Ulysses Grant is Cancelled

grant

I personally don’t have a problem with the idea of tearing down statues of Ulysses Grant. He was a shitty, corrupt President. He was antisemitic. He helped carry out the genocide of the Plains Indians.

But I do have an issue with the idea that Grant was indistinguishable from the slave power. It’s actually “Lost Cause” propaganda. The truth is Grant’s wife owned one slave, whom he subsequently freed, when they got married. Grant had many flaws. Being a supporter of slavery wasn’t one of them.

It’s a strange world we live in. The same people tearing down statues of Ulysses Grant probably intend to vote for Joe Biden this November. They probably admire Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Mao used the Cultural Revolution to purge capitalists remaining in the Chinese government. We all know how that worked out. Today’s Red Guards are indeed cultural revolutionaries, but they are also political and economic conservatives.

Ulysses Grant will survive Black Lives Matter as surely as capitalism in China survived Mao. He wrote one of the most literature autobiographies of any American President.  If Black Lives Matter intends to declare that there was no difference between Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee, that the ideologues of the “Lost Cause” were right after all and the United States Civil War was about tariffs and states rights and not about slavery, then perhaps they would do well to consult the words of another American President.

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/gettysburg.htm

Over a million Americans died in the United States Civil war, most white, but over 40,000 black. Did they all die in vain? Did they die merely to protect high tariffs or destroy “states rights?” Or did they actually die to defeat a feudalistic ruling class that mostly hurt black people but also stood in the way of democracy for all Americans? The protesters can tear down all the statues they want, but unless they also have plans to tear down corporate America and the neoliberal Democratic Party, it’s all pretty meaningless. “Government of the people by the people, for the people,” has already perished from the earth. We’re not going to bring it back by vandalizing stone monuments in June, and then voting for Joe Biden, a wooden monument to neoliberalism, in the Fall.

7 comments

  1. John Thurloe · · Reply

    Grant played a major role in busting slavery. When Lincoln first announced and later declared Emancipation most McClellanite senior Union general were so opposed they conspired to overturn the President. But Grant quickly, firmly stood by Lincoln and this policy. Furthermore, he enthusiastically supported bringing blacks into the military. His statements are clear. Grant sent a clear signal on this issue and did not back down.

    He wasn’t a great president but was not personally corrupt. He had to write his memoirs up to his death just to get by. He was however too trusting of those around him. By any reasonable standard no American President would cut the mustard since they all oversaw a murderous capitalist parasite regime. .

    Knock all the Grant statues down you like. Just keep knocking all the others down too.

    Put a few million in the streets independently organized. Not there because of the Democrats or anything related to them. And as in Minneapolis, organize your own armed marshals. Put lots of men and women with guns out on the streets. That changes things some.

    U.S. Grant would approve.

    1. Grant also condemned the Mexican War and was open in his support of keeping church and state completely separate. He embodied all the contradictions of American capitalism (at least of American capitalism in its progressive and not its oligarchic phase). I suppose you might compare him to Churchill, but in general he was much better than Churchill. He got a lot of things right, not only one. Well, Churchill got two things right, Hitler and the need to neuter the House of Lords.

      1. John Thurloe · · Reply

        Grant’s authority and firmness in supporting an end to slavery and to arming blacks as soldiers blocked those who were moved to use the federal military to prevent such.

        Churchill wanted to crush the Irish, Indians, reds and any other party he was opposed to at some time. However, just about any other figure of note in the UK in his times said pretty much the same. Apart from a few religious or intellectual figures just about everyone of note throughout all history was racist, sexist or otherwise despicable in some degree or at some point.

        Except Marx and some of his early followers, the Debs, Reed, Eastman, Masses crowd and the Old Bolsheviks. If you anchored yourself on Class, then you could not hold prejudicial views against any other constituency. In Lenin’s days the issue was nationalism. Trotsky dealt with the Jews. Kollontai women. Not perfect but better than any others.

  2. The abolition of slavery is a Great Good of humanity. Ordinary plunder in all the human conflicts were “the defeated” populations made into slaves. Greeks and Romans took slaves for granted. A great awakening through religious beliefs generated the will to discontinue laws supporting the ownership of human beings. Civil rights grew into rights for women, too. We SAY that all humans are equal, it doesn’t always happen. Our new human project is to save refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, now estimated at 80 million. If we are indeed equal, 80 million are in great peril of dying on “The Road to Oblivion”. And if they don’t die NOW, what about the nuclear arms hanging over our heads? Are the eight nations that have these weapons “honorable” members of human society? Perhaps as wrong-headed as the slave-owners of yesterday. But like Third Party Candidates, USA is willfully blind to their own outrageous international economic warfare.

    1. John Thurloe · · Reply

      Well, Bawb when things move along far enough to end wage slavery, then we will finally have rectified matters.

      1. I certainly agree on the wage slavery. The big Canadian grocery chains had given employees a $2.00 per hour bonus to be working in covid conditions. They took it back last week. “Essential”, eh? I am retired after a whole lot of shitty jobs (a lot of telemarketing, not enough to pay the rent). I’m just a “lower class lout” who learned how to write, but depressing mental health issues killed my business prospects, stigmatized without ever escaping from condemnation. Work, yucch.

        1. Well we’re all going back to a form of capitalist feudalism not unlike the American south before 1865. It’s going to be easy enough to find out what it was like as a slave in a feudalistic resource colony. We’re going to be living it.

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