I’ve said a bit about the Confederate Flag bullsh…err “controversy” but nothing I could ever pen can match the pen of Hizzoner. Turns out our man Lex was years ahead of his time about this too and because you cared enough to start reading this Imma let him do it:
Neptunus Lex: The Civil War
By lex, on April 18th 2010
I grew up in Virginia , as some of you may know, and only really had my first exposure to New Yorkers in situ as a member of the Naval Academy fencing team. New York City was and probably still is the center of the U.S. fencing, with top notch universities such as NYU and Columbia contributing talent to such elite schools as the New York Fencing Club and New York Athletic Club. I hadn’t formed much of a opinion about New Yorkers until I firsts traveled up there and saw first hand the press and scrum of teeming millions.
I learned that they had already formed an opinion of me.
Where are you from, a national champion asked me as we were cooling down over beer and pizza at a local tavern, and when I told them he continued,”Are you a bigot?”
There’s a lot of that sort of examined thinking going on, as well as some perhaps unintentional psychological insights in Frank Rich’s latest screed in the New York Times: “Welcome to Confederate History Month.”
In “Race and Reunion,” the definitive study of Civil War revisionism, the historian David W. Blight documents the long trajectory of the insidious campaign to erase slavery from the war’s history and reconfigure the lost Southern cause as a noble battle for states’ rights against an oppressive federal government. In its very first editorial upon resuming publication in postwar 1865, The Richmond Dispatch characterized the Civil War as a struggle for the South’s “sense of right under the Constitution.” The editorial contained “not a single mention of slavery or black freedom,” Blight writes. That evasion would be a critical fixture of the myth-making to follow ever since.”
Slavery was indeed a national birth stain, and the effort to erase it cost hundreds of thousands of valiant lives in both sides of the Mason Dixon line. But just like the hardscrabble abolitionists of yore, modern northerners presume a sort of actionable moral and cultural superiority over the southern cousins. They do so while maintaining a deliberately blind eye to the kind of historical abuses of labor in northern factory towns and city ghettos that would have made an overseer blush for shame. They do so while eliding crosses burnt in Boston or the cracked skulls in Queens. It makes them feel good about themselves, even as they extend the smothering hand of well-intentioned government over the lives of individual people.
In the post-civil rights era, modern liberals tended to think of southerners – when they bothered to think about them at all – as crackers, hicks, and most of all racists. This is a useful exercise for the northern liberal; When you’ve presumed I’ll will on the part of an opponent, you are free to do whatever is necessary to complete his destruction, and do so with a clear conscience. Liberals prefer to sort southerners into one of two classes, victims and oppressors, the first to be made into dependents and the second to be demonized.
And they say southerners lack nuance.
Ronald Reagan changed the American politics landscape fundamentally back in 80s, as an admirer with a fundamentally different vision of what the US should be admits. He did so partly with a “Southern Strategy” that turned Yellow Dog Democrats into Republican voters. Rich, and many of his fellow travelers, continue to despise southern yokels who “vote against their self interest” by declining to graciously accept their government handouts and shut the hell up, leaving their betters to decide precisely how much of the bread wrung from the sweat of their brows they may be allowed to keep.
Thus, in line with the whole thrust of human history – at least until we began our national experiment in personal liberty – does one tyranny exchange itself for another.
To deny that slavery played a part in our Civil War would be to engage in denial for its own sake. But the slave owning class was never more than about 10% of a population disadvantaged region that sent at least a million of their 9 million citizens to war in order to preserve pre-negotiated rights. Some 15% of these men died in battle or through disease, another 30,000 died as federal prisoners and their survivors left no more than 150,000 on the field to surrender after Appomattox.
There was always more to the south than slavery – or racism, for that matter – and there is much more still, no matter the dyspepsia it might cause people like Frank Rich to see it in action. There is faith. There was and is a deep and abiding affection for the land, a sentiment that must puzzle those living in rent controlled apartments. There are traditions of gentility and manners that mystify on city dwellers who don’t want to see: Well bred teenagers still say “yes ma’am ” to an octogenarian waitress. There is also a fierce independence that harkens back to an earlier rebellion and a tradition of martial valor that remains to this day. One of my favorite bumper stickers as a young man was the one which said, “We don’t care how you do it up North.” And we didn’t. You go your way, leave ours to us.
And go in peace.
Faulkner wrote of the south that “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even in the past.” The northerners I fenced against used me to chide me that we in the south had never given up fighting the Civil War.
Neither, it turns out, have they.
Pretty much somes up my 2 cents about the thing.
I grew up in what could be called “southern” Illinois. Being bi-racial myself, I hadn’t really experienced what could be called “racism.” Which isn’t to say it didn’t exist, my sister on the other hand (because she looks darker skinned) was once called a “nigger” by another student after school. We were shocked and upon confronting the kid and parent at school, in the principals office, the parent had simply said that his son used the wrong slur.
I’ll never know what that experience meant to may sis but that has stayed with me since.
Now, having lived in the morgen part of the state, the more “Liberal” and “progressive” for quite a while, I’ve noticed the same attitude they have against those from the south that Lex wrote about those 5 years ago.
Not really familiar with Civil War history I’m not quite sure what the Confederate Flag means. Hell, that’s not even the issue I see. Some northern a still have a bigoted view towards those south of the Mason-Dixon and that’s what the whole “controversy” is about.
On the his side, Lex is absolutely right. Based on manners etc I know when I’m in the south. Everyone is very very polite. Coming back on a flight back to Chicago last year I knew I was on the correct flight because one of my fellow passengers treated the flight crew with arrogant disdain. The FA had asked him to put his laptop away and his retort was “it isn’t a laptop is an iPad.”
“Really dude? Put your damn iPad away”
Indeed, Northers are the ones still fighting the Civil War