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April 11, 2005

Couldn't Resist

I think I speak on behalf of all lefty bloggers when I congratulate Ed Kilgore for his courageous stand against slavery. Bravo!

More seriously, most of us smug blue-staters would probably be shocked to meet the hordes of Southerners who still think the Confederate cause was Good and Just and True. And it's not all hicks with gun racks; when I was working at the Dean campaign, one of my coworkers was obsessed with his Texan heritage and absolutely unyielding (and incessant) in his defense of the Confederacy. Even when no one was attacking it. The remarkable inferiority complex some Southerners tote around is really unexplainable to those who haven't run afoul of it. To this day I don't understand how it works, and I spent a Summer hashing it out in a Vermont flop house. So while Kilgore's impassioned attack on slave-holders movement surely strikes some of us as a lecture on the stunning roundness of the earth, there are a surprising number who haven't heard the lesson.

I just don't know if any of them read the New Donkey blog.

April 11, 2005 in The South | Permalink

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» Pointless Screed Department: Robert E. Lee from Lawyers, Guns and Money
There are lots of places where Confederate sympathy remains in vogue. If you think it's all fun and games, head over to Orcinus once in a while and check out the kinds of things people do to other people in fond memory of the Confederacy. [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 12, 2005 9:10:01 PM

Comments

The Confederate flag types aren't just in the South. I actually was talking with a friend-of-a-friend at the bar on Thursday. He apparently purchased his Confederate flag on September 11 before he found what happened in his hometown of Lewistown, MT. He said once he found out what happened, he felt ashamed. But the number of southerners in denial is pretty striking. The number of progressive southerners in denial is even more amazing. The anarchists who opposed the union? That is understandable. Anarchists are supposed to be relatively crazy. Liberals who do have taken the wrong side of history.

Posted by: Matt Singer | Apr 11, 2005 12:10:54 PM

This kind of romantic wallowing in defeat is really like a drug that dulls the pain yet prolongs the injury at the same time.

The Scots indulged in this kind of thinking for a long time. The population became divided into those who thought "Hey, if you can't beat them, join 'em", cooperated with the English and prospered, and those who clung to old clan loyalties, became infatuated with Bonnie Prince Charlie, and got slaughtered by the English.

Eventually, Scotland wised up. "Rule Britannia" was actually written by a couple of scots. Adam Smith, was a scot, his groundbreaking idea of the invisible hand of the market completely repudiating the old system of isolated clans and embracing the free market. Instead of fighting each other, scots and englishmen fought side by side to exploit other countries, with great success.

Southerners face a choice. Face up to the unvarnished past and move on, or allow it to continually poison their social (and economical, in the long run) progress.

(BTW, a Dean supporter who's big into southern apologia? Wow. That guy must have been one hell of a walking cognitive dissonance.)

Posted by: battlepanda | Apr 11, 2005 12:36:12 PM

Wow, battlepanda, way to take the side of the murderous and powerful. Occupation is occupation, and the people who end up profitting from it aren't those who agree with the occupation, it's those who can offer the occupation something: legitimacy, if you're a clann-chief, money if you're a merchant, muscle if you're just some guy. If the new order is going to destroy your family's way of life, then simply saying "well, better get started being a Brit" (or whatever) isn't the issue! Do you really think the occupied get killed cause they're just too dumb to start a new life? Anyway, we in this country (north and south) will never get a handle on the confederacy until we admit that slavery, far from being the exception to American freedom that proved the rule, was the heart and soul of the early US. We were an ideological slave power, expanding and conquering in order to subdue more land for slavery. Basically, until we condemn the whole enterprise before the civil war, we're always gonna have to pretend that the continent was empty before the white man got here, that the murderer Jackson was a hero, and that the south was a noble failure. And who can condemn such a huge portion of their own history?

Posted by: Padraig | Apr 11, 2005 12:55:37 PM

Having lived in GA for eight years and VA for fifteen, I still have no clue where the Confederate Nostalgia comes from. I think at this point it's a fairy tale divorced from all reality, like the Conservative Fairy tale about the Golden Age of the 1950's. Having Honest Abe steal all their slaves was just too much for them to handle and the Plantation Culture just went collectively kuckoo. There's no other way to explain the United Daughters of the Confederacy and their annual ball.

Posted by: Keith | Apr 11, 2005 1:30:14 PM

Occupation is occupation,

True, but citizenship is also citizenship. There are worse things in the world to have been back in those days than an Englishman.

Posted by: Kimmitt | Apr 11, 2005 2:00:17 PM

That is kind of odd with respect to your Texan co-worker. Most of us don't really connect to the South at all; I lived in East Texas for a while, have been in Austin for the last 15 years, and have never felt (nor experienced with my older relatives) any Southern kinship or nostalgia at all. I'd posit that most of the identity tends to be separate and uniquely Texan. Not that that's any sort of picnic.

Posted by: norbizness | Apr 11, 2005 2:04:37 PM

Y'know, everything Ed says is dead-on and yet...and yet..."The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" is still a great song.

Posted by: thom | Apr 11, 2005 2:20:47 PM

And, I should add in agreement with Padraig, so is Randy Newman's "Rednecks". In some respects race relations are better in the South today, after going through the civil rights crisis, than they are after 200 years of "free to live in a cage in Harlem".

Posted by: thom | Apr 11, 2005 2:25:42 PM

Paldraig: History is not so black and white. Remember, the champion of the Scots, bonnie prince charlie, was a pretender to the throne of all of England and Scotland. So the Jacobin uprising was an existential crisis for the English. If the Jacobins had prevailed, it would have also signaled a big step backwards, from the constitutional Monarchy achieved in England back to something closer to absolute monarchy as practiced by the Stuarts.

But the fundamental point I'm trying to make is this: At some point, history becomes history and it becomes impossible to redress based on right and wrongs. Even if you are among the party that is wronged, sometimes the best favor you can do yourself is move on and live in the present. The Palestinians are wronged when they were thrown off their land to make way for Israel. But right or wrong, the Israelis are here to stay and instead of a futile struggle to get all their land back, they should be (and are) adjusting their expectations and negotiating earnestly for some land and the possiblity of a functional state ASAP.

Of course. Even today, one can still find Bonnie Prince Charlie on shortbread tins and such in scotland (he was very very bonny.) Some rose-tinted glasses for the past is only human nature. But when nostalgia and simmering resentment blocks the way for future progress, it's just stupid. Doubly so if the cause (the confederacy) was such an unworthy one.

Posted by: battlepanda | Apr 11, 2005 2:28:34 PM

It could be much worse than a few flags eg Middle East, Balkans, Northern Ireland, Kashmir.

Posted by: Boethius | Apr 11, 2005 2:55:09 PM

Let me establish my Southern Pedigree:

My ancestors owned slaves. In fact, the Battle of Shiloh was fought in large part on my ancestor's plantation, and it is my understanding that my great-great-whatever-grandmother is buried there due to being raped and killed by the Union army during the battle, her son having been hidden in a cracker barrell by their slaves. My ancestors were also part of the very beginning of the KKK. Oh, and my family was linked to Jefferson Davis in some way as well.

Having said that, let me now say Fuck the South. Fuck it. They can go to hell. I wish they had won the damn war so that 25 years after it, when the retards had so ruined their pathetic little "country" that they came crawling back to the USA, they could have been told to go to hell, wallow in their self-pity for 50 more years and then finally admitted back in on a probationary basis.

It pisses me off that the only part of the country that has made open war upon the rest of it is also that part which now defines what it means to be a patriot. It pisses me off that there are people who are still mad at the Union "invading" when they started the damn war!

The South is still a cesspool of ignorance, violence, bigotry and victimhood, and I'm sick of being held hostage to their inability to just get the fuck on with their lives.

Yeah, progressives in the South, blah blah blah, not everyone is like that, blah blah blah. Hey, there's progresssives here in Kansas, but it's still an embarrassment to live here right now, and most of us seem capable of admitting it.

Posted by: Stephen | Apr 11, 2005 3:08:22 PM

I think part of the Civil War Southern nostalgia was the impressiveness of many of the Southern leaders. Lee and Jackson in particular were impressive Generals who, at least as best I understand it, were men of conflicted loyalties who had to choose.

Yes the cause was wrong, and dispicable, but in fairness that was quite a bit less obvious then than it is now.

There was a lot to be admired in some of the men of the Confederacy if not in the cause of the Confederacy.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Apr 11, 2005 3:25:38 PM

Some Texans need to be reminded that, if the Alamo had a back door, they'd all be Mexicans.

Posted by: bombadil | Apr 11, 2005 3:30:13 PM

Actually, the lack of a back door in the Alamo didn't stop all the Texans from getting killed. That's what "remember the Alamo" is really all about: remember those brave men who stood up to the devious Mexicans in order to secure a Texas free from their oppression.

Never mind that these men had all received generous incentives from the Mexican government to settle there, and that the real reason for fighting against the "oppressive" Mexican government was its adoption of a truly progressive constitution that made it illegal to own slaves. Kinda like the Confederacy, only in this case the numbskulls won. Shame they were allowed into the US - after, of course, they managed to run their little "country" into the ground in only about 10 years.

Posted by: Stephen | Apr 11, 2005 4:18:57 PM

I, too, am a son of the Confederacy having been exposed to its entire nostalgic morass and as bad a raciest as any ignorant redneck until I matured and was educated. I did not realize it until many years later that I was developing liberal tendencies.

I think it is the losing of the war that eventually created the culture, a way of overlooking the lost and declaring a victory of sorts, clinging to what might have been fantasy. To the U.S., the Civil War was punishment for allowing slavery when the nation was formed. The North compromised its principles for fear the South would not join if they could not have their slaves. One can only wonder what would have happened had the equality clause truly been seen as inalienable.

Would the war have been inevitable even if the North and South had been two countries? What would have happened in the exploitation of the West? Why couldn’t the South free their slaves and exploit them in menial dead-end jobs as they did after the war and as the North had done to factory workers?

That is until the Democratic Party fought for the right of workers to organize, obtain a decent wage, and decent working conditions in the first half of the previous century. The fruit of that labor is that the children and grandchildren of these workers could obtain a education, become prosperous, and become good Republicans in the latter half of the previous century.

Another event of note in the South was when the old Dixiecrat faction left the Democrats and moved over to the Republican Party. While it raised the average IQ of both parties, and although the Democratic Party in the South is no where near the power it was before, it is a nicer place to be.

Posted by: scou29c | Apr 11, 2005 4:21:51 PM

You can lead a horse to water; but you cannot make him drink. I am a democrat, a liberal, socially very progressive but I am also a southerner, a confederate and damn proud of it. My history is no less important than yours. My family goes back to England, Birmingham on arrival as a denatured blacksmith (Maryland) we moved to South Carolina/ Georgia/Tennessee. We fought in the French & Indian Wars; received commendations in the Revolutionary War battles of South Carolina. We made our money stealing Cherokee Indian land. A family of modest means we only had a few slaves. In the Civil War some of us fought for the confederacy, some for the union. My great, great, great, great uncle was shot as a deserter by the confederates; he was actually a union soldier.

My family has been wrong many times; it has also been right many times.

But it is MY family; my heritage, my history. A flag you have fought under may or may not represent what OTHERS want it to represent. I can forget, forgive what your heritage or history may have done in Kansas, Texas, New York, etc.; but it's time to stop southern bashing on "flag" issues and other general "We are so much better" themes. Get back on issues that can bring an end to republican domination in the south.

Howard Dean was right in his southern approach. I drive a pick-up; yes it has a gun rack; my social security card has Old Glory AND the Confederate Stars and Bars. I am a democrat, a gay man, a southerner, a liberal, a Tennessean and damn proud of all of it. Do you want my support and my vote?

Posted by: ETnGuy | Apr 11, 2005 6:06:50 PM

"We were an ideological slave power, expanding and conquering in order to subdue more land for slavery."

That's so amazingly ahistorical I hardly know where to begin. There was a long struggle over whether slavery would be allowed to expand, which the proslavery elements ultimately lost. The episodes of that struggle are familiar to every high school history student--the Constitutional Convention, the Missouri Compromise, the Mexican War, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the election of Lincoln . . .

Posted by: rea | Apr 11, 2005 6:30:11 PM

ETnGuy,

If the cost of your vote is to let you continue to have pride in a heritage that includes the waging of war against one's own fellow citizens, then no, I don't particularly want your vote.

The South had representation in Congress, same as everyone else. Just because the majority will of the people was going a different way is no excuse for treason, for killing one's own countrymen.

Why is it that those of you who take such "pride" in the heritage of the failed Confederacy demand that those who were right - right not only by military victory but morally right on the central issue of slavery - why do you demand that we get over it?

It's been 150 years. The rest of the country - the parts that let you back in even though you didn't deserve it - would like to move on. But you won't let us. You continue to celebrate a "heritage" of treason and unprovoked war, a "heritage" that is based upon the desire to own human beings like cattle, a "heritage" that, once it lost the war it started, created a guerilla movement to continue to defy the properly passed laws of the United States of America. You should take a lesson from the Germans and the Japanese and quit romanticizing Southern history. Until you do, even if you are registered Democrat - and gay and whatever else -then you have no right to demand that rational people engage you in the public arena.

Posted by: Stephen | Apr 11, 2005 9:25:31 PM

ETnGuy,

Well, I still want your vote. I don't agree with your stand on the Confederacy, but there are more pressing issues in which American citizens need to stand together and fight for their rights, like Social Security, the War On Iraq, etc.

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 15, 2007 8:04:58 AM

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