The Continuing Failure of Reconstruction

Given the events that have transpired since its airing a few weeks ago, I’m sure if the producers of the mini-series “Grant” had it to do all over again, they’d have made it 8 hours and 4 episodes in length instead of its 6 hours/3 episodes format. The first two episodes did a fine job of detailing Grant’s up-bringing and early years, his struggles through many failures in life, his rise through the ranks of Union generals, and the start of his successful prosecution of the final campaign of the War through Virginia.

But the final 2-hour episode attempted to cover far too much ground: The final, climactic months of the War; Lee’s surrender at Appomattox; the assassination of Lincoln; Grant’s commission to oversee the failed Reconstruction process; Grant’s two-term presidency and his final days finishing his memoirs while suffering with fatal cancer of the throat. It was far, far too much crucially important ground to try to cover in just two hours, especially with at least nine 5-minute-long commercial breaks sprinkled into the mix.

The last two weeks of demonstrations in the wake of the murder of George Floyd; the demonstrations, riots, looting and burning of a dozen major U.S. cities reminiscent of Sherman’s march through Atlanta to the sea; and the burgeoning national debate that is now taking place over policing and race relations cries out for detailed re-examination not of the Civil War or Grant’s presidency, but of that period of Reconstruction which, had it been properly executed by people of good intent, could have unified the nation and put in place conditions that might have avoided much of the racial strife that followed and continues to this day.

If you search your memories you will realize that no one – not even Ken Burns in his great “The Civil War” documentary – has produced a truly thorough recounting of that terrible time in our nation, and which lays true accountability for the horrors that took place. “Grant” gave it very short shrift, as the producers did everything they could to avoid laying any blame a the feet of the title subject and his often ham-handed management of the process.

The one of hundreds of atrocities the series does go into some detail about is the New Orleans Massacre of July 30, 1866, an event in which a band of former Confederate soldiers slaughtered dozens of freed slaves who were organizing themselves to participate in the upcoming elections. That all happened under the not-so-watchful eye of General William Sherman and a garrison of the Union Army before the Reconstruction Act of 1867 had been passed by congress. “Grant” also makes vague reference to dozens of similar incidents that took place all over the South in the subsequent years, but goes into little detail about them.

It also briefly mentions the rise of the Ku Klux Klan during that period of time, but goes into no detail about the fact that the Klan was actually created by the Democratic Party which dominated the Southern states after the 1866 elections, in which the Northern States overwhelmingly awarded control of congress to the Republican Party of Lincoln and Grant. Just as the Democrat Party created Antifa immediately following the 2016 elections, in which the northern states of PA, MI and WI turned Red and awarded the presidency and both houses of congress to the Republicans. There is a pattern to all of this.

Here we stumble right upon the very real reason why Hollywood has been so reluctant to fully explore the period of Reconstruction in documentary format: It is impossible to honestly do so without making the crystal clear, direct connection between the Klan and the Democrat Party. Indeed, it was the rise of the Klan as the military wing of the Democrat Party that rendered Grant’s assignment of executing on the Reconstruction laws an impossible mission. It was too deeply embedded in the Southern culture to be rooted out. The series makes passing mention of the fact that supposed pillars of these communities – doctors, lawyers, farmers and civic leaders – were all engaged with the Klan.

Sadly, that remained the reality in many cities and towns all over the South for well over a century. Indeed, as recently as recently as just 2010 – a bare decade ago – a former member of the Klan – Democrat Robert Byrd of Virginia – held a prominent position of leadership in the United States Senate. Other former Klan members with names like Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, William Fulbright, and Ernest Hollings held seats in the Senate in modern times, long after the passage of the Civil Rights bills in the mid-1960s.

Even sadder, the existence today of Antifa as the military wing of the Democrat Party will just as readily ensure that no real reconciliation will come from the debate currently raging in Washington and across our national news media. The simple reality is that those on the radical left who have basically seized control of that Party actively oppose reconciliation and seek violent revolution instead. Congress may pass a few bills and pat itself on the back for doing it, but the real battles are taking place right now in the radical city council of Minneapolis, which is about to disband its police department, and on Capitol Hill in Seattle, where Antifa has forcibly seized control of an 8 square block area, with armed guards preventing the police from entering the area.

Just as we will never receive an honest accounting of the role of the Ku Klux Klan’s destruction of Reconstruction, we will not receive an honest accounting of Antifa, which is working to destroy our nation from within today. Because an honest accounting of either requires the examination of the fact that both destructive groups were the creation of the national Democrat Party.

That is all.

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