I Pledge Allegiance to the Confederate States...
February 24, 2006 7:48 AM   Subscribe

What if the South had won the war? Professor and director, Kevin Wilmott, brings you his vision of a Confederate victory with C.S.A. The Confederate States of America. Not quite Harry Turtledove, NPR examined Wilmott's satirical look at a not quite so possible future and offered their opinion of it. Trailer, anyone?
posted by Atreides (356 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
"We all participated in it; we all evolved from it in some way or another, so we don't like to speak about it.

WE? That guy got a mouse in his pocket? If we all participated in slavery, it was probably farther back in history as slaves to the Roman empire chained to an oar.
posted by a3matrix at 7:55 AM on February 24, 2006


Thanks for this; I read the Onion A.V. review yesterday - now the question is: how can I see it?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:55 AM on February 24, 2006


I saw this and my reaction has now gone through two stages:

1) Upon viewing, I thought to myself that this was a ridiculous, asinine movie that didn't really think about history in any meaningful way. I'm not sure what, exactly, would have happened in the case of a Southern victory, but I'm pretty sure that the C.S.A.s destiny did not include a trip to the moon. I thought to myself, what would be interesting would be to, rather than bite off the unchewable, it might have been more interesting to set this movie in the present, after those 140 years, showing a strange, developing, grossly inequal society. Really, I would imagine that a modern C.S.A. wouldn't be that different from Brazil, which, after all, continued with slavery up until near the end of the century, and I can only assume, in unofficial means thereafter.

2) However, this review addressed many of those concerns, and might be worth reading for anyone whose on the historically-minded side before they see this (those who are oblivious to history probably won't care either way). It points out that, maybe, it's supposed to be an almost surrealist, or certainly absurdist take on the cultural legacy of the ante-bellum south, which is a valid point.

In the end, though, maybe due to a certain kind of historical gag reflex, I just couldn't stand my disappointment and left the theater with a sour taste in my mouth. But if it made me think so much, I certainly have to reccomend it.
posted by goodglovin77 at 7:59 AM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


I think using current massmedia images makes an important comment on the continuing subjugation of blacks in the US, but I don't find it funny in the context of the film.
posted by zonkout at 8:04 AM on February 24, 2006


I found this painful to watch, and not in the way it was trying to make me cringe. I just think it's a pretty simple look at things. I do not for one second believe that slavery would have lasted to the present day, regardless of the Civil War outcome.
posted by glenwood at 8:08 AM on February 24, 2006


The notion of the South winning against the North is not a new one. In 1970, in the Rutgers Library Jopurnal, I published an article titled "John Beauchamp Jones: A Southern View of the Abolitionists." The author, a supporter of th South, wrote a novel called "Border War", pub. in 1859 (before the war!). The author claimed that people will read his book and "...by showing the ill effects of Coerecion and Disunion, will draw the bands of Fraternity yet closer ..." The author moved North after the war. His perspective in the novel was that the union must be preserved (shades of Lincoln!). But he strongly condemns the abolitionists and his main idea seems to be that the North wants to impose their beliefs upon the South--a violation of States' Right; but the South does not impose its views upon the North. After a rather cumbersome and complicated plot, the country is preserved. If there is a lesson in any of this it is that a number of people forsaw the growing possibility of a potential breakup of the union and a civil war taking place.
posted by Postroad at 8:10 AM on February 24, 2006


Yeah, the whole Red State/Blue State thing turned me off from the outset.
posted by JekPorkins at 8:14 AM on February 24, 2006


I would picture those cheesy used car commercials selling new and pre-owned slaves instead.
posted by dr_dank at 8:23 AM on February 24, 2006


Well, let's look at the reality. The country is run from Texas, not Washington D.C. It has been for some time now. When it hasn't been run from Texas it's been run from other parts of the south.
A lot of the defense contractors are located in the south, as is much of this nation's military bases which have been consolidated over the last few years from locations on the coasts to... the south and midwest, which may as well be the south. As much as we would like to think this is a 'nawthun' government, since Johnson pulled a lot of defense contractor and NASA contracts down south, since the oil industry which runs the country is in the south, we really are a country that is run from the south. Everyone else in the U.S. grudgingly goes along for the ride with no real impact.
Let's say that states seceeded from the south and became independent. In the current climate they would find themselves without any military surrounded or bordered by inland states that had very powerful militaries indeed and filled with populaces that, in their parochial worldview would be all too ready to use them to overpower and subjugate those states that seceeded.
I don't think this all came about by chance, by the way.
(puts on tinfoil hat)
posted by mk1gti at 8:27 AM on February 24, 2006


JekPorkins: Only because its accurate. The south is red now not because they turned around on Lincoln, but because the GOP turned away from him.
posted by empath at 8:32 AM on February 24, 2006


So this is basically "It Happened Here" set in the US?
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:32 AM on February 24, 2006


Bittorrent
posted by wfrgms at 8:34 AM on February 24, 2006


A local author here in Arkansas wrote a book (found here) with the premise that, after the seccession, the North and South never went to war, but co-existed...

I haven't read it yet, but it's supposed to be about people taking the "Underground Railroad" of sorts to escape the increasingly totalitarian North...

An interesting premise...
posted by WhipSmart at 8:36 AM on February 24, 2006


Typical bigoted stereotypical bullshit about the South.

The racial problems in America are because of how the North treated blacks/slaves, not the South... The Civil war had nothing to do with slavery -- it was about commerce and unequal taxation.

Slavery was pegged on to the Civil War when the North knew it was losing and tried to cause a slave revolt in the South. The emancipation proclamation free'd only the slaves owned by rebels, and most of the Northern states passed ammendments to their constitutions banning free'd slaves from settling there.

Slaves cost Southerners the equivalent of about $40,000; they were an EXPENSIVE piece of "farm equipment". If the North hadn't politicized the debate and used it for the purpose of war, slavery would have phased out in the South due to simple economic pressures as farm technology evolved... but instead we have the current racial nightmare.
posted by glider at 8:37 AM on February 24, 2006


Now, now, mk1gti, you're scaring the kids! (though you make excellent points.)

Instead of The Man in the High Castle, it's The Man with the White Castles? or maybe The Man with the Waffle Houses. Interesting. I'd be very interested in a simulation of a modern day civil war between north and south. Anyone got the keys to the WOPPR?
posted by shoepal at 8:38 AM on February 24, 2006


The United States was one of the very last countries to abolish slavery, and that trend wasn't driven by some kind of new sense of morality. Economics had shifted. Slaves were starting to cost more than just paying a wage. It was an economic tide, and as such, one that could not be stopped. If there had been no Civil War, or if the South had won, slavery would still have been abolished, and on roughly the same timeline.
posted by jefgodesky at 8:41 AM on February 24, 2006


I'll have whatever crack glider is smoking.

This film looks fantastic.
posted by MaxVonCretin at 8:42 AM on February 24, 2006


I'm smoking Dilorenzo.
posted by glider at 8:45 AM on February 24, 2006


The Civil war had nothing to do with slavery

You know, you can go and read the actual articles of secession for most all CSA states, or the debates leading up to them. They state quite clearly "We're seceding to preserve slavery."

The people who were actually seceding and fighting a war to make that secession stick thought they were doing to to preserve slavery. You really know better than them?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:48 AM on February 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


The pop-history book "A Team of Rivals" puts this sort of historic what-if-ing in an interesting perspective.

I think the more interesting question is not "what if the South" had won, but "what if Lincoln had survived?"

(Sorry for the minor derail...)
posted by feloniousmonk at 8:49 AM on February 24, 2006


Following up on glider's comments I'd just like to point out that slave owners truly believed that Africans were lazy and shiftless and that they would surely perish without the proper structure that servitude offered. In their own ways they had the best interests of the slaves at heart. I think people who stand in the 21st century and condemn slavery are practicing the hateful rheortic of presentism also known as temporal ethnocentrism.

Sure, we can all agree that the assumptions made about the nature of blacks at the time was wrong, but that doesn't give us the right to condemn slave owners who didn't know any better. We don't condemn cave people for eating uncooked meat just because they hadn't discovered fire yet, do we?

In a way there are parallels to the modern era. Take Iraq for instance... we really believed that Saddam had WMDs... we now know that we were wrong, but at the time we were thought we were right. And that makes it okay.
posted by wfrgms at 8:52 AM on February 24, 2006


ROU_Xenophobe -- I really don't think you're right; (more)
On July 22, 1862, Lincoln showed a draft of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet. It proposed to emancipate the slaves in all rebel areas on January 1, 1863. ... He issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22. The proclamation warned the Confederate states to surrender by January 1, 1863, or their slaves would be freed.

... Yet he and others feared that Lincoln would give in to pressure from northern conservatives, and would fail to keep his promise. Despite the opposition, however, the president remained firm. On January 1, 1863, he issued the final Emancipation Proclamation. With it he officially freed all slaves within the states or parts of states that were in rebellion and not in Union hands. This left one million slaves in Union territory still in bondage.
posted by glider at 8:52 AM on February 24, 2006


Glider: Have you actually read South Carolina's articles of secession?

I know you haven't, because if you had, you wouldn't have said what you just said.

South Carolina's Articles of Secession

It mentiones Slavery 18 times.

It mentions taxation once, and only in the context of a tax on slaves.
posted by empath at 8:53 AM on February 24, 2006 [3 favorites]


Woops, botched the link.
posted by empath at 8:53 AM on February 24, 2006


empath, if you want to do some reading, read also that the North didn't free their own slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation, and went one step farther and actually passed Constitutional ammendments banning them from settling in the North.

Then after the war they took what money they could steal from the South, and used it to send the slaves to Liberia, and as the money ran out (most of it was embezzled), to Haiti. So don't pretend the North were friends of the African Slave, because they despised them... They only wanted them freed because they knew it would destabilize the Southern economy and society. Outside of the war issues I mentioned already, it's like banning large tractors on farms today.
posted by glider at 8:59 AM on February 24, 2006


And then many of the blacks left in America were employed by the Northern government in the Great Plains War campaign to exterminate the Native Americans... Slaves forced to commit genocide after their "jobs" were eliminated (and because of the way it was done, there was no way to ease them into society).
posted by glider at 9:00 AM on February 24, 2006


So you're criticising lincoln's implementation for being poor if not half-assed and political motivated, yet the south would have stopped slavery "any day now" because of economics. Err okay.

Human labor in any economy on the slave/serf level will always cost less than paying wages. A wage earner will demand enough to pay for housing and the other expenses the slave owner could subsidize and minimize into his own plantation. A central authority on this scale will always be cheaper. Slavery is cost efficeint when compared to the alternatives. The only exception I can think of is family labor.
posted by skallas at 9:01 AM on February 24, 2006


The Civil war had nothing to do with slavery

Bull crap. Read about the events leading up to the Civil War. Think it was all about states rights? That's funny, because the South supported federal anti-abolitionist laws that infringed on the Northern states' rights, as in the case of the fugitive slave laws. Nor were they concerned about states rights when they sent armed partisans to Kansas to force in a pro-slavery government at gunpoint. The South only started getting concerned about state's rights when the right in question became the right to own a slave. Until that time, they had no interest in states rights at all, and used federalistic laws all the time to preserve the institution of slavery.
posted by unreason at 9:02 AM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


Glider: okay, so instead of admitting that you made a factually incorrect statement about the motivation of the south, you make a completely unrelated assertion.

You're a waste of space.
posted by empath at 9:05 AM on February 24, 2006



posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:07 AM on February 24, 2006


skallas, have you seen the minimum wage?

And in any case, as has been linked from MeFi regularly, America still has slavery. I'm not talking about the hundreds of thousands of sex slaves and indentured servants that live in the US, but the slaves that are used around the world by US defense contractors.

The difference is that a modern slave costs about $100, whereas they cost about $40,000 in the past... So who do you think treats their slaves better, the South of the past, or the North of the present?
posted by glider at 9:07 AM on February 24, 2006


Thanks wfrgms! I hadn't even thought to try utorrent already.
posted by notsnot at 9:07 AM on February 24, 2006


The Man in the High Castle was a "what-if" based on the Axis winning WW2. It had nothing to do (unless my addled memory is faulty) with the CSA and the American Civil War.
posted by infowar at 9:07 AM on February 24, 2006


>and used it to send the slaves to Liberia, and as the money ran out (most of it was embezzled), to Haiti.

Are you suggesting this was a forced extradition? Freed slaves gained autonomy in western africa, by choice. Liberia was a formalization of that colonization. Of course there were political elements at work. Plantation owners were glad to see them off fearing a mass rebellion and the abolitionists saw it as reparation.

>Slaves forced to commit genocide

Non-slaves were doing this military work. I think its a bit disingenious to claim "forced to do genocide" in an era where a military job could involve that. You make it sound like the US passed legislation that made sure "Every Negro shot an Indian per year" or something.

Also, I'd like some of your crack too.
posted by skallas at 9:07 AM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


empath - Um, I'm not wrong, and pointing out that the North didn't pipe up about emancipation until long into the war is very much relevant if you're claiming it as the primary cause.
posted by glider at 9:08 AM on February 24, 2006


Human labor in any economy on the slave/serf level will always cost less than paying wages.

That's simply not true. Slaves have to be housed and fed. You pay a wage earner a set wage, and then he has to figure out how to make that cover housing and food. You can pay a wage earner a lot less than you end up paying for a slave.

In ancient Greece, wage earners were considered to have even meaner lives than slaves, because at least a slave knew he would have food that day.
posted by jefgodesky at 9:08 AM on February 24, 2006


The funny thing about glider's Liberia bit is that emigration to Liberia peaked in the 1850s and then tailed off after the Civil War. Life there was pretty hard -- better than being a slave, but not worth trying if you weren't a slave anymore. The point is that the timeline is 100% wrong. So he switched from one factually incorrect statement to another one.
posted by nflorin at 9:08 AM on February 24, 2006


skallas, yes, this was forced extradition, just as forced as their introduction to the US in the first place.

As to them being "non-slaves" doing the work, if you "free" a slave but then give them no options, then I'm not sure that they're really so "free", and since they were employed by the government, I'd say that your sarcastic law suggestion is not so far from the truth.
posted by glider at 9:10 AM on February 24, 2006


And the thread degenerates into a personal cagematch. That didn't take very fucking long.
posted by slatternus at 9:10 AM on February 24, 2006


>have you seen the minimum wage?

Yes, I have. Now, a slave would get room and board and other basics. The equivalant would be a "living wage." Not minimum wage, which is used in the US primary for part time jobs not the kind of work you could live off. I also question the validitiy of the 40,000 dollar figure you keep throwing around. I don't think your economic argument holds much water, especially when your best defense is comparing slave ownership economics to the federal minimum wage and another non-sequiter about current exploitation, which is neither north nor south but very american.
posted by skallas at 9:11 AM on February 24, 2006


The North's primary motivation was economic and political. They didn't want the Union to break up. Slavery had very little to do with it.

However, there would have been no war unless the South seceded, though, and it's a plain fact that South Carolina started the secession for the purpose of preserving slavery. They said it as plain as day.
posted by empath at 9:11 AM on February 24, 2006


South Carolina's Articles of Secession

It mentiones Slavery 18 times.


To be fair, that's from the chorus. They just couldn't find much else to rhyme with "bravery".
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:11 AM on February 24, 2006 [7 favorites]


nflorin - The reason that it tapered off though is not because they stopped -- the reason it tapered off is that so much money was being embezzled from the contracts that the destination shifted to Haiti. Neither statement is factually incorrect.
posted by glider at 9:12 AM on February 24, 2006


Then after the war they took what money they could steal from the South, and used it to send the slaves to Liberia, and as the money ran out (most of it was embezzled), to Haiti. So don't pretend the North were friends of the African Slave, because they despised them... They only wanted them freed because they knew it would destabilize the Southern economy and society. Outside of the war issues I mentioned already, it's like banning large tractors on farms today.

Are you pulling this shit directly out of your ass, or is that what they tought in your southern high school? Because that's just FUCKED.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:12 AM on February 24, 2006


glider -- the South seceded because they thought the North was going to take away their slaves. That was their stated purpose, and there's no reason not to believe them. The North fought to preserve the Union. The Republicans wanted abolition, but Lincoln didn't feel politically strong enough to try it until the end of 1862. The war was fought over slavery -- without slavery there is no secession, without secession there is no war. It's really not that complicated.
posted by nflorin at 9:13 AM on February 24, 2006 [3 favorites]


skallas - This is a bit of a side track, but I'd guess that the percentage of Americans who do not make a "living wage" is higher than the number of Slaves in the South...
posted by glider at 9:14 AM on February 24, 2006


On a more serious note, the South needed the support of European powers to establish itself as a nation if they won. I'm pretty sure (and this could be history mixed with a bit of Turtledovization, mind you) that both England and France wouldn't have helped the CSA out if they still kept slaves.

Would the South have been Jim Crowed to hell and back? Sure they would, but I don't think a CSA that lasted until the 21st century would still have slaves.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:14 AM on February 24, 2006


I'm going to quote at length so you can't continue to ignore it:

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

[p25]
For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

[p26]
This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its peace and safety.

[p27]
On the 4th of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.

[p28]
The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.

[p29]
Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the irritation, and all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanctions of a more erroneous religious belief.

[p30]
We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world, as a separate and independent State; with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.

posted by empath at 9:15 AM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


Mayor Curley - Do you believe that the North (as a group, not just individuals) opposed slavery before the Civil War? Is that what they teach in Northern schools? (Because don't forget that one of the first actions after the Northern victory was the institution of federally mandated education -- before that schools were largely independent, and the quality of education was MUCH higher).

nflorin - Really? Tell that to the Northern States that banned freed or escaped slaves from being there. Tell that to the Northern States that had legal slavery. Etc.
posted by glider at 9:16 AM on February 24, 2006


empath - Again, given that the a number of the Northern States had legal slaveholding, we can play this game on both sides of the coin. I'm not denying that slavery was important to the South. I'm saying it's ludicrous to finger it as the cause or purpose of the war.
posted by glider at 9:18 AM on February 24, 2006


Sure, we can all agree that the assumptions made about the nature of blacks at the time was wrong, but that doesn't give us the right to condemn slave owners who didn't know any better. We don't condemn cave people for eating uncooked meat just because they hadn't discovered fire yet, do we?

I don't even know where to start with this ridiculous bullshit.
posted by papakwanz at 9:19 AM on February 24, 2006


robocop, England supported the Confederacy during the Civil War, if my memory serves... They needed the cotton...
posted by WhipSmart at 9:20 AM on February 24, 2006


Ok, just so we're clear, glider, you'r saying that the 'peculiar institution' of slavery had nothing whatsoever to do with the Civil War?

Are you dense?

Seriously?

I hate to be such an ass, but that blows my mind.
posted by geekhorde at 9:21 AM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


From the North's point of view, the 'purpose' of the war was to maintain the union, in other words, to prevent South Carolina and other states from seceding. From the South's point of view AT THE TIME, the purpose of seceding was to protect the institution of slavery.

Anything else is a post-hoc rationalization.
posted by empath at 9:21 AM on February 24, 2006


infowar, I was just being silly. Of course the PKD book had nothing to do with the war of northern aggression.
posted by shoepal at 9:22 AM on February 24, 2006


That trailer (and a lot of the film reviews on rotten tomatoes, written by smug New Yorkers claiming that this film tells us everything we need to know about how the South REALLY is) was annoying.

If the filmmaker is being subtle (I like the device of a COPS-style slave recapturing show), then that's fine. But racism is not a Southern problem, nor is it some kind of Southern cultural contamination or mindset threatening to swallow this country. It's an American problem, one that frankly (having lived in urban and rural areas in both the North and South) I think Southerners handle a hell of a lot better than Northerners.

Racism in the South is something understood, something tangible, something acknowledged as part of the culture that we need to combat. And we have a hell of a lot more black folks than y'all, so white people get to face their own prejudices with their friends, neighbors and fellow churchgoers every day.

Meanwhile, Northerners either pretend that racism doesn't exist in their communities or they ascribe it to some "other", be it neo-nazis or ignorant bigoted rednecks. Meanwhile, they avoid eye contact with every black man they walk past, pretend they're not home when a black teenager rings their doorbell trying to sell candy, and lock their SUV doors when a pimped-out lincoln pulls up next to them outside the confines of their gated community.
posted by xthlc at 9:23 AM on February 24, 2006


"before that schools were largely independent, and the quality of education was MUCH higher"

And what evidence do you have for this assertion?
posted by geekhorde at 9:23 AM on February 24, 2006


Wait, they asking what if the south "won" the war and actually conquered the north? That's absurd they weren't even trying to do that.
posted by delmoi at 9:24 AM on February 24, 2006


robocop, England supported the Confederacy during the Civil War, if my memory serves... They needed the cotton...

Yeah, I think you're right. I think it came down to the aid a fledgling nation like the CSA would need after the war and the recognition it wanted from the European powers that would have impacted its pro-slavery positions. It's one thing for European commerce to turn a blind eye to how cotton is gathered, but it's another for the actual governments to give it a thumbs up.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:24 AM on February 24, 2006


Ditto what empath said.
posted by geekhorde at 9:24 AM on February 24, 2006


Do you believe that the North (as a group, not just individuals) opposed slavery before the Civil War? Is that what they teach in Northern schools? (Because don't forget that one of the first actions after the Northern victory was the institution of federally mandated education -- before that schools were largely independent, and the quality of education was MUCH higher).

They taught us that the causes for the war were complex-- including pressures from humanitarian abolitionists. What they DIDN'T teach us is you assertion that the war was started because the North was some sort of comic book supervillain who started the war just because they were EVIL.

Let me reiterate what I asked you, because you didn't answer it-- did you pull your comically ignorant assertion out of your ass? Or did someone teach it to you in a formal educational setting or what? Because I can cite evidence that

"Then after the war they took what money they could steal from the South, and used it to send the slaves to Liberia, and as the money ran out (most of it was embezzled), to Haiti. So don't pretend the North were friends of the African Slave, because they despised them... They only wanted them freed because they knew it would destabilize the Southern economy and society."

is a lie of someone's construction whether it was yours or the Banjo Boy who taught you 11th grade history.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:24 AM on February 24, 2006


skallas - This is a bit of a side track, but I'd guess that the percentage of Americans who do not make a "living wage" is higher than the number of Slaves in the South...


I don't see too many McDonald's workers like this....
posted by ozomatli at 9:25 AM on February 24, 2006


but that doesn't give us the right to condemn slave owners who didn't know any better

Sure it does.
posted by lodurr at 9:25 AM on February 24, 2006


United States of America?
posted by stumcg at 9:26 AM on February 24, 2006


Damn, Mayor Curley. I don't necessarily agree with anyone's view in this thread, but your belligerence is astounding. Banjo Boy? Good Christ, get real.
posted by lyam at 9:27 AM on February 24, 2006


glider, what is your point? You seem to shift arguments to avoid being pinned down. The only thing that I can see that's consistent between them is that "the North" is demonized.

"The North" was no more monolithic an entity than "the South" at the time -- and I'd argue, a lot less so.

You also seem to think that because the Civil war was "about" economics, it was therefore "not about" slavery. That because there were economic motives, it therefore had nothing to do with slavery. That's very very clearly mistaken.
posted by lodurr at 9:28 AM on February 24, 2006


Yeah, gonna have to back up Mayor Curley here. I've had some remarkably ignorant teachers (at least back in high school) here in the South. I don't think his comment is too far off the mark.
posted by geekhorde at 9:29 AM on February 24, 2006


Yes, the South fought the Civil War for State Rights...that is, the right to have slaves.

The real irony is that secession occurred because of the paranoia of the South. The forty years of conflict between the north and south that began with the Missouri Compromise consisted entirely out of the Southern fear that the North would banish slavery if Free states gained control of Congress. At the outset of the war, the South and Southern sympathizers controlled Congress and the Supreme Court. Any laws passed would have been struck down by the Supreme Court, and any amendments to the Constitution would not have achieved enough support from the states, either.

Prior to South Carolina breaking off, there had been no major efforts in Congress to emancipate the slaves. It was entirely based on the fear that Lincoln would move to do such, even though he never promised such an act.
posted by Atreides at 9:29 AM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


geekhorde - I'm saying that slavery was neither the cause nor the purpose of the Civil War. I'm saying that its later involvement was a strategic decision, not an ethical one.

As to your question on education, let me in addition to DiLorenzo recommend Gatto's book which I think you can read online for free now.

empath - No, the South did NOT secede to protect slavery. As I've reminded you of over and over, the North still had slavery, there were slaveholding states, and the North hated blacks enough that most states banned them from living there as free men.

lodurr - The North is almost singlehandedly responsible for the problems in the US right now, both on a racial/cultural level and in terms of how it interacts with the world... and the Civil War was the turning point that made that possible (especially the destruction of the free press, the free education system, and so on).
posted by glider at 9:30 AM on February 24, 2006


delmoi (et al): The "conquest" is a rhetorical gambit, obviously. This isn't a "real" alternate history any more than 1984 was "real" speculative history. It's intended to do what it's doing here: Promote discussion. (Aside from glider's weak-crypto racist revisionist historical rantings, that is.)
posted by lodurr at 9:32 AM on February 24, 2006


Mayor Curley - Look, I've given references and you're welcome to follow the links if you'd like. Or are you asking for my CV?

Would it make you happier if I I pretended that I went to a US school and got a Northern-approved education and made this argument? "USA! USA! We're #1! USA! USA! We're #1! We ended slavery! We ended war! We brought freedom and peace to the world!"

Mission accomplished!
posted by glider at 9:34 AM on February 24, 2006


So this thread has turned into an analysis of the "cause of the civil war." It's an interesting subject, but it sure isn't going to be settled on the blue. Casaution is a very complex subject, and highly debated, and there is no "right" answer. Sure, slavery had something to do with it. But it's not like the war was fought just on this basis, and you'd be hard pressed to find any historian that made this claim.

As for the movie, I think that as a divergent history sci-fi perspective, it's poorly imagined. But it's so obviously not that, that the movie has to be interperted as what the second commenter said, a surreal satire on racism and the associated "traditional" racist values.
posted by iamck at 9:34 AM on February 24, 2006


To be fair, that's from the chorus. They just couldn't find much else to rhyme with "bravery".
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:11 AM CST on February 24


LOL
*wipes coffee off monitor*

Sometimes I think I'm the only Southerner who isn't a Civil War buff (oh, sorry, "Unholy War of Northern Aggression" buff)

It was about slavery. Even the secondary economic and states rights issues were at their roots about slavery. You can make the argument that Southerners black and white got a raw deal by having our raw materials (produced by slaves) shipped to northern manufacturers, but you're still talking about slavery.

No, I'm not going to supply any documentation for my assertions. I'm sick of having to talk about this for my whole damn life. I'm sick of ddeluded Southern apologists and "Oh if only France had come to our side like they were about to" revisionists and holier-than-thou Yankees who think they have the moral high ground on this issue. This is why I'm not a Civil War (uh, sorry "War Between the States") buff.

Meh. I need more coffee.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:34 AM on February 24, 2006


Those who think the Civil War was *SOLELY* (please read that 18 times) about slavery are as simple minded as those who used their religion to defend the practice to begin with.

Slavery was a big part of the South, yes. It was also present in other parts of the country.

Was the American Revolution about tea?

People keep confusing the fact that the South was, and still is to a great degree, very racist, that that somehow insures that slavery would have continued unchecked forever.

Technology was quickly making slavery an expensive anachronism.

There is no chance, at all, that slavery would have existed to the current day regardless of whether the South won the war, or if it had even happened at all.

Segregation, however, is an entirely different matter... I truly believe the South would still be embracing total Segregation today had the US Government not intervened. (Disclaimer: I am a life-long Southerner).

And the film: meh. It looks amateur and poorly done, regardless of the subject. Looks like it was shot with a home DV camcorder.

ROU_X: I don't doubt at all the "common man" thought the war was about slavery. It was a powerful propaganda tool. Most people STILL believe it was about slavery. But remember what passed for mass communication at the time.

Those in authority, on both sides, knew it had little if anything to do with slavery.

Skallas: your analysis is far to simple. You are forgetting the initial cost of the slaves, their upkeep, and due to bad treatment (duh) their often very short lifespans. To use a very harsh comparison, that is like saying that horse or mule labor is "free". Anyone who has ever cared for work animals can tell you that is far from the case.

Cotton gins, tractors, and conveyer belts would have spelled the demise of the slave field worker, the writing was already on the wall. As technology advanced, people would be willing to pay less and less for slaves, which would have eventually caused the industry to fall into loss, and noone would have been willing to make the boat trip to and from Africa to bring more at a loss.

There is a reason we no longer use either slaves or horses to plow our fields.

The ONLY place the slave could have remained for any length of time was in household duties (i.e. maid, cook, etc). But, those "house slaves" tended to be either elderly field slaves, or the very young or infirm. And this was very rare. Certainly not enough to support an entire industry.

Again, there is no way, under any circumstances except the absence of 100 years of technological advancement, that slavery would still be an institution today.

I get so very tired of people portraying slavery like it was something Southerners participated in for fun. Yes, Southerners were profoundly racist, but so were Northerners of the time. Slavery was an economic institution, not a social one. SEGREGATION was a social institution.

geekhorde: there is a big difference between saying slavery had "nothing whatsoever" to do with the civil war, and, according to the standard Yankee revisionist fantasy, it being SOLELY about slavery.

It was a much, much more complicated issue than that. And I'm a little disappointed in some posters I generally have a good deal of respect for trying to tear it down to a Jr. High History class argument.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:35 AM on February 24, 2006


And why this pile on glider, calling him racist? Talk about kneejerk.
posted by iamck at 9:36 AM on February 24, 2006


Hi, I'm from the South and was educated in Southern schools, and glider doesn't speak for all of us... or, really, anyone but glider.

(Pre-Civil War education was better than today? Puh-leeze.. I'd like to see some kid from the scrub in rural South Carolina in 1850 look at a chemistry experiment that kids from the same part of the state do every day now.)
posted by socratic at 9:37 AM on February 24, 2006


By slavery in the North, do you mean the border states of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri? Or do you mean little ol' Delaware? Otherwise, slavery did not exist elsewhere in the North.
posted by Atreides at 9:37 AM on February 24, 2006


I recommended that a friend of mine, who lives in Memphis, go see this while it was playing there last fall. She and a friend of hers went one evening. They were the only white people in the audience, and the total audience was only about 12 people that evening. When they saw it, in an art house theatre not often frequented by the multiplex crowd, they thought it was an interesting and thought provoking movie, but they wondered why it was test screened in Memphis of all places.

As for the director's view of the movie's topic, here's what Kevin Willmott had to say in an October 2005 interview for Divingin2Memphis.com :

"NH: What effect do you hope this film will have? What is your goal?

KW: Several things. One is that maybe people will finally come to terms with the fact that the Civil War was fought over slavery, and not states’ rights, not economics, not all the things that people kind of like to hide behind. But that the War was fought over slavery, and that slavery is the defining thing in the American experience. It defines all of us. And I think the other thing is to really open up a dialogue to talk about these issues. It’s like the Katrina thing again, you know, America is shocked seeing these people in that condition down there, but we’ve chosen not to look at those people for 20 years now. That’s a choice we’ve made. And so what the film kind of tries to do is to say there’s this other reality going on that no one wants to talk about. And what the film does is kind of strips us all down and says, "Here it is, you’ve gotta deal with it." And it does it in a way, hopefully that’s funny and sad and interesting and entertaining and educational and the whole gamut of things. But nevertheless it hopefully challenges you to think about it, to talk about it."


Interesting that Spike Lee is the guy who got the distribution deal going....
posted by paulsc at 9:38 AM on February 24, 2006


>I'd guess that the percentage of Americans who do not make a "living wage" is higher than the number of Slaves in the South

I think this is getting more than a little disingenious here. The minimum wage comparision you cited earlier is just plain wrong. Now taking the hypothetical ethical approach the slavery == riches ignored the ethical problem of you know, keeping human chattle.

Its another non-sequiter really. Every society has to deal with the poor and poverty. Using this as a criticism for the emancipation is getting a tad out there.

I'm not sure if you're saying that slave economics is the best way to go or just taking at potshot at the north at the time by claiming that slaves were living better and had a superior lifestyle. This clearly ignores the day-to-day life of a slave. Sure room and board and a steady job are good but the beatings, lack of civil rights, lack of proper authorities to apply for redress, etc are real issues.

If you are saying slave economics are superior, well, from what I've read (ignoring the ethics) its not scalable past the simple agrarian model.

Arguably, one of the prices of liberation is the lack of protections. I think there are some compelling arguments about the safety and security of, say, the old feudal systems, but quality of life issues are worth more than gold it seems. There's a worldwide acceptance of the fact that slaves/serfs systems are wrong, immortal, and unjust regardless of the intentions of the people involves.

For instance, 40's Tibet was actually ruled by the current Dalai Lama. It was a feudal system bordering on a slave state. The people's revolution didn't take too kindly to that. But its interesting to note that the man who was once god-king and knows first-hand what Tibet was truly like pre-invasion sings the song of democracy and open markets, not the revival of the feudal system where peasants worked long and hard and monks collected "taxes," controlled commerce, banks, and their little military. Cynical pandering to westerners? Perhaps. But the last wealthy and all-powerful feudal lord, the Dalai Lama, even knows the old systems were shit.

So yes, the seperation of powers and individualism can lead to less job security. It can lead to poverty. Hell, I'll even assume that in some magical sci-fi world in which the south won and formalized a slave economy there was no poverty, but its still slavery. And Slavery will always come with the hard fist of oppression. (note: I would argue that any slave economy would fail as oppression and ill-education leads to stagnation and non-slave states with free people going to university would clean their clocks with new tech, methods, etc bound with their motivation to do better than slave-level poverty)

You could also make this argument about the old monarch system or the cliched "Hey, Mussolini was a bad guy, but at least he made the trains run on time." Or "Pinochet was a heartless murderer, but Chile's ecomony went up while he was in control." Or for our conservative friends circa 1985 "Saddam is a bad guy but we need him" and circa today "Iraq is a bad place, but we need oil."
posted by skallas at 9:39 AM on February 24, 2006


Glider: This Northerner would like to apologize for my government thrusting civil rights onto your black people. We ruined it for you I'm sure.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 9:39 AM on February 24, 2006


I grew up in Georgia. My ancestors owned slaves and my grandfather, even into the 20th century, had black sharecroppers who were pretty much the same as slaves, practically, if not legally. My Dad tells of times when his Dad used to send him out to the sharecroppers with a razor strop to "go whip the niggers" because they weren't working hard enough.

I was taught in school - especially in 8th grade History class - the kind of doctrine that glider is repeating here.

It was only years after I moved out of the South and encountered people who thought my take on things was horse-hockey that I started to question and really research what the South, itself, said was the real motivation for secession back when they were doing it.

It's been said upthread, but just to emphasize: the South, for the most part, was dependent upon slavery because of their agriculture-based economy. Yes, this was an economic issue. And the South was upset that the North wanted to abolish slavery, which would infringe on Southern self-determination. So, yes, this was also a state's rights issue. And they were concerned that their valuable assets, which was very valuable, might suddently be taken from them. So yes, it was also a personal property issue.

But all of these are adjunctive to the core issue which was that the South wanted to remain slaveholding and the "non slaveholding states" wanted to abolish slavery. They themselves stated this clearly, emphatically and repeatedly.

The issue IS complex, but there are some core truths that really can't be avoided.
posted by darkstar at 9:39 AM on February 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


Oh, and, the Civil War was indeed motivated by a complicated set of interlocking issues, but the South was on the wrong side of pretty much all of them, so, as much as I love my home region, I'm baffled that people still take pride in what we did, both to black Americans and to the Union.
posted by socratic at 9:39 AM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


BitterOldPunk, of course in your post you've reminded us that the North was profitting from slavery and their economy was also tied to slavery*... It's the same game as is being played now: The Northern/US government (today) still offshores slavery and profits from it, while simultaneously denouncing it.

* And thus the war was not ABOUT slavery.
posted by glider at 9:40 AM on February 24, 2006


So, glider, are you saying it was a BAD THING that all those slaves got freed? Is that another BAD THING we can lay at the feet of TEH NORTH? (Oh, right, I forgot: Since "they didn't mean to", it doesn't matter that the North freed slaves. It's a morality of intentions: The South MEANT WELL, so they are forgiven; the North MEANT EVIL, so they are to be condemned.)

Anyway, I must say, you do have one of the most mind-bogglingly simplistic views of history that I've evern encontered in someone who was capable of forming complete sentences. Has it occurred to you that most of those BAD THINGS you blame on THE EVIL NORTH happened after the war, and are the product of actions taken by the entire country? Or that the South was dominated for over a hundred years by the Democratic Party -- the party that backed "the South" prior to the war, and opposed Reconstruction? Or that we've had four Presidents who self-identified as Southerners during the last 50 years? (OK, three if we limit it to actual southerners...) Or that the Congressional leadership has been disproportionately southern?

That, in short, we have acted as a nation in the past 140 years, and not as "THE NORTH"?

(Why am I wasting my time? You're a preacher for a cause. The zealous version of a troll. There's abotu as much chance of you actually getting any of this as there is of G. W. Bush admitting he was wrong about Iraq.)
posted by lodurr at 9:41 AM on February 24, 2006


Yes, the South fought the Civil War for State Rights...that is, the right to have slaves.

I think this is a good point, but there are two ways to read it and one of them is correct, in my opinion.

The South had a general complaint about the North, the location and uses of power of the government, and the limitation of their own state sovereignty. The particular manifestation or emblematic issue that crystallized that debate was the issue of slaves. In that regard, I think your comment is correct. The issue was state rights, but the most emblematic example of that was the issue of slaves.

If you were suggesting the reading was that the issue was slavery, and it was couched in states rights, what you are saying was that states rights weren't important. That is, if slavery was not at issue, but state sovereignty was being limited in other ways, then the Confederacy wouldn't have cared. I think that explanation is historically inapposite.

Think of analogous situation now: the wiretaps. Now what is the issue here? Assuming a civil war broke out over the topic, what would be the motivation? I submit that the issue would be a right to privacy, but it would clearly be couched in terms of the wiretapping as a particular manifestation of the general concern. But even if the government ended the particular policy, the general concern would still be there.
posted by dios at 9:42 AM on February 24, 2006


DieHipsterDie - Yankee fantasies much?

Anyway, I'm not a Southerner.
posted by glider at 9:42 AM on February 24, 2006


What's the hell's wrong with you, glider?
posted by DieHipsterDie at 9:42 AM on February 24, 2006


>Yes, the South fought the Civil War for State Rights...that is, the right to have slaves.

Zing!
posted by skallas at 9:43 AM on February 24, 2006


lodurr - Obviously I am not a supporter of slavery.

But the North keeping their own slaves and freeing only the slaves of rebels? And then creating a racial nightmare after the war? That did more to set back the causes of freedom and civil rights than letting the issue resolve like it did across Europe and Canada.
posted by glider at 9:44 AM on February 24, 2006


but your belligerence is astounding. Banjo Boy? Good Christ, get real.

My belligerence should not be appalling-- southern apologists are revolting creatures. They're the lowest form of human life after Holocaust deniers. Slavery was a disgusting institution and the South was practicing it. Any attempt to paint the position of the north as untenable is a little crime against humanity. Whatever motivation you want to ascribe to the North, the fact remains that the South was keeping human beings as physical property and the North gave up thousands of its sons in order to win a conflict that reversed that situation.

So someone from a notoriously ignorant corner of the world spouts some more ignorance, I reserve the right to paint that ignorance with the broadest stroke possible. Glider STILL hasn't told us where he gets his alternative history from. I suspect now that he wishes he hadn't presented it in the first place.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:44 AM on February 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


Racial nightmare? WTF was slavery? A daydream?
posted by socratic at 9:45 AM on February 24, 2006


at this point I'm afraid to ask glider's opinion on the Holocaust
posted by matteo at 9:46 AM on February 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


(er, directed at glider@12:44)
posted by socratic at 9:46 AM on February 24, 2006


DieHipsterDie: "What's the hell's wrong with you, glider?"

Sorry for not being willing to repeat the propaganda. You can easily look up the claims I've made for yourself. You want to kid yourself and believe that America won WWII, and that the North fought the South to free the slaves, and all the rest of the false modern mythology that's taught in the Yankee school system, that's fine, and if you want to yell at anyone who won't blindly repeat, that's your right, but you really should go check what I'm saying rather than just assuming that what you were trained to believe is factually accurate.
posted by glider at 9:46 AM on February 24, 2006


The North is almost singlehandedly responsible for the problems in the US right now, both on a racial/cultural level and in terms of how it interacts with the world

it's that damn yankee george bush ... and his carpetbagger republican supporters who are only pretending to be southern

you've blown what little credibility you've had with that statement
posted by pyramid termite at 9:46 AM on February 24, 2006


Look, I've given references and you're welcome to follow the links if you'd like.

You certainly did not tell me where you got :

"Then after the war they took what money they could steal from the South, and used it to send the slaves to Liberia, and as the money ran out (most of it was embezzled), to Haiti. So don't pretend the North were friends of the African Slave, because they despised them... They only wanted them freed because they knew it would destabilize the Southern economy and society."
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:47 AM on February 24, 2006


By the way, just to clarify my own upbringing: Born in the Confederate capital of Richmond, had at least four direct ancestors who fought for the Confederacy, and raised nearly my entire life in Virginia. So as others have pointed out, they don't necessarily still teach the Lost Cause in all schools south of the Mason-Dixon.
posted by Atreides at 9:47 AM on February 24, 2006


>But the North keeping their own slaves and freeing only the slaves of rebels?

Hello idealism. This is the real world calling.

You can nitpick the hypocrisy and poor implementations of any social or political change, but that doesn't lead to the fact that the change itself was wrong or someone else could have done a better job at the time with the current political pressures.
posted by skallas at 9:47 AM on February 24, 2006


Let me clarify that last statement by saying: the South wanted to remain slaveholding and viewed the "non slaveholding states" as a threat to that, so seceded. The North wanted to prevent them from seceding, primarily, with the abolitionist emphasis growing over time.
posted by darkstar at 9:47 AM on February 24, 2006


Mayor Curley - Why do you keep saying that I haven't told you where I get this information from when I've repeatedly link to it? It's a matter of public record.
posted by glider at 9:48 AM on February 24, 2006


Mayor Curley - That is discussed in detail by DiLorenzo.
posted by glider at 9:49 AM on February 24, 2006


Mayor, you're right. Slavery was and is an appalling institution. But, I disagree with your generalizations based upon my personal experiences living both in the North and the South. Responding to ignorance with belligerence only serves to paint you with the broadest brush.

Anyway, I don't want to be considered a glider apologist (haha) but he did in fact, mention the source for his reasoning. And it wasn't Ned Beatty.
posted by lyam at 9:50 AM on February 24, 2006


skallas, you say "that doesn't lead to the fact that the change itself was wrong or someone else could have done a better job at the time with the current political pressures"

Are you suggesting that the US handled slavery and race issues better than all the other countries?
posted by glider at 9:50 AM on February 24, 2006


>Sorry for not being willing to repeat the propaganda.

I honestly feel sorry for you if what you think you've been posting isn't a perfect example of propaganda. Dunno, man, you're entitled to your beliefs but some of your claims are outright false and much of your reasoning isn't convincing. I know Civil War conspiracy theories (like aliens, or the fake moon landing) is appealing to some, but to paint the other side (which is most of the western world) as taking part of some big propaganda campaign is really pushing it to the point of insult and idiocy.
posted by skallas at 9:50 AM on February 24, 2006


You want to kid yourself and believe that America won WWII...

I can't speak to the rest of his statement, but glider is correct that the U.S. did not win WW2 like a white knight charging in at the last moment. Contrary to popular belief.
posted by illiad at 9:51 AM on February 24, 2006


I guess discussing the cause of the civil war is like criticizing Israeli - try to have a reasoned analysis = racist!
posted by iamck at 9:51 AM on February 24, 2006


Ynoxas:

You wrote: "Slavery was an economic institution, not a social one. SEGREGATION was a social institution."

Any economic institution that controls human beings, strips them of their dignity and self-determination, and holds them to be subhuman, IS a social institution. To pretend otherwise is idiotic.

And as far as slavery being the cause of the Civil War, of course it was. Don't be dense. It's not the proximate cause. It's THE cause. The North (or at least the highly influential abolitionist movements) were against it, and the South wanted to keep it. So the South seceded to protect their institution of slavery. It's really simple. The North decided to protect the Union. What's not to understand?
posted by geekhorde at 9:51 AM on February 24, 2006


ynoxas: Slavery was an economic institution, not a social one.

Economic institutions are social institutions.

Also, you're chasing a straw man: Nobody in this thread (at least, as far as I can see) is saying it's "all about" slavery. Many people are saying that it all traces back to slavery, and that at the time, a lot of people thought it was "all about" slavery. Not the same thing -- "simplistic", as you might say.

As has been said (probably more than once) up-thread: Historical cause is a sticky mess. It remains true, though, that the war would not have been fought but for the institution of slavery.

(Oh, and: By the time of the war, slave trading had been illegal in the US for something like 20 years. I believe there was still some in-hemisphere trading, but nobody was bringing Africans to the US as slaves, anymore.)
posted by lodurr at 9:52 AM on February 24, 2006


Slavery was a disgusting institution and the South was practicing it. Any attempt to paint the position of the north as untenable is a little crime against humanity. Whatever motivation you want to ascribe to the North, the fact remains that the South was keeping human beings as physical property and the North gave up thousands of its sons in order to win a conflict that reversed that situation.

This point needs to be repeated.
posted by Chrischris at 9:53 AM on February 24, 2006


So glider's source is some book that is essentially a KKK revisionist propaganda screed? Read the Amazon reviews - all the positive ones are obviously by people with Stars & Bars stickers on their SUVs.

You are all debating a troll.
posted by MaxVonCretin at 9:54 AM on February 24, 2006


>Are you suggesting that the US handled slavery and race issues better than all the other countries?

No, what I am saying is that when your claims are exposed as being false, or disingenious, or outright crazy you fall back to nitpicking on unrelated subjects (examine your non-sequiters you have more than a few). You keep getting cornered and so you pull an "idealized version vs the real version" of events with a touch of bullshit (haitian destabilition campaign!?!?) as a rhetorical crutch, which I'm sure is very convicing to you, but to me shows a desperate person with a desperate point to make which he cannot properly defend.
posted by skallas at 9:54 AM on February 24, 2006


skallas - Saying that slavery is not the cause of the Civil War is very different from holocause denial, moon landing denial, and so on...!
posted by glider at 9:54 AM on February 24, 2006


I really think it is unfortunate that some of you are arguing over who's hands the blood of racism was spilled. The answer is that over all of ours. It is foolish to argue that the South was a bunch of racist slave-lovers and the North was the paradigm of racial tolerance and equality. Clearly that is not the case.

Since the time of the formation of the Constitution, it was well known that slavery was a dying evil. It was seen as a necessary evil, but one that would die out and cease to exist at some point. As the North became less reliant upon agriculture, the utility of slavery reached the point of not being useful enough to overlook the problems of it. Every indication is that, left to its own devices, slavery would have dissolved in the South, as well. The only real difference is that the North reached that point much sooner than the South did.

But that isn't to say Northerners were racial egalitarians. The noble Thomas Jefferson is a good example of this. Thomas Jefferson firmly stated his belief that the races could not co-exist. His idea was to expatriate blacks to the Caribbean or Africa. For many of the "enlightened" abolishionists, the issue was not free slaves so they can be equal to the slave-owning class. The issue was free the slaves from slavery and expatriate them to another country. That seems significantly less noble than the typical egalitarian perspective that people try to counterpose with the rhetoric about the slave-loving South.

Every civilization has had slavery. We got rid of it and are moving beyond it. Trying to beat ourselves over the back or accuse others for the past is not a very good way to move forward. We must remember the past. We most recognize the idea of what was wrong about the institution. But trying to continue to place blame is, quite simply, wrong.
posted by dios at 9:54 AM on February 24, 2006


What's not to understand?

Oh, I dunno, just about every historian, every political analysis, the fact the governments don't make decisions based on "morality", and that things might be just a little more complex then your nationalistic northern myth that warms your little heart and makes you feel better about your country's racist legacy.
posted by iamck at 9:54 AM on February 24, 2006


skalls - How other countries handled slavery is not some imaginary or idealized version. I realize that other countries sometimes seem imaginary to the US, but they really do exist and they really do occasionally do things better. The fact is that many nations had slavery and figured out how to peacefully get rid of the institution, and how to roll in civil rights.

And the fact is that very few nations have had the racial turmoil that the US has, and that can be traced back to the Civil War and the drama it created around the issue.

If you want to pretend I'm fabricating this, fine.
posted by glider at 9:56 AM on February 24, 2006


Please help a non-USAian out here. I was told time and time again that the American Civil War (aka War of Northern Aggression aka War of Southern Secession) was ultimately about the South wanting to govern itself and telling the North could go shove their Union up their bung. Slavery was simply one of those things that the South wanted to have within its own governance.

Now I'm seeing people insist that slavery was the key reason. I'm confused. Are there, like, books I could read arguing both sides of the story?
posted by illiad at 9:57 AM on February 24, 2006


Lodurr, international slave trading (importation of slaves) was banned in 1808, but internal slave trading continued up to and through the Civil War. So not twenty years, fifty-two.
posted by Atreides at 9:58 AM on February 24, 2006


The Southern Strategy: the South did win the political war.

Glider: Were it not for the southern strategy, and that GWB started both campaigns at Bob Jones University, I might have believed you.
posted by Freen at 9:58 AM on February 24, 2006


This is the one I read.
posted by iamck at 9:58 AM on February 24, 2006


You want to kid yourself and believe that America won WWII..

Wha?

Are you suggesting we lost?

Then what was all that surrendering about?
posted by bshort at 9:58 AM on February 24, 2006


iamck: No one called anybody racist in this thread that I can see.
posted by empath at 9:59 AM on February 24, 2006


“I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. I … am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary.”
- Abraham Lincoln

“If I could save the union without freeing any slave, I would do it.”
- Abraham Lincoln
posted by glider at 10:00 AM on February 24, 2006


And the fact is that very few nations have had the racial turmoil that the US has, and that can be traced back to the Civil War and the drama it created around the issue.

Are you SERIOUSLY claiming that racial problems in this country STARTED with the civil war?
posted by empath at 10:00 AM on February 24, 2006


empath - Actually, lodurr called me a racist.
posted by glider at 10:01 AM on February 24, 2006


bshort: I glider's assertion is that, contrary to popular (American) belief, the U.S. was not solely instrumental in winning WW2.

There's that matter of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Front.
posted by illiad at 10:01 AM on February 24, 2006


empath - Did they start with the civil war? Of course not. But did their path get turned in the wrong direction by the civil war? Absolutely yes.
posted by glider at 10:01 AM on February 24, 2006


glider: well, for the record, I don't think you're racist, just tragically ignorant.
posted by empath at 10:01 AM on February 24, 2006


(pssst, glider's Canadian, so no need to hurl that redneck Southerner stereotype his way, eh?)
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:02 AM on February 24, 2006


Get turned in the wrong direction from the perspective of who? Surely not from the perspective of slaves.
posted by empath at 10:03 AM on February 24, 2006


glider: I am not a southerner

No, but what he is is kind of interesting:
Shannon Larratt, descended from dishonored German aristocracy (stripped of its titles after political disputes), brother of a world arm wrestling champion, and son of a CSIS agent and TV news anchor, was recently exiled from his homeland after threat of prosecution for "morally endangering youth" and production of "extreme pornography with no redeeming artistic value".
(I especially like the bit about the dishonoured aristocracy...)
posted by lodurr at 10:03 AM on February 24, 2006


Thanks, iamck. I'll go check it out.
posted by illiad at 10:03 AM on February 24, 2006


Ok, let me draw out a hypothetical to illustrate. Hypothetical Country Alpha is split in two regions, Alpha A and Alpha B. In region Alpha B they make cucumbers into pickles. There are those in region Alpha A that find this morally reprehensible, and attempt to outlaw the making of pickles. Those in Alpha B see this as an attack on their regional self determination, and attempt to secede from Country Alpha. Alpha A attacks them to preserve the union of Country Alpha.

So it's not all about pickles? I'd argue that pickles lie at the heart of the matter.
posted by geekhorde at 10:04 AM on February 24, 2006


Glider, I said you were engaging in "weak-crypto racism". So, yes, if saying that you engage in crypto-racism is calling you a racist, then that's what I did.

But I don't think your primary motivation is racial hatred. I think you have some much deeper and nastier stuff going on in that tattooed skull of your.
posted by lodurr at 10:06 AM on February 24, 2006


Oh, sorry, glider's Canadian?

Not really interested in what he has to say anymore, then. It's like me discoursing on Australian history. Doesn't really matter much, does it?
posted by geekhorde at 10:06 AM on February 24, 2006


geekhorde: there's already enough nastiness in this thread, let's not fan the flames. I think what I wrote was quite well reasoned and sufficiently genteel. I am not an idiot, and my argument is not idiotic. You may disagree, but you'd be wrong.

What's not to understand is the pivotal event of our nation being a little more complicated than SLAVERY SLAVERY RACISTS REDNECKS SLAVERY RACISTS REDNECKS SLAVERY SLAVERY SLAVERY.

lodurr: you're hardly keeping up. At least 1/2 the statements I am reading are in fact saying it was SOLELY about slavery. Solely. Completely. Totally. Nothing else. No other issue.

This is a much more ignorant position, shamefully so, than this weird tangent glider is off on.

And I simply don't have the fortitude today to get into the North's treatment of the newly freed slaves after the war.

So in short, slavery was awful, terrible, indefensible. But it was also dying, becoming an economic infeasibility, and was certainly not the sole cause of the Civil War, regardless of what Mrs. Jones told you in PS 231.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:07 AM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


geekhorde - The problem with your analogy is that in the real world, Region Alpha A did not feel that it was morally reprehensible and kept it legal there... They only made it illegal in Region Alpha B.
posted by glider at 10:07 AM on February 24, 2006


Illiad,

You might try James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, its a standard text for Civil War history.

As well as his For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War.
posted by Atreides at 10:08 AM on February 24, 2006


yo glider post a pic of ur car that'll show em
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:08 AM on February 24, 2006


...kid yourself and believe that America won WWII

I agree and am intrigued by your ideas. Is there a newsletter I can subscribe to?

As I too will not sit here and allow the Communist Northern Conspiracy to sap and impurify my precious bodily fluids bullshit belief system.

My god Mandrake, they are fluoridating Liberalizing children's ice cream Education. Ice CREAM EDUCATION!
posted by tkchrist at 10:08 AM on February 24, 2006


glider - there are times when one has to look at what is DONE, not what is actually said

fact - the slaves WERE freed after the war

fact - the north turned out to be unwilling to carry out a program of reconstruction that would have actually given the former slaves political equality

fact - people enter wars for varying reasons ... some, because the government tells them to ... some, because they believed they were on a crusade to eliminate slavery (or to preserve it) ... some, because they were defending their part of the country ... or, their "right" to secede, or the union ... some, because they want to be heroes and "men"

when it's all over, one has to look at the results to know the truth ... "intentions" are often a disengenuous way of disowning results ... again, look at what was DONE, not what was said
posted by pyramid termite at 10:09 AM on February 24, 2006


Troll.
posted by geekhorde at 10:09 AM on February 24, 2006


So it's not all about pickles? I'd argue that pickles lie at the heart of the matter.

Where's a logician when we need one?

You might be right, but I wonder if pickles aren't merely a focal point of a larger concern, that of self-governance. Pickling would be a practice, whereas self-governance is a concept. I think most wars are ostensibly about concepts. You know, like drugs and terror.
posted by illiad at 10:10 AM on February 24, 2006


But it was also dying, becoming an economic infeasibility, and was certainly not the sole cause of the Civil War

Very few would dispute that. But glider is on another planet from that particular line of reasoning/fact.
posted by tkchrist at 10:10 AM on February 24, 2006


Oh, and even if you were right, and there were moral hypocrites in the North (I'm sure there were), that doesn't mean that slavery wasn't the ultimate and final reason for the Civil War.
posted by geekhorde at 10:12 AM on February 24, 2006


ynoxas, I am keeping up. I'm just reading them differently. I think you've got some filters on your parser that you ought to adjust, and reparse.
posted by lodurr at 10:12 AM on February 24, 2006


So if Alpha B wins the war and becomes Country Beta, it still needs the help of other nations and institutions to get back on its feet. It turns to Countries Gamma and Delta for aid. Gamma and Delta recognize that Beta exists and is willing to ally with them in case Alpha decides to attack again. However, both Gamma and Delta are not too keen on the whole pickle thing themselves and tell Beta that they'd be able to help out more if Beta chose to stop the pickling. Not wishing to have sacrificed its youth, infrastructure, and economy in order to limp on as a third world nation, Beta begins the process of phasing out pickling.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:12 AM on February 24, 2006


Very few would dispute that. But glider is on another planet from that particular line of reasoning/fact.

Um... That statement (the one you quote) is in agreement with what I'm saying...?
posted by glider at 10:12 AM on February 24, 2006


I'll bet you guys didn't know that glider was a member of a slave reenactment society. See, it's an opportunity for whites to finally see how awesome it was to be a slave. They dress in age-appropriate rags, and dine on only the finest gruel and chucks of gristle. There's a daily lashing as well. It's a blast!

As for slavery dying out eventually--sure, I'm a Hegelian, it would have. But it sure lasted a hell of a long time in the US, longer than any other Western society IIRC. Because all southerners are sociopaths? No. Because the lilly-white motivations of the northern industrialists were all benevolent and pro-abolition? No. But for a combination of economic and yes, racist factors. So nobody's perfect. But c'mon--given the attrocities committed against the minds and bodies of slaves, please don't equate northern cynicism with what the south actually did. The greatest tragedy of American history is the suffering inflicted on blacks. The second, IMHO, is the fact that the land- and slave-owning class of the south, a small minority, managed to inculcate a lot of bullshit about southern pride and values on the white working class, and managed to get hundreds of thousands of them killed for a useless, outdated, and illogical idea.

The "heat" here could stand to be turned down, but I generally agree with Major Curley--Civil War revisionists like glider are basically Holocaust deniers and deserve to be treated as such. (We'll never know how many humans died or were murdered in the Middle Passage, but it was easily over six million, but it also took place over centuries. It's hard to quantify crimes against humanity.)

And a smaller point--Whitney's cotton gin was not the death-knell of slavery! Just the opposite, it increased the American and European hunger for King Cotton! Pay attention in high school, people!
posted by bardic at 10:13 AM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


glider,
What country handled slavery better than the U.S.?
As far as I know, African-Americans have the highest standard of living of any group blacks in the world.
posted by matkline at 10:14 AM on February 24, 2006


geekhorde - When the civil war started, slavery was legal in the north and several northern states were officially slaveholder states. During the civil war the slaves freed were the ones from the south. "Loyal" union slavehodlers could keep their slaves. In addition, the north passed laws banning freed slaves from living there.

Why is it so hard to see that slavery was introduced to this debate for strategic reasons, not moral ones?
posted by glider at 10:14 AM on February 24, 2006


matkline - I'm sorry, is that a sarcastic post or are you really serious?

bardic - Getting past the knee-jerk reaction for a moment, please explain how my posts are racist or similar to holocaust denial?
posted by glider at 10:16 AM on February 24, 2006


Little known fact, British North America (Canada) and the British Empire supported the South but were not officially involved.

One of the major reasons that Canada was formed, is that the British North American colonies feared a backlash from the already mobilized Northern armies.
posted by Deep Dish at 10:16 AM on February 24, 2006


Maybe the problem was there from the beginning. To preserve our nascent union at the beginning, during our war against the English, we had to agree to disagree about the issue, and let it be. It wasn't until the US was relatively safe from outside interference that the problem came to a head.

Ok, don't think it was about slavery? Whatever. Then it was about PRESERVING THE UNION AT ALL COSTS.

If you read the Constitution very carefully, there is no way legally for a state to secede from the Union. I find this at least as compelling a proximate reason as the ones put forth by Southern apologists.
posted by geekhorde at 10:16 AM on February 24, 2006


bardic, re. the Gin: It's a dessert topping and a floor wax. It increased our hunger to such a point that the slave system would have broken under pressure to meet the need. It was like taking amphetamines to get more work done; eventually, your system breaks down and you die. If you go on long enough.
posted by lodurr at 10:17 AM on February 24, 2006


Glider was the one who said:

The Civil war had nothing to do with slavery -- it was about commerce and unequal taxation.

That's a pretty audacious opening shot.

First of all, slavery was a huge part of "commerce" in the pre-Civil-War South. Second, what ROU_Xenophobe said: the seceding Southern states explicitly named slavery as one of the major reasons they were seceding.

Yes, the war was about "state's rights"... the chief "state's right" being the right to preserve slavery.

What Glider said -- "The Civl War had nothing to do with slavery" -- is absurd.

He may not like the response he's getting. But he started the fight. I have little patience for those who start fights and then complain about being victims.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:18 AM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


geekhorde - I strongly disagree with you that seccession was illegal under the Constitution of the time.
posted by glider at 10:18 AM on February 24, 2006


Slavery wasn't 'introduced to the debate.' Slavery WAS the DEBATE. It's what the states were debating about since the beginning of the Union. Did the two sides try to win political coup over each other, engage in propaganda? Of course. That always happens in debates, and moreso in War.
posted by geekhorde at 10:18 AM on February 24, 2006


(And BTW, Thomas Jefferson was a Virginian. And BTW, it's possible to make the right decision for wrong reasons, e.g., no one has argued that Lincoln was a life-long friend of the slaves nor an abolitionist at heart. It's just that after the slaughter at Antietam (Sharpsburg if you prefer), the states' rights issues and the slave issues were no longer seperable. And I'd still love to hear more about these "Northern slaves," beyond the border states like Maryland--there's nothing new to this argument. It happened, and it was horrible, and America is still paying a price for its economic dependence on an inhuman practice--the South and its revisionist defenders especially so.)
posted by bardic at 10:19 AM on February 24, 2006


Of course you do.

Show me.
posted by geekhorde at 10:19 AM on February 24, 2006


Why is it so hard to see that slavery was introduced to this debate for strategic reasons, not moral ones?

By "this", I assume you mean the debate about whether to go to war in 1860.

If that's the case, and since "the South" was as responsible for introducing it into the debate as was "the North", then... what was your point, again? Oh, right: It's all the fault of "the North".

Is it a coincidence that the myth of the ante-bellum south is one of the greatest Libertarian jerk-fantasies of the last 50 years?
posted by lodurr at 10:21 AM on February 24, 2006


geekhorder - 1. Slavery was NOT the debate; if it was, why did the North only ban slavery in the South while keeping it legal for themselves?

2. Re: Seccession
The US declaration of indepence was an act of seccession. The US is built on the concept that seccession was essential from time to time.
posted by glider at 10:21 AM on February 24, 2006


glider
I'm dead serious.
posted by matkline at 10:21 AM on February 24, 2006


lodurr - No, not to go "into" war. Slavery was only loudly injected far after the war was started.
posted by glider at 10:22 AM on February 24, 2006


matkline - You are seriously saying that blacks in America are better off than blacks in other Western nations? I am having trouble understanding how someone could make that claim and not be either grossly uninformed or trolling...
posted by glider at 10:23 AM on February 24, 2006


Glider,
I think I might see what you're trying to say, if not completely agree with it. The Emancipation Proclaimation was a strategic maneuver to moralize the war. It went from just being a war to preserve the Union, to a war to end slavery as well.

That does not, however, negate the fact that the institution of slavery was a primary cause of the war. Before Lincoln's proclaimation, there were Northerners who saw the war as a chance to end slavery, and men who enlisted to fight to do so.

I would also disagree about the blatant use of "northern" states. Only one state, Deleware, was a slave state at the outset of the war. The border states were neither fully southern, nor fully Northern. Each border state had military units that fought for each side of the conflict. Several states, Kentucky and Missouri, even had dual governments, one pro-Union, and one Pro-Confederate.
posted by Atreides at 10:23 AM on February 24, 2006


glider - 13th Amendment, Dec. 6, 1865 - Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

(emphasis added)

Why do I bother?
posted by socratic at 10:23 AM on February 24, 2006


What about the documentary evidence to the contrary, glider? Such as the articles of secession?
posted by lodurr at 10:24 AM on February 24, 2006


What percentage of blacks in America live under the poverty line?
What percentage of blacks in America are in prison?
What percentage of blacks in America have the right to vote?
Etc.
posted by glider at 10:24 AM on February 24, 2006


But that isn't to say Northerners were racial egalitarians. The noble Thomas Jefferson is a good example of this. Thomas Jefferson firmly stated his belief that the races could not co-exist. His idea was to expatriate blacks to the Caribbean or Africa. For many of the "enlightened" abolishionists, the issue was not free slaves so they can be equal to the slave-owning class. The issue was free the slaves from slavery and expatriate them to another country. That seems significantly less noble than the typical egalitarian perspective that people try to counterpose with the rhetoric about the slave-loving South.

Thomas Jefferson....from Virginia? A northerner?
posted by LionIndex at 10:24 AM on February 24, 2006


Er, I thought that Lincoln didn't free the slaves in any Union locale because he didn't want to create more Confederates? Or is it because he lacked the authority to do so without a Constitutional amendment?

So after the war's over and the dust is settled, the 13th gets passed two years later and slavery is illegal all over. Those Union border areas that had slaves had to know that the jig would be up soon (which kinda answers my first question, I guess) when the EP first showed up in '63.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:25 AM on February 24, 2006


socratic - Oh, I'm sorry, I was unaware of the Civil War starting at the end of 1865.
posted by glider at 10:25 AM on February 24, 2006


And I'd still love to hear more about these "Northern slaves," beyond the border states like Maryland

What, all 46 of them? Well, here you go.
posted by Chrischris at 10:26 AM on February 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


glider, as a Canadian, you might be unaware that the Declaration of Independence is not a foundational document of American governance. It's the equivalent of articles of secession; it says nothing at all about what is or is not lawful in the English colonies in North America.
posted by lodurr at 10:26 AM on February 24, 2006


lodurr, I understand that. I'm referencing it to underscore the political leanings that wrote the early documents.
posted by glider at 10:28 AM on February 24, 2006


What percentage of blacks in America live under the poverty line?
What percentage of blacks in America are in prison?
What percentage of blacks in America have the right to vote?
Etc.


I'm sorry, I was unaware that modern population statistics were the cause of the Civil War.
posted by lodurr at 10:28 AM on February 24, 2006


glider said, "why did the North only ban slavery in the South while keeping it legal for themselves?"

Civil War beings, April 1861

Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863

13th Amendment proposed, January 31, 1865

13th Amendment ratified, Dec. 6, 1865

I'm not sure what your point was about the beginning of the war.
posted by socratic at 10:28 AM on February 24, 2006


lodurr, point taken--but it's hard to argue against the hypothetical that "slavery was on the brink of disappearing." I can appreciate the argument, but I think it's completely bullshit. From a Marxist perspective, sure--it was part of an outdated economic system that couldn't begin to compete with northern industry. But there was a cultural resonance as well--it blows me away that poor, white, working class southerners would fight and die for their wealthy, land- and slave-owning minority class--they were brainwashed into thinking that their way of life, based on abject human cruelty, was something to be celebrated rather than destroyed and remade.

glider, you're saying, among other bullshit, that slaves were better off under slavery. Yes, I equate that with the type of unthinking racism that defines many Holocaust deniers. Look, the south lost not because the north was morally perfect and unimpeachable, but because the south was based on an economic system and a set of ideas that were inherently racist and inhuman, but also, quite simply, illogical. You lost, get it? So did the Nazis. So did the Tyrannosaurus. Try modernity some time, you might like it.
posted by bardic at 10:28 AM on February 24, 2006


No, the UNITED States secession from England was one event, and clearly meant to be that. A UNITED States of America was formed, and was clearly meant to be that. There is no provision within the Constitution for the dissolving of that Union.

Seriously, have you even read any history texts? The debate between the North and the South was all about the slavery issue. It's why things almost came to blows twice before, but was averted by the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise of 1850.

The real reason that the Civil War happened when it did is that it was no longer possible to compromise on the issue, as far as political power is concerned. The South wanted protections for their way of life, but the rise of modernity clearly spelled the end of that, sooner or later.

Anyway, I have no more time to debate. Must go to work. Wage slave and all that.
posted by geekhorde at 10:28 AM on February 24, 2006


glider: No, actually, you weren't. You were citing it as justification for the lawfulness of secession. It has no bearing, there.
posted by lodurr at 10:29 AM on February 24, 2006


I'm a southerner, no longer living in the South, and while southern apologists are undeniably common, and are certainly on the same moral level as holocaust deniers, there are a couple of things worth saying...

1) All wars are about economics. Everything else is to motivate the common man to fight. In this case, economics and slavery were intimately mixed. Has the economics of the South and the North been identical, the freeing of slaves in America would have come much later.

2) America is a racist nation. If you don't believe this, you are out of touch. Too often the south (which has twice the percentage of blacks as the USA as a whole) is used as a whipping boy for this fact.

The south was fucked about race, and remains so. But at this point in time, it's basically no worse than the rest of America. Which is pretty fucking bad.

Is the movie aware of this, or is it just more lashes directed at the South, which should be directed at our entire nation? I'll have to see it to draw my conclusions.
posted by re6smith at 10:29 AM on February 24, 2006


Excellent link, chrischris. I had no idea there were actually so few slaves in northern states at that time.

Forty-six.

That seems to completely demolish the "hypocrisy of the North" argument, I guess...
posted by darkstar at 10:30 AM on February 24, 2006


-but it's hard to argue against the hypothetical that "slavery was on the brink of disappearing." I can appreciate the argument, but I think it's completely bullshit.

Some brinks are closer than others. That brink was a good solid 30 years off, maybe more. I think slavery in some form would have existed for a long time without the war to force Lincoln's hand. In the highly organized form of the plantations, no, but in other forms.
posted by lodurr at 10:30 AM on February 24, 2006


socratic - My point is that slavery is not what started the war or what the purpose of the war was (see also the lincoln quotes above). The emancipation declaration was a strategic (military) move. While we can play a game of "the end justifies the means", I don't think that's reasonable because one can make the very strong argument that the way it was gone about is making it take much longer to achieve equal rights for all races in America.
posted by glider at 10:31 AM on February 24, 2006


What percentage of blacks in America live under the poverty line?
What percentage of blacks in America are in prison?
What percentage of blacks in America have the right to vote?
Etc.

So name some better countries. From my own observations, there aren't any.
posted by matkline at 10:32 AM on February 24, 2006


What disturbs me most about glider's view is that it seems to be based on a morality of intentions. If your intentions are good -- or if it seems, as you look back at them, that they were good (and he doesn't seem to draw a distincton between these views) -- then your actions are/were justified.

That's an unworkable view, if you actually want to live in society. It's a great view if you intend to live a pure Libertarian lifestyle, and have the wherewithal (money, muscle/influence/power, etc.) to make it work for you.
posted by lodurr at 10:34 AM on February 24, 2006


glider - I was merely rebutting your absurd claim that the North only made slavery illegal in the South and not in the rest of the country (temporarily true, but only for practical reasons).
posted by socratic at 10:34 AM on February 24, 2006


Gilder writes: When the civil war started, slavery was legal in the north and several northern states were officially slaveholder states.

That's not true at all. Slavery was not legal in the north. The northern states all gradually abolished slavery in the antebellum period. SLAVERY WAS NOT LEGAL IN THE NORTH WHEN THE CIVIL WAR STARTED. I'm not suer where you're getting your ideas wrong.

During the civil war the slaves freed were the ones from the south. "Loyal" union slavehodlers could keep their slaves.

That's because it was a war measure, and because Lincoln didn't feel he had authority to free the slaves in the border states. (There were slaves in the border states - states that had been in danger of seceding - but not in the North.)

In addition, the north passed laws banning freed slaves from living there.

What does this have to do with anything? You think that because the north was racist, northerners believed it was okay to whip the backs of black people?
posted by Tin Man at 10:35 AM on February 24, 2006


Oops. I meant "I'm not sure where you're getting your ideas from."
posted by Tin Man at 10:35 AM on February 24, 2006


bardic - Whoa! I'm not saying people are better off as slaves. I'm saying that the state we keep the bottom end of American society in (to say nothing of offshore slaves) is reprehensible and in many cases even worse than slavery. Don't think that saying one thing is worse than another somehow justifies the one that's the lesser evil. They're both still evil.

And I realize you're not really a fan of reading, but stop calling me a Southerner.

matkline - You really think as many blacks are in prison, disenfranchised from voting, or under the poverty line in countries like France, Canada, Switzerland, England, etc.?

Hey, God bless America for ridding Saddam of Al Qaeda's WMDs.
posted by glider at 10:35 AM on February 24, 2006


For contrast, the last slave holding nation was Brazil which abolished it finally in 1888 after a 17 year process of gradual emancipation.
posted by Atreides at 10:36 AM on February 24, 2006


re6smith, well said.
posted by bardic at 10:36 AM on February 24, 2006


Tin Man - Yes, I'd say that about the same percentage of Northerners thought whipping blacks was acceptable as in the South. I'd say that was true then, and I'd say it's true now.

The economic issues of slavery and obvious reliance thereupon were different in the North and South, and that's the single largest factor in coloring their respective treatments of the issue.
posted by glider at 10:37 AM on February 24, 2006


Hey, God bless America for ridding Saddam of Al Qaeda's WMDs.

And God bless Sherman for teachin' them rednecks a lesson! /snark

Honestly glider, WTF?
posted by bardic at 10:38 AM on February 24, 2006


Ah, yes -- America wages war for mythical WMDs, so all us Americans must be wrong about the causes of the Civil War...
posted by lodurr at 10:39 AM on February 24, 2006


RE" The beginning of the war, I believe individual Northern states had already either abolished or effectively eliminated slavery, PRIOR to the war.

There was not a FEDERAL law or Constitutional amendment to the effect, but one was in the wind. The South was rejecting the idea of an anti-slavery law as an affront to their self-determination, one which would also undermine their economy. THAT's why they seceded, as they specifically stated.

The North fought to prevent the secession. After the war began, the Emancipation Proclamation was made and then at the end of the war the 13th Amendment was passed.

There surely were some Northerners who were opposed to abolition. And there were plenty of southerners who were in favor of secession simply because of southern honor, as well as other reasons. But southern apologists were voluble in their defense of slavery at the time, including using the Bible to defend the righteousness of their position.

But there should be no mistake: complex as the issue was, the divergence over slavery was what fueled this particular engine.
posted by darkstar at 10:39 AM on February 24, 2006


bardic, lodurr - OK, do you also agree with mattkline on blacks in America today?
posted by glider at 10:40 AM on February 24, 2006


>Hey, God bless America for ridding Saddam of Al Qaeda's WMDs.

Err, so youre defending your lousy propaganda by criticizing other lousy propaganda. Umm, ok.

No honor among conspiracy theorists eh?
posted by skallas at 10:41 AM on February 24, 2006


Thanks for showing your hand, glider. Lots of people took you more seriously than I think you deserved, but it all works out in the end. And God bless Canadian racist Civil War revisionist kooks everywhere! Gnight.
posted by bardic at 10:42 AM on February 24, 2006


glider: .... and that's the single largest factor in coloring their respective treatments of the issue.

glider, serious question: Who are "they"? Who's this "they" that you're talking about? Who's "the North"? For that matter, who's "the South"? And how can you be so sure what all of them believed?

Wouldn't it make more sense to suppose that there were a lot of different motivations for people going to war? Or that the southern articles of succession might have actually had something to do with the actual concerns of the people who wrote them? Rather than generalizing the imputed motivations of one loathed and hated man (Lincoln) to the entirety of a nation?
posted by lodurr at 10:42 AM on February 24, 2006


skallas - Duh. I'm making fun of his bizarro adherence to propaganda. You're going to come after me for that, but say nothing about his laughable core point?

This thread has been very illuminating on knee-jerk North-South tensions that still exist to this day.
posted by glider at 10:43 AM on February 24, 2006


An acquaintance of mine once broke up with a girlfriend because said girlfriend would not starve herself to maintain his idea of an ideal figure. He said it was his right to look for what he wanted in a woman. She said it there were control issues, but, ultimately, that it was about his effed up idea of body image. An imperfect analogy, because that was one union that wasn't worth saving, but, either way, he was in the wrong.
posted by socratic at 10:44 AM on February 24, 2006


lodur - Large scale farming culture vs. industrialized culture in this case. And yes, there were many factors as there always are.
posted by glider at 10:44 AM on February 24, 2006


Agree with him about what, glider? I don't know what he said. That they're better off than they would be as slaves? Definitely. That they're as well off as blacks in other western nations? I don't know, but I think that it might depend on which western nation you were comparing to. Also, I have a notion that as an American, I might just be better positioned to have an opinion on that than you are. See, I actually live here, so I do have an idea of what it's like to live here....
posted by lodurr at 10:45 AM on February 24, 2006


glider, I see lots of propaganda here but its pretty much just you. As far the assumption that the US is the best county for black people. I have never ever heard that claim and I seriously doubt its a mainstream belief here in the states. matkline speaks for matkline.
posted by skallas at 10:45 AM on February 24, 2006


This thread has been very illuminating on knee-jerk North-South tensions that still exist to this day.

it's even more illuminating on how people who don't live in the u s fail to understand our culture or our history
posted by pyramid termite at 10:46 AM on February 24, 2006


Glider wrote: Yes, I'd say that about the same percentage of Northerners thought whipping blacks was acceptable as in the South. I'd say that was true then, and I'd say it's true now.

The same percentage? I don't think so. The North had a sizable abolitionist movement. The abolitionist movement in the South was practically nonexistent. Your statement is unsupportable.

Anyway, at least you've given up your theory that slavery was legal in the North at the beginning of the Civil War. I'm glad you've at least tacitly admitted you were wrong about that.
posted by Tin Man at 10:46 AM on February 24, 2006


glider, that's a nice, simple overview of the root of the conflict. But it's got jack shit to say about the proximate cause.

There are lots of wars that happen over that kind of difference. But more tellingly, there are lots that don't. YOu haven't got a proximate cause in your narrative.

Here's the bottom line, as I've said, and as others have said: Without the institution of slavery, that war would not have happened.

Now, if you'd like to construct a narrative wherein the war happens without slavery, you're welcome to do it. I'll be happy to read it. It would be an interesting exercise. But you haven't done it yet.

Anyway, I'll have to come back for it. Work to do.
posted by lodurr at 10:49 AM on February 24, 2006


When the Civil War started, most of the people in the North were more against the expansion of slavery than they were about abolishing it. Abolitionists were an extreme fringe at the beginning of the war. Lincoln's personal attitudes towards abolition evolved during the war, and he changed the meaning of the war with the Emancipation Proclamation.

Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, there was a lot of resistance in the North to the idea of fighting the war to end slavery, as shown by the 1863 New York City Draft Riots, where eleven black men were lynched and hundreds of blacks were assaulted. In the 1864 election, the Republican Party changed its name to the National Union Party (not the "Free the Slaves Party"), and the Democratic Party's peace platform, which would have ended the war without ending slavery, got 45% of the vote.

The South could never have conquered and occupied the North, but Lee's objective in the Gettysburg campaign was to make the North sue for peace, and have England and France recognize the South's independence. The Emancipation Proclamation made it politically impossible for England and France to recognize the South.

Also, our current understanding of states and their relationship to the federal government is psychologically and legally different than it was before the Civil War. When Robert E. Lee was offered command of the Union Army after the war started, he turned it down because he couldn't fight against his country, which was the state of Virginia. Many Southerners felt that, since their states had joined the Union as independent entities, they could unjoin just as easily. The outcome of the war and the Fourtheenth Amendment changed the legal relationship between the states and the federal government. As Shelby Foote said in Ken Burns' excellent Civil War series:
Before the war, it was said "the United States are." Grammatically, it was spoken that way and thought of as a collection of independent states. And after the war, it was always "the United States is," as we say today without being self-conscious at all. And that sums up what the war accomplished. It made us an "is."
Wikipedia has several good articles on the origins of the war and the history of slavery in the US, and a list of abolition dates for various countries.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:50 AM on February 24, 2006


lodurr - So as an American, you're saying that blacks in your nation are better off than if they lived in Canada, France, or Switzerland (or the average European nation)?

Tin Man - Um, I haven't admitted that.
posted by glider at 10:50 AM on February 24, 2006


"Without the institution of slavery, that war would not have happened."

Sure, let's come up with straw men. Without humans evolving language it wouldnt' have happened either. If it wasn't for the Earth having a Moon it wouldn't have happened either.
posted by glider at 10:53 AM on February 24, 2006


Gilder: Um, I haven't admitted that.

Well, you don't have to admit to being wrong. I'll be satisfied with knowing that you've been proven wrong.
posted by Tin Man at 10:53 AM on February 24, 2006


glider - If the war wasn't about slavery, then why did the southern states reference slavery so heavily as the cause of their secession? Are we supposed to believe that they were lying when they wrote their articles of secession?
posted by bshort at 10:53 AM on February 24, 2006


Perhaps we should just put a moratorium on responses to Glider?

How 'bout that CSA movie? Huh?
posted by Atreides at 10:54 AM on February 24, 2006


Metafilter: Cause of the civil war.
posted by iamck at 10:54 AM on February 24, 2006


bshort - Because slavery was still a core part of their economy, even though it was on the way out. The North had a different (industrialized) economy any was able to phase it out faster... It was a symptom, not a cause.

Tin Man - You saying it doesn't make it right. I've quoted Lincoln on the subject, and given you references if you want to educate yourself.

----

But I really am fascinated that there appears to be a general agreement that blacks have it better off in America than other Western Nations... That's really something.
posted by glider at 10:57 AM on February 24, 2006


glider, you've probably realized by now that many mefites aren't interested in having a discussion, they just want to beat you up for your opinions. I admire you for being able to take it.
posted by iconjack at 10:59 AM on February 24, 2006


But I really am fascinated that there appears to be a general agreement that blacks have it better off in America than other Western Nations... That's really something.

Not that I agree with that vague statement, but can you name a western nation that quantifiably or even arguably offers more (not roughly equal - more) opportunity and civil liberties & rights to its citizens, regardless of skin color, than the U.S.?
posted by JekPorkins at 11:00 AM on February 24, 2006


iconjack, I'm very used to it.
posted by glider at 11:00 AM on February 24, 2006


But I really am fascinated that there appears to be a general agreement that blacks have it better off in America than other Western Nations.

I'm not sure that one could compare blacks in America vs blacks in any other Western country because of the demographics involved. Is there another Western country that has the same minority percentage of blacks?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:01 AM on February 24, 2006


JekPorkins - Well, speaking in general terms rather than in relation to skin color (as you've asked), Canada. We have privacy as a right which America doesn't have, our definition of obscenity is determined by quantifiable harm rather than religion, and our freedom of expression is that (which is much broader than freedom of speech). Another obvious example is the Netherlands or Sweden or Spain or at this point even South Africa.
posted by glider at 11:02 AM on February 24, 2006


In light of kirkaracha's excellent comment and links, I'll say this and shut up: the American mythology surrounding the Civil War, and slavery and race issues in general, is far too simplistic. Lincoln needs to be the shining light of freedom (rather than the shrewd pragmatist he was), the south is often painted in a way that ignores the fact that the slave trade made healthy profits for many a northerner. Glider's school of ignorance feeds off of America's inability to put together a coherent and complete picture of why the Civil War happend, why so many died for a racist ideal that they had nothing to do with (most southerners not only didn't own slaves, but didn't directly benefit from the slave system). I think it has everything to do with America's inability to comprehend not just its own inherent racism, but more generally it's utter obssesion with race, going back to the Puritans in the north and the settlers of Jamestown in the south. But YMMV.

That said, history has winners and losers. The south lost, and trying to equate northern cynicism and profiteering with the actual horrors inflicted on slaves is yet another lost cause. Yes, some northerners might have condoned slavery, or more likely, cast a blind eye. Southerners? They actually lived it, did it, defended it, and died for it and risked the future of the United States over it.
posted by bardic at 11:03 AM on February 24, 2006 [3 favorites]


robocop is bleeding - Perhaps France?
posted by glider at 11:03 AM on February 24, 2006


glider: Why would I say that? What did I ever say that would lead you to conclude I believed that?

You, sir, are a dishonest correspondent. How shocking. How surprising. "I'm shocked -- shocked, I say! -- to find trolls jousting at straw men on Metafilter!"

OK, off for real, now.

Oh, and, iconjack? This guy glider? He loves it. He's into pain and abuse. It makes him feel like an "individual." So he's getting what he came here for, today. No reason to admire him more than you'd admire any other masochist.
posted by lodurr at 11:03 AM on February 24, 2006


Wow, glider, you really don't know anything about American jurisprudence or constitutional law (or about other countries, either, but that's a different story).
posted by JekPorkins at 11:04 AM on February 24, 2006


But I really am fascinated that there appears to be a general agreement that blacks have it better off in America than other Western Nations... That's really something.

It's something, alright: Somethign you're imagining.
posted by lodurr at 11:04 AM on February 24, 2006


If the war was solely about slavery, then why did Lincoln mention so many times that he had no intentions whatsoever of messing with slavery?

Of course slavery was a huge issue in the war. But Lincoln "freed the slaves" about the same way Bush liberated Iraq: as a convenient political afterthought.
posted by iconjack at 11:04 AM on February 24, 2006


Gilder - you say you've quoted Lincoln to prove that slavery was legal in the north? Are you referring to these quotes?

“I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. I … am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary.”
- Abraham Lincoln

“If I could save the union without freeing any slave, I would do it.”
- Abraham Lincoln


I don't see how those quotes show that there was northern slavery.

And by the way - while there was slavery in the border states, those states can't be considered part of the North. Part of the Union, yes, but not part of the North. They were south of the Mason-Dixon line.
posted by Tin Man at 11:04 AM on February 24, 2006


I heard the review of this on Morning Edition. It sounded like the satire was really over-the-top.
posted by Target Practice at 11:05 AM on February 24, 2006


Even if glider's right, in retrospect, the institution of slavery was the most important element of the Civil War. The North acted hypocritically at many points before, during and after the war, but I don't think that should stop anyone from condemning the Confederacy's stance as one aligned with slavery. In future generations, will anyone seriously rehash the arguments about WMDs in Iraq? Most likely not, because the important issues arising from our current situation are related to energy and economics.
posted by mullacc at 11:05 AM on February 24, 2006


Tin Man - Obviously those quotes don't prove anything other than his attitude.

JekPorkins - Keep on telling yourself that Americans have more rights than anyone else in the world. Keep on telling yourself that Bush has brought you freedom. Whatever.
posted by glider at 11:07 AM on February 24, 2006


Arguments in Metafilter are fun, eh? We sure like to type a lot.

Can we all back up to the very beginning of this post, please, and see how this huge debate got started?

Glider's original point was that the documentary film "C.S.A." is:

Typical bigoted stereotypical bullshit about the South.

I haven't seen the movie. I'd like to. But from what I hear about the movie, it does make fun of the South. I'll grant you that.

The racial problems in America are because of how the North treated blacks/slaves, not the South.

Okay, wait a second. Hold on. Are you honestly trying to make a blanket pronouncement about the cause of "racial problems"? That's just not possible.

Then you make the point that the Civil War wasn't about slavery, so that you can make the point that the North fucked up U.S. racial relations by trying to free the slaves.

Was the North largely racist? Yes. Okay, fine. The North was racist, as was the South. And our country still has a big racial problem.

Can we just leave it at that without tossing blame around? This issue is larger than any one person and larger than any one decision. Casting blame on such an issue is just dumb. Can we stop and move onto the next post?
posted by Tin Man at 11:08 AM on February 24, 2006


Obviously those quotes don't prove anything other than his attitude.

Then why did you quote them?
posted by Tin Man at 11:09 AM on February 24, 2006


lodurr - You attacked me for saying that ("American blacks are better off than blacks in other Western nations") was a false statement... Unless you're just attacking me for the fun of attacking me, rather than believing my attack on that statement was wrong...?
posted by glider at 11:09 AM on February 24, 2006


Tin Man - To make the case that Lincoln didn't introduce the issue of slavery because he believed in black civil rights.
posted by glider at 11:10 AM on February 24, 2006


iconjack, there's this great big thread here that you're welcome to read before you drop your pants and hang a verbal rope.

glider, you're welcome to talk to one of our native "blacks" if you'd like. I could arrange it for you. Did you know that many of them are musical and like basketball? /My god, you're a sad little bigot, aren't you?
posted by bardic at 11:11 AM on February 24, 2006


bardic - How in the world are you leveraging my statements into the belief that I'm a bigot? Tell me, where are you seeing this racism?

You want me to say "African American" rather than "black"? Is this a word game?
posted by glider at 11:13 AM on February 24, 2006


Glider: To make the case that Lincoln didn't introduce the issue of slavery because he believed in black civil rights.

What on earth does this have to do with proving/disproving whether slavery was legal in the North at the time the Civil War started?
posted by Tin Man at 11:14 AM on February 24, 2006


Tin Man - Well, if you want PROOF, I guess the Dred Scott decision re-legalized slavery everywhere in America... But I don't know if the Supreme Court of the United States is good enough evidence for you?
posted by glider at 11:20 AM on February 24, 2006


The other thing to keep in mind is that THE SOUTH WON THE CIVIL WAR. The principal goal of the slaveholders who took the South into the war to preserve a system that A) provided a unpaid agricultural workforce, and, equally important to them 2) kept blacks in a separate and inferior social position. The struggle over the status of blacks in the south did not end at Appomattox, it continued through Reconstruction and into the 1960s as one continuous struggle. And the North lost! As sharecropping, Jim Crow, and lynch law were established in the 1870s and 80s, it southern blacks were forced into a position not all that different from slavery. In much of the rural south, the system held sway for almost a hundred years. What is that if not a southern victory?

(I need to write a book on this...)

As to the cause of the war, IAAH (I am an historian) and among American historians there is not even a debate about the cause (not causes) of the Civil War. It was about slavery, and damn near nothing else. People arguing that we need to "teach the controversy" about the war's cause remind me of another group that tries to push a religious agenda where it does not belong.
posted by LarryC at 11:26 AM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


By the way, here's the full versions of the Lincoln quotes that Glider posted previously (in bold). Reading the whole thing does change the perspective:

I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forbid their ever living together upon the footing of perfect equality; and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.

I have never said anything to the contrary
, but I hold that, notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence,--the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with judge Douglas, he is not my equal in many respects,--certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowments. But in the right to eat the bread, without leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal, and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man."



My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.

And here's one that predates both:

You enquire where I now stand. That is a disputed point. I think I am a whig; but others say there are no whigs, and that I am an abolitionist. When I was at Washington I voted for the Wilmot Proviso as good as forty times, and I never heard of any one attempting to unwhig me for that. I now do more than oppose the extension of slavery.

I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be take pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy.

posted by Atreides at 11:27 AM on February 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


You're incorrect about Dred Scott.. Dred Scott legalized slavery throughout the territories, not throughout the States.
posted by Tin Man at 11:27 AM on February 24, 2006


LarryC - I'll agree with you in part, on the social end, but the economic benefits went to the North.
posted by glider at 11:27 AM on February 24, 2006


As far as your source Thomas DiLorenzo goes. Well, he a contrarian of the highest order who makes Hitchens sound like Scott McClenen. DiLorenzo not only savages Lincoln but also has it out for FDR. The woldnut daily loves his "screw lincoln, fdr, and government bigger than a bathtub" approach.
Q: You have kind of debunked something I have been saying for a long time. People have asked me when the country started to go downhill and when the Framers' model was eviscerated. I always used to say around 1913, with Wilson, but that FDR was the finishing touch. After reading your book, I see I had it wrong. It really started with Lincoln.

A: That's exactly right. That's really what motivated me to write this. I realized that the great breaking point between the old republic of the founders and the mess we are in today was 1865. I can tell you an interesting story. I was giving a talk in Washington, D.C., a few years ago on the optimal size of government. Jack Kemp was in the audience. I was making the argument that I thought the optimal size of government was reached around 1860.

Q: Why 1860?

A: Because that's when we started getting away from the kind of government system that the founding fathers wanted. Jack Kemp, who was in the audience, started booing and hissing so loudly that I had to stop and ask if someone else was scheduled to speak at the same time. Kemp ended up storming out of the room. I took that as a signal that this hits home to some people. It was the breaking point in the republic. Before the war, the only contact the average citizen had with the federal government was mailing a letter, and that was about it. The great wheels of centralization were turning, I argue in "The Real Lincoln," in 1865.
A hardcore Heritage foundation/state's rights type has a problem with Lincoln and FDR? And writes a book about it? You don't say. When can I expect his "War on Christmas" and "Social Security: The Hidden Menace" books?

So is this guy the new voice for the "war of northern aggression?" His university credentials and conservative intellect sure beats the old tobacco-chewing hood wearing hillbilly image of the past.
posted by skallas at 11:29 AM on February 24, 2006


If the war was solely about slavery, then why did Lincoln mention so many times that he had no intentions whatsoever of messing with slavery?

Sure, but Lincoln didn't write any articles of secession for the states, and the states that did secede cited slavery as a reason. If the South doesn't secede, there's no reason to preserve the Union (Lincoln's stated ultimate prerogative), and thus no Civil War. What's so difficult about that?

Of course slavery was a huge issue in the war. But Lincoln "freed the slaves" about the same way Bush liberated Iraq: as a convenient political afterthought.

I think this is the key issue in this thread--glider's basing his whole argument about the Civil War not being about slavery on the fact that the Emancipation Proclomation wasn't issued until well after the war started, which then made it "the war to free the slaves". I really don't think anyone disagrees about that point or is arguing that the North was trying to free the slaves from the very start. Everyone else is talking about the build up to the war and the political/economic ramifications of slavery that led the South to secede in the first place.
posted by LionIndex at 11:29 AM on February 24, 2006


Tin Man - Illinois and Missouri were both States at the time (Wisconsin, also involved, was a territory). The decision was not limited to the territories.
posted by glider at 11:29 AM on February 24, 2006


Bardic makes sense (above). The reasons for the Civil War are comples, and it is simplistic of course to believe we went to war to end slavery. One of the great ironies is that those who owned a certain number of slaves were exempt from serving in the Confederate army because they had "obligations" at home. The poor whites, though, fought to keep slavery going.

The South was in trouble because cotton from Egypt was cheap (hey, globalization) and better; slaves had to be fed and housed and they bred them and then found an excess of slaves. The territories would be a natural dumping ground so this became a political struggle: should the territories be Slave or Free?

Oddly--and I am a Northerner--the South was within its rights. The articles of confederation stipulated the right to withdraw from the gathering of states that existed. Lincoln, however, fought to preserve one nation, a union; and after the war, we were to be seen as a Nation and not a loose confederation of states. But as is the case, he who wins, makes the rules.
posted by Postroad at 11:29 AM on February 24, 2006


Wow this is fun! (not)
posted by ob at 11:31 AM on February 24, 2006


"Typical bigoted stereotypical bullshit about the South."

As a southern born citizen who has lived in other parts of the country, I can safely say that the "stereotypical bullshit" about the south is spot on. Sure, if you live in the suburbs of Atlanta or Birmingham you can claim to have left the past behind, but the south is still a cesspool of bigotry and ignorance.
Whining about it won't change that.
posted by 2sheets at 11:34 AM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


Glider writes: Illinois and Missouri were both States at the time (Wisconsin, also involved, was a territory).

This is a non sequitur. Illinois was a free state! Missouri was a slave state and was not part of the North.

The decision was not limited to the territories.

This is not correct. The decision was limited to the territories.
posted by Tin Man at 11:34 AM on February 24, 2006


Oddly--and I am a Northerner--the South was within its rights. The articles of confederation stipulated the right to withdraw from the gathering of states that existed.

True, but we operated then, as now, under the Constitution of the United States.
posted by Atreides at 11:34 AM on February 24, 2006


Postroad writes: the South was within its rights. The articles of confederation stipulated the right to withdraw from the gathering of states that existed.

The Articles of Confederation became obsolete sometime around 1788.
posted by Tin Man at 11:36 AM on February 24, 2006


Thanks Atreides, I'm sure Glider is just quoting DiLorenzo or a similiar hack using selecting quotations. I'm getting sick of glider's strawman. He is painting americans as these ignorant propagandists who believe what they're told by some fictional authority who wishes to keep the big civil war secret. To my knowledge the Illuminati did not have a huge influence at my grade school, but who knows.

Seriously, its no secret that Lincoln had a change of mind during the war. But to extrapolate this bullshit "The south would have taken care of its own problems" DiLorenzo crap is ridiculous. Why didn't the south take care of its slave problems 60 years prior when other nations were outlawing slavery.

Christ, go ahead and crucify Lincoln, the abolishonists, the Quakers, and those who fought in this war. The more you and DiLorenzo say the less credible you guys become. Just like the holocaust deniers and the moon landing deniers your worst enemy is exposure of your ideas to the general public for scrutiny. I hope this new meme dies a quick and painless death.
posted by skallas at 11:38 AM on February 24, 2006


Tin Man - The Dred Scott decision was not limited to the territories.
posted by glider at 11:40 AM on February 24, 2006


LarryC, I'd like to see you make that argument re: Reconstruction to, I dunno, one of the thousands of slave owners who lost everything during Sherman's march, the sieges of Vicksburg and Richmond, etc. You have seen Gone With the Wind, right?

Faced with complete defeat (a necessity from Lincoln's perspective, and hence the thoroughness of Sherman's March), the south had little to latch onto after the war. Racism was one of those things--the North did a piss-poor job on managing an enemy state(s) they had conquered, but the failures of Union generals to take their charge more seriously--that former slave owners and secessionists should have been locked up for a few decades--does not a Confederate victory make. (Unless you'd call present-day Iraq a "victory" for Saddam Hussein. A higly pyrrhic one at best.)
posted by bardic at 11:42 AM on February 24, 2006


Skallas, I'll ignore debating your theory that Lincoln had some revelation half way through the war that suddenly made him an abolishonist and answer your question -- the reason is that the South lagged behind the rest of the Western world is that it had unique farming conditions that favored plantation style farms (which work well with slavery), conditions that were quite different from farms in Europe, Canada, and the Northern USA.
posted by glider at 11:45 AM on February 24, 2006


Glider: The Dred Scott decision was not limited to the territories... I guess the Dred Scott decision re-legalized slavery everywhere in America.

This is just plain incorrect. It's a historical fact that Dred Scott legalized slavery in the territories. It had no effect on the states.

Dred Scott stated that Congress had only limited power to legislate for the territories and that the Fifth Amendment barred any law that would deprive a slaveholder of his slaves because he had brought them into a free territory. The Court also stated that the territorial legislatures had no power to bar slavery.

So I really have no idea what you're talking about.
posted by Tin Man at 11:46 AM on February 24, 2006


Tin Man - Go look it up.

Bardic - Illinois, Indiana, and Oregon all passed laws banning blacks from settling there after the war. Tell me again how many Southern states did this?
posted by glider at 11:50 AM on February 24, 2006


Glider writes: Go look it up.

Dude. You don't think I did?

I also read this a few months ago.

So, where are we with this?

(1) Dred Scott had no effect on slavery in the northern states;

(2) Slavery had been gradually abolished in the northern states during the antebellum period;

(3) Northerners were generally racist.

Case closed.
posted by Tin Man at 11:53 AM on February 24, 2006


Tin Man - From your link:
No Negroes, not even free Negroes, could ever become citizens of the United States. They were "beings of an inferior order" not included in the phrase "all men" in the Declaration of Independence nor afforded any rights by the Constitution.
That is, slavery was protected on a federal level, and you could inject it into the free states so long as the slave wasn't bought there.

Oh, and remind me again which state first banned slavery?
posted by glider at 11:57 AM on February 24, 2006


>it had unique farming conditions that favored plantation style farms

Of course it did. I'm sure it had many reasons. The problem with reasonable slavery is that one can continue reasons until the heat death of the universe.

Okay, lets shift to an industrialized society. The old farmhands are now working the machines. Now lets go to a service based society the old machinists are now doing tech support.

Or we can look at today's slavery. Sex trade slavery is very efficient. Wordwide bonded laborers (a polite word for slavery) is still being used from anything from farming to construction. Solider slaves in Africa. Imagine a southern amry of slaves. Why not? Its probably more cost-effective than the plantation and much more centralized. Or compulsory labor in public works. Or domestic servitude. How about a south where black men get free but not the women?

etc etc

DiLorenzo's assumption that slavery would have petered out because of economic concerns is flawed and the existance of slavery today in the modern world proves him wrong. I don't see why the south in a hypothetical win could not have just kept finding new jobs for slaves.

I know DiLorenzo believes in the invisible hand of the market and the tide that raises all boats, but the invisible hand in this context doesn't hold prosperity and freedom, but the whip and folds into an oppressive fist.
posted by skallas at 11:58 AM on February 24, 2006


skallas - Fair enough, if slaves can work for the US government in Iraq, they could probably work for a modern South as well....
posted by glider at 12:00 PM on February 24, 2006


you could inject it into the free states so long as the slave wasn't bought there.

Absolutely untrue.
posted by Tin Man at 12:01 PM on February 24, 2006


>suddenly made him an abolishonist

Again, thats YOUR strawman. Lincoln by todays standards was certainly a racist (and dont think the future will judge us well in other areas). Previously he voiced concerns about the role of the black race in the US, currently a slave holding nation. Did Lincoln truly have a change of heart like some episode of touched by angel? WHo fucking cares. Who really knows. We do know that he was the one, and possibly the only one, who could have overturned slavery in the US. He accomplished it during a time of war when it was especially politically convenient. Granted, you don't get this in 5th grade history but you do get it in HS and college.

Keep beating your strawman. Its amusing.
posted by skallas at 12:02 PM on February 24, 2006


Oh, and remind me again which state first banned slavery?

Looks like Vermont abolished it in 1777, followed by New York in 1779, and Pennsylvannia in 1780.

Here's a site on slavery in the North.
posted by Atreides at 12:03 PM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


you could inject it into the free states so long as the slave wasn't bought there.

You're saying that, say, a resident of Massachusetts could go to South Carolina, buy a slave, go back to Massachusetts with the slave and keep the guy in slavery. That's utterly false.
posted by Tin Man at 12:03 PM on February 24, 2006


And oh, the reason the South didn't create bans on allowing blacks to move there was.......they were already there! Unlike the Indians, there were simply too many to round up and push west.
posted by Atreides at 12:04 PM on February 24, 2006


As another note to my last post, the South needed the former slaves to work the rememnants of their agricultural economy.
posted by Atreides at 12:05 PM on February 24, 2006


Anyway, I've got to go down to my colo now and pull a server. It's been fun. Let me re-recommend Gatto before I go. Read his book online.
posted by glider at 12:08 PM on February 24, 2006


And the Jehovah Witness loudly leaves the room, telling us where he placed a few copies of the Watchtower.
posted by skallas at 12:11 PM on February 24, 2006


I for one would love to see Glider's C.V. I'm sure it will provide ample documented proof that he knows the contextual issues of the arguments he's presenting. I'm sure he is also aware of the providences of the knowledge he is drawing from and providing as evidence. I'm sure he knows how rules of evidence works in the field, what counts, what has already been left behind as no longer useful.

He has probably written widely on this subject, deepening his research and expanding his understanding of it along the discursive boundaries recognized by other similarly interested scholars. He has readily attacked the simple binaries that smack of amateur thought and has developed a complex understanding of the nuances of the problematic issues in the field. He constantly questions his own knowledge, continually looking for new theoretical perspectives with which to frame it.

Or perhaps he is just another know-it-all computer programmer with a big mouth who thinks that vomiting back his weekend pleasure reading counts for a warrant of authority? If that is indeed the case, I should submit my C.V. to be a project engineer at Google right now.
posted by mrmojoflying at 12:17 PM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


What Atreides said--as if the abundance of castrated, mutilated, lynched black corpses before, during, and long after the Civil War wasn't enough of a reminder that blacks were not welcome in the majority of the south. What an ignorant little man. But nice to know the US doesn't have a monopoly on ignorance.
posted by bardic at 12:26 PM on February 24, 2006


(Nor a monopoly on leaving a conversation once he knows he's beat, if not made to look foolish.)
posted by bardic at 12:27 PM on February 24, 2006


First: What Ynoxas said. kirkarancha, also.

Second: I was going to do a point by point analysis of this debate, but MetaFilter just isn't structured for that. Instead, I'll provide an abbreviated scorecard.

1) Glider and Mayor Curley have both gotten a bit heated. Three torches out of five on a logarithmic scale. iamck and lyam have tried to keep things civil, so they get half a bonus point to split amongst themselves. iamck also wins the metafilter:colon award. ozomatli wins the audio/visual overhead projector prize for his picture of a whipped slave's scars. And robocop is beeding gets a gold star for his joke about the chorus.

2) Glider has shown
----a) The North wasn't fighting with the motivation of ending slavery.
----b) The North didn't like black people any more than the South did.
----c) Modern America still benefits from the horrific mistreatment of the underclass.

3) Others have shown
----a) At the beginning of the war, Northern States (separate from boarder states) did not practice slavery.
----b) Likewise, at the beginning of the war, Northern states were more interested in preventing the expansion of slavery than abolition (mostly because slavery took jobs away from white folks).
----c) The Southern States, when declaring and justifying their secession, invoked slavery repeatedly.
----d) The continued practice of slavery and the subjugation of the underclass in the modern world discredits claims about the inevitable demise of slavery.

4) Narrative Synthesis of the above, as well as other pertinent points. Not Comprehensive.

Some rich Northerners didn't rely on slave ownership, but benefited from trade with rich Southern slave holders. With the election of Lincoln, Southern States, which had threatened to succeed several times before, finally left, because they believed the North would overstep its power by further restricting slavery. Lincoln fought this as a pragmatic president, eventually issuing the emancipation proclamation and later supporting constitutional amendments to shore up foreign support for the North, which until that time had sympathized with the Southern fight for self determination and continued economic partnerships between the South and Europe. After the war period, slavery was over within the USA, though the subjugation of the underclass continued.
posted by Richard Daly at 12:28 PM on February 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


Excellent, Richard.

And I *heart* mrmojoflying's comment.
posted by Tin Man at 12:38 PM on February 24, 2006


Subjugation is economic exploitation. Taking a slave or freed slave from her home and raping her, or taking him out and castrating him in public, then hanging him until he was almost dead, then coating him in oil and lighting him on fire--that's murder. Over time, it was a mass-murder that rivaled the Holocaust, and perhaps was even worse in terms of numbers. Please don't use "class" as a catchall phrase equating exploitation of northern factory workers and slave labor. There is a qualitative difference, and people like glider want to deny this simple, basic fact. Exploitation of labor: bad. Systematized bruality, murder, torture, and rape: evil.
posted by bardic at 12:38 PM on February 24, 2006


*brutality*
posted by bardic at 12:39 PM on February 24, 2006


2sheets:
Sure, if you live in the suburbs of Atlanta or Birmingham you can claim to have left the past behind, but the south is still a cesspool of bigotry and ignorance.

I'll take some ignorant cracker in rural Georgia over the neo-nazis in lily-white Idaho or Nebraska any day of the week, thanks.

I'll concede you may have a point with Texas.
posted by xthlc at 12:41 PM on February 24, 2006


Wow. My head hurts and I'm not quite sure why I read (or skimmed) this whole thread, but since I'm here: glider, I've bitched for years about the ignorant contempt heaped on the South by smug northerners, and I've more than once butted heads with Mayor Curley, one of the chief offenders in that regard here on MeFi; you've actually got me applauding the Mayor's invective, which for once is richly deserved. Congratulations.

slave owners truly believed that Africans were lazy and shiftless and that they would surely perish without the proper structure that servitude offered.

And Germans 70 years ago truly believed that Jews ran the world economy, were responsible for Bolshevism, and were waging a war to the death against Germany, against which they had to fight in pure self-defense.
posted by languagehat at 12:46 PM on February 24, 2006


Thank you for that synthesis, Richard.

I've observed that, whatever the merits of the points he may have raised generally, glider has been demonstrated to be flatly, factually wrong on at least three statements he has made. And that he has not acknowledged these corrections.

So there seems to be another synthesis to be drawn from this thread, too...

(Sorry, but this kind of thing is a pet peeve.)
posted by darkstar at 12:52 PM on February 24, 2006


Slate had a great article on the mainstreaming of the Confederate ideology in 2001; Let's Ditch Dixie, also from 2001, makes the case for Northern secession (even though it'd be illegal):
The North and South can no longer claim to be one nation. If you want proof, just look at the electoral map from the last presidential election.
Maps of the 2004 election results and pre-Civil War free and slave states and territories.

Salon did a similar article on secession last year. There wasn't anything in the US Constitution that prohibited secession, secession was widely accepted as a possibility, the Articles of Confederation's "'perpetual union' was dropped from the Constitution's final language because the sovereign states refused to accept the concept," and an amendment to outlaw secession was proposed after seven states had already seceded (which implies that secession was legal). FindLaw on secession.

In the 1868 State of Texas v. White Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase said that, "The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States."

Slavery was protected by the Confederate Constitution.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:54 PM on February 24, 2006


Should we hire Richard Daly? I hate when I come late to a 200 hundred comments post and have to read it all to understand where the discussion have been.
posted by nkyad at 12:55 PM on February 24, 2006


So.. um... Richard. How many skee-ball tickets is my half a point worth? Cause I got my eye on that plastic comb.

: )
posted by lyam at 12:58 PM on February 24, 2006


Glider is just trying to distract everyone from his initial groaner:

"The Civil War had nothing to do with slavery."

Don't let him change the subject.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:12 PM on February 24, 2006


Well ... I was going to point out Glider's apparent complete ignorance of a hundred years worth of social context prior to the war, ranging from the heated arguments on the subject when America was forming as a nation to the Missouri compromise to John Brown to bleeding Kansas, all of which he has blithely ignored, and chime in with agreement about his numerous uncorrected factual inaccuracies regarding slavery in the Northern states, the Dred Scott decision, and other matters, ask why he had never responded to the contextualization of his out-of-context quotes, and wonder aloud why, if the war had nothing to do with slavery, the South seceeded primarily over that issue and slavery was made illegal immediately after the end of the war ... but screw it.

Anyone else see the movie? Anyone like it?
posted by kyrademon at 1:17 PM on February 24, 2006


bardic

It wasn't my intent to equate economic subjugation with abhorrent abuse. I suppose I should have included more about the horrifically vile depredation faced by Black Americans. It didn't seem like a major area of disagreement between the people involved. Mea Culpa.

nkyad Just doin' my part for the community. I'm afraid to make any FPPs (y'all're kinda brutal, and better read than I), but this sort of thing seems relatively well received.

lyam Ohh! Skee-ball tickets! I'm gonna have to remember that one till next time. Have the comb on the house.

Artifice_Eternity and darkstar
Yeah, when I started to do a point by point analysis, there were some interesting clear refutations & unsupported assertions. I'll leave those as an exercise for other readers.
posted by Richard Daly at 1:22 PM on February 24, 2006


Let me see if I got this correctly.

Slaves were living happily, harvesting cotton from the fields in an idyllic paradise.

Abe Lincoln was an evil man.

Abe Lincoln attacked the south because he hated black people.

White people from the south were fighting for some taxes, but made it sure to put slavery everywhere in their documents because it was a kind of secret code.

He also created Islam, communism and atheism.
posted by qvantamon at 1:22 PM on February 24, 2006


Yeah good posts Richard and Kirkaracha.

And. Sure. Robocops joke was good. If go you for that sort of obvious thing.

Qvantamon nobody mentioned the fact that Lincoln was Jewish.

Wha? Sure he was. He was shot in the Temple wasn't he?

Ba-da-bum.

[crickets]

...aaaand I get noth'n. damn you robocop.
posted by tkchrist at 1:50 PM on February 24, 2006


Glider is just trying to distract everyone from his initial groaner:

"The Civil War had nothing to do with slavery."


Countered, of course, by everyone else's insitence that the civil war had ONLY to do with slavery. Boring.
posted by iamck at 1:59 PM on February 24, 2006


The Civil War was, at its core, about slavery. All other details can be traced to it. States' rights? Sure...but the states' right to do what? Economics? You bet. But in defence of an economy based on what? Though it was fogged up regularly by various commentators, that's the moral issue it boiled down to--whether or not slavery would be abolished.

That's a big part of why Britain didn't recognize the CSA. The geopolitical interests were actually on recognition's side--if you read the Hansards from 1863, you see a strong desire by many to break the USA up into smaller states so it could not threaten British hegemony. France wouldn't recognize without Britain, and because they were busy supporting Maximilian in Mexico by 1864; the British and French both realized that the moment they recognized, it would mean war with the Union, and on the seas Union shipbuilding would make Confederate commerce-raiding look amateur.

Besides, Napoleon III sort of hoped the British would recognize the Confederacy unilaterally, incurring the wrath of the North and allowing French imperial interests to gain ground. The antagonism between the British and the French on this matter should not be underestimated; the Mason/Slidell missions really require a good reading to get at the nuances of European geopolitics.

When the MP J. A. Roebuck finally put forth a motion for recognition, then (which I wrote a journal article about in 1997, back when I worked on British trans-Atlantic diplomacy), it was quickly put on its way to ignominious defeat, and he had to withdraw it to prevent the vote from becoming public record. It was defeated ostensibly because Roebuck had engaged in amateur diplomacy by visiting the French Emperor, but the reality that came out in the debates was that public opinion had successfully reoriented to see support for the Confederacy as the support of slavery--which, ultimately, it was. Someone more familiar with Confederate Congressional debates should really chime in, and remind me how far Confederate ideas about abolition got in the dark days of 1864--the fact that even when on the ropes, they were unwilling to consider broad manumission as a simple means of survival, says a hell of a lot in my eyes.

Sorry for the derail from the burning question of "Was It About Slavery" into "Why I Think the Premise of the Film Is Far-Fetched"...I also think the production is way too over-the-top to be believeable. But that's the same aesthete in me that cringes at WWII movies that used repainted Shermans as "Panzers" or books that posit a German invasion of North America.
posted by trigonometry at 2:01 PM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


qvantamon, you're close, but it wasn't just Lincoln. The entire population of the North invaded the South, unprovoked, because they hated them some black people.

See, slavery as a human rights issue was *never* a bone of contention between the North and the South. All those Northern States outlawed slavery as a kind of in-joke. John Adams, Stephen Foster, the Quakers, and other well-known Abolitionists were actually doing a kind of extended comedy routine. John Brown was committing acts of terrorism because he hated the idea that the South had an agrarian economy, and all the songs about him that the troops used to sing were all written by Northen economic interests. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" had no social impact, the Missouri Compromise was a minor redistricting plan, when the Southern states seceeded they only mentioned slavery a million times because it's a neat-sounding dactyl that rolls off the tongue, Lincoln only bothered to mention slavery over and over because it *wasn't* an issue so there was certainly no need to discuss his evolving stance on it, and the three or so constitutional amendments that got passed on the subject after the war were all so England would feel better. See how simple it is?
posted by kyrademon at 2:04 PM on February 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


Richard Daley, that was really incredible. I've only been lurking since November, but I can think of any number of threads that would have been improved by such a calm, amusing and respectful summary. Why is it that people feel compelled to respond to trolls with personal attacks?

In short, you're my new hero.
posted by Squid Voltaire at 2:37 PM on February 24, 2006


What a crazy thread, so much for black history month and president's day, eh?

That pesky Lincoln and his schemes! Aside from firing up gliders imagination Thomas DiLorenzo publishes essays on how much he hates Lincoln. I guess if you're an anti-state nutball libertarian this guy is your Jim Jones.

So is this the face of the so-called GenX southpark conservative? Ahistoric lashings out at "statist" figures, slavery apologia, and anti-anything government except the post office? A know-it-all attitude and holier than thou idealist stance with large chuncks of logical fallcies and more than a pinch of false information? From what I've seen this brand of asshole libertarian may be the next big thing. I hope I'm wrong.
posted by skallas at 2:47 PM on February 24, 2006


Yeah, being opposed to big corporations (because that's what big government -- and certainly Lincoln -- is about) makes you an "asshole" or "nutball". All hail Coca-Cola. All hail Walmart.
posted by glider at 2:52 PM on February 24, 2006


what
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:59 PM on February 24, 2006


Squid Voltaire : "Why is it that people feel compelled to respond to trolls with personal attacks?"

Because they're trolls, you inane know-nothing noob.

Just kidding
posted by nkyad at 3:12 PM on February 24, 2006


The extent to which people have been conditioned is amazing... Propose a view that's not in line with official US history (ie. Yankee history, which is very different from objective history) and people go nuts, immediately devolving to name-calling, and utterly unwilling to consider alternate histories to the sanitized mythology they are taught as children.

But really, if you're not even willing to do some basic reading and fact-checking, and it makes you feel better to call me anti-American or far-right-pro-American-but-the-wrong-kind-of-American or pro-slavery or whatever crazy accusation you want to make, meh... I guess it helps explain why almost a hundred and fifty years later America still hasn't cleaned up its racial mess.
posted by glider at 3:48 PM on February 24, 2006


Propose a view that's not in line with official US history (ie. Yankee history, which is very different from objective history) and people go nuts, immediately devolving to name-calling, and utterly unwilling to consider alternate histories to the sanitized mythology they are taught as children.

Ooh, how can I be such an amazing free thinker like yourself? You must be such perceptive and intelligent man to see through the lies.

Oh, have you explained why the states articles of seccession talk about slavery so much? Or does your alternate history have alternate versions of those as well?

But really, if you're not even willing to do some basic reading and fact-checking,

Haven't you been proven wrong three times in this thread abou tbasic factual items? Oh yeah, you refuse to admit it. Dosen't really play to your intellectual honesty (or lack thereof,) sport.

I guess it helps explain why almost a hundred and fifty years later America still hasn't cleaned up its racial mess.

Remindme when white Canada and the government has cleared up their realtionship with the First Nations, ok there, sparky? Thebn maybe you can get all high and mighty. Not that it'll give your "the Northern states are soely responsible for racisim on America" nonsense anymore credibility.
posted by Snyder at 4:08 PM on February 24, 2006


Propose a view that's not in line with official US history (ie. Yankee history, which is very different from objective history)

You're proposing a view that's in lockstep line with every bit of Southern white supremacist propaganda that's been thrown around for the last 130 years and asking us to believe you're some kind of objective freethinking anarcho-socialist or something. Were you an objective freethinking anarcho-socialist or whatever, this is something that would be figured into your calculations, and you would definitely have spent a lot of energy and anguish coming to, with great trepidation, the conclusion that whatever utopia you have in mind is worth another 20, 50, 100 years of black men and women in chains and a lot less energy pointing your dumb fucking cunt finger at Yankees. You'd acknowledge what you're up against with your position. You don't. Therefore, fair to assume you're not running on pure good faith.
posted by furiousthought at 4:13 PM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


you're not even willing to do some basic reading and fact-checking

Dude, you have people with graduate degrees in history telling you you are wrong, you make numerous factual errors, you make personal attacks--and then accuse your critics of lacking information?
posted by LarryC at 4:28 PM on February 24, 2006


Can someone make one of those summon glider cards like the bevets card? Then whenever there's a thread on racism or the Civil War we can whip it out. Please?
posted by billysumday at 4:32 PM on February 24, 2006


Snyder - An argument that amounts to people shouting "you're wrong" doesn't really amount to what I'd call "proved wrong"... And given that the people who claim to have "proved" me wrong are making such ludicrous claims as blacks in America are better off than those in other Western nations, I'm not taking my "defeat" with too many tears.

As to your question about Canada and it's natives, I'll remind you that the natives in Canada are some of the richest people on the planet because they won their court cases granting them back property. But that's not the point; you're helping illustrate that this isn't about facts -- this is about a knee jerk reaction that involves primarily insults and defensive emotionalism.

But keep on calling me a "cunt" that's in cahoots with Southern white supremacists if it helps you make it through the night.
posted by glider at 4:33 PM on February 24, 2006


LarryC - I don't really consider "has a degree" proof... Look at the books written with wildly different notions on 9/11 by people with degrees. It's been my experience that all a degree does is make a person feel like an expert.

But hey, those who can't do, teach, right? Given that you're claiming that I'm the source of personal attacks in this thread (no, I'm only the inspiration), I hope you're a better reader when it comes to what you teach.
posted by glider at 4:40 PM on February 24, 2006


And to be clear: PARAGRAPH TWO IS A JOKE.
posted by glider at 4:45 PM on February 24, 2006


But keep on calling me a "cunt" that's in cahoots with Southern white supremacists if it helps you make it through the night.

Well, I didn't do any of those things, so why don't you check your facts there, punky?

An argument that amounts to people shouting "you're wrong" doesn't really amount to what I'd call "proved wrong"

Oh really?

What about:

glider: The Civil war had nothing to do with slavery...

ROU_Xenophobe:
You know, you can go and read the actual articles of secession for most all CSA states, or the debates leading up to them. They state quite clearly "We're seceding to preserve slavery."

The people who were actually seceding and fighting a war to make that secession stick thought they were doing to to preserve slavery. You really know better than them?


glider: (NOT ACTUALLY A DIRECT QUOTE) The Emancipation Proclamation wasn't signed until 1862!

empath: Glider: Have you actually read South Carolina's articles of secession?

I know you haven't, because if you had, you wouldn't have said what you just said.

South Carolina's Articles of Secession

It mentiones Slavery 18 times.

It mentions taxation once, and only in the context of a tax on slaves.


glider: empath, if you want to do some reading, read also that the North didn't free their own slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation, and went one step farther and actually passed Constitutional ammendments banning them from settling in the North.

Then after the war they took what money they could steal from the South, and used it to send the slaves to Liberia, and as the money ran out (most of it was embezzled), to Haiti. So don't pretend the North were friends of the African Slave, because they despised them... They only wanted them freed because they knew it would destabilize the Southern economy and society. Outside of the war issues I mentioned already, it's like banning large tractors on farms today.


What does that have to do with articels of secession? Oh yeah, nothing, becasue you realized someone had a viable counter to you, so you just ignored and went on to a non-sequiter. But I guess if you stop listening to someone after they say "You're wrong," that's all you'll hear. Remember, only you can prevent your own dumbass-ness.

Gosh, it hasn't ben this easy picking apart anargument since grade school! What fun!
posted by Snyder at 4:51 PM on February 24, 2006


>It's been my experience that all a degree does is make a person feel like an expert.

And the book you've been parroting most of this thread, The Real Lincoln, was written by a professor of economics at Loyola College, Maryland. So if an undergrad degree makes you feel like an expert, what's a phd make you feel like? Fun at parties?
He has authored at least ten books, including The Real Lincoln and How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, From the Pilgrims to the Present. He is also outspoken in favor of the formation of the Confederate States of America, claiming that the South had the right to secede and taking a view similar to abolitionist Lysander Spooner.[2]

He has criticized the crediting of the New Deal for ending the Great Depression.[3] DiLorenzo lectures widely, and is a frequent speaker at Mises Institute events.
posted by skallas at 4:56 PM on February 24, 2006


Gosh, it hasn't ben this easy picking apart anargument since grade school! What fun!

Hmm. I don't want to sound like I'm taking credit for other people's posts here, people upthread have done a more comprehensive job than me. Just wanted to say that glider is so easily refutable that even a relative bystander like me can do it!
posted by Snyder at 5:00 PM on February 24, 2006


And we have a hell of a lot more black folks than y'all, so white people get to face their own prejudices with their friends, neighbors and fellow churchgoers every day.

The problem with studying black-white racism in the United States is that it's fairly, well, black and white. There's not many dimensions to it. The black experience is almost always from a socially inferior position, whereas the white experience is almost always from a position of social superiority.

Even if the white American lives in a predominantly black community, he still has the reassurance that his "class" is socially superior. It's so overwhelmingly pervasive that he's often not even aware of it; he can merely take it for granted.

Frankly, the easiest way for a white American to experience a tiny, tiny, taste of what kind of racism a "social inferior" has to deal with is to live in Japan or South Korea for a few years. Just the mere knowledge that the judges and cops will be biased against you changes the everyday power dynamics immensely.

/ and even that's a poor substitute, because the yellow man will at least try to be polite about it.
posted by PsychoKick at 5:02 PM on February 24, 2006


Snyder - Yeah, shouting back a bunch of incorrect insults about Canada having some sort of analogous genocide to the US is really making your case.

You may think I'm a stupid or uninformed person or even a racist. I'm not hard to look up, and you'll see that I am none of those three. I've also lived in the US, Canada, and Mexico as well as having travelled in Africa, South America, and Europe. I'm not a stranger to the world. So please at least keep your insults more targetted. I recommend making fun of my ears or perhaps my weight.
posted by glider at 5:24 PM on February 24, 2006


So, is too late to remind people that the south fired first?
posted by NortonDC at 5:24 PM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


Damn, this thread has been hilarious. All we're missing is one of the Christian apologists coming in and lecturing glider's detractors on not treating peoples' honest and deeply-held beliefs with more respect. That would definitely kick it up a notch. Any takers?
posted by boaz at 5:31 PM on February 24, 2006


I think you guys need to give a little more sympathy to glider here. It's quite obvious at this point that everyone in the world is wrong except him; I can imagine that is quite a psychological strain.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:34 PM on February 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


geekhorde: If you read the Constitution very carefully, there is no way legally for a state to secede from the Union.

Pardon my derail (and for being late to the party [again]), but I'm curious about the whole "legality of secession" thing. Notwithstanding abstruse legal arguments, seems to me that a "union" of states is pretty bogus if the unity is not voluntary. In fact, if the relationship between the state and federal governments is not voluntary (ie., coercive), then it is immoral (as is every non-voluntary relationship). Furthermore, this coercive political/economic relationship is tantamount to slavery, albeit a non-physical form. Oh, the humanityirony!

So is secession legal? In a sane world, ipso facto, it is.
posted by oncogenesis at 5:40 PM on February 24, 2006


Note to wfrgms (and anyone else interested in downloading via the torrent link above, not that I would be, uh, interested or anything; hi, Mr. MPAA!): the audio track is in Spanish, so if you only speak 'Merkin you might not be interested.
posted by harkin banks at 6:14 PM on February 24, 2006


Secession is not legal today. I would argue that it was at the time of the Civil War, but if I did, I'd likely be called a cunt again.
posted by glider at 6:16 PM on February 24, 2006


glider, ROU_Xenophobe pointed out that "the actual articles of secession for most all CSA states ... state quite clearly "We're seceding to preserve slavery.""

Do you still stand by this statement: "The Civil war had nothing to do with slavery..."?
posted by soiled cowboy at 7:04 PM on February 24, 2006


So is secession legal?

if you have enough guns, you can rewrite the law to make it so ... the refutation of secession in the united states was not done through the legal system ... it was done through armies

and glider ... when your parliament doesn't have a party that feels the need to establish itself on ethnic identity to keep that ethnic group from being run over by the majority, then you can lecture us on our evil racist society

i've been to canada ... and i've heard canadians say pretty nasty things about black people, natives and francophones ... so get off your high horse
posted by pyramid termite at 8:55 PM on February 24, 2006


soiled cowboy - Yes, but that's a generalization. I stand by the statement that slavery was neither the cause nor the purpose of the Civil War, and in addition that the end effect on race relations of the Civil War was negative.
posted by glider at 9:47 PM on February 24, 2006


I take it none of you have heard the phrase 'it's only a movie'?
posted by paxton at 10:15 PM on February 24, 2006


But racism is not a Southern problem, nor is it some kind of Southern cultural contamination or mindset threatening to swallow this country. It's an American problem, one that frankly (having lived in urban and rural areas in both the North and South) I think Southerners handle a hell of a lot better than Northerners.

I'm glad someone else has the guts to stand up and say it, instead of pretending that the South is still backward and racist compared to the North. Perhaps the rural areas are (and that's stretching it), but the urban areas in the North are far more segregated.

Was the American Revolution about tea?

No, silly, it was about the Stamp Tax.

The other thing to keep in mind is that THE SOUTH WON THE CIVIL WAR.

You're joking, right?

Sure, the Civil War was fought by the South mostly over slavery—slavery was the largest issue that they thought reflected a pattern of disenfranchisement by the more populous North.

But don't pretend for a minute that the North went into it with the intent of freeing the slaves; they were interested in preserving the Union.
posted by oaf at 10:30 PM on February 24, 2006


Is there an English language version of this movie? The bittorrent link from above is Spanish, so has any other version I've found.

I no habla.

P.S. Shut up Glider.
posted by Bonzai at 12:48 AM on February 25, 2006


You really believe this is about racism? If anything, the fact that I've been accused over and over in this forum of being a racist, which I'm obviously not, underscores the difficulty Americans have in thinking rationally about this subject.
posted by glider at 5:59 AM on February 25, 2006


OK, this is degenerating. It's become apparent to me that glider is the textbook example of a troll; I tend to avoid that word, because it's so often misused and/or thrown around purely as an insult, but this really is a guy who's coming into a thread, taking a position he knows will upset a lot of people, ignoring all contrary evidence, and mulishly repeating the same idiotic statements until people become so frustrated they start losing their self-control and the conversation becomes a mindless shouting match, which was the troll's purpose all along. People are comparing glider to bevets, but I don't think bevets is a troll, I think he sincerely holds his point of view and feels the need to show the flag. This guy is a troll, and this thread is a classic demonstration of the need for the hard-won admonition:

Do Not Feed the Troll.
posted by languagehat at 6:08 AM on February 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


You may think I'm a stupid or uninformed person or even a racist.

FWIW, I think you're a fairly intelligent racist. No one that dumb could concoct such a bizarre interpretation of U.S. history.
posted by mkultra at 6:30 AM on February 25, 2006


I don't think glider is a racist, I think he's a self-styled "free-thinker" and contrarian who is strongly attracted to positions that piss off everyone else and with which he can stroke his ego for his supposed insight and moral courage. Everyone has a little bit of this sort of person in them; glider is just an example of the kind that takes it to the limit. I keep waiting for him to reveal himself as a LaRouche follower. Characterizing the politics of this sort of person on a left/right paradigm tends to be very misleading because a key attraction of these sorts of worldviews are that they seem to paradoxically contradict a left/right distinction. The real signature trait is a very strong implicit or explicit conspiracy theory underlying the entire belief system.

What I found deeply amusing was the rush to assume that glider was a native Southerner and apologist, and then to argue against him with an ad hominem built around that. I think some folks like Mayor Curley and others ought to learn a lesson from this.

"But racism is not a Southern problem, nor is it some kind of Southern cultural contamination or mindset threatening to swallow this country. It's an American problem, one that frankly (having lived in urban and rural areas in both the North and South) I think Southerners handle a hell of a lot better than Northerners."

This is a point of view that almost all Southerners I've met share. And in that it points out all the covert racism that exists in the North among people who like to congratulate themselves on their virtue, it's correct and helpful. To the degree to which it intends to a) make a moral equivalancy between Northern and Southern racism; and b) rehabilitate the South's image with regard to racism, it's delusional, propogandistic, and pernicious.

I've not spent much time at all in the deep south, but what little time I've spent inclines me to accept the assertion that there's a sort of code of honor involving race relations. The assertion is that this exists because absolute segregation has never been possible in the South—they won't say it this way, but if you need a racial underclass to do all your menial labor, it's going to be hard to avoid interacting with them.

Two things in this southern apologetic which concern the North are true, I think. The first is what's mentioned above—that there is in some ways something that can be called a "necessary culture of tolerance", and that it's arguably superior to a culture which denies the problems of race relations outright and thus the interface is ad hoc and possibly delusional. The second is the idea that in some sense the North is more segregated than the South—that the black ghettos of the North are more like the Nazi Jewish ghettos of WWII in that it's a total segregation, an "out of sight, out of mind" segregation.

So I do grant the truth of this apology to some degree. The problem, though, is that to make a moral equivalance would require us to be blind of much of the history of the South since the Civil War, particular the Civil Rights era and even today. Where is the KKK most active? Where are black men dragged behind pickups? Not the North.

I hear this apology often from Texans, as well. Texas is not the Deep South and is certainly not, in my opinion, characteristic of the South. It is its own queer beast. I've a great deal of experience with Texas, having lived there for at least a decade or so of my adult life. And what I've noticed is that race relations are worse in Texas than in the rest of the South in a way that can be understood well from that hoary apology. That is, that apology may be true of Georgia, but it's not true of Texas. Texas has, in my opinion, the vices of Southern race-relations without its virtues; Similarly, it has the North's vices and none of its virtues. There is complete cultural segregation in Texas...without the typical Northern pretense of racial equality. There is the deep cultural racism relating to the South and the slavery era...without the gentility of race relations one find in the Deep South.

Furthermore, Texas has the rugged individualism of the West, and largely lacks the strong sense of community that is a bedrock of Southern culture. When you put all this together, what you have is what has seemed to me to be an appalling, unapologetic, and pervasive and unquestioned racism. And I can certainly testify that this racism as I've seen it in Texas is worse than the racism I've seen in some Northern or Western states. That doesn't mean there aren't some Northern and Western states with especially pernicious and virulent racism. There are. But this overall claim of moral equivalancy with regard to racism as it applies to the North and the South is not true. It's not. Southerners like to believe it's true, but it's not.

Finally, my time in Toronto was grimly humorous as I had the opportunity to hear the claims of the white middle-class of their Canadian tolerance etc. and then to compare them to their actual practice. All I can tell you is that I heard an awful lot of grumbles about "those people", meaning Asian immigrants and others. I heard a lot of posturing patronization of Blacks. Why in the world does anyone think that that 49th parallel is some magic wall keeping N. American racism at bay, that there is enormous racism in Detroit but not in Windsor (as an example)? For all the legitimate distinctions between USAians and Canadians that the Canadians take every opportunity to tout, the truth is that there is much greater homogeneity than often supposed between the areas just north and just south of that parallel.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:19 AM on February 25, 2006 [2 favorites]


Where is the KKK most active?

Ironically, it was in the North where the KKK actually managed to gain control of the state political system from the legislature to the govenor's seat. Only a sex scandal brought it down.
posted by Atreides at 7:30 AM on February 25, 2006


Well, a sex scandal and Superman.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:50 AM on February 25, 2006


I am absolutely dead serious that the white South won the Civil War. (I do not consider this a good thing!) They went to war to preserve a system that kept blacks in a position of underpaid agricultural laborers with no legal rights. In the end, they succeeded. We need to think of the Civil War as a much longer conflict, stretching from Bleeding Kansas in the 1850s through at least the Compromise of 1877. The latter, where northern Republicans agreed to remove federal troops from the South, disgracefully abandoning the Freedmen in exchange for the presidency, marks the final Southern victory.

Now, it was a pyrrhic victory for certain. The South lost the military portion of the war, at a terrible cost. And their insistence on racial segregation and an agricultural economy after the war made the South an economic backwater for generations. But ultimately, the white southern leaders were willing to pay that price to retain white power.

By the way, Martin Luther King sometimes called the Civil Rights struggle "the second Civil War." He knew who had won the first one.
posted by LarryC at 8:20 AM on February 25, 2006


wfrgms, if the Massas thought Africans were lazy and shiftless, then why didn't they enslave hard-working Protestant Aryans? Think of how much more productive WASPs or Prussians would've been!

Anyway, it was not slavery that the war was about, but whether what's now the "lower 48" would be predominantly "slave" or "free" and whether the slave-owners or the factory-owners would predominate in power. And the Missouri Compromise and Kansas/Nebraska , and their failures, had more to do with it than racism: most whites in those days looked down on blacks, regardless of which uniform they wore.

Otherwise, what Oaf said. Lincoln, who by today's terms was certainly racist, in 1862 (i.e. during the war) wrote that:

"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union."

E.g., the "Great Liberator's" Emancipation Proclamation did not free all the slaves, but only those in the areas that were then Confederate -- i.e. that the U.S. did not then control. In other words it was an empty document that did not free a single slave -- and that he had no power to enforce, as if I proclaimed that from now on Languagehat is Vice-Emperor of the Blogosphere. True, as the Union Armies advanced they would free the slaves in newly (re)conquered areas, but it freed no slaves in states that did not secede: slaves in Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, West Virginia, New Jersey, and the Territories of D.C., New Mexico and Arizona would stay enslaved till after the war ended.

And on preview, I find I agree with LarryC: the South pretty much won the Civil War in the long run -- and is still ahead even in the North. The South Side of Chicago, Harlem, Detroit and East St. Louis attest to that.

(Note that this has nothing to do with whether or not I agree with Glider and/or Languagehat and/or consider them goofy wankers or maybe not.)
posted by davy at 8:30 AM on February 25, 2006


I'm curious about the whole 'legality of secession' thing.

I posted several links about the legality of secession earlier.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:34 AM on February 25, 2006


E-B, damn. Seriously good call, there, man. And you probably even did it without googling glider by name (which, if you get curious enough to do it, would pretty much instantly corroborate your analysis).
posted by lodurr at 9:04 AM on February 25, 2006


(Ethereal Bligh probably described me accurately enough by the way)
posted by glider at 9:34 AM on February 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


it points out all the covert racism that exists in the North among people who like to congratulate themselves on their virtue

one small correction to an excellent statement ... racism in the north is not always covert ... george wallace WON the michigan primary in '68, which should tell you something ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:44 AM on February 25, 2006


I pretty much agree with LarryC and davy that in the way that meant most to the lords and masters of the South (the ability to stay in charge of things and keep the black folks in their place) the South won the war; their ability to hold on to a disproportionate degree of clout in Washington right through the 20th century is telling. (How much power did Whites [that's anti-Communists, son!] retain in Russia after their Civil War?)

*still waiting to find out whether I'm Vice-Emperor of the Blogosphere or a wanker*
posted by languagehat at 11:00 AM on February 25, 2006


l'hat, if it's any consolation, it's entirely possible to be both Vice-Emperor of the Blogosphere and a wanker. Um, not that it's an issue where you're concerned.
posted by lodurr at 11:10 AM on February 25, 2006


I can't speak to the rest of his statement, but glider is correct that the U.S. did not win WW2 like a white knight charging in at the last moment.

We pretty much beat the japanese singlehandedly. We were really fighting two seperate, massive wars at the same time. Would russia really have been able to beat germany without the US and UK putting pressure on the western front? Maybe, but I think you could at least say we slowed them down. And without US pressure on the japanese, they may have been able to engage russia on their eastern front, although I doubt it.
posted by delmoi at 12:44 PM on February 25, 2006


We pretty much beat the japanese singlehandedly.

I was about to agree with this, then I thought, how many Japanese troops were tied down in China fighting the resistance there? I don't know myself, but China is a big place, it could have been hundreds of thousands. Anyone know?
posted by LarryC at 2:16 PM on February 25, 2006


Would russia really have been able to beat germany without the US and UK putting pressure on the western front?

Yes. Germany invaded the Soviet Union with 166 divisions on June 22, 1941. Meanwhile, the Afrika Korps had two German divisions and eight Italian divisions.

The Soviets had already stopped the Germans at Stalingrad by the time the Allies landed in North Africa on November 6, 1942, and the Soviets counter-attacked on November 19. Operation Torch was in response to the Soviets pressing the British and Americans for a second front to pressure the Germans, but the Germans had alrady reached their high-water mark on the Eastern Front. Germany's last major offensive in the East, at Kursk, was in July 1943. Seventy-five percent of Germany's casualties for the entire war were against the Soviet Union.

On D-Day, the Germans had 58 divisions in France, Belgium and Holland, and 239 divisions on the Eastern Front.

I think you could at least say we slowed them down.

Turns out, not so much.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:31 PM on February 25, 2006 [2 favorites]


The seque from slavery to World War II isn't as strange as it might seem at first, considering the American mythologies about the Civil War and World War II in Europe.

Excellent maps of World War II, including the Eastern Front in April 1944.

Correct D-Day link. The Allies invaded with 39 divisions.

how many Japanese troops were tied down in China fighting the resistance there? I don't know myself, but China is a big place, it could have been hundreds of thousands. Anyone know?

Two million. "More Japanese troops were quagmired in China than deployed anywhere else in the Pacific Theater, during the war."
posted by kirkaracha at 2:48 PM on February 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


I think it's very arguable that as far as the European theater is concerned, the Soviet Union, not the US, deserves the credit for winning WWII. And it was brutally hard won by magnitudes of greater losses than the US experienced.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:03 PM on February 25, 2006


Hitler.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:51 PM on February 25, 2006


Languagehat: "It's become apparent to me that glider is the textbook example of a troll"

Ethereal Bligh: "I don't think glider is a racist, I think he's a self-styled "free-thinker" and contrarian who is strongly attracted to positions that piss off everyone else and with which he can stroke his ego for his supposed insight and moral courage."

Glider: "Ethereal Bligh probably described me accurately enough by the way"

So we're all in agreement then! Hey Glider, instead of wasting your time here shouldn't you be out tattooing a swastika-covered cock on your forehead right now épater le bourgeois?

Hint: it's a very bad idea to read one book by a single controversial author without any advanced knowledge of the larger primary historical sources and then adhere to it dogmatically as if you are an "expert". This is exactly the same trap Creationists and Holocaust deniers fall into. Books by revisionists can seem very persuasive to those uninitiated into disciplines that actually take a lifetime of arduous study to master, due to what is called information asymmetry. It's like when Creationists impress those with the will to believe with misrepresentations of the second law of thermodynamics - if you don't know what the second law of thermodynamics really is, simply hearing someone ostensibly "on your side" talk authoritatively about this complex "smart sounding" concept can lead to a false feeling that he must know what he's talking about.
posted by dgaicun at 4:51 PM on February 25, 2006 [2 favorites]


Actually, it's my contention that regardless of the reason secession was perfectly legal and constitutional, as it is legal under U.S. law for your spouse to divorce you whether s/he has "good" reason or not. In fact I think secession is still legal, that the issue was "settled" by force rather than law -- and that the U.S.A. has remained united since then more from force of habit and "respect" for the precedent of 1861-5.

In my opinion Texas v. White was an unconstitutional example of extralegal "judicial activism" and ex post facto rationalization; outlawing secession should have required the same procedure as any other amendment to the Constitution. However (in addition to my own opposition to slavery) I must also accept the Radical Republicans' contention that the Southron states had indeed seceded and were (re-)conquered territories upon whom the 13th Amendment could be imposed. (Note that this rationale implicitly accepted the factuality if not the legality of Southron secession and thus reinforces the Confederate position that the war was forced upon them by Northern invasion.)

Nor was the secession of the "Southron" states the first that was considered: if not for the U.S. victory in New Orleans and the Treaty of Ghent the New England states might well have seceded in 1815 (45 years before South Carolina did).

I myself sometimes daydream about a Wobbly-inspired Republic of Appalachia. (Not that I have or know of any actual plans to try to bring that about, O Federal spooks.)
posted by davy at 5:07 PM on February 25, 2006


WE? That guy got a mouse in his pocket? If we all participated in slavery, it was probably farther back in history as slaves to the Roman empire chained to an oar.
posted by a3matrix at 7:55 AM PST on February 24 [!]


Actually, the economy of many places was highly dependent on slave labour.

The British economy in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was massively increased by the slave-producing colonies (especially in the Carribean), and this is really what allowed Britain (a small, marginalised European country) to become a major world power. The British empire and the industrial revolution was built on slavery (cotton does not grow in the British isles, neither does sugar). Slavery was abolished in the empire c1834, but no one can deny that the dominant economic and political position of Britain at this time (which contributed to the further growth of the Empire) had been supported strongly by slavery (not solely, but I believe that if they had not had their slave colonies, they may have never had grown so powerful in the first place, perhaps going more the way of the Netherlands).

The Northern US and Maritime Canada made its money off slavery right from the first century of settlement in New England - they shipped fish, grain and manufactured goods to the slave colonies in the south. There is a reason that old recipes from Nova Scotia often use molasses (traded north to pay for fish scraps to feed slaves).

Economies don't exist in isolation; they are great networks. The entire economy of the first world benefitted directly or indirectly from slavery in the early modern period. Slave owners in the southern US, the Carribean, South America all benefitted directly. But the goods produced by slaves were exported and processed in Britain, supporting British industry and the rest of North America exported food and manufactured goods to the slave areas. Proprietors of slave colonies (especially the very rich Carribean "Nabobs") returned to Britain with money to spend and increased the services and consumer goods trades there. Goods were traded from Britain to the continent, support importers, shopkeepers and more economic activity. On and on, the wealth created by slaves moved throughout the European world. The money did trickle down everywhere, except to the slaves. People who emigrated to the US in the following centuries emigrated to a country which was shaped by slavery.

Watching the trailer, I was disapointed that it is satire of pro-slavery thinking c1865, rather than a thoughtout "whatif". As commented above, I would have found a true historical "what if" more interesting - when would slavery have petered out (which I think it would have, though differently and later)? Would it have left different legal legacies, perhaps the stricter racial characterisation of people?

That said, saying the war was not about slavery is highly naive or disingenuous. It was about many things, had as many reasons as people fighting it - state's rights, protecting the union, protecting one's home from invasion - but for those in power in the south, it was also a lot about protecting slavery. The North was not united against slavery, and racism was, of course, rampant; the South had its own abolitionists. But that does not negate the fact that the Southern leaders suceeded to protect the institution of slavery.
posted by jb at 5:55 AM on February 26, 2006


One of the major reasons that Canada was formed, is that the British North American colonies feared a backlash from the already mobilized Northern armies.
posted by Deep Dish at 10:16 AM PST on February 24 [!]


This is true. However, the reason the Canadian intelligence service was established was that they feared the Southern States using Canada as a launching point for attacks on the US.

Interestingly, the Canadian intelligence service is the intelligence service (still operating) in the world.
posted by jb at 6:41 AM on February 26, 2006


(just your fun Canadian fact for the day.

Yes, I'm being paid by the Ministry of Heritage and Red-and-White flag manufacturing.)
posted by jb at 6:42 AM on February 26, 2006


But hey, those who can't do, teach, right?

You know, for historians that is true. But we would all drop it in a second if we could get into time machines and make history.

Personally, I'm going back to the middle ages and oppress me some peasants.
posted by jb at 8:10 AM on February 26, 2006


The Civil war had nothing to do with slavery

i grew up and have always lived in the south.

sad to say, what glider says is tragically what passes for public education down here. i heard "the civil war wasn't about slavery" revisionism over and over from grade school through high school. so before you go branding glider as a troll, just know, there are any number of people in the south with that kind of fucked up brainwashing. i live in a pretty integrated neighborhood. yet i seem to be surrounded by neighbors who not only think this shit but talk about it at every opportunity. usually it's the first thing out of their mouths after "howdy." as you can see, no amount of refutation helps them see the light. It's brainwashing. And it happens every day here to a new crop of little kids.

the buttress argument of the north using slavery to its advantage only shows one thing about what the civil war was about:

the civil war was the war to keep slavery in the south.

what the north did had nothing to do with what the south did. it's a fallacious argument.

for the last couple of decades, the history fabrication departments of the south have been spouting crap about "poor white yeomen farmers," who had nothing to gain from the war and who were simply exploited by rich slaveowners while having no slaves of their own. this has extended right into one of the south's favorite sports: the civil war reenactment weekend. at any one of these reenactments, there will be any number of people playing the part of the poor white southern farmer. they will be trotted out front in the propaganda effort to show that the war wasn't about slavery and that the south was really never racist and isn't racist.

only problem is, ledgers of the rich slaveowners show the reason the "yeomen" were poor is because they wouldn't stop renting slaves. they couldn't be bothered to do their own work while complaining about taxes. no, they were in debt to the company store alright. they only problem is what they were buying from the store was rented slave labor. because they were racist pigfucks, however "exploited" they were for their own sloth.
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:54 AM on February 26, 2006 [3 favorites]


sad to say, what glider says is tragically what passes for public education down here. i heard "the civil war wasn't about slavery" revisionism over and over from grade school through high school. so before you go branding glider as a troll, just know, there are any number of people in the south with that kind of fucked up brainwashing...

But 3.2.3, glider isn't from the South. He chose that fucked-up revisionism all by himself. Because he likes it.
posted by languagehat at 11:06 AM on February 26, 2006


To argue that the Soviets could have "won the war without the US" is to miss the point that if they had, it would have been a very very Bad Thing for Western Europe.

As for American efforts in the Pacific Theatre, we would have had a very, very hard slog withotu British (and Australian) help. Or Dutch, for that matter. Contrary to popular histories, there were many important surface-fleet engagements, and in the earliest of those there were Dutch battleships and heavy cruisers playing an important role.

Military history is full of myth. As a kid and into my teenage years, for example, I bought the myth of the "invincible" Japanese Air Force and it's fearsome "Zero" figher. In fact, japanese fighters were hopelessly outclassed by most of the major Allied figher aircraft they encountered, and their air corps (post-Midway, especially) were generally inferior to the American Naval and Marine Air Corps.

I don't know Civil War military history as well, but I'd be surprised to learn that it was any different.
posted by lodurr at 11:10 AM on February 26, 2006


But 3.2.3, glider isn't from the South.

i wasn't saying he was. he's made it painfully clear where he's from.

i, however, was saying the crap he spouts is what regularly passes for "education" in the south.

i, however, was saying that spouting such crap doesn't make one a troll. it's more probable it makes one a true believer, which is likely worse.
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:14 PM on February 26, 2006


But what is a troll, really? If E-B has him pegged, as glider concedes, then he's not really a true believer at all -- this argument is a sort of flag of convenience that he waves as he rides into battle defending his honor as a free-thinker.

I would argue that biases him away from "true believer" and toward "troll".
posted by lodurr at 2:59 PM on February 26, 2006


My characterization of glider was not intended to imply that he claims these beliefs in bad faith. I would suggest, however, that such personality types with these kinds of worldviews blur the line between sincere belief and pragmatic social identity construction and are not, in some sense, aware that a distinction exists. But this also applies to many other kinds of people.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:46 PM on February 26, 2006


"only problem is, ledgers of the rich slaveowners show the reason the "yeomen" were poor is because they wouldn't stop renting slaves."

Sez you. There were very few slaves in (what became) western West Virginia where my dad's family lived, and a family that had four or five sons living through their teens as ours did had no need to rent outside labor anyway. But then we weren't "yeoman farmers" but "white trash": we came to "the New World" indentured (if not transported) and we moved to Appalachia to stay out of "the System" as much as possible.

3.2.3, you had me right up till then, when you slopped us all with an overlarge brush. My family is very proud of our anti-slavery heritage and our generations of "righteous" poverty.
posted by davy at 9:04 PM on February 26, 2006


There were very few slaves in (what became) western West Virginia

To the extent that West Virginia seceded from Virginia during the Civil War.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:05 PM on February 26, 2006


3.2.3, you had me right up till then, when you slopped us all with an overlarge brush. My family is very proud of our anti-slavery heritage and our generations of "righteous" poverty.

then your family were not the yeomen farmers being portrayed by southern history departments and civil war reenachments (and in my town, at the last battefield surrendered in the war, a museum exhibit). these "historians" regal us with tales of the privations of the yeomen famer because he could not afford slaves.

the fact of the matter is that many southern white trash were militantly anti-slavery, and this was their motivation during the war, which was all about slavery. in my state, whole counties seceded from the confederacy and were havens for both confederate deserters and runaway slaves.
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:40 PM on February 27, 2006


Since this thread is still open, I just want to add this quote to the record (from page 14 of Jeff Hummel's intriguing reanalysis of the Civil War and the period leading up to it, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men):
Southerners furthermore became advocates of inviolate states' rights. What particularly disturbed them was that Tallmadge's amendment would have imposed antislavery upon a full-fledged state, and not just a territory. Previously states' rights had been an ideological issue with support and opposition in all parts of the country. But once the Missouri controversy exposed the South's vulnerability as a minority, states' rights increasingly turned into a sectional issue. Southerners came to realize that only strict limits upon national authority could protect their existing slave system from hostile interference.
Seriously, folks, it was all about slavery, from beginning to end.
posted by languagehat at 12:06 PM on March 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


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