Recently I posted a link to an interview from Remapping Debate titled
“James Loewen on telling the truth about Confederates and their latter day sympathizers.” James Loewen is co-editor of the recently published “Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader.”
There was some discussion on it in O/T and we decided to post it for broader discussion. For years I have heard many reasons for the cause of the Civil War. One favorite seems to be “It wasn’t about slavery, it was…..(fill in the blank)
Mr. Loewen argues, with those pesky facts in hand, it was about slavery and the line of the Federal Government has no right to enforce laws in their state is just fabrication. We have seen this occur during the Health Care Reform, often from states of the old Confederacy—The Neo-Confederates.
I choose not to post much of my take of this interview, instead, I hope you take the time to watch (over an hour) and discuss this in your comments.
This interview is property of Remapping Debate, please go to Confederates and their Latter Day Sympathizers to view.
Kesmarn, the real author of this post offers her excellent understanding on the interview.
Everyone has heard the cliche. “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.” But how do you know if what you know is real history? Not just someone else’s take on it?
Any reputable historian (not the Tea Party version) will advise you to go to primary sources — documents and/or evidence like court records that date directly from the period being studied. Unfiltered by “interpretation.”
This is how James Loewen, Harvard-trained sociologist, approaches history. Using strictly primary sources in his latest book “The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader,” he presents his case that the Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery. Period. Heard the argument that it was really a states’ rights issue when all was said and done? Wrong. That there were numerous black Confederate soldiers battling side by side with whites against Union troops? Nope. Been told that the issues involved in the Civil War were settled by 1865 and people should “get over it”? Don’t think so. That the South cited states’ rights as a reason for the conflict from the beginning? Not what the documents tell us. And Loewen has the goods to back up his claims.
In this interview, Loewen links the Civil War era to the later era known as the Nadir of Race Relations (1890-1940), and further, to the modern day Neo-Confederate movement, which tends to look amazingly like it’s twin brother…the Tea Party.
- Neo-Confederate Historical Revisionism in a Virginia 4th Grade Schoolbook (littlegreenfootballs.com)
- For Civil War 150th, Neo-Confederates Consign Slavery to the Memory Hole (littlegreenfootballs.com)
- A Confederate Reckoning http://www.upenn.edu/researchatpenn/article.php?1796&soc
Thank you linking to this very exceptionally illuminating and relevant discussion. James Loewen’s un-/de-revisionist overview, not only of the causes ( in both senses ) of the Civil War, but of their repercussions to the present day and their centrality in the political life of our nation, was very relevant for me personally as someone who has been deeply alarmed by events of the part two and a half years. In the light of his lucid and forceful analysis, the eruptions of racism, secessionism, and supposed “grievances” of those who feel they are being denied their entitlements ( ironic, that ), are not mere baffling aberrations, but the logical present development of a narrative extending back to the pre-Civil War era ; and the deeply ugly and threatening picture they present is not a paranoid, conspiracy-minded illusion induced by too many hours on the web, but is indeed very real, entirely consistent with our insufficiently acknowledged and understood history, and is exactly what it seems. Such things as Sarah Palin’s secessionist affiliations, or the murmurings of “the problem isn’t Obama, the problem is the fact that he could be elected” ( along with more explicit moves towards voter disenfranchisement, such as the destruction of ACORN, or Tom Tancredo’s call to restore “literacy” tests ), are not mildly alarming but inexplicable, isolated oddities, but logical parts of a very real and very encompassing picture.
To give an example of the power and sweep of Mr. Loewen’s argument, we are all aware of the reactions to the election of the current President, and are able characterise them in a manner which is accurate but superficial ( that is, that many people are displeased by the occupation of the White House by an African American ). When, however, Mr. Loewen states — using “neo-Confederacy” to mean not some contemporary fringe revivalist oddity, but a main sociopolitical current in our nation which has proceeded in direct continuity since the Confederacy itself — “the election of President Obama was a serious blow to the neo-Confederacy”, he draws the entire history of our nation, in all of its depth of significance for the present, into a single observation which perfectly encapsulates the present historical situation.
The underlying and integral theme of the rewriting of history is, in itself, of the most pressing concern when it is asserted that America is a “Christian nation”, a “Republic, not a Democracy”, that Naziism and Communism were both the spawn of Liberalism ( when Naziism had — and continues to have — far wider and stronger support among conservatives than Communism ever did among liberals ), that Liberalism disenfranchises and enslaves the oppressed.
Mr. Loewen analysis of conservative revisionism and the survival of neo-Confederacy as a major political force casts a particular light, as well, on District of Columbia v. Heller. District of Columbia v. Heller is, I believe, far beyond Dred Scott or Plessy, and in an unapproachable category by itself as absolutely the worst decision ever made by the Supreme Court – it is, perhaps, the worst decision that could *possibly* be made – as it literally constitutes a profound and monumental act of treason.
In wholly fabricating a “right to resist tyranny” which implicitly legitimises violence against the government — in direct contradiction to the basic founding principle of any state, the monopolising of force — the conservative “Justices” have placed a legal nuclear time bomb at the very foundations of the United States itself. The next Timothy McVeigh will be able to plead his Second Amendment rights.
The majority decision was authored, of course, by Antonin Scalia, joined by John G. Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito The apparent improper association of Scalia and Thomas ( and probably Roberts as well ) with the Koch brothers — well known to be Bircherite, and thus, yes, neo-Confederate — is a developing story.
There was a book written back in the 50’s or 60’s? Not sure of the exact time frame. It was also probably portraid as a fantasy or science fiction book.
It was about what the US would be like if the South had actually won the Civil War and seceded. Anybody out there happen to remember that book and what the title was?
I have searched various book sites but not getting a hit on it yet.
It was called; If the South had won the war, by Kantor. Published in 1961. Is that the book your thinking of?
Spike Lee made a movie like that.
His alternative history was more humorous than the Apartheid CSA state would have been though.
Celebrating Secession Without the Slaves
I had caught that article, Khirad. Meant to link it and got distracted; never got back to it. I see our friend, Prof. Loewen, is pictured and cited.
Nothing quite like having one’s whole history of oppression erased, eh? This and holocaust denial can really cause blood pressure to rise.
Would have been a better article if they had cited Mr. Loewen’s book on the Neo-Confederates and quoted him more than they did. The truth was treated as a footnote, IMO.
One of the quotes on the The Confederate Heritage Trust’s site has this quote in part:
Slavery was alright, but that subjugation stuff on white folks, look out!
I looked at both the sites praising the confederacy cited in the article and not a word on slavery, bunch of talk on liberty and freedoms, but zip on slavery.
I ran across this in the comment section
Cornerstone Speech delivered by Alexander H. Stephens
Here is the Wikipedia on the background
A here is the speech
That’s odd, seems like the Vice-President of the Confederacy seems to think that the “Cornerstone” of the confederacy was slavery.
Yeppers, states’ rights, liberty, freedom, honor all right there.
Stephens gets points, at least, for being brutally honest about his feelings about “negroes,” b’ito. No doubt about where he stands. 🙁 Unfortunately.
The natural and normal condition of black folk (and, of course, white women, too) was slavery — subordination to the superior race(gender). If we all would just learn to accept our natural and normal condition — the way God made us — and stop fighting the Divine Plan and the imperatives of nature, we would be happier people! The trouble all starts with people who get uppity and try to compete with their betters. The natural order gets upset, God is outraged, and then the sinners inevitably must be punished. (I’ve actually seen 19th century defenses of unequal treatment based on the fact that womens’ and black folks’ brains are physiologically different/smaller.)
Long story short — Stephens to his “inferiors”: “Don’t make me beat you. But, if you do — my State has the Right to protect me from justice.”
Didn’t I see this in a tweet recently? 😉
So am I led to understand my state gives me the right to treat some as slaves equals states’ rights, so it was all about states rights? Bit of a tautology, the circular argument in full circle, eh?
Circular logic merry-go-round, b’ito!
Bottom line – it WAS about states’ rights.
States’ rights to own slaves, that is.
This deserves an encore even if you’ve seen it.
The first Little Green Footballs link reminded me of this (curious conservative site that is, to take on the whackjobs on the right).
Which in turn reminds me of:
I still find this essentially good to peruse over, and nothing dismantles the myth of states’ rights more than reading over the CSA Constitution.
Although, it should be noted, that as soon as the Federal government in Richmond was established, the states further recoiled from it. They couldn’t be bothered to use another state’s scrip and Georgia never saw fit to actually send troops for the cause, until it came around and bit them in the ass in the name of Sherman.
Now, for the Declarations of Secession. Mississippi’s is the most blunt about its real reasons, but I thought I’d link to a site with Georgia’s, South Carolina’s and Texas’.
Speaking of, when I went to the Capitol into statuary hall, each state had two personages it had selected to send to the nation’s capital. I had to laugh when I saw a statue of “Senator” Jefferson Davis (like sure, you’re honoring the senator – ironically, Jackson is one of the few Southern capitals without its own), but only recently learned of the other, whom I would not have recognized: James Z. George. What did he do? Well, lots of things to deserve a statue, but perhaps most striking given the discussion here, is that he was a signer of the Ordinance of Secession of Mississippi.
The one about corporations I could buy into, Khirad. Good link, the comparisons were quite interesting.
The “Brother Brigsby” is a classic
Ah, you did read it. 🙂
Yes, the CSA was not entirely bereft of any good ideas. They were onto something there – though I wonder how much this had to do with Northern industrialists as much as the classic agrarian Democratic Party platform of the time.
It also had quite a few bad ideas… but except for the few most noticeable changes (strengthening slavery, for example), very little was actually changed. It was in many respects still the same Constitution, but a more officially “Christianized”, and racist one.
Anyone ever see these flags at Tea Party events?
Yeah, I remember the first flag of the Second American Revolution, as they called it back then:
Hmm, bommer’s post, this post or both?
They were handing them out this past spring at the one in Philadelphia I stumbled into.
They looked like they were paid for by some not-so-grass-roots group. 😉
I forgot to add this new classic:
And of course, the Bonnie Blue has been covered before.
This was pretty self-explanatory
I should have mentioned that Khirad (hope all is well) contributed to the original posting of this interview. His input was appreciated.
Quite alrighty. I was thinking about writing an article on this and the similarities to today, but obviously I didn’t, and don’t have the time now, clearly. 🙂
But, I don’t mind if I plug an old related post, either
The all white original dukes?
Oh PLEASE, Q – tell me that photo of Mz. Sarah is photoshopped. PLEASE! That’s mind numbing.
Photo-shopped most likely by someone who likes MILF.
She’s so not on my MILF list.
C’Lady, one of the reasons I posted this was to see and appreciate your insight. Color me naive, but I did not know the extent of the Neo-Confederate revisionism until I heard this interview. Opened my eyes and offered to me an insight on the whole states’ rights fallacy.
What’s with you liberal types, anyhow? Now I have to fill my brain with more knowledge from your citing: http://www.upenn.edu/researchatpenn/article.php?1796&soc
Thanks for your comment.
I know, I know, bito – we freaking liberals just stir the pot, don’t we? Well now you’ve done a bit o’ stirring your own self. These interviews are mind boggling. The only problem is – who beyond us and other (cough) liberals will ever see them?
With all that is emerging about TheoPalinism (Leah Burton’s first book, now out of print) and the morass that was the Confederacy, and all that we know about C Street and the cabal that unites all these threads in a gnarly attempt to take over America, WHY IS NO ONE BUT US LISTENING?????
How do we get this stuff out? I sent an email to Rachel (yeah, sure – she reads ’em, uh-huh) and have huffed and puffed to various media outlets that still speak to me, but nothing. Absolutely NOTHING.
We need a good PR effort, and I don’t even know where to start. All I do know is that I’ve learned more on these pages than I ever dreamed possible, that what we know collectively is amazing, and I keep hoping the word will get out.
We need to keep on keeping on. People have got to wake up, and that includes disaffected liberals over at the Dark Side who apparently don’t read or think any more deeply than their RW counterparts. It’s getting hard seeing all the Planet brings to light just sit here, but we do all need to keep writing, talking, debating, discussing – someday there will be a critical mass, and then perhaps sense will reign again. If it ever did.
bito and kes – thank you SO much for not just this solid synopsis but for the resource materials. As a trained historian (only progressives may try this at home) I’m all too familiar with revisionist history that serves a political end. Loewen does us a huge service in establishing, through careful documentation, that the South had one goal – preserving the human property of its Black slaves. His work is extraordinarily important in ending the mythology, and given the prevalence of same as a GROWING issue for the RW, especially the religious right, it is imperative that his findings be aired.
I think I’ve mentioned historian Stephani McCurry’s “Confederate Reckoning” that strips apart the fiction of the gentlemanly nature of the Confederacy. It was a government that pillaged its own – the poor whites, both soldiers and their families, and thought nothing of exploiting the women who stayed behind to eke a hardscrabble life from their small farms. Merchants routinely gouged them on purchase prices, exploited them on crop sales, and generally abused them while their husbands were gone. When the soliders themselves were abandoned by their commanding officers and left to die, it was not unknown for them to receive help from escaping slaves. This, like what Loewen has discovered, fleshes out the REAL Confederacy, the REAL story.
One question I can never answer from all of this is why poor whites bought into the war and then the mythology. What the HELL was in it for them? What was noble about the Confederacy as it pertained to anyone but the ruling class? Just how stupid are we human beings that we will trumpet loyalty to a movement that fell so far short of honor or even basic utility for its own people?
Historical revisionism has a marvelous role to play – IF it is not based on a tissue of lies but in fact excavates the truth. I once met a visitor to Slater Mill Historic Site who was hysterical that this site rejected telling the myth that Samuel Slater came over from England with the design for a spinning frame in his head. He did not. He had a rough idea of how it worked – but it was the Wilkinson brothers of Pawtucket, RI, both skilled mechanics, who figured it out in design,engineering, and construction. Now isn’t that a GREAT story? Talk about your Yankee ingenuity! But noooo. This woman, an American not a Brit, wanted the LIE and said she didn’t CARE if it was not true. The lie was better.
I wonder if any of this, Loewen or McCurry or any damned thing, will cause people to stop putting on airs about a past and a cause that betrayed them. I hope over time things will change and people will give up the lie. I’m not holding my breath.
Indeed, history repeats itself. The poor whites who bought into and even gave their lives for the “ideals” of the Confederacy sound just like the poor and lower middle class whites who actually think a.) capitalism is a political system, and b.) it is one that works for them.
Are you saying, WTS, that capitalism isn’t in the constitution? Do we skip over the “we the people….and promote the general Welfare” part?
Here is the entire Preamble:
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
There is no reason that even a communist government couldn’t put that in their constitution (changing the name, of course). It has nothing to do with capitalism.
Capitalism is an economic system, not a political one and CERTAINLY not a governmental one. When lower class Americans and idiots like Sarah Palin talk about it like it’s the cornerstone of our government, they are dousing themselves in Kool Aid.
5 stars and a thumbs up for that one, wts!
EDIT: And,b’ito, I knew you were kidding on that one! 😉
I apologize, WTS, I was being sarcastic. I have a copy of the constitution (thanks to the ALCU) sitting with in reach of the ‘puter. There certainly NOT a mention of an economic system in the constitution, but to hear some of the the witless persuasion it is writ in the tablets of gold that we are a capitalist country.
Sorry about my snark,guy.
I thought you were probably being sarcastic, and figured I’d either be chiming in with you (most likely) or arguing with you (didn’t think so), but that the point should still be made.
No appy loggies necessary! 🙂
WTS, Always curios why Justice, Tranquility and Welfare were capitalized and not defence. Just a quirk, common usage or were they showing a preference?
Your point cannot be ignored, at all, yet it seems to be a controlling point among some. A political system an an economic system are different critters in most cases. I guess the exception may be Italian Fascism and the Confederacy.
interesting about the caps. In today’s America, it would be “the common DEFENSE”.
It IS true that some economic systems pair up more logically, in theory anyway, with governments. So, free market capitalism with freely elected officials makes more sense than, say, free market capitalism with monarchy.
Good old Ayn Rand cemented the idea in some Americans minds that democracy and laissez faire capitalism, always and only together, were mankind’s only hope of liberating countries from ANY kind of unfair rulership.
Hmm, fascism, confederacy and slavery, Ayn Rand. Is there a thread there, or does that sound too “beckish”? 😉
The thing is “laissez farie” capitalism would destroy most capitalism. A market controlled and with regulation serves them much better.
Can’t reply below, but I did want to note that one book I’ve just skimmed so far, “The Beijing Consensus” notes that a good number of developing nations are following the Chinese capitalist model of totalitarian government and free market investment. That is supposed NOT to happen – democracy is supposed to be the best means to get the freedom and creativity capitalism requires.
And yet – is that not what’s being pushed here, too? Totalitarian central government designed for ONLY the promotion of the investment class? Is that not the GOP preference?
And is this NOT the scariest scenario we could envison? It’s not precisely fascism, though it certainly parallels it, but it’s a rather new “brand” of central control. And it curdles my blood watching the wrangling going on to assure the pre-eminance of the investing/consuming class over the rest of us.
I’d like to die a free woman living in a blooming and open democracy. Not sure I’ll make it.
agreed, this is what’s happening. In other parts of the world AND here. “The free market” is a wonderful sounding euphemism, as is (or was, for a while) “global economy”, but look closer and for every “up by my bootstraps”, “started out at this company filing papers and now I run everything!” story, there are a thousand more that speak of collusion, nepotism, graft, organized crime ties, insider trading and putting politicians in your back pocket.
Capitalism isn’t only bad, of course, but it is as sordid and murky as the human subconscious. It was made by us, in other words, not decreed from on high, as Sarah seems to think.
This is what the Neo-Confederates want?
And is this NOT the perspective of the top 1% today? Kes I think you are definitely on to something about caste in the South (first book on race I ever read was the classic “Caste and class in the South”) but was that enough to go to war? I guess they drafted so there really wasn’t much choice if you wanted to keep your meager holding, but I can’t see the energy and support as being real, not even to feel superior. AFTER the Civil War, yes – then free people of color began to do well, and that was a definite economic and political threat to disenfranchised whites. But wow – we have done a piss poor job over the past 145 years telling the truth, even in the North. So the romanticism of what in fact was a disaster for Southerners has been allowed to bloom and grow, flourish and fester. And now everybody’s a good ol’ boy – even people in IOWA have southern accents – all based on lies of our past.
Want to know a good joke? The one place you can learn really eye-popping information on racial settlement patterns after the War is an interactive map in, of all places, the Gene Autry Museum in Griffith Park in LA. That uber right wing phony cowboy left money for self aggrandizement and tributes to the Hollywood cowboy, and some decent curator did it up right – it’s astonishing to see how many US counties were settled by non-European people. Again – otherwise lost information. People in the Great Plains will puke when they see this – the extent of non-white settlement is amazing.
And yes – was it you kes or boomer who said, those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. By pretending we’re something we’re not, we keep on being less than we could be.
b’ito is way too generous in mentioning me as being the “real author” of this post. He was the one who discovered the author and the fine interview with him. It doesn’t get more “real” than that!
But — moving on — c’lady, I’m sure many people are equally baffled by the willingness of poor Southern whites to fight and die for the cause of preserving slavery. These were, obviously, people who didn’t even own slaves, nor did they ever expect to!
I’m sure I’m not the first person to speculate that part of their motivation would have been the feeling that, under slavery, there was at least one group that occupied an even lower rung on the social ladder than they did — no matter how dirt poor they were.
I suspect that there’s an element of the Tea Party today that is driven by a variation of the same thing — jealousy and resentment about the fact that a black man as “leap-frogged” over them into the Whitehouse.
As long as all the built-in unfairness of slavery and/or racial discrimination were in place, they could be more sure about their ability to get jobs even when jobs were scarce. They knew that they would fare better in a courtroom than a black person would. No matter how low-down they were, they could make someone they regarded as even “lower” move off the sidewalk when they strode down Main Street, or get up off of the bench at the bus stop and yield them a seat.
Stephanie McCurry’s book sounds fascinating. Imagine how galling it must have been to Confederate white males to realize — as she said — that they absolutely had to depend on the black men and and oppressed women they had left behind to support their misguided war effort! No wonder their darkest, most fear-and-anger-filled fantasies always involved the idea of white women getting together with black males.
The one thing oppressors must fear most is the moment the various factions of the oppressed figure it all out and start uniting forces.
Now if we could just manage to pull off a 21st century version of that!
k’es, I am better as a researcher, much, much worse as a writer.
😆 Sez who?
got it, now get some sleep.
I think you know exactly why poor whites bought into it.
Same theme as Mississippi Burning.
There’s actually some other Southern literature which punctuates this quite nicely, as well.
And besides the treachery, the racism and the supporting elites against their own best interest, it was also sometimes about something just as powerful yet intangible. Something which is strong, because I feel it too — though I could have never supported secession or the Confederate cause. I almost liken it to the 92% of Afghans who didn’t know about 9/11. While none of them could have not known about slavery, they couldn’t understand why the North would ‘invade’ their homeland. This cultural solidarity is the closest it comes to actually being about state’s rights.
Waylon Jennings has the courage to say what only a Southerner could say effectively, in this self-aware lament over stubborn Southern pride – especially after Gettysburg, when it was clear the South couldn’t win.
The funniest part? Perhaps only one person posting this song, or others from the album White Mansions, got that it was a critique of the South.