Bill Leonard, a founding professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, inadvertently anticipated the domestic terrorism that killed counter-protester Heather Heyer at the Aug. 12 Klan/Nazi rally in Charlottesville.
Months before that, after being tapped to give the divinity schools fall convocation address, Bill had hit on the complex title of Redeemer Nation and Lost Cause Religion: Making America Great Again (For the First Time).
He could have just titled his message Charlottesville, as he acknowledged when he took the stage at Wait Chapel on the campus Tuesday. His theory suddenly had new meaning in the world far beyond academia. Right now, a single word defines the importance of todays topic: Charlottesville, Bill said near the start of his talk to an enthusiastic audience of African-Americans and whites. The rise in religion-related hate crimes, white supremacy rhetoric, KKK rallies, and race-based deviations in voting laws suggest that some of the worst Lost Cause-oriented ideologies are not lost at all in 21st century America.
Ive known Bill for years and count him as a friend. What academics like him say matters all the more in a country where violence often drowns out civil discourse. Bill is a nonviolent visionary with a big heart and a big brain who has long made courageous stands. We ignore guys like him and the historical dots they connect at our own peril.
In his address, Bill ticked through our history, from the early Protestant leaders who thought wed be a Redeemer Nation (an exceptionalism often linked to a covenant with the Divine) to the Southern Christian leaders who helped invent The Lost Cause mythology after the Civil War. He said that the term Lost Cause, introduced to explain the Souths defeat and memorialize its honored dead (hence the statues), morphed into a broader method for undergirding racial segregation, denying blacks voting rights, and promoting culturally entrenched white supremacy, zombie mindsets that stalk us yet.
Zombie mindsets indeed. In America, and in the South especially, it often feels, at least to me, that we are existing in parallel time with our ancestors.
Bill said that The racial, ethnic, and immigrant injustices of a Redeemer Nation are writ large in the Lost Cause, a metaphor by which the defeated Southerners cast the [Civil] war and its outcome in the best possible terms, often factually and chronologically distorting the way in which the past would be remembered. These alternative facts minimized or dismissed the role of slavery as a reason for a war fought in response to Yankee aggression, and black betrayal, he said, quoting from the author Carolyn E. Janney.
Bill talked about the power of myth in America in general. But such mythic identity may not hold forever; there are always prophets and other dissenting weirdoes who challenge them on the spot, he said. Myths that write people in often write other people out.
Bill, who has described himself as a Baptist in the South, didnt let his Baptist predecessors off the hook for creating deadly myths. Lost Cause religion facilitated the formation of the Ku Klux Klan, whose violent racism was romanticized in books like The Clansman, written in 1905 by Baptist preacher and Wake Forest graduate Thomas Dixon, to describe how the young South, led by the reincarnated souls of the Clansmen of Old Scotland … saved the life of a people, and formed one of the most dramatic chapters in the history of the Aryan race, Bill said, quoting from the book.
He drove that theme home to current times: Recalibrating multiple myths of American democracy was at the heart of Donald Trumps election. His slogan, Make America Great Again, captures these two themes of national consciousness: American exceptionalism, the unique place of the U.S. in world history; and Trumps own Lost Cause deconstruction in an America first ideology, with decidedly racist overtones. Many of the 81 percent of evangelical voters who supported Trump apparently hoped he would renew Americas divine entitlement as Redeemer Nation, restoring the countrys faith foundation in Christian orthodoxy and morality.
Bill said: Efforts to make America great again are not unique to the current president of the United States. In almost every era of our countrys history, someone has lamented the departure of American greatness, fretting that national oblivion, if not divine retribution, was at hand. Still others, dissenters mostly, continually warn that claims of greatness themselves betray a certain national hubris, a blindness to promises made but not yet kept.
There are those glorious dissenters. Bill put Martin King in that group leading us to the Beloved Community, as well as an African-American preacher of today. Others, like North Carolina pastor William Barber, challenge that vision, warning against those who deny the God-given humanity and the human rights of individuals and then stack the courts to protect themselves and their power and then put pornographic sums of money into the political structure in order to dominate it, Bill said, quoting Barber.
Toward the end of his message, Bill tied Kings I Have a Dream speech, delivered in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, to Charlottesville last month. Fifty-four Augusts later, can we mirror Dr. Kings courage by confronting a renewed Lost Cause ideology spewed out in white supremacy-KKK-Nazi bigotry made tangible in torchlight parades, blood and soil mantras, and the murder of a 32-year-old dissenter? If the hope of a Beloved Community means anything at all, then Heather Heyer must not have died in vain.
Thats a challenge that should stir our souls.
- Zombie Trailer Park | Addicting Games - March 8th, 2019
- Zombie Cocktail Recipe - Liquor.com - February 26th, 2019
- Zombie deer disease: Why deer with CWD are nothing like ... - February 19th, 2019
- Nazi Horror Zombie Movie Review - Zombie Picture - February 16th, 2019
- Zombie Fest Northwest Normandy Park Washington ... - February 16th, 2019
- Zombie | Wookieepedia | FANDOM powered by Wikia - December 12th, 2018
- Zombie | fictional creature | Britannica.com - December 12th, 2018
- Zombie - Monster Girl Encyclopedia Wiki - December 12th, 2018
- Zombie royale.io - Play Zombieroyale io battle, unblocked - December 12th, 2018
- Zombie - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - December 11th, 2018
- Zombie | RuneScape Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia - December 11th, 2018
- Zombies - Investopedia - December 11th, 2018
- Zombi 2 (1980) - Rotten Tomatoes - December 11th, 2018
- The Ultimate Zombie Apocalypse Survival Quiz - December 11th, 2018
- Zombie | Plants vs. Zombies Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia - December 9th, 2018
- Amazon.com: Zombie: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Al Cliver ... - August 9th, 2018
- Zombie Games - Free Online Zombie Games - July 18th, 2018
- Zombie Official Minecraft Wiki - July 3rd, 2018
- Zombie Chase Parkour POV - YouTube - June 21st, 2018
- Sightings of 'zombie' dogs prompt warnings in Chicago - The San Diego Union-Tribune - September 7th, 2017
- YWCA prepares for 2nd annual zombie run - KFYR-TV - September 7th, 2017
- Langhorne Slim Releases "Zombie" off Forthcoming New Album Lost at Last Vol. 1 - Paste Magazine - September 7th, 2017
- 'Zombie' coyotes reportedly seen in suburbs, and residents warned to keep away - Chicago Tribune - September 6th, 2017
- ARZombi Is A Zombie Shooter Made Using ARKit - UploadVR - September 6th, 2017
- Should You Forgive Your Zombie Relative? Ellen Page In 'The Cured' Watch TIFF Clip - Deadline - September 6th, 2017
- 'Zombie dogs' are roaming the suburbs of Chicago - The Week Magazine - September 6th, 2017
- Zombie Walk to benefit local charity - Bowling Green Daily News - September 6th, 2017
- Zombie Run will benefit Muskogee Animal Shelter - Muskogee Daily Phoenix - September 6th, 2017
- New 'The Walking Dead' AR app tests your zombie battle plan - CNET - CNET - September 6th, 2017
- Watch an extreme scene from TIFF zombie film Les Affams - EW.com - September 6th, 2017
- 9th Circuit Revives Class Action Over 'Zombie' Smartphone Cookies - Courthouse News Service - September 6th, 2017
- SecureView: Assemblyman James Skoufis Hosts Demonstration to Clean Up Zombie Property Blight - Markets Insider - September 6th, 2017
- Chicago's Newest Problem Is An Invasion Of ZOMBIE DOGS - The Daily Caller - September 5th, 2017
- Daily Deal: Zombie Army Trilogy Is 80% Off On Steam - Gameranx (blog) - September 5th, 2017
- 'Zombie' dogs are actually infected coyotes, police warn - Atlanta Journal Constitution - September 5th, 2017
- Your daily 6: A third child for William and Kate; zombie dogs in Chicago - STLtoday.com - September 5th, 2017
- 'Zombie dogs' roaming near Chicago are infected coyotes, police ... - Fox News - September 3rd, 2017
- Trump Pardons Zombie Apocalypse - Indian Country Today Media Network - September 3rd, 2017
- Police warn of infected 'zombie' coyotes confused for stray dogs - KCRA Sacramento - September 2nd, 2017
- Survive An Augmented Zombie Reality In Walking Dead: Our World - Shacknews - September 2nd, 2017
- The Bentley You Need For The Zombie Apocalypse Is Finally For Sale - Jalopnik - September 1st, 2017
- Cops warn residents to avoid mange-infected coyotes labeled 'zombie dogs' - New York Daily News - September 1st, 2017
- Cops Warn of Infected 'Zombie' Coyotes Confused for Stray Dogs in ... - NBC Chicago - September 1st, 2017
- 'Zombie' drug Spice addict grabbed terrified girl, 5, outside Primark and gave her a 'bear hug' - Mirror.co.uk - September 1st, 2017
- Rome on cutting edge for dealing with zombie properties - Utica Observer Dispatch - August 31st, 2017
- The Mask Hides My Ugliness: Violence and Trauma in Rob Zombie's 'Halloween' - The Film Stage (blog) - August 31st, 2017
- The Syllabus: Zombie Charlotte Law (updated) - Greensboro News & Record (blog) - August 31st, 2017
- The Night King and Zombie Viserion are comingin Funko Pop! form - Winter Is Coming - August 31st, 2017
- Death of Spain's Zombie Lenders Sends Bank Jobs to Decade Low - Bloomberg - August 31st, 2017
- Rob Zombie's Halloween 10th anniversary: How Tyler Mane ... - EW.com - August 30th, 2017
- Call of Duty Black Ops III and Zombie Chronicles Officially Bundled Together - Twinfinite - August 30th, 2017
- Here a few of Lil Uzi Vert's favorite things: Rob Zombie, Rugrats and more - Alternative Press - August 30th, 2017
- Zombie shooter Dead Alliance now available - Flickering Myth (blog) - August 30th, 2017
- Brooklyn Decker Compares Herself to 'Zombie Taylor Swift' in 'Look What You Made Me Do' Music Video - Us Weekly - August 29th, 2017
- Call of Duty: WWII's Zombies Is Changing its Tone and That's Exactly What it Needs - Twinfinite - August 29th, 2017
- Rob Zombie on Tobe Hooper: 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' Changed My Life - RollingStone.com - August 28th, 2017
- 'Zombie' translation book authored by Ashland professor - Richland Source - August 28th, 2017
- City set to file first court action against 'zombie property' - Rome Sentinel - August 28th, 2017
- Zombies, romance and revenge drive record 'Game of Thrones' ratings - Reuters - August 28th, 2017
- Video: President Trump's zombie claim of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election - Washington Post - August 28th, 2017
- Hudson Confidential: 'Zombie' utility poles outlawed in Cornwall-on-Hudson - Times Herald-Record - August 28th, 2017
- Falls steps up its fight against 'zombie homes' - Niagara Gazette - August 28th, 2017
- City seeks help in identifying 'zombie properties' - The Recorder (subscription) - August 28th, 2017
- Zombie homes shame campaign spreads to Niagara Falls - Spectrum News - August 26th, 2017
- Zombie run scheduled at Castle of Muskogee - Tulsa World - August 26th, 2017
- 19 Years Ago: Rob Zombie Debuts His Solo Album "Hellbilly Deluxe" - WAAF.com (blog) - August 25th, 2017
- What can the Zombie Apocalypse teach us about ourselves? [Video] - OUPblog (blog) - August 25th, 2017
- Like A Movie Zombie, Tax Reform Refuses To Die - Investor's Business Daily - August 25th, 2017
- Buy Your Tickets Now For 'Z is for...Zombie!' - Patch.com - August 25th, 2017
- West Milford plans law to slay 'zombie' homes - NorthJersey.com - August 24th, 2017
- 'Game of Thrones': Why the White Walkers and Wights Represent the Best and Worst Zombie Tropes - IndieWire - August 24th, 2017
- Starbucks' new sushi burrito sounds like how zombie outbreaks start ... - GolfDigest.com - August 24th, 2017
- Heavy weekend rains likely when zombie storm Harvey comes to Texas - MyStatesman.com - August 24th, 2017
- Louisville Zombie Walk Attack Funeral! - Louisville Eccentric Observer - August 24th, 2017
- 'State of Decay 2' forces you to pick who becomes zombie food - Engadget - August 22nd, 2017
- The Zombie Polar Bear on Game of Thrones Was Just a Dude in a Green Suit - Esquire.com - August 22nd, 2017
- Zombie Hitler reanimates in Dead Snow 3 - SYFY WIRE (blog) - August 22nd, 2017
- That Zombie Polar Bear on 'Game of Thrones' Was Four Seasons in the Making - Thrillist - August 22nd, 2017
- HESCO Sponsor Zombie Invitational Shooting Competition (Multi-Video) - 18.104.22.168 (press release) (registration) (blog) - August 22nd, 2017
- Dead Snow 3 will feature 'Zombie-Hitler,' says director - EW.com - August 22nd, 2017
Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero