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Thursday
Apr082010

Confederate History Month: Um, OK

Last week I got a long crazy letter from a reader reacting to a post I wrote a year ago telling me that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery. Oh, OK. That whole slave state/free state thing was just an accident? A misunderstanding? The fact that pro-slavery factions and abolitionists flocked to territories that could potentially become states to tilt them in one favor or the other causing terror and bloodshed was just incidental. The Missouri Compromise had nothing to do with all those people KILLING EACH OTHER over whether or not former territories would be "slave" or "free" states. Politicians didn't beat each other up on the floor of Congress over slave or free states. It was "state's rights!" And it just HAPPENED that the right the government was threatening to infringe upon in the South was the ownership and sale of black people. OK. Sure. Great. You want to take history and put it in rewrites, let's rewrite it. Still doesn't explain all those slaves and all those people who were "afraid" of what would happen if they were freed. But yeah. STATE'S RIGHTS! (To own slaves)

More after the jump.

So now Virginia has brought back Confederate History Month. I, personally, don't get why anyone wants to celebrate the one thing that threatened to destroy our country and caused the deaths of millions of people, because it was so abhorrent to some the notion that black people should not be treated as property. I, like most black people, get tired of the Confederacy trying to dress itself up as something noble and valiant when they were the ones who refused a peaceful solution and opted to try to break up the country as opposed to accepting the fact that their precious "way of life" that happened to involve human chattel was going to end whether they liked it or not. I'm sorry. There is nothing noble about poor white people fighting and dying so rich white landowners could keep their slaves. It's ass-backwards. One of the reasons why they were poor was because wages were depressed because there was all this FREE LABOR walking around. But instead of getting mad at the players who rigged the game, they got mad at the slaves, who had no choice in any of it. Not even a choice in coming to this country. You can't tell me that it wasn't about black people when almost everything post-the Civil War in the South was about preserving the lines created by slavery through oppression, violence, terrorism and Jim Crow. So if the Confederacy is noble, the Ku Klux Klan is just a really passionate political party! That killed people. Glad we cleared that up.

It's just depressing that you still have people falling for the same practical joke of poor people fighting other poor people so they can feel superior to them. But keep doing it. It makes it soooo much easier for the ruling class to continue to screw you over as they've done for centuries. Pay no attention to the corporation dumping sludge in your backyard. That black person over there might have a nicer car that you and they're trying to date your daughter! Made you look!

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Reader Comments (30)

Preach it, girl! Enough said...

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Ada

AMEN

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterthelady

I really going to need you to stop making so much sense.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternica1313

Danielle, I believe you eloquently answered your own question as to why Virginia should bring back Confederate History Month.

A lot of people weren't taught or aren't aware of why we had the Civil War. As far as what is widely accepted, this is what I suspect the average person knows about it: Slavery+The North fought the South+ Abraham Lincoln * Emancipation Proclamation= "We Free" The End.

I'm going to assume that the celebration of the Confederacy is misguided and done in vain, but I suspect a few will be able to walk away with a better understanding of why the Civil War took place and dig a little deeper concerning the blanket facts when it comes to history.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

Confederate History Month or what I have declared Slave Revolt Reenactment Month.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWenzel Dashington

Hear hear!!!

The spin required to turn this act into something respectable is beyond all comprehension. The failure (or perhaps refusal) of Governor McDonnell to connect the dots on this issue is even more appalling. The confederacy was treason to the United States...you know, the United States, that place where we all live and say we love. And you wanna dedicate a month to that?

Somebody impeach this cat, please.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Janitor

I concur.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKasalina

So during Black history month, I posted factoids about Black History. Since fair is fair, and as one commentator said, if they have a month, so can't we....I am posting about the Confederacy...and its legacy....

Today's factoid is how terrorizing newly freed Black at the polls wasn't quite enough for the citizens of Ole virginny, and how in 1902, they amended their state constitution to legally prevent Blacks from voting.....

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdivaliscious11

shame on you -- you made me giggle!
Gotta love people who handle the difficulties of life by attempting to delve into a majestic past that never existed (It's the amercan way)

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

If you want to understand the person who wrote you that email; then I would suggest that you (and all of your readers, if they haven't already) watch CSA: Confederate States of America. I think this will enlighten you. Because I think that it's possible the person that emailed you probably saw this and thought that it was a real documentary and not satire. heh.

p.s. i love the argument about states rights. it makes me giggle. because in essence they are saying, "we have a right to own nigras." and then in the same sentence ask you (in general) not to talk about race because they aren't racist. ha! it's a barrel of fun dealing with idiots.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterstudpoet

I second Studpoet: it was all about states rights -- the right to keep owning black people. Says so right in their declaration:

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_scarsec.asp

Humanity. Sigh.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKim

"There is nothing noble about poor white people fighting and dying so rich white landowners could keep their slaves. It's ass-backwards."

This is the best description of the foolishness I have ever heard! And still, to this day, it's always the poor white people that parade the confederate flag on their trucks with their horns playing the tune of "Oh, I wish I was in the land of Dixie". I work with a woman who wears confederate flag socks! And yes, she's a poor white. You don't see the rich folk with such things out in the public.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHonee Bee

co-signing Wenzel Dashington...I'm talking some serious insurrection...the ACTUAL rebels in all this! The Confederates were fighting to STAY slave (just ask their land-owning bosses!). I guess the fight over illegal immigration (cough...cheap labor...cough) is the book end to this faux-saga of "states' rights".

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCDF

I really don't see what all the stink is about Confederate history month . We didn't stand in color peoples way when they got black history month or M L King month and we didn't raise a stink when color people asked color people to shop at color people's store's to help save them .So why all the fuss about something that means something to white people . Seems to me that if it doesn't do anything for color people or give something to color people then they scream rights. You call us prejudice because we for once would like to have a Confederate history month .So in a nut shell i really think colored people are prejudice ,because if they weren't then they wouldn't be afraid or what ever the reason why colored people don't wont whites to have any kind of history except that some white fore fathers had slave's BUT remember not all whites had slave's .Colored people make other people like white red yellow etc dislike them it's not prejudice its that the color people won't it that way other wise why do they always use the word prejudice when things don't go there way .If some of the colored people sat back and watched us spout it at every turn then wouldn't alot of people dislike us also ? Some of my pest friends are of color and there not like this root page always knocking white people .But not to worry long, soon all color people will have another color to try to use that on but you see it wont work because the immigrant's had nothing to do with it ,So you see soon whites wont be the minority any more then who are you going to bad mouth .I never hear (well that Koren man ) call me the n word I guess you have to be special and white to be nagged at for generations about something that happened before most were even born . One day and i think soon the word prejudice will not work because woohooo the Mex"s will have control of it and color people will know what it feels like to be called something and in truth most white people don't give a fig and it never crossed there minds .I feel for the young color children because it's the parent's that teach there child that they are different and tell them what some old old old white ancestor did to a color person. It's getting old .why cant you all lay off the white folks for once and let it be .But every one that isn't colored knows that colored people cant get off the subject cause if they did then they would be no different that any human being in this world and not as special as they seem to think.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmericanDreamer

@ AmericanDreamer - Not to be a grammar b*tch, but I didn't completely follow what you said. Punctuation, spelling, correct capitalization and correct grammatical structures really should be your best friend if you want to effectively get your point across.

Now that that's out of the way, the only people I know who use the term "color[ed] people" are my grandparents' generation and they're well past 80 (and pushing 90). Understanding the Confederacy as it relates to the Civil War is important, but the Confederacy is not something to be celebrated. It was founded on the idea that black folks were inferior and the white land owning class was superior and had every right to own other human beings. The ironic thing is I see poor whites from my home state who don't get that the point of the Confederacy wasn't to help them. The point was to help the (rich) slave owning whites maintain power.

And FYI, there is no "MLK Month." There's an MLK Day and a Black History Month. I'm not a fan of Black History Month for several reasons, but I understand why it exist, namely because of the whitewashing of American history (no pun intended).

AmericanDreamer - 1. Your comment is nonsensical. 2. Every other month is white history month; your people are overrepresented. 3. You probably should read this: http://www.case.edu/president/aaction/UnpackingTheKnapsack.pdf

But I'm guessing it will be completely lost on you.

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTegustamegusta

virginia has a history of this, i believe. they had a lee-jackson-king day

as in stonewall jackson, robert e. lee, and martin luther king.

people are entitled to celebrate what they want to celebrate and if the majority votes on it, unless it violates laws, people who don't like it can only be mad.

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLOL

@ American Dreamer

Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted equality for ALL people of color, not just "color peoples" as you stated. Even though black people mainly celebrate and acknowlege Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, this day is not limited to just black people. Other races should embrace this day because it includes everyone. But because all they see is a black man who gave speeches, they tend to disregard the real reason for the holiday. On the other hand, having a Confederate Day would be about the separation of races.

I hate when other races bring up the fact that there isn't a "White History Month". The history curriculum in our schools is nothing but White history. There is probably 2-1% anything but white history taught in our schools.

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHonee Bee

Funny thing, Lincoln didn't seem to think the war was about slaver, just about saving the union. Slavery didn't become an issue for Lincoln until later on.

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScott

@ Scott

But you concede that politicians had divided the country in "slave" and "free" states, many Southerners and pro-slavery supporters were upset with the election of a man who was a member of the Republican Party which had slavery abolition as part of their party platform or that Lincoln, being president and a politician, was pretty aware of the fact that slavery was a divisive issue that was going to eventually destroy the country if it wasn't dealt with and lead to a bloody long war? That you're all fine with and understand? Not something politically expedient Lincoln said because he was like, President of all of America, and not just the anti-slavery parts? Because at the end of the day he was going to do anything to save the Union because he's President of that Union and knew that to keep the country together he was going to have to eventually work things out with the rebellious pro-slavery South, but even at the end of the day he couldn't get around ending slavery because it was the largest, overwhelming issue of the conflict? You're aware of all of those things, right? That people killed each other over slavery? That even in the North people fought each other over whether Lincoln's policies were going to make things worse and whether or not slavery should be abolished? That Missouri never joined the Confederacy because they couldn't stop fighting each other over whether or not to join the Confederacy? And that the Confederacy was about preserving the "Southern way of life" which just happened to involve slave owning? And that Lincoln spent a lot of time being counseled by former slave and famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass? You understand all that, right?

Again. I don't know why it became a debate as to what the Civil War was about. It's pretty basic. Slave states. Free states. Pro-abolitionist parties. Pro-slavery parties. The Missouri Compromise. The Dred Scott Decision. The Fugitive Slave Act. The Draft Riots in New York. Is it just that hard to believe that the country would fall to pieces over the keeping of human chattel in a permanent underclass? Because, call me crazy, that sounds like a pretty huge moral/ethical/religious/economic issue that would drive some folks to distraction. It's like saying we got into WWII because we wanted to build a war economy to get out of the Great Depression and we just kind of ignore the attack on Pearl Harbor or the fact that the Germans kept bombing our allies. Or that Germany and Japan declared war on us right after Pearl Harbor, so we didn't really have a choice anymore about entering the war.

The Civil War happened because no political compromise could be reached on slavery. You're either for it or against. There's no real middle ground. And believe me, folks tried to find a middle ground. All sorts of fixes and agreements were made for naught because they only put a band-aid on a bullet wound. (See the Missouri Compromise) Slavery or "slave power" as political opponents at the time called it had taken over politics and completely polarized the government. The issue was a cancer. Nothing could get done because everyone was obsessed with always making sure there were an equal number of "slave" and "free" states so that the "free" states could never actually vote to potentially abolish slavery. I realize that in the 90s it became popular to say that the Civil War was about something other than slavery, but other than a vague description of "state's rights" and "Northern aggression," I've never heard an coherent argument that could block out the hold slavery had on the Senate and other houses of government or another issue that could explain the violence and death that happened constantly surrounding pro- and anti-slavery protests. Or could explain John Brown and Harper's Ferry. Or the fear Southerns had of slave revolts. Or the popularity of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Or the fact that the only "state's rights" issue that seemed war-worthy to Southerners was the right to own slaves. So I really feel like the onus is on you to prove that the Civil War wasn't about slavery, because all historical evidence says otherwise. From Southern war propaganda painting Lincoln as being for miscegenation to the fact that whites in New York hung and killed free blacks during the draft riot protests because they blamed them for the war.

But if you can name some other issues people were willing to kill each other over during the Civil War that wasn't related to slavery, owning slaves, how the Southern economy was based on free labor, abolitionists and other slavery related ethical issues -- please -- I'm curious. Because no one ever names any.

April 10, 2010 | Registered CommenterDanielle Belton

This was very well written. I love your writing style and the way that you summarize issues.

April 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWoodysbell

@Danielle, great rebuttal.

@Scott, crickets.

April 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterallheavens

People have critiqued the executive branch for the entire history of the USA. The Civil War was about what the Federal government could legislate upon the states. DC has long attempted to dictate to the states and the USA was a democratic republic meaning states decided what was best for America not DC making the decision for the states. Slavery was 'merely' not diminishing its importance, just what broke the camels back. were it not for slavery it would have been something else.
hamilton could not start a national bank because that power was not given to congress
by way Tenth Amendment, Thomas Jefferson as secretary of state discovered a bar to congressional legislation of that kind: no power to establish a bank having been delegated to Congress, that power must have been reserved to the states.
slavery was wrong. Would hope ppl would be reasonable and not reinvent the past to political correctness. Saying that that the word confederacy is as abhorrent as is other racial epithets is lunacy. and as a sidenote .. critiquing the executive branch and those in DC is an american right and people should take a critical look at all government. never trust politicans. IMHO i think it is a bankrupting of america as retribution for slavery.
To denounce the confederacy denies Americas past and dysfunctionally never addresses issues and marginalizes a segment of society. if slavery told us anything it is that marginalized people are not ignored. States rights dysfunctionally still has not been addressed. America wont be better if there is more divisioins.

April 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwhateva

"I, personally, don't get why anyone wants to celebrate the one thing that threatened to destroy our country and caused the deaths of millions of people"

The antebellum south was just as much part of the union as the northern states. The misery and horror of slavery actually happened under that "perfect union" that you've been brainwashed to fondly pledge alliegiance to. Of course life under the CSA would've been worse but only a fool would mourn the destruction of what you refer to as "our country".

April 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterscribblescribe

@ scribblescribe

My point that it seemed odd to celebrate the Confederacy which threatened to destroy the country is just that. I have no problem with acknowledging the Confederacy as part of our nation's history, but it drive me bonkers to pretend that the Confederacy was about some other cause than preserving the institution of slavery. And what I said was not an endorsement -- our country has been and will always be flawed. I never said anything about a "perfect union" nor did I glorify any alleged perfection about our country. It is what it is. You either adapt and push for change or ... well. This is America. You can totally live here and be wholly apathetic to it. Long story short: You really read a lot into that one sentence. I don't mind there being a debate, but I'd prefer for people to actually argue with statements I made, not inferences and assumptions drawn from them that didn't come from the text. So you can argue CSA versus USA and whatnot, but you can't assume that my statement was based on some form of blind allegiance.

Lastly ... for those who just want to make the Civil War about something other than slavery, here is what South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union wrote in 1860 as their justification when they announced that they were leaving the United States:

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the *forms* [emphasis in the original] of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.

The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.

Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the irritation, and all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of more erroneous religious belief.

We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world, as a separate and independent State; with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.

Adopted December 24, 1860 [Committee signatures]

[Source]

April 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle Belton
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