America, the civil war that never ends


On April 9, 1865, at the old Appomattox Tribunal in Virginia, Southern General Robert Lee signed the surrender of the Confederate rebel states, which four years earlier had proudly left the United States of America to defend slavery. Before the armistice could be signed by Lee and his great rival, and future president, Ulysses Grant, however, authentic copies of the official documents were needed which, then, had to be drafted by hand one by one, pen, ink, inkwell. The task fell to a former journalist on Grant’s staff, but Colonel Bowers was thrilled and failed to have the steady hand that calligraphy required. Grant, as always dressed in the blue soldier’s uniform dirty with mud and with a cigar between his teeth, did not waste time, fearing an afterthought among the fiery southerners, and he passed the assignment to the trusted secretary, Lieutenant Colonel Ely Parker. Parker had no fears or tremors, he copied the agreement in the number of copies requested, with the concessions of weapons to the Confederate officers and the commitment to leave the horses supplied, indispensable for the work of the fields, to the defeated military.

Parker was a Native American from the Seneca tribe, his first name was Hasanoanda, he tried to recruit a regiment of Iroquois warriors for the northerners, and he was rejected, then he tried to join the army and again he was discriminated against, no “Indians”, not even among the Northern abolitionists. He then turned to his friend Grant, who, appreciating his skills as a skilled engineer and coming from a family that had always been anti-slavery, had hired him in his staff.

At the time of signing, aristocrat Lee, whose statues are now being demolished in the South causing Trump’s order to trigger a federal trial against demonstrators believed to be responsible for “vandalism”, looked upon Parker’s dark skin, his features and recognized him as indigenous. Smiling, she held out her hand. “I am glad to see at least one true American here.” In the silence of the court, at the time of the signing of peace after a civil war that killed more US citizens than all the other conflicts together, from the 1776 Revolution to Afghanistan, Ely Parker Hasanoanda’s response challenged clear time and history in his nobility: “We are all Americans” .

It was the acknowledgment that the Civil War was over, all Americans again under the stars and stripes flag, but it was also the hope of those who had been discriminated against and sensed that many other injustices would follow, for a more tolerant nation. The surrender of Appomattox was to end the Civil War, really, in the hope of Lieutenant Colonel Parker by making “all Americans” again. But those fluttering signatures of china ink, on the documents perfectly copied by the former chief Sachem, did not close the Civil War. Lee’s colleague General Forrest founded the Ku Klux Klan which President Grant tried in vain to eradicate, President Lincoln was killed by a southerner militant actor less than a month after the peace, generations of exploitation, fear followed, the law did not written by “Jim Crow” which excluded blacks from democracy.

Last week the poorest state in America, Mississippi, voted in its parliament to remove the icon of the southern Stars and Bars from the local flag, the last bastion that honors Lee’s fatal banner from the flagpoles of offices, institutions, schools . For millions of blacks that symbol has the tragic effect that the swastika has on the victims of Nazism, for too many whites it is only “tradition”.

Now we will live, 155 years after the handshake between General Lee and Lieutenant Colonel Parker, a new “end of the civil war, but unfortunately many still seem necessary in this America without peace. When Nascar, the US motor racing, banned the controversial Confederate flag from the circuits, many applauded the measure, to be impressed shortly afterwards because Bubba Wallace, the only African-American driver of the formula, had found in his garage a noose, a threatening sign lynchings of which the blacks were victims in the South. Colleagues, in solidarity, push Bubba’s rumbling Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 number 43 from the pit stops to the start, moving the country from the TV. However, the FBI does not find evidence of malice, it seems that the knot was used as a handle, and an online racist campaign is unleashed, against the pilot.

America is divided into two halves in politics, polls now reward Joe Biden’s Democrats by 12 points on Donald Trump’s Republicans, and is split in every other field. A few hours after the touching scene of the pilots huddling around the weeping Wallace, Mike Fulp, impresario of the 311 Speedway circuit in Pine Hall, North Carolina, took to selling online “last knots at Bubba Wallace”, confederate flags, baseball caps rossi MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN sponsored by President Donald Trump, concluding the spot with the grim slogan “On my track, always free weapons!”. The “Wallace loops” were sold “with a lifetime warranty”, until the sponsors, disgusted, withdrew from the Fulp races, all but a couple, and two official Carolina Sprint Tour races were not transferred to other facilities.

It is as if that dialogue between Lee and Parker could never really land, in a shared “we are all Americans”. Even President Donald John Trump, the man to whom the Constitution assigns the task of preserving the unity of the country, impassively tweets a video in which one of his militants screams “White Power”, power to whites, while he rides on a kart from golf challenging the anti-racist demonstrators. The scene took place in Villages, Florida, one of those retirement communities, now devastated by Covid-19, once loyal to the president and the man sported posters with “Trump 2020” and “America First”. Gasato, the president retweeted the post, regardless of the racist cry, with the fiery caption “The extreme left and lazzarona will wither in the autumn. The corrupt Joe (Biden) is over. See you soon!”. The reactions were tough, Tim Scott, the only black republican senator, spoke of an “insulting tweet”, inviting the president to cancel it, which Trump did, a very rare event, without apologizing . “America First” was a US nationalist and racist movement a century ago, mottled by anti-Semitic and populist philosophies, with which they sympathized with Democrats like President Wilson and Republicans like President Harding. Spokesman was the ace of the Lindbergh air, the first to fly the Atlantic on a single-engine in 1927, persuaded, until ten weeks before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 1941, that only “the Jews want to drag us Americans to the war!”.

History therefore never seems to end in these hours of epidemic, which in the South of the United States grows relentlessly, due to the lack of preventive measures of the Republican governors, and of economic crisis. Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr., the last of the racist Ku Klux Klan terrorists, sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1963 attack on the Baptist Church on Sixteenth Street, died on June 26 in Birmingham, Alabama prison, where, between fourteen wounded, the girls Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson of 14 years, and Denise McNair of 11 died, torn apart, while Sarah Collins, sister of Addie Mae, lost an eye: they were there for Sunday’s catechism school.

Everyone in Birmingham knew that Klan men were behind the explosive device, the Church was a center of activity for racist rights and attacks so frequent that the city had the sinister nickname of “Bombingham”. Reverend Martin Luther King, at the funeral of the girls, denounced the racist racket, but the dark head of the FBI, Edgard J. Hoover, who hated King and the Minister of Justice Robert Kennedy, immediately covered up the investigation, babbling about “communists who stir up the blacks “.

Only in 1977, with the Democrat Jimmy Carter in the White House, the process for the massacre finally ended with the first sentence of Klan member Robert Chambliss, who died in his cell in 1985. Other court cases were launched, amid a thousand local resistance, in the 1980, 1988 and 1997 when Blanton, and his accomplice Bobby Cherry, ended up in life imprisonment. Cherry died in 2004, the last of which was Blanton. Who knows if in his hours of leave – he had said to the judge “I wait for the verdict of the good God, the Day of Judgment” – he had time to hear how much his KKK crusade companions still terrify children and repot of the survivors of his massacre , who knows what he would have thought, before he died, of the star-flag of Stars and Bars in whose name he shed innocent blood, who knows when the wisdom of the Seneca chief, and US lieutenant colonel Ely Parker, “We are all American” will finally be truth.

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