments real citizens with a laugh and a “whatever.” But she’s not by herself. She’s one of many who have expressed the peculiar belief that reverence for the Confederacy and its symbols is part and parcel of reverence for the United States.

Even the president of the United States falls within that group. Donald Trump has criticized those who protest “our beautiful (Confederate) statues and monuments,” and he’s criticized those who, he says, are disrespecting the American flag by declining to stand respectfully as the national anthem is played.  On which side would Trump have fought in the Civil War?  Or would he have taken his morally evasive “bad people on all sides” approach?

It certainly is confusing to hear people declare allegiance to the United States flag at the same time that they’re weeping at the removal of Confederate flags and monuments. Some people might believe that some black people are sending mixed messages when they criticize they, say,  properly criticize the Confederate battle flag as treasonous and racist and at the same time support professional athletes who kneel during the national anthem.  But it should be fairly easy to understand:  Most sensible black people hate the Confederacy and its images and find it foolish that anybody would expect them to harbor anything other than hatred for the army that fought for their ancestors’ enslavement. Protests that intersect with displays of the United States flag aren’t coming from a place of hatred but disappointment:  How come America isn’t as good as she claims to be? Why won’t Americans collectively demand that everybody be treated fairly and justly?  In a country that has a Constitution and says it follows the rule of law, how is that police officers, government agents, get to kill black people with near impunity?

Martin Luther King Jr. expressed that disappointment the night before he was assassinated when he said, “All we say to America is, ‘Be true to what you said on paper.'” After pointing out the promises explicitly guaranteed by the First Amendment, King declared that “the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.”

A Gallup poll conducted two years before his assassination revealed that a large majority of Americans had a negative opinion of King. That should let us know that anybody who points out that America isn’t what she says she is, anybody who demands that America stop doing black people wrong, is going to be criticized – reviled even.

But somebody’s got to point out the hypocrisies: the hypocrisy of lingering racism in a country with a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution and the hypocrisy of so-called patriots championing the Confederacy and its imagery.

Jarvis DeBerry is deputy opinions editor for NOLA.COM | The Times-Picayune. He can be reached at or at