Jun 24, 2015

June 24, 2015: Another Tragedy, Confronting Revisionism, Get Over It

“No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.”

                         ---Senator Robert F. Kennedy April 5, 1968

 It’s the same old story, another tragedy involving guns in America, this time with a hefty dose of overt racism.  Last week a deranged little punk sat in a prayer meeting in a black church in Charleston South Carolina.  As the meeting was drawing to a close, he stood up, pulled out a revolver and shot and killed 9 people, including the pastor and state legislator. The NRA, with its usual knee-jerk justifications said through a spokesman that the fault lay with the dead pastor and legislator who voted against allowing citizens to carry guns in public places, including church services. 
The young man said he wanted to kill some black people and start a revolution.  What he started was a revulsion in which the country recoiled at yet another senseless act of violence; in this instance a racial hate crime.  In the aftermath, calls have gone out to take down the confederate flag from public buildings, a reaction I’m sure the psychopath had not anticipated.  Not only the Southern Law Center, but the Republican Governor of South Carolina and the Republican Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives have called for the removal of what has become a symbol of hatred, racism, and oppression.

I’ve been following developments as they take their usual course.  Faux News, pandering as usual to the unwashed and the racists in this country has accused liberals of using the tragedy to further an agenda, some denying that the crime was racially motivated.  While Mitt Romney has called for the removal of the ‘stars and bars’ others, including most of the candidates for president in the Republican field, have moved to defend the symbol of racism. Still others have chosen to remain, for the time being, silent. 
On the internet one encounters the usual palaver regarding the use of the old confederate standard.  Here is one such post:

“You liberals just look for people's lives to mess up don't you? Why not let everyone live how they want too and accept us southerners and our passion our our heritage? This is so heartbreaking and a is a blatant attack on one group of people because of their beliefs. Why can't you just let us live in peace”.

To which I replied:

“To be against the slave republic is not liberal or conservative. These swine have been the only people to mount an armed rebellion against the republic of the United States in our entire history and as such should have been tried as traitors not 'honored' as patriots. In fact, if you study the lead up to the civil war you will discover that it was largely through gerrymandering that states like Virginia and North Carolina seceded from the Union. The residents in the mountain regions of Virginia in fact seceded from the state in outrage over the rigging of the vote to secede. Every state in the confederacy had a military contingent in the union army except South Carolina. Instead of celebrating the morally indefensible 'heritage' you claim, admit defeat. You lost, it was in all the papers, get over it.”

Not content to leave it there, he issued a summary clarification:

“Joseph, I take it that you have not read the Confederate constitution. They outright prohibited foreign slave trade in an attempt to lower the enslaved population (eventually to zero). The war was not over slavery. Abraham Lincoln said it himself when he was interviewed in a newspaper article, simply saying, "If I could have preserved the union and freed all the slaves, I would have done it. If I could have preserved the union and freed some and left others alone, I would have done it. If I could have preserved the union without freeing one single slave, then I would have done it."

The war for the north was about preserving the union, and the war for the south was about protecting their states from an overly powerful government.

Also, the Confederacy did not invade the United states. It was not an armed rebellion, but a peaceful session until the union invaded the Confederacy.

And may I remind you that the only flag that flew over slave ships as they were imported to America was the American flag. America itself was the "slave republic" and somehow gets away with it. I still love America and honor both sides who died in thar war. I love the history and I love where my heritage came from. What about the black people now who are protesting across the country and flying the Panafrican flag, a country who still practices slavery?”

To which I responded:

“There is no doubt that the war was about slavery. Why else did the south secede? It was because the country elected a president committed to preventing the spread of the 'peculiar' institution into the newly acquired territories taken from Mexico. In fact both Lincoln and Alexander Stevens (vice-president of the confederacy) opposed Polk's war precisely because they feared that conflict over the issue of slavery as it pertained to any newly acquired territories would threaten the 'balance' of slave vs free states and tear the union apart. The fact is that the South, when confronted with election returns that they didn't agree with chose to revolt.


 It was Steven Douglas' idea of 'popular sovereignty’ that is opening up the question of whether a state would be free or a slave state that rekindled the conflict and brought Lincoln back into politics.


 I have read the confederate constitution and there is no provisions in it for, as you suggest, lowering the slave population. Limiting or ending the slave trade was a fait accompli by 1860 since the British, headed by Wilberforce, had outlawed the trade, as had the United States by that time. There were about 4 million enslaved in the U.S. in 1860, more than enough to sustain population growth. In addition more money was invested in slaves than all the industry, banking, and railroads of the north. To suggest a speedy end to slavery under a regime established and committed to the institution is defy both history and logic.


 Lastly, I would suggest you read the works of John C. Calhoun and his leadership during the 'nullification' crisis of 1832. The conflict was long in the making, threats of nullification and secession longstanding, and finally came to a head when the south was presented with an electoral outcome that threatened their 'peculiar' institution.” (1)

I left it to others to point out that ‘Panafrican’ is not a country and has no national flag, it is a twentieth century political movement attempting to unite the continent much as the European Union is working to unite Europe but with less success.

My point here is that in nearly every political discourse one confronts a version of ‘revisionism’, in this case that the civil war was about anything other than slavery and that somehow the slave system was either ‘on its way out’ or somehow benign.  None of these points are valid.

To be against the display of the old ‘stars and bars’ is neither liberal nor conservative; it is, simply, patriotic.  To oppose the symbol of the only armed rebellion against the duly constituted authority of this government is patriotism by definition.  In fact a true ‘conservative’—defender of established institutions-- would abhor the very thought of armed insurrection.







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