More on Confederate Apologia

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Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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  1. Avatar Will
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    says:

    Look you bloody Yankee, the nobility of the South will not be questioned on this website. More seriously, I think Mike’s comment in the last email thread bears repeating.Report

  2. Avatar Bob Cheeks
    Ignored
    says:

    Pretty much statist blather..a justification for the slaughter of 600,000 Americans instituted by Honest Abe and his obsequious obedience toward the banking and manufacturing “monied interests.”
    The Lincoln Administration establishes the ground of the contemporary American statist regime, much as Lenin did in Russia, and Bismark in Germany..the republic died with the American “civil war.”Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Bob Cheeks
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      says:

      @Bob Cheeks, Doesn’t this rather ignore the reason the South seceded in the first place?Report

    • Avatar Transplanted Lawyer in reply to Bob Cheeks
      Ignored
      says:

      @Bob Cheeks, bear in mind that those 600,000 war dead on the side fighting the United States of America did not consider themselves to be citizens of the United States of America at all. They would have told you that they were citizens of a different and new nation fighting for its independence. So they weren’t “honest Americans.” They were either “traitors” or “enemy combatants.” That’s not to say one cannot today pay respect to them; it’s not an issue I analyzed in any great detail. My point is that their cause does not deserve respect and the historical revisionism suggesting otherwise is both intellectually and morally offensive.

      To look at their cause, my focus was not on the motivations of the individual soldiers but rather on the institutions of government and the political leaders of those institutions. Since those elite figures are the ones who started the war and in the case of the south, set up the new government of the CSA, they’re the ones whose opinions are the most insightful about the war and in my post I looked at the words they used and that (IMO) closes the book on the issue of slavery as the raison d’etat of the CSA. To them I might add Jefferson Davis’ speech to the Confederate Congress after the Confederate Constitution was ratified, the Confederate Constitution Article IV, section 3(3), and of course, the excerable Cornerstone Speech. So if you mind my approach “statist,” that’s likely because I chose to focus on governmental entities rather than individual people. And whether you choose to look at the conflict in terms of “nation versus nation” or “nation suppressing a rebellion,” the taproot reason for the conflict was slavery.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Transplanted Lawyer
        Ignored
        says:

        @Transplanted Lawyer,

        Since when is expecting the federal gov’t to enforce federal law and expecting the other states to obey federal law and not foment civil disturbances inside other states a bad idea?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Transplanted Lawyer
        Ignored
        says:

        @Transplanted Lawyer, “the taproot reason for the conflict was slavery.”

        The argument over the Civil War as it exists in 2010 isn’t about slavery, though. Or, to put a finer point on it, the two sides are talking past each other.

        The Northerners tend to hammer on slavery and how wrong slavery was and how justified the war was. Sometimes talk tends toward how justified any government is to keep territories under its thumb.

        The Southerners tend to notice how badly Reconstruction failed and how quickly the North just upped and quit the second things got more difficult than shooting people and burning buildings… and how, well, they wanted the African-Americans to be free from slavery, just not free to, you know, move up North. These things all work together to build one hell of a suspicion that the war wasn’t about Slavery despite the fact that the Northerners bring it up and point out how awful it was and demand that everyone acknowledge the evil that is Slavery before we go on to discuss anything else.

        And, of course, in any discussion the North wants to turn it back into a discussion of Slavery and how wrong it was and how FREAKING AWESOME the North was for ending it.

        And, of course, The South wants to talk about Reconstruction.

        I’m not surprised at the resentment of Southerners toward their Northern benefactors.

        I’m sometimes surprised at the Northern resentment at Southern Resentment.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          @Jaybird,

          I’m sometimes surprised at the Northern resentment at Southern Resentment.

          When an American Muslim makes war on the United States to support al Qaeda, that’s treason, and he shouldn’t even get a trial.

          When an American in the South makes war on the United States to defend slavery, that’s…. heritage! Raise high the Stars n Bars!

          I guess I’d just have to say I’m all about that Northern resentment at Southern resentment. The right side fought dirty, but it won.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki
            Ignored
            says:

            @Jason Kuznicki, and we’re back to talking past each other.

            For the record, I see slavery as a crime against Humanity and it was an atrocity that was made right by the blood of 600,000 Americans. The right side lost that war and the world was made better off by their losing.

            You Northerners must be so proud to have ancestors who were either on the right side of the war or paid their $300 or immigrated after the fact after everybody knew that the right side lost and knew which side to have been rooting for in hindsight.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              @Jaybird, I didn’t honestly think I was arguing with you. I was describing two seemingly contradictory positions that seem often to appear in tandem, in noggins other than yours and mine.

              My own ancestors were not yet in the country when the Civil War occurred. My husband’s however were here since the Revolution. On his father’s side they include a soldier who fought under Washington and a gilded-age Republican congressman from New York who argued a state commercial monopoly case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, on the side of free enterprise. He also supported term limits and the gold standard, and he ran his own amusement park. He’d probably have won my vote, if I’d been alive.

              But this has exactly what to do about anything?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki
                Ignored
                says:

                @Jason Kuznicki, sorry. When I read “When an American Muslim makes war on the United States to support al Qaeda, that’s treason, and he shouldn’t even get a trial”, my head sort of went nuts and I came *THIS* close to asking you about Amadou Diallo. (As it turns out, we can finally reveal that he was a Muslim who was plotting against the US!!! Hurray!)

                The rest of the post was written in the mindset of “okay, I probably shouldn’t write *THAT*”.

                My original point is that the dynamic of the discussions about the Civil War have little to do with whether Slavery is good or not and once you notice that the discussion *ALWAYS* turns into a discussion of how evil slavery is, you can’t stop noticing it.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          @Jaybird, Ummmm Jay…”reconstruction failed” ???????????? huh

          Southerners fought against reconstruction tooth and nail. The KKK was out lynching and terrorizing. The “north” pulled out because of a weak ass president and certainly a desire to be done with it. But part of the Southern delusion is to ignore the evils that occurred during reconstruction and the imposition of Jim Crow. The South went back to committing crimes with, tragically , the help of the lack of interest of to many in the rest of the country. Black legislators were hounded and threatened. Voting by blacks was suppressed.

          Reconstruction was defeated by the South.

          Screw Southern upset at their defeat. Pointing out that the north was far, far from perfect is a classic debate tool for people who can’t defend their own position. How imperfect the north was is irrelevant to the south being worse. And while the north was guilty of many things, there were also many people, Abolitionists, who were right and from the North.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
            Ignored
            says:

            @greginak, aaaand we’re back to talking past each other.

            I’d like to thank your participation in explaining to me how evil the South was, Greg.

            I’ve never had it explained to me so clearly nor concisely before.Report

          • Avatar Mike at The Big Stick in reply to greginak
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            says:

            @greginak, If ownership of slaves is the criteria for the ‘South being worse’ then are you just giving the existence of 4 Union slave states a pass? Let’s remember that the war was over the expansion of slavery, not the end of slavery.

            And Northerners of course lost interest in Reconstruction mostly because they were too busy fighting tooth and nail to keep immigrants out of the Northeast and gearing up for a nice long push to get the Injuns off their land and make room for Manifest Destiny.Report

        • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          @Jaybird, to me that’s sort of like John Edwards telling Elizabeth, “You have to admit, you were kinda mean to me sometimes. Isn’t that kinda what all this is really about?”Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Trumwill
            Ignored
            says:

            @Trumwill, no, not exactly.

            It seems to me that the dynamic, as it exists today, has very little to do with slavery. Nobody (to my knowledge) defends slavery or its institution. The discussion dynamic seems to be one of the following:

            “We don’t want to talk about ‘State’s Rights’ or ‘Reconstruction’ or ‘Jim Crow’ or ‘Institutional Racism’. We just want to talk about slavery and how awful you Southerners were for defending it!!!!”

            “Nobody is defending Slavery. We want to talk about ‘State’s Rights’ or ‘Reconstruction’ or ‘Jim Crow’ and ‘Institutional Racism’.”

            “That’s because you’re still an unreconstructed racist. I bet you’re going to say that your ancestors never owned slaves or, worse, that your ancestors were good to your slaves.”

            “You’re beginning to piss me off.”

            “People as good as I am tend to piss off unreconstructed racists who were good to their slaves.”Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              @Jaybird, Question, do have an issue with the people who want to say slavery had nothing to do with the Civil War? Because it seems to me how alot of these discussions go, is one group saying slavery had nothing to with the war and those damn yankees invaded us good people. Then some people say well you know slavery was a pretty damn big thing and then others say….”stop picking on the south” “look how bad everybody else was” etc.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
                Ignored
                says:

                @greginak, I am so certain that the Civil War had everything to do with Slavery that I don’t even have to read their arguments.

                We can dismiss anything they say out of hand.

                If we know anything, we know that the Civil War was about Slavery and that people who say otherwise are the equivalent of people who deny Global Warming.Report

            • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              @Jaybird,

              A lot of people from outside of the south do love to tar the region for its participation in the Civil War as if its existence and its history were reduced to that. No argument on that front. As a southerner, it really aggravates me.

              But the explicit celebration of the Confederacy – of the darkest time of the region – of many in the south requires an implicit indifference to slavery. I don’t doubt that they all believe that slavery was wrong, but when they’re saying “Look, slavery was wrong, but there are more important things to consider,” my response is “Not if you’re a slave!” or “Only if you consider the ownership of human beings to be less significant than than philosophical disagreements on the nature of centralized versus decentralized government.”

              Discussions on Reconstruction are really quite possible. But it is made harder not only by those that want to derail the conversation into the moral superiority of one region with a few slaves over the other with many, many more. It’s made harder by the defensive tone and tenor of those wanting to add nuance to the issue. They’re not looking for an academic discussion so much as they’re looking to be relieved of their forebearers sins by minimizing the importance of slavery to the war.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Trumwill
                Ignored
                says:

                @Trumwill, this is where I tend to think that the celebration of the Confederacy is more of a thumb to the eye of the North than an explicit celebration of slavery and all that slavery entails. Does this also put a thumb into the eye of African-Americans? Yes it does. Is that particularly defensible? No it’s not.

                But you say something interesting here:
                They’re not looking for an academic discussion so much as they’re looking to be relieved of their forebearers sins by minimizing the importance of slavery to the war.

                How much of my forebears sins ought I be saddled with? I am from Kentucky and have ancestors who fought on both sides.

                Is that a wash?

                How many sins do you carry?Report

              • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Trumwill
                Ignored
                says:

                A lot of this is an aggressive defensive response to disdain not just for the Confederacy, but for the South itself. It’s a response I understand. But it’s not an appropriate response. And people that respond in that manner need to be called on it.

                We bear only those forebear sins that we choose to. My ancestors (to the extent that I am aware) fought for the South, mostly. I don’t owe anybody an apology for that. But I do pay a price for it insofar as I cannot be as proud of my ancestry as I otherwise would be. That’s the extent to which I am “saddled”. For some people, that’s a big deal.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Trumwill
                Ignored
                says:

                @Trumwill, But it’s not an appropriate response.

                I agree.

                If, however, I ask myself if it’s an understandable response, I see *VERY* much that it is. My relatives moved to Michigan as part of the great migration of the 40’s and were treated poorly… the reaction of “might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb” is one that is, absolutely and without question, inappropriate.Report

              • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Trumwill
                Ignored
                says:

                I think it’s a very understandable response. But being understandable does not make it defensible.

                Not to compare my experiences with the much worse ones of your relatives, but I can’t tell you how many times people ask what state I am from and when I answer give me this (often faux-)sympathetic look and say “I’m sorry.”

                They’re not insulting me of course. Just everyone I know and knew there. At best, the regional equivalent to “You’re a credit to your people.”Report

            • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              @Jaybird, Well, but let’s keep in mind what this particular debate is about and in response to, which is specifically the notion advanced by numerous people in defense of Gov. McDonnell’s statement that “for most Southerners, and for most Confederate soldiers, the Civil War (or War Between the States) was absolutely not about slavery,” or similar such sentiments. It is about the very notion that the Confederacy (as opposed to the South more generally as Trumwill points out) itself is worth celebrating. It is difficult to understand how it is possible to celebrate the Confederacy without acknowledging what the Confederacy actually stood for.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                @Mark Thompson, I don’t know whether it’s true that “for most Confederate soldiers, the Civil War (or War Between the States) was absolutely not about slavery”

                I suspect, however, that for many (I don’t know about most) Southerners that the Civil war is absolutely *NOT* about Slavery. I’m pretty sure that, for many Southerners, it’s an opportunity for Northerners to make the Southerners say “Uncle” again.

                Many Southerners are poor. Many Southerners are ill-educated. Many Southerners are sneered at by Northerners. I don’t find it surprising that they have a response like that… and I don’t think that making them repeat that “Slavery Was Wrong” for the fifty-thousandth time will fix anything.

                McDonnell should probably be thrown out on his behind for being exceptionally impolitic.

                That won’t address the real issue, however. Northerners will still be aghast that, every now and again, someone starts whistling Dixie.Report

            • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              @Jaybird, nice straw man!

              I’m not sure how a discussion about slavery doesn’t automatically include ‘State’s Rights’ and ‘Reconstruction’ and ‘Jim Crow’ and ‘Institutional Racism’.

              I think the dynamic goes like this:

              “We want to talk about slavery and the bogus arguments for ‘State’s Rights’ and the South resisting ‘Reconstruction’ and the continued persecution via ‘Jim Crow laws’ and the ‘Institutional Racism’ that continues to be promoted by the slavery apologists South. We just want to talk about all aspects of slavery and how awful you Southerners are for not only continuing to defend it but CELEBRATE it!!!!”

              “Nobody is defending Slavery. We want to talk about The Bell Curve and Gun Rights and Patriotism and Honor and Sacrifice and how nice everyone was to their slaves and how we need to honor our ancestors who fought a moral war against the evil Northerners. And, Washington did it too!!!! Neener-neener!”

              “But, those are fallacious arguments, and we want to talk about the big picture – of which slavery is only a part, but it is a good starting point.”

              “That’s because you Northerners are racists! I bet you’re going to say that your ancestors never owned slaves or, worse, that your ancestors fought against the South and were good guys because of it!”

              “You’re beginning to piss me off.”

              “People as good as I am tend to piss off Northern racists who are too stupid to realize that it was my ancestors – not me – who owned slaves and fought the war. I’m just trying to honor the good, honest, god-fearing Southerners who have been persecuted for centuries because we did something that Notherners did too! Like Jefferson! Neener-neener!”

              See, it’s not too hard for me to write a sarcastic exchange that paints your position in a bad light, either.

              And, the irony is not lost on me that – at its base – this conversation is about whether a moderately conservative (Republican) president was the real racist or whether the ultra-conservatives of the South were the real racists.

              It seems that either the conservatives were racists or the conservatives were racists. *

              You do realize that you are defending the position of people who are defending a celebration of the Confederacy, and who insist that the Confederacy had nothing to do with slavery, right?

              * (with the acknowledgement that the Dixiecrats are an unremovable stain on liberals/Democrats. But, the conservatives sure liked them after we liberals said ‘Don’t let the door hit you on the way out’ ).Report

              • Avatar Cascadian in reply to John Howard Griffin
                Ignored
                says:

                @John Howard Griffin, ‘Don’t let the door hit you on the way out’
                If only they had come up with that answer a hundred years earlier.Report

              • @John Howard Griffin,

                ” (with the acknowledgement that the Dixiecrats are an unremovable stain on liberals/Democrats. But, the conservatives sure liked them after we liberals said ‘Don’t let the door hit you on the way out’ ).”

                Really? I’m curious, how many Dixiecrats actually left the Democratic party? A rough estimate will suffice.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to John Howard Griffin
                Ignored
                says:

                @John Howard Griffin, I’m not sure how a discussion about slavery doesn’t automatically include ‘State’s Rights’ and ‘Reconstruction’ and ‘Jim Crow’ and ‘Institutional Racism’.

                When the discussion isn’t about “slavery” or, even, “the civil war” but is, instead, about something else entirely, it’s quite easy to do.

                I am not defending “slavery” or “the south” (or “the north”) or whathaveyou.

                I’m pointing out that the dynamic of the conversation seems to indicate that the topic is not, in fact, about the civil war or slavery *AT ALL*.

                If it was, we might be able to hammer this stuff out.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to John Howard Griffin
                Ignored
                says:

                Cascadia, Amen to that.

                MATBS (Mike at the Big Stick), I think you need to re-read what I wrote. I claimed that the conservatives sure liked the Dixiecrats after we told them “Don’t let the door hit you…”.

                Let’s see: have you heard of Strom Thurmond? George Wallace? Barry Goldwater? Ronald Reagan? The Southern Strategy? Reagan Democrats? and on and on…

                But, in the interests of sophomoric replies, here’s a question for you: How many Dixie States have Democrats won in presidential elections since 1950? A rough estimate will suffice.

                Jaybird, but this entire thread is about “More on Confederate Apologia”. It’s about some people (shhh…IN THE SOUTH) who want to celebrate Confederate America, but don’t want to talk about slavery. I’m not sure if you’re being obtuse or if you’re talking about something else entirely outside the scope of this thread.Report

              • @John Howard Griffin,

                My point is that Democrats never told them to leave the party and in fact MOST Dixiecrats didn’t leave the Democratic party at all.

                Wallace never joined the Republican party.

                Goldwater was always a Republican and from Arizona.

                Reagan was from California and had supported Republicans since 1952.

                My direct point was that you’re maintaining the narrative that all the Dixiecrats became Republicans or were embraced by Republicans. That’s not accurate.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to John Howard Griffin
                Ignored
                says:

                Mike, sure they did. Every time the Democrats favored civil rights legislation they lost Dixiecrats. This is how voting blocs move around – if you don’t like what the party is doing, you look for another party.

                The 1948 election was entirely about the Dixiecrats leaving the Democrats. Lee Atwater institutionalized this for Republicans.

                It wasn’t so much that the Democrats actively pushed them out (much to our dismay), but it was more that Republicans appealed to white racism grievances in the South that moved these voters to the Republican column. They’ve been there ever since.

                In the past 60 years, the only Democrat who carried the South in a presidential election was Carter.

                But, you’re right. All the Dixiecrats are still Democrats. Why, you ask? How is this possible, JHG, with the data you point to above?

                Because Mike says so.Report

              • @John Howard Griffin,

                I’m still waiting for you to present some kind of list which details all the Dixiecrats who left the party and changed their party affiliation.

                Strom Thurmond was the only prominent Dixiecrat to actually become a Republican.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to John Howard Griffin
                Ignored
                says:

                Mike, The Dixiecrats stopped voting for Democrats in 1948. The evidence is that no Democrat, except Carter, carried the South in a presidential election since then.

                I do not know who voted for Dixiecrats in 1948, but they carried a few states, and those same states have reliably voted Republican since then.

                If the Democrats carried the South previously, but have not since carried the South, it seems pretty clear that the anti-civil rights pro-“separate but equal” voters (Dixiecrats) are no longer voting for Democrats (as evidenced above). And, if they aren’t voting for Democrats then which party did they change to?

                C’mon, that’s a smoking mushroom cloud (as the Republicans like to say), not a smoking gun.Report

              • @John Howard Griffin,

                The Dixiecrats simply quit supporting Democratic presidential candiates. in state and local elections the Democratic party still continued to do quite well. As for Presidential elections, In addition to Carter, Clinton carried 5 of the 13 states typically considered Sotuhern today.

                I also think a big part of the problem is that you are using ‘Dixiecrats’ in the present tense when it’s just not even remotely accurate.

                I’m curious why you think Dixiecrats remined affiliated with the Democrats if they were actually closet Republicans? Do you think they were too lazy to fill out the card at the county clerk’s office?Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to John Howard Griffin
                Ignored
                says:

                Mike, Dixiecrats refers (more generally) to the type of Democrat from the South that supported the Dixiecrat party. They oppose civil rights and promote a religious agenda.

                They used to be a part of the Democratic party. However, after Goldwater’s southern strategy and Reagan’s southern Atwater strategy, they shifted to be Republicans. Even at the state and local level.

                Dixiecrat doesn’t just refer to the party, but also to the type of voter the party represented. I use it rather than typing anti-civil rights and pro-“separate but equal”, because it is shorter and I assume you understand the political meaning. Maybe if I substituted Reagan Democrat it would make more sense?Report

              • @John Howard Griffin,

                So – if I follow your logic – all the Dixiecrats became Republicans (or at least started voting for them) and now Dixiecrat is no longer a specific term regarding a specific period in American politics but now a generic term for racist voters.

                Wouldn’t it be easier for you to just call them all Republicans since (I assume) that’s sort of how you view the whole party anyhow?Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to John Howard Griffin
                Ignored
                says:

                Mike, it’s been great talking with you. I look forward to the next time.

                Thanks for the discussion.Report

        • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          @Jaybird, I think the contemporary differentiation may be between statist and federalist (or in my case, anti-federalist). I think, maybe, that dichotomy eases any number of tensions, including not requiring the anti-federalist to constantly proclaim his antipathy toward African Chattel Slavery which not only disrupts the dialectic but allows the statist to claim some sort of victory and elude any meaningful discussion.Report

          • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Bob Cheeks
            Ignored
            says:

            @Bob Cheeks, I tell you what. I agree not to constantly require the anti-federalist to constantly proclaim his antipathy toward African Chattel Slavery if the anti-federalist (and I’m not sure that I’m not an anti-federalist myself) agrees to not constantly insist upon the celebration of Confederate (as opposed to mere Southern) heritage and to insist that the Confederacy had perfectly legitimate reasons for secession that had nothing whatsoever to do with slavery.Report

            • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Mark Thompson
              Ignored
              says:

              @Mark Thompson, Just to flog a dead horse, hows about a rambling rough post on the Fourteenth? No need for anything polished. Just something to get the conversation started?Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Cascadian
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                says:

                @Cascadian, Maaaan, talk about a blast from the past. It seems like about now would be a pretty good time to do that, though. Give me a week or two (I’ve only got time for one well-thought-out post a week right now), and I’ll try to put it together. I can’t make any guarantees, though, as I’m expecting next week to be a major pain in the rear for me.Report

            • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to Mark Thompson
              Ignored
              says:

              @Mark Thompson, Well, Mark I’ve dutifully included African Chattel Slavery as one of the causes of the ‘unpleasantness.’ I just don’t think it was the only reason, and maybe not even the primary one. As far as you being an anti-federalist…hooray! I’ll invite you to the next meeting of the Tertium Quids..we’ll have two fingers of Maker’s Mark!Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Bob Cheeks
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            says:

            @Bob Cheeks, let me know if that works out for you, Bob.

            I reckon you will have to talk about how awful slavery is for at least a post or three before discussion of anything else is allowed.

            The fundamental problem when it comes to secession is that the States, in one side of their mouths, were talking about freedom and the right to choose their own destinies and all that and, with the other, were talking about the right to own human beings.

            Had they emancipated everybody and *THEN* fired on Fort Sumter? Had they talked about slavery *NOT* *AT* *ALL* in the articles?

            The problem with that interpretation of the Civil War is that the people at that time didn’t hold it.

            It’s possible to hold that position about it now… but the folks back then did not.Report

      • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to Transplanted Lawyer
        Ignored
        says:

        @Transplanted Lawyer, TL, African Chattel Slavery was one of three ’causes’ of the ‘late unpleasantness’ as I said further down this thread. The other two reasons are Yankee consolidation and the tariff. You argue that slavery is by far the most important. I’m not so sure, but we’re talking about degrees here as we keep in mind the three factors.

        I would argue based on the South’s agrarian economy (slave powered of course) and the southern tradition to perhaps lean more toward the opinions of John Randolph of Roanoake rather than the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln that the southern people might be more accurately described as the “Americans” as opposed the Northerners who were beginning the movement toward a centralized regime. Perhaps we can identify them as the “Lincolnites.”
        From that perspective I would think that those brave Southerners indeed deserve our ‘respect’ in their heroic effort to hold on to the principles of the republic of ’76, that were finally destroyed by the Northern hosts.Report

        • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Bob Cheeks
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          says:

          @Bob Cheeks, I’d love to see a Southern politician come out and call for invalidating the fourteenth, overturning White v. Texas in a serious way but they all seem to back away. It makes we wonder whether they’re sincere. Perhaps someone needs to start a referendum like Quebec. It could be your calling. I would certainly support a new secessionist movement. I think you might even find more Copperheads than before.Report

          • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to Cascadian
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            says:

            @Cascadian, Since I anticipate dying at the barricades I may indeed look at a seceesh movement (I know some of the radicals in Vermont) as Dear Leader moves us toward an increasingly consolidated regime…it’s that Front Porch thing though my friends there are moving themselves toward the Left.
            Cas, old palsy, I would think that philosophically the Tea Party Movement is at its base, rather copperheadish, though they may not know what you’re saying.
            Southern GOP hacks are pretty much statist dogs.
            LIve Free or Die, dude!
            The American Fringe is the only place for a man of honor.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Bob Cheeks
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          says:

          @Bob Cheeks,

          Though I disagree with everything else he says (with predictable umbrage in the case of who were more rightly described as “Americans”), I do have to agree with Bob’s point that, while it is *of course* wrong to downplay the role of the ‘peculiar institution’ in the Break (which, to be fair, Bob is probably doing), it is also wrong to simplify the course of those causes.

          As I mention above, though, what Bob points out is indeed an interesting question: how much did the antecedents of the Southern concern for the preservation of their ‘culture,’ their ,’autonomy,’ or their ‘American’-ness play into the Southern colonies’ decisions to join in the drive to Independence, in light of the prevailing Anglo-American legal trends which Jason points out? I’m undertaking a very amateur(-ish!) inquiry into this question in my reading as we speak, in fact, as well as into the question of how the more enlightened Southerners conceived of the relation of these issues (My growing feeling is that they were far more modern in their private and inherent moral and intellectual sensibilities than perhaps the conventional wisdom has it.)

          [This comment draws on various strands of this thread, so my apologies if it’s not clear which comments I refer to here.]Report

  3. Avatar Jason Kuznicki
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    says:

    It’s entirely possible to find many of the Union’s actions contemptible, while finding the Confederacy as a whole beneath contempt. I really don’t see what’s so difficult about it.

    There never has been a war in which the civil liberties of American citizens remained intact. Should it surprise us that the Civil War was no exception?

    And there never has been a war in which the size of the federal government did not grow dramatically. The latter claim is generally true even if we exclude spending specifically for the war. War becomes an excuse for every other government program.Report

  4. I liked the piece but I believe there was a failure insetting the Founding Fathers apart from the Confederacy. They did not create an equal society at all and when to great pains to keep slavery legal (which of course made the Civil War inevitable). While their new government was a radical shift away from the way things had been done in world history prior, it was certainly not the noble success that is implied when compared to the Confederacy. To the contrary Confederates pointed to the slave-holding tradition of the Forefathers in justifying their own positions as slave holders. Robert E. Lee himself became responsible for slaves descended from Mt.Vernon. How many times were Washington and Jefferson referenced in Confederate speeches?Report

    • Avatar Sam M in reply to Mike at The Big Stick
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      says:

      @Mike at The Big Stick,

      Mike raises a good and, I think, troubling point. We all like to point fingers at Confederate apologists and tsk-tsk them for forgetting slavery. Me too! You can’t separate the two, we say. Defense of one is defense of the other.

      But like Mike says, let’s look at the Revolution in the same light. Makes me squirm because what I want to do is… separate the two.

      I do think it’s possible to admire the Founding Fathers despite their reprehensible take on slavery. After all, they stood for some good things. But I am not willing to allow the same latitude with regard to the Confederacy. Is this an inconsistency that is defensible in some way? The more I think about it, the less sure I am. I mean, if you go down this path, you can’t admire any society in any period for anything. The Greeks? The Romans? Forget about it.

      So is it acceptable to “allow” someone to admire the Greeks or the Romans or the Founding Fathers despite their wretched failings? It must be. But I remain unwilling to extend that to the people who admire the Confederacy. I think this reflects some bias on my part. Perhaps it’s based on the fact that so many of today’s problems are based on racial issues. Or perhaps it’s me, a Yankee, still gloating after all these years. Or perhaps the Confederacy was uniquely reprehensible.

      I am open to any of these interpretations.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Sam M
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        says:

        @Sam M, I agree – it’s certainly not something that can be papered over. However, I think what it comes down to is that, unique amongst all those societies, slavery was the specific raison d’etre of the Confederacy, it’s organizational principle. The ancient societies to which you refer simply viewed slavery as an unremarkable fact of life, and in the antebellum United States, views on slavery were an obstacle to unity rather than a source of it. But in the Confederacy, a defense of slavery was the entire and explicit rationale for the nation’s existence.Report

        • Avatar Sam M in reply to Mark Thompson
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          says:

          @Mark Thompson,

          Mark, I appreciate that response. But for me, it seems a little convenient. So all these things were “a basic fact of life” from the Athenians through George Washington. Then at some stage over the next 60 years, slavery became something different, something that cannot be accepted. That works in terms of justifying whom I root for in history books, but it still leaves me wondering.

          I even wonder of there is a proper distiction to be made between previous cultures and the South, where “a defense of slavery was the entire and explicit rationale for the nation’s existence.” It was explicit, but was it “entire”? What I mean is, I am not sure slavery was the “end” they had in mind. They preferred slavery because it enabled a certain ordering of society. For instance, I am guessing that if someone had invented some processes that made slaves economically obsolete, people would have abandoned slavery right quick. Slavery was a means to an end. Just like it was for previous cultures. The South needed its plantations. Periciles needed his monuments. Etc.Report

          • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Sam M
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            says:

            @Sam M, Well, I wouldn’t say that slavery was a basic fact of life at the time of the American War for Independence. I would say, however, that it was not even a reason for the decision to declare independence, whereas it was explicitly the primary reason for the South’s declaration of independence. This distinction is certainly not as great as I might like, but it is a critical distinction in my mind nonetheless.Report

          • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Sam M
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            says:

            @Sam M,

            Here’s another factor: Whatever their faults, the founding fathers laid the groundwork for a great country the benefits of which we all enjoy today. The Confederacy didn’t.

            Let’s say the south won the war and had the CSA held on to the better aspects of what they were striving for and turned their back on the rest. They abolished slavery and took care of Jim Crow themselves (I’m *not* saying this would have happened) and, through a decentralized government that say expanded to the west created a vibrant society and successful nation. And some of the rationales for secession played a role in this.

            If all that happened, that would add many new layers of nuances to the secessionists. It would have given CSAmericans something to celebrate about the Civil War.

            But unlike with the Revolution, that didn’t happen. Instead, it was a failure. It left hundreds of thousands dead. It left the nation worse off. It left the South worse off. A lot of broken eggs and no omelet.

            It’s hard to look at that and honor that without looking mostly at a bunch of broken eggs. That many southerners choose to look at it as a question of who broke the eggs (when in the aforementioned scenario, they wouldn’t be thanking the North for being such prigs as to justify their departure) is fundamentally different than looking at the omelet and being thankful to the very imperfect chefs that created it.Report

        • @Mark Thompson,

          What if Shay’s Rebellion or the Whiskey Rebellion had resulted in the formation of a break-away country? Would we say those countries were founded on the backs of alcohol and resistence to taxes? Maybe, but wasn’t it really about testing the power of the federal government? What about the struggles of Mormons in Utah? Were they fighting for polygamy? I think it’s dangerous to over-simplify the complexity of these issues. The power of the federal government has been tested many times. More than once shooting was involved.Report

          • @Mike at The Big Stick, The thing is that there’s really no moral equivalence between resistance to taxes or even polygamy and slavery. If the South had seceded over, say, resistance to tariffs, its cause would have been far more worthy of respect. Hell, even if the South had seceded for no real reason at all, there would be some moral justification for its existence. But it seceded over slavery, a fact that simply cannot be erased or glossed over.Report

            • @Mark Thompson, But isn’t the very irony of that the fact that slavery was maintained within the Union states? And if the South had accepted the premise that slavery could not spread any further, how long would it have continued in the United States?

              I think that many Southerners could accept the premise that the Civil War was fought by the Confederacy on immoral grounds…where we struggle is in accepting the unspoken corollary which is that the Union was the ‘good guy’ and held the moral high ground.

              To draw an analogy, the Allies didn’t enter WWII to stop the Holocaust. Stopping the Holocaust was a very good benefit of our fighting, but certainly not the reason that we stormed the beaches at Normandy. Keep in mind that Hitler didn’t really become known as ‘evil’ until after we learned he was killing Jews by the millions. Still, we’re now known as the moral victors because we stopped him.

              To take the analogy a bit further, what if we had actually had concentration camps of our own, but we had 50% less concentration camps and we planned on stopping at some point in the next few years. As soon as the war ended we closed our camps and gave the Jews 40 acres and a mule. Would we still be the moral victors?Report

            • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to Mark Thompson
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              says:

              @Mark Thompson, Mark, slavery was of course and element of the secessionist movement but so was consolidation and tariffs. The Southern states no longer wanted the company of the Northern States. They were perfectly in their right to secede from the voluntary compact that made the Union, there’s nothing sacred or sacrosanct about the Union.
              Why did Lincoln make war on these people when they only wanted to be left along….(slavery, yes but) tariffs and posts, the South paid up to 3/4 the cost of the Federal gummint via these instruments of wealth confiscation! People go to war over economic reason, not idealistic ones…idealism gets attached after the first shots are fired to justify the carnage.Report

      • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Sam M
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        says:

        @Sam M,

        I would say that there is a difference between celebrating one’s forebearers and celebrating one’s heritage and celebrating everything that they did and celebrating the worst things that they did in particular.

        We celebrate Jefferson and Washington despite the fact that they had slaves. Southerners often celebrate their heritage despite their actions in the Civil War. Every society makes mistakes. Sometimes awful ones.

        The problem with the Confederacy is that it is an organization founded almost solely around the preservation of slavery. That is its primary contribution to American History: starting a war leaving to the deaths of hundreds of thousands in defense of an indefensible institution.

        The constituent parts of the Confederacy have longer histories. North Carolinians celebrating North Carolina are not zeroing in on the darkest days of its past and the attempted preservation of its darkest institutions. Texans can celebrate Texas independence without celebrating the slavery that occurred afterward and can even include celebrations of its minority heritages in the form of Cinco De Mayo and Juneteenth. Louisianans have a unique cajun culture that extends beyond slavery and includes the best damn food in this country.

        But the Confederacy? The institution that was created at the beginning of a war that was started because the Confederacy wanted to preserve slavery and ended when that war was lost? I don’t see how you can celebrate the confederacy without celebrating what it stood for. I come from a southern state and I will fly the flag of my southern state at the appropriate annual holiday. I will never fly the Confederate Jack.

        So in short, as a Yankee stomp-dancing on the Confederate flag, this southerner doesn’t really have a problem with it. If you use its participation in the confederacy to dance on my home state’s flag? Then you’re just being a jackhole.

        Reducing (general) southern heritage to the Confederacy is a dumb and offensive thing. Unfortunately, some southerners invite it by trying to defend the indefensible. Some non-southerners do it out of a smug superiority, which never brings out the best in those you (collective second person, not Sam) are being smugly superior to.Report

  5. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    It just seems like any mention of bad things happening in the South brings forth a torrent of – well the North did bad things to ( which is obvious and I don’t here anybody denying), stop picking on us ( which sidesteps the entire issue of how this current debate got started, which is the Virginia gov butchering history) or justifying Southerners’ continued regional animosity at others.

    For the record I think all regional animosities are childish.Report

    • Avatar Trumwill in reply to greginak
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      says:

      @greginak,
      which sidesteps the entire issue of how this current debate got started, which is the Virginia gov butchering history

      Too true. I don’t like the flying of the Confederate Jack and want the emblem removed from state flags in part (but only in part) because it invites the sorts of conversations where people start defending the indefensible. If you don’t want to be made to feel bad about slavery in the south, then don’t bring up the institution built to preserve and expand it.Report

    • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to greginak
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      says:

      @greginak, it is, of course, pointless to speculate. However…

      I wonder what we would hear from Fox News, Rush, Coulter, Palin, even The South, if California or New York or Massachusetts (home state) had tried to secede from the Union at some point. Even without that hypothetical, this same group uses epithets against them (San Francisco liberal, East Cost liberal Elites, etc.).

      But, somehow, we Northerners are supposed to keep our tongues civil when we discuss the South and their undying love for the Confederacy.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian in reply to John Howard Griffin
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        says:

        @John Howard Griffin, I believe that it was the North that first did threaten secession. We find nullification first in the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions in response to the Patriot Act of the day. If only these options were still open to debate without the charge of somehow romanticizing the confederacy or secretly longing for slavery. It’s no mystery what the knee jerk cons would say “The Constitution is just a goddamn piece of paper” or “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.”Report

    • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to greginak
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      says:

      @greginak, Come on Greg, don’t you read the Front Porch Republic? Get with it!Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    @John Howard Griffin, Down here.

    It seems to me that even what the Gov. said was more about symbols than anything else… and the discussion immediately imploded into the same dynamic that always happens. What does the Confederate Flag represent?

    What *OUGHT* it represent?

    What do we do when we encounter someone for whom it represents something else entirely?

    Well, that’s the dynamic that shows up and shows up and shows up and shows up. Arguments about the Civil War are not really arguments about the Civil War. Arguments about the Confederate Flag are not really arguments about the Confederate Flag.

    There are a lot of little arguments and little dynamics going on that don’t strike me as being reducible to arguments about racism. Oh, it’s *THERE*, of course… but to focus on racism to the exclusion of all of the other little dynamics strikes me as a good way to ensure that this conversation will come up again in a few months… notably when some dumb-assed Southern politician does something dumb-assed again.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      @Jaybird, So the flag means just what they want it to mean: just the really good parts and not the bad parts. Those parts they don’t like shouldn’t be mentioned because they really weren’t important. And just shut up if you don’t like it. Have i got the point? That certainly seems to be the message of cofed flag defenders.

      There are many nuances that could be mentioned: The honor and choices of Winfield Scott or George Thomas. How West Virginia was formed? The number of black’s in elected positions right after the war. There is actaully a hell of lot more history then the flag, but i don’t really see the confed flag defenders open to it. Maybe you do, but i see a dogmatic, mythical heroic outlook that whitewashes everything they don’t like.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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        says:

        @greginak, So the flag means just what they want it to mean: just the really good parts and not the bad parts.

        That’s the problem with symbols, isn’t it?

        What do you think ought be done with people who don’t understand that the symbol really means THIS instead of THAT?Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          @Jaybird, Why yes, your faux even handedness is impressive. But what to do you think? Don’t just step outside the issue, take a stand, discuss history.

          Should Virginians honor Winfield Scott and George Thomas?
          What does celebrating Confed Hx month do to the heritage of all the Virginians who stayed loyal to the Union? Is forgetting about that part of history nuanced or a whitewash?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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            says:

            @greginak, But what to do you think?

            I think that far too many Southerners are ignorant, ill-educated, and treated like shit by Northerners. I think that “Southern Pride” is just as useful for “freaking the normals” as it is for “screaming about White Supremacy”. I also think that the typically Northern approach to this ignorance and ill-education among Southerners will result in more “Southern Pride” than assimilation into polite society.

            “Should Virginians honor Winfield Scott and George Thomas?” Officially? Probably not. Unofficially? It’s not my place to tell them what to do in their own time. “What does celebrating Confed Hx month do to the heritage of all the Virginians who stayed loyal to the Union?” Among other things, it gives these Virginians an opportunity to start shouting at the top of their lungs. “Is forgetting about that part of history nuanced or a whitewash?” Is “forgetting about that part of history” something that has happened or is in any danger of happening?Report

      • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to greginak
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        says:

        @greginak, dude, Lincoln said states couldn’t secede…except West Virginia of course! he, he, he!Report

    • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      @Jaybird, I don’t see how the Confederate Flag can represent anything but the Confederacy. And, I don’t see how the Confederacy can represent anything but the losing side of the Civil War. And, I don’t see how the Civil War can represent anything but Slavery.

      It’s about white supremacy Southern Pride.

      What does the current day milita movement represent?

      What *OUGHT* it represent?

      What do we do when we encounter someone for whom it represents something else entirely?

      I think most people would think that the person claiming that it represents something else entirely is being disingenuous.

      I agree COMPLETELY that the Confederate Flag is a symbol – and I’ve detailed above the dog-whistle politics that it represents. Politicians can’t talk about the inferiority of blacks and the supremacy of whites, so they use symbols. Like the Confederate Flag.

      Reagan was a master at this kind of dog-whistle politics in the South. After all, he had the One Ring To Rule Them All – Lee Atwater.Report

      • @John Howard Griffin, If one wants to denote ‘Southern pride’ what other symbol would you use?

        And if we’re going to say that symbol is always and forever a symbol of white supremecy, can we also agree that when a liberal wears a shirt that has a picture of Che Guevera on it, they have communist sympathies? Likewise, can we also agree that if someone wears an American flag, they are cool with the genocide of Native Americans?Report

        • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Mike at The Big Stick
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          says:

          @Mike at The Big Stick,

          If one wants to denote ‘Southern pride’ what other symbol would you use?

          I don’t know, but I wouldn’t use the Confederate Flag, that’s for sure. BTW, what’s the symbol for Northern Pride? The American Flag? Maybe we Northerners are proud enough without having our own special flag.

          Good try with your other examples, but they don’t quite work. The Confederate Flag isn’t a symbol for white sympathies. It’s a symbol of white SUPREMACY. The American Flag and Che Guevara don’t fit into that type of symbology.

          But, for what it’s worth, when I look at the American Flag, one of the things I see is the state-sponsored genocide of Native Americans (among many things, good and bad). When I see a Che shirt, I (usually) see a college student who has been exposed to some new kinds of thinking. Same thing when I see an Ayn Rand shirt.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to John Howard Griffin
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        says:

        @John Howard Griffin,

        So what does it mean when Klan members are waving the American flag?Report

        • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Scott
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          says:

          Well, usually that waving comes with some talking or signs that say something like “Only REAL Americans…”.

          So, I’d say they’re making some kind of statement that I (or someone else) isn’t a REAL American.

          Next grenade over the wall question!Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to John Howard Griffin
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        says:

        @John Howard Griffin, (Note, I tried to include strikeout tags but don’t know if they work nested within italics)

        I don’t see how the Confederate Flag can represent anything but the Confederacy. And, I don’t see how the Confederacy can represent anything but the losing side of the Civil War. And, I don’t see how the Civil War can represent anything but Slavery.

        Fair enough. I would rather expect your reaction to seeing someone with the Confederate Flag to be a host of visceral emotional reactions. For the record, it would not occur to me to tell you that you should have *ANY* other response.

        It’s about white supremacy Southern Pride.

        This is where I begin to disagree. We’ve moved from a “I don’t see how” construction to a “this is how it is” construction.

        For what it’s worth, I have no doubt that there are people for whom the Confederate Flag means White Supremacy. I don’t think that this group includes everybody, though. It only includes a (sadly, large) number of somebodies.

        What does the current day milita movement represent?

        To whom? To me? I’d say that it represents ressentiment on the part of unemployed blue collar workers who used to be in manufacturing but whose jobs have been exported (and, where they have not been exported, shifted to cheaper labor).

        What *OUGHT* it represent?

        To whom? To me? Well, for me, I’d say a willingness to overthrow the government if it comes to that (see, for example, The Bill of Rights… if the federal government ever starts getting rid of entire swaths of it, I’d reckon that is what the militia movement ought represent, in theory (and only in theory)).

        What do we do when we encounter someone for whom it represents something else entirely?

        Dunno. I don’t know that I have the standing to say “it shouldn’t mean this to you, it should mean *THAT*.”

        I mean, I wouldn’t dream of telling you that you should think something else about the Confederate Flag.

        I think most people would think that the person claiming that it represents something else entirely is being disingenuous.

        Okay.

        I agree COMPLETELY that the Confederate Flag is a symbol – and I’ve detailed above the dog-whistle politics that it represents. Politicians can’t talk about the inferiority of blacks and the supremacy of whites, so they use symbols. Like the Confederate Flag.

        I don’t necessarily agree with this 100%, but I know that this is accurate at least part of the time and has been accurate a lot more often than not.

        Reagan was a master at this kind of dog-whistle politics in the South. After all, he had the One Ring To Rule Them All – Lee Atwater.

        Okay.Report

        • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          @Jaybird, your strikeout tags of my strikeout tags have struck out.

          What if, in our discussion, we change Confederate Flag to Apartheid Flag of South Africa, does this change your opinions?

          Does the Apartheid Flag represent whatever an Afrikaaner wants to believe it represents?

          It isn’t in use any more, but it has come out from time to time after it was replaced. There was much uproar when it did, because many (most?) believed that it represents….surprisingly…..white supremacy.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to John Howard Griffin
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            says:

            @John Howard Griffin, if an Afrikaaner said that he flew it because it reminded him of the home he left before crime got out of control, I would probably say “uh-huh” and suspect him of being, at best, exceptionally naive about the days he was missing and, more likely, a fairly devout racist.

            That said, he could, quite honestly, miss “his” old country.

            And if he expressed surprised at why people were screaming at him for merely flying his flag that reminded him of home, I’d explain to him that people thought that he was some sort of White Supremacist and were screaming at him accordingly and that if he didn’t want to be yelled at, he should probably stop flying the flag and, if that didn’t work, move and make sure that he didn’t fly the flag there.Report

            • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              Jaybird, that seems…different…than your opinion of the Confederate Flag, even though both symbols represent very similar things.

              And, to clarify, this isn’t about someone flying the Apartheid Flag at their home. This is about people bringing the Apartheid Flag (in 2010) to funerals and sporting events and even state-sponsored public places.

              It is, in many ways, what McDonnell (and others) are doing here in America. And, they’re all using it for the same purpose – to make a statement that whites are superior to other races, and reminding everyone (who is white) of the better times of the past when they were in charge and no one (who wasn’t white) challenged them.

              It seems strange to me that you would use such direct (and harsh) words for the Apartheid Flag wavers, but you make many excuses and apologies for the Confederate Flag wavers.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              @Jaybird, well, it is different because I have relatives who have an affinity for the Stars ‘n Bars. Are they racist? No, not really… they are, however, people who have Southern accents who are treated poorly by people without Southern accents. The flag is treated as an “f-u”, if you will. It’s not about the Civil War. It’s about “may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb”.

              I don’t know any Afrikaaners.

              I do know of a recent resurgence of Germans singing the first verse of Das Deutschlandlied. Where? At soccer games. Germany vs. France and the fans start singing “Deutschland, Deutschland, uber alles”.

              Now. Do I approve? Of course not. Do I think that fans singing this song ought be subjected to a lecture on the Holocaust by a bunch of Americans who want to make sure that they understand exactly how hurtful that song is to a great many people?

              To be perfectly honest: I don’t suspect that it’d do a lick of good.

              But, to deal with this point:

              “they’re all using it for the same purpose – to make a statement that whites are superior to other races, and reminding everyone (who is white) of the better times of the past when they were in charge and no one (who wasn’t white) challenged them.”

              I don’t know that this is, in fact, what they were doing.

              Maybe it is. If it is, then I am wrong and they deserve twice as much of what they are getting, if not three times.

              But, again, this doesn’t seem exactly like what’s going on to me. It seems more of a “Southern Pride” thing than a “White Pride” thing and more of a “screw y’all Yankees” thing than a “The South Shall Rise Again!” thing.

              But, as I said, maybe I’m wrong… and, no doubt, there are things that you see in the flag that I do not (and vice versa).Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Jaybird, yeah, I know what you mean. I’ve got relatives who are people who have (beautiful) dark brown skin who are treated poorly by people with Southern accents. They take issue with those who fly the Confederate Flag (as do I). It’s not about the Civil War. It’s about “my ancestors were hung by those with southern accents”.

                But, here’s the crux, I think:

                To be perfectly honest: I don’t suspect that it’d do a lick of good.

                So, you have decided that you know what is in other people’s heads in this regard, but, I (and my fellow Northern Abolitionists) shouldn’t imagine that we can know what is in other people’s heads in regards to the Confederate Flag. I’m really glad to have that cleared up!

                It seems that you think the flag is a tribal identifier. However, its connections to the past prevent it from being a geographical tribal identifier. And, your relatives don’t seem to care about what other people think, as long as they think “F you, Northerners”.

                But, it’s us Northerners who aren’t being tolerant of the Southerners who fly the Confederate Flag.

                All I can say is: wow!

                Did I miss anything?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                @Jaybird, So, you have decided that you know what is in other people’s heads in this regard, but, I (and my fellow Northern Abolitionists) shouldn’t imagine that we can know what is in other people’s heads in regards to the Confederate Flag.

                JHG, could you point me to where I have told you what you can or cannot do in this thread?

                I found where I said “For the record, it would not occur to me to tell you that you should have *ANY* other response.” (It’s up a ways.)

                If I gave you the impression that I was telling you what you can or cannot do, allow me to apologize… but I would like to see where I might have given that impression.

                It seems that you think the flag is a tribal identifier.

                Among other things, yes. I can find where I said that, sometimes, it is other things if you’d like.

                And, your relatives don’t seem to care about what other people think, as long as they think “F you, Northerners”.

                Some of them, yes. Some of them went out of their way to make sure that I talked like a Northerner and was raised with a classical liberal education.

                But, it’s us Northerners who aren’t being tolerant of the Southerners who fly the Confederate Flag.

                My problem is not with intolerance of the Southerners who fly the Confederate Flag, per se. Be intolerant of whatever floats your boat. If I do have a problem, it’s with automatic assumption that folks who are X are also Y… and, I suppose, people who would defend some X’s as being not Y’s must also be X’s who are, of course, Y’s.

                Did I miss anything?

                A non-Manichean interpretation, among other things. But, hey. It’s cool. I suppose it’s my own fault for allowing myself to be drawn into this conversation again. You’d think I’d have learned by now that it only ends one way.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                JHG, could you point me to where I have told you what you can or cannot do in this thread?

                Well, you’ve been making a lot of arguments to the effect that people have differing reasons to fly the Confederate Flag. An unspoken assumption, when one is making an argument, is that you are trying to convince someone to change their thinking/acting/speaking. Your arguments seemed to boil down to you telling me that I (or anyone) could not know what is in other people’s heads in regards to their reasons for being proud of the Confederate Flag.

                That last sentence is very close to the wording I used. I did not, however, say that you “told [me] what [I] can or cannot do in this thread”. Could you point me to where I said that?

                I agree with you, though. It is also my fault for entering into (and drawing you further) this discussion. It is a good reminder for me that these online discussions are almost always pointless and are just a form of simple entertainment (keeping those synapses firing for the monkey in the cage). Best to you and your relatives.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                @JHG, An unspoken assumption, when one is making an argument, is that you are trying to convince someone to change their thinking/acting/speaking.

                I see a major difference between me providing a differing point of view along with the caveat that, let me quote myself here, “For the record, it would not occur to me to tell you that you should have *ANY* other response” and me that you, let me quote you here, “shouldn’t imagine that we can know what is in other people’s heads in regards to the Confederate Flag.”

                That last sentence is very close to the wording I used. I did not, however, say that you “told [me] what [I] can or cannot do in this thread”. Could you point me to where I said that?

                Where you said “So, you have decided that you know what is in other people’s heads in this regard, but, I (and my fellow Northern Abolitionists) shouldn’t imagine that we can know what is in other people’s heads in regards to the Confederate Flag.”, I read this as you were saying that I was saying that you shouldn’t do something.

                Were you not saying that I was saying that you should not do something? If so, I apologize for reading your sentence incorrectly.

                Best to you and your relatives.

                And you and yours.Report

      • Avatar Trumwill in reply to John Howard Griffin
        Ignored
        says:

        I don’t see how the Confederate Flag can represent anything but the Confederacy. And, I don’t see how the Confederacy can represent anything but the losing side of the Civil War. And, I don’t see how the Civil War can represent anything but Slavery.

        As you point out, though, it does represent things other than the Civil War and slavery. It represents white pride. It represents people that live in states that were not members of the Confederacy. The Confederate Navy Jack (what most people think of when they think of “The Confederate Flag”) didn’t even start really gaining traction until the war was over and the supremecists needed a symbol. So the flag has come to represent, more than anything, white pride. The Civil War is its origin, not its (current) meaning.

        And to that extent, a lot of well-intentioned, non-hater people do use the flag and really are not supporting slavery or white pride. I see it all the time. It’s immensely frustrating. They refuse to acknowledge that whatever value the symbol may have had has been lost. It represents Bad Things. Not because a bunch of northerners, liberals, and minorities say so… but because Bad People agree with them. Symbols don’t always mean what you (collective “you”) think they should mean. If they want a flag to represent the southeastern region of the United States, they need to look elsewhere.

        Incidentally, the actual Confederate Flag doesn’t bear nearly the same symbolism as the Jack does. When Georgia removed the Jack emblem version of their flag, they replaced it with a near-duplicate of the Stars & Bars. Nobody cared. People are strange.Report

        • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Trumwill
          Ignored
          says:

          @Trumwill, I think this is a really important point. It’s something I’ve thought during this discussion, but neglected to point out. Thanks for making the point so well. I agree completely (even the well-intentioned non-hater part).

          And to that extent, a lot of well-intentioned, non-hater people do use the flag and really are not supporting slavery or white pride. I see it all the time. It’s immensely frustrating. They refuse to acknowledge that whatever value the symbol may have had has been lost. It represents Bad Things. Not because a bunch of northerners, liberals, and minorities say so… but because Bad People agree with them. Symbols don’t always mean what you (collective “you”) think they should mean. If they want a flag to represent the southeastern region of the United States, they need to look elsewhere.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Trumwill
          Ignored
          says:

          @Trumwill, Its also important to note that use of the confed flag became really popular and much more common during the civil rights era. That is when many states put it on their state flag. That is part of the context, and dare i say it, nuance, some people see with the confed flag.Report

      • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to John Howard Griffin
        Ignored
        says:

        @John Howard Griffin, John, dude, explain to me how the War for Southern Independence was a “civil war?”Report

        • Avatar John Howard Griffin in reply to Bob Cheeks
          Ignored
          says:

          @Bob Cheeks, oh, no, Bob, it wasn’t the War for Southern Independence.

          It was the War of the Rebellion. It was the War for Abolition. It was the Freedom War. It was the War of the Insurrection. It was the Slaveholders’ Rebellion.Report

  7. Avatar Scott
    Ignored
    says:

    I will take this discussion back to my next Sons of Confederate Veterans meeting and make sure that we continue to celebrate and glorify all of the worst aspects of the South.Report

  8. Avatar Cascadian
    Ignored
    says:

    Couldn’t we solve this with a show of hands? How many Southerners want a return of Slavery or Jim Crow? How many Northerners think it’s worth the time of day to keep the South in the Union?Report

  9. Avatar angulimala
    Ignored
    says:

    The Confederacy was having a harder and harder time maintaining Slavery and wanted the North to bail it out. The North refused and the South went apeshit.Report

  10. Avatar Michael Drew
    Ignored
    says:

    Fantastic thread, boys.Report

  11. Avatar Louis B.
    Ignored
    says:

    For the record, what action would the Union defenders here recommend if a state were to declare independence today? Would they examine the purity of the seceders’ motive and decide whether or not to invade?Report

  12. Avatar Bob Cheeks
    Ignored
    says:

    “Live free or die,” I think _____said that!
    ….’we’ll I know you’re not him!.”
    Randy Weaver
    Bob DylanReport

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