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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Albert Pike, Statues, History and Hysteria


The current hysterics over the removal of public statuary seem to be continuing unabated across the U.S., and so it was inevitable that the decades-old controversies over the 11-foot tall bronze lump of Albert Pike on a pedestal in Washington D.C.'s Judiciary Square would once again capture the hearts and fury of the area scolds. One. More. Time. After all, it's been a while, and society has the collective and institutional memory of a fruit bat these days. Seems like the 1990s when political hack, noted "Fascist demagogue," and lunatic asylum escapee Lyndon LaRouche was on everybody's lips when the last big flap over this statue erupted and faded.

In case you haven't heard of this before, Italian sculptor Gaetano Trentanove created the statue at the behest of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction in 1901 for their Centennial year celebration. As the National Parks Service describes it, Pike is portrayed: “...in civilian dress and presented as a Masonic leader rather than a military man. Pike stands 11 feet tall upon a high granite pedestal. Below his feet about halfway down the west face of the pedestal, sitting on a ledge, is the allegorical Goddess of Masonry, holding the banner of the Scottish Rite. The figure is in Greek dress and posed as looking down. Pike holds a book in his left hand, perhaps his popular Morals and Dogma of Scottish Rite Masonry.”

It does not show him as a Confederate soldier (he was briefly a brigadier general for the CSA Army), there are zero references to the Confederacy, and the banner in the hand of the Grecian figure is not a Confederate flag or symbol, but a Scottish Rite one featuring the double-headed eagle. There are eight inscriptions around the corners of its granite base: Author, Poet, Scholar, Soldier, Philanthropist, Philosopher, Jurist, and Orator. On the front is a Latin phrase, Vixit Laborum Ejus Super Stites Sunt Fructus. ("He has lived. The fruits of his labors live after him.")

The statue was created ten years after Pike's death for the Scottish Rite's 100th anniversary. Out of its first 90 years, Albert Pike had served as Sovereign Grand Commander for (appropriately) 32 of them—over a third of the Supreme Council's entire lifespan at that time. Prior to the construction of the current House of the Temple we all know and love today, starting in 1870, the 'House of the Temple' was actually a row of three interconnected brownstone buildings located at 433 Third Street, NW (between E and D Streets, where Indiana melds into D Street today). If you don't know DC, that's the southeast corner of what is now Judiciary Square where, Lo! and Behold!, good ol' Albert Pike's statue was placed. Actually, it was in a slightly different spot that was directly south of their onetime headquarters originally. The streets in the area were reconfigured in 1975. There was originally an empty triangle-shaped sliver of land at the intersection of Third and D where it first sat, and the statue was relocated across the intersection when the roads got rejiggered for the building of I-395 and the new city Municipal Center.

The original Scottish Rite House of the Temple at 3rd and D Streets NW
(There was a big auditorium hiding in there.)

That's WHY Pike stands there now. And the Scottish Rite paid for it all (a whopping $15,000 at the time). The corner held their headquarters, their auditorium for putting on degrees, their vast and growing library, and Albert Pike lived there. And he died there. So did his TWO successors. And because DC is not an actual city per se, but a Federal district owned and legislated by the United States Congress, and since the essentially worthless land the statue was proposed for—and remains—District property, putting up a statue required an Act of Congress in 1898. It will also, therefore, require another such Act to order or even authorize its removal, if things get that far. Additionally, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 20, 1978.

Back in 1992, the LaRouchies made a brief national stink over it, proclaiming that Pike had been the "chief founder" of the Ku Klux Klan in Arkansas, and their group asserted that Albert founded the Klan as a terrorist arm of the Scottish Rite in a Masonic conspiracy to keep the South in Confederate hands. The lurid nonsense wouldn't be bothersome, except that the same crank theory gets trotted out to this day in as far reaching places as a recent National Review article, and even by alleged "expert" academics (as in a recent book about Prince Hall Freemasonry by an otherwise respected French professor who once breezily waved off criticism over her 'Pike was a Kluxer' assertion by proclaiming "It is a well known fact." It's no such thing.)



Anyway, the latest mass demonstration over Pike's statue got bubbling earlier this week and was first reported on the blog site DCist HERE. It reads, in part:
The mayor, more than half of the D.C. Council, and the D.C. attorney general have joined activists in calling for the removal of a statue of a Confederate general from federal land in Judiciary Square.

"Albert Pike was a strong proponent of slavery and fought to try to preserve that in this country. Regardless of what he did in other parts of his life, it's inappropriate to honor him," says At-large Councilmember David Grosso, who sent a letter today to the acting director of the National Park Service calling for a statue of Pike at 3rd and D streets NW to be taken down.

Mayor Muriel Bowser agrees that the statue should be removed and replaced.

"Across the South, cities are removing outdoor statues of Confederate leaders. Here in the nation's capital, there is one on National Park Service land. We believe the National Park Service should remove the Pike statue and seek public input on which historical figure should replace it," said LaToya Foster, Bowser's press secretary, in an emailed statement.

Fellow At-large councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Anita Bonds, and Robert White, Ward 1's Brianne Nadeau, Ward 5's Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 6's Charles Allen, and Attorney General Karl Racine co-signed the letter sent by Grosso.

"We in the District of Columbia hold dear the values of equality, diversity, and inclusion, which are in direct conflict with the values embodied by the statue," it reads. "In a time when these values are under constant attack by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and far-right terrorists, the presence of a statue honoring Albert Pike only serves to perpetuate and incite hate, violence, and oppression."

Activists drew attention to the Pike statue this weekend in the wake of the white nationalist gathering and terrorist attack in Charlottesville. At vigils on Sunday and Monday nights, hundreds of people marched from the White House to Judiciary Square to protest its continued presence in D.C.

"[Pike] is a guy who loved slavery so much that he quit two political parties. He wrote pamphlets about it, and then when the civil war started, he raised three regiments of troops," Eugene Puryear of the Stop Police Terror Project told a crowd of protesters on Sunday. "The Richard Spencers of the world, they want to invoke fear in people, they want people to fear their fascist movement. This [vigil] is a sign that people are not going to let that genie out of that bottle, that people are going to fight back."

Grosso says that he learned about the Pike's Confederate ties through activists, because the statue doesn't have any visible reference to them. Pike was honored for his work with the Freemasons, who paid for the sculpture, rather than his failed tenure as a general.
Pike convinced and led a number of Native American tribes into battle on behalf of the Southern cause, losing badly at Pea Ridge. Facing charges of misappropriating funds and allowing his troops to scalp Union soldiers, he fled the Confederate Army and mailed in his resignation. Eventually, Pike was arrested and charged with treason. Later, he was tried for the same crime by the United States—making Pike an accused traitor in the eyes of both governments. The Confederates essentially let it go, and Andrew Johnson gave him a pardon.

After the war, Pike spent time in Tennessee, where some allege he fell in with the Klu Klux Klan and helped form their rituals, though hard evidence does not exist for the claim. Whether or not he was a bona fide KKK member, Pike was certainly once a member of the nativist Know-Nothing American Party and an avowed racist.

[snip]

The Freemasons—who generally neglect to mention racism and treason in literature that extols Pike as a "jurist, orator, philosopher, scholar, soldier, and poet [whose renown] extends throughout the world"—sponsored and paid for the 11-foot bronze statue, which sits on a pedestal at 3rd and D streets NW. But it took an act of Congress in 1898 to approve its placement on land administered by the National Park Service. (For a more detailed account on Pike's life and a history of the statue, see this 2005 DCist story)
It goes on, but that's the gist of it. A copy of Grosso and Racine's letter appears below. (Click to enlarge.)

The brouhaha was immediately picked up by Huffington Post, so now that site's readership has also been treated to the "Pike=Confederate=Klan=Freemason=Racists" canard. I attempted to comment on the DCist story and to contact its author Rachel Sadon, as well as Grosso's office. It was met with silence from the latter, and my comment was immediately removed and marked as spam by the former. No dissenters allowed, I guess. That seems to be the way things go these days. Since this got its initial coverage on Tuesday, Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.'s delegate to Congress, has decided to weigh in and issued a statement suggesting that the statue be boxed up and shipped to Arkansas, where Pike once lived. (He was actually born in Boston, but I'm guessing those folks don't want him there either, since they're busy trying to tamp down their own statuary problems at the moment.)

The ongoing flap since then has been reported and commented on Arturo De Hoyos' Facebook page all week long. I bring up Art for a very pragmatic reason. The "DCist" author, the D.C. Council, and Norton herself are all right there in D.C. The Supreme Council's House of the Temple which contains virtually all of Pike's major and minor writings and his vast personal library, along with at least two of the world's leading scholars about him—Art and Brent Morris—are sitting right there in a great big, high visibility building in their hometown with them. But neither Ms. Sadon nor the Council could just go there and ask to see what is being claimed about Pike instead of just parroting old Lyndon LaRouche idiocy and other agitprop. 

Pike was born and raised in Boston, but Pike and his family were living in Arkansas before and during the Civil War. He had lived among Indian tribes in the West in prior years with whom he was sympathetic. That's why he was compelled by the Confederacy to enlist and command Indian troops. 
He was commissioned in November 1861 and resigned March 1862 in disgust and felt disgraced specifically BECAUSE of their savagery in the wake of the Pea Ridge catastrophe that he had been unable to control. He was a Confederate officer for less than six months.

Pike’s purported membership in the early Ku Klux Klan can neither be categorically proved nor disproved, but since neither organization ever once attempted to cash in on his alleged position, membership, or any other supposed role in the Klan’s formation at any time, before or after his death, there is no evidence to perpetuate such a tale anyway. However the single unattributed source of the initial false assertion has been known by legitimate researchers for more than 25 years. There is zero proof.

The persistent accusation that Pike wrote the Klan’s rituals has also never had any basis in fact. Rituals of the Klan versus a respectable study of Pike’s own voluminous works make it instantly obvious that they are not the work of the same pen. Even a casual comparison would render the assertion absurd on its face. While Pike quite openly admitted that he had no desire to socialize or intermingle with blacks on a personal basis—which was FAR from an unusual position throughout ALL of America at that time—nothing in the stacks of his books and private writings has ever been found that would support the open race hatred one would expect to find in a man posthumously accused of having been so intimately involved in the Klan’s original Reconstruction-era formation. 

According to an article in the Philalethes from August 1993 by Gary Scott (reprinted on Ed King's MasonicInfo.com website HERE):
There are no records extant from the late 1860s - early 1870s period which connect Pike with the Klan. A Congressional investigation (U.S. House of Representatives, Report No. 2, 42nd Congress, 2nd Session, Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States Washington, D.C., U. S. Printing Office, 1872) into the activities of the Reconstruction Era Klan includes material from 1868 to 1871. There are references to alleged Klan leaders in several states, but no mention of Pike.
Further, during additional extensive (13 volumes) Congressional investigations into the Klan and the subsequent report of their findings published in 1921, Albert Pike’s name shows up precisely once, only indirectly as being a speaker in a public park at a totally unrelated event that did not involve any Klan activity or organizers at all. His name was simply mentioned casually by an attendee who was describing a flag dedication ceremony at the time. Pike was a near legendary figure during his life, and even more lionized in death by the Scottish Rite. He was NEVER mentioned in the Congressional inquiries and investigations in the 1870s into the "Ku Klux problem." By the early 1920s during the massive period of increase in Masonic membership, if the United States Congress had EVER connected Pike’s name to the Klan, it would have been international news among Masons, who made up a substantial portion of that period's swelling KKK membership. And given the way the Simmons/Evans/Stephenson era Klan of the 1920s was so enthusiastically promoted across the country by traveling, commissioned salesmen to millions of members in other fraternities, they certainly would have actively played up any possible association with Pike posthumously if it existed. It did not. Even the Washington Post, the African-American paper The Washington Informer, AND the DCist website itself came to this very same conclusion in 1995 and 2005 when this silliness was all trotted out before.

Pike wrote only ONE known editorial immediately after the war even referring to the Klan. He wrote that he thought there was a need for some kind of fraternal organization for disenfranchised Southerners who, like Pike himself, had their property confiscated in the Reconstruction period, and that such a group might exercise an organized political opposition that was "mutual, peaceful, lawful self-defense" over what he felt were unduly punitive and illegal measures by the North. (His land holdings were seized and sold at a tax sale, preventing him from even bequeathing them to his family after his death, even if he couldn't profit from them in life.) However, he felt the Ku Klux Klan itself was nothing but a disorganized mess that would never amount to much of any value. This was during its earliest formative days before the KKK became just shorthand for almost any night-riding vigilante group that began terrorizing Northerners, "scalawag" Southerners, school teachers, administrators, and certainly the newly freed blacks.

Pike WAS a supporter of social segregation, just as probably 85% of all Americans were in that age, North or South. He also recognized the immediate post-war problem with suddenly inserting freed slaves, kept in deliberate general ignorance by the slave holding system of the time, suddenly being thrust into positions of government or administrative offices. All Southerners at the time undoubtedly noticed that purportedly more "enlightened" Northern legislatures and city halls and Congressional staff offices (to say nothing of elected officials) weren't exactly packed with educated blacks themselves, and they became openly hostile over the blatant hypocrisy that Reconstruction was forcing on them. Northerners who sought to forcibly change the South were scarcely leading by their example, and were no quicker to embrace integration at any level. The end of slavery merely stopped the industry and the institution. But even in states where no actual Jim Crow laws were eventually passed, the practices and the mindset were almost every bit as widespread north of the Mason-Dixon line for decades after the Civil War.

So, were Pike's views on race for his time and place "repugnant?" Or was he approaching it as Pike approached just about everything else in his life, by studying the prior civilizations and societies that had dealt with enslaved populations to see how they evolved in order to shape his own beliefs as the post war period unfolded? Depending on exactly when he was writing, he certainly believed American blacks were ignorant. Earlier in his life, he clearly ascribed that to an inherited trait. Later in life, that didn't seem to be the case. Possibly because of his encounters with erudite Negro Masons, both in letters and in person, often from foreign countries. There's no way to tell now, but human beings evolve through their experiences, and Pike was no different in that respect.

He DID indeed disapprove of any compelled race mixing in Freemasonry. So did the overwhelming majority of American society in almost every walk of life. Even the "Negro" grand lodges spreading westward after 1856 and into the South did not advocate for full integration on a widespread, practical basis. While Pike was decidedly against co-mingling with black Freemasons, he defended the separate Prince Hall-descended Masonic organizations as perfectly legitimate. Pike happily shared personal, autographed copies of his Scottish Rite Masonic degree rituals with his counterpart in the parallel Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction for black Prince Hall Masons, Thornton A. Jackson, in order to assist their fledgling organization sometime between 1887 and 1891. In writings of the period, Jackson described Pike as his friend. Curious attitude towards a man who is supposed to have been just a plain old, white, garden-variety, Protestant hater of blacks, and supposed cornerstone of the Ku Klux Klan.

Pike's statue in DC commemorates his position in the Scottish Rite and NOT his very brief role in the Confederate Army, nor even his pre-war life, during which he defended Southern slave owners' Constitutional property rights as their attorney in several cases. He was a lawyer, the Constitution and the Supreme Court declared slaves to be "property," and Pike argued his cases on that basis. Abstractly, he knew slavery to be wrong morally, and had studied the subject as an historical issue. He wrote that slavery in advanced civilizations was always a doomed system that would fail given time, and he believed the same would come to pass in America, for moral, practical, and financial reasons. He didn't approve of slavery or embrace it, he simply recognized it as a fact at the time. Legally, he defended clients according to the law until the law was changed otherwise. Lawyers today are rarely neither any more nor less principled. If the statue depicted Pike in uniform and was celebrating him as some hero of the Confederacy, the current detractors might have a leg to stand on. But it does not and they don't.

Nevertheless, it can be argued that if this is going to be an ongoing controversy and not blow over this time as it did in the 1990s (when it was much, much worse), the last thing Freemasonry wants or needs is a symbolic lightening rod of criticism and ire attached to it. Especially if it becomes a national focal point for the current frenzy on the 24-hour cable networks. I suspect they've been scouting around the parking lot out back of the 
House of the Temple this week for the best setting for it, should it come down to being relocated. The National Parks Service is currently reviewing the request. In the 90s, a bill was actually introduced in Congress to remove it, so it may get more intense again. But the question may become not what the Scottish Rite is FORCED to do, but what they will find themselves COMPELLED to do.

Yesterday, D.C. radio station WTOP actually DID have reporter Amanda Iacone drive up 16th Street to the HOT and interviewed Art de Hoyos for a follow up story. This exchange was reported:

“I think that people have misunderstood the intent of that statue,” said Arturo de Hoyos, grand archivist for the Scottish Rite in D.C.
The Scottish Rite is the largest branch of Freemasonry in the world. And the regional headquarters for the southern half of the United States is based on 16th Street at the House of the Temple, where Pike is interred.
His statue, erected at the dawn of the 20th Century by the Scottish Rite, celebrates his contributions to Freemasonry and his life as a civilian after the war, de Hoyos said.
Still, the organization will support whatever decision is made regarding the statue’s future, he said.
“We certainly don’t want a monument, which was really placed there to honor the fraternity, to be a divisive point within the community on racial matters,” de Hoyos said.
De Hoyos described Pike as a “man of his times,” who was known to abandon ideas and views over the course of his life. That included his views on slavery and he later developed a friendship with a leader of Prince Hall, a black Freemason society.
“Before and during the Civil War, he accepted slavery as a social institution …. He was a person who actually looked forward to a time when slaves would be free men,” de Hoyos said.
Finally, on the aforementioned website of Ed King's, he reprinted a piece that appeared in the February 1993 issue of the Philalethes. It was written by the Reverend Howard L. Woods, a Christian minister who served for ten years as the Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas F&AM. In 1991, he was invited as the Lecturer for the Philalethes Society, the first Prince Hall Mason ever asked to do so, and still many years before Prince Hall recognition became widespread:
The Albert Pike Statue: Let It Stand
There is no love lost between Prince Hall Masons and the memory of the late Albert Pike, Masonic Historian, writer, alleged ritualist for the Ku Klux Klan, but, if Freemasonry is to remain the bulwark of free-thinking people, then, "Let the statue remain!"
Like the natures he wrote about, Albert Pike showed the light and dark sides of his own soul, when with one breath he spoke of his willingness to give up his Freemasonry rather than recognize the Negro as a 'Masonic Brother' and with another breath, declared that every man should be free, for a free man is an asset, while a slave is a liability. Mankind is that way, and as long as the statue stands, America and Freemasonry will survive.
Let the statue be torn down and America and Freemasonry will be in jeopardy, for one would have to wonder, "What would be next?" As a Prince Hall Mason, an African American and supposedly free-thinker, I can see a higher power than the mortal mind of Albert Pike guiding his pen as he wrote such beautiful words of life without an occasional helping hand from someone "bigger than you or I."
Let the statue stand, even if it is proven that Albert Pike did write ritual for the Ku Klux Klan; more ignoble deeds have been done by others without sacrifice of their historic heroism.
Let the statue stand as a reminder that the good and evil of men are in equilibrium within us, and we all should strive for perfection now and in the future, not in the past. Let the statue stand !
--Rev. Howard L. Woods, Grand Master, Prince Hall Masons of Arkansas.
I'll just add, with absolutely no sense of irony whatsoever, that out of the 51 U.S. jurisdictions and 10 Canadian ones, the Grand Lodge of Arkansas still doesn't recognize their Prince Hall counterparts, along with eight other Southern grand lodges. But that's a different post for another day. Woods nevertheless defended the Pike statue at a time when just a mere handful of predominantly white grand lodges recognized Prince Hall Masons as legitimate anywhere. As both a minister and a grand master, he saw the value in being able to hold aloft what is best in men, and drape a mantle of charity and forgiveness around faults. That wisdom is as valid today as it was in 1993, if not more so.




I'm all for being offended over statues and advocating their removal, but only on artistic grounds as an offense against the eye. You can start with this one of Nathan Bedford Forrest that offends tens of thousands on a daily basis as they drive past it in Nashville, Tennessee. No one can possibly argue that it wouldn't be of greater service to mankind as a submerged artificial coral reef off Key Biscayne. 

Don't advocate for the removal of statues over some reevaluation of past repugnant behavior or attitudes from an earlier era, no matter how real or imagined. Use them teach with, however you may choose to do that. That's what they're there for, no matter when or why they were first erected. Your own hero today may become the next generation's villain who may be scraped from the statehouse lawn and paved over so that person's memory is forever removed from the collective consciousness, too. Whom we honor and when becomes its own textbook from which to learn, and toppling statues is no less abhorrent than book burning. The reason that so many knee-jerk comparisons to Orwell quotes or equivalencies with the Taliban blowing up Afghan Buddhas or ISIS leveling Palmyra have been so frequent this week is because they are so true. It IS the same thing.

There are way too many people running loose these days with a mission dedicated to stopping debate, discussion, conversation—IDEAS. I never would have believed Americans would voluntarily line up for that kind of intellectual circular firing squad, but it's happening now. Don't fall for it, and for the love of all that is decent in the world, don't let your children fall for it, either. And if you're a Freemason, you should be the first guy in line to put a stop to it. This fraternity got its real start by being a crucible for the Enlightenment. It's high time we start defending it and encouraging it again.





UPDATE: On Friday night 8/19/2017, somebody tossed a bottle of red paint on the statue during what the media reported as a "peaceful demonstration." A spokeswoman during the demonstration declared it to be one of "these racist statues" that has to be removed.

Right on cue.

35 comments:

  1. Without comment on the wisdom of making an issue of the statue, it strikes me that only by a favorable alignment of the planets would the Pike statue wind up in the gardens of the House of the Temple. It hasn't belonged to the Scottish Rite since it was donated (note the term) to the District, then as a wholly Federal entity (which has been modified to a certain extent by home rule). Logically, moving the statue to the Rite's private property would likely require an Act permitting my government to re-erect its statue for display on a private site in D.C., or to give or sell it back to the Rite to be handled as private property. Neither appears likely.

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  2. well Chris thanks for that but if the decision is made to remove pike's statue it may well cause me to demit. i for one am tired of this bullshit. the way you write this article i am not certain as to what you are for.
    as far as stopping debate and ideas. in my opinion the media, blm, antifa, are the enemy of Freemasons. should we remove George Washington from our lodges to appease these people as to not be accused of stifling debate and ideas? are we to stand by and be accused of being hatemongers and racists if we continue to have a portrait of GW in our lodges or defend a statue of Albert Pike? Freemasons and Freemason ideas had a hand in the beginning of this country. i also think it is high time that WE as a fraternity dust off our asses and defend it.

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    1. You write “if the decision is made to remove pike's statue it may well cause me to demit”.

      Why?

      Masons don't own the statue. Masons have no say whether the statue stays or goes. It's owned by the National Park Service, not the Scottish Rite.

      So you threatening to quit Freemasonry if an act of Congress makes the National Parks Service remove the statue doesn't make any sense.

      Delete
    2. I think you're right.

      You should probably demit, since you're so full of hatred that you're talking about your own fellow Masons as your "enemies."

      Delete
    3. It might be worthwhile to consider that it's quite likely that at least some of your brother Masons are members of the organizations you call "enemy of Freemasons".

      In my opinion, it's your responsibility as a Mason to consider where they might be coming from and reconcile your own thinking with the reality that your Brothers experience.

      Regards,

      Stephen Alexander
      Reagan #1037 AF&AM
      Anson Jones #1416 AF&AM
      Texas

      Delete
  3. Limited mention of Pike's Confederate Army service is perhaps missing the significance of his organizing of Native Americans to fight for the South, which at the time received considerable attention and certainly aroused Northern fears, as did the scalping of Union soldiers, allegedly but controversially by Indians under his command. He said that he would leave the fraternity if it ever admitted African-Americans.

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    1. Here is the principal quote from his letter of September 13, 1875, ten years after the end of the Civil War:

      "I can see as plainly as you that the negro question is going to make trouble. There are plenty of regular negro Masons and negro lodges in South America and the West Indies, and our folks only stave off the question by saying that negro Masons here are clandestine. Prince Hall Lodge was as regular a Lodge as any lodge created by competent authority, and had a perfect right (as other lodge in Europe did) to establish other lodges, making itself a mother Lodge. That's the way the Berlin lodges, Three Globes and Royal York, became Grand Lodges.

      "The Grand Orient of Hayti is as regular as any other. So is the Grand Orient of the Dominican Republic, which, I dare say, has negroes in it and negro lodges under it.

      "Again, if the negro lodges are not regular, they can easily get regularized. If our Grand Lodges won't recognize negro lodges, they have the right to go elsewhere. The Grand Lodge can't say to eight or more Masons, black or white, we will not give you a charter because you are negroes, or because you wish to work the Scottish Rite, and you shall not go elsewhere to get one: That latter part is bosh."

      [snip]

      "I think there is no middle ground between rigid exclusion of
      negroes or recognition and affiliation with the whole mass.
      If they are not Masons, how protect them as such or at all? If they are Masons, how deny them affiliation or have two supreme powers in one jurisdiction.

      I am not inclined to meddle in the matter. I took my obligations to white men, not to negroes. When I have to accept negroes as brothers or leave Masonry, I shall leave it.


      Reconcile that with the documented evidence by Thornton Jackson 12-15 years later of his assistance in the Prince Hall rituals for their own Scottish Rite SJ. The concept of "separate but equal" was a daily fact of life, and affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1892 with Plessy v. Ferguson. The Odd fellows, the Pythians, and literally scores of other fraternal groups had parallel organizations for African-Americans, all the way up until Brown v. Board of Education dismantled the practice LEGALLY in 1954. That never translated into PRACTICALLY, and it STILL isn't so. In the 40 some odd U.S. grand jurisdictions where Prince Hall grand lodges have been recognized, there has been no flood of membership crossover. It's been two decades since the majority of recognitions have happened, yet black Masons in mainstream lodges and white Masons in PH lodges are as common as unicorns. It is a social function of the way human beings behave when left to their own devices. No law or rule or edict or guilt slinging or virtue campaigns are going to change that. The most common adage of the 1960s civil rights era was that 'the most segregated places in America are the churches.' That's about as true today as it ever was, and that's ENTIRELY voluntary. People associate with the people they choose on their own to spend their social time with, in churches and lodges and bars and picnic tables.

      Delete
  4. An insight or at least some idea of Pike's someitmes conrtovrsial views is seen in his poems, two volumes of which are available from Westphalia Press at https://westphaliapress.org/freemasonry/

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  5. paul rich, are you saying pike was a SOB? not worthy of a statue, or those that show respect to him are bad people?

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    1. Well, TC, judging the past is very problematic. What would Jesus have thought about parking meters? With some figures, such as Hitler, it is fairly certain that any attempt to show respect is a negative comment on the admirer. As for Pike, he is an interesting character but not a great humanitarian or great philosopher. There are many individuals if it is a contest who arguably could have the statue space rather than him, but I don't know if that should be a continuing popularity contest with periodic removals. There is a rolling or rotating pedestal in London's Trafalgar Square -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_plinth,_Trafalgar_Square
      I don't think he was a particularly noble or heroic person. In the Northern Jurisdiction, the degrees are redone to demonstrate their teachings rather than following Pike, and that makes sense.

      Delete
  6. Brothers,
    I am in total agreement with TC. It is in my opinion that these communist terrorist groups (ANTIFA, BLM, ect) are enemies of Freemasonry and to our own country we worked and fought so hard for. These people will NEVER be reasoned with, it will NEVER be "enough". I'm surprised lodges or even grand lodges havent even started conversation about this impending threat. I believe its only a matter of time until they start targeting lodges and Freemasonry as a whole. I encourage lodges everywhere to look at their security and begin discussion on what needs protection outside of lodge. Its another reason why we shouldn't have 18 year olds allowed to join, it should be universally 21 years of age! (Military service exempted) We dont need ANTIFA communists initiated in. Im not worried about being politically correct, its a cancer and a division! Goes against everything Freemasonry is and pushes back against the light. With respect in trying to keep this short, we need to wake up yesterday, and start organizing strategies or ideas. I intend for Freemasonry to live forever well after I'm gone, and if necessary I am prepared and will fight on any battlefield to ensure that.

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  7. Current social movements like Black Lives Matter cannot be described as communist, and there is no evidence that they are concerned about Freemasonry. We may not like their views, but they hardly are going to be trying to join. The eighteen age eligibility does open the door to college lodges, which have had success in England and which have shown some American potential. Light is an Enlightenment concept and Freemasonry in America has largely lost its associations with its earlier scholarship and intellectual activity. The attempts to recover that are praiseworthy, but there are formidable obstacles since the majority of members are neither interested nor from the social and intellectual background that gave the Craft its earlier flavor. The present resemblance is more to the Moose than to Wren's Royal Society.

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  8. Thank you for emphasizing the aesthetic dimensions in all this, which somehow gets lost in all the discussions. Washington, D.C. is filled with statutes, but this is one of the best artistically speaking. That means something as well, especially as compared with, on the opposite side, hilarious nadirs like the one you pictured in otters locales!

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  9. Keeping the statue is supported by the Sons of Union Veterans, the descendant society of the Grand Army of the Republic or GAR -- my encampment just reminded us as members of the following General Order --

    http://www.suvcw.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Battlefield-flag-Policy.pdf

    We certainly can all unite about melting down the Nashville statue.

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    1. Sad that their membership has currently fallen down to 6,000 or less now. The GAR truly had a vital role for so long. But I'm glad to see they're not just sitting on their hands over this current wave of madness.

      Frankly, the most recent NPR poll of the public shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans don't support hauling down Civil War statues, either. As usual, it's a relatively small but noisy contingent that is given far greater media attention than it deserves. And thus, it is only fertilized and watered by the red tally lights of video cameras pointed in their direction. The same is true of the fringiest wings of political activists who, as the events of the last few weekends have amply demonstrated, loop so far around to the farthest of the Left and the farthest of the Right that they wind up joining together again at the opposite end of the circle with a club or a rock or a gun in their hand to proclaim their "free speech rights."

      How I wish the 99% of people in this country who have never once read anything about the U.S. Constitution in their entire lifetimes would at least glance beyond bumper sticker, monosyllabic distillations of the first two items on the Bill of Rights. There was a time when you couldn't get out of school without doing so at least once. Now we're lucky if students graduate who are able to read at all. Woe betide all of society when they wind up with the levers of government in their hands.

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  10. I have a cool portrait of Brother Albert Pike wearing Scottish rite regalia on the wall above my desk at work. So I would like the statue to remain.

    For me, so far as organizations are concerned, a man or woman's greatness within that organization can only be measured by the members themselves based on the contributions made.

    For example, the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, has it's Dr. H. Spencer Lewis.

    The Ordo Templi Orientas has it's Aleister Crowley.

    The Builders of the Adytum has it's Dr. Paul Foster Case.

    And Scottish Rite Masons of the Southern Jurisdiction has it's own, unique, Brother Albert Pike.

    "Philosophy is a kind of journey, ever learning, yet never arriving at the ideal perfection of truth. A Mason should, like the wise Socrates, assume the modest title of a "lover of wisdom"; for he must ever long after something more excellent than he possesses, something still beyond his reach, which he desires to make eternally his own." By Brother Albert Pike.

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  11. Chris, I find your comments about the overall topic of the removal of Confederate monuments unfortunate, and frankly, highly disrespectful. The people calling for their removal are not "hysterical." Clearly you don't agree with them, but it is wrong for you to gaslight them by using words like "hysterics" which imply they're simply irrational or possibly even crazy.

    Since you've chosen to make this post about more than just the statue of Albert Pike and shared with us your opposition to the removal of Confederate monuments, I'll explain why I disagree with you:

    These monuments are an abomination and have no historical or educational value in their current contexts because they are not based on "history." They are based on LIES. They promote the myth of "The Lost Cause," a FICTIONAL version of history. They don't remind us of history and warn us not to repeat it, they were actually designed to do the exact opposite and make us forget the real history of slavery and the Civil War and Jim Crow. And that is why they have to go.

    If you want to use them as visual aids to teach the history of the Jim Crow South and how it promoted that myth of The Lost Cause, that may be possible...but not in the current context in which these monuments are displayed, glorified in public squares. In order to do that, they have to be removed to a setting with the proper educational context, like a civil rights museum where they can be displayed with an inscription that reads "and this is an example of the mythology of The Lost Cause which persisted in the Jim Crow South for over a century after the end of the Civil War," alongside photographs of KKK cross burnings, lynching victims, and police officers turning attack dogs and fire hoses on peaceful marchers.

    After World War II, the Allies oversaw the complete "de-Nazi-fication" of post-war Germany. Every Nazi monument and symbol was destroyed or removed. Had the Allies chosen to allow a few to remain as potent reminders to the Germans of their past, that might have been acceptable (of course the Germans don't seem to have any trouble teaching their kids about that history without those monuments around, but that's another matter). That didn't happen, but if it did the preservation of those monuments could have had some educational and historical value in the way you describe. But on the other hand, if in 1960 the Germans put up a monument to Adolf Hitler with an inscription that read "The national hero who led the defense of our country from the unprovoked invasion of the Poles, French, and Russians, and who saved our country from the threat posed by the subversive Jews," nobody would defend a monument like that as being "historical" and something that anybody can use to teach our kids about that past.

    Confederate monuments aren't history. THEY'RE LIES.

    This statue of Albert Pike is not a Confederate monument. So I'm not in favor of its removal. But if it's become a source of division and disharmony, we should let it go. It's on public property, and if it upsets the public let the public remove it. If people who feel marginalized in our society because of the color of their skin point to it as a source of their marginalization, we should let it go. If Masons want to honor Pike, that can be done at lodge.

    Dave Brown
    Garden City Lodge, Newtonville, MA

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    1. Your own preening hysterics are duly noted.

      You write, "It's on public property, and if it upsets the public let the public remove it."

      So here in my city, a 30-year old vandal was caught in a public park two days ago taking a hammer to a local monument. It was first erected in 1912 as a tombstone marking the mass grave of 1,616 Confederate prisoners of war who died at a Union POW camp here.

      Is this "the public removing it?"

      The 35-foot tall, granite monument's inscription reads: “PAX — Erected by the United States to mark the burial place of 1,616 Confederate soldiers and sailors who died here while prisoners of war and whose graves cannot now be identified.” No one here had ever made an issue of it before until a local City Council member and a Parks Department employee made it a quite public one, announcing their desire to get it out of the park and move it "somewhere else." This lone Councilman's goal is to remove it to "ensure that, if it is to be on public display, it is within a historical context that does not affect a parks system that belongs to all Indianapolis residents."

      Is this "the public removing it?" Or am I not "the public" too, and is not my point of view important anymore?

      It can certainly be argued that its original purpose is no longer served since the remains were later moved to a city cemetery and the monument placed in the park which is not near the original camp. But the far more serious point is that only public posturing by headline grabbing, local pols drew attention to it and inspired this local criminal to undertake his private mission to destroy it. It was placed in a park named after President James Garfield who served in the Union Army as a Major General, which is partially why the Grand Army of the Republic first supported its placement there. A newer headstone monument for the soldiers' remains was placed elsewhere, hidden away in a cemetery where few citizens would ever encounter it.

      So, is it not an important part of our city's history and something new generations should know about? Surely the deaths of 1,616 human beings while in the care of their ostensibly responsible captors is something that is shameful enough to not be shrugged off and hidden from view. And would anyone have otherwise ever taught our citizens about this dark role our city had during that horribly divisive war at all? And should not such a monument (that is quite large and architecturally significant) attract attention to itself, and therefore to this event in a public park where that very public you speak of encounter it? And isn't that worth keeping it there instead of hiding it "somewhere else?"

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    2. History doesn't only belong to tiny but noisy interest groups at special times. It belongs to everyone, and every citizen needs to confront ALL of history, the good and the bad. A nation, a culture, a civilization is the sum of all of the parts that made it, and history cannot by its nature be offensive. It simply happens when we're not paying attention, or when we're not alive. Even the statues of Confederate soldiers and leaders over time lose their immediate justification of why they were erected in the first place and become historic all by themselves.

      The Lost Cause was indeed lost. The reason WHY it was fought over in the first place and its results never should be. The Allies sure as hell didn't pave over the Nazi history (although the Italians, the Spanish, the Soviets, the Red Chinese, and the Khmer Rouge all somehow got away with it). The Olympic stadium still stands in Berlin, and no one ever advocated plowing up and reseeding over the Death Camps.

      What I'm watching unfold in my nation's streets and on my TV in recent years is nothing less than the French Revolution unfolding all over again, right down to the manipulative pamphleting, the calling for the head of the monarch, and all the bloody rest. "The Public" is nothing but a mindless mob when it gets manipulated by its self-appointed Jean-Paul Marats, and burning up, melting down, or paving over history is not something I have any desire or intention of cozying up to. The public square was never EVER intended to be an idea-free safe space. It has ALWAYS been a place of ALL ideas, at least in the U.S. version anyway. I do thank you, though, for so magnanimously declaring that Pike's statue may remain standing for the time being until some shift in "the public" pulse.

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    3. Since your message got me sufficiently curious, I dug a little more. History, you know. Between 1863-65, the Confederate POW population of Camp Morton here in Indianapolis swelled to more than 12,000 prisoners. With the influx of captured Confederates, the inadequate quarters, disease, starvation, exposure to extreme cold, and the mistreatment of the prisoners, they began to die. Official War Department records show that of the 12,082 prisoners who were confined at Camp Morton, 1,762 prisoners died, or 14.6%. Of the 1,762 prisoners who died, 1,616 were buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, which the city owned. The rest of the deceased prisoners were returned to their families in the South.

      The names of those 1,616 dead rebel soldiers are inscribed on the damaged cenotaph’s plaques. One was William Blythe, a great-great-grandfather of former President Bill Clinton. Twenty-four of the dead Confederate soldiers were black. There are also Native Americans who fought for the South listed who perished there, too.

      As few as ten years ago, all of that might have been seen, along with this monument, as a fascinating window into the complex history of America's bloodiest and most contentious struggle with itself between her sons. Today, things must be different. Today, it's merely an identification of not one, but THREE victimized special interest groups: African-Americans, Native Americans, and Democrats.

      Can we keep it now?

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    4. Apples and oranges, comparing statues (in multiple places, of the same person) with memorials to specific dead, in the specific location where they died.

      It appears that if someone disagrees with you, and backs it up with logical points, it's preening hysterics.

      http://reason.com/blog/2017/05/16/old-times-there-are-best-forgotte2

      Important pullquote:

      'Frankly, I don't much worry about the generic memorials to the Confederate dead. They largely signify sorrow for the men who died in battle, an appropriate sentiment even if they died for a bad cause.

      The monuments celebrating specific Confederate leaders are different. Here I turn to a perceptive distinction between monuments and memorials made by philosopher of art Arthur Danto. Cited by University of Richmond philosopher Gary Shapiro in a recent New York Times op-ed, Danto observed, "We erect monuments so that we shall always remember, and build memorials so that we shall never forget." Monuments, Danto wrote, "commemorate the memorable and embody the myths of beginnings. Memorials ritualize remembrance and mark the reality of ends." Obviously, monuments have multiple meanings, but the fame of Confederate leaders unavoidably implicates their tireless efforts to maintain millions in slavery.'

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    5. And now you've done it to me, too, accusing me of "preening hysterics," for giving you a well thought explanation of my point of view which was entirely respectful of your own.

      Do you talk to people this way in person? At lodge? It's astounding.

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    6. Yes I do, when someone deliberately makes up facts and combines them with fantasies in order to try to make a completely emotional argument that leads to a remarkably bad outcome. If you can't see that what is happening right this very minute is mass, mob hysteria, fed by an eagerly slathering media shining their lights and cameras on every pissant standing on a hill pissing—as long as it suits the currently fashionable narrative—then you have fallen for it, too.

      Those statues in public parks have now been there in most cases for over a century, and in 99.999% of cases, no one EVER had a peep to say over them. Yet suddenly, with no discussion or study or vote or deliberation or consensus or anything else, now they must all be immediately removed from public view and put "somewhere else" that is never specified. Even the most innocuous GAR-erected plaques in cemeteries commemorating the dead are being defaced or preemptively removed IN CASE some casual passerby encounter it and declare herself "offended." Well, pardon me if I'M offended.

      Do you notice that the miscreants caught all week long defacing these statues and monuments (including the attempt in Houston to actually blow one up, when the guy was caught with a mass of explosives at its base) are all young-ish white people? As have been most of the ones caught in the act of painting swastikas on Jewish buildings, etc? They are not doing this out of some deep rooted, big hearted love for the feelings of black citizens whom they imagine are diminished by a statue of an obscure Civil War general. They are almost always eventually discovered to be some anarcho-warrior hell bent on just doing some shocking act to get a headline.

      Do something for me. Go and visit a local Prince Hall lodge sometime this month. I've been on the phone and in meetings with quite a lot of their officers over the last few months especially as I wrap up this book, but I've been visiting local PHA gatherings literally since the month after i joined the fraternity. After the meeting, sit around and just talk casually with their members, and take very careful note of what the older generation of them have to say. urge them to talk about the experiences they had in the 60s and early 70s, when 300-400 people were killed in the Detroit riots in mob actions. Ask them especially about their parents and their grandparents. Ask them about their experiences. Spend all the time they'll give with you and really coax them to share those stories with you. I think you'll find they are every bit as dismayed and disgusted with what's going on right now as you see me. because they lived their lives when very REAL, live discrimination was taking place, right down to where they could buy a house or get a mortgage, or join a swimming pool club, or a thousand other daily slights. And their grandparents stories will curl your hair, especially if they were p[art of the Great Migration era. They know, and will flat out tell you that what is happening now is nothing short of mass madness.

      I don't like mob mentality, of any sort. I've lived long enough now to have seen this in prior decades, when some non-existant "issue" erupts overnight into a national obsession and immediate catastrophe that must be eradicated NOW NOW NOW! The crowd roars with approval while thoughtful people actually trying to work through it stand on the sidelines saying, "What the hell just happened?"

      That's all this is. And that's why your comment above is indeed "preening hysterics." Actually reread my WHOLE response to you and get over the momentary butthurt over the first sentence. Actually READ the rest of it.

      Yeah, I talk this way in lodge. It's put a stop to a couple of remarkably idiotic plans in the past.

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    7. And now you're getting vulgar, too. "Butthurt"?

      I read your entire diatribe the first time. Don't lecture me about all the blacks you're friends with who validate your opinions. It doesn't excuse the way you talk about people you don't know who you disagree with.

      Grow up, Chris.

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    8. Seriously, Dave. I don't use ANY of my friends or other Masons as cheap props, EVER. I was illustrating a much larger point that seems to keep zooming right over your head. All you seemed to see was "Permit me to tell you of some Negroes I know..." Really. You know me much better than that, so leave the cheap shots for Twitter or Facebook.

      Meanwhile, I'm done on this topic. So go throw darts at De Hoyos for a while. You're SURE to hate him, what with all of those rifle photos he posts. I'm way too busy to keep wasting time on this, Brother.

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  12. One topic that has not been thoroughly discussed is the distinction between public and private displays of sculptures. For example, a church could have the Blessed Virgin on its lawn but that would not be appropriate for a town square. I faced this is giving a sculpture collection to a university -- perhaps I was a prude, but a couple of the artist's more active nudes seemed a bit too overtly heated and I opted for giving others. I didn't feel even as a donor that I could impose on people something that they had no choice about seeing every day. See http://www.paulrich.net/juarez/jardin/index.html The public aspect and the lack of freedom in whether one can avoid looking is worth thinking about.

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  13. I don't disagree with calling out extreme actions in any form.

    However, we as Masons should subdue our passions and attempt to be Level and Square in our actions.

    Let's not add to the problem.

    We should approach this from that perspective.

    I'd also suggest, humbly, to adopt a greater worldview regarding this issue.

    I hear Bro. Hodap's fears of a second French revolution, however dramatic that may be.

    But like our appraisal of Pike, let's do the same for our social climate -accept both its failures and successes.

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    1. With the way Chris is treating everybody he disagrees with, it's clear he's the one most in need of subduing his own passions.

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  14. Exactly. Well said Brother Alex. Surely the governing of emotions is integral to our symbolism. Moving the sculpture is an excellent demonstration of a measured and considerate response. This is not a freedom of expression issue. it is an opportunity to show what we do bring to the table, which is reason and an ability to understands nuances of issues. The central symbol of compass and square is key to our approach or what should be our approach to the Pike flap -- the Savoyard expression from Gondoliers is apt, calm deliberation untangles every knot.


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  15. Being a career Soldier, it is not difficult for me to carry out or support the actions of my Masonic leadership regarding this matter.

    I will continue to trust the outstanding Masonic leadership (and it is probably helpful that he is also a Lawyer) of Sovereign Grand Commander, Illustrious Ronald A Seale, 33rd Degree, Supreme Council, SJ. I believe He will help make the best possible outcome for the Rite he represents and wholeheartedly give my full support.

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  16. Well, the IRS requires Brother Seale to report on charitable distributions, a filing of which is at http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2015/526/054/2015-526054737-0d853eb9-9.pdf
    Payments to Rite leaders are more than payments to charity, so leadership does cost.

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    1. I'm sorry, but what exactly is the conclusion you expect the reader of the Supreme Council's tax returns to derive? Just that the Supreme Council like any other large-scale organization requires funds to operate in an efficient and effective manner? Or do you have some other conclusion in mind?

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  17. A charity's funds spent on administration rather than charity is a comment on effectiveness. The IRS return is not for dues or operating income, or the building fund, but for the separately solicited charity fund. Overwhelmingly the charity funds supplement salaries of officers, not children's clinics.

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  18. Brother Hodapp, while I do have some qualms with a few of your statements in this post, I agree with you that the public should have all of the correct and proper information before making such moves. Elected officials have an increased obligation to ensure that they have all of the facts before acting.

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