Don’t Stop a Welcome Purge

confederate flag dayBy Peter Galuszka

The Confederate Battle flag is quickly unraveling throughout the Old Dominion. With it are going many icons of an era racked with controversy and hatred, along with mythology, which regretfully will still continue in some form.

Following the example of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley who asked that state’s legislature to take the Confederate flag off State Capitol grounds, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered the Department of Motor Vehicles to stop issuing specialty license plates showing the flag along with the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo.

National retailers such as Walmart and Amazon likewise nixed the flag and removed items displaying it from their shelves and warehouses.

Two events helped push this national movement with remarkable speed.

One was a U.S. Supreme Court decision – split evenly between liberal and conservative judges – that Texas had the right not to allow the Confederate flag on its license plates. The other was the shooting death of nine African-Americans by a self-styled white supremacist as they prayed at a Charleston church.

It’s about time some movement was made on this matter. But in Virginia, as in other parts of the South, there’s a lot more to do. Richmond’s famous Monument Avenue has the statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart. Why aren’t they dismantled?

Richmond area schools have “Rebels “or “Confederates” as their mascots, namely Lee-Davis High School in Mechanicsville and Douglas S. Freeman in Henrico County.

Throughout the state are street names celebrating the Southern war machine. There are Jefferson Davis Highways in Alexandria and South Richmond. Only recently were flags removed from the Confederate Memorial Chapel on the grounds of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and at private Washington & Lee University.

Of course, the flag is an insult to those oppressed by it, notably African-Americans. But mythology – about an honorable South tragically plundered and lost – has provided cover and let it fly 150 years after the Civil War.

Having grown up mostly in the South or Border States in the 1950s and 1960s and then having worked there for years, I have dealt with the Confederate flag for years. I don’t find it absolutely shocking as some do, but I have always wondered why it keeps flying on public property.

It wasn’t until I was in college in the Boston area when I started really asking myself questions. For one course, I read “The Strange Career of Jim Crow,” historian C. Vann Woodward’s 1955 masterpiece. He demolished the idea that legal segregation was a long-time Southern tradition. Instead, it started up in the 1890s, he pointed out.

That’s not a very long time, especially for white Southerners who purport to be so sensitive to history. Instead, they have invented a mythology. Virginia is becoming more diverse and includes people who have no family tie to state during the mid-19th century. One reason Gov. Haley had the fortitude to do what she did was that she is an Indian-American, born in South Carolina. In other words, she is neither white nor black according to the old rules and didn’t need to be guided by them.

My immediate concern is that this long-needed purge won’t go far enough. And as long as the generals preside over Richmond’s Monument Avenue, the fairy tales will endure.

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61 responses to “Don’t Stop a Welcome Purge

  1. So long as we’re fair about this. Go take a look at the 2001 campaign for Governor. Mark Earley took a strong stand against Confederate history month. Mark Warner stayed silent. That is a fact. In fact, a number of “Flaggers” endorsed Warner in 01.

    If we want to get rid of the statues and license plates, shouldn’t we also ask Mark Warner to resign? He used the Confederate flag to garner votes…..but my guess is that there will be some linguistical contortions that somehow he’s “changed” or “evolved.” Problem is…..most people viewed the rebel flag as racist in 2001 and he still refused to take a stand. It’s not like gay marriage where society’s standards were evolving. Rather, Warner knew exactly what he was doing in 2001…appealing to a small minority of racists. Yet, let’s see how many call for his resignation…

    Don’t believe me? Read this:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/jun/27/20040627-123458-5829r/?page=all

  2. Flags don’t oppress people; systems do. I’m concerned that the attention paid to race issues is being diverted to this symbolic move that does little to effect real change.

    As for bleaching Richmond of its other historical markers, this is a terrible idea. The concentration camps left standing for visitors today in Germany, Austria & Poland serve a very important function. Further, the Confederacy and the Civil War were about more than slavery.

  3. Well, I call it a Small Business job creation plan. Why? Because now hundreds, perhaps thousands of businesses will pick up the slack from WalMart and Amazon, et al.

    In fact, this could turn out to have a seriously bad impact in that racist groups will now help fund their activities by selling flags…and I predict gun stores will proudly display the flag to attract customers!

    sorry to be such a cynic… but this is just one more twist in the culture wars.

    the de-facto segregated school systems will continue as before…no doubt

    kids will continue to grow up without the skills needed to get a job and fall into alternating cycles of street crime and prison. The cops will either continue to beat the tar out of some or threaten to pull out of policing if held to account.

    What really amazed me – was the way politicians started off saying “It’s South Carolinas decision” then totally caved in after a couple of days – so much for standing on one’s State’s Rights “principles” eh?

    That’s all WalMart and others needed to stampede…

    totally disingenuous in my view – but an example of how fast things
    turn around.

    Of course if a black guy or GAWD forbid a Muslim had gone into a white church and slaughtered a bunch – the dynamics would probably roll quite different, eh?

    oh.. and why can’t Warner just do what most of the GOP did – just run?

  4. McAuliffe made the right decision based on the recent Supreme Court case from Texas and by stopping the issuance of new plates with the Confederate battle flag. Attempting to recall existing plates, the Commonwealth would likely face years of litigation and could even wind up paying damages based on another new SCOTUS decision, Horne v USDA, that held government cannot take personal property (there raisins) without paying compensation. I think a good argument can be made that there is a property right to display the existing, but not new, SCV plates with the battle flag. If I read the accounts of what McAuliffe did, “he done good — very good.”

    As far as Democrats and the Confederate battle flag, Warner isn’t alone. Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign contained buttons with the Rebel Flag. http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2015/06/for-sale-on-ebay-hillary-clinton-2008-confederate-flag-pins/

    But it doesn’t count. Does anyone really believe the Post, for example, will use a single electron or dab of ink to discuss Warner or Clinton. And their liberal apologizers will say nothing either.

  5. Of course, the battle flag should never have been put up in the early 1960s as any part of South Carolina, Texas, Mississippi and Virginia officialdom because it wasn’t then about “heritage” (as the Sons of Confederate Veterans today believe), it was about opposing Civil Rights as some convoluted aspect of “state’s rights.” Oddly, it was Democrats in the Solid South who produced all the “pro” battle flag official support and today it is generally Republicans who continue to say it’s about “heritage, not hate.”

    Again, oddly, there was a very powerful possibility that SC Sons of Confederate Veterans ignored in the wake of the terror shooting in Charleston which might have mitigated some of the now obvious polarization. Why didn’t they demand instantly that the SC battle flag be flown at half mast (as were SC and US flags flying at statehouse) in honor of the defenseless victims of a terrorist?

    The Sons of Confederate Veterans HAVE to realize that they must back their slogan, “Heritage, not Hate” with real actions if they want to continue having relevance. The ball is in their court. They must be pro-active or the “heritage” will totally disappear. In the meantime, bring the flag down and try to find a middle ground to allow the “heritage” to continue.

    Tearing down the Richmond monuments is not a good approach. It is the Taliban destroying the great Buddhas. it is the Visgoths and Vandals destroying the Roman artifacts, it is ISIS destroying the Syrian past, it is the Nazi’s paving streets with Jewish gravestones.

    I submit a better approach (as is practiced in Australia) is to illustrate as close as possible the “other” version of the history. Across Western Australia, in the early 20th century, whites built monuments to the members of “punitive expeditions.” The “punitives” were basically massacres of Aboriginals after the stealing of a cow or sheep or… when the whites rode out on horses with guns to find and terrorize nearby foot-bound Aboriginal tribes with only wooden spears in hope of preventing future thefts.

    In the 1970s and 80s when Australian governments realized the naked racism of all the above, they started putting plagues on the old monuments themselves, or nearby monuments, to illustrate that there was another, a deeper, history which needed to be told. The Aboriginal story, as best it can be (because remember the Aboriginal tribes did not have written languages), is told as part of the “punitive expedition” monument itself.

    The modern world is complex and alienation strategy which is so often our political and social response to so many things does not help in getting people to understand one another. The banning of all Nazi symbols in Germany, for example, has had the odd effect of creating a “cool” underground movement of the young who don’t learn the actual history but want to be part of something “cool” and different from their parents. Ne0-Nazism is on the march there (and perhaps here too).

    Those family members who stood up and forgave the Charleston terrorist shooter are the true heroes and they should be greatly lauded for actually practicing what they preach — one of the hardest things for all of us to do.

    I hope (and I would pray but I’m not a praying guy) that someone makes a thrilling movie of them being truly Christian. We need to laud those kinds of heroes, not just military ones (whether in the right or wrong cause); not just political ones; not just fictional ones.

    Real people doing what’s really right.

    • An excellent post, salt, a home run worthy of anybody’s big leagues.

    • Interesting comments about what Australia did. I disagree with it. It is akin to Germany having a monument to Hitler, with a plaque that also says that he wasn’t nice to Jews/Gypsies/Slavs/Southern Europeans.

      The correct solution for Australia would be to either destroy those monuments or better still to rename them and dedicated them to the Aborigines; with a plaque on the side condemning those who organized and led the expeditions.

    • It is not akin to those things, and I can’t believe I have to point this out, because…

      ROBERT E. LEE IS NOT A RELIGIOUS ICON. HE IS NOT THE BUDDHA. HE IS NOT DIONYSUS IN MARBLE. AND HE IS NOT A SYMBOL OF A PERSECUTED RELIGIOUS MINORITY. THESE ARE NOT ANCIENT STATUES OF A FORGOTTEN CIVILIZATION. THEY ARE SYMBOLS OF A FRACTIOUS GROUP OF TRAITORS WHOSE EXISTENCE WAS ONLY ABOUT PERPETUATING A SYSTEM OF HUMAN BONDAGE.

      Comparing Stonewall Jackson to a stone Buddha is like comparing Charles Manson to Jesus on the Cross.

    • Good post. And I think it’s a point that’s missed in so much of this debate. It’s impossible to demarcate the idea of recognizing legitimate history (which should be in a museum IMO) in which we can flesh out the details of the Civil War v. what happened across the South in the 1950s/60s after Brown….when the symbol lost all attachment to the Civil War and simply became a symbol of hate.

  6. Getting rid of that symbol is long overdue. Why would anyone want to waive a symbol of treason, hate, and divisiveness is beyond me.

    Next we should rename all those roads named after those traitors … sorry, confederate heroes.

  7. Peter, why do you stay in a region you seem to so heartily detest? I will stand up for my mother’s Maryland ancestors who wore gray and fought Lincoln’s invasion of the South. Shame on you and go back to where your heart’s true home is if that is how you feel. Best to live among your kindred whom you appreciate and appreciate you, not among “stupid goyim” whom you disdain. I’m not against Jews, my father is a German Jew, and is hale at 92 years old, but shtetl yids with an attitude like yourself should look towards Tel Aviv or Manhattan or an expropriated West Bank kibbutz. Definitely a win-win situation, except, of course, for the Palestinians. Face up to your own bigotry before you begin to lecture others on theirs. You should read about Wade Hampton and the reconciliation he tried to bring to Southerners of both races. When you equate the Confederacy with the worst of white supremacy, then you will raise many hackles, not just mine. Learn some tact for a change. For the rest of you anti-Confederates, you will NEVER persuade REAL Virginians on new urbanism, until kick this Neo-Carpetbagger talk. Now learn some humility.

    • You must realize that there is far more to Virginia than just descendants of confederates, let alone slave owners. You do realize that you can be a patriot without waiving a confederate flag … actually considering the confederacy you cannot be an American and waive that flag.

  8. Yes, it indeed is true. We have today reached the summit of Peak Leftism right here on Bacon’s Rebellion, the new American Taliban.

    See http://www.nationalreview.com/article/420211/left-activist-peak-kevin-d-williamson?utm_source=jolt&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Jolt&utm_campaign=Jolt06242015

  9. So Nikki Haley is Taliban? McAuliffe?

    How about Gov. Doug Wilder who ordered the Virginia Air Guard to take the Confederate cartoons off of its combat aircraft?

    The problem with you, Reed, is that you don’t have an argument.

  10. ANOTHER REED FAWELL ALERT!

    The state of Alabama: TALIBAN!
    The Citadel: TALIBAN!
    NASCAR: TALIBAN!

    I’ll keep the information flowing as I get it.

  11. Instead of self-righteous arrogance and resistance from the poles of the issue, we need: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

    I expect the self-righteousness from both sides of the issue will dominate.

    • Very few things in life are starkly black and white. Deciding that we should no longer give praise to people who raised arms in the service of secession and slavery isn’t a selself-righteous or arrogant stance. It’s simply the correct thing to do.

      But thank you for putting your true sympathies on display.

  12. At the First Battle of Bull Run Union soldiers pulled the papers off a young dead Confederate soldier and on their way back into Georgetown DC they hauled that dead young soldier’s mother out of her house, ransacked her home and confiscated it for their own barracks. Several of her other children didn’t learn of her plight since they were far off fighting on the Union side.

    Two others sons, although still alive, couldn’t intercede because they were Confederate soldiers. Fortunately, yet another son, strong Unionist New York Lawyer heard the news passing through Baltimore on his way back home. He turned his horse around and, within twenty four hours, Lincoln had reversed the confiscation order, returned the ransacked house to the mother, and made other restitution as best he could. She was one of the very lucky mothers.

    That young dead Confederate solder died in the army of Stonewall Jackson, a deeply religious man who never owned a slave and spend much of his free time and money teaching and otherwise coming to the aid and support of poor black slave children in Lexington Va.

    The Civil war and everything it touched was horrible, complex, and saturated in pain and destruction for all involved, the vast majority of them innocents struggling to survive the awful forces rampant in their lives.

    For those of you who bore none of this pain and but now sit around typing out self-righteous tripe proclaiming your own high morality, you tell us volumes about yourself, and nothing worthwhile about others long dead.

    • When you’re through with your reverie, take a moment to wipe the solemn tear from your eye, grab a book and realize that Jackson very much did own slaves.

  13. “For those of you who bore none of this pain…”

    Huh?

    That was more than 150 years ago. None of us was alive then.

    And how about you, Reed? Ever been in a firefight?

  14. C-Ville,
    Good points but I am always suspicious of Civil War family history accounts.

    When I was in college, my family lived in a small town in eastern North Carolina. I worked summers and off times at the local newspaper. I had to do a college project and at the local library, I found the diary of a young Union Navy lieutenant who had part of a gunboat squadron that had captured some of the small port towns so they couldn’t be used by the Confederates to receive arms from England.

    I did a series of stories based on the diary. It seemed that when the gunboats chugged up the river, the local town fathers rowed and out greeted them with open arms. A year or two later, the South laid siege to the town, damaging much of it before leaving.
    AT the end of the war, some Union garrison troops got drunk, chopped up fire hoses and set the town on fire. Ha Ha.

    Shall we say that some of the older and “prominent” families in the town did not appreciate the diary-inspired history since it did not glorify or reflect their myths about being “Southern.”

  15. Yes, “bind up the nations wounds,” indeed! But is that what Peter Galuska and his ilk really want? By their words and actions, apparently not. The “color blind” society preached by MLK has been “replaced,” if it ever was there for the cadre, with “bury whitey”, “destroy the South,” etc. If this blog is interested in reaching out to Virginians other than those just parachuted in from the Northeast and California, than putting a muzzle on Peter’s more stridently anti-white Southern attitudes is a good place to start. If you want civility, Peter, I’ll give it to you. But you owe Virginians and Southerners an apology for your outrageous and insulting conduct. Only then can we create a society based on MUTUAL respect, once we see that you actually are serious about practice what people of your sort USED to preach, before they became dominant. As things stand now, one side is given carte blanche, a civic duty even, to vilify and insult the other, while the insulted is expected merely to “take it.” “Trust but verify,” someone once said. Fair enough?

    • I am definitely not qualified to respond on Peter’s behalf. But you did make comments that do apply to me.

      You did not respond to my earlier reply to you. However, you had best ACCEPT that there is far more to Virginia than just descendants of confederates, let alone slave owners (even back in the days of the confederacy there was more to Virginia than that!). You must also ACCEPT that most of us, judging by state-wide elections do not particularly want to preserve the divisiveness, hatred, and bigotry of the confederate tradition. Whatever you may think of the confederacy and its products (human and otherwise), it stands for oppression of the many by the few; it stands for a distortion of Christianity; and it stands for treason. Like it or not, the confederacy was an act of treason, and deserves no respect.

      In short, the confederates and their descendants deserve respect as human beings, as long as they/you do not insist on acceptance of the confederacy. And do understand that there are many of us, even here in Virginia, who are fed up with you who waive a confederate flag and preach about patriotism. You cannot be patriot and traitor at the same time. Nor can you expect respect while holding onto symbols of oppression.

  16. Gee. Don’t get your point. Seems like a bunch on this blog are after me. Not to worry! I can take on all of y’all!

  17. Do you people hear yourselves?

    “He was kind to little slave children!” Which is why he fought to keep them slaves…

    “After the Civil War that flag became a symbol of hate!” Because during the Civil War it was a symbol of love and brotherhood…

    • And I am sure he was a devout ‘Christian’, too …

      • I mean, slavery is right there in the Bible! And Christians always adhere to everything in the Bible!

        • Good one. I like satire.

          That said, I have noticed that many in the Western denominations like to quote selected parts of the Bible (there are many that are ignored – after all, few give up all their possessions to feed the poor; nor do farmers let the hungry roam the fields so they can eat; nor do lenders forgive debts after 7 years; etc.). As for slavery, there are references to it, but the emphasis, especially in the New Testament, is that we should overlook what happens here and behave so we do well afterwards. There is no concept that some/many are by nature slaves or inferior (that’s why there was an Exodus – call to revolution anyone?). That is a relatively recent development to justify royalty, slavery, etc.

          • LifeOnTheFallLine

            Next time some politician somewhere goes off on “Christian nation, blah blah blah” I want someone to stand up and ask them to push legislation forcing debt forgiveness after seven years. I would fall right out of my chair.

  18. The folks that seem to revere the Confederacy have had a bad habit of not standing up for civil rights -either.

    Not that they and their descendants have not have had several decades to get around to it.

    When YOU KNOW how black folks view that flag and you CONTINUE to cling to it – defend it.. and to defend the Confederacy – what does that really mean?

    when I see the folks who defend the flag – also working for civil rights with the same fervor – I will re-evaluate … “mutual respect”.

  19. Just to keep the debate going, I am seriously considering a public apology to Virginians and Southerners in general.

    But part of my mongrel past gives me pause. When I was 11 years old and in my formative years — about the time of the Civil War Centennial — I was moved to West Virginia from Maryland.

    Before the Civil War, West Virginia was part of Virginia. But when Virginia seceded, the Mountaineers said : “To hell with you!” and they seceded from Virginia.

    So you may understand my confusion and reluctance to embrace the concepts of the Southern, white gig as many of you express it.

  20. “Anyone who reads history at all knows that the passionate and powerful convictions of one century usually seem absurd, extraordinary, to the next. There is no epoch in history that seems to us as it must have to the people who lived through it. What we live through, in any age, is the effect on us of mass emotions and of social conditions from which from which it is impossible to detach ourselves. Often the mass emotions are those that seem the noblest, best and most beautiful. And yet, inside a year, five years, a decade, five decades, people will be asking, “How could they have believed that?” because events will have taken place that will have banished the said mass emotions to the dustbin of history.

    People of my age have lived through several such violent reversals. I will mention just one. During the Second World War, from the moment the Soviet Union was invaded by Hitler and became an ally of the democracies, that country was affectionately regarded in popular opinion. Stalin was Uncle Joe, the ordinary chaps friend, Russia was the land of the brave, liberty loving heroes, and Communism was in interesting manifestation of popular will that we should copy. All this went on for four years and then suddenly, almost overnight, it went into the reverse. All these attitudes became wrong-headed, treasonable, a threat to everybody. People who had been chatting on about Uncle Joe, suddenly, just as if all that had never happened, were using slogans of the cold war. One extreme, sentimental and silly bred by wartime necessities, was replaced by another extreme, unreasoning and silly.

    To have lived though such a reversal once is enough to make you critical for ever afterwards of current popular attitudes.”

    From Doris Lessing, Prisons We Choose to Live Inside.

    • Yes, one should be critical of the popular attitude that celebrating a group of people who fought a war of secession so they could own other human beings is repugnant.

  21. “…It was the joint effort of Preston and Jackson that got a famous Sunday school underway. Whites had taught to tenets of Christianity to slaves and freedman as early as 1843 (but) local (Lexington) opposition and lack of participation doomed all three … initial experiments … (Jackson after his arrival in Lexington) “studied” those earlier failures, organized a revival of Sunday school classes, and “threw himself into this work with all of his characteristic energy and wisdom … but the initial stages were stormy for all concerned. Many blacks were reluctant to engage in yet another attempt at Sunday school. Several residents openly laughed at the experiment.”

    “Apparently a small but vocal group of whites opposed what Jackson was trying to do. (Indeed it may have been the violation of Virginia law that forbade whites to teach blacks to read and write about any subject.) Some … of the “aristocracy criticized Jackson’s activities and even went so far as to threaten prosecution …”

    “J. Cleveland Cady alleged that Jackson had to tolerate “taunts and scorns for the sake of those poor people that nobody cared for.”…. The truths of such claims are questionable; still Jackson had to toil long and dutifully to get the black class organized and meeting regularly. Once the starting pains had alleviated, progress surpassed everyone’s anticipation – except Jackson’s.”

    “He organized and managed, educated and monitored, encouraged and rewarded. The class, consisting of blacks of all ages, was conducted like a military operation with a benevolent hand in control. Black enrollment ultimately ranged from 80 to over a 100 if Jackson was there … Jackson used twelve teaching assistants “recruited from among the educated ladies and gentlemen” in town. (Jackson personally led the all the proceedings and studies and reported on progress of students)”

    “In Jackson’s mind, slaves were children of God placed in subordinate situations for reasons that only God could explain. Helping them was a missionary effort for Jackson. Their souls had to be saved. Although Jackson could not alter their social status as slaves, he could and did display Christian decency to those whole lot it was to be in bondage. He learned and used the names of each of his students. They in turn referred to him affectionately as “Marse Major.”

    “… It was a pleasure to walk about town (with Jackson) and see how the veneration with which to negroes saluted him, and its unfailing courtesy towards them … His servants reverenced and loved him, as they would have done a brother or father … He was emphatically a black man’s friend …”

    ” … Even after he left for the army and war, one of his first inquiries often made to Lexington friends who visited him in camp was, “how is the colored Sunday school progressing.” If the report was favorable (and it almost always was), “he never failed to respond with a strong expression of gratitude.”

    Taken from portions of Stonewall Jackson, The Man, The Soldier, The Legend By James I. Robertson, Jr. Alumni Distinguished Professor in History at VPI and State University in Blackburg, MACMILLAN USA, imprint of Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1997

    • “Although Jackson could not alter their social status as slaves…”

      Sure he could have. He could have grabbed his spurs and saddled up for the Union Army. He didn’t. In fact, he did the opposite and fought for the side to keep them slaves.

      “Master” Major, indeed…

    • Regarding Jackson’s four remaining slaves was a woman and her two teenaged sons who were gifted to Jackson by his father in law (the Founder of Davidson College) upon the death of his mother-in-law, the slave mother had been Jackson’s wife’s nurse maid. The sixth slave who Jackson accepted the care of in 1859 was a 4 year old back orphan that he took in at the urging of an aging widow who could not longer take care of the child.

      Recall that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (who died roughly 30 years earlier) were among the largest slaveholders in Virginia. Jackson bore no comparison.

  22. I was wrong on the issue of slaves. He owned 6 during the late 1950s. The first came to Jackson and begged to be purchased and offered to get a job and reimburse Jackson for the price he paid and thus gain his freedom. Jackson agreed. The second a 45 year old women on the verge of being sold at public auction also begged Jackson to buy her instead. This Jackson did and found her a home where she worked until Jackson had a home for her of his own. I’ll speak of the rest later.

  23. How come everyone is quick to vilify the south for the civil war and the slave trade, while giving the North a free pass? Or maybe the North has been forced to come to terms with how it and the fledgling country benefited from the cotton trade?

    Their text tile industry was the second largest buyer of cotton behind England. Northern factories sold southerners machinery as well as textiles. Did the treasury have any difficulty accepting the tariffs on southern cotton, which made up about 70% of this country’s exports?

    All the northern business man who got rich by getting permits to sell seized cotton, often through bribes. All the Union Officers who made money from those bribes. All the New England, mostly RI, ship captains that made the voyages to WestAfrican/West Indies. The institutions that benefited like the Ivies

    I could go on, but you get my point

    • Yes, the United States has a deeply racist past and present, North and South of the Mason-Dixon. If you would like to have a conversation about that and the proper way to fully atone for that let’s go for it. If you’re trying to deflect from the fact that only one side of that line cared enough about keeping and expanding slavery to wage a war over it then you’re not worth further comment.

  24. Yes, many throughout history have fought, and died, honorably for the wrong cause. According to Bruce Catton’s The American Civil War, citing the 1850 census, 93 percent of white Southerners did not own a single slave. But the “right to own” was A, if not THE, major factor in secession.

    However, the concern, I think, is that today haters (or terrorists) have “stolen” a symbol and turned it into something that the “heritage” folks don’t appreciate or desire. Many heritage folks probably hate the haters who have confiscated this symbol.

    But it is the symbol that the racists seemingly always wave and broadcast and I submit, no government (state, local, or federal) should promote, intentionally or accidentally, racist hatred, even if it doesn’t turn into racist terror as happened in Charleston.

    The best Robert. E. Lee story takes place after the Civil War when he, a penniless elderly man without any kind of pension, with an ailing wife and his home confiscated by the Union, was approached by a Northern businessman who wanted Lee to become president of a Southern Life Insurance company (or named something similar) for an amazing salary of $50,000. Lee said, “But I don’t know anything about insurance?” He was told that he didn’t need to know, what the company wanted was Robert E. Lee’s name. And Lee replied, “If the name is so valuable, then I must be careful how I spend it.”

    Instead of a rich man, Lee became, as history knows, the president of a small, 60-odd student college, making next to nothing for the remaining few years of his life.

    Who today amongst us, Southerner, Northerner, has that kind of integrity in his/her personal life? Yet, remember, he fought — and brilliantly — in the ultimate wrong cause.

    • Wonderful post salz.

      I’m as much Yankee as a Confederate.

      I don’t give a flip about the Confederate Battle flag or the Union one either, except for the memory of those who long ago fought, died, or suffered grievously for various causes in a terrible war not of their own making, but rather one they got caught up in and was otherwise forced on them by powerful circumstances and failures of leadership on all sides , which of course includes several of Doris Lessing’s grand insights.

      Nor do I appreciate those who 150 years later sit around in their air conditioned rooms lecturing us on every body else’s morals, including not only the living, but also their ancestors going back 15 generations. A cheaper and more tawdry, cowardly, and poisonous activity, for our collective future is hard for me to imagine.

      • Thank you, Mr. Fawell. I enjoyed learning the Stonewall Jackson history, too.

        Life is complex but we all want it to be simple. I, for one, didn’t even know there were “criticism leagues” until I learned I was playing out of mine… Thank you for that earlier reference, too.

    • William Tecumseh Sherman > Lee

  25. re: ” However, the concern, I think, is that today haters (or terrorists) have “stolen” a symbol and turned it into something that the “heritage” folks don’t appreciate or desire. Many heritage folks probably hate the haters who have confiscated this symbol.”

    we did not get, by time machine, from the Civil War to now.

    there was a LOT in between such as poll taxes, separate public facilities, denial of access to things like lunch counters and even movie theaters and Massive Resistance.

    in what category do we put the folks who supported and participated in these things? haters or heritage?

    I think .. the practice of going back and “prettifying” history is not one that I admire.

    I think each person has inside them – the ability to look at something and decide if it is right or wrong – no matter what the social practice of the time is – and take a stand on it – even if it sets you apart and exposes you to unpleasant treatment.

    that’s how “Civil Rights” became real. It took people standing up for what was right – and it included a whole bunch who continued to defend what was wrong who also found ways to make life unpleasant for those who wanted to do what was right.

    This is no holier-than-thou screed. I was wrong at one point in my life. .. but I did eventually see it and did decide that ambivalence was not a step forward, just denial LITE.

    The people who changed Massive Resistance and other abuses were not siting in their homes wondering what the right thing to do – was.

    The people who wanted change – did not think sitting in Church next to avowed racists was the way to oppose racism.

    Finally – this is not a unique Southern or US malady. It’s a human condition around the world where we as humans actually work to harm those different from us.

    Framing this kind of behavior as “heritage” is odious.

    • Well said all the way around, Larry.

      We’re not allowed to judge the present because people get caught up in pooular attitudes all the time and we’re not allowed to judge the past because we weren’t there. It’s the worst type of moral relativism.

      And I imagine that – to a man – the people in here waxing poetic about the brave and honorable soldiers who just happened to be fighting for a bad cause would shit kittens if we installed a memorial in Pearl Harbor for the Japanese aviators who died there.

  26. Taken from the closing of Lincoln’s 1st Inaugural address before the American Civil War that threatened began:

    “I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passions may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will, by the better angels of our nature.”

    In his 2nd Inaugural Address, after four years of an ongoing inconclusive Civil War, Lincoln closed with this:

    “With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nations wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

    Both addresses are well worth reading in full. Both reflect Doris Lessings insights (See: Prisons We Choose to Live Inside), and Lincoln’s heroic efforts to escape them.

    See 1st address at http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres31.html
    See 2nd address at http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres32.html

  27. Some admirable sentiments expressed here recently. I will heed them if:

    1. Treason is not celebrated;
    2. Symbols of treason are not pushed in my face in the name of patriotism;
    3. Voting rights are not suppressed, by those who also adore those symbols;
    4. Compensation is paid for the atrocities committed by the ancestors of those who waive the symbols. I am referring by the way to events SINCE the confederacy, all the way to say the 1960’s;
    5. The ‘heritage’ is represented by some other symbols;
    7. The adherents to that ‘heritage’ actively and demonstrably reject most of that heritage. After all, if your heritage includes suppression of many of your fellow citizens, don’t expect any respect for your heritage.

    By the way, this heritage included suppression of many whites as well. After all, we are not ALL white Anglo-Saxon Baptists/Evangelicals, as all those who lament the damage to their heritage apparently believe.

    In short, I will heed your comments if you change your heritage. Let me clarify: I don’t hear any Germans demanding that I honor Goebbels because he was a family man; but that is essentially what many Southerners ask me to do.

  28. All of which leads me to this question: So, when do the anti-Southern white pogroms begin? A vengeful plutocracy and its assortment of hangers on has turned its full fury onto us. That is where all of this manufactured media frenzy is heading us, pogroms of whites, particularly Southern whites. My father left Germany in 1936 because his government hated him. I fear for this country’s future. God save us!

  29. You sound more than a little nuts. If there were any pogroms in the South, they were against African-American who are still targets of white supremacists as last week’s events showed.

  30. You are totally deaf to crimes against whites, as are other Liberals, Marxists really. But this is your hour!

  31. I reported from moscow for six years.

  32. To believe that Union soldiers were eager to take up arms to fight slavery in the South is wishful. The Union needed to prevent secession by the South so as not to lose tha tremendous economic engine. And don’t forget how much of the business of slavery resided in the Northeast…not so many slave holders but plenty of slave traders. My point is that this issue of Confederacy and its symbols isn’t binary. And none of this discussion helps a struggling African-American today living in an area with de fact segregation, separate but unequal resources.

  33. re: ” deaf to crimes against whites” and ” none of this discussion helps a struggling African-American today ”

    to me the question is – do we OWN the problem both in history and current?

    or do we find ways to justify reasons to not own it?

    I just find it hard to look back not only on the Confederacy but all the years after that up until now – and not see a problem, not own it but instead work on various flavors of denial .. and distractions.

    I do not see the defenders of the Confederacy – as a group – “owning” the problem as much as they defend their own .. actions.

  34. With all the references to Germany on this thread, and our own southern ‘cultural heritage,’ I was reminded that southern Germany too remains a stronghold for both ultra-conservatism in that country, and today’s neo-nazis as well.

    After all, it’s no coincidence that the nazi party was born and first took hold in Bavaria, and where many Nazis returned post-war to begin their civilian lives, many secretly. Seventy-five years later and many southern Germans today say they are Bavarian first and Germans second. Many speak with distinctive southern german accents, and take great pains to edit out the history of 1933-45 from their much prized cultural heritage. Sound familiar? The official Bavarian flag however is not controversial. In fact the BMW logo is based upon it !

  35. Lift that was a good comment you made above this post.

    You are right, of course. There was on the southern and union side a great splintering of selfish interests, before, during, and after the Civil War.

    Of course, for only one of endless examples, George McClellan, Lincoln’s preening failure of a General went from “the slows and constant excuses” to endless carping and scapegoating and then to chronic subordination before he inevitably morphed into Lincoln’s political enemy bent on undermining all of Lincoln’s efforts to save the Union. Here one sees the all-to-typical military commander gone bad, the self-centered commander who thinks the war is about him, not the war he was hired to fight. Like Douglas McArthur to take a more recent example.

    Then there are those who are spoiling for a fight. Those always present charlatans who are anxious to cause trouble for troubles sake so as to get themselves in the center of something they crave. Where for example, they can preen their superiority, or work off their anger and self loathing, or gain financial advantage, or seize power and control for its own sake, whether it be political or military power, or simply the joy of war, it’s rape and pillage to fill some void in their lives, or use it as a means to hold onto a corrupt system of spoils, advantages, and status, by force. The institution of slavery of other people for example.

    These types, the knaves, charlatans, fools, and ego maniacs, typically operate on the edges at first to inflame difficult situations into war and strife by the use of cunning, demagoguery, rant and harangue to demonize imaginary enemies into real ones finally. Unfortunately, they far to often ignite the deep-seated fears and drives of humanity. So they’d succeeded again and again since before human history. Most frightening of all is the fact that they can succeed despite being relatively few in number, like happened on both sides of the American Civil War.

    These extremists in the north and the south ignited the issues of the Lincoln Douglas debates, and other collateral flash points, into the flames that drove the entire nation into civil war “to settle things once and for all.” Of course this never settles anything. To the degree that a horrendous bloodbath appears finally to have “settled things”, the very same types of self-righteous knaves and charlatans at both extremes of this historic conflict (or any other) will go right back to undermining the peace by using the devils tools to again fan up the flames. It’s endemic to the human species.

  36. This debate over ‘heritage’ versus ‘slavery’ seems to be a rationalization to avoid the obvious conclusion: the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of both. As well said above, “the question is – do we OWN the problem both in history and current[ly]? or do we find ways to justify [it or] reasons to not own it?”

    What I can’t understand is how anyone today could fail to understand the depth of feeling that still permeates black culture today as the legacy of the period of social warfare we called the “Jim Crow era” (or perhaps more discretely “separate but equal”), which was openly intended to reflect and perpetuate the view that black people were intellectually and morally inferior to whites. I remember being kept out of pools because a black person had been in the same water; being kept from a water fountain because a black person had drunk from it; being kept from a classroom because my presence in it together with a black person might contaminate society. This was the ugly fact of racism in 20th century America, despite the clear dictates of the Constitutional amendments enacted after the South lost its fight.

    Don’t tell me the old battle flag is merely, solely, a harmless “heritage” symbol today. Jim Crow views still exist in the South, and elsewhere in the U.S., too. There simply isn’t any other explanation for those “expressions of redneck culture” on the back windshields of pickup trucks, let alone in Dylann Roof’s hands; and such attitudes can still be found not far below the surface in other, more genteel neighborhoods. How else do you understand the defiant display of the gigantic ‘Confederate’ flag next to northbound I-95 near VA 3 in Spotsylvania County? I can grit my teeth at the private display of this symbol of racism; but its use by the State is beyond offensive.

    This from Wikipedia: “The swastika has been used as a decorative element in various cultures since at least the Neolithic, and is found on a man’s tunic depicted in a Roman mosaic at the Villa Romana del Casale in Sicily. It is known most widely as an important symbol long used in Indian religions, denoting ‘auspiciousness.’ In many Western countries, the swastika has been stigmatized because of its use in Nazism.” Is the Confederate battle flag — whatever its military or political significance at the time of the Lost Cause, whatever good may have been intended in its shadow by ancestors of ours, whatever harm may have been done to them by the ‘other side’ — similarly tainted beyond possible excuse or apology today by its association with post-Civil-War racism in America? It is; it plainly is. The Confederate battle flag belongs in a museum, not flying by government edict as a symbol of the current policy of the State.

  37. Acbar has it dead-on right. we have folks today saying there is not a problem – today AND that history was ..all kinds of folks with different not-wonderful motives beyond just the pro-slavery folks – like that really matters – for the time after the war up until today.

    lots of mistakes were made.

    some people chose to own them and work to resolve their substantial remnants while others continue to find other things to worry about and really deny the current issues.

    and that’s a problem. That’s why we are not making more progress – sooner.

    we basically have deniers.. who refuse to own the problem and it has very real and damaging – continuing – impacts.

  38. Here’s Michael Paul WIlliams, one of my favorite Richmond columnists. Maybe he should apologize, too?

    http://www.richmond.com/news/local/michael-paul-williams/article_3edc3670-9d34-54f9-a988-1d55e98f9691.html

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