by Max Brantley
Line is open y'all.
I'm happy to say Petit Jean hambone, a two-pound bag of Camellia brand red beans, two onions, 10 garlic cloves, a bunch of green onions, a bell pepper, three bay leaves, a bunch of parsley, black pepper, red pepper, thyme, basil and crushed red pepper left to simmer for about three hours in a couple of quarts of water has produced just the thing to ladle on top of a big scoop of Texmati (why isn't there any Arkmati) rice. (Yes, there will be leftovers, though I'll do my damnedest to reduce the eight quarts of red beans before freezing the residual.)
I got some lettuce at the Pulaski Heights Baptist Hillcrest Farmers Market, because nothing works better with beans and rice than lettuce tossed in a really sharp vinaigrette. It bleeds a little into the bean juice, which you mop up with chunks of Boulevard baguette, heated until the crust is flaky crisp.
The friendly bakers from Mylo Coffee weren't on hand at the Hillcrest market this morning, sad to say. Otherwise I could have bought some more of their great meringues to crumble up with raspberries and cream for dessert. Eton mess they call it. Not exactly a South Louisiana specialty, but good.
* A NYT MENTION: Charles Blow mentioned the Arkansas Times, specifically our report on the writing of FORMER Rep. Jon Hubbard of Jonesboro, in a column today on the "long shadow of slavery." His piece includes a timely reference to a famous figure soon to receive his annual lionization in the local newspaper.
To be sure, America has moved light-years forward from the days of slavery. But the idea that progress toward racial harmony would or should be steady and continuous is fraying. And the pillars of the institution — the fundamental devaluation of dark skin and strained justifications for the unconscionable — have proved surprisingly resilient.
For instance, in October, The Arkansas Times reported that Jon Hubbard, a Republican state representative, wrote in a 2009 self-published book that “the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise.” His misguided point was that for all the horrors of slavery, blacks were better off in America than in Africa.
This was a prevailing, wrongheaded, ethically empty justification for American slavery when it was legal.
Robert E. Lee wrote in 1856: “The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically, and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things.”
And in a famous 1837 speech on the Senate floor, John C. Calhoun declared: “I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good — a positive good.”
Lee was later appointed commander in chief of the armies of the South, and Calhoun had been vice president and became secretary of state. But in November, Hubbard lost his seat; I guess that’s progress.
Still, the persistence of such a ridiculous argument does not sit well with me. And we should all be unsettled by the tendency of some people to romanticize and empathize with the Confederacy. [His column is accompanied by a poll illustrating the demographics of Southern sympathizers.]
Don't tell Blow that the political party that holds a new majority in Arkansas rooted hard for the re-election of Hubbard and a couple of other Old South defenders, including one who thinks Abraham Lincoln an outlaw. And whatever you do, don't send him clips of the annual full-page tribute to Marse Robert and the attendant memorialization of the traitorous spy hanged in Little Rock.
SPEAKING OF CIVIL WARS: A writer in Salon says that a new civil war rages on — "Lincoln's unfinished war rages on, as the neo-Confederacy tries to turn back the clock on women, gays, God and guns."