Confederate History Month: Open Thread Deadline

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I had some grand ambition when I woke up this morning about a post that tied the Republican Confederate Party celebration of Confederate History Month to the almost automatic way that wingnuts and neo-Confederates turn to the rhetoric of violence and then to real violence as their first lines of defense whenever they feel that they are losing an argument.

Face it, they are just prone to violence.

Anyway, that post will wait for a day when deadlines at my day job did not overtake me.

‘Deadlines’, by the way, is a term that comes from the Civil War and the barbarity of the Confederacy. In my work, I’ve always had “deadlines’, but sometimes they were soft. Every project always has a firm actual end date when the work must be done. I call those real end dates the Andersonville Deadline. This is why:

[a report on the Andersonville POW camp]…used the term to describe the line over which prisoners were forbidden to go. In it, Bowie wrote: “On the inside of the stockade and twenty feet from it there is a dead-line established, over which no prisoner is allowed to go, day or night, under penalty of being shot.”

You know, Andersonville was such a high point of the Confederacy, I am surprised that Sonny Perdue left it out of Georgia’s slavery free celebration of CHM.

Oh well, CHM open thread time.

Cheers

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60 replies
  1. 1

    I for one will be glad when CHM is over.

  2. 2
    Violet says:

    One of my relatives was held in a Confederate prison for a period of time. Wasn’t very nice, from what I’ve heard from family stories. He almost starved. Did make it out alive.

  3. 3
    Violet says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:
    I’m enjoying the posts. Hard to read sometimes (as in, hard to grasp the horror), but important.

  4. 4
  5. 5

    @Violet: Oh, I have enjoyed the posts. But I don’t enjoy the month, and the idiots who thought it was a good idea to wave their battle flag in the country’s face.

  6. 6
    handy says:

    wave their battle flag

    I see you misspelled “treasonous, seditious symbol of bigotry”

  7. 7
    Dennis G. says:

    @Mike in NC:

    That was a fine film. I would also recommend The Andersonville Trial from 1971. William Shatner was the prosecutor and Richard Baseheart was the Confederate Commandant. I still remember it, but I haven’t seen it in years.

    Cheers

  8. 8
    demimondian says:

    @handy: Not exactly. He really meant to type “symbol of bigotry, sedition, and treason.” The symbol itself isn’t seditious, nor is waving it. It’s vile, yes, and stupid, but not seditious, much less treasonous.

  9. 9
    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason says:

    I was talking with a friend about this today, and he was suggesting that the “confederate pride” mentality was the same origin as the “we wuz robbed!” proto-nazi pride of the German interwar era–which arose from the failure of the Triple Entente to communicate to the German people that they LOST. In support he cited the fact that only one man (Henry Wirz) was tried by the Federal Govt for war crimes during the Civil War, despite the fact that things like Andersonville and the abuses of the Home Guard clearly involved large numbers of perpetrators.

  10. 10
    handy says:

    @demimondian:

    You’re right. Grammar fail on my part.

  11. 11
    Gina says:

    I celebrate by re-reading Percival Everett’s short story The Appropriation of Cultures”. “I’m plugging it everywhere I can this month.

  12. 12
    cmorenc says:

    Most county seats and state capitals across the south have a monument (often an obelisk) in a prominent place on the courthouse/state capital lawn dedicated to: “OUR CONFEDERATE DEAD” (often with an image of St. Andrew’s Cross/Cofederate battle flag engraved in the face of the stone monument). These were erected mostly in the era 1880-1920 by confederate memorial societies (some of which still exist today, e.g. “Sons of the Confederacy” involved in the Virginia brouhaha.)

    As tenacious and heated the fight over flying the confederate flag in e.g. South Carolina (or including it in state flags) has been, I have yet to hear of any significant movement anywhere to attempt to force removal of these memorials. IMHO attempting to do so would spark immensely more trouble than it’s worth – better to let them remain what they are, quaint anachronisms that are mostly forgotten except momentarily when passing immediately in front of them.

  13. 13
    danimal says:

    I suspect that this blog’s (and even more, TNC’s blog) are the best way to end this confederate nostalgia foolishness. The conservatives don’t really want the association with the Lost Cause to become mainstream. Hence all the dog whistles and coded language.

    Making the association between Republicans and Confederates overt will lead to a predictable backlash in moderate and liberal circles. They don’t mind pissing off liberals, but moderates making the Confederate = Republican association will be lethal whenever conservative Republicans decide to try and compete for rational voters again.

  14. 14
    ellaesther says:

    For days now I’ve been itching to quote Hootie and the Blowfish:

    “Why is there a rebel flag hanging from the state house walls?
    Tired of hearin’ this shit about heritage not hate.”

    Nobody better hate — Darius had a hell of a voice, and that is about as good a summation of my feelings on the matter as any.

  15. 15
    Fern says:

    So… Confederate History Month is like – real?

    At first I thought this was a joke, but maybe not.

  16. 16
    Dennis G. says:

    @cmorenc:

    Of course, one of those monuments was attacked by Night Riders and ‘lynched’ back in 1900. It happened in Elberton, GA and it may make for a fine CHM post one of these days.

  17. 17
    ellaesther says:

    @Fern: Here, look! I’ve got it all summed up for you! In handy blog form!

    http://emilylhauserinmyhead.wo.....ory-month/

  18. 18
    Mike in NC says:

    @cmorenc:

    Most county seats and state capitals across the south have a monument (often an obelisk) in a prominent place on the courthouse/state capital lawn dedicated to: “OUR CONFEDERATE DEAD” (often with an image of St. Andrew’s Cross/Cofederate battle flag engraved in the face of the stone monument). These were erected mostly in the era 1880-1920 by confederate memorial societies (some of which still exist today, e.g. “Sons of the Confederacy” involved in the Virginia brouhaha.)

    I once read something about this and it was apparently a cottage industry in towns both north and south to put up hundreds of these monuments in the late 1800s, often using the same generic soldier figure leaning on a rifle (though the kepi was less common in the south than the wide-brimmed hat).

  19. 19
    Tom says:

    @ellaesther: “Heritage not hate” is a contradiction, anyway. The heritage of the Confederacy was raw, unadulterated hatred. There is no distinction – you can’t have the heritage without the hatred.

  20. 20
    MikeJ says:

    @Dennis G.: Dude was wearing a kepi. Obviously a member of La Légion étrangère.

  21. 21

    First off, I’ll make two disclaimers:
    1. I’m pretty sure all this had been said before.
    2. I’m easily +6 right now and so unsure how lucid all this is going to seem. But hey, I got a pretty cool new job, and I’m celebrating, so piss off. That said:

    Isn’t it funny, you know…I’m a lifetime Southerner, and very aware of all of the things that we do, traditions that are peculiar to my region, etc. Confederate History Month is of course something I have heard of in a vague way before now, but here’s the thing: it has NEVER been even page-six worthy until this year, and so my question is this: do you think it is such a hot issue now only because VA governor McDonnell stuck his foot in his mouth about the glossing over of slavery, or is it really only newsworthy because it’s some kind of barely covered-up slight toward the first black POTUS? Or is it both?

    It is disheartening to see all this coverage of CHM, though Dennis and Ta-Nehisi Coates have both had some really fine posts on the issue in the past several days. By all means keep it coming, but still, a part of me is somewhat disgusted that this is even something that any governor would give any effort to celebrate.

  22. 22
    ellaesther says:

    @Tom: Oh, well, if you’re going to be all technical n’ shit, yes, then I suppose you’re right.

  23. 23
    jl says:

    @Jason Bylinowski: I think for the politicians and electioneering operators running this show, it’s about an election this November.

  24. 24
    Fern says:

    @ellaesther: How convenient!

  25. 25
    GregB says:

    Former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes with the quote of the year:

    And in Georgia, former Gov. Roy Barnes (D), who seeking his old job back, mocked far-right Republicans who throw around rhetoric about secession from the U.S. “Do they not know that the Yankees have got the atomic bomb now?” Barnes joked.

    -G

  26. 26
    Yutsano says:

    @ellaesther:

    Darius had a hell of a voice

    Had? I can assure you Darius Rucker is still alive and kicking and still making music. In fact Hootie and the Blowfish might just reunite for a summer tour, but I haven’t heard the final details. Oh and evidence of my assertion:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related

  27. 27
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jason Bylinowski:

    do you think it is such a hot issue now only because VA governor McDonnell stuck his foot in his mouth about the glossing over of slavery, or is it really only newsworthy because it’s some kind of barely covered-up slight toward the first black POTUS? Or is it both?

    I think it’s both, and more. If McDonnell hadn’t previously stuck his foot in where it didn’t belong (like trying to end partner benefits for gay state employees), no one probably would have noticed his declaration. But he’d already been caught being stupid, so people were on the watch for more of it.

    It’s also that a lot of this Confederate crap comes out strongly during times of racial stress, and we’ve got that thanks to the teabaggers. Don’t forget, the Confederate flag was added to several southern state flags in the 1950s while the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing. Take a look at the state flag that Georgia adopted in 1956 (and finally changed in 2001). Mississippi has had the Confederate flag as part of their state flag since 1894, which was also a time of some significant racial unrest (Plessy v Ferguson was decided by the Supreme Court only two years later).

  28. 28

    Whew, this thread was toast for a moment there.

  29. 29
    Yutsano says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: I didn’t do it!

  30. 30
    ellaesther says:

    @Fern: I live to serve!

  31. 31
    Calming Influence says:

    My first day of c25k. Luckily, I did not die. The worst part was the week-one podcast I had to listen to for 30 minutes (It’s name shall not be spoken to protect the guilty). Can anyone recommend c25k podcasts that aren’t all eurotechnodrummachinesprocketsgroove-ish?

    Danke.

  32. 32
    williamc says:

    Two comments in one night and no liquor, but I had to comment on something mentioning Andersonville: I fucking hate that fucking place.

    I’m from south Georgia, and if you went to school in South Georgia, you’ve been to Andersonville, probably even multiple times on a field trip. The first time it’s all cool; you get to see the actual prison, hear about their horrible living conditions, and hear all of the neat historical details (though I don’t remember the term deadline from the Andersonville lecture, I do recall this rope line at the site and joking my last time there as a 12yo with the tour guide that “this must have been the hardest club to get into back then with a rope line like this”, and she said back to me, “no, it was easy to get in, just deadly to get out”). That being said, the place is a nightmare. Its in the middle of nowhere, after you see all the graves and the prison camp, the thing is over, and you just travelled an hour plus to get to this nowhere spot in the country and have to travel the hour plus back, after being bored to death all day (you can only look at headstones and outside prison-shanty lean-tos a couple times before it becomes passe) and baked in the sun as there’s no tree coverage anywhere, its just one big giant open field (and did I mention this was South Georgia outside in the late spring (why always late spring?) and it was fucking hot.

    The last time that I was in Andersonville (almost 15 years ago!), they barely mentioned the fact that gosh, this place was a concentration camp for Union men who were fighting to preserve our nation from treasonous slave-holders and their hangers-on, where war crime specific atrocities took place. The Lost-Cause stuff is something you start to clue into real early down here if you are bright kid and into Civil War History with the typical enthusiasm of a 9yo digging into something new. A lot of folks down here really feel that the War was about preserving Southern Heritage and that they aren’t responsible for their ancestors owning slaves, but that’s not what the war was about anyways, it was about State’s Rights (and on, and on, and on). I’ve given up on many a friend who can defend the Confederacy and dismiss slavery. Talk about people not being serious…

  33. 33
    Yutsano says:

    Hmm…somehow my comment at #26 went poof but the thread did re-enumerate. This is very bizarre.

  34. 34
    mcd410x says:

    I don’t know about you, but I’m really excited about new eps of The Boondocks.

    The ep when MLK Jr. awakes from a 30-year coma is bloody brilliant. Of course, the one with Samuel L. Jackson and Charlie Murphy when they plan to kidnap Oprah but nab Maya Angelou by mistake is top notch, too. They all are.

  35. 35
    Mike G says:

    .

  36. 36
    MikeJ says:

    @Calming Influence: I use the power pop genius mix on my ipod. Of course, I have a hojillion power pop tunes in my collection, so it’s easy to make a good mix. And I have a hojillion power pop tunes that that tends to be what I like.

    The Juno soundtrack is chock full of bouncy stuff too.

  37. 37
    Remfin says:

    I don’t know if it applies to Dennis’s posts, but looking through the comments on these posts I keep seeing “the South, the South, the South.” But people need to realize this was not a problem of only the South, and the “Confederate Party” was everywhere in the US. Detroit is not 80%+ African-American because of something Southerners did, but because of what Northerners did.

  38. 38
    MikeJ says:

    @Remfin: When a governor in the north declares Sundown Town Appreciation Month get back to us.

  39. 39
    jl says:

    Focusing on Andersonville makes me uneasy. Several POW camps in the Civil War were hell holes, with thousands of deaths due to starvation and exposure and negligence, both in the North and the South.

    We don’t hear so much about the ones in the North. Maybe because the winners had the ability to cover up, or lose, the records and evidence.

  40. 40
    Linkmeister says:

    I went looking for “Andersonville,” MacKinlay Kantor’s Pulitzer Prize-winner about the place, but among the “other customers bought” was a book which looks equally fascinating: “John Ransom’s Andersonville Diary.” Ransom was a 20yr old Union soldier.

  41. 41
    Carlinism says:

    When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show.
    When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat
    –George Carlin

    All freaks here are on the stage of their own free will. If they weren’t here they’d be chained in an attic or spending their lives down in the basement because Mommy & Daddy are embarrased by them and don’t want them to get hurt by the nasty people that don’t understand them. What is so hideous about these wealthy, well spoken freaks? They look just like you or me don’t they? And they are so RICH RICH RICH. Oh – I forgot to mention – like the very evilest monster in your worst dream – they aren’t really human. They really have no souls. Life is easier without one. Although you will often find them in church every now and then and they may CLAIM that yes they do love the Lord Jesus, and do believe in God – they really believe in the FSM, Santa or the Easter Bunny just as much. Especially those antiquated teachings of the New Testament. Love thy neighbor. Do unto others. Sorry, as the nuns said – “They don’t put potatoes on the table”. As Pink Floyd said “Don’t give me that Do goody good bullshit” In short any dog or cat you meet has higher ethics than most “klansmen” you meet.

  42. 42
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I have a GGF and GGGF (father and son to each other) who were both soldiers in the Union Army, captured and imprisoned and died at Andersonville, in all likelihood neither of them knowing the other was there. I visited several years ago to find their grave markers and pay tribute to them. Very moving experience. (In full disclosure, I also had plenty of ancestors who fought on the Confederate side.) And I am just old enough to remember two GGFs (different sides of the family) one of whom was in both the Civil War and the Spanish American War: family lore says he lied about his age both times in order to join up, LOL. He was a cool old guy, died when I was about five years old. I was lucky to have my life intersect with his.

  43. 43
    DPirate says:

    @The Main Gauche of Mild Reason: Or perhaps it is more like the pride of the fourth of july, when we threw off the yoke of the english, protector of indians.

    @Jason Bylinowski: It is only a big deal so leftists can point their finger and feel superior, make them forget what Obama hasn’t done and sub-consciously realign themselves with him.

    Smoke and mirrors and a heavy dose of high horse.

  44. 44
    DPirate says:

    @williamc: I’m sorry, but this doesn’t get it, man. They didn’t own slaves in order to abuse them. They didn’t pay exorbitant amounts of money just to be able to rape black women and brutalize black men. They wanted cheap labor, and racism grew from this, not with the owner class, who viewed them as mere chattel and naturally inferior, but with displaced poor workers whose jobs were taken away and whose wage base was destroyed, and who viewed them as a threat. It’s happening again today! Slavery is OVER, right? I mean, the slavery of the south, at least, yet racism still exists. Why? It has nothing whatsoever to do with the confederate states. This whole thing is a circle-jerk.

  45. 45
    stuckinred says:

    It’s Perdue not Purdue.

  46. 46
    Deech56 says:

    My great-great grandfather was at Andersonville, and lived to write about it. Truly a hell-hole. Besides the conditions, he was threatened by the Raiders.

  47. 47
    frosty says:

    @Violet:
    As it turns out, some distant relative of mine was taken prisoner in Tennessee and died in a Yankee prison camp in Ohio.

    I’ve got a mixed background. If you look close enough you can find draft-dodgers from Long Island and a deserter from Mississippi.

  48. 48
    frosty says:

    @cmorenc:

    The monument that I remember was in Macon Georgia, which stated something like “To the men who died to establish the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865”. It was at that point that I suddenly realized “My God, they thought they were right!”

  49. 49
    aimai says:

    I really value the way the bloggosphere has seized CHM and turned it on its head. I’d like to see our view of the month spread and spread–into the real world next year with speeches, advertisements, and letters to the editor.

    For too long we’ve let the South, and corporate interests, define our history for us–I highly recommend Confederate in the Attic (which I know a lot of you have read) and Lies Across America (Loewen’s book on specific monuments and their histories). Deep in one of the big threads on CHM was a comment from a reader in Germany about the important role of anti-Nazi memorials in shaping everyday experiences of German life. He/she referenced a window in the ground that gives the walker a view into a destroyed library. I lived only briefly in Atlanta, and have only transited through other southern states, but I think that the occasion of CHM declarations ought to be a call to remember and reflect on our joint history of fighting first slavery/oligarchy and then for civil rights and for worker’s rights.

    Its an unfinished business–of course. There’s plenty of racism to go around up North and all around the compass. But that’s no surprise, is it? The correct response to Southern Heritage Hysteria isn’t to throw up our hands and say “everybody hates the Jews” Blacks” but to see how yesterday’s myths are used to activate and legitimate today’s political and economic goals. I guess I’m responding to the “its all about the economy” stupid posts up above by dpirate. Hell yes its “all about the economy”–racism and the specifically biological and moral racism of the White South began with economic necessity but to think it ended there is to very much mistake the matter. And racism in the North has continued culturally because race has been used to distract white northern ethnics from economic issues and from forming natural alliances within a working class–or,hell, a rising middle class. The Italians and the Jews who fled Canarsie as the Blacks started moving in weren’t benefitting from the block busting of the banks–they were also its victims. The miners and the union members who wouldn’t integrate their mines or their unions were taking out in racial prejudice (which is cheap) what they otherwise could have exacted in actual pay and better working conditions.

    If the South, and its corporatist enablers, wants to rise again its going to have to have that war fought all over again–rhetorically speaking. It will lose, decisively, the war for hearts and minds if we fight it well enough.

    aimai

  50. 50
    El Cid says:

    @DPirate: In terms of racism still existing, I think the 80 year reconquest of the South by white supremacist elites (from the withdrawal of federal occupation troops until the Civil & Voting Rights Acts and their enforcement) has more to do with that than slavery which formally ended before the end of the Civil War.

  51. 51
    frankdawg says:

    As a young CW buff I visited Andersonville & it is what started me on the road to loathing the reconstructed south. There were a number of apologist memorials there defending the camp. The one from the ‘Daughters’ was the worst.

    Yes prisoners in both N and S died but Union soldiers died at a greater % then Confederate ones & even worse at Andersonsville. While some of that had to do with the relative poverty of the South and their insufficient government (gee- maybe a decent central government would have helped them in the war – there is irony) too much of it was willful punishment.

    There is an excellent first-person account of life in the camp published in the early 1900s I believe that details the horrors pretty well. (Another irony – my racist, battle-flag wavin’ brother-in-law gave me a first edition of it he found in a junk store). I seem to remember it describing the “dead-line” so maybe that is the first use of the term.

  52. 52
    Pangloss says:

    Face it, they are just prone to violence.

    And they loves themselves some Authoritianism.

    My theory is they were raised in semi-abusive households. How else do you account for that profile?

  53. 53
    Bokonon says:

    One of my ancestors died in the Andersonville prison camp of starvation. And those revisionist, apologist monuments that the (%#*&$(#$ Daughters of the Confederacy erected at the site absolutely enrage me. Those aren’t too far from the mass grave where my ancestor’s body is apparently interred (along with hundreds and hundreds of other prisoners).

    Andersonville was systematic, slow motion murder. It was intended to be murder, and it was conducted as murder. It was a direct expression and outcropping of the Confederacy’s vicious, fascist ideology, which celebrated violence and dehumanized its enemies. So, of course, all of that inconvenient stuff had to be denied and turned on its head so that the post-Reconstruction south could celebrate its “heritage”.

    In a way, those monuments were still ANOTHER act of aggression … this time, against the dead.

    Those monuments are sort of like a bunch of latter-day Nazis erecting monuments at Auschwitz or Buchenwald or the Warsaw Ghetto saying “aw, things weren’t so bad … the number of dead is disputed … the Allies are to blame for cutting food supplies … the German soldiers were sometimes forced to fire in self defense … National Socialism has been unfairly blamed.”

    As Joe Hill said, “Don’t mourn. Organize.”

  54. 54
    Mnemosyne says:

    @aimai:

    And racism in the North has continued culturally because race has been used to distract white northern ethnics from economic issues and from forming natural alliances within a working class—or,hell, a rising middle class. The Italians and the Jews who fled Canarsie as the Blacks started moving in weren’t benefitting from the block busting of the banks—they were also its victims. The miners and the union members who wouldn’t integrate their mines or their unions were taking out in racial prejudice (which is cheap) what they otherwise could have exacted in actual pay and better working conditions.

    Highlighting this because I think this is exactly what DennisG (and in my modest way, I) have been saying — the ideas of the Confederacy have spread out from the South where they were born to infect the whole country with anti-tax and anti-labor ideas. The economy of the South depended on free labor for decades (if not a century) and some people have never gotten over the idea that your employees are cheating you if they actually expect to be paid for the work they do for you. Plutocrats have played white and black workers against each other for decades to prevent labor advances, and the Republicans picked that up, too.

  55. 55
    Paul in KY says:

    @The Main Gauche of Mild Reason: Good point vis a vis WW I. Due to heavy German censorship of newspapers, etc. most Germans back then apparently believed (especially after exist of Russia from war) that things were going pretty well & were quite surprised when they surrendered.

  56. 56
  57. 57
    Honus says:

    @Dennis G.: Shatner was also the star of a 1962 film called “The Intruder” He’s a racist demagogue who inflames the public against integration of the town’s schools. Not to be damning with faint praise, but it’s probably his best role. He’s really good and the film is chillingly relevant to today.
    All you have to do is look at the picture of that idiot with his AR-15 staring across the Potomac from Virginia that’s on the front page of my local papers today. Any other time in the last 50 years he wpuld have been roundly regarded as a nut, and probably arrested. Now he’s hailed as some sort of political icon.

  58. 58
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @demimondian: Distinction without a difference.

  59. 59
    WallytheWineGuy says:

    Could someone with graphics mojo please mash the Confederate Party elephant with the Republican party dinosaur?

  60. 60

    FWIW, I had some thoughts today about the role of anger and violence in the rightwing approach to American political discourse.

    Click here to read them.

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