Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Celebrating the Confederacy is like Germans Celebrating Hitler's Birthday

So, I was looking at the new video recommendations on my YouTube account, and one of the videos was Southern Secession and the Liberal Mind by a writer I've sometimes agreed with named The Southern Avenger. Whereas I've agreed many times with him in the past on his analysis of various political issues, this video blog of his could not be more wrong, more ugly, and just so full of the ignorance of the American Civil War, that it's just not funny.

In his video, he explains that northerners who criticize southern celebrations of confederate heroes, or loving remembrances of the Confederacy are ignorant of the "heritage" of the country, and do not appreciate how Southerners feel about their history. My brief description won't do justice to the full video, but in essence, he defends people who have "confederate pride" as simply historically informed individuals who don't want us to forget our history.

That is why he is wrong. Every argument with people who celebrate the south's part in the civil war eventually gets to the mention of slavery. If you argue the civil war with any of these confederate pride types, one of the first arguments that you will hear is that "Slavery wasn't quite as nasty as it was made out to be... You need to realize that the winners of the war got to write the history... The war was about unfair taxes, not about slavery..."

All of these arguments were promoted in the above video, but I've heard them before from other people. The people who make these arguments are just wrong, and they are wrong because they are not informed by history. The irony is that the very writings of Jefferson Davis betray the notion that the war wasn't about slavery. The Confederate papers, The Constitution of the Confederacy, and the writings of the leaders of the confederacy are very weak on taxes and economic issues, and verbose on slavery and abolitionists.

The reason that the people who celebrate the confederacy always have to avoid the issue of Slavery, and try to downplay it by lying about it's role in the war is simple. If it were not for slavery, there would never have been a civil war, and in order to make the confederacy more palatable to people who actually appreciate freedom, the ugly side of the confederacy has to be covered up, and more emphasis must me made on the alleged conservative and family values of the people who were called Confederates. Unfortunately, in doing this, historical facts are forgotten, propaganda is used, and the Southerners showing pride in their beloved history end up being more like Germans who try to celebrate the Nazis as a cherished part of their national heritage.

Yeah, I used the N word. Tough! I know that it's usually the death knell for an argument, but hear me out, because it will all make sense when my article is complete.

The writings of the Confederacy

Take the address to the confederacy that Jefferson Davis gave at Montgomery on April 29, 1861. You will note that the words, "Tax" and "Tariff" do not appear at all, nor does any language pertaining to money or finance. What does appear frequently, however, is "slavery". The entire speech is all about slavery and it's preservation. The rest of the speech concerns preparing for war against the north, which destroys the idea that the Confederacy was seeking peaceful coexistence, and trying to avoid war.

If Secession was not about racism or slavery, then why would Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens have written "Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth."? (From his Cornerstone speech, March 21, 1861)

If Secession was not about Slavery, then why would the constitution of the Confederacy, as well as the constitutions of Confederate states like Alabama, look pretty much just like the Constitution of the United States, with the only real differences being sections that protect slavery, and prohibit emancipation of slaves by the government?

The reality of "State's Rights"

To really grasp the utter idiocy of modern people defending the honor of the south and the Confederacy, let's look at the reality behind the so-called "State's Rights". As we know, State's Rights was the argument that the south used as a reason for breaking away from the Union. We also heard this "State's Rights" argument rear itself during the civil rights era, personified in the likes of former Alabama Governor George Wallace. Modern supporters of the confederacy will often still refer to States Rights when arguing for more respect for southern pride and the preservation of southern heritage (respecting the confederacy).

What kind of things constituted the rights that states were asking for? Essentially, the reality of state's rights seems to be that a state should be allowed to violate the rights of minorities and people whose views are less popular than the views of white protestant conservative Christians. I reach this conclusion by simply looking at the things that the south has traditionally done in defiance of the north.

  • When your state wants to allow guys in white sheets to murder black people or white people who help them, and not prosecute any of them, that's your state's right.
  • When your state wants to allow lynchings, and willfully obstructs the federal government from conducting a criminal investigation of a lynching, that's your state's right.
  • When your state wants to prevent black people from enrolling in college to get an education, and your governor personally blocks the way to the admissions office to stop black people from enrolling in a state college, which their family's tax dollars paid for, that's your state's right.
  • When your state wants to segregate black people and white people the way that Saudi Arabia and Iran segregate men and women in their society, that's your state's right.
  • When your state's public buildings and many businesses have 3 types of restrooms -- men, women and "black", which both black men and women have to share, that's your state's right.
  • When your state gerrymanders voting districts so that black neighborhoods deliberately have poorer representation (or no representation), that's your state's right.
  • When your state actively prevents black voters from voting, by having different standards that apply only to black voters, that's your state's right.
  • When your state allows a 14-year-old black boy to be abducted in broad daylight with plenty of eyewitnesses, then be beaten to death beyond recognition by his well-known abductors, and the trial of his killers is manipulated so that they not only get away with it, but boast of their guilt afterward, and still go unpunished, that's your state's right.
  • When your state allows a church to be bombed, which kills four young children, and local law enforcement doesn't cooperate with the FBI's investigation, and it takes decades for the killers to be arrested and prosecuted, that's your state's right.


That's the stark reality of so-called state's rights. It's just a smokescreen for saying what, in plain English, would be too ugly to admit -- that you want states to be allowed to violate the constitutional rights of certain groups of citizens, plain and simple. Whenever you hear the phrase "state's rights" being bandied about by the jokers who are arguing for revision on the civil war, or trying to white-wash the racist history of America, just tell them that you understand, and fling a few of the above bullet-points at them. If it doesn't leave them speechless, it will certainly provoke their anger, and soon enough, their inner Klansman will become too obvious.

12 comments:

p.c. graham said...

According to Lincoln:
"Since for us the state as such is only a form, but the essential is its content, the nation, the people, it is clear that everything else must be subordinated to its sovereign interests. In particular we cannot grant to any individual state within the nation and the state representing it state sovereignty and sovereignty in point of political power"


Seems clear enough to me-- The States have no rights.

The central authority is THE authority.

I think most Americans embrace this doctrine without any question whatsoever-- it has been taught to us in grade school and college, the press and historians also agree.

The problem with this doctrine is that it is no American at all. If fact the opposite of the framers. Lincoln did not write this; Hitler did in Mein Kampf(1999 Mariner/Houghton Mifflin edition, p. 575).

If there is anything that is LIKE celebrating Hitler's Birthday, it would be all National Holidays that celebrate the one and indivisible union held together by force; first by Lincoln and then by every other subsequent president.

Celebrating the Confederacy is LIKE celebrating 1776-- when a group of 13 political societies seceded from the constituted legal authority that the believed to be hostile to their interest. Although all 13 colonies that seceded from Brittan were slave states, I have never heard that the revolution was "about" slavery. After all, how can you practice slavery and go on and on about protecting and defending liberty? The British saw the irony. Do you?

p.c. graham said...

P.S. - What do you do with the slave states and slave owners that fought on the Union side? It must be hard to live in such a world of conflicting ideas...

David W. Irish said...

The point that Lincoln was making was that the Constitution of the USA cannot be over-ruled by a local state law. The Bill Of Rights is sacred, and no state can have local laws which nullify it.

And yes, the way the constitution is written, the federal government is the authority when it comes to anything outlined in the constitution.

Situations not addressed by the constitution of the USA are left to states to decide -- hence, laws prohibiting alcohol containers of a certain size, and allowing prostitution in Utah, laws in Massachusetts that prohibit alcohol from being sold until noon on Sunday, and so on.

States cannot pass a law taking away the first or second amendment rights of citizens (or any other rights under the bill of rights).

The confederacy was not doing anything except saying "we don't want black people to have constitutional rights." Their writing speaks for itself.

The confederacy was not throwing off a tyrant who was taxing it unfairly -- that is the post-war mythology of modern racists who want to white wash the fact that the war was all about slavery. The confederacy was trying to keep black people as slaves, and prevent them from having constitutional rights.

David W. Irish said...

p.c. graham said...
"P.S. - What do you do with the slave states and slave owners that fought on the Union side? It must be hard to live in such a world of conflicting ideas..."

What conflicting ideas? What is your point?

p.c. graham said...

1-That quote was by Adolph Hitler, not Lincoln.
2- No one has a problem, as far as I can tell, with the fact that slavery as a political issue and the that refusal of some northern states to abide by the fugitive slave clause IN THE CONSTITUTION (the law of the land, I might add) played a pivotal role in the secession of SC and some of the deep south states. Virginia and some of the later seceding states cited other reasons. Framing slavery, however, in a morality play in which the north invaded the South to free slaves and provide them with equality in any way, shave, or form is just flat out dishonest.
In this war you have slave states fighting against slavery; slavery existing in Washington, DC during the early war, the Corwin amendment passed after SC and others seceded, and a host of other concessions which effectively took the slavery question off of the table.

This is what I have never understood, how all these things can be true and still you view the South via cultural Marxist paradigm of class/race conflict and compare the Confederacy with Nazi Germany when the doctrine espouse by Hitler is the same espoused by Lincoln and by you.

If you cant see that, it goes to prove that the South is a distinct and separate nations and our differences run deeper that a mere recitation of the historical record...

David W. Irish said...

Why would you present an Adolph Hitler quote, and LIE, saying it's from Lincoln, in the first place?

p.c. graham said...

It was a rhetorical technique used to get the reader to read the quote, initially agree with it, and then reveal the source. In the pejorative, it's called bait and switch. As soon as I make the point, however, I revealed the source:

"The problem with this doctrine is that it is no American at all. If fact the opposite of the framers. Lincoln did not write this; Hitler did in Mein Kampf(1999 Mariner/Houghton Mifflin edition, p. 575)."

I believe people like you are honest and well intentioned, albeit misinformed regarding the South. We are just like anyone else, people with a history and heritage tied to family, land, and tradition. We have been demonized and misrepresented in mainstream history and media and most people take it for granted that we are either ignorant, morally deformed, or both. This is simply not true...

In the end, the South (according to the characterization of them in your blog) is not like the Nazis at all, in fact, just the opposite. It's one of those crazy facts of history that is so plain one ought not have to resort to rhetorical tricks to make it; nevertheless, the admission of such a think would have so many moral implications it is unthinkable for most and if thought at all, is quickly put away...

I never comment on blogs, but this one came up on a web search of mine and I happened to have five minutes to respond. I had recently been interviewed and expected that this comparison, viz., Confederates and Nazis, would present itself, but it didn't come up. I had the material fresh in my mind, so I responded...

No hard feeling here.

I hope you will, however, not be so quick to judge us and perhaps acknowledge that we simply view our history differently that you do-- and it's not as crazy as it seems at first glance. The Hitler quote made that point for me, I hope.

I will not be returning, but welcome any offline dialogue regarding this matter.

David W. Irish said...

PC Graham wrote:

I believe people like you are honest and well intentioned, albeit misinformed regarding the South. We are just like anyone else, people with a history and heritage tied to family, land, and tradition. We have been demonized and misrepresented in mainstream history and media and most people take it for granted that we are either ignorant, morally deformed, or both. This is simply not true...

I disagree. DOCUMENTED history, as in the actual film and video footage, the letters and articles that were written by southerners themselves, IS what mainstream history is. COntrary to the popular saying, history is not written by the victors. The supression of history is always a temporary thing, if it's ever done, and in the case of the south, we have a documented history of Jim Crowe, KKK Lynchings, the violent opposition to intergration, and a host of other events that nobody denies.

You may not be morally deformed, derranged, or ignorant, but the idea that the confederacy had an element to it that deserves to be celebrated is ridiculous.


In the end, the South (according to the characterization of them in your blog) is not like the Nazis at all, in fact, just the opposite. It's one of those crazy facts of history that is so plain one ought not have to resort to rhetorical tricks to make it; nevertheless, the admission of such a think would have so many moral implications it is unthinkable for most and if thought at all, is quickly put away...


You don't get it. I am not talking about "southerners". I am talking about those people who think that the confederacy was "misunderstood", and stood for something that deserves celebration.


I hope you will, however, not be so quick to judge us and perhaps acknowledge that we simply view our history differently that you do-- and it's not as crazy as it seems at first glance. The Hitler quote made that point for me, I hope. I will not be returning, but welcome any offline dialogue regarding this matter.

Yes, you view history differently -- you seem to not care much about all that documentation, all the letters, battle plans, and speeches made by the confederacy, all of the stuff that they wrote and spoke THEMSELVES, and which former confederate states thought fit to house in museums. In other words, you like the made-up mythological history, where Jefferson Davis is a hero, and the confederacy was not fighting to preserve slavery. You choose to ignore the KKK, the lynchings, the church-bombings, the Jim Crowe, and how the students were treated when they walked into the university Of Alabama. You prefer not to judge history by the documentation left behind by the ones who made it, but by the myths and opinions of people who want to ignore facts.

p.c. graham said...

If you would like to engage in a point by point dialogue of the issues you have raised, I would be happy to, simply e-mail me: pcgmailbox-web@yahoo.com

I thought we were talking about the 1860s, not the 1960, but I am willing to discuss that as well.

I have willfully ignored anything-- I have not even written one page of apology on your blog. I have no problem with acknowledging the role slavery played in the war, but we must be willing address the broader issue that the Union did not fight to abolish the institution. This makes the issue far more complicated than most are willing to admit.

Again, I welcome any dialogue. Bring your documentation, bring whatever you like... I'm perfectly willing to be converted to your point of view if you can present a consistent theory to encompass the claims that the war was "about slavery" and yet the Union never fought to abolish it, but rather said it was fighting to "preserve the Union."

Perhaps you are smarter than me, but I have a hard time putting both those ideas in my head at the same time...

Micky said...

I don't know if you're aware of it or not, but my blog postings are full of hyperlinks to the relevant sources that I base my posts on. Ever time you see a different colored word or phrase in the text, such as "Jefferson Davis's speech", you can click on it and see the full text of his speech that appears if you look it up.

Although I use wikipedia a lot, I do seek out other relevent sources when I have more time.

Emanuel Goldstein said...

Hitler was an atheist.

But he now believes God Exists.

Emanuel Goldstein said...

The Federal Government is not "the authority" when it comes to the Constitution.

The Supreme Court is.

We are ruled by NINE PEOPLE.

If they decide forcible sterlization is OK, or that a black man is only a percent of a white man, that will be the Law.

It they someday admit that abortion is murder, that will be the law.

And so forth...