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The Whitewash
April 7, 2010 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) has proclaimed April to be Confederate History Month in his state, without referencing slavery or civil rights. The move has angered civil rights leaders and revived a controversy that has lain dormant for eight years. FireDogLake is reporting that the neo-confederate group which lobbied Governor McDonnell to make the proclamation has ties to white supremacists.

The initial WashPost article has drawn hundreds of comments for and against. Here's a roundup.

Editorial: If you talk Confederate history, you must also speak of slavery
posted by zarq (245 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
McDonnell: Slavery Wasn’t ‘Significant’ Enough To Be Included In My Proclamation Honoring The Confederacy.
posted by ericb at 1:03 PM on April 7, 2010


I didn't see a reference to this in any of the links, (although I could have missed it,) but it's probably worth noting that Richmond, VA was the capitol of the Confederacy, and General Robert E. Lee was from Virginia.
posted by zarq at 1:04 PM on April 7, 2010


The American Prospect: Stop Speaking in Code About the Confederacy.
posted by ericb at 1:05 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, I didn't link to 'em, but LGF denounced him in a post which had over 800 comments, mostly against.
posted by zarq at 1:06 PM on April 7, 2010


I would be surprised if a neo-confederate group wasn't tied to white supremacists - or is there some other kind of neo-confederate revival interest that is not tied to racism?
posted by idiopath at 1:06 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Let's just get this out of the way right now: the primary reason for secession, as outlined in every one of the Articles of Secession, was slavery. After the election of the abolitionist Abraham Lincoln to the office of President, the prevailing opinion in the slave states was that a nationwide ban on slavery was inevitable, and each of the Confederate states gave the preservation of slavery as their biggest reason to secede. Not "culture", not "heritage", not "states' rights"- slavery. The only right the Secessionists were defending was the right of white human beings to own black human beings as chattel.

The Confederate States of America was a white supremacist nation founded upon and for the purpose of the perpetuation of white supremacy and the ownership of blacks by whites. Pretending otherwise is historically inaccurate and an offense to those who lived and died in bondage, and disrespectful to those one is communicating with.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:06 PM on April 7, 2010 [147 favorites]


McDonnell: Slavery Wasn’t ‘Significant’ Enough To Be Included In My Proclamation Honoring The Confederacy.

Wow. Just... wow.
posted by zarq at 1:06 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Confederate Constitution

With only a few tiny tweaks, this could be a platform statement for the Tea Party.
posted by jefficator at 1:07 PM on April 7, 2010 [14 favorites]


So what were these other theoretical states-rights issues other than slavery?
posted by GuyZero at 1:09 PM on April 7, 2010


Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, said to an aide: "We have lost the South for a generation." That was two generations ago.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:13 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was two generations ago.

Nearly 3 of you look at a generation being 20 years.
posted by hippybear at 1:14 PM on April 7, 2010


So, an entire month celebrating sedition and treason? What next? June is declared Booth/Guiteau/Czolgosz/Oswald month?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:15 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


So what were these other theoretical states-rights issues other than slavery?

See I'm tired of this kind of thinking. There's so much more to it than just slavery. There's the state right to make black people prove they can read before they can vote. The state right to prevent black people from going to the same school as white people. The state right to keep black people from going to the same stores as whites ... hell even the state right to kill a black man for whistling at a white woman and get away with it.

But so many people bottle it up in the single issue of "slavery," they forget the rich and varied culture of the Confederacy.
posted by geoff. at 1:15 PM on April 7, 2010 [74 favorites]


Side-by-side comparison of the USA and CSA constitutions.
posted by fritley at 1:16 PM on April 7, 2010 [42 favorites]


So what were these other theoretical states-rights issues other than slavery?
posted by GuyZero at 1:09 PM on April 7


Mining regulations and nutritional labeling.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:16 PM on April 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


They must really want to remain the party of angry white people.
posted by nestor_makhno at 1:17 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am a lifelong Virginian, and I am not surprised in the least. This guy is a Virginia good 'ol boy in the grand Richmond tradition- buttoned-down, penny-loafered, and (possibly cluelessly) as racist as the day is long.

Add this to his state-sanctioned homophobia of last month and you can see that dinosaurs still roam the land. McDonnell is a waste of skin and an embarrassment for Virginia (and humans, in general). If you didn't see this coming, you weren't paying attention before the election.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:19 PM on April 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm in Richmond. In 2001, when Gilmore changed the proclamation, a young white woman I worked with, said "I understand they should be allowed have their history. I just think we should get to have ours as well." My jaw dropped and we got into it a little bit.

McDonnell's statement about "shared history" is lip-service. Tourism? I know what Civil War tourists look like. White. Trying to be inclusive about the 150th would probably drive away more white tourists than it would bring in diverse tourists, at this late date.

It's about dollars and it makes me just sick.
posted by rainbaby at 1:21 PM on April 7, 2010


Virginia is for Haters.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:21 PM on April 7, 2010 [34 favorites]


I can't help but suspect this is a sucker-punch. That it was designed to provoke us northern liberals into reinforcing to white southerners their sense of victimization and tribal identity, just to cement them to the loony Republicans who act against their interests anyway. I suspect some of the target audience of this proclamation would just prefer to think whatever about themselves and their history that's more flattering and will side with whoever flatters them against those who don't.
posted by Schmucko at 1:23 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Geoff: But so many people bottle it up in the single issue of "slavery," they forget the rich and varied culture of the Confederacy.

Those things happened in the United States of America, not the Confederacy.
posted by adamrice at 1:23 PM on April 7, 2010


zarq:Also, I didn't link to 'em, but LGF denounced him in a post which had over 800 comments, mostly against..

After reading your comment, I just visited LGF for the first time in about 18 months. The change in the content and tone of the blog is so tremendous that I had to read for a while to make sure it wasn't some kind of extended April Fools' gag.

Political discourse on the internet seems so toxic that it's easy to give up on it in despair. It's nice to have a glimmer of hope, sometimes.
posted by Clandestine Outlawry at 1:24 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I ran across this in Chasing the White Dog by Max Watman:
When I was a child, the folks who lived in my Shenandoah Valley town treated the Confederacy as if it were their team. The Confederacy existed in not any sort of real way, but only as a system of symbols and stickers and t-shirts that brought a group of folks together, rallied them under one flag, and granted them a few catchy phrases ("The South Will Rise Again!") without anyone having given any consideration to the significance of their nostalgic allegiance or the meaning of what they were celebrating. With complete disregard for the violence inherent in the symbol or the impropriety of celebrating the death of so many, the battle flag of the Confederacy was to my high school what the Che t-shirt was to the campus of my graduate school.
I grew up in Virginia, lived there for over twenty years and that's one of the best descriptions I've seen that encapsulates the people that put the Confederate flag on their truck or their front porch. People just don't think about the meaning of those symbols and the history that's packaged along with them. So I'm of the mind that Confederate History Month is a good thing, there are many Virginians that need a history lesson.
posted by peeedro at 1:25 PM on April 7, 2010 [23 favorites]


After the election of the abolitionist Abraham Lincoln to the office of President, the prevailing opinion in the slave states was that a nationwide ban on slavery was inevitable

There's a fascinating new biography of Lincoln that has an interesting perspective on the roots of the secession movement.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:26 PM on April 7, 2010


I'm fine with Confederate History month. I mean, that's when we all take a month to talk about how our ancestors can be scum and how the South got it's ass kicked and only avoided its rightful drubbing under some of the worst presidents in the history of the Union (Johnson, Grant) and how slavery was abominable and African Americans maybe even deserve reparations, or at the very least a whole host of social programs, especially in the South, to make up for the national shame that we're remembering for a month, right?
posted by klangklangston at 1:26 PM on April 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


New state slogan: Virginia is for losers.

And I don't mean "losers" in a current-slang "someone who's pathetic" way, I mean it in a "they lost the war" way. They want to "celebrate" their Confederate history, that's fine, let's remind them every chance we get that they lost. The only reason they're the "State of Virginia" and not the "Occupied Territory of Virginia" is the magnanimity of the Union.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:26 PM on April 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Add this to his state-sanctioned homophobia of last month "

I thought he'd come out for gay rights.
posted by klangklangston at 1:27 PM on April 7, 2010


Confederates are traitors. Plain and simple. General Lee? An oathbreaker who broke his oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. The war was about slavery pure and simple.

I can't help but suspect this is a sucker-punch. That it was designed to provoke us northern liberals into reinforcing to white southerners their sense of victimization and tribal identity, just to cement them to the loony Republicans who act against their interests anyway. I suspect some of the target audience of this proclamation would just prefer to think whatever about themselves and their history that's more flattering and will side with whoever flatters them against those who don't.

You know what? Fuck them. They will respect us more if we stand up for what we believe in. We've been more hurt by our refusal to stand up for what we believe in than anything else over the last 18 years. Kissing their asses does nothing for us.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:28 PM on April 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


So what were these other theoretical states-rights issues other than slavery?

The inalianable right to unironic mullets.
The right to serve cold tea in a greater than 50% solution of sugar.
The right to bare arms.
The right to hold as many proms as it takes.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:28 PM on April 7, 2010 [20 favorites]


Virginia is for Haters

Or for slavers...
posted by skynxnex at 1:29 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I mean, that's when we all take a month to talk about how our ancestors can be scum and how the South got it's ass kicked and only avoided its rightful drubbing under some of the worst presidents in the history of the Union (Johnson, Grant)

Grant's presidency has been reevaluated now. He fought hard for African Americans, but Republican leaders sold him out in the Congress.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:29 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe the War of Northern Aggression wasn't aggressive enough.
posted by depth first search at 1:30 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


uncleozzy, I think that's a really interesting point because it describes really well how a large chunk of the population treats Confederate symbolism. The part that really gets me, though, is when the Confederate flag is treated not for it's connections to the South, but for it's connections to the idea of rebellion. The Confederate flag thus is sometimes seen on (mostly hicks) around the country who want to express their disdain for authority without any real thought to the specific symbol they've chosen.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:32 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of a conversation I once had with a (black) guy from Georgia. In Texas, we have this weird beast called "Texas History" that gets taught in elementary and jr. high school. (conveniently, it only covers the time up to Texas' becoming part of the US. Lots of deification of Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, etc.)

Anyway, I asked him if Georgia did the same. He said no. I wondered why.

After a thoughtful pause, he said "Because then everyone would beat the shit out of everyone else."
posted by emjaybee at 1:33 PM on April 7, 2010 [15 favorites]


If I'm Obama, I declare April to be William Tecumseh Sherman Month. That's if I'm Obama, though. Obama isn't an irreverent asshole, as far as I know.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:34 PM on April 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


My first thought when I saw this earlier today was "isn't this illegal?" But then I remembered what country I lived in.
posted by tommasz at 1:36 PM on April 7, 2010


This reminds me of a conversation I once had with a (black) guy from Georgia. In Texas, we have this weird beast called "Texas History" that gets taught in elementary and jr. high school. (conveniently, it only covers the time up to Texas' becoming part of the US. Lots of deification of Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, etc.)

Anyway, I asked him if Georgia did the same. He said no. I wondered why.


I think Texas is the only state that has state history classes (most districts have it around 7th grade). I've asked people from other states and they thought the concept was weird. It ties into the whole dumbass Texas-used-to-be-a-country thing that the rednecks love. Plus my Texas History teacher was a real vindictive bitch.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:36 PM on April 7, 2010


Given the more openly racist slant of newly active conservative astroturf group participants, the Republican party must cater to their needs in a more openly racist way, although preserving the politesse of never actually acknowledging that racist slant. If someone has the temerity to point it out, the Republican apologists feign indignation that anyone should ever suggest that they are playing to the racist crowd. A corollary behavior is the new tactic of noting that it was the Dixiecrats who opposed civil rights legislation in the '60s while ignoring that those very same Dixiecrats moved to the Republican party in protest, thereby seeding and entrenching the "Southern Strategy" (i.e., catering to racists) used so reliably by the party ever since.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:37 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


WOW
posted by fook at 1:38 PM on April 7, 2010


I would be surprised if a neo-confederate group wasn't tied to white supremacists - or is there some other kind of neo-confederate revival interest that is not tied to racism?

I mean, I could theoretically imagine someone liking the Confederacy the same way that a Montana resident's favorite baseball team could be the Red Sox-- he thinks the history is interesting, he finds the individuals involved charismatic and impressive, he likes their uniforms the best or whatever. I can imagine a bunch of folks getting together and going 'Wasn't Robert E. Lee just the gosh darndest general?' and arguing over which design of the Confederate dollar was superior.

On the other hand, no, they're a bunch of fucking racists.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:39 PM on April 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


klangklangston - not so much came out for gay rights as did some damage control.
posted by rainbaby at 1:40 PM on April 7, 2010


I think Texas is the only state that has state history classes

Oh, Hell no, DecemberBoy. Washington State is huge with the state history classes. In fact, I think it was about my third year in college when I first heard rumors that there might be another place named Washington.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:40 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ha; check out the Twitter topic VirginiaTouristSlogans
posted by emjaybee at 1:41 PM on April 7, 2010


After reading your comment, I just visited LGF for the first time in about 18 months. The change in the content and tone of the blog is so tremendous that I had to read for a while to make sure it wasn't some kind of extended April Fools' gag.

Political discourse on the internet seems so toxic that it's easy to give up on it in despair. It's nice to have a glimmer of hope, sometimes.


I try not to link to LGF, but this post and this analysis explain why it's no longer the same blog it used to be.
posted by zarq at 1:41 PM on April 7, 2010


Well we could always make April 9th a national holiday. Call it Appomattox day or something.

Shove it right back in their faces.
posted by Max Power at 1:42 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


uncleozzy, I think that's a really interesting point

Whoa, I think you've confused me with peeedro. I just posted a goofy link.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:43 PM on April 7, 2010


Speaking of sedition and treason, don't forget that the United States of America began as a seditious and treasonous attempt to secede from British Empire -- and one of the big differentiators between the colonies and the mother country was that slavery was legal in the colonies and illegal (since 1744) in England. As Samuel Johnson (a Tory) observed in reference to the American Revolution, "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?"
And yet, even though the United States was founded in part of preserve the institution of slavery, nonetheless, we still expect Americans of all races to celebrate our colonial history, and secession from hostile-to-slavery England as if it were a good thing.
posted by Faze at 1:44 PM on April 7, 2010 [21 favorites]


Washington State is huge with the state history classes. In fact, I think it was about my third year in college when I first heard rumors that there might be another place named Washington.

I think that just means Washington has really bad history classes.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:45 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tom Ricks suggest that if we have to have Confederate History Month, we should also get Nat Turner Day.
posted by Rangeboy at 1:45 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Louisiana has state history classes. Louisiana purchase. Napoleonic code. Boudin.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:45 PM on April 7, 2010


I too am proud of the sacrifices of confederate leaders. I just wish we'd managed to sacrifice all of them.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:47 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Here's a line-by-line comparison of the US and Confederate constitutions. This was a golden opportunity to redefine the relationship between the states and the central government, but instead of beefing up states rights' the main changes are to explicitly spell out and protect slavery, something the US Constitution is coy about.

In fact, a couple of the changes actually weaken states' rights. Sec. 2.(1) says only Confederate citizens can vote; in the US Constitution the individual states decide voter eligibility. Sect. 3.(3) says new states would have to be slave states to join the Confederacy; the voters of US states could decide to be free or slave states.

Speaking of states' rights, the slave states had no problem with Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, which required the federal government to track down escaped slaves and return them to the state they escaped from, even if slavery was illegal in the state where they were captured.
Excerpts from Declarations of Secession of southern States:
And it's a very odd thing that a region, the South, which supposedly believed in states' rights and local autonomy, pressed for this law which allowed the federal government to completely override the legal processes in the North: to send marshals in, to avoid the local courts, and to just seize people (they might be free born) and just drag them into the South as slaves. It shows that the South didn't believe in states' rights. It believed in slavery. States' rights was a defense of slavery. But when active federal power was needed to defend slavery, they were perfectly happy to utilize that also.
Mississippi:
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery - the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.
South Carolina
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.
Georgia
The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.
Texas
Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated States to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility [sic] and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery--the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits--a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:48 PM on April 7, 2010 [23 favorites]


California had state history in elementary school. We built scale replicas of Spanish missions and learned who Cabrillo was.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:48 PM on April 7, 2010


When I was a kid, I used to be friends with this pair of twins, Mark and Scott.

Scott was prone to say and do absurd, offensive things to Mark.

Mark, for his part, was the physically stronger (and smarter) of the two.

When Scott would say something especially egregious and untrue, Mark would beat the crap out of him until Scott finally gave up and apologized.

There would be a moment of peace.

Then Scott would say something like "but I was right about [egregious and untrue thing]" and get Mark would just fume and do his best to ignore him.

Yeah, so these Confederacy celebrations? They always sound to me like certain elements of the South saying "but we were right about that slavery thing."
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:49 PM on April 7, 2010


uncleozzy, oh yeah, that's what happened.

I think Texas is the only state that has state history classes (most districts have it around 7th grade). I've asked people from other states and they thought the concept was weird. It ties into the whole dumbass Texas-used-to-be-a-country thing that the rednecks love. Plus my Texas History teacher was a real vindictive bitch.

Really? In North Carolina, we didn't have a class called "North Carolina" history, but Fourth and Eighth Grades were basically nothing but North Carolina Geography/History. A quick glance at the Standard Course of Study indicates that not much has changed.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:49 PM on April 7, 2010


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by The Whelk at 1:50 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well we could always make April 9th a national holiday. Call it Appomattox day or something.

Some states of the South still officially celebrate Confederate Memorial Day and/or Jefferson Davis' birthday.
posted by peeedro at 1:51 PM on April 7, 2010


I think Texas is the only state that has state history classes (most districts have it around 7th grade). I've asked people from other states and they thought the concept was weird.

I had an awesome 2 semesters of New Mexico history, taught by the brilliant Mr. Alba. He was a storytelling historian, able to make the events of the past come alive during his hour-long spellbinding discourses. And he wasn't teaching white colonial history, either. His take on Oñate's foray north along the Rio Grande made it perfectly clear that he was both an explorer and a conquerer. Yet he was careful to acknowledge that a lot of the older families from the area were actually descended from Spaniards who stayed behind and settled with natives.

I still have vivid memories of his telling of the battle of the Acoma pueblo, even nearly 30 years later.

NM will always be a magical place for me, largely because of the depth and texture it was given during that year in junior high.
posted by hippybear at 1:52 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


A Republican declaring a pro-Confederacy holiday.

I think Texas is the only state that has state history classes (most districts have it around 7th grade).

We had a PA history class in 7th grade. I think the textbook was from the 1920s.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:55 PM on April 7, 2010


By my count "slave" (slaves, slavery, etc.) appeared ten times in the Confederate Constitution. In the US Constitution, zero, until it was mentioned in its abolition.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:56 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I mean, I could theoretically imagine someone liking the Confederacy the same way that a Montana resident's favorite baseball team could be the Red Sox-- he thinks the history is interesting, he finds the individuals involved charismatic and impressive, he likes their uniforms the best or whatever.

I actually knew someone exactly like this, had shelves of civil war books which he had apparently memorized, and went to civil war sites on vacation. He was also extremely liberal and never missed a chance to deride ignorant redneck fucks.

However, he was broken in some fundamental way, and eventually drove his family and everyone he knew away from him with his amazingly irritating personality.

So I guess my point is people like that can indeed exist, but you should probably stay away from them anyway.
posted by the bricabrac man at 2:01 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let's just get this out of the way right now: the primary reason for secession, as outlined in every one of the Articles of Secession, was slavery.

I dated a woman from Virginia. She insisted that slavery was not the main cause. I have a masters in history, so I said, let's go to the documents--they'll tell us right? She pulled up a document from the 1880s and said, see here it says slavery wasn't the main cause.

I said why don't we look at the articles of secession.

Every goddamned one of them railed on and on about slavery. She was shocked. They don't teach the truth down there.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:02 PM on April 7, 2010 [34 favorites]


The "states rights" Confederacy introduced conscription before the Union did.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:04 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


dances_with_sneetches: By my count "slave" (slaves, slavery, etc.) appeared ten times in the Confederate Constitution. In the US Constitution, zero, until it was mentioned in its abolition.

Slaves and/or slavery were referenced three times, without the word being used. The first mention is Article I Section II, the reference to "all other Persons" not being "free Persons."
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
Article 1 section 9 mentions the "importation of Persons" which refers to the slave trade.
"The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person."
Article 4 section 2 also refers to slaves:
No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.
posted by zarq at 2:06 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I've tried to bring evidence into this discussion such as proof of the censored history of willing Black Confederate Soldiers, the conversation is always shut down by the "progressives" here.

"The war between the North and the South is a tariff war. The war…does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty."
—Karl Marx, London, October 20, 1861
posted by unpoppy at 2:12 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Karl Marx was from Virginia?
posted by hhc5 at 2:13 PM on April 7, 2010 [15 favorites]


I grew up in Virginia, lived there for over twenty years and that's one of the best descriptions I've seen that encapsulates the people that put the Confederate flag on their truck or their front porch. People just don't think about the meaning of those symbols and the history that's packaged along with them.

Bullshit. You know they didn't trot the confederate flag out for years and years after the Civil War. It was something people wanted to forget.

The current obsession with the Confederate flag and Confederate history began in the 1950's, when the flag was the symbol of "Massive Resistance" to integration. Look at the state flags that incorporate it. When did they start? the 1950s and 1960s.

Look, for example at the Flag of Georgia. It had nothing to do with the Confederate flag until 1956 when the symbol was incorporated into the state flag.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:16 PM on April 7, 2010 [20 favorites]


As a southern white male I'd just like to thank Governor Bob McDonnell for sending a message to the rest of the country that we just don't get it down here. That we in the south are all a bunch of dumbass jerks. Thanks Bob you make my life so much easier.
posted by nola at 2:17 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I had blood on both sides of the Civil war, and I remember my great grandmother (born in 1900) telling me stories about her grandparents and their brothers and sisters who lived in the Virginia area and what it was like both before and during the fight.

I think, based on her descriptions, that I'd prefer not to celebrate that time.
posted by quin at 2:19 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, unpoppy. The entire vast internet at your disposal, and you have to link to THAT page to make your point? Surely you can do better and possibly boost your chances of having your point appreciated.
posted by hippybear at 2:19 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Karl Marx was ignorant of many aspects of global history and politics. No one takes his accounts of "Oriental" and "feudal" economies seriously, even if he was a good analyst of capitalism as he experienced it.

But I'm sure the good ol' boys of southern Virginia would love to raise a banner with Marx's tossed off, ignorant remark prominently featured in defense of their claim that slavery had nothing to do with anything.

What would be your claim, exactly, unpoppy? That the existence of willing (or coerced) collaborators trumps the prima facie, obvious, historically incontrovertible evidence that the Civil War was fought substantially over the issue of "slavery," cast in terms of "states rights"? What is it we "progressives" are missing along with every single major, serious historian of the episode?
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:23 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Related AskMefi I just posted on state history classes.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:25 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of a conversation I once had with a (black) guy from Georgia. In Texas, we have this weird beast called "Texas History" that gets taught in elementary and jr. high school. (conveniently, it only covers the time up to Texas' becoming part of the US. Lots of deification of Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, etc.)

Anyway, I asked him if Georgia did the same. He said no. I wondered why.


Georgia might not have had state history classes when he was going through school, but I went to Georgia public schools through my whole elementary and middle and high school education (from 1988-2001) and we most certainly did have Georgia History.

We had, in fact, an entire class devoted to the subject during all of 8th grade.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 2:25 PM on April 7, 2010


Ah, I see this is a bit of an obsession for unpoppy.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:28 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I've tried to bring evidence into this discussion such as proof of the censored history of willing Black Confederate Soldiers, the conversation is always shut down by the 'progressives' here.

That's because you are full of shit. Sure some blacks fought for the South. So what? One estimate is that "between 60,000 and 93,000 blacks served the Confederacy in some capacity." I suspect that most of the property people serving the Confederacy in some capacity were not soldiers. Any blacks who did fight for the South did so on an ad hoc, state-by-state basis. The Confederate government didn't arm slaves until March 1865; "only a few African-American companies were raised, and the war ended before they could be used in battle." Meanwhile, 179,000 black men fought for the North, making up 10% of the Union Army.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:31 PM on April 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


When I've tried to bring evidence into this discussion such as proof of the censored history of willing Black Confederate Soldiers, the conversation is always shut down by the "progressives" here.

By "shut down," do you mean "disproved?"

Black confederate soldiers are often trotted out by white supremacists desperate to prove that slavery couldn't possibly have had a blessed thing to do with the Civil War. The problem, unpoppy, that the Civil War most certainly did have a great deal to do with preserving the slave trade. See kirkaracha's comment here.

More: Several groups of free black slaves tried to join the Confederate Army at the beginning of the war. They were refused. Many blacks served in the war as slaves -- forced to serve their masters as body servants. As a "last dying gasp," the Confederacy eventually gave in and conscripted black soldiers. Too late.
The idea of enlisting blacks had been debated for some time. Arming slaves was essentially a way of setting them free, since they could not realistically be sent back to the plantation after they had fought. General Patrick Cleburne had suggested enlisting slaves a year before, but few in the Confederate leadership considered the proposal, since slavery was the foundation of southern society. One politician asked, "What did we go to war for, if not to protect our property?" Another suggested, "If slaves will make good soldiers, our whole theory of slavery is wrong." Lee weighed in on the issue and asked the Confederate government for help. "We must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished by our enemies and the slaves be used against us, or use them ourselves." Lee asked that the slaves be freed as a condition of fighting, but the bill that passed the Confederate Congress on March 13 did not stipulate freedom for those who served.

The measure did nothing to stop the destruction of the Confederacy. Several thousand blacks were enlisted in the Rebel cause, but they could not begin to balance out the nearly 200,000 blacks that fought for the Union.

posted by zarq at 2:33 PM on April 7, 2010 [10 favorites]



Karl Marx was from Virginia?


Leader of the much misunderstood and oft forgotten Virginia Socialists arm of the Oddfellows Lodge.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:34 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


When I've tried to bring evidence into this discussion such as proof of the censored history of willing Black Confederate Soldiers, the conversation is always shut down by the "progressives" here.

"The war between the North and the South is a tariff war. The war…does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty."
—Karl Marx, London, October 20, 1861


Exactly how does the presence of some few black confederate soldiers not make the war about slavery? Have you read the declarations of secession? All they talk about is slavery over and over again. Why suddenly out of the blue does the South secede when Lincoln is elected? Because of his positions on tarrifs?

This tired, old carnard is always brought out by those who would somehow imbue the cause of slavers with some sort of good. There is none.

Wasn't it the slave dealer N.B. Forrest who said that if this war wasn't about slavery what was it about?
posted by Ironmouth at 2:34 PM on April 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


Hmm, whimsicalnymph--he probably would have been in school (in Atlanta) at that time. He was maybe in his early 20s when I knew him in 2001. Maybe he went to private. Or lied. (he was kind of a jerk, to tell you the truth).

Well damn. I really liked that story.
posted by emjaybee at 2:34 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


"When I've tried to bring evidence into this discussion such as proof of the censored history of willing Black Confederate Soldiers, the conversation is always shut down by the "progressives" here."

By linking to Jim Goad? Seriously?
posted by klangklangston at 2:35 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Faze, I don't quibble with your points regarding the ironies of American Revolution, but in Britain slavery continued well into the 19th century. The slave trade was made illegal in 1807, but the Slavery Abolition Act wasn't until 1833. That's not to say there weren't those in the country who were opposed to the practice before then (obviously there were), but it's inaccurate to say "slavery was ... illegal (since 1744) in England."
posted by nickmark at 2:35 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's Raining Florence Henderson,

I can sign you up for a mandatory semester of 9th grade DC History if you like.
posted by jindc at 2:38 PM on April 7, 2010


Unpoppy - how about anti-secessionist counties in Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi putting up an armed struggle to stay with the Union? Hell, all of West Virgina tore away. Was it because they enjoyed Northern Aggression? Or was it because they were poor, hardworking men who were disenfranchised by the plantation owners who's slaves' votes counted in state legislature? (Of course the slaves didn't get to cast their vote themselves. Their kind and beneficent masters did that for them.)

The only reason the plantation owners wanted to secede was to maintain their undemocratic stranglehold on power, and their inhuman subjugation of slaves for financial gain. The Confederacy was pretty much unbridled evil.

Yes, there were black Confederate soldiers. There were also Native Americans who sided with the US in the Indian Wars. So what?
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:41 PM on April 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


unpoppy: From the various Declarations of the Causes of Seceding States.

Georgia:
The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property.
Mississippi:
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.
South Carolina:
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* [emphasis in the original] 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.
Texas:
In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color-- a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:41 PM on April 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


When I've tried to bring evidence into this discussion such as proof of the censored history of willing Black Confederate Soldiers, the conversation is always shut down by the "progressives" here.

I (white male) spent some brief time photographing a very small group of black Confederate Civil War re-enactors a few years back for a magazine article. Keeping things historically accurate, they were under the command of a white officer. All involved told me that the situation of blacks in the South was often more complex than we could comprehend, that racism was not as prevalent back then as we suppose nowadays, that they as re-enactors were trying to tell the WHOLE story, which had been obscured by our smug modern caricature of Confederate attitudes and motives. Then, at one point when the black re-enactors had moved off to another area of the camp, the white officer came over to me and cackled out a stream of incredibly offensive, flat-out racist (n-word included) comments about them and their intellectual shortcomings, literally elbowing me in the ribs as he did so.

Just sayin'...
posted by newmoistness at 2:44 PM on April 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


When I've tried to bring evidence into this discussion such as proof of the censored history of willing Black Confederate Soldiers, the conversation is always shut down by the "progressives" here.

Along the same lines of reasoning, weren't the Jews actually very happy and cooperative in engineering the Holocaust? After all, Jews served in Hitler's military.

You know what's really amazing? We can play this game with every single group of people. Aha, now I realize that no evil was ever perpetrated, because the victims were all happy to inflict it on themselves. Illuminating.

Thank you for your contribution.
posted by VikingSword at 2:47 PM on April 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


unpoppy, just a word of advice for the future. It's usually a VERY BAD IDEA to take comments out of context online. The practice can come back to bite you in the ass.

The quote you took out of context is an argument against the London media's characterization of the Civil War as being a tariff war.

From Karl Marx: "The North American Civil War"

Written: October 1861 / First Published: Die Presse No. 293, October 25, 1861;
London, October 20, 1861

For months the leading weekly and daily papers of the London press have been reiterating the same litany on the American Civil War. While they insult the free states of the North, they anxiously defend themselves against the suspicion of sympathising with the slave states of the South. In fact, they continually write two articles: one article, in which they attack the North, and another article, in which they excuse their attacks on the North.

In essence the extenuating arguments read: The war between the North and South is a tariff war. The war is, further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery and in fact turns on Northern lust for sovereignty. Finally, even if justice is on the side of the North , does it not remain a vain endeavour to want to subjugate eight million Anglo-Saxons by force! Would not separation of the South release the North from all connection with Negro slavery and ensure for it, with its twenty million inhabitants and its vast territory, a higher, hitherto scarcely dreamt-of, development? Accordingly, must not the North welcome secession as a happy event, instead of wanting to overrule it by a bloody and futile civil war?

Point by point we will probe the plea of the English press.

The war between North and South -- so runs the first excuse -- is a mere tariff war, a war between a protectionist system and a free trade system, and Britain naturally stands on the side of free trade. Shall the slave-owner enjoy the fruits of slave labour in their entirety or shall he be cheated of a portion of these by the protectionists of the North? That is the question which is at issue in this war. It was reserved for The Times to make this brilliant discovery. The Economist, The Examiner, The Saturday Review and tutti quanti expounded the theme further. It is characteristic of this discovery that it was made, not in Charleston, but in London. Naturally, in America everyone knew that from 1846 to 1861 a free trade system prevailed, and that Representative Morrill carried his protectionist tariff through Congress only in 1861, after the rebellion had already broken out. Secession, therefore, did not take place because the Morrill tariff had gone through Congress, but, at most, the Morrill tariff went through Congress because secession had taken place. When South Carolina had its first attack of secession in 1831, the protectionist tariff of 1828 served it, to be sure, as a pretext, but only as a pretext, as is known from a statement of General Jackson. This time, however, the old pretext has in fact not been repeated. In the Secession Congress at Montgomery all reference to the tariff question was avoided, because the cultivation of sugar in Louisiana, one of the most influential Southern states, depends entirely on protection.

But, the London press pleads further, the war of the United States is nothing but a war for the forcible maintenance of the Union. The Yankees cannot make up their minds to strike fifteen stars from their standard. They want to cut a colossal figure on the world stage. Yes, it would be different if the war was waged for the abolition of slavery! The question of slavery, however, as The Saturday Review categorically declares among other things, has absolutely nothing to do with this war.

It is above all to be remembered that the war did not originate with the North, but with the South. The North finds itself on the defensive. For months it had quietly looked on while the secessionists appropriated the Union's forts, arsenals, shipyards, customs houses, pay offices, ships and supplies of arms, insulted its flag and took prisoner bodies of its troops. Finally the secessionists resolved to force the Union government out of its passive attitude by a blatant act of war, and solely for this reason proceeded to the bombardment of Fort Sumter near Charleston. On April 11 (1861) their General Beauregard had learnt in a meeting with Major Anderson, the commander of Fort Sumter, that the fort was only supplied with provisions for three days more and accordingly must be peacefully surrendered after this period. In order to forestall this peaceful surrender, the secessionists opened the bombardment early on the following morning (April 12), which brought about the fall of the fort in a few hours. News of this had hardly been telegraphed to Montgomery, the seat of the Secession Congress, when War Minister Walker publicly declared in the name of the new Confederacy: No man can say where the war opened today will end. At the same time he prophesied that before the first of May the flag of the Southern Confederacy will wave from the dome of the old Capitol in Washington and within a short time perhaps also from the Faneuil Hall in Boston. Only now ensued the proclamation in which Lincoln called for 75,000 men to defend the Union. The bombardment of Fort Sumter cut off the only possible constitutional way out, namely the convocation of a general convention of the American people, as Lincoln had proposed in his inaugural address. For Lincoln there now remained only the choice of fleeing from Washington, evacuating Maryland and Delaware and surrendering Kentucky, Missouri and Virginia, or of answering war with war.

The question of the principle of the American Civil War is answered by the battle slogan with which the South broke the peace. Stephens, the Vice-President of the Southern Confederacy, declared in the Secession Congress that what essentially distinguished the Constitution newly hatched at Montgomery from the Constitution of Washington and Jefferson was that now for the first time slavery was recognised as an institution good in itself, and as the foundation of the whole state edifice, whereas the revolutionary fathers, men steeped in the prejudices of the eighteenth century, had treated slavery as an evil imported from England and to be eliminated in the course of time. Another matador of the South, Mr. Spratt, cried out: "For us it is a question of founding a great slave republic." If, therefore, it was indeed only in defence of the Union that the North drew the sword, had not the South already declared that the continuance of slavery was no longer compatible with the continuance of the Union?
I trust we won't be seeing you raise this canard again in the future?
posted by zarq at 2:47 PM on April 7, 2010 [104 favorites]


You know what pisses me off? When people are just outright racists, but have to spin some nonsense tripe obfuscating the historical facts or evident truths of a situation so they can cast their racism as justified by something other than outright hatred. If you're going to be a racist, be an honorable racist and come clean about it. Don't be one of those holocaust-deniers who says the gas chambers couldn't have worked, or one of those anti-black racists who says the Civil War was really fought over "states' rights" in some abstract sense. Don't bullshit us.

The substance of this thread is basically the correct accusation that this is exactly what's going on in the Virginia statehouse. Who us, racists? Really? Why, no, we just like our culture and history! We're not for segregation, we're just saying wasn't life nice before these uppity colored folks starting voting and all that.

But always, always, when you dig a little deeper, you find the ugly nub of outright hatred seeking righteous justification in an obsessive stream of pseudo-intellectual nonsense presented as persecuted truth-seeking.

I dug a little deeper, and now I have to go wash my hands.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:48 PM on April 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Not to pile on here, but the first sentence of unpoppy's link is just plain awesome:

The superficially benign sons and daughters of Marx who ham-handedly control public discourse among all English-speaking peoples of the world—the self-hating, typically pale-skinned, and invariably upper-class ectomorphs who blow Noam Chomsky under his desk as they simultaneously give handjobs to Foucault and Derrida while taking it up the ass without lube from Mao’s tiny, angry dick—insist that history is written by the winners and that we should be highly suspicious of anything that winners write.

Now THAT is a well-reasoned lede!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 2:48 PM on April 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


zarq for the win.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:49 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


BTW, Marx's other writings generally characterize the war as follows:

"The Crisis Over the Slavery Issue"
Written: December, 1861;
Source: Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 19;
Publisher: Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964;
First Published: Die Presse No. 343, December 14, 1861;
Online Version: Marxists.org 1999;

London, December 10, 1861

The United States has evidently entered a critical stage with regard to the slavery question, the question underlying the whole Civil War.

posted by zarq at 2:50 PM on April 7, 2010


I think that saying the Civil War was entirely about slavery is a little reductive, given that the Union as a whole couldn't really be considered "abolitionist" in the way that, say, John Brown was -- old Honest Abe himself was more than willing to allow slavery to continue to exist at the time of the CW's outbreak in order to prevent a war, and as we all know, the Emancipation Proclamation didn't free ALL slaves, just those in the seceding territories. Slavery was the central issue, of course, but in a lot of ways it was about the kinds of economy that slavery represented rather than any sort of "progressive" agenda. The opposition to slavery was both moral and economic, pitting the Northern urban/industrial/capitalist system vs. the Southern agricultural/feudal/slavery system. I think that most people in the North found slavery distasteful but were willing to let it exist in limited fashion and die out eventually as it became economically unfeasible, while the South knew that any limitations on slavery (like preventing the institution from extending into the new territories, etc) would eventually destroy it and the Southern way of life. But, it's been years since I was an undergraduate History major, so I could very well be wrong.

shakespherian/bricabrac man: I don't see what it's impossible for a good, non-slavery liking person to be interested in the Confederacy as a historical subject, just like some people are interested in Nazi Germany as a historical subject. That doesn't make them a holocaust denier or virulent anti-semite. And re: the person bricabrac mentions -- their social/personal failings probably had little to do with their intellectual interests.

And finally as for General Lee, well, I do have respect for him as a probably decent guy who made a terrible decision to go with the moral losers based on a misguided sense of loyalty to his home state, despite his objections to secession and his distaste for slavery. Lincoln did, after all, offer him command of the Union army, before Lee decided to go with Virginia. I once heard a story (probably apocryphal) that both Lee & Grant had their wives with them (or following them?) at Appomattox -- the story goes that Grant's wife had her personal slave in attendance, while the Lee family had none. Any truth to that?

That said, I don't believe in the Lost Cause interpretation, except insofar as to acknowledge that there were good and bad people on both side of the War, although only one side (the Union) was (generally speaking) on the ethical/moral side of things.
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:52 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


As someone who spent the first 20 years of his life in Virginia, I feel justified in saying that while there are definitely people who recognize the repugnant core of the Slavers' Treason, we're in the minority. My sister was on the dive team for Robert E. Lee High School, and whenever her team competed against the Fairfax High Rebels, I was always sickened to see that the pattern of the team-issued towels was, in fact, a giant Confederate flag. The Confederacy is glorified down there, and the actual history of that treason ignored. Sometimes it's out of ignorance - try to get taught the truth in rural Virginia, where the teachers have the Stars and Bars painted on the back windows of their trucks. Sometimes it's out of delusion - my great-great-granddad fought for the Confederacy, he can't have been defending slavery, can he? But more often than not, it's simple deception - racists celebrating racism and trying to hide it behind the smokescreen of history. Heritage, Not Hate.
posted by kafziel at 2:52 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Zarq has reduced unpoppy to a mere grease stain on the bottom of his shoe. That was an unmitigated beatdown.
posted by Justinian at 2:53 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


And I need to apologize to Karl Marx, whose remark was not "ignorant" after all -- only the person who cited it out of context proves to be ignorant (and I'd guess has never actually read Marx). I have read most of Marx, many times, but never that essay, wherein the "tariff war" claim is revealed to be an "excuse" of the slavers.

He did drop some doozies about other cultures. But when it came to spotting oppression, he was right on the money.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:57 PM on April 7, 2010


When I've tried to bring evidence into this discussion such as proof of the censored history of willing Black Confederate Soldiers

And there are gay Republicans today. That doesn't mean that the Republican party is just as good as the Democratic party at defending the rights of gays.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:57 PM on April 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


I don't see what it's impossible for a good, non-slavery liking person to be interested in the Confederacy as a historical subject, just like some people are interested in Nazi Germany as a historical subject. That doesn't make them a holocaust denier or virulent anti-semite.

And when that putative historian starts putting up Nazi flags in their lawn and on their car, and starts saying that the actions of Nazi Germany in World War 2 had nothing to do with anti-semitism? Then yeah, I'd say those are the actions of a virulent anti-semite. Especially when, as a "historian", they can hardly claim ignorance.

The difference between the Confederates and the Nazis is that the Nazis were more successful, and have fewer celebrants these days. It's a difference of degree, not of kind.
posted by kafziel at 2:58 PM on April 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history;

Isn't that a reference to slavery? Or did that just get slipped in after the uproar?
posted by notmydesk at 3:00 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


He did drop some doozies about other cultures. But when it came to spotting oppression, he was right on the money.

He was an odd bird. An outrageous anti-Semite, who also brilliantly analyzed and understood the oppression Jews faced. A champion of the exploited, he was not above disparaging peasants. And so on. He was simultaneously a brilliant thinker and and a terrible human being on a personal level (if you read about his life and conduct).
posted by VikingSword at 3:02 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Of the interesting differences between the United States and the CSA Constitutions, the ones that really stick out to me are the God references. Sure, they kept the "no religious tests" clause, but they also subbed out "year of our Lord" for year and included a God callout in the preamble too; the latter had been specifically avoided, as I recall it, as part of the separation of church and state in the original document. The religious tests clause had been pretty controversial back in the day, too.

As I see it, those that argue now that there is no such thing as a separation of church and state should check out the Confederate Constitution-- the worldview they espouse is much more easily defended if they were living under that document.
posted by norm at 3:02 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Isn't that a reference to slavery? Or did that just get slipped in after the uproar?

Oooh. I'm nearly positive that wasn't there earlier! I read the thing twice (and did a search for "slavery" on the page) just to be sure it wasn't mentioned.
posted by zarq at 3:03 PM on April 7, 2010


What gets me is that anyone is surprised by this, given the history of (a) the Commonwealth of Virginia and (b) the man currently occupying the governor's office there.

This is a man who wrote a master's thesis in 1989 in which he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family; said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators"; and described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.

Kaine did not properly capitalize on this shit when he was running for re-election. And McDonnell did everything he could to downplay, backpedal, minimize, change the subject, and insist that he was a moderate. This kind of crap proves how much of a pretense that is.
posted by blucevalo at 3:04 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


McDonnell's proclamation includes:
WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history;
This changes everything, right?
posted by peeedro at 3:04 PM on April 7, 2010


Just to clarify what I meant in that first paragraph: I think had the states that seceded when Lincoln was elected been coerced back into the fold without violence, had the Peace Conference of 1861 succeeded in establishing some sort of compromise amenable to the majority of the politicians (by, say, limiting the expansion of slavery but providing some sort of political/economic concession to slave-owning states), that slavery as an institution would have continued to exist for a while, at least, until it collapsed under economic pressures, increasing moral pressure from within and without, and better organization and rebellion on the part of slaves & former slaves.

By the way, it's been a while since I read it, but I remember Slaves No More as a really fascinating look at the realities of emancipation, both reevaluating (negatively) the role of white Northerners in ending slavery and reevaluating (positively) the role of slaves themselves.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:05 PM on April 7, 2010


oops, what notmydesk said first.
posted by peeedro at 3:06 PM on April 7, 2010


Google Cache doesn't lie!

The slavery language just got shoved in there.
posted by norm at 3:08 PM on April 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


zarq stands holding the feeble twitching spine of unpoppy's 'debate point'.

FATALITY
posted by FatherDagon at 3:09 PM on April 7, 2010


mcconnell is pretty much that dude in class who, every time February rolled around, would congratulate himself on being so clever as to suggest that there should be a white history month.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 3:09 PM on April 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Man, I hate that I was late to this. I am glad the whole "Black Confederate" and "slavery had nothing to do with it" deal seems to have been dealt with, at least for the moment. Some excellent refutations upthread.

When I first glanced at this post as I was leaving work, I thought "Oooh oooh! What about Unionists?" and I see Slap*Happy beat me to it. But yeah, there were people in the Southern states sympathetic to the Union cause. Often they suffered depredations at the hands of both armies. Their stories need to be told too, but Gov. McDonnell doesn't acknowledge them in his proclamation.

A few books I always recommend in these threads:

Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War by Charles Dew. Commissioners from the deep south states that first seceded went around to the other states and basically said "Join us, they're going to take away your slaves!"

Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory by David Blight. So far it is the definitive study on the "whitewashing" of the memory of the Civil War.

Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves during the Civil War by Bruce Levine. Pretty well smacks down the whole "thousands of Black Confederates" deal.

This blogger and historian has done a lot to try and debunk individual stories of Black Confederates.

Oh, and Gov. McDonnell, one more error in your proclamation: "a four year war between the states for independence that concluded at Appomattox Courthouse Bennett Place. FTFYA
posted by marxchivist at 3:11 PM on April 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Note that all the news articles refer to a "seven paragraph statement" too, and gee it's funny that the proclamation now has eight paragraphs. I wonder how long this will take everyone else to figure out, and whether or not a statement accompanied the change.
posted by norm at 3:11 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


kafziel: And when that putative historian starts putting up Nazi flags in their lawn and on their car, and starts saying that the actions of Nazi Germany in World War 2 had nothing to do with anti-semitism? Then yeah, I'd say those are the actions of a virulent anti-semite. Especially when, as a "historian", they can hardly claim ignorance.

Well, sure, IF that happens, which it does. But is it a necessary fact that everyone who is interested in a historical subject then becomes a proponent of the values of that subject? I mean, I study sixteenth- & seventeenth-century England, but I'm not advocating for a return to monarchy or practicing alchemy or burning heretics at the stake. There are people who collect memorabilia, too, and they are not necessarily believers in the ideology of the culture. Maybe I misread bricabrac man's anecdote, but I didn't see that the person he was talking about was waving Confederate flags and claiming the South Will Rise Again. And I wasn't trying to defend that sort of behavior either, which I find not only offensive but also, and perhaps even moreso, creepy and pathetic. I'm from Texas, and we certainly had our share of that, but I remember when driving through Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama that the pro-Confederate regalia was way more common, and I was more than a little disturbed by it -- in fact, in some small towns I was a little nervous for my own safety (I am not white). All I was saying is that I am sure there are plenty of people who are fascinated with [insert horrible regime here] who do not also follow the tenets of said regime, and that being interested in something as a historical subject does not necessarily mean you are a psycho, racist, whatever.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:15 PM on April 7, 2010


I'm so fucking tired of fighting the goddamn Civil War. Fuck you, Bob McDonnell.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:16 PM on April 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


Google Cache doesn't lie! The slavery language just got shoved in there.

Yep. Part of the backtracking.

McDonnell's spokesman has issued a statement about the governor's comments:
"The Governor issued the proclamation because the Civil War was the defining moment in our nation's history, and Virginia was at the center of that conflict as the Capitol of the Confederacy. The Governor's proclamation calls for appropriate thoughtful and serious reflection upon this period, and what it meant for our country and our Commonwealth. The Governor knows that slavery is a significant part of Virginia's history. Slavery was evil and it is a stain on the soul of our state and nation."
posted by ericb at 3:16 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Both Mississippi And Georgia Have Confederate History Proclamations Without Any Mention of Slavery.
posted by ericb at 3:17 PM on April 7, 2010


er, "which it does SOMETIMES."
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:17 PM on April 7, 2010


Whoo! I busted a gubnor!
posted by notmydesk at 3:18 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Rewind: then-Delegate Bob McDonnell tried to get the Virginia General Assembly to recite a salute written by a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
posted by ericb at 3:21 PM on April 7, 2010


zarq, since you're so careful to ignore the majority of the article I posted and instead focus only on one out of context Marx quote (and f*ck Marx by the way) from the article on Black Confederates, can you also "disprove" these as well (because I would enjoy seeing actual proof instead of piling up verbiage) :


The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states.
—Charles Dickens, London, 1861


Any reasonable creature may know, if willing, that the North hates the Negro, and that until it was convenient to make a pretence that sympathy with him was the cause of the war, hated the abolitionists and derided them up hill and down dale.
—Charles Dickens, Letter, 1862

There were an estimated 50,000 blacks who served willingly as Confederate soldiers...Federal history has hidden and altered the truth of the role blacks played in the War for Southern Independence.…They have taught their Yankee version of history in our public schools for the last 140+ years and have purposely taught hatred, misunderstanding, and ignorance between the black and white races.
—H. K. Edgerton

Many people don’t realize that blacks served in the Confederate Army, and that some actually fought...Many people ask why free blacks would join the Confederate Army....There could be many reasons. Many free blacks were literate and property owners, so it could have been in their interest to be with the Confederates.
—Earl Ijames


When you eliminate the black Confederate soldier, you've eliminated the history of the South.
—Leonard Haynes


Some of them were promised their freedom if they fought. Others went out of loyalty for their masters, and stayed with them in times of trouble….Black men did fight on both sides….
—James Eaton


It has been estimated that over 65,000 Southern blacks were in the Confederate ranks. Over 13,000 of these, "saw the elephant," also known as meeting the enemy in combat. These Black Confederates included both slave and free. The Confederate Congress did not approve blacks to be officially enlisted as soldiers (except as musicians), until late in the war. But in the ranks it was a different story. Many Confederate officers did not obey the mandates of politicians, they frequently enlisted blacks with the simple criteria, "Will you fight?"
—Walter Williams


"It is now pretty well established, that there are at the present moment many colored men in the Confederate army doing duty not only as cooks, servants and laborers, but as real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders, and bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down loyal troops, and do all that soldiers may to destroy the Federal Government and build up that of the traitors and rebels.…That the Negroes are numerous in the rebel army, and do for that army its heaviest work, is beyond question."
- 1862 letter to Abraham Lincoln by Frederick Douglass
posted by unpoppy at 3:22 PM on April 7, 2010


Yes, it is now being reported that the governor has apologized and ordered the proclamation modified to include a reference to slavery. On the one hand it's good that the governor was forced to confront the fact that he screwed the pooch. On the other hand it is akin to putting a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. It's something, I suppose, but it sure isn't going to stop the bleeding. The whole proclamation is garbage.
posted by Justinian at 3:23 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


And I need to apologize to Karl Marx, whose remark was not "ignorant" after all -- only the person who cited it out of context proves to be ignorant (and I'd guess has never actually read Marx).

Of course, the person who comes out smelling the worst in all of this isn't so much unpoppy (though he hasn't done himself any favors in this thread) as Jim Goad, the wife-beating asshole who intentionally took that Marx quote out of context in his blatantly racist and moronic blog post. And to think, this guy is considered some kind of folk hero to the rabid anti-PC brigade because he "speaks truth to power", or some shit. When all he's ever really been, on or off the internet, is a garden variety internet troll.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:23 PM on April 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I could have missed it,) but it's probably worth noting that Richmond, VA was the capitol of the Confederacy...

"The Governor issued the proclamation because the Civil War was the defining moment in our nation's history, and Virginia was at the center of that conflict as the Capitol of the Confederacy...."

It's actually 'Capital.'

'Capitol' describes a building.
posted by ericb at 3:24 PM on April 7, 2010


Hey unpoppy, if I go find some examples of Jews in the Wehrmacht will you kindly shut your piehole about this?
posted by Justinian at 3:24 PM on April 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm gonna charitably assume that unpoppy didn't read that link that he/she posted too closely, and didn't see at the bottom where the phrase "shut that cock-receptacle you call a mouth and get back to working in that field before I whip you again" occurs, followed by a picture of Abraham Lincoln in blackface. Either way, though, that's the most spectacular defeat of someone's own point by their own link that I've seen in some time.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:26 PM on April 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


This changes everything, right?

This doesn't change that fact that unless it's made screamingly clear (as in this case), some white Southerners do not -- or will not -- understand why other Americans are glad the Confederacy lost.
posted by hhc5 at 3:27 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, I see this is a bit of an obsession for unpoppy.

Yes, indeed.

Black Confederate soldiers were not a myth [posted by unpoppy on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - 5:48 PM]. The post contains the same quotes/references posted in this thread.
posted by ericb at 3:30 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought April was Poetry Month?
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 3:30 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Its easy to run a mouth, DecemberBoy, and you might even get a pat on the back, but let's get into specifics now.
posted by unpoppy at 3:30 PM on April 7, 2010


"Ah, I see this is a bit of an obsession for unpoppy."

yes. I want to understand the truth and not just assume Civil War propaganda to be real from any side of the conflict.
posted by unpoppy at 3:32 PM on April 7, 2010


unpoppy:
"For the fucking sake of the bleeding, sweating, dying, wailing, burping, farting, nailed-to-the-cross Jesus, people—America’s Civil War was no different than all other wars in that its underpinnings were primarily economic rather than ideological."
posted by ericb at 3:34 PM on April 7, 2010


unpoppy, quoting H. K. Edgerton really doesn't help your cause much. Walter Williams' book is a collection of anecdotes and not well documented. Douglass had a definite agenda in trying to get Lincoln to recruit blacks into the Union army, might have something to do with that oft-quoted letter.

There were an estimated 50,000 blacks who served willingly as Confederate soldiers


It has been estimated that over 65,000 Southern blacks were in the Confederate ranks. Over 13,000 of these, "saw the elephant," also known as meeting the enemy in combat.

There is no proof of those numbers anywhere. Neither of those statements are contemporary with the war. You might as well say "some guy said," which is who those other people you list are to me with the exception of Charles Dickens. He is not my personal first go-to source on the causes of the American Civil War.
posted by marxchivist at 3:36 PM on April 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


My sister was on the dive team for Robert E. Lee High School, and whenever her team competed against the Fairfax High Rebels, I was always sickened to see that the pattern of the team-issued towels was, in fact, a giant Confederate flag.

What's the problem? I'd be happy to dry my ass off on a giant Confederate flag.
posted by availablelight at 3:37 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


So long as we agree that the economic underpinning of the Civil War was slavery I might almost agree with that. Somehow I don't think he'd agree.
posted by Justinian at 3:38 PM on April 7, 2010


"For the fucking sake of the bleeding, sweating, dying, wailing, burping, farting, nailed-to-the-cross Jesus, people—America’s Civil War was no different than all other wars in that its underpinnings were primarily economic rather than ideological."

Well, to defend unpoppy for a moment, perhaps he meant "economic" in the sense that the South's economy was based on owning slaves, and in order to own another human being, you had to dehumanize him, and so from that it follows that the Confederates wanted to keep their human chattel and all that implies. Did I get it right?
posted by VikingSword at 3:39 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey unpoppy, if I go find some examples of Jews in the Wehrmacht will you kindly shut your piehole about this?

Here: Jewish Soldiers in the Wehrmacht.
posted by norm at 3:44 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


unpoppy, yes, there were black people fighting on the side of the Confederacy, some of them apparently willingly, but what does that prove? What's the larger point that you're making? That some southern black people had reasons for supporting the status quo? That most people in the northern states were also racist against black people? Believe it or not, most people already knew that.

As far as the reasons for war being economic rather than ideological, well, yes, to a degree I suppose you're right, but the ideology that it was OK to enslave black people was pretty much the underpinning to southern economy, wasn't it?
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:46 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


zarq, since you're so careful to ignore the majority of the article I posted and instead focus only on one out of context Marx quote...

No, I didn't. (I posted that comment before the one about your Marx quote, btw.) Would you care to address the points I made there, or those made by other folks in this thread?

can you also "disprove" these as well (because I would enjoy seeing actual proof instead of piling up verbiage)

The points being made by the quotes you chose from Frederick Douglass, H K Edgerton, James Eaton, Earl James and Walter Williams were addressed and countered with facts, here, here and by me, here. Dr. Haynes' quote is nice hyperbole, but without any other context, there's no real substance to it.

That said, it's not my responsibility to vet your quotes for contextual errors. Do it yourself by linking to the entire article they're lifted from.
posted by zarq at 3:46 PM on April 7, 2010 [14 favorites]


And yes, the history of the Civil War is a little big more complicated than just "the Confederacy was bad because they supported slavery," but the Confederacy was bad and it did support slavery. While we can certainly argue particulars, I think most people other than cranks, racists and racist cranks can certainly agree on at least this much.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:50 PM on April 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Concerning the five figure numbers of Black Confederates, there is a Facebook group or page or something (I'm not linking to it) that claims millions of Black Confederates. They define Black Confederates as: "Any Black person, slave or free, a subject of a seceded Southern state, who faithfully performed his/her duties during the existence of the Confederate States of America. There were 3.5 million blacks in 1860 census residing in Southern states so the number of Black Confederates numbers in millions, not thousands."

Sooo....I guess the slaves who didn't run away were...Black Confederates?
posted by marxchivist at 3:54 PM on April 7, 2010


Kaine did not properly capitalize on this shit when he was running for re-election.

Kaine wasn't running for re-election (VA limits its governors to a single term). Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate tried to make as much hay out of McDonnell's thesis as he could, but he spent as much energy running away from the most popular person in his party (Obama) who was probably the only individual who could have gotten out all those young and minority voters who chose to stay home on election day last year. Too bad that the Dems didn't nominate Moran or McAuliffe who at least would have known better than to pull an "Al Gore".

(I respect Gore very much, but running away from Clinton in 2000 was a bonehead move.)
posted by longdaysjourney at 3:57 PM on April 7, 2010


yes. I want to understand the truth and not just assume Civil War propaganda to be real from any side of the conflict.

Based on your comments here, I guess your truth is that the Civil War was because of economics? And that there were blacks - slave and free - who fought for the Confederacy, and therefore....what, exactly?

The South's economic power was rooted in slavery. Insofar as it can be argued that the war was about economics, well, okay. And the economics were based on slavery.

And I'm not getting your insistence on [number of] blacks who carried guns against the North. So what? If it could be documented without any question that [some number] of blacks - slave and free - did so, that would mean what, exactly? That slavery was okay? That the federal government should have folded up its tents and gone home?

You must hate slavery a lot, since you can't even bring yourself to talk about it.
posted by rtha at 3:58 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


And yes, the history of the Civil War is a little big more complicated than just "the Confederacy was bad because they supported slavery," but the Confederacy was bad and it did support slavery. While we can certainly argue particulars, I think most people other than cranks, racists and racist cranks can certainly agree on at least this much.

Agreed. To whit, I'm not sure why the statements

a) "the North was not a monolith and among its backers one finds additional motives (poltical, economic) during the war besides just ending slavery," and

b) "slavery was an evil institution being explicitly defended by the Confederacy"

are in any way mutually exclusive.

Such complexity is even more pronounced in the case of WW2: i.e., America did not enter that war specifically to end the Holocaust, but the upshot of defeating Hitler was ending the genocide and liberating the survivors. Likewise, the upshot of the North's defeat of the Confederacy was the ending of slavery as institution (even if it took another 80 plus years to grant Southern blacks their full civil rights).
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 4:01 PM on April 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


neo-confederated tied to white supremacy? No! Say it isn't so! My god, how could anyone even think that? Jesus, what a surprise! I mean neo-confederates and white supremacy? Man whoever thought those two went together must have been tripping on mescalin or something. How can you even begin to formulate a sentence with the two of those together? It's like matter and anti-matter, it's like Star Wars and Star Trek, it is like penut butter and gunpowder. The sheer gall to remotely entertain that neo-confederates and white supremacy may even exist in the same universe is so fucking feeble minded I am at a loss for words....

ok I'll stop now: In other news... fuck those assholes.
posted by edgeways at 4:01 PM on April 7, 2010


Damn unpoppy, after seeing how bad you cherry-picked that Marx quote I'm just skipping over every other quote you list. You need to include full context for everything you post from now on, because as it stands you've run out of credibility.
posted by mullingitover at 4:04 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Charles Dickens

Really? Can we get Jane Austen's perspective on the underlying causes of the American Revolution?
posted by EarBucket at 4:08 PM on April 7, 2010 [18 favorites]


What is it with Republicans' obsessions with the whole master/slave thing? Has Michael Steele weighed in on this yet, or is he still at the BDSM club?
posted by emelenjr at 4:10 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Has Michael Steele weighed in on this yet, or is he still at the BDSM club?

No, he's busy laundering money.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 4:13 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really? Can we get Jane Austen's perspective on the underlying causes of the American Revolution?

It's a little bit past her time, you know. She was born in 1775. How about her thoughts on the war of 1812?
During the War of 1812, when the young United States fought Britain again, her brother Francis took command of the HMS Elephant, where he achieved some fame by capturing an American privateer in the Atlantic.

Jane Austen wrote in a letter to her friend Martha Lloyd, “The Americans cannot be conquered,” she reflected her brother Henry’s opinion with gloom, “We are to make them good Soldiers and Sailors, and gain nothing ourselves. If we are to be ruined it cannot be helped -- but I place my hope in better things on a claim to the protection of Heaven, as a Religious Nation, a Nation in spite of much Evil improving in religion, which I cannot believe the Americans to possess.”

Austen inferred that the United States, which observed separation of church and state, must therefore be without spiritual guidance. She was not the only Austen to raise her eyebrows at the Americans’ still revolutionary behavior. In later years when the two nations became more friendly, Francis Austen was welcomed in society on a trip to Saratoga, New York. He was put off by the bold manners of the American women.
source
posted by norm at 4:14 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Republican beliefs are very firmly rooted in the notion of hierarchical moral authority. God is above all, the POTUS is "supreme commander" etc. Obviously the frustrations with dealing with that come out somehow.
posted by GuyZero at 4:14 PM on April 7, 2010


I love that the Jane Austen quote comes back to make my original point about the separation of church and state again. USA! USA! Seriously this time.
posted by norm at 4:16 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damn unpoppy, after seeing how bad you cherry-picked that Marx quote I'm just skipping over every other quote you list. You need to include full context for everything you post from now on, because as it stands you've run out of credibility.

unpoppy, that Marx link was a catastrophe. Really, your credibility fell to the bottom of the barrel. There it was, inert, and it looked like no force on earth would raise it up. I peered down, and suddenly I saw something that made me exclaim in amazement - your credibility stuck firmly to the bottom of the barrel - moved! It moved in the wrong direction - it started digging through the bottom of the barrel, because apparently the bottom wasn't low enough! This is the digging motion:

unpoppy: "(and f*ck Marx by the way)"

unpoppy, you did the practically impossible - you've dug lower yet... what you mean, is that you'll use Marx's remarks if they support your case, because you want to trade on his credibility... but you yourself don't believe he has any ("fuck Marx")? So you are a like the prosecutor who would be happy to use someone he thinks is an inveterate liar as a witness just to win a case? Wow.

Recently I happened to watch The China Syndrome. For some reason I'm having a flashback, what with your credibility hitting ever new impossible lows... I don't know, The unpoppy Syndrome has a certain ring to it...
posted by VikingSword at 4:16 PM on April 7, 2010 [13 favorites]


Most of the conversation here dips and wallows into predictable, slack-jawed internet trolling styles ("you're a nazi & a white supremesist & wife beater & look at me I hate slavery (nevermind other countries)"), so have yourself a good time with these tricks.

Slave labor is only ok when it's outside US borders and making US junk....whats important is for you all not to question any post-Civil War government explanations. Oh and nevermind those Lincoln qoutes too...oh and please don't come to the South where most of the black people in the US live, because we're too racist to understand. Thank you !

Apologies to anyone that attempted a clear conversation, but I think this is best done somewhere with a bit more quality control than metafilter.
posted by unpoppy at 4:19 PM on April 7, 2010


God is above all, the POTUS is "supreme commander" a sekrit Muslin soshalist etc.

FTFY.
posted by EarBucket at 4:20 PM on April 7, 2010


Apologies to anyone that attempted a clear conversation, but I think this is best done somewhere with a bit more quality control than metafilter.

Seriously?!
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:21 PM on April 7, 2010


VikingSword your name is really impressive. It's also that you're able to comprehend the discussion so clearly before running your flap. Rage against that machine !
posted by unpoppy at 4:23 PM on April 7, 2010


Apologies to anyone that attempted a clear conversation, but I think this is best done somewhere with a bit more quality control than metafilter.

I think that kind of "quality" can be found on stormfront.org.
posted by VikingSword at 4:24 PM on April 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


No, [Michael Steele]'s busy laundering money.

Wow. If there's anything to that story, he's toast. Done. Most of the bigwigs in the party hate him, but they need an excuse to make him walk the plank. That should do nicely.
posted by EarBucket at 4:24 PM on April 7, 2010


Slave labor is only ok when it's outside US borders and making US junk

Who said that? No one on this thread.

oh and please don't come to the South where most of the black people in the US live

This is irrelevant piece of demographics, and I'm puzzled by it, since if anything it's an historical outgrowth of the fact that the Southern states had so may slaves. Also, ever heard of the Great Migration (in which African americans left the South in droves to find work in Northern cities)?

because we're too racist to understand.

Stop being so thin-skinned; it's not about hurting the feelings of Southern whites, many if not most of whom are not racist. It's about acknowledging the ways in which the coded emblems of the Confederacy have very often been used since the era of Civil Rights in transparently racist ways.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 4:26 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


unpoppy, my name, mighty as it is, cannot undo your Marx link disaster, perhaps time to take some responsibility for what you write, no?
posted by VikingSword at 4:26 PM on April 7, 2010


Apologies to anyone that attempted a clear conversation, but I think this is best done somewhere with a bit more quality control than metafilter.

That answers my question.

"Disproved."
posted by zarq at 4:28 PM on April 7, 2010


So, per my original question unpoppy, what economic issues other than slavery was the war fought over? Import duties?
posted by GuyZero at 4:29 PM on April 7, 2010


unpoppy, this is an official mod request that you give it a rest. I think you had the right idea a couple comments ago with dropping it; please do that on your own so I don't have to do it for you.

Anybody still arguing with unpoppy, drop it, and let's let the thread continue without the take-on-all-comers sideshow.
posted by cortex at 4:29 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


> Apologies to anyone that attempted a clear conversation, but I think this is best done somewhere with a bit more quality control than metafilter.

TAKE IT TO THE METADOME!
posted by rigby51 at 4:29 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a side note, being a unionist in the south during the civil war did not mean being an abolitionist. My great-great grandfather was one of about 50-60 unionists in Atlanta during the Civil War. He thought the War was economic suicide for the South and argued strongly against it. He owned slaves, and would not have survived economically without them before and during the war; he changed his professional career significantly after the war to support his family. He remained pro-union through the war, and was one of the men who surrendered the city to Sherman's troops (which contained another great-great grandfather who - having emigrated from Norway to the upper midwest - did have a very visceral anti-slavery feeling from his youth in basic peonage as well as an affection for his new country where he owned his own crops.).

I was born, raised, and currently live in Virginia, and agree that this is no surprise. You can't be a successful Republican in Virginia today* and not pass this proclamation through, although I'm surprised McDonnell was so sloppy to leave out the usual "Of course Slavery is wrong and bad and all right-thinking people think so; however there was some 'unrelated' good stuff that is worth saving from that time" statement at first. He's going to have to pick up his game if he really wants to walk the tightrope and run for President (and he does. Oh, he really does). The sloppiness around last month's 'No, it's OK *wink* *wink* to be Gay, see this decorative non-binding plaque!" (not to mention his illustrious written record) give him lots of lovely targets for future sniping.

I've generally found that there are three types of Virginians who celebrate the Confederate Flag. 1) The virulently racist lunkheads, the separatists and the blame-everything-on-anything non-whites. The confederate flag is a cudgel of hate for these people, and they're the ones you envision when you think about this law. Some of them cloak their racism behind ... 2) The "tradition-savers" - the people who like what you might call "window dressing" - the ideas of the "code of honor" and chivalry and the greatness of Virginia (we were all educated to know just how special Virginia is in school, and some at home, too.) and what it's given the world. "Well, of course Slavery is bad. It's horrible. It's wrong. It's a sin. But there were things "independent" of that that were good - respect and courtesy and building this great country and...". These people genuinely do not think they are racist (understimating one's own racism is pretty consistent in this group, who feel like they're widely misunderstood), and calling them or their actions racist will shut down any lines of communication immediately as they get defensive and stop listening. If you don't accuse and try to educate, you have a shot at getting through. 3). The rebels. Life's tried to kick them in the teeth, and they're kicking back. They're flying the flag of rebellion and if you are "too stupid" to see that it's about rebelling against a system that is agin' em, then they don't care if you don't get that the flag doesn't have anything to do with race at all. (This is their perspective, not mine.).

*just as the serious or goading use of the phrase "War of Northern Aggression" seems to happen only with people over 70 around here, I'm looking forward to the day when even Virginia Republicans don't even pay lip service to the Confederates - I'll be an old lady, but I think I'll still be alive
posted by julen at 4:35 PM on April 7, 2010 [13 favorites]


cortex , I understand and I'm out. I'd rather lurk here. Thanks.
posted by unpoppy at 4:36 PM on April 7, 2010


Not a comment on how many black soldiers served as part of the Confederate army or how "willingly." This guy served as part of the crew of a Confederate military transport ship - prior to commandeering the ship and defecting to the Union navy. He later became kind of famous.

Good guy to remember for Confederate History Month.
posted by nangar at 4:40 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


"a four year war between the states for independence that concluded at Appomattox Courthouse Bennett Place. Doaksville." FTFY'all

Why suddenly out of the blue does the South secede when Lincoln is elected?

There were two waves of secession. The Lower South states (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas) seceded between December 20, 1861, and February 1, 1862, in reaction to Lincoln winning the election. (Ironically, seceding out of fear that Lincoln would abolish slavery ended up bringing the end of slavery sooner that it would have if they hadn't seceded.)

The Upper South states (Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina) seceded between April 17 and May 20, 1862, after the Confederates attacked Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, and Lincoln called up troops on April 15. It's often said that the Upper South states seceded in reaction to Lincoln calling up troops, but James McPherson disagrees:
As the telegraph chattered reports of the attack on Sumter April 12 and its surrender next day, huge crowds poured into the streets of Richmond, Raleigh, Nashville, and other upper South cities to celebrate this victory over the Yankees. These crowds waved Confederate flags and cheered the glorious cause of southern independence. They demanded that their own states join the cause. Scores of demonstrations took place from April 12 to 14, before Lincoln issued his call for troops. Many conditional unionists were swept along by this powerful tide of southern nationalism; others were cowed into silence.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:41 PM on April 7, 2010


[Seriously, follow up in email/mefimail or take it to metatalk if you really need to keep going but enough in here.]
posted by cortex at 4:46 PM on April 7, 2010


R.E. Lee Gets Four Score and Seven Kicks to the Balls
posted by kirkaracha at 4:48 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd still like to celebrate Appomattox Day, coming April 9th, to a Friday near you!
posted by Max Power at 4:49 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still reading comments, but, if you are outraged about this write Governor McDonnell here.
posted by SuzySmith at 4:59 PM on April 7, 2010


I'll raise a glass of usquebaugh on Appomattox Day, Max!
posted by Floydd at 5:00 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let me point out one final thing. It doesn't matter one bit how many black confederate soldiers there were. It tells us nothing about the motivation of whites who made the decision to secede. If there were a million confederate black soldiers but every single state in its secession law said it was about slavery, then it was about slavery. The fact that blacks served in confederate uniform is irrelevant to the question of why secession occured.

I'm also thrilled about the reaction in general. McConnell took a pasting and beat a hasty retreat. Why? Because this country has changed. This isn't the 1990s anymore.

Seeya!
posted by Ironmouth at 5:07 PM on April 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Anyway, hilarious how the white supremacist grouping that requested it reacted to the news of McDonnell's Appamattox:

Contacted this afternoon by TPMmuckraker, Dorsey said he was unaware of McDonnell's apology. After it was read to him, Dorsey said the apology "comes as a shock," and accused the governor of "pandering to people who never would have voted for him nor supported any of his policies."

Making clear that he was speaking only for himself, Dorsey said that the apology "completely undermined the purpose of the resolution." He added: "We would probably have rather not had a proclamation whatsoever, than for him to add a clause that says that everything that we support and everything we hold dear has to do with slavery."


Sorry, but everything you hold near and dear has to do with slavery.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:13 PM on April 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Even in Texas, we have only one day for the Confederacy. I get Confederate Heroes Day off of work. Hey, free day! I'm amazed they still have it on the books, but maybe I shouldn't be.
posted by marble at 5:43 PM on April 7, 2010


I went to Georgia public schools through my whole elementary and middle and high school education (from 1988-2001) and we most certainly did have Georgia History.

Currently in the Savannah, GA school system it's a year long course in eighth grade.

Don't forget Confederate Memorial Day, it's coming up.

Swear to God, living here for decade counts as having lived in a foreign country.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:48 PM on April 7, 2010


Like I said in the Constance's Prom thread, I'm calling it "We kicked your sorry cracker asses" month.
posted by notsnot at 6:09 PM on April 7, 2010


The mentions of Confederate memorials brings up an interesting question: Is it appropriate to pay respects to the Confederate soldiers who died fighting on the wrong side of history and morality, given that many, if not most?, were poor people who had little control over or say in the war at all? Not trying to be all "I was just following orders," as I'm talking about the average bulletcatcher here.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:10 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I grew up in Virginia, we had state history in seventh grade, just to add that remark. Also, I still have the link open from when I opened this thread right before eight and the website did not have the paragraph about slavery then.

There are days, quite a few here recently, where I really hate living in Virginia. The racist good old boy network, the homophobia, the Republican majority in the state. It is a damn shame as there are so many good things about Virginia, how I live in a beachfront town, yet, a couple hours away I can be in a beautiful mountain settings. How pretty the leaves are in the fall, how summer is so humid that when fall gets here it is amazing how wonderful it feels.

A lot of old "southern" things, too, a cold glass of ice tea, made the right way, fried chicken in the summer time, good corn bread, southern church ladies' food, the way families have massive reunions, and a million other things. It is just a damn shame that the good ol' racist boy network still exits. It breaks my heart that the state that I love this month is still full of people who would hate solely based on color or sexuality.

Virginia surprised me, a lot, when we went for Obama. I just knew that there were too many of that same network for it to happen. When the VA outline lit up blue on the political maps, I cried with happiness. I should have known it was too good to last.
posted by SuzySmith at 6:30 PM on April 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


Saxon Kane: "Is it appropriate to pay respects to the Confederate soldiers who died fighting on the wrong side of history and morality, given that many, if not most?, were poor people who had little control over or say in the war at all?"

Sure, every person has some redeeming quality, and every person has a right to a positive image of their ancestors that they can find some pride in.

But not as a code for continuing the foolish and oppressive project that they died for.

I think, in general, that it is best to expend some effort to understand the losers of history. Because the winner's version is going to be simple fact, and you won't even know if the losers had a point unless you go looking for it. But it seems that it is the direct descendants of the losers of this war (both genetic and spiritual descendents) who are for a large part running the southern states, both in political power and cultural norms. This is not a forgotten and maligned past, pro-confederate sympathies are far from rare.
posted by idiopath at 6:35 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is it appropriate to pay respects to the Confederate soldiers who died fighting on the wrong side of history and morality

Sure, but nothing exists in a vaccum. There's still a lot of negative echoes from the Civil War and all that gets mixed up with honoring the Confedrate soliders. Lot of personal and familial history there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 PM on April 7, 2010


Sure .... But not as a code for continuing the foolish and oppressive project that they died for.

That's what I think. Yay, agreement on Metafilter!
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:45 PM on April 7, 2010


The mentions of Confederate memorials brings up an interesting question: Is it appropriate to pay respects to the Confederate soldiers who died fighting on the wrong side of history and morality, given that many, if not most?, were poor people who had little control over or say in the war at all? Not trying to be all "I was just following orders," as I'm talking about the average bulletcatcher here.

The Japanese have been wrestling with much the same question. And they also have a noisy far-right which doesn't help things.
posted by acb at 6:46 PM on April 7, 2010


I've been a CW buff ever since I can remember. I remember visiting Virginia during the late 60's and early 70's, in retrospect not the best time to visit the South.
When I was younger, I fell for the whole "Lost Cause" romanticism but as I've gotten older older (and I hope wiser) I've realised what a load of crap it was.
Is it possible to admire Lee and Jackson for their military prowess and still acknowledge that part of their 'cause' included OWNING other people?
For the record, I'm a white Yankee who had no CW ancestors , North or South, that I am aware of.
posted by pentagoet at 6:48 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it appropriate to pay respects to the Confederate soldiers who died fighting on the wrong side of history and morality

Is it possible to admire Lee and Jackson for their military prowess and still acknowledge that part of their 'cause' included OWNING other people?

Well, that depends. Are you paying some sort of respect to the individuals, whose choice to fight and die in an attempt to maintain black people as property was a horrible and unjustifiable affront? Or are you paying respect to Confederate soldiers for being Confederate soldiers, and using Confederate iconography to do it? Because while saying "Robert E. Lee was a gifted soldier and talented general, and we can only lament that he used those gifts in service of an abjectly evil cause instead of against it" might be in the vicinity of acceptable (although it reeks of bullshit without a familial connection), saying "Robert E. Lee fought for Confederate Virginia, and so we as Virginians honor him" is decidedly not. Robert E. Lee was a traitor to the United States, and by using his skills against the US he shares the blame for a lot of deaths and a lot of misery. Even if lauding his life prior to it, Lee's treason should be condemned, not celebrated.

These aren't my words, but they're good words:

"Not every German in Nazi Germany was an evil racist.
Not every American in the CSA was an evil racist.

Nazi Germany was an evil and racist state.
The CSA was an evil and racist state.

We do not honour Nazi Germany and display Nazi iconography and shout Nazi slogans when discussing "the good Germans".
We do not honour the CSA and display CSA iconography and shout CSA slogans when discussing "the good Confederates"."
posted by kafziel at 7:00 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nazi Germany was foreign. The Confederates were and are family, fellow Americans, so the relationships are different.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:07 PM on April 7, 2010


2004! WHERE YOU AT?!

Fuck the South

posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 7:08 PM on April 7, 2010


As a side note, being a unionist in the south during the civil war did not mean being an abolitionist.

Good point julen. One unionist in NC was one of the state's largest slaveholders, James Cathcart Johnson. His father was Samuel Johnson, who served as a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. There is a great quote (which I can't find right now) where he says something about not wanting to be a part of tearing down the republic his father helped build. Slavery was protected under the Constitution at the time, and Lincoln said in his first Inaugural address he could not interfere with slavery where it already existed. Some folks felt their property (slaves) were better protected under the current Federal government.
posted by marxchivist at 7:12 PM on April 7, 2010


Suzy Smith: "Virginia surprised me, a lot, when we went for Obama. I just knew that there were too many of that same network for it to happen. When the VA outline lit up blue on the political maps, I cried with happiness. I should have known it was too good to last."

As another lifelong Virginian, I keep reminding myself that true progress happens in fits and starts; sometimes it sags back before making big progress forward. Sometimes it gets stuck until we can kick it forward. It isn't always easy, and it can seem godawful slow, but progress is where we are going. I look back at my childhood and see the changes since then, which gives me hope that things will change more going forward. I see more tolerance today than when I was a child, and I have expectations that things will get far better. It's one of those reasons why I still live here (aside from the glorious mountains and being a few hours away from the beach. ;) - I believe that my side is going to win out, and I want to be here to make Virginia as great as we're taught to think ourselves.

We're only 40 years away from Resistance and Segregation and Integration in Virginia, which shaped a lot of the people currently in power, whether as students or parents or bystanders. When I went to elementary school in the late 70s, the hangover from that still lingered. As that dissipated, the nature of kids' black/white relations changed, which shape how they grow up and interact. I'm not naive; I know there will continue to be racism, and that people will learn about "heritage" from an insular perspective that they won't be able to step outside (i.e. seeing the confederate flag as a symbol of a family's sacrifices and of a tradition of "chivalry and honor" but not understanding the visceral reaction it has to someone who sees it as a symbol of enslavement, torture, and sedition), but I believe the overall numbers are dropping.
posted by julen at 7:34 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reporting from Richmond VA, just 17 blocks from the governor's mansion, here is a link to our local newspaper reporting with some fun updates and entertaining comments by our readership. (The Richmond Times Dispatch AKA the Richmond Times Disgrace has had a consistent habit of running climate change deniers editorials as well!) This afternoon McDonnell did apologize for leaving out slavery (whoops!, maybe he was multitasking!)

I have lived in Richmond for 18 years, and work in some of the most marginalized communities we have. The topic of slavery is a very raw, on both sides of the fence. White guilt is strong, and manifests itself by being very paternalistic to the black community. The black community has not recovered from having all remnants of family structures torn apart as they were bred like livestock in the area known as Shockoe Valley. Here is a link to an excellent article, "Look Away, Look Away" in our local free weekly paper, Style Weekly.

While I do find this declaration to be despicable, one can only hope that it will lead to some rightuous indignation. Open & honest discussions are sorely needed in this city, this city which was the epi-center for the economy around slavery, and has ghosts lingering everywhere.
posted by tarantula at 7:40 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Or are you paying respect to Confederate soldiers for being Confederate soldiers, and using Confederate iconography to do it?

having grown up surrounded by the south-will-rise-again crowd, i would give none of them the benefit of agreeing that their insistence on fetishizing all things confederate has anything at all to do with fallen soldiers, honor, or tradition. and as insistent as they are that there is absolutely no justification for a discussion on slavery reparations after all this time, i'm sure they would agree with me. these are not noble southern historians, or good ol' boys honoring the memory of great-great uncle bud. they are bigoted trash who are happy to have such a ready pretext within which they can proudly display their prejudice and intimidate its targets. seriously, the leeway we've given to such bullshit arguments and rationalizations has only perpetuated this disgusting tradition.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:49 PM on April 7, 2010


I grew up in West Virginia, and we had a WV History class in 7th or 8th grade. It wasn't entirely about how much Virginia sucked.

There was also a lot about coal.
posted by rifflesby at 8:03 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is it possible to admire Lee and Jackson for their military prowess and still acknowledge that part of their 'cause' included OWNING other people?

I admire Lee and Jackson for their military prowess. Strictly in terms of military ability, Lee was one of the best generals in American history, and better than any other Civil War general except Grant. As Grant said in remembering Appomattox:
I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.
Lee was opposed to secession, and only joined the Confederacy after Virginia had seceded, because he couldn't fight against what he considered his country, Virginia. As Shelby Foote said in Ken Burns' documentary:
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."
Lee was also instrumental in reconciling the states (see April 1865: The Month That Saved America). By surrendering his army instead of opting for guerrilla warfare, Lee set the precedent that other generals followed. He was enormously influential in the South, and his acceptance of the Union victory set an example for others..
posted by kirkaracha at 8:04 PM on April 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


Another born and bred Virginian. I wasn't surprised by the announcement too much. This is a state that celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr./Robert E. Lee/Stonewall Jackson Day until recently, when Lee Jackson Day was moved to another time on the calendar. I think rather than have declared a Confederate Heritage month, it would have made much more sense to declare a Civil War history month. It encompasses everything, slavery, Union, Confederacy, etc. That's what Virginia has been slowing moving toward and needs to keep on doing. The war was a major moment in the commonwealth's history and Virginians should be aware of it and not just the Confederate side of things.

As a Virginian who hasn't yet counted all the Confederate Veterans in his family tree, it's always something of a persistent mixture of shame and pride. Raised in the South, especially in Virginia, home to Lee, Jackson, Stewart, and the Confederate capital (Monument boulevard), there's a specific element that the Confederacy or at least those who fought for it isn't a bad thing. It's the remnant of the Lost Cause days, and in my home town, there's two quite nice equestrian statues of Lee and Jackson that went up back in the late teen and twenties to Confederate flag waving audiences (Sorry Ironmouth, the use of Confederate flag after the war dates back further than the 1950's and 1960s. Purportedly, during the Spanish-American War, troops being sent south by railroad car were cheered on by crowds waving both American and Confederate flags).

I certainly recognize that the Confederacy was created and existed to keep over three million people in bondage. I'm ecstatic that the Confederacy lost. But, there's an irrational part of me that takes pride in my ancestors' participation in the war. Perhaps it's more akin to being veterans of the war, rather than of the Southern forces, but it's there. I can't think of my ancestors as bad people, in part because I do view them having been swept up in a war that had nothing to do with their socio-economic position in the world (no slaves, just simple farmers and laborers). To an extent, it involves the fact that just because the war was about slavery, it doesn't mean every soldier fought to preserve or end it.

However, I disown any Virginian who would seek to have the South rise again, or praise the Confederacy as anything but the protector of human bondage. Virginia almost began the process of eliminating slavery in the Antebellum period, and the proposal failed in the legislature not by many votes. It's hard to wonder how the course of events that followed would have been changed had the vote succeeded. This conflicting Virginian is now off to bed.
posted by Atreides at 8:32 PM on April 7, 2010


i would just like to remind everyone that on april 9, 1865, robert e lee surrendered

i hereby declare april 9 to be northern victory day and request that it be celebrated as loudly and proudly as possible

if the rebs can have their days and months of recognition, i don't know why us yankees can't
posted by pyramid termite at 8:57 PM on April 7, 2010


April 1865: The Month That Saved America <-- Wherever all this nonsense ends up, this is a very good book.
posted by Cyrano at 9:52 PM on April 7, 2010


We're only 40 years away from Resistance and Segregation and Integration in Virginia, which shaped a lot of the people currently in power, whether as students or parents or bystanders

In the county I live (Westmoreland) it was the late 70s when the schools were integrated. Atwell Johnson was the black high school, Washington and Lee was the white high school. W & L was the high school after integration. And, it is still called Washington and Lee as Westmoreland County is the birthplace of George Washington (Wakefield) and Robert E Lee(Stratford Hall.) (and James Monroe was born here, too, just because I think it is interesting)

Late 70s is my lifetime. I'll be 35 in 13 days and the high school I graduated from was segregated in my lifetime. That is just beyond belief. When we taught this in high school, I just couldn't believe it.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:52 PM on April 7, 2010


Nazi Germany was foreign. The Confederates were and are family, fellow Americans, so the relationships are different.

So you'd be down with Germans honouring family with Nazi (rather than Wermacht) regalia and displays?
posted by rodgerd at 1:18 AM on April 8, 2010


Just want to thank Nangar for his link to the story of Robert Smalls, whom I'd never heard of. In part, if you didn't click through:

In the fall of 1861, Smalls was made helmsman of the CSS Planter, an armed Confederate military transport. On May 12, 1862, the Planter's three white officers were spending the night ashore. In the early morning hours of the 13th, Smalls and several other black crewmen decided to make a run for the Union vessels that formed the blockade, in accordance with a plan Smalls previously had discussed with them. Robert was dressed in the captain's uniform and even had a hat similar to the white captain's. The Planter backed out of what was then known as Southern Wharf around 3 a.m. The Planter stopped at a nearby wharf to pick up Smalls' family and other crewmen's relatives, who had been concealed there for some time.

Now with his wife and children and a small group of other African Americans now aboard, Smalls made his daring escape. The Planter not only had the blacks on board but it also had four valuable artillery pieces aboard, besides its own two guns. Perhaps most valuable was the code book in Robert's possession that would reveal the Confederate's secret signals and placement of mines and torpedoes in and around Charleston harbor.

Smalls piloted the ship past the five Confederate forts that guarded the harbor, including Fort Sumter. The renegade ship passed by Sumter approximately 4:30 a.m. He then headed straight for the Federal fleet, which was part of the Union blockade of Confederate ports, making sure to hoist a white flag. The first ship he encountered was USS Onward, which prepared to fire until a sailor noticed the white flag. When the Onward's captain boarded the Planter, Smalls requested to raise the US flag immediately. Smalls turned the Planter over to the United States Navy, along with its onboard cargo of artillery and explosives intended for a Confederate fort.

posted by the bricabrac man at 2:50 AM on April 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Saxon Cane: shakespherian/bricabrac man: I don't see what it's impossible for a good, non-slavery liking person to be interested in the Confederacy as a historical subject, just like some people are interested in Nazi Germany as a historical subject. That doesn't make them a holocaust denier or virulent anti-semite. And re: the person bricabrac mentions -- their social/personal failings probably had little to do with their intellectual interests.

Well, I'll certainly admit that there a bit more snark in my anecdotal story than there absolutely had to be, and of course people can be interested in something without "supporting" it. Absolutely, one shouldn't assume a scholar/historian (or amateur enthusiast) who specializes in Civil War history is a racist idiot who misses the good ol' days of slavery, and I shouldn't have implied such.

But...well, let me put it this way. I go to a lot of auctions, because I sell stuff online. And one of the things I'm particularly interested in is pornography from the first half of the 20th century (of course a lot of stuff like pin-up calendars wouldn't really be considered "pornography" nowadays, but you get my drift). And I've spent a lot of time beanplating the stuff, reading histories of it, discussing it with feminists & academicians, etc.

BUT. I'd never deny that, on top of all that, I just, well, like looking at naked women.

Now, at these auctions I go to, it's very, very common to see nazi materials from WWII being sold. Sometimes selling for top dollar, sometimes not, but you can be sure there will always be SOME interest for that Hitler Youth propaganda poster, it's not going to sell for peanuts. And the folks buying that stuff, I'm sure will tell you, are very interested in the history of WWII -- and they probably are, and they probably know more about it than I do.

BUT. I suspect there must also be some part of them that says, well, I just like holding that nazi dagger with a glittering swastika etched into the blade and letting my mind wander. And that shit is creepy, yo.

(I freely acknowledge that some may find it creepy that I think Tijuana bibles from the 1930s graphically portraying Popeye having his way with a swell gal are hilarious and kind of awesome, so there you go)
posted by the bricabrac man at 3:52 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


[Lee was] better than any other Civil War general except Grant...

Yeah, that's the kicker right there.

Sorry, good ol' boys, but we Yankees kicked your ass. Get over it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:52 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


So you'd be down with Germans honouring family with Nazi (rather than Wermacht) regalia and displays?

No, but Nazi Germany and the Confederacy aren't the same.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:37 AM on April 8, 2010


Yeah, the Confederacy didn't really get off the ground and didn't have the complicity of most of the Western world behind it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:48 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Having set aside April as a month to celebrate the traitors, insurgents, and terrorists who hated America so much that it brought about four years of bloodshed and the deaths of 700,000 Americans, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell now plans another holiday on September 11th: Al Qaeda Heritage Day.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 6:59 AM on April 8, 2010


The Confederacy could also weasel its way around its moral failings by saying they needed to perpetuate the extant economic system or some bullshit like that. I can't really think of any weasels for genocide.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:01 AM on April 8, 2010


Yeah, the Confederacy didn't really get off the ground and didn't have the complicity of most of the Western world behind it.

They also didn't try to commit genocide.
posted by zarq at 7:16 AM on April 8, 2010


Or... what shakespeherian said.

I really need to preview, especially when a window's been open for 20 minutes. :P
posted by zarq at 7:17 AM on April 8, 2010


Once you hit a certain plateau of unforgivable (right around, oh, say, owning people) I think you hit a point where further evil just gets diminishing returns.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:37 AM on April 8, 2010


You know for a very brief time Montgomery, Alabama, was one of the most progressive and forward-thinking cities in the country.

We elected a string of Jewish mayors in the later 1800s, we were the first city in the world to have an electric streetcar system, and we invited the Wright Brothers to establish their first flight school at what is today the site of a major air force base. If you read the accounts of all of these events, there was a conscientious attempt to overcome the speculation that Montgomery was filled to overflowing with seditious, backward fools.

Then around 1930 something started to change. The city seal was changed to "Cradle of the Confederacy" from the earlier "Progress and Commerce." The streetcars were decommissioned. The klan started cropping up.

I know the last of the Confederate soldiers died in the 1930s. The Alabama Home for Confederate Veterans closed in 1937. I know there was economic turmoil.

But I've always wondered: what psychological mechanism created pride for someone in a group of descendants that the ancestors demonstrably felt shame about?
posted by jefficator at 7:45 AM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also the best argument I ever heard about why the Civil War was undoubtedly about slavery:

When Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he accordingly defined for the international community that the Civil War was demonstrably about slavery and nothing else. This created a moral framework to prevent Britain, which has abolished slavery, from entering the war on behalf of the CSA. Such an alliance was certainly in Britain's favor: it would have boosted the economy of the CSA (by eliminating Northern trade restrictions on Southern cotton for British textile mills) and of Britain (by eliminating Northern tariffs on the importation of British manufactured goods by Southern traders). To secure Britain's help, the CSA had only to abolish slavery. The economic justification would have remained and the moral restriction would have disappeared. After Gettysburg the CSA had no chance of winning the war without British intervention. Rather than conceding this and winning the war without slavery, the South chose to lose the war without it.

Therefore, the Civil War was about slavery.
posted by jefficator at 7:51 AM on April 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


But I've always wondered: what psychological mechanism created pride for someone in a group of descendants that the ancestors demonstrably felt shame about?

What ancestors are you speaking about? I haven't read much, if at all, about any strong movement of shame on the part of veterans of the Civil War or it's political participants. At best you have former Confederates, like Gen. James Longstreet, who became proponents of reconciliation with the Union. Certainly you had somewhat of a mass psychological effect of humiliation via the defeat in the war, which helped spawn the Lost Cause mythos, but I'm not sure about shame.
posted by Atreides at 7:53 AM on April 8, 2010


Once you hit a certain plateau of unforgivable (right around, oh, say, owning people) I think you hit a point where further evil just gets diminishing returns.

Hrm. Many groups used to own people. Now they don't, and haven't for many generations. Should we then characterize the Ancient Romans and their slave-owning contemporaries as unforgivably evil?

To be honest, I'm not sure what my own answer to that question should be.
posted by zarq at 8:10 AM on April 8, 2010


To be honest, I'm not sure what my own answer to that question should be.

The difference is that Ancient Rome wasn't a slave-owning society that distinguished itself from its neighbours merely by maintaining the "peculiar institution" of slavery as a value. It was by our standards barbaric and unenlightened in a lot of ways, but its neighbours were generally not much better. The same can't be argued for the South.

Comparing ancient Rome to the South because they all owned slaves is a bit like saying that Barack Obama would be an extreme right-winger by European standards because of his government's policies, i.e., ignoring the inertia of context.
posted by acb at 8:18 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


(I freely acknowledge that some may find it creepy that I think Tijuana bibles from the 1930s graphically portraying Popeye having his way with a swell gal are hilarious and kind of awesome, so there you go)

I've actually seen that one. If I recall, Popeye breaks down a door with his giant penis.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:29 AM on April 8, 2010


Confederate History Month doesn't have a long history in Virginia. Republican governor George "Macaca" Allen started it in 1997. His successor, Republican Jim Gilmore, continued the practice. Democratic governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine didn't proclaim Confederate History Month, so it hadn't been observed for the last eight years.

Slavery Wasn't 'Significant' Enough To Be Included In My Proclamation Honoring The Confederacy

The first slaves in British North America arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. Slaves made up 30% of Virginia's population in 1860 (490,865 slaves, 1,105,453 free).

After Gettysburg the CSA had no chance of winning the war without British intervention.

I don't believe the Confederates ever had any chance of winning the war militarily. The CSA's population was 9,103,332, which included 3,521,110 slaves. In 1860 US population was 31,443,321, so if you subtract the CSA the Union's population was around 22.3 million.

The South's best hope was to win the war politically by gaining recognition from England, and that was one of the strategic goals of Lee's invasion of the North in 1863. A win on Northern soil would supposedly have demonstrated the CSA's viability and gained them recognition and diplomatic intervention from England.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:20 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


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."
Thanks for that quote, kirkaracha, I've been trying to remember it for years!
posted by redfisch at 9:23 AM on April 8, 2010


"Cornerstone Speech" (full text) by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, March 21, 1861:
The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution — African slavery as it exists amongst us — the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the "rock upon which the old Union would split." He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted.
...
(Jefferson's) ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. ... Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner–stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:32 AM on April 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


To reply to Zarq- I think ( just my 2 cents) the truly heinous thing about American slavery is that it was based strictly upon color. White people owned black people. Period. If you were a free black, you ran the continuous danger of being captured, declared to be someone's runaway slave and sold South.
Slavery still exists in the world, but it' s generally for the traditional reasons. My gang conquered your gang, Dad's gambling debts got out of hand so he sold the youngest kids to pay his debts, whatever miserable reason you can name. But, IIRC, only in America was slavery based strictly upon color.
To say slavery wasn't a major factor in Virginia's history is just plain stupid.
posted by pentagoet at 10:03 AM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's more slavery now than there ever was in 1850. It's just been outsourced.
The only real difference between the north and the south was the white supremacy thing.
It wasn't about human rights violations (certain groups excepted of course, their morality is obvious). You got the industrialists on board in the north because of the economics.
Jurgis Rudkus wasn't a slave?
A lot of focus is on sexual slavery, mostly because it's emotionally appealing and more likely to get people pissed off into getting involved.
But it's still mostly economics.
Astonishing that people spend time, money and effort on proclamation crap like this. You'd think there would be better ways to spend time as an elected official.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:04 AM on April 8, 2010


Should we then characterize the Ancient Romans and their slave-owning contemporaries as unforgivably evil?

The Roman Empire was brutal. It is disturbing that that modern Western societies, still today, with too few reservations, revere it as the origin of Western civilization. And more explicitly in the past, as model to be looked up to and emulated.

There are differences between Roman slavery and slavery as practiced in the US. Roman slavery was based on the idea of using captured enemy combatants as slave labor, including civilians from areas that resisted conquest. In the Roman Empire slave status wasn't heritable, it wasn't based on an idea of racial superiority, but simply on the idea that might makes right. The state could make money auctioning captives to public, so it did. Some emancipated slaves became prominent Roman intellectuals.

In the the British colonies that became thew US, and elsewhere, slavery became permanent and heritable status. The justification given was that Africans were subhuman. This group of slave owners was Christian. And Christianity strongly forbids slavery, in part in response to the Roman practice it. So American slave owners had to convince themselves that slaves were not really human and outside of bounds of morality. This kind of thinking lead to a slave market in which people were bought, sold and bred like animals for multiple generations. The Romans never went that far. Slavery itself is dead, but the justifications are still with us.

Saying that slavery in the US was worse than Roman slavery, is not justifying Roman slavery or saying it was any less brutal than it was.
posted by nangar at 11:38 AM on April 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


er, whom they fuck . . . me a smart professor!
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:41 AM on April 8, 2010


The only real difference between the north and the south was the white supremacy thing.
...
Jurgis Rudkus wasn't a slave?


Jurgis Rudkus wasn't a slave. He was poor and downtrodden and shat upon, but he was not a slave. Nobody owned him. Nobody owned, at his birth or at any point, all the labor he was physically capable of producing for the rest of his life, however long his master decided that would be. Nobody had the legal right to beat, maim, or kill him for whatever reasons they saw fit. Nobody owned his offspring.

The simplest way to know that he wasn't a slave is that if he had been a slave, the part where he wanders off to become a hobo for a while wouldn't have happened. His master would have simply caught him and then tortured him, maimed him, or killed him pour encourager les autres.

Or, more succinctly, The Jungle is indeed bad, but it is a far fucking cry from Uncle Tom's Cabin or Frederick Douglass's Narrative.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:40 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


They also didn't try to commit genocide.

That depends on your definition of genocide. If your definition of genocide is broad enough to include the destruction of civilizations and cultures, the disruption of social bonds by the systematic separation of people from the same cultures, the routine separation of spouses from each other and their children and the systematic breeding of human beings over many generations. And if this is broad enough to include the system of slavery that the US South participated in, and not just the Confederacy's defense of it, then, yes, what happened in the US South was genocide.
posted by nangar at 1:06 PM on April 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Nobody had the legal right to beat, maim, or kill him for whatever reasons they saw fit"
Yeah, bad example on my part. But they did have the right to kill or maim him - just not out of personal anger. Whole lot of no protections there.

Which is more to the point. The southern-style U.S. slavery was more personal, owner-aggrandizing, terrible, sure.
But the purpose of slavery remains essentially unchanged and largely unabated. Indeed, it was more of a franchise opportunity sort of thing. Today it's a monopoly. Part of the horror of The Jungle is the impersonal nature of it. They didn't need 'slaves' as slaves.
The level of sophistication has changed (so much so that ethnicity doesn't much matter, except to some dolts hung up on skin color and assuaging their inferiority complexes)

In the south you'd feed a slave and take care of a slave the same way you would take care of a horse.
In modern times, they're far more fungible. You don't need to kill, beat or maim one. If they escape (if there's anywhere to escape to) there's always another one. And the former slave could very well just starve or suffer another kind of exploitation.

That's not a defense of the older system of slavery, but rather an indictment of the tremendous waste of time and appalling depth of ignorance behind folks like McDonnell dealing with it today.
I mean hell, slavery is significant NOW, but it's not significant enough to discuss as a facet of American life in the south back then?
posted by Smedleyman at 5:34 PM on April 8, 2010


Actually, U. S. slave owners (even the ones north of the Mason-Dixon line) generally treated their horses better than their slaves, and certainly with more respect.
posted by julen at 6:51 PM on April 8, 2010


I'm so fucking tired of fighting the goddamn Civil War.

This story in general (thanks for posting, zarq), and BitterOldPunk's comment above, specifically, inspired me to write and record a song last night.

Fighting the Civil War.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:51 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Flapjacks, get thee to MeMusic!
posted by The Whelk at 8:25 PM on April 8, 2010


Whelk, baby, I'll post it there soon as I can, but I've hit my limit there... can't post anything for another few hours.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:43 PM on April 8, 2010


WHILE AWAY THE TIME WITH BLACKJACK.
posted by The Whelk at 8:45 PM on April 8, 2010


Should we then characterize the Ancient Romans and their slave-owning contemporaries as unforgivably evil?

Rome's not a very good example for your point, given the Roman institution of slavery was quite different to the Southern US one. While there were certainly slaves treated as badly as Southern slaves (galley slaves, for example), there were considerably more legal protections for most slaves, and slavery lacked the strong racist element that the Southern variety did.

If you wanted a comparison from the era, I'd compare the South to the Spartans, whose treatment of slaves was appalling by the standards of the day.
posted by rodgerd at 12:23 AM on April 9, 2010


"Actually, U. S. slave owners (even the ones north of the Mason-Dixon line) generally treated their horses better than their slaves"

So modern slaves have it pretty well off even though proportionally they cost chump change compared to slaves in 1850?

Even that is besides the point. Social movements like this are attempts to control people. If a slave has to work hard all day, he can't get any tricky notions in his head. (Owning a slave burdens the slave owner as well.)
F'rinstnace - Heron of Alexandria came up with a steam engine in 50 AD. Archimedes invented a steam gun (for ship border defense I believe) in 150 BCE. DaVinci, Philon, Savery, - inventor after inventor though history has discovered at least the beginnings of steam power but it wasn't until 1800s when Stephenson builds a steam train that anyone accepts it.

Why?

Peter Green on Hellenistic History and Culture:

"...why was there no steam engine when all the components were present? Professor Levi raised the problem of the availability of slaves. I think that is only the beginning of it. If you look away from technology for a moment, what you find throughout antiquity is a paranoid terror of revolution. It's no accident that the Greek and Latin terms for making a revolution are neoterizein and res novare—that is, just doing something new. In quite a few treaties and drafts for constitutions there are provisions that allies must go to the assistance of any allied state suffering from a revolution. It's not so much that slaves were available, which indeed they were. No, the ruling classes were scared, as the Puritans said, of Satan finding work for idle hands to do. One of the great things about not developing a source of energy that did not depend on muscle power was the fear of what the muscles might get up to if they weren't kept fully employed. The sort of inventions that were taken up and used practically were the things that needed muscle power to start with, including the Archimedean screw. On the other hand, consider that marvelous box gear of Hero's: it was never used. That would have been a real conversion of power. What got paid for? The Lagids tended to patronize toys, fraudulent temple tricks in large quantities, and military experiments. Dissection was only tolerated when there was an enlightened Ptolemy who was prepared to back it. After that it went out again."

While technology might increase slave productivity, it also can lead to greater idleness (because you can overfull demand) or, more importantly, social unrest and instability because of mobility. If your ability to track people can't match their ability to move around, you have a problem (from an authoritarian POV).
Neal Postman relates a story (I forget what book) that when a Greek King is presented with Heron's proto-steam engine and the potential it might have to do all sorts of work his response was to dismiss it, he said "What would we do with the slaves?"

Sounds odd to our ears. But I suspect in just 100-200 years our responses defending the use of roads and passenger cars, gigantic high-def t.v., cell phones with loads of gee gaws - and all of it 'disposable' because the cost of human production is so low and demand is so high.

Modern slaves in that sense are invisible.

What's happening here is, because many people don't see the elevation of their position (except thru dominion over material goods) they don't have a narrative to serve as continuity.
Without something like this - the "culture and heritage" they have a sort of existential disorientation and look to grasp anything - real or not or even manufactured from their own minds - in order to stave off the idea that the purposeless machine is all there is.

To some people having a purpose and connection with a narrative is so important they'll latch on to anything - even a history as horrible as slavery.

But again - contrasting a historical slave with a modern one and focusing on how they were treated doesn't address their fundamental state as a human being trapped in service.

Consider - would it be ok to treat a clone as a slave? No? What if it were intentionally grown to be as mindless as an animal with only technical ability left in tact? Would an intelligent robot still have to serve a human being?

There are a variety of answers to those questions, but the better answers decontextualize the situation itself from the clone or robot or whatever.
That is - what is OUR situation such that we need a sentient robot slave? What makes it (or a slave clone) a necessity?
Look at that and from there you can see how McDonnell is attempting to reassert stability (in this case the oppressive kind) and personal advantage.

The only real reason to beat a slave is to differentiate one's own state of affairs from the slaves. (Only an idiot would harm his own livestock such that they were less productive, but I'll cede there are plenty of idiots).
That is - I am not a slave myself because I can beat this slave.
I suspect that's 90% of the reason the child sex trade exists.
People don't want to believe they're trapped in a system they themselves reinforce and do evil things just to prove their privileged. As though that was as good as freedom.

But again - more slaves in the world now than there has ever been, just different in form and visibility. So what's being defended? We might be more personally enlightened on the whole (and Jefferson and others were pretty enlightened. he wanted to put a clause about ending slavery in the Declaration but that was hammered down), but the only thing that has changed systemically is the degree of sophistication to which we exploit slaves.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:48 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


They also didn't try to commit genocide.

So now we're trying to decide whether evil(genocide) > evil(owning people)?
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:18 AM on April 9, 2010


I propose we take a page from computer science and introduce Big E notation for discussing equivalency classes of Evil.

So we can both acknowledge that the problematic things the Nazis did to Jews and other european people and the things that the Roman ruling class did to its slave classes and the things that the US's slave-owning citizens did to black slaves differ in a variety of ways that may be meaningful in one context or another.

But we can also characterize all three as being in the class
E(intolerable)
and not get too distracted from that fact by any discussion of the aforementioned details when you take a step back and look at it.
posted by cortex at 11:27 AM on April 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


And speaking of slavery in ancient history, when you consider that the old testament contains rules for how to treat your slaves, you realize just how worthless religion is for instilling moral judgement.

Exodus 21:20-21 "And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money."

One might argue that the New Testament contains none of this kind of passage, but then again, never does it condemn slavery, but rather passively accepts it.

I mean, if I were to write an essay on how God wants you to treat your rape victims so that it will be in an appropriately Christian manner, would I be taken seriously? I hope not.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:28 AM on April 9, 2010


That depends on your definition of genocide. If your definition of genocide is broad enough to include the destruction of civilizations and cultures, the disruption of social bonds by the systematic separation of people from the same cultures, the routine separation of spouses from each other and their children and the systematic breeding of human beings over many generations. And if this is broad enough to include the system of slavery that the US South participated in, and not just the Confederacy's defense of it, then, yes, what happened in the US South was genocide.

It does, and you're right. It was.
posted by zarq at 11:31 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Smedleyman quoted me, "Actually, U. S. slave owners (even the ones north of the Mason-Dixon line) generally treated their horses better than their slaves" and then replied: So modern slaves have it pretty well off even though proportionally they cost chump change compared to slaves in 1850?"

I in NO way intended to minimize the experience of modern slaves, but wrote that to further clarify the perspective on American slaves before the Civil War with no intended or implied commentary on slaves of any other era or location. My point was simply that in America before the civil war, Slavery was noxious even in ways that may not be obvious to us 150 years after the War started. The mythology around slavery here in the south has gone through several evolutions (aided by mass media including news reporting, literature, movies, and tv) to soften the reality of what slavery was and to make it more palatable - whether it be the image of a wild, ungovernable, incapable savage or the "happy darkie" who would be just as happy to be a slave taking care of his people or the minstrel or the exotic other and the constant redefining of the race as the good ones vs. the bad ones ... There is a portion of the population who has never really considered the full reality of what slavery meant, and often reject the horrible as being rare or unusual and not representative (when in fact it is).

Little points like the one that many slave owners kept better records on their horses and dogs than they did on their slaves can often have a big impact on people. Particularly people who grew up thinking their ancestors were "good" slaveowners and "treated their people well".
posted by julen at 1:37 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I in NO way intended to minimize the experience of modern slaves,"
My apologies, I didn't think you did, that was meant to be more rhetorical in nature but I see (on rereading) I failed to execute it clearly that way.

"The mythology around slavery here in the south has gone through several evolutions (aided by mass media including news reporting, literature, movies, and tv) to soften the reality of what slavery was and to make it more palatable."
Agreed. Point taken on the cultural iterations.
The contrast (besides the economic point) I'm trying to illustrate is that modern slaves are essentially invisible in the racial supremacy/domination sense.
And indeed - the "good" slaveowners are all there are now since there's not even an attempt to make a characture of a modern slave, it's an empty file.

On the one hand we (rightly) condemn the people who used to beat their slaves and abuse people and the racial supremacists, on the other hand slavery has gone through an entire evolution such that even a slave owner who in the past might have treated a slave humanely purely for economic reasons has no reason to do so today. And abuses or horrors are non-issues.
That's not an indictment of anyone's opposition to white supremacy or slavery. Doesn't have to be an either/or. I'm taking it as a given.
I'm saying - tabling that - there's a difference between racial supremacy and slave ownership and look at how far out of context supremacy is. At one point it might have had some (evil) use as a mechanism of slave control (like avoiding certain technologies). There's not even that now. So, not merely evil, but completely delusional because you have actual slave trade continuing and evolving with this distorted history that distracts were the issue even raised culturally, in part because another facet of it is that many people believe it's over and was localized to the U.S. in the south.
Make any sense or am I still screwing up the explanation here?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:45 PM on April 9, 2010


(I tend to come at things at oblique angles. Pretty much every thing that needs to have been said has been.)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:57 PM on April 9, 2010


"Sounds odd to our ears. But I suspect in just 100-200 years our responses defending the use of roads and passenger cars, gigantic high-def t.v., cell phones with loads of gee gaws - and all of it 'disposable' because the cost of human production is so low and demand is so high."

It'd also sound odd to Aristotle's ears, and he was there. Aristotle's take on the slave is two-fold, that some men are naturally slaves and that slaves are necessary for the promulgation of the "good life." His view was that increasing technology would eliminate the need for slaves, allowing all to enjoy the pursuits of philosophy and aesthetics. That the Greeks failed to produce real steam power has more to do with their inability to make things like steel, which are strong enough to contain the power of a boiler.

The idea that slaves make a society indolent is appealing to our sense of justice, but simply does not jibe with slavery in the ancient world, nor their view of technology.
posted by klangklangston at 4:08 PM on April 9, 2010


I'm so fucking tired of fighting the goddamn Civil War.

This story in general (thanks for posting, zarq), and BitterOldPunk's comment above, specifically, inspired me to write and record a song last night.

Fighting the Civil War.

posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:51 PM on April 8 [1 favorite +] [!]


Flapjacks, get thee to MeMusic!
posted by The Whelk at 8:25 PM on April 8 [+] [!]


The song is now posted to Metafilter Music, where logged-in members are welcome and encouraged to download it!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:44 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nice job on the song flapjax.

I don't know if anyone reads the threads down here, but here is historian David Blight giving a good interview on this whole issue of Civil War Memory:

Part 1. Part 2.

It's from an Australian TV show, god forbid the American media should address this in a thoughtful way.
posted by marxchivist at 3:02 PM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thanks, marxchivist. That interview was succinct and excellent.
posted by nangar at 6:28 PM on April 13, 2010


But, there's an irrational part of me that takes pride in my ancestors' participation in the war.

There's a rational part of the rest of us who thinks that your ancestors were traitors to the nation that we love and thinks that they brought dishonor and shame upon themselves. And although I cannot speak directly for African-Americans, I would bet good money that the expression of that pride is mud in the eye for them, especially after Jim Crow.

Hence the irrationality.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:52 AM on April 14, 2010


Yup, that's why I called it irrational.
posted by Atreides at 1:26 PM on April 14, 2010


Part of it is because America loves an underdog.

Unfortunately, the message that the Confederacy teaches is that underdogs are often vile and deserve to lose.

But for an area of the country that was and is poor and disenfranchised, holding on to the myth of noble underdogs is incredibly appealing, especially if the privilege of your skin color lets you forget about all that slavery stuff.
posted by klangklangston at 2:06 PM on April 14, 2010


But, there's an irrational part of me that takes pride in my ancestors' participation in the war.
"Virgil Caine is the name, and I served on the Danville train,
Til Stoneman's cavalry came and tore up the tracks again.
In the winter of '65, We were hungry, just barely alive.
By May the tenth, Richmond had fell, it's a time I remember, oh so well,

(Chorus)
The night they drove old Dixie down, and the bells were ringing,
The night they drove old Dixie down, and the people were singin'.
They went
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la,...

Like my father before me, I will work the land,
Like my brother above me, who took a rebel stand.
He was just eighteen, proud and brave,
But a Yankee laid him in his grave,
I swear by the mud below my feet,
You can't raise a Caine back up when he's in defeat. "
Those Southerners who celebrate the history of the Confederacy are not remembering it accurately. It was neither a glorious nor an honorable time in American history.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:47 PM on April 14, 2010


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