To State Leaders and Whom It May Concern:
As a citizen, taxpayer, and professional historian I am deeply concerned by the return and the rise of neo-Confederacy in the Tennessee state government (i.e., Executive and Legislative branches).
The Rebel-like-bearded chief staff member for the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives appears to be charged and documented by news media with conspiracy to electronically falsify documents with the intent to falsely arrest and imprison a young civil rights worker (in 21st century USA!). The young man and his colleagues were exercising their rights under the US and Tennessee constitutions. Yet, the Speaker and his chief of staff were televised as arrogantly refusing to entertain those citizens’ grievances and both men strutted away with displays of ignorance, distain and disregard for the constitutional rights and judicial recourse of all citizens. In the name of Conservatism, in disguise of Abraham Lincoln’s old Republican Party, and in arrogant and illiterate displays of racial hatred and deceit for the United States and the Republic of Tennessee, the bearded one is quoted even as calling an entire group of Tennessee citizens “idiots”—without fear of civil and criminal punishments. Lest they forget Tennessee (1796- ) yet remains the 16th state in the Union of these United States of America:
Federal Constitution, Amendments, “Bill of Rights (Dec. 15, 1791):
Article I gives US citizens “the freedom of speech” and “the rights of the people peaceably to assembly, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Article XIV, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of his life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any persons within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Article XV, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
Tennessee State Constitution:
Article I, Section 23: “People may assemble and instruct—That the citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances, or other proper purposes, by address or remonstrance.”
Article I, Sec. 10. “Not to be twice put in jeopardy.—That no persons shall, for the same offense, be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.”
Article I, Sec. 8. “No man to be disturbed but by law.—That no man shall be taken or imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner destroyed or deprived of his life, liberty or property, but by the judgment of his peers or the law of the land.”
Article X, Sec. 2, members of the General Assembly “will not propose or assent to any bill, vote or resolution, which shall appear . . . injurious to the people, or consent to any act or thing, whatever, that shall have a tendency to lessen or abridge their rights and privileges, as declared by the constitution of this state.”
Notwithstanding, 21st century neo-Confederate state leaders including Tennessee’s governor seem determined to conspire to resurrect “the Old South.” They have passed and signed acts “injurious to the People”: vouchers, scholarships, restrictive citizens police committee bills aimed a specific racial groups and counties; and impediments to the right-to- register citizens to vote, threats of imprisonment for Tennessee activists, and specific monetary punishment to a specific city and its duly democratically elected officials for removing the KKK leader Nathan B. Forrest’s statue from public property. State officials shamelessly targeted Shelby County and Davidson County with specific legislation wherein such counties have large African American and minority race populations.
The Governor, Speaker of the House and staff members should consider resigning their public jobs and face the federal and state justice systems.
And the Tennessee Supreme Court and its associate courts (despite the purposeful judicial restraints the neo-Confederates placed in the 1870 Tennessee constitution) ought to invoke courageous interposition or intercession to protect Tennessee government; its society; its democratic traditions.
Whereas German psychology professor Karl Jasper wrote about post-WWII German society in his book The Question of German Guilt (1947, 2009)— all of us should be reminded that those of us who remain silent are “metaphysically guilty” of past and present evil acts and the historical consequences.
This article originally appeared in The Tennessee Tribune.