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Friday, April 9, 2010

Confederate History and Other Delusions

Found on Joe.My.God.:  Obama makes clear that slavery is not a negligible item in the history of this country.

What I Say:  Ever since Appomatox and right down to this present moment, a great many Southerners, high and low, have been swearing that "slavery was not the cause of the Civil War."  This was accepted truth, an article of faith during my childhood in the segregated South, a "fact" nobody questioned.

Which is pure and simple bullshit:  a willful denial of the historical facts, a wishful thought that elevates the secessionists into great heroes of liberty rather than people whose consciences were calloused by the practice of a great evil.

If anybody ever tries to pull this argument on you, boys, all you have to do is refer them to the Declaration of Causes written by the Texas Secession Convention, where it is all laid out perfectly plain, and in passionate detail:  the North wants to take our slaves away and by God we ain't a-gonna stand for it, oh hell no.  An excerpt:
In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon the unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of the equality of all men, irrespective of race or color--a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of the Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy [here, meaning the United States as a grouping that can be seceded from, not a permanent union], the recognition of political equality between the white and the negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States. . . .

In view of these and many other facts, it is meet that our own views should be distinctly proclaimed.

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy [here, meaning the United States] itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding States.

By the secession of six of the slave-holding States, and the certainty that others will speedily do likewise, Texas has no alternative but to remain in an isolated connection with the North, or unite her destinies with the South. . . .
"The debasing doctrine of the equality of all men."  And black slavery is the Will of God.  Right. 

And of course, this is but one of many, many documents in the historical record that prove the point.

But of course the biggest and deepest river in the South has always been Denial.

Even a century and a half after the whole rotten structure of slavery and secession was crushed by force of arms.  And now this kind of fanatical, self-righteous, reactionary thinking is resurgent.  Andrew Sullivan quotes Noah Millman on "Who Closed the Conservative Mind?", one answer to which is this:
--Blame the South. The argument, in a nutshell, is that a successful political coalition in America cannot be dominated by the South, as the GOP currently is. The South is a distinct region in America, significantly different in history and political culture from the rest of the country. Moreover, regional identity in the South is manifested substantially in opposition to the rest of the nation. A political movement dominated by the South will necessarily manifest a political culture that is more similar to that of the South than to that of the rest of the nation, and that political movement is also going to absorb this oppositional element of Southern identity, and will necessarily become overly invested in intellectual shibboleths. What looks like epistemic closure is really just identity politics.

I don’t think this explanation can be dismissed out of hand – in particular, dismissing it out of hand as “insulting” to the South would be an instance of precisely the dynamic I’m outlining. The South does have a distinct history and culture; that culture is substantially oppositional; and the American right is dominated by the South in a way that it has not been before. Dominance of a party by an atypical and oppositional region is just a structural problem. And, if this is a problem, it is going to be a hard one for the American right to solve, because the South is now large enough and strong enough, and remains cohesive enough, that its leaders should expect to lead any coalition of which they are a member.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.  If you listen to the Teabagger crowd and nearly all the rest of the Republican leadership, they sound just like the guys who wrote the Declaration of Causes.  Just like them.

Which brings all that boring old American history you learned in school into a whole new perspective, doesn't it?

And here's a vision of the future history of this country coming straight at you, boys, the overthrow of everything Obama and the current Congress will have done.  Newt Gingrich at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference:

A Republican President and Congress in 2013:  if that doesn't scare you shitless, what will?

More seditious ranting from the oh-so-holy, thrice-married, serial-adulterer Newt here.

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