When I lived in Georgia I was in the newspaper business and for a time I was a crackpot with a newspaper (now-a-days that would be like being a crackpot with a blog). Anyway there was a daily paper in Anniston, Alabama that was an inspiration for independent voices in print media in the South. …
Fables Of The Reconstruction
It is heart warming to see so many folks decide to lend a hand to the Republican Confederate Party as they celebrate Confederate History Month. I think this whole CHM thing is turning out differently than intended and that is a sign of hope.
Just a few days ago the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity chapter at the College of William and Mary took action to remind Governor McDonnell that not all Virginians share his festive mood about treason and slavery. And now Bob the Reb wants to have a meeting. It is mighty white of him.
So I ran a hypothesis test to determine if states left the Union to join the Confederacy over slavery, or whether that was more of a side issue. I located the declarations of secession for four different states that were available: South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas.
The word “slave” appears 82 times in these four state declarations. The states even refer to themselves as “Slave-Holding States.” I always thought that was a Northern term. On the other hand, the words “State’s rights,” “states’ rights” or “states rights” do not appear in any of these four secession declarations. The word “rights” appears 14 times and “right” appears 32 times, but many of these references involve “the right to own slaves.”
As a bonus he looked at the economic arguments and found that it was about slavery:
Was it about economics? Cotton and rice don’t appear. Plantation is noted once, but it refers to a place in Rhode Island. Tariffs are never discussed. Tax is mentioned once. Nullification is not included either, though “null” appears three times, mostly to do with leaving the Union. “Econ” (as in economics, economy or any other term) is mentioned twice. And if you read the declarations, they are chock full of excuses for the necessity of slavery that would make the most political incorrect person today cringe
And in Sunday’s New York Times Frank Rich lends his considerable talents to help the
Republican Confederate Party celebrate Confederate History Month. Here are a few choice excerpts:
…once McDonnell was asked to explain why there was no mention of slavery in his declaration honoring “the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens.” After acknowledging that slavery was among “any number of aspects to that conflict between the states,” the governor went on to say that he had focused on the issues “I thought were most significant for Virginia.” Only when some of his own black supporters joined editorialists in observing that slavery was significant to some Virginians too — a fifth of the state’s population is black — did he beat a retreat and apologize.
But his original point had been successfully volleyed, and it was not an innocent mistake. McDonnell’s words have a well-worn provenance. In “Race and Reunion,” the definitive study of Civil War revisionism, the historian David W. Blight documents the long trajectory of the insidious campaign to erase slavery from the war’s history and reconfigure the lost Southern cause as a noble battle for states’ rights against an oppressive federal government. In its very first editorial upon resuming publication in postwar 1865, The Richmond Dispatch characterized the Civil War as a struggle for the South’s “sense of rights under the Constitution.” The editorial contained not “a single mention of slavery or black freedom,” Blight writes. That evasion would be a critical fixture of the myth-making to follow ever since. [snip]
The temperature is higher now than it was a month ago. It’s not happenstance that officials from the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Virginia and Mississippi have argued, as one said this month, that the Confederate Army had been “fighting for the same things that people in the Tea Party are fighting for.” Obama opposition increasingly comes wrapped in the racial code that McDonnell revived in endorsing Confederate History Month. The state attorneys general who are invoking states’ rights in their lawsuits to nullify the federal health care law are transparently pushing the same old hot buttons. [snip]
How our current spike in neo-Confederate rebellion will end is unknown.
There is more and the entire column is worth your time. In the age of Michael Steele, Conservative Confederacy worship, TeaBaggers, Obama hatred and fear, Rich makes another point about wingnuts–especially Republican wingnuts–that is spot on:
What is known is that the nearly all-white G.O.P. is so traumatized by race it has now morphed into a bizarre paragon of both liberal and conservative racial political correctness.
Poor babies, life is unfair and their celebration of CHM is just adding to their insecurities.
Happy to help.
Nobody–not even members of the Republican Confederate Party–should try and celebrate Confederate History Month without reading Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Today TNC captured an essential fact about the Civil War: that it was three overlapping conflicts:
But I think, it also helps to think of the Civil War as having three factions with three different aims:
1) The South which secedes explicitly to protect the institution of slavery and a system of white supremacy, but also feels that its “way of life” is fundamentally different from the North’s. It’s true that slavery and systemic white supremacy are essential cogs in that “way of life,” but they aren’t the entirety of it.
2) The North which is interested, primarily, in preserving the Union. If destroying slavery will help in that end, then all the better–but destroying slavery is not the primary goal. This is crucial and I want to clear, because it’s easy to conflate this–That the North is primarily motivated by unionism, not emancipation, does not negate the fact the South seceded–primarily and explicitly–to preserve systemic white supremacy. Their own documents tell the tale well. Additionally, the North almost certainly, brings its own cultural baggage and biased judgement on the South’s “way of life.”
3) African-Americans who explicitly sought the destruction of slavery and the end of systemic white supremacy. The African-American war against slavery began as soon as we got of the boat. In relevance to the Civil War, you can likely trace it back to Denmark Vessey, Gabriel Prosser, Nat Turner, and John Brown. But that only counts militant action, and ignores the small everyday acts of resistance (loafing around, breaking equipment, running off for weeks at a time) and individual acts of violence (poisonings, for instance).
The entire essay is amazing, especially the story of Big Jack Johnson, but I want to focus on the three wars of the Civil War. Of these, only one faction won their war. That would be the Union. Their goal was to preserve the Union and that was accomplished.
In the wake of the Union victory the Confederacy has fought on for their goal to protect their ‘way of life’–a world view that was and is firmly rooted in the idea of white supremacy. Over the last 150 years they have fought in many ways and they have won quite a few battles, but mostly they just keep losing and that just makes them crazier and crazier. Having a black President has really sent them over the deep edge. The calls to celebrate Confederate History Month are an attempt by the
Republican Confederate Party to inspire the troops and rationalize away their hate, fear and rage.
In the wake of the Union victory African Americans also had some wins, but soon it became clear that the Union was not ready to to really join their fight to end systemic white supremacy and all of its many manifestations. In the sixties the Union finally decided to do the right thing and since then African Americans have been winning more of these fights, but not all of them. America at times can be an unreliable ally. Even with a Black President the fight goes on. The subtle and not so subtle racism of the Right is on display almost daily. Victory is near, but there are still a lot of Confederate deadenders always ready to fight on in their effort to prove that white always makes right.
And even though the Union long since decisively defeated the Confederacy, that does not stop the
Republican Confederate Party from trying to re-fight that conflict one more time. So much of wingnut/Teabagger rhetoric and fail comes straight out of old Dixie. It seems that the Confederacy was and is made up of sore losers, cry babies and magical thinkers.
It is way past time for the Civil War to end and to toss the Confederate ideology of white supremacy on the ash heap of history. The day that finally happens will be an event worthy of a month of celebration.
Well this is more great news for the Republican Confederate Party as they celebrate Confederate History Month. All over the country they are trying to purge the Republican Party of squishes who just can not be counted on to fully support the capture of the GOP by the Confederate Party. A year ago, one of …
If the mention of how deeply Slavery is interwoven into the Confederacy is a buzzkill for members of the Republican Confederate Party as they celebrate Confederate History Month, just imagine what might happen if you bring up the Night Riders (AKA the KKK). Talk about being a party pooper. And yet the Klan must be …
The first wave of the KKK was during Reconstruction. In defeat the Confederate Party was without political power and so they quickly turned to terrorism. While Robert E Lee did not take to the woods to extend the conflict, his Generals like Forrest did and many of his troops followed this call to violence and terror as tools to score political victories that they could not win at the ballot box. And the tactic worked. By the 1890s the Night Riders had done their part, Jim Crow laws were firmly in place and the Confederate Party had a strong power base in the Democratic Party. No longer needed, the KKK began to fade away.
And then in the wake of World War I the Confederate Party felt threatened again. Not only were African-Americans organizing and fighting for their rights, some just back from the war were willing to fight back in the streets. And then their was the rise of Unions and these ethnic religious groups from Europe–especially those Romans and those Jews. In 1915 the Klan began their second act in America with a mass market media campaign through the propaganda film, Birth of a Nation (also known as The Clansman). It was a big hit and within a decade the ranks of the KKK swelled to 6 million.
Along the way race riots popped up all over America. These were your traditional American Race riots where mobs of angry whites hunted down and killed people of color. There were so many riots in 1919 that it was called “Red Summer”. In 1921 riots in Tulsa ethnically cleansed the black population from the town killing between 300 and 3,000–depending upon which reports one chooses to believe. And in 1923 the town of Rosewood, Florida was wiped off the map by white rioters. In addition to these riots the first and second iterations of the KKK led to an endless number of lynchings, beatings, rapes and other manifestations of terror.
This second awakening of the Klan is well documented. This pamphlet tries to put a loving face on the Klan and push back on the idea that it is all about hate. Here is a sample:
When jangling voices are hushed and the clamor of intolerant opposition is stilled, so that the Klan can have an uninterrupted hearing. Its true message will be heard and its true mission will be understood by those persons who –really desire to be informed. When rightly comprehended by those to whom it may rightfully make appeal, the Klan will win merited appreciation as a beneficent factor in the life of America. It will gain this approving appeasement because of its positive contribution to all that is right, and Just, and good, in all phases of American life. An evil association teaching a doctrine of hate, and addressing itself to the task of generating bigotry and strife has no place in America and should not be permitted to exist. If this were the message and mission of the Klan. it should be destroyed. And every true Klansman, who is a real Christian patriot, would aid in its destruction. But the mission of the Klan is harmony, and the message of the Klan is love.
Who knew that the Klan was all about “love” and “harmony”. Sounds like a regular Teaparty to me. And then there is this Klan Manual from 1925. With just a few revisions it could be a TeaParty manifesto:
OBJECTS AND PURPOSES ( ARTICLE II, THE CONSTITUTION )
This is its primary purpose: “To unite white male persons, native-born, Gentile citizens of the United States of America, who owe no allegiance of any nature or degree to any foreign government, nation, institution, sect, ruler, person, or people; whose morals are good; whose reputations and vocations are respectable; whose habits are exemplary; who are of sound minds and eighteen years or more of age, under a common oath into a brotherhood of strict regulations.”
The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is a movement devoting itself to the needed task of developing a genuine spirit of American patriotism. Klansmen are to be examples of pure patriotism. They are to organize the patriotic sentiment of native-born white, Protestant Americans for the defense of distinctively American institutions. Klansmen are dedicated to the principle that America shall be made American through the promulgation of American doctrines, the dissemination of American ideals, the creation of wholesome American sentiment, the preservation of American institutions.
The movement is designed to create a real brotherhood among men who are akin in race, belief, spirit, character, interest, and purpose. The teachings of the order indicate very clearly the attitude and conduct that make for real expression of brotherhood, or, “the practice of Klannishness.”
“To relieve the injured and the oppressed; to succor the suffering and unfortunate, especially widows and orphans.”
The supreme pattern for all true Klansmen is their Criterion of Character, Jesus Christ, “who went about doing good.” The movement accepts the full Christian program of unselfish helpfulness, and will seek to carry it on in the manner commanded by the one Master of Men, Christ Jesus.
I. The Home. “To shield the sanctity of the home.” The American home is fundamental to all that is best in life, in society, in church, and in the nation. It is the most sacred of human institutions. Its sanctity is to be preserved, its interests are to be safeguarded, and its well-being is to be promoted. Every influence that seeks to disrupt the home must itself be destroyed. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan would protect the home by promoting whatever would make for its stability, its betterment, its safety, and its inviolability.
2. Womanhood. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan declares that it is committed to “the sacred duty of protecting womanhood”; and announces that one of its purposes is “to shield . . . the chastity of womanhood.” The degradation of women is a violation of the sacredness of human personality, a sin against the race, a crime against society, a menace to our country, and a prostitution of all that is best, and noblest, and highest in life. No race, or society, or country, can rise higher than its womanhood.
3. The Helpless. “To protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless from the indignities, wrongs, and outrages of the lawless, the violent, and the brutal.” Children, the disabled, and other helpless ones are to know the protective, sheltering arms of the Klan.
4. American Interests. “To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, and all laws passed in conformity thereto, and to protect the states and the people thereof from all invasion of their right from any source whatsoever.”
“To maintain forever white supremacy.” “To maintain forever the God- given supremacy of the white race.” Every Klansman has unqualifiedly affirmed that he will “faithfully strive for the eternal maintenance of white supremacy.”
Of course the modern
Republican Confederate Party will shy away from that last point, but many of the folks at the TeaParties do not. And yet, the Night Riders and their use of violence to win victories when the ballot box fails has been an ongoing part of the Confederacy Party for over 150 years. Their embrace of violence and domestic terrorism rises whenever they feel threatened.
In the wake of the Great Depression the Klan lost influence. They had their third great awakening in the 1970s and 1980s when the post Civil Rights era gave them agita. In the mid-eighties I lived in Georgia and it was common on any given weekend to see a Klan Rally on the road between Atlanta and Athens–I passed these dozens of of times. By the end of the eighties the Confederate Party had found a new political host in the Republican Party and the need to use the violence of the Klan to promote their agenda faded.
Now, a black man is President and their political power is fading. Already the number of hate groups is rising and the threats of violence are escalating. I will not be surprised if the
Republican Confederate Party is planning the fourth awakening of the Klan as part of their 2011 celebration of Confederate History Month.
I know bringing up the close ties between the Confederacy and the Klan is a buzzkill for some, but as Haley Barbour might say, it is a nit that needed to be diddled.
When one mentions Slavery it seems that many members of the Republican Confederate Party feel that you are trying to buzzkill their celebrate Confederate History Month. A certain fat bastard from Mississippi called it Diddling a Nit (or something like that). And all over one can hear the sons of the Confederacy recite their talking …
Before the Emancipation Proclamation and the passage of the 13th Amendment (which Mississippi has still NOT officially ratified) slavery was a State sponsored institution in America and it was the easiest way to steal the labor of others. Protecting the simplicity of that labor stealing system is why the Confederates started the Civil War.
Back in the day, slavery was a great deal for the owners, a bad deal for the slave and a real problem for the average working man or women of the South. Having a way that the elites can steal the labor of some always hurts the wages of most working people–especially if this theft of labor is protected by the State. This was true in 1860 and it is still true. As the Civil War began the business of stealing labor was massive. In the Ta-Nehisi Coates essay I mentioned last night he quoted Civil War historian David Blight about just how much money was being made though this organized system to steal the labor of others:
By 1860 there were approximately 4,000,000 slaves in the United States, the second largest slave society–slave population–in the world. The only one larger was Russian serfdom. Brazil was close. But in 1860 American slaves, as a financial asset, were worth approximately three and a half billion dollars–that’s just as property. Three and a half billion dollars was the net worth, roughly, of slaves in 1860. In today’s dollars that would be approximately seventy-five billion dollars. In 1860 slaves as an asset were worth more than all of America’s manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together. Slaves were the single largest, by far, financial asset of property in the entire American economy. The only thing worth more than the slaves in the American economy of the 1850s was the land itself, and no one can really put a dollar value on all of the land of North America.
Naturally, the elites profiting from this system could not let it end without a fight and so they ginned one up a war using the same rhetorical tactics and fear mongering that they still use today. In 1860, racism, pride, and fear were used to get working class folks to take up arms to protect a system that was actually harming them. Same as it ever it was (see party, tea or news, fox).
Fortunately these Confederate bastards got their collective asses kicked and State sanctioned slavery in America came to an end (it was a great victory even though slavery in America is still with us today–but that’s a story for another night). Despite taking a beating on the battlefield, the Confederates have shown over the last 150 years that they are still an ongoing blight on the American soul. It may be time to call them out and kick their collective asses a second time.
Reconstruction was hard on the Confederate Party. It took a couple of decades for them to regroup and figure out new ways to steal labor once outright slavery had been outlawed. By the 1890s the new system of debtors prisons, sharecropping and Jim Crow laws had been established and enforced though the domestic terrorism of night riders. Back then, the Confederate Party had also found a political host–the Democratic Party. The Confederates and the Democrats would be bound together for decades and many shameful things were done and many solutions to the abuse were blocked.
The news ways to steal labor spread. Union busting, exploiting immigrants, child labor and unsafe working conditions were just some of the new tools. Every now and then a reform movement would nibble at the edges of the worst cases of abuse. When FDR came to office the Democratic Party started to focus on protecting workers and their wages. It took decades. By 1948 the Confederate Party began to feel like their host Party was moving away from them and that their access to cheap stolen labor was in jeopardy. Over the next twenty years they fought for control of the Democratic Party and lost. In 1968 the Confederates were in the wilderness. George Wallace was their candidate and he made a respectable showing in a run for President. Richard Nixon saw an opportunity and he invited the Confederate Party to join the Republican Party.
It has been over forty years and now the Confederate Party owns the Republican Party so completely that any Republican from any state must support the Confederate agenda–and that agenda is all about helping the elites steal the labor of others to fatten their bottom line. The old plays learned during Reconstruction are still being run over and over again. One needs to be anti-union. One needs to be anti immigrant. One needs to be anti-black. One needs to be anti-poor. One needs to be pro-elite at all time and one needs to cloak it a patina of carefully tested ‘populism’ and dog-whistles to motivate working class folks with racism, pride and fear. Properly done, this Luntz tested hype will get many a rube to work against their best interests.
So as the
Republican Confederate Party celebrates Confederate History Month and insists that it is not about slavery, I am inclined to concede that they have a point. Slavery was not the main goal of the Confederacy–stealing labor was. Slavery just made the theft of labor easy and so it was an important tactic. Losing the war led to the loss of that tactic, but ever since the Confederate Party have been creating new ways to steal labor. Sure, these labor stealing tactics can and have changed with the times, but the ongoing goal to steal the labor of others is why the Republican Confederate Party exists. It is what they do. And this is something to remember as these weasels celebrate Confederate History Month.
It turns out that lots of folks are willing to help the Republican Confederate Party learn new facts and enrich their celebration of Confederate History Month. Tonight’s mandatory reading comes from Ta-Nehisi Coates over at The Atlantic. His essay, The Ghost of Bobby Lee is a must read as he dismantles the “Slavery had nothing …
Here is an interesting fact: Mississippi NEVER officially ratified the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution–you know, the one outlawing slavery. This news is certain to help the Republican Confederate Party and their celebration of Confederate History Month. In a post last night MattR pointed out that Mississippi did not ratify the 13th Amendment until …
The ‘recent’ drive to ratify the 13th Amendment in Mississippi was started by African-Americans like Jeremiah Blackwell who were outraged that Mississippi never signed onto a Federal Constitutional ban of slavery. Mr. Blackwell contacted his Mississippi State legislators and they introduced a Bill to ratify the 13th Amendment more than 130 years after the end of the Civil War. It was an interesting legislative battle and you can watch a news report on the the effort here. Even though this fight took place over 15 years ago the Confederates were making the same arguments against ratification that the
Republican Confederate Party and their Teabagger sycophants make about most issues these days.
Leading the charge against ratification was Mississippi State Senator Mike Gunn. He was last in the news for gassing goslings to death in his bar-b-que grill and he is well known in wingnut circles for his quip against gun control: “If guns are outlawed, how can we shoot liberals?” I was surprised to read that he used to get mad when local political cartoonists depicted him in KKK robes (I would have thought that he would have embraced that with white pride).
Anyway, in the news report above Gunn is the person the story quotes for balance. He is the voice of anti-ratification (emphasis added):
Mr. MIKE GUNN (State Senator): We need to work on those things that bring racial harmony and reconciliation. Not those things that drive a wedge between the races, and this is one of those issues.
See outlawing slavery is one of those issue that drive a wedge between the races and the Confederacy was all about reducing that friction by fighting to keep slavery legal. Gunn, like Haley Barbour (and Sonny Purdue of Georgia and Bob Riley of Alabama) are just trying to ‘bring racial harmony and reconciliation’ by celebrating Confederate History without any mention of slavery. It is mighty white of them to be so considerate.
In 1995 Mississippi finally ratified the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery. This grated on the “State’s Rights” folks because the State of Mississippi had passed their own law to ban slavery back in 1869 and they thought that should be enough. Like good Confederates the idea that they were part of a Union with Federal Laws that also had to be obeyed seemed to be a moral outrage to these racist deadenders. But in 1995 the media glare was on Mississippi and so they voted to ratify the 13th Amendment. The news was reported and the fact of the vote was noted as a ratification, but in order to be official the State of Mississippi had to send notice of the vote to the US Archivist. Somehow, over the last 15 years Mississippi has been unable to take that step and make their ratification of outlawing slavery official.
I guess Governor Barbour would call that a nit that is not worth a diddly. I think the fat bastard should send in the fucking paperwork and make it official. It would be a fine way to celebrate Confederate History month.
ps: Gene Robinson has a great column up about Governor Diddly and his defense of celebrating the Confederacy without mentioning slavery.
The Republican Confederate Party continues their celebration of Confederate History Month. The AP reports on what Hayley Barbour–former GOP Chairman, current Mississippi Governor and 2012 Presidential Candidate–thought about including the issue of slavery when discussing the history of the Confederacy (emphasis added):
“To me, it’s a sort of feeling that it’s a nit, that it is not significant, that it’s not a — it’s trying to make a big deal out of something (that) doesn’t amount to diddly,” Barbour said in the interview aired on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Last year, Barbour issued a similar proclamation in his state that did not mention slavery. He also noted that his state has a holiday, Confederate Memorial Day, that has been maintained by Democratic and Republican governors and the state’s majority-Democrat legislature. The state also honors the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Confederate general Robert E. Lee on the same day in January.
In the Confederacy–and Barbour’s Mississippi–you can not celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. by himself, you need to include Bobby Lee to make the Federal Holiday all
white right to celebrate. In his CNN interview, Barbour seemed to be annoyed that some folks would harsh the fun that he and many other Southern Republicans have celebrating the Confederacy by mentioning that whole buying and selling human beings thing. In fact, the fat bastard seemed a little pissed off to be asked about it.
Barbour’s proud dismissal of slavery as relevant to the history of the Confederacy shows that once again Mississippi is still the Confederacy’s heart of darkness. And that reminds me of the late great Phil Ochs. Back in the early Sixties he wrote “Here’s to the State of Mississippi” to describe the real evil of racism protected by the “good people of Mississippi”. You can listen to it here (I would post an audio link but FYWP).
Here are the opening lyrics:
Here’s to the state of Mississippi,
For Underneath her borders, the devil draws no lines,
If you drag her muddy river, nameless bodies you will find.
Whoa the fat trees of the forest have hid a thousand crimes,
The calender is lyin’ when it reads the present time.
Whoa here’s to the land you’ve torn out the heart of,
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of!
Later in the song Ochs’ writes about the Governor of Mississippi in words that are still true today:
And the speeches of the governor are the ravings of a clown
In the early Seventies, Ochs updated this song with new lyrics about Richard Nixon and a few years ago Pearl Jam did a similar update about the Bush II years. One could update this song again and almost keep Phil Ochs’ original lyrics intact. You would only need to swap Republican Party for ‘Mississippi’:
Here’s to the state of the Republican Party,
For Underneath her borders, the devil draws no lines,
If you drag her muddy river, nameless bodies you will find.
Whoa the fat trees of the forest have hid a thousand crimes,
The calender is lyin’ when it reads the present time.
Whoa here’s to the land you’ve torn out the heart of,
Republican Party find yourself another country to be part of!
I think celebrating Confederate History month with these fuckers might be a little fun.
A few days ago the Governor of Virgina designated April as a month to celebrate the Confederacy and their treason against the United States. I was not surprise to see Republicans from all over enthusiastically follow his lead this weekend as they gathered in New Orleans for a celebration of the founding fathers of the …