Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Charleston Massacre and the Name Game

The name game and twilight language have been visible to readers of this blog for years. In the wake of the June 17, 2015, killing of nine in Charleston, South Carolina, the rest of the world seems to have been awakened to the symbols in their midst.

Dylann Storm Roof is the root of this awareness, in many ways, due to his overwhelming employment of overt items like the Confederate flags, Nazi-employed numbers (14, 88, 1488), and even the Othala rune.

Roof was apprehended on June 18, 2015, after a motorist spotted his black Hyundai Elantra, which displays an apartheid “Confederate States of America” license plate on the front bumper, while driving near Shelby, North Carolina.

On June 24, 2015, in a flash fire across the South, of breaking news alerts, one state after another, one business after another, talked of removing Confederate flags, directly due to them being used as symbols of racist and hate.

Dylann Storm Roof, alleged Charleston gunman

Adam Lanza, Newtown gunman

James Holmes, Aurora gunman

Jared Loughner, Tuscon gunman

Nidal Hasan, Fort Hood gunman

Symbols. Eyes of hate. Now names too are being mined for significance in the aftermath of the massacre. We have mentioned the names of streets for a long time. Now others are noticing, and it is enlightening to see how far afield this is going.

John C. Calhoun, 1849
In all the news coverage of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church, it’s rarely been mentioned* that it’s located at 110 Calhoun, a street named after John C. Calhoun.
That’s right: family members of those killed have to go to memorial services at Emanuel AME and look at street signs honoring one of the most rabid supporters of slavery in American history.
Calhoun was vice president from 1825 to 1832, during the administrations of John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, and then became a powerful U.S. senator from South Carolina. Calhoun himself owned a plantation and lots of people. He pushed not just for the preservation of slavery but its expansion into new territories to the west. And he was a major advocate of 1850’s Fugitive Slave Act. Source.

*"Rarely mentioned": In actual fact, several news sites have mentioned the address and talked about the unfortunate reality of the address for the Mother Emanuel Church being on Calhoun Street.

The examination of the use of the name even spread to a debate regarding Lake Calhoun in Minnesota, noted on June 23, 2015, in the Star-Tribune.
The perennial question of renaming Lake Calhoun has been revived with a new directive to Park Board staff to look into the issue again as an online petition against the name topped 1,700 signatures.
Park Board President Liz Wielinski announced at a special board meeting Monday that staff had been directed to report back to the board by its first September meeting on the issue on the naming process....
The petition was launched by Mike Spangenberg of Minneapolis after last week's killings of nine people at a Charleston, S.C., church, He said the petition represents confronting the nation's past and addressing systemic racism. Park Commissioner Brad Bourn also has advocated for a name change.
During his 30 years on the national stage as a lawmaker, vice president and secretary of war, John C. Calhoun argued that slavery was a positive good for those enslaved, and espoused such states rights doctrines as the ability of a state to nullify federal acts with which it disagreed.
His tie to the area now known as Minneapolis comes from his action as secretary of war to President James Monroe to establish Fort Snelling at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. Source.
Calhoun is also linked to an early "going postal" event. On December 2, 1983, in Calhoun County, Alabama, James Brooks, 53, entered the Anniston, Alabama, post office with a .38 caliber pistol, killing the postmaster, and injuring his immediate supervisor. Subsequent to killing the postmaster, James Brooks ran up the stairs of the building pursuing his supervisor and shooting him twice.

Meanwhile, the bust of a Confederate general and leading figure in the early days of the Ku Klux Klan - Nathan Bedford Forrest - was being being proposed to be removed from the Tennessee statehouse, top Tennessee Democrats and the state Republican Party chairman said on June 23rd.

Some of the discussion has been extreme, such as CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield questioning whether the Jefferson Memorial should be taken down because Jefferson owned slaves. "There is a monument to him in the capital city of the United States. No one ever asks for that to come down," Banfield said.

Infowars blogger Paul Joseph Watson compared taking down the Jefferson Memorial to the logic of Islamic State terrorists "who have spent the last year tearing down historical statues and monuments because they offend their radical belief system."

Anything taken out of context can be questioned. George Washington, Andrew Jackson and James Madison also owned slaves.
At the University of Texas, Austin, a public statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, was reportedly vandalized this week with the words "Black Lives Matter" and "Bump the Chumps." Another Davis statue at the Statehouse in Frankfort, Ky., has come under scrutiny, with some calling for the work of art to be taken down.
One of those advocating for its removal is Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin, who was quoted in the Hill newspaper as saying, "It is important never to forget our history, but parts of our history are more appropriately displayed in museums, not on government property."
Statues on the Austin campus of Robert E. Lee, who commanded the Confederate army, and Albert Sidney Johnston, a Confederate general who died during the Civil War, were also vandalized in recent days, according to reports. Source.
Are Jefferson, Madison, Forrest, and Lee some of the names we need to follow? Why haven't we paid more attention to Calhoun?

The idea of the "name game" became very formalized with "the Fayette Factor?" It was first discovered by researcher William (Bill) Grimstad (a/k/a Jim Brandon), back in 1977, and written about in "Fateful Fayette," Fortean Times, No. 25, Spring 1978.

Since Grimstad's discovery, several items on this lexilink between Fayette (as well as its related forms - Lafayette, La Fayette, Fayetteville, Lafayetteville) and high strangeness have been published. In his book, Weird America (New York: EP Dutton, 1978), Grimstad mentions several "power name" hot spots but did not dwell on them.

Concurrently, I was writing of other name games. In 1978, I wrote and had published afterward, in Fortean Times, no. 29, Summer 1979, my "Devil Names and Fortean Places."

The Rebirth of Pan (1st edition, Firebird Press, 1983)

Mysterious America (1st edition, Faber & Faber, 1983).

In exchanges with Bill, a small group of Forteans discussed the Fayette Factor and name game privately throughout the late 1970s. It was not until Grimstad's (now extremely rare) The Rebirth of Pan: Hidden Faces of the American Earth Spirit (Firebird Press, 1983) and Mysterious America (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1983) that more in-depth analyses of the name game "coincidences" seriously occurred. These examinations were followed by updates and other comments in Mysterious America (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2006), and another book of mine (NY: Paraview, 2002). Furthermore, the appearance of widely available material on the name game (including from John A. Keel) started routinely being posted online during the 1990s-2010s, including in this blog.

The idea was to raise awareness for the "twilight language" behind names - for example of the town you lived in, the street on which you lived, and those names heard on the news.

In The Rebirth of Pan: Hidden Faces of the American Earth Spirit, Grimstad writes, regarding the "name game":
I'm not talking here of such spooky tongue-twisters as H.P. Lovecraft's Yog-Sothoth or Arthur Machen's Ishakshar, but of quite ordinary names like Bell, Beall and variants, Crowley, Francis, Grafton, Grubb, Magee/McGee, Mason, McKinney, Montpelier, Parsons, Pike, Shelby, Vernon, Watson/Watt, Williams/Williamson. I have others on file, but these are the ones which I have accumulated the most instances. 
In my 1983 Mysterious America, I wrote:
Cryptologic or coincidence? Jim Brandon [Bill Grimstad] should be credited with calling attention to the name Watts/Watkins/Watson, and its entanglement with inexplicable things. Some other names involved in mysterious events pinpointed by Brandon are Bell, Mason, Parsons, Pike, Vernon, and Warren. The influence of such names as Mason, Pike, Warren, and Lafayette, for example, issues, in some cryptopolitical and occult way, from their ties to the Masonic tradition.

One of the missions of the abolitionist and Freemason John Brown during his raid of Harper's Ferry, was the capturing of a Masonic sword. In 1859 he led a raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry. During the raid, he seized the armory; seven people were killed, and ten or more were injured. He intended to arm slaves with weapons from the arsenal, but the attack failed. Within 36 hours, Brown's men had fled or been killed or captured by local pro-slavery farmers, militiamen, and U.S. Marines led by Robert E. Lee. 

A concentration of attention in the past has been on the names of the Founding Fathers and their friends - Washington and Lafayette coming to the top of the list. Other names from the 1812 era, for example, like Stephen Decatur, surface too (see here).  

Perhaps some attention will now be given to Civil War and Confederate names - like Calhoun, Albert Pike, and others - in the "name game."

Painting at top: 
John Brown in Tragic Prelude (1938-40) by John Steuart Curry (1897-1946)

1 comment:

SJ Reidhead said...

As a historian, I am big fan of local history, local historians, local lore and legend. After nearly 20 years tracking Wyatt Earp across the country, I've learned that local historians and histories are far more accurate than 'authorized' biographies. They get the story straight. This said, I never saw the John C. Calhoun thing coming, and I grew up in SC, lived there for nearly 40 years, and attended Clemson, which is based on one of his plantations. The Calhoun Mansion is the showpiece of the campus. As I mentioned in an email, the stadium is referred to as Death Valley.

According to South Carolina lore and legend, Calhoun is the father of Abraham Lincoln. When Calhoun's father discovered the on-again, off-again fling with Nancy Hanks, he forced a marriage to Tom Lincoln. Hanks had 2 children by Calhoun. When she became pregnant the second time, he shipped her off to Kentucky. I've met several members of the Hanks family, who swear the story is true. At one time, the records proving the story were available in the special archives there at the university library. Of course, the story is so not in keeping with the lore and legend of Lincoln that no one outside of South Carolina believes it.

There is a portrait of Calhoun in the library, done when he was young. Lincoln looked quite a bit like him. What I find fascinating are the demands to remove all traces of him from the state, like was this iconic figure. He wasn't. Everyone knew he was a womanizing skunk and a total jerk.

When you get around to it, you might want to investigate the story behind 'Gone with the Wind'. It was written as a family history, but in code. Margaret Mitchell was not allowed to write the real story of the Fulton-Holiday family because it would be a social embarrassment, due to the most illustrious member of the clan: John Henry Holiday. In fact, the true story could not be told until the last member of a certain generation died. The moment he did, two cousins were out with their family history, the real story, and the Doc Holiday connection.

The reason I add this is because there are some historians who think the Civil War was extended far into the West. I happen to think that the Civil War did not end until 2:30PM on October 26, 1881 in Tombstone, Arizona with the final shots being fired at the OK Corral. Going back to Bloody Kansas, we have antidotal evidence that Old Man Clanton rode with Quantrill. Unfortunately, I can't prove it. One of the leading historians of the era agrees with me, but the records just aren't there.