In politics, who you admire may be less important than who you fear.
Wealthy Northern industrialists, not the planters, defeated Reconstruction.
Under an emerging mythology of white supremacy, there was no price to be paid for using the imprimatur of science to promote unfounded, sometimes downright batty assertions, with terrifying implications for real, living people.
Myths follow power, but in the years after the Civil War many powers vied to dominate the American future. Artists like Whitman made choices that tipped the scales in this battle toward terrible ends.
By the post-WW2 era, white supremacy was becoming an obstacle to money and power.
California is a living experiment in the interest-convergence dilemma.
A successful revolution must remove its Robespierres. We have many battles to win before being blessed with that problem, but it would be wise to prepare.
Elements of a new mythology are out there, like notes on a piano waiting to be played.
In a post-racial America, what are the values that should define “us?” What symbols, rituals, memorials, songs and other cultural artifacts would best cement those values into place? Who are the heroes to emulate and the villains to reject?
In the end, we can help cement into place a new unifying mythology by making villains of those who fought for the old.