22 December 2019

On race


The word race as biological term applied to all lifeforms comes from the 19th century, where it was used for what is now usually called a subspecies.  That is the sense in which I am about to use it now.

The Homo sapiens sapiens race began flourishing just 195 thousand years ago.  

Out of the four known races (sapiens, neanderthalensis, denisova, idaltu) of the Homo sapiens species, it is the only one remaining.  There have been six other known species (habilis, naledi, ergaster, erectus, heidelbergensis, floresiensis) of the 2.8 million year old genus Homo, each of which has only one race identified in it, except for Homo erectus, of which nine races have been identified. 

Of these eighteen races of Homo, or Human, known to have walked the Earth in the past 2.8 million years, only ours, H. sapiens sapiens, remains.  So, when Edward James Olmos as his alter-ego Admiral Bill Adama of the Battlestar Galactica (BS-75) said in an appearance with his crew at the UN that there is only one race, the human race (and so say we all, or at least we should), he was literally as well as rhetorically accurate.

That’s why I say that I am a Terran, a citizen of Earth.  The whole world is my home and all its people my brothers, sisters, and cousins.

09 December 2019

The absurdity of all forms of human religion


The Universe is 13.8 billion years old and 213 duovigintillion cubic kilometers in volume.  The relative dust speck called Earth is but 4.2 billion years old and its dominant race, Homo sapiens sapiens, is but 200,000 years old.  Keep those key facts in mind.

“Man is an animal,” wrote anthropologist Clifford Geertz, “suspended in a web of significance he himself has spun”.

On Planet Terra (Earth) of the Solar Planetary System in Orion’s Spur of the Milky Way Galaxy in the Local Galaxy Group of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster in the Laniakea Supercluster of the Universe, during the Subatlantic Chron of the Meghalayan Age of the Holocene Epoch of the Quartenary Period in the Cenozoic Era of the Phanerozoic Eon of the Current Supereon in Galactic Year (GY) 20, Jews believe that Adonai speaks Hebrew, Muslims that Allah speaks Arabic, American evangelicals that Almighty God speaks Elizabethan English, Roman Catholics that Dominus Dei speaks Latin, Eastern Orthodox that Kyrios speaks Greek, Hindus that Brahman speaks Sanskrit, Zoroastrians that Ormazd speaks Avestan, Buddhists that Adibuddha speaks Pali, Shintoists that Amaterasu speaks Japanese, religious Daoists that Tai Di speaks Mandarin Chinese, and Sikhs that Vahiguru speaks Punjabi. 

Each of these groups, and each subgroup and splinter and cult and sect within each of them, believes they are the Chosen People from which will come the Anointed One to assert their rightful dominion over all Creation for all Eternity. 

That belief is absurd.  In fact, all “belief” is absurd.

To believe is to define.  To define is to limit.  To limit is to control.  To control is to corrupt.

Belief is not humble; it is aggressive.  Belief is not a sign of submission; it is an assertion of domination.  Belief makes itself superior to that in which it claims to believe by controlling it through the very act of belief.  Thus, belief is blasphemy.  Belief is vanity.  Belief is futility.  Belief is the very antithesis of faith.  At the opposite end, disbelief affirms belief by that very negation, which is another attempt at control.

To have faith, one must surrender control.  To surrender control, one must abandon limitation.  To abandon limitation, one must give up definition.  To give up definition, one must let go of belief.  To have faith, one must neither believe nor disbelieve; one must unbelieve.

24 November 2019

Peaches and Plums, Motherfucker, with a Side of Bacon


“What’ll you have for breakfast?”

“Peaches and plums, motherfucker, with a heaping plate of bacon.” 

The ‘breakfast of champions’ for The Magicians (and their fans).  Especially after the death of our beloved Quentin Coldwater.

And with it came the death of possibility for both Quelice and Queliot, or even Quelioce. 

El and Alice sitting together holding hands at Q’s memorial bonfire.

El and Alice standing together holding each other next to Q’s memorial in in Fillory facing the lake.

El and Bambi mournfully sipping martinis under a tree, lit cigarette dangling between El’s two fingers.

Stephanie telling Alice that she do whatever she needs to get through her grief, no matter how crazy.

In the scene from Season 4’s “Escape from the Happy Place” where Eliot finally confronts the memory he most fears to face, El tells Q after the latter proposes giving Queliot a try back in their own timeline, “Q, c’mon, I love you, but you have to know that that’s not me and it’s definitely not you, not when we have a choice”.

Just as the two of them had “proof of concept” that they could have a long term relationship Season 3’s “A Life in the Day”, so too did El have proof of concept for his words.  He and Q got together on the night of their first anniversary in past Fillory working on the mosaic, then Ariel showed up and Q ended up with her.

Of course, El’d also shut down Q’s attempt the morning after to address what’d happened between them that night.  “Let’s just save our overthinking for the puzzle, yeah?”  It was his way of running then, just like the scene of his worst memory.  But while what he said then did apply to Q, for El it was a different story entirely.

What he said to Bambi (Margo) when she compared her having to marry Prince Ess of Loria to El’s having to marry Fen proves that.  “This would only be equivalent if Ess was a girl and you found pussy, you know, interesting in a ‘sometimes you like Thai food’ kind of way.  And now it’s all Thai food, forever, until you die.”

El framed his words to Q in the aftermath of their past-Fillory adventure not because they were true for himself (they were decidedly not), but to keep from inflicting a guilt trip on someone he dearly loved about something over which he (Q) had no control.  He was, in effect, sharing the blame for what he at the time indicated were unlikely prospects of a relationship between them, because while it was Eliot, it had already been proven not to be Q, not when he had a choice.

Margo is Eliot’s Mary Austin (long-term companion of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury).  Even had El and Q become Queliot in the present in Timeline 40, El’s Bambi would have been closer to his heart, something Q would’ve accepted just as Josh has.  El and Q could’ve even married under Fillory’s laws and Fen would’ve accepted it. 

However, Alice isn’t built for that kind of accommodation, something of which Q and El were both aware and for which El, being El, would’ve sacrificed his own happiness in order to maintain that of two people he loved dearly.  So Quelioce was never really a possibility, and while Queliot in a life isolated from the rest of their lives succeeded, it could only happen there, under those circumstances, because El loved Q too much to let him sacrifice a relationship with the one he loved even more.

By the way, I’m not deliberately “side-effecting” the rest of the characters shown in the teaser for Season 5; it’s just that other than the ones that I included it’s unclear whether the characters are mourning Q.  Taking the brief (very brief) teaser along with the special sneak peak from San Diego’s Comic-Con, it looks like Season 5 is gonna be dope.  I can’t wait.


Satan, the Devil, and Lucifer


Of the many things Christianity completely fucked up in its transition from the first century Judasim of Palestine to the hybrid Judeo-based but Gentile-dominated religion it became, standing alongside its invention of the Holy Trinity and the logical paradoxes of its Christology is its creation of a supreme enemy to both its deity and humanity in the character known interchangeably as Satan, the Devil, and Lucifer as well as by more than a few derogatory epithets.  This character in Christian myth and legend is an amalgamation of three separate characters in its parent Judaism.

Satan, or more properly The Satan (ha-Satan), in Judaism is the member of the heavenly court charged with recounting the sins of the dead before the throne of judgment, a heavenly prosecutor so to speak.  The Hebrew word “satan” literally means adversary or accuser, and is a title of an office rather than a name.  Talmudic literature makes The Satan an archangel and gives him the name Samael.

The Satan in Jewish lore is a trickster who uses guile to tempt humans to sin as part of his divinely commanded mission, not to condemn them to hell but to give them the opportunity to resist temptation or not.  By resisting that temptation humans prove their worth; by succumbing to temptation they show themselves unworthy  or at least unready.  This is the function performed by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden in then third chapter of the  Book of Genesis and by “the Devil” in the “Temptation of Christ” in the wilderness in the fourth chapters of both the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew.

Thus in Jewish thought The Satan is in a very real sense the author of freedom of choice, the patriarch of ‘Team Free Will’ as it were, not in defiance of the Divine Will but in its furtherance for the benefit of humanity.

In Middle Judaism (300 BCE-200 CE), the character later combined with Satan by Christians was known as Beliar, later Belial.  Beliar was the leader of fallen angels, devils, and demons, in essence The Devil.  While his presence is often considered evidence of Jewish dualism, Beliar was rather cast as the peer antagonist of the archangel Michael, guardian of Israel, than as an equal direct rival of Yahuweh.

The name Lucifer occurs but once in the English Bible, in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, and clearly refers not to any supernatural being but to an earthly ruler.  The name Lucifer is a Latinization of the Hellenization (Phosphoros) of the Hebrew name (Heylel) for the planet Venus, called the morning star and the evening star.  The passage in Isaiah refers superficially to the Canaanite deity Attar, the god of the dawn who ascends to the throne of the Children of El when it becomes vacant, only to in turn be overthrown and cast out.  In truth, the author uses the story of Attar (who goes unnamed) as allusion to Nebuchadnazzar II of Babylon, conqueror of the Levant.

By combining these three characters and defaming the Heavenly Prosecutor, Christianity effectively created an Unholy Trinity of Three-in-one and One-in-three, similar to the way the Book of Revelation treats the Devil, the Beast, and the False Prophet.  A classic of very Jewish apocalyptic literature, this Christian work is one of the earliest extant to explicitly combine the Devil and the Satan and to identify the two with Genesis’ serpent in the Garden of Den (chapter 12).

20 November 2019

Hamilton County's A.P. Stewart statue and its historical revisionism


The question of the statue of former Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart occupying the front lawn of the Hamilton County Courthouse should be examined in the context of factual history of both the county in relation to the Secession and the War of the Rebellion and the history of the statue’s being installed there in 1919.

Hamilton County and the Secession

In the less populous northern counties of Alabama, the great majority were against secession.  Their political leaders initiated discussions with fellow anti-secessionist leaders in East Tennessee and the Northwest Georgia counties of Dade and Walker about seceding from their respective states together as the neutral State of Nickajack.  The citizens of Dade, in fact, were so adamant about it that they’d already seceded from the State of Georgia in July 1860 as the Free and Independent State of Dade.

On 9 February 1861, on the question of secession from the Union for the State of Tennessee, the enfranchised citizens of Hamilton County voted overwhelmingly (1445 vs. 445) against even considering the matter.  The citizens enfranchised at the time were limited to citizens who were male, white, free, and over 21 years of age.  At first, free blacks could also vote under Tennessee’s original constitution in 1796, but this right was taken away in 1834 in the same vote which adopted universal suffrage for white men (dropping property qualifications).

Four months later, after the Battle of Fort Sumter, fanatic secessionist Gov. Isham Harris convinced the legislature to hold a special election on the question.  On 8 June 1861, the enfranchised citizens of Hamilton County voted 1260 to 854 against the State of Tennessee’s secession (as did their neighbors in Bradley and Marion Cos.).

The overwhelming majority of counties in East Tennessee voted likewise, and held two conventions to consider secession of themselves from the State of Tennessee in order to remain in the Union.  A little like some people in Scotland currently considering secession from the UK solely in order to remain in the European Union rather than seceding in order to gain actual independence from a decrepit union.

The two foremost hotbeds of Unionism in East Tennessee were widely recognized as Scott County on the Kentucky border and North Hamilton County, although Unionist sentiment was widespread across the division of the state.  For instance, Bradley County was overwhemingly Unionist as was Cades Cove area of Blount County.

While it may be true that the majority in the Town of Chattanooga, whose southern boundaries at that time were West 23rd Street and Baldwin Street, voted for secession, the statue of A.P. Stewart stands in the front lawn of Hamilton County Courthouse not that of Chattanooga City Hall.  The county seat at the time was Harrison, the original site of which is now under the waters of the bay bearing its name, and it voted along with the rest of the county to remain in the Union both times.

Resistance to the Secession

In the aftermath of the vote, dedicated Unionists began congregating in northern Hamilton County on the right bank of the Tennessee River, seeking sanctuary near the plantation of the leading Unionist in the county and one of the leading Unionists in East Tennessee, William Clift.  Clift, commander of the county’s militia regiment, mustered his troops to the Sale Creek Camp Ground as the 7th Tennessee Federal Militia to fight to restore the Union, building Fort Clift.

Meanwhile, the citizens of the North Alabama counties of Winston, Marion, Franklin, Lawrence, Morgan, Blount, Marshall, Walker, and Fayette met at Looney’s Tavern in Winston County to draft a formal condemnation of their state’s secession from the Union.  Afterwards, those of the host county voted to declare themselves the Free State of Winston.

Military units from Hamilton Co. in the War of the Rebellion

Although more more individual units were raised for the Confederacy, those raised for the Union were by far larger. 

The Confederacy raised twenty-three companies, one battalion, and two guerrilla units whose members were later recognized as legitimate Confederate veterans in Hamilton County.

The Union raised five regiments (a standard regiment had ten companies, ideally speaking) and five individual companies in Hamilton County.  Two of the regiments were raised from “contrabands” (slaves who had escaped or been freed by Sherman’s army and settled in the county) and one was raised from veterans of five Ohio regiments demobilized here.

Confederate units from Hamilton Co.

In the following units, PAT = Provisional Army of Tennessee, PACS = Provisional Army of the Confederate States, and ACS = Army of the Confederate States.

The PAT was strictly a state affair that began organizing in April 1861, with its units gradually absorbed by the CSA by the end of December 1861.

The PACS made up the overwhelming bulk of Confederate forces, the nonregular, or “volunteer”, branch.

The ACS did not really constitute a separate organization, this designation being merely a sign of prestige.  It was intended to be the regular army of the CSA, but the CSA failed before that happened.

Gordon’s Mountain Rifles (later the Raccoon Roughs), tri-state area, mid-April 1861; became Co. I (later Co. D), 6th Alabama Infantry, PACS.

Hamilton Grays, Tennessee Infantry, Chickamauga (Shepherd), Tennessee, May 1861; became Co. B, 2nd East Tennessee Infantry, PAT, then Co. A, 19th Tennessee Infantry, PACS.

Marsh Blues, Tennessee Infantry, Chattanooga, May 1861; became Co. A, 2nd East Tennessee Infantry, PAT, then Co. I, 19th Tennessee Infantry, PACS.

Ragsdale’s Lookout Rangers, Knoxville, 15 June 1861, with men from Hamilton County; became Co. A, 4th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, PACS, then Co. H, (Ashby’s) 2nd Tennessee Cavalry, PACS.

Snow’s Company, Tennessee Cavalry, northwestern Bradley County, Tennessee, 7 August 1861; became Co. C, (Brazelton’s) 3rd Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, PACS.

Spiller’s Company, Tennessee Cavalry, Chattanooga, 11 August 1861, with men from the Third Civil District of Hamilton Co. (North Chattanooga, Red Bank) and some from North Alabama; became Co. B, (McClellan’s) 5th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, PACS.

Bird Rangers, Tennessee Cavalry, Knoxville, 24 August 1861, with men from the Fifteenth Civil District of Hamilton Co., North Georgia, and North Alabama; became Co. F, (Roger’s) 1st Tennessee Cavalry, PACS.

Co. G, 3rd East Tennessee Infantry, PAT, Knoxville, August 1861 with men from Hamilton County; became Co. G, 26th Tennessee Infantry, PACS, later 2nd Co. K, 1st Confederate Infantry, ACSA.

Co. H, 3rd East Tennessee Infantry, PAT, Knoxville, August 1861 with men from Hamilton County and North Georgia; became (1st) Co. H, 26th Tennessee Infantry, PACS, then (2nd) Co. I, 1st Confederate Infantry, ACSA.

Co. D, 1st East Tennessee Rifles, PAT, Chattanooga, September 1861, with men from the Second and Third Civil Districts (Moccasin Point, North Chattanooga, Red Bank, Browns Chapel); became Co. D, 37th Tennessee Infantry, PACS.

Co. H, 1st East Tennessee Rifles, PAT, Hamilton County, September 1861, with men from the Fifth and Fifteenth Civil Districts (southeast corner, Concord, Chickamauga, Tyner, Zion Hill) and North Georgia; became Co. H, 37th Tennessee Infantry, PACS.

Co. I, 5th East Tennessee Infantry, PAT, DeKalb County, Alabama, September 1861, mostly with men from that Dekalb as well Hamilton and Bledsoe Cos. in Tennessee; it (1st) Co. I, 35th Tennessee Infantry, PACS.

Co. K, 5th East Tennessee Infantry, PAT, Ooltewah, 17 October 1861, with men from eastern Hamilton County; became Co. K, 43rd Tennessee Infantry, PACS.

McKenzie’s Company, Tennessee Cavalry, 1 November 1861, Decatur, Meigs Co., with men from Meigs and Hamilton Cos.; became Co. B, Rogers’ 1st Tennessee Cavalry, PACS.

Lea’s Lookout Rangers, Tennessee Cavalry, Nashville, 1 November 1861, with men from DeKalb Co., Alabama, and Marion and Hamilton Cos., Tennessee, as part of (Smith’s) 10th/11th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, PACS, which later grew into Smith’s 2nd Tennessee Cavalry, PACS.

Co. H, 36th Tennessee Infantry, PACS, Knoxville, 26 February 1862, with men from northern Hamilton County.

Co. K, 36th Tennessee Infantry, PACS, Knoxville, 26 February 1862, with men from Harrison and vicinity in Hamilton County.

Tyner’s Company, Tennessee Cavalry, Tyner,  with men from Tyner, Harrison, and Ooltewah; became (2nd) Co. K, 1st Confederate Cavalry, ACSA, and later Tyner’s Company of Sappers and Miners.

Lookout Battery, Tennessee Light Artillery (aka Barry’s Company), Chattanooga, 15 May 1862 with men from Hamilton County.

Carter’s Company, Tennessee Cavalry, Chattanooga, 14 June 1862; became  Co. A, (Murray’s) 4th Tennessee Cavalry, PACS.

Clark’s Independent Company, Tennessee Cavalry, Chattanooga, 31 August 1862.

Mitchell’s Mountain Rifles, Tennessee Infantry, Chattanooga, 1 October 1862; became (3rd) Co. F, 35th Tennessee Infantry, PACS.

Co. D, Avery’s 23rd Squadron of Georgia Dragoons, PACS, Wauhatchie, Hamilton County, October 1862.

19th Alabama Partisan Ranger Battalion, PACS, Chattanooga, 21 November 1862, intended to be part of Howard’s Legion (3rd Confederate Cavalry) but ended up as an independent unit.

Snow’s Scouts, Snow Hill and Ooltewah, May 1862.

Osborne’s Scouts, Fifth Civil District (Spring Creek, Concord,  Tyner, Chickamauga), Hamilton Co., 1863.

Union units from Hamilton County

The Union army had a similar division between regulars and volunteers, with the regulars designated United States Army and the volunteers designated United States Volunteers, the regiments of which including the state in which the unit was raised in their designations.

7th Tennessee Federal Militia, Sale Creek Campground, 10 August 1861; disbanded 13 November 1861.  This had been the county’s militia regiment until the secession.

Co. I, 2nd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, USA, Sale Creek, 27 November 1861 (with vets from Clift's 7th Tennessee Militia).

Co. C, 5th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, USA, Hamilton Co., Tennessee; 25 February 1862.

Co. G, 5th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, USA, Pine Knot, Campbell Co., Tennessee, May 1862, with men from Hamilton and Bradley Cos.

In addition to the above two companies, Hamilton Co. men served individually in Cos. E, F, H, I, and K of the 5th Tennessee Volunteers.

7th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, USA, Huntsville, Scott Co., Tennessee, 1 June 1862, with men from Hamilton, Scott, Anderson, and Morgan Cos. as a partisan unit until on 1 June 1863.

44th U.S. Colored Troops, USA, Chattanooga, 7 April-16 September 1864.

42nd U.S. Colored Troops, USA, Chattanooga and Nashville, 20 April 1864-6 July 1865.

Co. E, 5th Tennessee Mounted Infantry, USA, Cleveland, Bradley Co., Tennessee,  8 October 1864 with men from Hamilton, Bradley, and Meigs Cos.

Co. D, 10th Tennessee Cavalry, Nashville, 25 January 1864 with men from Hamilton and McMinn Cos.

18th Ohio Veteran Infantry, USA, Chattanooga, 31 October 1864, with veterans of the 1st, 2nd, 18th, 24th and 35th Ohio Infantries.

6th Tennessee Mounted Infantry, USA, Chattanooga, 24 October 1864, for one-year service.

Confederate occupation of Hamilton County

In the aftermath of the two “Clift Wars” (September and November 1861) as well as the East Tennessee Bridge Burnings, Chattanooga along with the rest of East Tennessee was occupied by first the Provisional Army of Tennessee, then by the Provisional Army of the Confederate States. 

The first units of the Confederate occupation of Hamilton County were the 7th Alabama Infantry out of Pensacola and the 16th Alabama Infantry from Virginia, both commanded by unrelated colonels named Wood.  Chattanooga eventually became the headquarters of the Confederate army’s Department No. 2 (later reorganized as the Department of the West). 

Col. Clift’s militia voted to disband in November 1861, and veterans of it formed the core of the 7th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry (USA), organized May 1862 in the Free and Independent State of Scott, as Scott County in East Tennessee had become known (it held a special vote to secede from Tennessee in July 1861).

The county was occupied by the Army of the Mississippi (Confederate) in July and August of 1862.  That organization’s successor, the Army of Tennessee, occupied the city and county from early July through early September in 1863.  The Confederate military occupation of Chattanooga and vicinity lasted from November 1861 through 9 September 1863.  Two months shy of two full years.

Union occupation of Hamilton County

The official Federal Military Occupation of Chattanooga and vicinity lasted from 9 September 1863 through 31 December 1866.  Three years and nearly four months.  For the last eight months of that, federal authority was represented solely by a Union military provost officer; the occupation’s last regiments, 16th and 44th U.S. Colored Troops, mustered out in April 1866.

Postbellum carpetbaggers

Practical occupation by former Union soldiers, their civilian friends, and other opportunistic businessmen from the North lasted decades longer.  In this case, however, the so-called “invasion” was not against the consent of the residents but with their avid encouragement.  Papers in Chattanooga even published explicit invitations to carpetbaggers to come to the city, and other parties took out ads in Northern newspapers with the same invitation.

In 1888, the citizens of the community of Tunnel beyond the western mouth of the Whiteside Tunnel through Missionary Ridge on the East Tennessee, Virginia, & Georgia Railroad voted to rename their community Sherman Heights.  For balance, they named the inn which became their municipal center Cleburne Hotel after the actual victor of the engagement known then as the ‘Battle of Tunnel Hill, Tn.’.  In the 21st century, the neighborhood association adopted the name Glass Farm District. 

In the adjacent community of Boyce (now Boyce Station) on the Western & Atlantic Railroad, its citizens named their main inn and meeting place the Sherman House.

The names Sherman Heights and Sherman House are not exactly the Lost Cause names we would expect given the romanticized propaganda claims of the neo-Confederate movement.

Hamilton County’s neo-Confederates

In 1867, citizens of Chattanooga bought a section of Chattanooga City Cemetery in which to inter Confederate dead.  To oversee its development and maintenance, they formed the Confederate Memorial Association.  In all, the remains of 877 Confederate soldiers who died in area hospitals are buried in Chattanooga Confederate Cemetery.  

Not long after, these same people and others decided there ought to be a monument in the city to the Confederacy, so they formed the Confederate Monument Association. 

In 1874, these two groups combined as the Chattanooga Confederate Memorial Association, with Penelope McDermott (wife of Tennessee Supreme Court Judge J.B. Cooke) as its president.  The CCMA may be regarded as a precursor to the county’s chapter of the UDC.

Former Confederate officers in Louisiana formed the Southern Historical Society in 1869.  In 1870, the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia organized, followed seven years later by the Association of the Army of Tennessee.  All these were restricted to former commissioned officers.

An 15 September 1885, a group of Confederate war veterans organized as N.B. Forrest Camp No. 3, Confederate Veterans.  The chief organizer was Joseph Shipp, formerly captain of Company G, 60th Mounted Tennessee Infantry Regiment.  In 1889, this group became a charter local of the United Confederate Veterans Association as N.B. Forrest Camp No. 4.

The leading instigator of the UCVA was, once again, Capt. Shipp, who in his networking to build support for the hoped for Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park had frequent dealings with the Grand Army of the Republic and wanted a counterpart national organization for Confederate veterans of the war.  The majority of the founding members and groups came from Tennessee and Louisiana.

At their organizational meeting, Shipp invited the association to hold its first annual convention in Chattanooga in the following summer (1890).  As part of the convention’s proceedings, Chattanooga’s Frank M. Walker Camp No. 1, Sons of Confederate Soldiers, petitioned to be recognized as an official auxiliary of UCVA.  In response, delegates authorized the formation of groups for “Sons and Daughters of Confederate Veterans”, implying these could be separate organizations.

And yes, by the way, Capt. Shipp is the same Shipp who was Sheriff at the time of the Ed Johnson lynching.

In August 1894, UCVA’s N.B. Forrest Camp No. 4 voted to allow sons of its members to join their camp as nonvoting associates.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy was founded in Nashville in 1894 as the National Association of the Daughters of the Confederacy.  It was not, like the later USCV, an auxiliary of the UCVA but a separate entity in its own right, with its purpose being more to glorify the Confederacy than to support Confederate veterans, though it did do some of the latter.

The A.P. Stewart Chapter No. 81 of the UDC formed here on 5 September 1896.  In 1904, the Francis Marion Walker Chapter No. 784 formed in St. Elmo, initially as the John B. Gordon Chapter; it dissolved 1969.  The UDC currently has a second local affiliate here, Missionary Ridge Chapter No. 1777.

In 1896, the UDC authorized an affiliate organization for non-adult sons, daughters, and later descendants of Confederate veterans called the Children of the Confederacy (COFC).  Each COFC chapter is attached to a mother chapter in UDC, and in Chattanooga that is Jonathan W. Bachman Chapter No. 21.

The United Sons of Confederate Veterans finally came into being 1 July 1896.  Its name was changed in 1912 by dropping “United” so that its acronym would not be the same as that of the United States Colored Veterans (“USCV”).  In Chattanooga, the local USCV affiliate was Jonathan W. Bachman Camp No. 3.  Initially, the USCA was solely concerned with the welfare of Confederate veterans, but as members aged and began to die off, they began to look to preserving the mythology invented and propounded by the UDC.

When the local Confederate veterans died out, the Jonathan Bachman Camp of UCVA died out too.  The whole UCVA ended in 1952.  In Chattanooga, the Jonathan Bachman Camp of the SCV died out not long afterwards.  There was an attempt to reestablish an SCV camp in Chattanooga in 1971, but the effort failed to get very far.  Another effort occurred in 1983, and the members chose to call themselves Chattanooga Camp No. 3, SCV.  This attempt to restart local SCV activity also failed soon after.

The current group, Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp No. 3, SCV, organized in the mid-1990s, probably so designated in memory of the UCVA camp.  In the mid-1990s, there was an A.P. Stewart Camp of SCV in North Hamilton County, but it has long been defunct.

Hamilton County’s Unionist organizations

The Grand Army of the Republic (created 1866), the premier organization of Union veterans, had posts across the South in the early years after the war, but they fell off after the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction and sold out the former slaves.  These began to revive and add new posts in the mid-1880s, about the same time as Confederate veterans began to mass organize, but with far fewer Afro-American members since the resurrected posts in the South adopted Jim Crow attitudes.

Where the UCVA had just the one chapter (“camp”) in Hamilton County, the revived GAR had five posts:  Lookout Post No. 2, Chickamauga Post No. 22, and Mission Ridge Post No. 45 in Chattanooga; Robert L. McCook Post No. 36 in Soddy, and Gordon Grainger Post No. 84 in Sale Creek.

The GAR created the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in 1881.  The affiliate of SUVCW in Chattanooga is Missionary Ridge Camp No. 63.

The National Alliance of the Daughters of Veterans of the United States of America organized in 1885 but was not recognized as an official auxiliary by the GAR until 1900.  In 1925, the NADVUSA became the Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War. 

By the early 20th century, a tent of the NADVUSA  existed in Chattanooga, but it apparently failed because in 1930 the national office of DUVCW proudly announced the organization of a tent in Chattanooga.  This too soon crumbled, apparently.  In 2009, a group of women organized the Andrew Jackson Penny Chapter under the National Alliance of the Daughters of the USA, a separate association which organized in 1904.

Another Union veterans organization with a presence in Chattanooga and vicinity, this one strictly for former officers of the erstwhile field command, was the Society of the Army of the Cumberland (1870).  There were like groups for commissioned veterans of the Army of the Tennessee (1865), the Army of Georgia (1868), the Army of the Ohio (1868), and the Army of the Potomac (1869), but none had locals in the county.  The SAC had two here, the Lookout Mountain Camp and the Moccasin Point Camp; in the mid-1890s these two chapters voted to merge as the Mountain City Club.

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

The primary movers behind U.S.A.’s first national military park were Gen. Henry Boynton on the Union side (assisted by Maj. Frank G. Smith) and former Capt. Joseph Shipp on the Confederate side.  It was the latter who suggested the Blue & Gray Barbeque of Union and Confederate veterans of the two battles be held at Crawfish Springs in 1889 to drum up their support for the legislative effort.  As we know, this proved successful and the park was authorized the next year.

With the approval of the park, a board of commissioners was appointed, with its headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Former brigadier general in the Union Army of the Cumberland Joseph Fullerton was its chairman as well as the representative of the Grand Army of the Republic.  Active duty Capt. Sanford C. Kellog represented the War Department.

Former lieutenant general and last commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee Alexander P. Stewart represented the United Confederate Veterans and was the only on-site commissioner.  As such, he also became the park’s first superintendent, a position he held until his death in 1908, though his active service ceased after 1905.

Thomas Dixon

After coming across a performance of a play version of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or Life Among the Lowly, former preacher and then current lecturer Thomas Dixon became enraged a its depiction of Southern life under the slave-owning plantocracy.  Stowe’s anti-slavery novel is widely credited as the most popular of  the 19th century not only in the U.S.A. but across the world.

Nephew of a Grand Titan in the postbellum Ku Klux Klan of North Carolina, Watson vowed to write a novel to counter it.  In fact, he wrote three, known collectively as the “Trilogy of the Reconstruction”, these being The Leopard's Spots: A Romance of the White Man's Burden—1865–1900 (1902); The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan (1905); and The Traitor: A Story of the Fall of the Invisible Empire (1907).

In the postbellum KKK, a Grand Titan was over a Dominion, which covered a third of a Congressional district.  The basic local unit was a Den, governed by a Grand Cyclops; a county was a Province, governed by a Grand Giant; the Dominion and Grant Titan came next; a state was a Realm, governed by a Grand Dragon; and the whole area of KKK operations was called simply the Empire (no “Invisible” added) ruled by the Grand Wizard.  The Empire included the states, or “Realms”, represented by the thirteen stars of the Confederate flag, the eleven of the Confederacy plus Kentucky and Missouri.

Due to the presence of so many Union veterans in the City of Chattanooga and its suburbs, the overhwhelmingly pro-Unionist sentiment in North Hamilton County, and the absence of the Confederacy’s most stalwart proponent (William Snow) from East Hamilton County, there was no Ku Klux Klan activity in the county during Reconstruction, despite what a fanciful short bio of Judge Lewis Shepherd may say.

Watson went on the write nineteen more novels and several plays, the most popular of the latter being his own adaptation of the second novel in the Reconstruction trilogy, case titled eponymously The Clansman.  To give an idea of the scope of his influence at the time, no less than W.E.B. DuBois referred to Watson’s works as read more widely than those of Henry James.

The Birth of a Nation

The influence of D.W. Griffith’s movie should not be underestimated.  It was, for instance, the first motion picture ever to be shown in the White House, for a President Woodrow Wilson who at its conclusion sobbed that, “It’s all too true”. 

Leo Frank lynching

In the summer of 1913, Leo Frank, a director of the National Pencil Factory in Atlanta, Georgia, and president of the city’s B’nai Brith organization, was wrongly convicted of the murder of 14-year old worker Mary Phagan in the basement of the factory.  Frank’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court failed in April 1915.  The case connects to Chattanooga because the lawyers working on his appeal leaned on Hamilton County’s Judge Lewis Shepherd for advice and direction.

After reviewing the evidence and considering other information that had not been available at trial, Gov. John M. Slaton commuted Frank’s sentence from death to life imprisonment.  The Georgia National Guard had to be called out to protect Slaton from the outraged public. 

Thomas Watson, a former Georgia U.S. Congressman, openly called for Frank to be lynched.   Founder of Georgia’s branch of the Populist Party, Watson once strongly advocated for poor whites and blacks working together and for the right of blacks to vote.  After the Populists reorganized in the 20th century, he became the party’s strongest advocates of segregation and white supremacy, serving as its presidential candidate in 1904 and 1908.

After Slaton’s commutation of Frank’s sentence, a Judaeophobic secret society formed to take matters into its own hands called the Knights of Mary Phagan, made up of some 28 men.  On 16 August 1915, a mob led by these so-called “Knights” broke into Milledgeville State Penitentiary where Frank was being held, kidnapped him, and hung him at Frey’s Gin, two miles east of Marietta, at 7 am the next morning.

The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan

The evening of Thanksgiving 1915 (November 25), Indiana-born William J. Simmons and seventeen other men (almost all alumni of the Knights of Mary Phagan, founded the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan atop Stone Mountain in Georgia, with the permission and participation of Venable brothers William and Samuel, who owned it and quarried rock there.

Despite claims to the contrary, the new organization had no connection to the postbellum terror organization.  Instead, it was based on Simmons’ interpretation of the highly romanticized fictional version he had seen in that year’s blockbuster movie, The Birth of a Nation, released in February.  The movie which inspired their cosplay and the White Caps movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were the group’s actual antecedents.

Unlike the postbellum Ku Klux Klan, the 1915 Knights of the Ku Klux Klan had a klavern in Chattanooga, a quite strong one, in fact.  In 1923, it ran its own slate in the city’s municipal elections in a campaign which included soliciting votes from Afro-Americans in their own neighborhoods.

This new Knights of the KKK remained small and confined to the South for five years, until Imperial Wizard Simmons contracted the marketing services of Elizabeth Tyler and Edward Young Clarke in 1920.  It was they who moved the organization from romantic historicism-based cosplay of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy into a Stars-and-Stripes waving, cross-bearing facist terror organization for enforcing law and order, traditional Protestant Christian values, and “one hundred percent Americanism”.

Tyler and Clarke thus enabled the new Knights of the KKK to breach the borders of the former Confederacy and spread across the country, even into Canada.  Its largest “realm” in the 1920s was Indiana.

The Town of North Chattanooga

By the second decade of the 20th century, the area immediately north of downtown Chattanooga across the Tennessee River had become widely known as North Chattanooga.  It was originally called Hill City.

In 1915, the almost exclusively white neighborhoods of eastern North Chattanooga incorporated themselves as a town.  In early November that year, Mayor J. Read Voight introduced an ordinance prohibiting Afro-Americans from settling inside its borders, with a grandfather clause allowing the two families already within the town to continue living there. 

It was also around this time that the name of Forest Avenue, which divided the Town of North Chattanooga from the unincorporated and mostly Afro-American section to the west, was changed to Forrest Avenue in honor of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first and perhaps only Grand Wizard of the postbellum Ku Klux Klan.

Within just a few years, however, the council of the town voted to annex the remaining unincorporated area of North Chattanooga, effectively nullifying Voight’s racist ordinance.

The UDC and the Lost Cause

The UDC’s primary mission has always been to “tell of the glorious fight against the greatest odds a nation ever faced, that their hallowed memory should never die”.  In other words, to gaslight everyone in reach and rewrite history in the name of the Lost Cause.

The year after the release of The Birth of a Nation, a member of the national leadership of UDC, Laura Martin Rose, published a romantic historical account of the postbellum Ku Klux Klan, based largely on the fictions of Dixon’s trilogy, called The Ku Klux Klan, or Invisible Empire.  Though not in origin a project of the UDC, the fake history was endorsed by the national organization and most of its state organizations.

To help indoctrinate the members of its Children of the Confederacy auxiliary, the UDC published A Confederate Catechism in 1920, which is a collection and concentration of Lost Cause myths.

Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Association

In 1916, the national office of the United Daughters of the Confederacy formed the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Association, its goal being to carve a massive memorial to the Confederacy with engravings of Jefferson Davis and the C.S.A.’s most prominent generals.  As part of this endeavor, the UDC partnered directly with the Knights of the KKK as well as approving several of its members on the board of the SMCMA.

Hamilton County endorses white supremacy

In 1917, the A.P. Stewart Camp of the United Daughers of the Confederacy proposed a memorial to the Confederacy on the front lawn of the courthouse of a county which had voted overwhelming against joining the Rebellion.  It joined with the local klavern of the Knights of the KKK to accomplish this, and in 1919 installed an equestrian statue of former Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart, last general commanding of the Confederacy’s Army of Tennessee, on the front lawn of the courthouse, in full Confederate uniform.

For eighteen years, Stewart was a commissioner of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.  Its board was composed of three members, one from the War Department, one from the GAR, and one from the UCVA.  It was by mutual agreement of the first two that Stewart was chosen as the last.  The only member of the board, whose headquarters was in Washington, D.C., present in the region, Stewart also became the park’s first superintendent.

At the ceremonies, the flags of the United States of America and the State of Tennessee flew alongside what was described at the battle flag of the Confederacy, but whether of the Army of Tennessee or the Army of Northern Virginia was not specified.  In addition to the three flag bearers, there was an honor guard, composed entirely of Confederate veterans.

Col. Jonathan W. Bachman, former commander of the 60th Tennessee Mounted Infantry as well as Chaplain General of the United Confederate Veterans Association, gave the invocation. 

Capt. Henry A. Chambers, former commander of Co. C, 49th North Carolina Infantry, officially presented the statue to the county. 

County Judge Samuel Conner, whose father Asbury B. Conner was a captain in William Clift’s 7th Tennessee Federal Militia then a first lieutenant in Cos. A then H of Clift’s 7th East Tennessee Volunteers, USA, accepted the statue on behalf of the county. 

Thomas C. Thompson, the former mayor of Chattanooga whose father’s Battalion of State Cadets (from The Citadel and The Arsenal campuses of the South Carolina Military Academy) fired the first shots of the war when they opened up on the U.S.S. Star of the West in Charleston Harbor on 9 January 1861 as it attempted to relieve Fort Sumter with troops and supplies, gave an address on the life and character of Stewart.

Lapsley G. Walker, editor-in-chief of the Chattanooga Times whose father Col. Francis M. Walker commanded the 19th Tennessee Infantry then the former Maney’s Brigade until being killed at the Battle of Atlanta, also expounded on Stewart’s good character.

Representative from the War Department Maj. Phil Whitaker “stressed the value of monuments because they hold ideals from which the younger generation seems to have strayed: and stated his belief that, sooner or later, all will stand for what the heroes of the Confederacy stood.” (quote is from the contemporary description of the event in Confederate Veteran).

Dr. I.D. Steele, whose brother Miley died fighting with Co. D, 32nd Mississippi Infantry at the Battle of Franklin, gave the benediction.

The ceremony closed with the song “Dixie”.

And thus is rewritten to repaint it and its entire population as fervent secessionists, ardent supporters of slavery, and diehard white supremacists the history of a county which:

(1) twice voted overwhelmingly against secession;

(2) whose militia regiment mustered to fight for the Union;

(3) produced five and half regiments to fight for the Union versus three regiments two guerrilla units to fight for the Confederacy;

(4) was occupied for one year and ten months by the Confederate army but occupied by the Union army for three years and four months;

(5) hosted five posts of Union veterans versus a single camp of Confederate veterans after the war; and

(6) whose later county seat was built into the “Dynamo of Dixie” by carpetbagging northern industrialists who were almost all former Union officers who were explicitly invited here to do just that.

Briefly on the career of A.P. Stewart

Prior to the war, Stewart had been an emancipationist on the slavery question, at least according to several accounts.  This was different from being an abolitionist in that the latter wanted to end slavery by law and with force if necessary, while the former wished to accomplish it solely by positive encouragement on a voluntary basis.

On the question of the Secession, Stewart was very much against it, but like many who shared his sentiments, went where his state followed (or rather was dragged by) “fire-eater” Isham Harris, the state governor.  In fact, he accepted a commission as an artillery officer of the Provisional Army of Tennessee in May 1861 before the state had even voted to secede. 

Stewart commanded a brigade in the Army of the Mississippi and later Army of Tennessee until being promoted to major general and division commander just before the Tullahoma Campaign in June 1863.  He became commander of Third Corps after Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk died at Pine Mountain during the Altanta Campaign.  For the Carolinas Campaign, he became last general commanding of the Army of Tennessee.

When the Army of Tennessee’s foremost division commander, Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne, introduced to his fellow generals in the winter camp at Dalton, Georgia, in January 1864 his memorial which recommended the Confederacy arm the South’s slaves and give them and their families freedom in return for their service, Stewart remarked that the proposal was “at war with my social, moral, and political principles”. 

Those do not sound like the words of an emancipationist, though this was after several years of hard, bitter warfare.  However, for Stewart to have been the first and only choice of the War Department and the Grand Army of the Republic to represent the United Confederate Veterans on the board of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, his conduct and publicly expressed views must’ve been such as would support and enhance the reconciliation which most veterans of both sides sought at the time.

As superintendent of the park, Stewart made his residence in the City of Chattanooga and thus has a connection to the city, his greater connection to the area is with Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.  His statue thus belongs there, not forcibly occupying the front lawn of the court house of the county which was overwhelmingly Unionist.  Even he himself would no doubt agree.  The statue belongs at the headquarters of the park to which Stewart devoted the last eighteen years of his life.

Moving the statue of Alexander P. Stewart from the front lawn of the Hamilton County Courthouse to the front lawn of the headquarters of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park will not be rewriting history but restoring true history rewritten fifty-eight years later.

08 November 2019

The Fool among the Questers of the Seven Keys in Syfy's The Magicians

SPOILER ALERT: Don't read if you haven't finished Season 3.

I am a huge fan of SyFy’s The Magicians.  There is nothing I don’t love about it, and yes, that includes the finale of Season 4.  As much as I miss and will continue to miss Quentin Coldwater, the character with whom I identified more than any other, I get why the creative staff made that decision (with lengthy discussions including Jason Ralph and Lev Grossman) to have our beloved Q do a Penny.

But I’m not here to write about the finale.  I’m here to write about the list of the eight adventurers on the Quest of the Seven Keys to restore magic to the Universe.  And rather than go directly into that discussion, there are a couple of things in previous episodes that bear on the information.

“Have You Brought Me Little Cakes?” (S01E13)

In the Season 1 finale, Quentin and Julia discover they were unnamed characters in one of the Fillory and Further books, these being The Witch and The Fool who freed Jane Chatwin from the trap she was caught in.  As circumstances worked out, Q and J agreed that she was The Witch and Q was The Fool.

Q discovered that he was in the Fillory and Further novels not once but twice, the second time with Eliot as solvers of the mosaic puzzle in Season 3’s “A Life in the Day” (S03E05).

“We Have Brought You Little Cakes” (S02E13)

The episode opens with the god Ember recounting the intrepid team of adventurers accompanying Quentin Coldwater in his attempt to defeat The Beast (Martin Chatwin) and rescue Fillory.  As he names them by epithet, pictures of them show, so there is no doubt which epithet refers to which magician or witch.  The Addict is Eliot; The Victim is Julia; The Bitch is Margo; The Scowl is Penny 40; and The Martyr is Alice.

“The Tale of the Seven Keys” (S03E01)

Distraught over the absence of magic, High King Eliot the Spectacular travels to the Darkling Woods to seek out Faran Tahir, the Great Cock.  The Great Cock gives High King Eliot a quest by which he and his friends may restore magic, a quest which ends at the Castle at the End of the World, which is nothing at all like the Restaurant at the End of the World.

Since quests are better done with friends, the Great Cock lists people El should take along with him, by epithet rather than name.

First is The One-eyed Conquerer, who can only be Margo.

Second is The Traveler, who is Penny; Penny 40 at first, then Penny 23.

Third is The Warrior, who has to be Kady, the badass master of battle magic.

Fourth is The Fool.  About this one, most who have commented have assigned this epithet to Quentin, though some have suggested Josh and a few even name fen.  I disagree with all of these; it can only be Eliot for reasons I’ll give below.

Fifth is The God-touched, who is Julia.

Sixth is The Lover of Tomatoes, who can only be Josh, who in addition to being the only gardener has mentioned his love of tomatoes.

Seventh is The Torture Artist, an epithet referring to Alice in her times as a niffin when she was separated from her shade.

Eighth in the list is The Brother of the Heart with the Foppy Hair, which El himself identifes as Q, as if we didn’t know.

So, the Great Cock lists eight Questers, and Q, whom most commenters assign as The Fool, largely because that is his role in the Season 1 finale, is definitely the eighth.  Given that Fen is untouched by magic until Season 4 (and we still don’t know what that fully entails), The Fool in this case can only be Eliot himself, perhaps because that is how he sees himself.

The Seven Golden Keys

Created by the god Prometheus, the original Seven Golden Keys were destroyed by Alice Quinn in Castle Blackspire (aka the Castle at the End of the World).  In their place, then goddess Julia created a new set of keys, effectively horacruxing herself like Prometheus before her.

The Key of Illusion (found by Eliot on After Island)
The Key of Truth (found by Julia in the McAllisters’ home)
The Key of Time (retrieved by Margo from Jane Chatwin’s grave)
The Key of Melancholy (found by Poppy Kline in the Abyss)
The Key of Unity (found by Q, Alice, and Kady in the fake cottage)
The Key of Vision (retrieved by Julia from Timeline 23)
The Key of Realm (traded to Margo by the Fairies)

The eight Questers, albeit with two epithets misapplied.


Notable incidents while I was in the Philippines


The following is a slightly edited version of information I gave to the Department of Veterans Affairs for a claim for compensation due to service-connected PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).  The main difference is that I have redacted three names of agents involved in the investigation of me on suspicion of espionage and replaced those with pseudonyms.

These incidents took place during my tour of duty at Clark Air Base.  The unit to which I was assigned for all these incidents, with the exception of the first, was the Naval Security Group Activity, Republic of the Philippines (NAVSECGRUACTREPPHIL), and the dates of that assignment were 11 December 1987-16 January 1990.  For the first incident listed below, my rank was E-3 or Seaman.  For the rest, my rank was E-4 or Petty Officer Third Class.

October 1987 assassinations

These incidents took place in the outskirts of Clark Air Base in Balibago, Angeles City and in Dau, Mabalacat, both municipalities of Pampanga, Philippines.  At the time, I was at Naval Technical Training Center, Corry Station in Pensacola, Florida, but I had known since reporting to NSGD Monterey that Clark Air Base was my ultimate duty station.

On 28 October 1987, five weeks before I reported to my command in the Philippines, four men connected to Clark Air Base were separately assassinated in coordinated operations, all within a mile of the base perimeter.  As the first ever overt direct actions of the Communist New Peoples Army (NPA) against American military personnel, the murders sent out shock waves throughout the military community in-country as well as those who had some connection to it through past or future service there. 

The four victims were:  USAF Sgt. Randy A. Davis, 30; USAF Airman 1st Class Steven M. Faust, 22; USAF Tech. Sgt. (retired) Herculano Manganti, 60; and Filipino civilian businessman Joseph Porter.  Porter was killed when he and his wife drove upon the scene of Faust’s ambush and car crash.  A fifth man, USAF Capt. Raymond Pulsifer, II, 31, was fired upon while driving in his car but escaped his attackers unharmed.

At the time, I was attending Fleet Direct Support class at Naval Technical Training Center, Corry Station in Pensacola, Florida.  From the time I reported to the Naval Security Group Detachment (NSGD), Monterey at the Presidio of Monterey in California to attend the Defense Language Institute (DLI), I knew my ultimate duty station would be in the Philippines, specifically at Clark Air Base.  In fact, knowing that would be the case made me choose Vietnamese Basic over Persian-Farsi, in part because my father, Robert C. Hamilton, Jr., an AT (Aviation Electronic Technician), had also been stationed in the Philippines during his active service with the Navy, though he was at Cubi Point Naval Air Station instead.

A few days after the assassinations, a spokesman for the NPA’s Alex Boncayao Brigade claimed responsibility, but since that unit’s AO was confined to Metro Manila, the claim was dismissed.  On 23 November 1987, a spokesperson for the North West Pampanga Party Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced that NPA forces under its authority had carried out the assassinations.

The official atmosphere at the base and the command when I arrived in mid-December 1987 was gloomy, fearful, and often overcautious.  The mood of the personnel, though less so in all those qualities, carried an undercurrent of fear and suspicion of the local population. 

Curfews had been instituted at all the U.S. bases; these remained in place the entire time I was there.  For the first few months, American personnel were restricted to the outskirts of CAB, and even after this was loosened, we were strongly cautioned that venturing beyond those bounds was done at our own risk.  Every other week, sometimes every week, throughout my two years there, we were barraged with dire warning of suspected imminent threats, which almost always proved false. 

This siege and/or barracks mentality was a constant feature of life during my entire tour of duty at Clark Air Base.  Among other drawbacks, this fed into the prejudices and bigotry of too many Americans assigned to the base, including those in my unit.

While at Clark, I always drove without a seatbelt, particularly when doing so off-base, so that I could more quickly escape my vehicle if I needed to.  Not to mention I was hypervigilant whenever I drove, always checking my rear view mirror and watching for signs of danger.  Both these continued long after I left Clark, returning when I started driving again upon my family’s relocation Stateside.

The fear and paranoia fed by mishandling of information was suffocating and toxic.

Because I was so friendly with Filipinos in spite of the situation, I received a great deal of animosity from many of my shipmates.  Several of them bullied me over it and ridiculed me as “half-Filipino”, something which in other circumstances I would have taken pride in.  I am happy to point out, however, that these represented a minority.

The apex of this bullying was probably my frocking to Petty Officer Third Class.  “Tagging” is a traditional form of welcoming a new petty officer by tapping their new insignia with the knuckles of one’s fist, like fist-bumping.  Several persons in the unit used the occasion to hit me in the arm on my insignia as hard as they could.  By late afternoon, my entire left arm was dark purple except for a few small white patches.  When the CDO came into our snack bar and saw that, he went ballistic and ordered me not to let anyone else “tag” me.  Fortunately, there was no permanent damage.

Local civil conflict, spring 1988

This series of events took place mostly in Angeles City, Pampanga.

As well as being highly interested in national Philippines politics (the February 1986 Revolution occurred during my time in boot camp at Naval Training Center San Diego and the largest coup attempt to date against the Aquino administration had taken place 28 August 1987), I was also interested in news local to the immediate vicinity of C.A.B. 

This is how I learned of the organization in February 1988 of right-wing vigilante squads in San Fernando and Mabalacat, both in Pampanga, known respectively as the Angelito Simbulan Brigade and the Faustino Sabile Brigade.  These were organized to counter the NPA’s local Mariano Garcia Brigade, which was then based in Angeles City. 

Angeles City bordered Clark Air Base on the south while Mabalacat bordered the base on the east.  From the beginning of May through the tenth of June, open warfare between the groups listed above broke out.  The fighting led to at least fifty reported deaths (and possibly as many as a hundred), mostly in Angeles City.  It ended after wives of combatants from both sides marched barefoot through the center of downtown Angeles demanding a ceasefire on or just after 10 June, meaning that the conflict lasted around six weeks. 

Most personnel on base were oblivious, but since I kept myself well-informed, I was aware at the time.  It was not until the first week of July that our command received a heads-up about the upsurge at morning muster, when the information was relayed as if the situation was still going on.  This did little to give me confidence in the accuracy of the security warnings we were frequently given; in fact, I found it rather disturbing.

NIS Investigation, 1989

This took place at Clark Air Base, Phillipines, Subic Bay Naval Station, Philippines, and U.S. Embassy, Manila, Philippines.  I was a Petty Officer Third Class (E-4) assigned to Naval Security Group Activity, Republic of the Philippines, 11 December 1987-16 Janaury 1990.

At the beginning of the first or second week of July 1989, the week before I was to leave for duty aboard the aircraft carrier of a task force sailing out of Subic Bay, I had my clearances pulled and was reassigned to duty at the BEQ.  Wednesday or Thursday that week, my security clearances were restored and I was readmitted to regular duty at our command’s secure facility, though I was told I would be undergoing a JAGMAN investigation. 

At the end of the work day that Friday, however, I was ordered to report to our command’s security officer, who told me that my clearance was being pulled again because I had just come under an entirely separate security investigation by the Naval Investigative Service (NIS).  I was not informed at the time what the nature of the investigation was.

It turned out that I was being investigated on suspicion of espionage.  NIS received an accusation from a Navy associate of mine during my stateside training who had come to Clark on leave from another overseas duty station.  Several weeks into the investigation after a search of my room in the barracks, suspicion of homosexual activity was added.

The intensive field work of the investigation lasted nearly four months.  Every single Filipino I was friends with was interviewed, and there were quite a lot as I knew not only workers on base, but was a member of the local Jaycees, Rotary Club, and Toastmasters, as locals I had met working with the charitable outreach committee of the base’s Holy Family Parish.  That was in addition to nearly every single member of our command, including several who had been at Clark when I arrived but had transferred elsewhere, plus even more friends and acquaintances stateside than had been interviewed for my security clearance.

I also volunteered for extensive psychological testing which took two or three days, that showed, among other things, that I was likely not gay.

Besides having my room searched twice, I travelled to Subic Bay Naval Station for my initial interrogation that lasted four days.  This was followed by two separate one-day interrogations by NIS at Clark, then in the first week of October 1989, there was another trip to Subic in which I was polygraphed four times over two days.  At the end of the final polygraph, the expert was satisfied that I had been truthful in my professions of innocence.  For these tests, incidentally, only the accusations of espionage for the USSR and collaboration with the NPA were covered.

I cooperated fully with the investigation, even to the extent of telling all of my Filipino friends and associates to likewise cooperate and answer all the questions investigators asked about me truthfully.  I did not inform them what I was being investigated about; I just told them that answering questions truthfully would only help me.

The chief investigating agent was John Smith (a pseudonym; I do remember his actual name).  The polygraph expert was Alejandro Jones (another pseudonym for a name I also remember). 

After the polygraph sessions in the first week in October, Special Agent Smith and Special Agent Standon reported their findings to NIS headquarters stateside, Tanton’s that the suspicions were unfounded and Bedoya’s that the polygraph results backed that up.

While waiting to hear back from NIS headquarters in Quantico, my commanding officer told me that he was recommending that I be barred from reenlistment because he suspected I was either gay or bisexual.  Since at the time my EAOS date was close, he had chosen not to process me for administrative separation.

Two days before I shipped back stateside to process out out of the Navy, Special Agent Smith called to inform me that NIS HQ wanted he and Special Agent Jones to polygraph me again and ask about homosexual activity.  Since I was about to DEROS and already knew I was RE-4 (though I continued on active then inactive reserve), I declined.

As a result of my leaving the service while the investigation was still open, Special Agent Smith turned the file over to the FBI at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.  This was because three weeks after my EAOS, I had returned to the Philippines to work for an American NGO under the U.S. Refugee Program.  The FBI didn’t care about homosexual activity, so that was no longer an issue, and after reviewing Special Agent Smith’s reports and Special Agent Jones’ findings ruled the suspicions unfounded.

I believe the FBI agent I met with was Special Agent Michel Kowalski, another pseudonym (Special Agent Smith was there), in the Manila embassy in March or April 1990.  Janowitz told me that my case was the biggest thing he had worked on since the Walker family investigation of 1985.

I did not get back the items seized during the two searches of my barracks room until the first week of October 1990.  I know this because I travelled from Manila to Subic for that purpose in the midst of the nationwide labor strike of the six American bases by the Federation of Filipino Civilian Employees Associations taking place at that time.

From the beginning of the investigation in July through the polygraph tests in October, my emotional life was dominated by intense anxiety punctuated with acute panic attacks, and the only relief I had was when I was either drunk or asleep, the latter of which was generally only achieved by the former.  Even after the polygraphs, I felt an constant undercurrent of anxiety knowing that NIS HQ still had to rule on the disposition of my case.  I was also suicidal, but I couldn’t even take that escape route because it would have been the same thing as an admission of guilt (and a false one).

The rage didn’t start until about a year after I’d left the Navy.  There was plenty in the Philippines upon which to focus that rage, but none of them were the source, even though I told myself they were.  I know this because the reasons I gave myself for the rage kept changing.  Once I returned to the States for good with my new family, the rage found other targets, other reasons for existence.  Fortunately, most of this rage focused on political, social, and human and civil rights activism.  I figured if I couldn’t escape it, I might as well use it for something good.

I made very few friendships after our return.  I felt unable to connect anything or anyone like I had before.  I felt dissociated from others, particularly civilians.  Even with other vets, there was the investigation.  After my divorce, I made some attempts to restart a personal life but eventually gave it up and became a virtual hermit. 

For seven years, from 2000 to 2007, I almost never went anywhere outside of my home and work.  In the fall of 2007, I began attending Dalton State College.  On the one hand, I felt my rage lessen quite a bit; on the other hand, while being around so many relatively positive people greatly enhanced my overall mood, it was so overwhelming that I was at times suicidal.

None of this even begins to cover the shame and humiliation I felt from having my sexuality outed against my will.  I’m not gay, but I’ve known I’m bisexual since I was fifteen.  However, at the time I had never even come close to having sex with another man and still thought of myself as completely straight.  So, even though the command handled the issue with extreme discretion, I still had to face and deal with my true sexuality against my will.

September 1989 assassinations

This took place in Tambo, Santo Domingo II, Capas, Tarlac, Philippines.

On 26 September 1989, retired Air Force officers Donald Buchner, 44, and William Thompson, 45, both working for Ford Aerospace under contract to the Defense Department at a USAF communications facility in Capas, Tarlac, were ambushed at a road block five miles outside Camp O’Donnell and shot 69 times.  The NPA was identified almost immediately as the culprit, with later information indicating it was the Mariano Garcia Brigade.

Later investigation by Filipino authorities uncovered information that the two victims had been specifically targeted.  At the time, however, many of us suspected the real target was the bus from Clark Air base ferrying personnel from the U.S. Naval Radio Transmitter Facility, also at Camp O’Donnell, back to the Navy BEQ at Clark Air Base.  The passengers were our barracks-mates.  The driver of the bus saw the road block and became suspicious, turning the bus around to return to Camp O’Donnell and passing the car driven by Buchner and Thompson traveling in the opposite direction as he did so.

December 1989 attempted coup d’etat

The events themselves took place primarily in Makati, Metro Manila, but they affected  all American military facilities in the Philippines.

On 1 December, the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) and the Soldiers of the Filipino People (SFP) launched the largest uprising by military rebels during the Aquino administration.  RAM, originally organized in 1980, was the primary military component of the February 1986 Revolution (and the August 1987 rebellion) and the SFP was the organization of military supporters of former president Ferdinand Marcos.

The rebellion lasted through 9 December, with most of the fighting taking place in the Metro Manila town of Makati, and nearly brought down the government.  The most embarrassing factor for the U.S. was that the rebels had used a joint military exercise with U.S. forces as cover for their organizing, for a change maintaining OPSEC so that the rising came as a complete surprise to our military as well as the Philippine government.

Needless to say, all American bases were on lock-down for the entire nine days, with limited civilian personnel allowed on base and most military personnel who lived off-base remaining home the entire time.  At the BEQ, which had been my duty station since having my security clearance pulled earlier in July, we worked regular hours during the day and stood watch every evening and night.

13 May 1990 assassinations

The location of this incident was Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga, Philippines.

Since my EAOS date was 27 January 1990, this falls outside my active service (though I was in the active reserve).  However, there are aspects which may connect it to my time of service in the Navy at Clark as well as possibly being the first sign of post-traumatic stress disorder.

On this occasion, Airman John H. Raven, 21, and Airman James C. Green, 22, were assassinated sparrow-style by elements of the NPA in front of the Holiday Lodge and Drive Inn in barangay Dau of Mablacat municipality just outside the base at about 1530 hours.  The two victims were participating in military exercises at Clark with their unit, the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing out of Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.  A third man, Airman 1st Class Ronald Moore, 23, escaped the incident unhurt.

The murders happened just an hour and a half after I had caught the bus back to Manila at the stop on Dau Access Road (to MacArthur Highway) a couple of  hundred meters away.

I had arrived in the vicinity in late afternoon that Friday, 11 May, immediately proceeding to my fiance’s family’s home in purok Gasdam, barangay Dau.  From there we headed out to her place of employment at Cheers Entertainment Complex just outside what was then Friendship Gate on the south side of the base’s perimeter.  As we approached within two or three blocks of the club, the feeling of being under surveillance came over me suddenly and overwhelmingly.

One night when I was at Cheers during my NIS investigation, I had experienced the same feeling of being naked and exposed and under scrutiny, the first time I had ever had that feeling in my life.  One of my one-day interrogations by Special Agent Smithcame the next week, and my first question before we even started was whether I’d been under surveillance by NIS at Cheers that particular evening.  He initially waved the question aside, but later in the session confirmed that that had indeed been the case.  In that situation, given that I was under NIS investigation, coming under covert surveillance (I never saw them; my awareness of it came solely from the creepy feeling down my spine), was not unexpected.

In light of this and given the fact that on this later occasion such surveillance was totally unexpected, I looked ahead, looked back, then darted across the street in between two oncoming jeepneys.  I recall thinking that as I tried to drag Grace with me and she dug her heels in that it was better she did that since she would be safer that way, given known sparrow unit MO.  When I got to the other side of the street, I was facing the tall chainlink fence of the base perimeter.  I turned around expecting to be shot at point-blank range, but there was no one there.  Either my swift evasive action had ruined their plans or else everything had been entirely in my head.

Ten minutes later, Grace is clocking in to work and I’m sitting in Cheer’s terrace restaurant section with USAF and civilian friends I made when I was at Clark in the Navy.  I’d’ve needed a razor sharp katana to slice through the tension.  Stark fear was apparent on everyone’s faces.  When I asked, they told me there were highly credible warnings of NPA action against four targeted individuals that weekend.  Civilian NGOs, even if connected to USG assets, didn’t get such warnings.  I told them I didn’t think any of us had anything to worry about, at the same time saying to myself, “Oh, that’s what that was about in the street”.

The next day, my about-to-be in-laws kept me in Gasdam and on Bonifacio Street all day, and when it came time for Grace to go to work Saturday night, her father drove us rather than letting us take the jeepney as usual.

Sunday afternoon when they dropped me off at the above-mentioned bus stop, the vendors and sari-sari owners made me sit down in their covered area and gave me free San Miguel beer in order to keep me inside and out of sight as much as possible.   They barely let me go out to urinate one time.  Their actions were unsolicited and they refused my offers of payment. When my bus arrived, a couple of them and their assistants surrounded me tightly until I boarded the bus and chased away vendors that came to my window until the bus pulled out.

This was two weekends before my wedding.  Airmen Raven and Green were not among the four initially targeted by the NPA, whose plans had been disrupted by the arrest of the original team leader that Friday afternoon (whose name, oddly enough, I still remember; it was printed in more than one newspaper).  I did not learn of their deaths until I saw the newspaper the next morning.

If I was, in fact, one of those originally targeted, the reason or justification for that could only have come from my time at Clark, possibly stemming from rumors of which I was aware that arose in the wake of the NIS investigation.

Natural disasters

These were not part of my claim, but the four worst natural disasters of the 20th century hit the Philippines while I was there.

On 24 October 1988, Typhoon Unsang/Ruby hit Central Luzon, where Clark Air Base, Subic Naval Station, Cubi Naval Air Station, and Camp O’Donnell were located.  It was the seoncd worst typhoon to hit that region in the 20th century and the worst to hit the country since 1970.

On 6 November 1988, Typhoon Yoning/Skip hit Central Luzon less than two weeks later.  This typhoon was even stronger than Unsang, but since the earlier typhoon had destroyed so much, there wasn’t much left for Yoning to destroy.  The remaining trees were strong enough to withstand it, and the less sturdy buildings were already collapsed.

On 16 July 1990, an 8.0 level earthquake hit the main island of Luzon.  Its epicenter was Rizal, Nueva Ecija, but it shook the entire region from the Cordilleras into the Southern Tagalog region.  I was out at the Refugee Processing Center in Morong, Bataan, at the time.  It was not only strong, it shook for nearly two full minutes.  The mountain city of Baguio was especially hard hit, and it shook Metro Manila hard and destroyed many buildings. 

A week later, at almost the exact same time of time, an aftershock hit the same region and I got to experience a small taste of what being on the 12th floor of a swaying building was like.

On 15 June 1991, the centuries-dormant Mount Pinatubo exploded in the biggest volcanic eruption of the 20th century on the entire planet.  That same day, Typhoon Diding/Yunya made landfall in Manila.  In addition to those, several earthquakes shook the city the whole weekend and into the following week.  Things were much worse for our relatives in Mabalacat, much closer to the volcano; there the ground shook continually.