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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

In a single week, the rebel flag is toast, Obamacare is vindicated, marriage equality becomes law. It's a trifecta for Obama and he hasn't even declared his Caliphate yet.

As we witness this unexpected and I think historic sea change at least in the symbolism of neo-Confederate nostalgia, it is worth remembering that the fight for equality and civil rights for African-Americans and against white supremacy in its various forms has never been a march in a single direction. If the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice, it's very much been a zigzag arc.

Even after the federal government withdrew its final support from Reconstructed, biracial governments in the South in 1876, those governments and movements didn't collapse overnight. Biracial politics and political movements continued on in diminished but persistent forms well until the 1890s, before being finally snuffed out in a wave of Supreme Court decisions, mass disenfranchisement and violence. As Gregory Downs noted in his article on the origins of Juneteenth, in the 1890s there were some 100,000 African-American voters in Texas. By 1906 that number had fallen to fewer than 5,000. The blanket of Jim Crow absolutism that had come to rest over the South by the first years of the 20th century may have looked like some time immemorial reality. But it was actually a very new creation, finally secured only in the 1890s through an interlocking chain of Supreme Court decisions, extra-judicial violence, new legislation and the collapse of interracial political coalitions.

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With the apparent demise of the Confederate flag, the vindication of Obamacare and chronic poor diet, these really are the days that try the elasticity of the arteries of post-55 white male America. But amidst the gnashing of teeth, one thing should be apparent. John Roberts really is the best thing that ever happened to Republican jurisprudence and the conservative judicial movement.

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TPM Reader NB has little time for rejoicing ...

Can we stop for a moment now that it's over and gaze in wonder at the fact that this was ever in question? That the plain meaning of this law could be overturned by four inartfully chosen words?

If I cast my mind back, I can remember the incredulity with which the cases that eventually became King v Burwell were received at the time. These were the acts of dead enders, a judicial grasping at straws.

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It's so different. Yet seeing the rush for the exits on the symbols of the Confederacy almost reminds me of the flurry of name-changes and turnabouts that followed the fall of the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe. It is almost like a sudden national convulsion or a gag reflex coughing up at least the most noxious symbols of racial domination. Here's one you might not have figured on. This morning Mayor of Boise (Boise! which you may have noticed is not in the South) removed the Mississippi state flag (which incorporates the Confederate battle flag) from a group of state flags on display outside Boise City Hall.

We learned this courtesy of TPM Reader TJ. It is, as you can imagine, quite difficult at this point to keep up with all the the flag lowerings, proposed statue relocations and all the rest.

Several top Mississippi Republicans, including the Speaker of the state House and the state's two senators, have now called on the state to retire the current flag and replace it with a new design, shorn of Confederate symbols.

I think this is the third post I've started with some version of this incredulity. But I still cannot believe the Charleston Massacre has triggered quite this total a collapse of support, not just for flying the Confederate battle flag in places of honor at Southern state capitols, but for public display and honor for the Confederacy and the War of the Rebellion in almost any form. Whatever the precise cause or convergence of under-noticed trends, there now seems like no doubt that we are witnessing a watershed in the country's long, wretched and denial-ridden wrestling with the public memory of the Civil War.

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TPM Reader CS gives us a view from Charleston and why he thinks the damn broke on the preservation of Confederate symbols. I'm particularly interested in the second catalyst he notes ...

As a Charleston resident, I’ve noticed that there seem to be two main catalysts driving the removal of the flag—at least here in South Carolina.

First and foremost, a member of the South Carolina Senate was murdered. Not just any member, but a very highly respected and very well liked member. I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of Republican Senators who have come forward to release very personal statements about Sen. Pinckney’s death, especially among the Lowcountry delegation. The statements made about him strike me as more than just the generic nice things one is supposed to say.

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