Waving the Bloody Shirt: Then and Now
According to Wikipedia, and what I learned in public school, the term "Waving the bloody shirt" is a pejorative phrase, used to deride opposing politicians who made emotional calls to avenge the blood of soldiers that died in the Civil War.
In other words, it's a metaphor for unhelpful, grievance politics.
Except that wasn't true.
The origin of the term was far different.
Representative, and former Union general, Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts, while making a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in April 1871, allegedly held up a shirt stained with the blood of a Reconstruction Era carpetbagger who had been whipped by the Ku Klux Klan. While Butler did give a speech condemning the Klan, he never waved anyone's bloody shirt. White Southerners mocked Butler, using the fiction of him having "waved the bloody shirt", to dismiss Klan thuggery and other atrocities committed against freed slaves and Republicans.
And even this isn't exactly right. The "carpetbagger" in question was a school teacher who went to South Carolina to teach former black slaves how to read. For that he was whipped almost to death.
That is totally flipping the situation on it's head. Sort of like making the bully out to be the "real" victim in an assault.
But it does show that conservatives have always been good at flipping the script.
That got me thinking about Kyle Rittenhouse.
The right-wing likes to point out the "crossing state lines" and the backgrounds of the people who got shot. Or how the victims were all white, thus showing that Rittenhouse wasn't racist.
And it worked! Even some on the left have fallen for this.
No one talks about the fact that both of the men Rittenhouse murdered were unarmed.
Think about that for a moment. How has that fact been overlooked, or at least minimized?
One of the victims actually got shot in the back (something that every western movie I've seen will get you hanged).
Just imagine if an armed BLM protestor had murdered two unarmed, conservative counter-protestors.
Do you think the media would just ignore this fact?
Yet now Rittenhouse is some sort of victim-hero, according to Tucker Carlson.
Those who say otherwise are just waving bloody shirts.