• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

More on the Symbols of the South

USA CSA MapI did not intend for this to be Symbols of the South Sunday, but the discussion thread in my Confederate battle flag post made me think of a  key example, perhaps the quintessential example, of how the unsettled nature of the past manifests in political symbols.  The symbol in question is hardly major, nor is it one that is ever going to be the subject of national debate, but the issues that it raise are pretty obvious.  It is the city seal of Montgomery, AL.  Here’s a photo of it that I took some years ago down at the riverfront park along the Alabama River in downtown Montgomery:

The Seal that Speaks Volumes

Yes, it says both “Cradle of the Confederacy” and “Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.” Both are historical facts, but only one is one that ought to inspire pride, let alone be on the city’s seal.  And, really, which is which ought to be obvious and yet, clearly, the obviousness of the point is not enough to get the seal changed.  To me, this well-encompasses the fact that many political actors have not come to full grips with the past (as well as to illustrate the stubborn way in which post-Civil War pols in the South clung to the past—often well into the 21st century).  There is, still, a deeply held belief by many southern whites that there is something about the Confederacy that is worthy of pride or that is representative of something positive about the south.  I, for one, find rebellion and war in support of a political regime that is built on the foundation of slavery to be abhorrent and not what I would like the south to see as a point of pride in any way.*

Look, I understand having historical sites linked to the CSA open for the public, such as the fact that in downtown Montgomery one can visit the first White House of the Confederacy or see a marker that commemorates where Jefferson Davis stood on the grounds of the state capitol to be sworn as President of the CSA.  I also understand the notion of memorials to war dead. What I don’t understand is ascribing pride to connections to the CSA (such as the seal, or to the massive battle flag hoisted on I-65 north of Montgomery).

It is also worth noting that, like many southern cities, two of the high schools in Montgomery are named after Confederate heroes:  Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.  Commemoration is all around us down here.

The extolling of these symbols lead to real problems.  How can we come to fully address not only what the Civil War was all about, and the racist aftermath that emerged from it, when we are willing to name our schools after the President of the CSA and put “Cradle of the Confederacy” on our city’s seal?  It confuses our children, who grow up with positive associations with names and symbols apart from historical knowledge and context.  It then makes it difficult to have the serious conversation about real issues both of the past, but of race in the present because one has to overcome the fact that these are just “symbols of southern heritage” or of “southern pride.”  So instead of dealing with things like the harsh truth of Stephens’ Corner Stone Speech and what it tells us, we end up dealing with persons on the defensive because we are challenging their “heritage.”

I note this because I see it all the time as a resident of Alabama, but also something I worked through as a youth and into my adulthood.  Further, I see it with my children and their friends.

The fact that anyone can look at the seal of the City of Montgomery and not get a dizzy feeling of cognitive dissonance carved in stone is telling of the lack of national settlement on this issue.  And I know some can so gaze upon the stone and not feel intellectual vertigo is evidence by two facts:  1)  the thing was designed and adopted, and then 2) it still is the seal.

Indeed, the phrase “Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement” was only added in 2002—and yet when it was added, “Cradle of the Confederacy” was not removed.  See the LATAla. City Seals Its New Era.  And it is worth noting, that like many symbols, such as the battle flag, the addition of “Cradle of the Confederacy” to the seal came in 1952 in response to the burgeoning desegregation movement.  So these references to the CSA are not always (or even mostly) about honoring the past as much as they were deployed as symbols of opposition to integration and as symbols of perceived white superiority.  This needs to be taken into account when defenses are made of these symbols.

Indeed, one of the facts we need to constantly underscore is this:  a lot of these Confederate symbols are far less about the Civil War as they are about opposition to racial equality and integration in the 1950s and 1960s (an era within living memory and not about some vague sense of “southern heritage”).

*To be clear:  I was born and raised (until mid-high school) in a former Confederate state (Texas) and have live for over a decade and a half in Alabama (where two of children were born and from whence hails my mother and her whole side of the family—the other side of the family comes from Texas and Louisiana).  As such, I am a “southern” by birth, heritage, and residence. I have more than just intellectual skin in the game.

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Mark Ivey says:

    “Cradle of the Confederacy”

    Another example of the elephant in the room when have having arguement´s with the “good old boys” about the American south.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I despair for our country. We can not let go of the old grudges. How do we grapple with the new? (which are old…. that we never settled.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I do find it funny. Everyday that I venture forth from my 12 1/2 acres I can not help but drive by 4 CSA flags. I always want to lean out my window and scream “LOSERS!” at the top of my lungs. Sadly, they are all meth heads and don’t get up before 10 am. I drive by at 4-6 am depending on where I work. They don’t hear me.

    Funny how that works.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 12

  4. Tony W says:

    I would argue that “Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement” is no honor – in fact it holds that dubious distinction, at least in part, because of it’s earlier position as “Cradle of the Confederacy.”

    Very telling it is that despite the fact that MLK and others saw the offenses in Montgomery so egregious that they decided this should be the place to kick things off, it is a point of pride for the city.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  5. @Tony W: I take the point, but on the other hand it certainly should be argued that it is a celebration of the fortitude of the city’s oppressed minority and their supporters to rise up against an evil system.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  6. al-Ameda says:

    I can’t tell you how many discussions of the Civil War I’ve had with relatives from Alabama and Texas, and friends from South Carolina, and Mississippi where they strongly insisted that slavery was not the primary cause of the Civil War (they insist it was about State’s Rights, and an overbearing federal government.)

    We’re just not over the Civil War. I often joke that Lincoln’s big mistake was in not letting the South go. I’m beginning to think that that’s true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  7. Michael Slobodchikoff says:

    Not to move the discussion to another country, but this debate has raged in Russia as they have tried to recreate a Russian identity following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Should they rename cities that were named for historical figures that represented the regime? Should they take down statues that honored Stalin and other central figures in the purges and repressions? Should they even bury Lenin instead of having his body on display on Red Square? Many Russians have said that these symbols should be used to learn about the past, and that to get rid of them would be an easy way to pretend that the atrocities in the past never occurred. The problem comes in when people are ignorant of what the symbols stand for and associate them with some idealized version of the past that never really occurred, but is still remembered fondly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  8. Yes, it says both “Cradle of the Confederacy” and “Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.” Both are historical facts, but only one is one that ought to inspire pride, let alone be on the city’s seal.

    Given that Montgomery’s involvement in birthing the civil rights movement was providing such a heavy handed law enforcement reaction that it became impossible for the rest of the country to ignore the issue any longer, I’m not sure either fact is one that ought to inspire pride.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  9. Veritas says:

    Mr. Taylor I find your analysis of the symbols of the South to be at best dismal. So you don’t support a rebellion that supported slavery? I guess Washington and Jefferson are pretty low in your esteem. I myself find the concept of the 95% of the Southerners who did not own slaves and had no vested interest in slavery defending their hearth and home against a tyrant who trampled the Constitution as something worthy of great pride. Today we are in the same situation but it seems to me that the character of today’s Americans pales in comparison with those sons of the South that knew the difference between freedom and the chains of slavery.

    For an academic you seem not to realize three states ratified the Constitution on the provision that they reserved the right to leave it for any reason. By accepting their demands all the states accepted this premise and so recognized the right for all states.

    I found that those who do not understand history do not cherish the symbols and tradions that men havce fought and sacrificed for. We see today the same process that occurs in third world nations where streets, buildings and even place names are altered to satisfy the ego of some craven despot. I had the good fortune to be born in Texas, so pride of place is inbred. Something that I do not see in the major cities of the Northeast. In fact it is amazing how many Americans have no knowledge of their culture, heritage, or history, prefering the charms of the latest want to be slut, Hollywierd celebrity, or flash in the pan rap star.

    In encountering these products from academia I can understand your worldview.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 36

  10. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I despair for our country. We can not let go of the old grudges. How do we grapple with the new? (which are old…. that we never settled.)

    The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. Grewgills says:

    @Veritas:

    Today we are in the same situation but it seems to me that the character of today’s Americans pales in comparison with those sons of the South that knew the difference between freedom and the chains of slavery.

    Now I have had my dose of unintended irony for the day.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  12. hk says:

    @Michael Slobodchikoff: In the South, the trouble with the Confederate symbolism doesn’t really lie in the 19th century: it’s the 20th. Many supposed symbols of the Confderacy were resurrected in 1960s as symbols of opposition to the Civil Rights movement. (One could find another, older analogue in 19th century Germany, where, initially in opposition to Napoleon, and later, part of Romantic nationalist movement, many phoney symbols of ancient Germany were dug up, or, in many cases, created out of whole cloth. That lunacy lasted for more than a full century, in some form or another, and that didn’t exactly go well, for the Germans or their neighbors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  13. Grewgills says:

    The cornerstone of Birmingham, AL city hall commemorates Bull Connor. I saw it regularly growing up when I visited my mom at work. I was surprised even then (over 25 years ago) that the cement with his name engraved into it hadn’t been mortared in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  14. @Stormy Dragon: I think you may be confusing Montgomery with Birmingham (where police brutality was especially acute and made national news).

    Still, I think you are ignoring the fact that celebrating Montgomery as the birthplace of the civil rights movement is celebrating the men and women who fought against the evils of Jim Crow. If you are ever in town I would recommend the Rosa Parks museum and the Civil Rights museum at the Southern Poverty Law Center downtown.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  15. @Grewgills: I will look for that the next time I am in town. Amazing, but not surprising.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Gustopher says:

    I see both the “cradle of the confederacy” and “birthplace of the civil rights movement”, but what really grabs my attention is the Star of David.

    Symbols have many meanings, and where the fine citizens of Montgomery probably mean something other than a constitutionally inappropriate support of Judiasm in their official seal, I think that certain symbols have one meaning that trumps all others.

    A six pointed star is the Star of David.

    The Confederate battle flag is the symbol of those who fought to promote slavery. Its a good looking flag, and it looked good on top of the General Lee, but let’s be clear, it’s a symbol of oppression.

    The Swastika might have been a Native American symbol or whatever, but not anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

  17. Tyrell says:

    There are many towns around here with a Confederate memorial. These are usually at the town square or in front of the courthouse. There also active organizations that promote the southern culture and traditions. They also have reenactments and army camps on weekends where people go to learn history. Civil War artifacts and replicas do a good business at these events, fairs, carnivals, and other events. I would say that interest in southern history has increased in the last several years. Many more places are being preserved or restored. Things move slower around here and people seem to be closer. We did not get internet or cable until about three years ago. Most towns in this county do not allow alcohol sales and everything stays closed on Sundays.
    “Southern born, southern pride”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  18. Tidalwave says:

    For me personally the CSA states and the Flag is just a symbol and reminder of our heritage which I am proud of. My views on what my ancestors did are not mine but was their views and I cannot help what they did. I haven’t ran across anyone that told me they hated there heritage or ancestors and also was proud of their ancestors and who and where they came from. Some people’s view are just that their views and don’t speak for the whole of the people that are from the CSA. I hear more remarks from people that want to degrade the south than others. Some people that immigrated to this country did so because of being oppressed but don’t see those countries being attacked and ridiculed for their symbols. I think we can take any part of the country and find bad things that their ancestors did, North, South etc. The Anglo-Saxon people came to this country and took it from the American Indians, and took most of the “West” from the Spanish…etc etc..So folks “Let it Go”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 14

  19. Rob in CT says:

    The funny thing about this:

    For an academic you seem not to realize three states ratified the Constitution on the provision that they reserved the right to leave it for any reason. By accepting their demands all the states accepted this premise and so recognized the right for all states

    Is that even if we stipulate for discussion that it’s true, there is still the question: “So, did they excercise this right to leave for a good reason?”

    And the answer is no. They lost a free and fair* election and feared they were on the slippery slope to the end of slavery, so they seceeded to protect their right to hold human property. I think it’s important to note that when the various Northern states abolished slavery, they typically did so in fairly gentle (to the slave owners) ways. It was phased out. Some were compensated. This is important, because Lincoln (following his idol, Clay) was a fan of compensated emancipation schemes. Unfortunately, slave owners told him to pound sand as late as 1862 (IIRC, he floated the idea to Kentucky and Delaware, and they told him to get stuffed). This was the awful, dire threat the Old South faced.

    One can argue that the leaders of the Confederacy thought they were rightfully protecting rights against a revolution coming from the North. This is true (though this revolution was a slow-moving, gentle thing until the Rebels picked a fight). Their reaction was immoderate in the extreme, however, and does not speak well of them.

    * – free and fair by the standards of the US in the 19th century, of course. Given the prohibition on anti-slavery literature in the South, the treatment of anti-slavery Whigs and Republicans in the South in the decade leading up to the war, I’d say it was probably freer and fairer in the North, but that’s speculation (the North had its city “machines” though I’d note those were Democratic Party organizations, so it’s not like they helped Lincoln).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  20. @Tidalwave:

    For me personally the CSA states and the Flag is just a symbol and reminder of our heritage which I am proud of. My views on what my ancestors did are not mine but was their views and I cannot help what they did.

    So, if you disagree with the actions of your ancestors, what is it about the heritage directly linked to those things with which you do not agree that inspires pride?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  21. Dave Schuler says:

    The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  22. john personna says:

    @Veritas:

    What you’re really saying is that when war breaks, men will pick their tribe.

    (Slavery triggered the war, and then non-slave-owning southerners picked their tribe.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  23. john personna says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Tribal affiliation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  24. john personna says:

    (As an aside, I am a Californian of fairly recent northern European extraction. I believe that if my family held slaves, it was the Danish/Icelandic wing holding the English wing in servitude. That is of course a longer lens of history, and we now don’t think of the English and the Danes as different “races.”)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Fairly random aside: When I was working for the State of Texas, I really hated having Confederate Heroes Day off from work. Not because I hated having days off from work, but because it was just such an embarrassing reason to have to admit to people about why you had the day off from work.

    “But we also get off MLK Day, Juneteenth, and Cesar Chavez’s Birthday!” wasn’t exactly a winning counter. Although getting to explain to people what Juneteenth is was sometimes pretty enlightening.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  26. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think you may be confusing Montgomery with Birmingham (where police brutality was especially acute and made national news).

    History of Montgomery, Alabama – Civil rights movement

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. Tyrell says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: When I was a child I remember Confederate Memorial Day, a day observed by banks and businesses. Schools were not out and it was not officially observed by the state. I was reminded of that day when I was recently cleaning out my garage and found an old calendar from the 1970’s that had that day marked.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. @Tyrell: It is still a state holiday in Alabama. Indeed, I had started a post on such holiday yesterday but have not finished it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. @john personna: Of course. But tribal/identity politics do not have to impervious to information. Change is possible, even if difficult.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. @Stormy Dragon: I am not sure what the point of your link is. I was not suggesting that life was roses and sunshine in Montgomery in the era in question. I simply noted that the more nationally recognized cases of police violence (dogs, water hoses, etc.) were in Birmingham (and nothing in the link shows otherwise, as best as I can tell).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  31. Margaret says:

    I had the good fortune to be born in Texas, so pride of place is inbred. Something that I do not see in the major cities of the Northeast.

    Hmm. Pride of place must mean arrogance.

    I can tell that you’ve never met anyone who grew up in Boston or New York City. Their absurd self-regard equals your own. And I say that as a proud New Yorker.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  32. al-Ameda says:

    @Margaret:

    I can tell that you’ve never met anyone who grew up in Boston or New York City. Their absurd self-regard equals your own. And I say that as a proud New Yorker.

    This stuff isn’t limited to big cities. For the few years I lived in Seattle, and for the many times I traveled between Seattle and Portland, I’d have to say that Eugene Oregon is the Self-Congratulatory Capital of United States.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  33. merl says:

    @Veritas: You committed treason and lost. And you’re proud of that??

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  34. Moosebreath says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Shaw had a good line on this, to the effect of national pride is the belief that one country is better than all of the rest because one was born there.

    The same applies to smaller units of civilization.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  35. @Moosebreath:

    “‘My country, right or wrong,’ is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober.’ No doubt if a decent man’s mother took to drink he would share her troubles to the last; but to talk as if he would be in a state of gay indifference as to whether his mother took to drink or not is certainly not the language of men who know the great mystery.” — G. K. Chesterton

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  36. Frozentexas says:

    Steve,

    You are right, of course, about the flag. I think more so because of the use of it as a symbol in recent history of racial intolerance than for the history of the civil war.

    While the civil war was largely over slavery, I still think that it is an oversimplification to then conclude that the people of the south were morally corrupt and the people of the north morally superior.

    In fact, slavery became morally reprehensive when it became economically unprofitable. So, in the north, you had serfs, not slaves, and probably a lot of oppression of various minorities and the poor [I should insert a citation here. If it is not the case, I am sure other commenter’s will clarify the situation]

    You are still right about the flag but here is a question — in the north, they have memorials for US soldiers of the civil war. In the south, should they:
    a) Leave up the memorials to southern soldiers and honor them as well?
    b) Have a memorial for the northern soldiers?
    c) Take down all memorials?
    d) Leave up the southern memorials, but label them “racist” or “slavery supporter”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I simply noted that the more nationally recognized cases of police violence (dogs, water hoses, etc.) were in Birmingham (and nothing in the link shows otherwise, as best as I can tell).

    From the link:

    students from Alabama State College organized their own sit-in at the State Capitol’s lunch counter to protest segregation … the involved students were expelled at the insistence of Governor John Malcolm Patterson

    Governor Patterson pledged to protect the [Freedom] riders during their journey from Birmingham to Montgomery, but Montgomery city police did not continue to protect the riders. They were met by a mob who beat the riders and Justice Department officials who attempted to intervene. Police eventually intervened—and served the riders with injunctions for inciting violence.

    After meeting with resistance from state troopers, an incident that became known as “Bloody Sunday”, Dr. King joined the effort.

    You don’t think that qualifies as police violence? Especially in terms of a city that wants to claim credit for starting the civil rights movement?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  38. john personna says:

    @Frozentexas:

    Slavery has a global history, and became “morally reprehensible” many times over the millennia.

    The particular tragedy of American slavery is that (1) we practiced it long after other advanced nations had given it up, and (2) we bound it along racial lines (rather than say just who captured whom in war).

    Those two things were only resolved by a bloody Civil War. Now sure, once the war started some southerners fought shrewdly, bravely, and (by their lights) honorably. Of course that honor really depends on us distancing it from the cause it serviced.

    The war was about slavery, even if the cavalry charge inspires.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  39. @Stormy Dragon:

    I feel like you are not reading what I am writing on this and are being argumentative for reasons that are unclear. As I have noted multiple times above, I am not trying to say that Montgomery did not have police violence (or other types of violence) in the 1950s. Indeed, it did. I still think you are thinking more about Birmingham (as evidenced by the fact that your recourse was Wikipedia). However, that ultimately doesn’t matter.

    I still think you are wholly missing my main point when you say:

    You don’t think that qualifies as police violence? Especially in terms of a city that wants to claim credit for starting the civil rights movement?

    You seem to saying that I am claiming that the city government started the civil rights movement or something along those lines. Obviously, this not that case.

    However, are you saying that Rosa Parks, MLK, ED Nixon, those that marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge,* and any number of others were not pioneers of the civil rights movement? Are you saying that they were not in Montgomery when they were pioneering it?

    Yes, the terrible conditions that required a civil rights movement were perpetrated by government (and private citizens), but does that mean that we should not recognize the reaction to those conditions? Why shouldn’t the city acknowledge the move to rights its own wrongs?

    You see to be saying that because the city (and region) sinned in the past we cannot acknowledge that some of our citizens fought said sin and made substantial progress against it. Why would that be the case?

    *A rather significant edit–I listed only the name, not the event in my hast.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  40. grumpy realist says:

    @Veritas: Proud of your relatives, right or wrong?

    I have a different feeling about that, but then I’ve got a few Nazi war criminals in mine.. Maybe you didn’t think what your ancestors did was that bad?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. john personna says:

    @grumpy realist:

    but, but, but … the Nazis used Slave Labor!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  42. @Frozentexas:

    Some responses:

    While the civil war was largely over slavery, I still think that it is an oversimplification to then conclude that the people of the south were morally corrupt and the people of the north morally superior.

    I don’t think I made that claim, did I?

    I do think, however, as we retroactively makes claims about heritage and pride, that we create a problematic moral message if we claim the CSA as a heritage worth extolling. This is really my fundamental point. Living now in the deep south (although I saw the same in Texas, usually at a lower intensity) I see a lot of otherwise education people, and certainly young people, who want to make confederate symbols and even some aspects of its history into something to admire. This does become a moral issue in a contemporary sense.

    In fact, slavery became morally reprehensive when it became economically unprofitable.

    I am not sure what this means, per se. I concur that those who did not profit from slavery often found it easier to oppose slavery, but I am not so sure it is so simple to state things as you have. Beyond that, however, to get back to my contemporary point of view: there is no denying that slavery was central to the CSA and that should make us very circumspect about seeing the CSA, and even those who fought for its cause, through a romantic lens.

    Part of why say all of this is that it has impacts in the present day on a number of issues, not the least of which being race relations. As long as a substantial percentage of white southerners pretend like there is something to be admired about the CSA, this rather clearly has implications for contemporary race relations, yes?

    So, in the north, you had serfs, not slaves, and probably a lot of oppression of various minorities and the poor

    I am not sure I would use the term “serfs” in this case, but I understand your point. It is true that there has been any number of types of exploitation and mistreatment of persons and groups of persons throughout our history and across geographical locations. However, the only institution that primarily existed for the perpetuation of chattel slavery was the CSA. Dancing around, as some have done, about how great Robert E. Lee was, or how bad this or that northerner was, elides the basic fact of what the CSA stood for, and I think we would be better off if we were more forthright about that fact.

    In regards to war memorials-I see nothing wrong with honoring the dead. I do wonder, however, about things like being proud that one’s city was the “Cradle of the Confederacy” or naming things after Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.

    But as john personna notes above:

    that honor really depends on us distancing it from the cause it serviced.

    The war was about slavery, even if the cavalry charge inspires.

    While I don’t think that we have to label existing monuments “slavery supporter” I think that we need to come to grips with the fact that that was what the war was ultimately about.

    The war about economics (perpetuating an economy based on chattel slavery), about private property (the right to own humans as property), about states’ rights (the right hold slaves), etc.

    This is not to paint a picture of the angelic north coming in to slay the devilish south. Indeed, my argument has precious little to do with the north and everything to do with the south.

    Why would any city want to be known, in its official seal, as the cradle of the confederacy? What does that say about denial and romanticism and basic race relations?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  43. (Nice to see you in the conversation, btw).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  44. Matt Bernius says:

    @Frozentexas:

    While the civil war was largely over slavery, I still think that it is an oversimplification to then conclude that the people of the south were morally corrupt and the people of the north morally superior.

    I am missing the point in Steve’s argument where he suggested that the “people of the south were morally corrupt and the people of the north morally superior.” Perhaps you could point it out to me.

    Slavery as an institution is morally corrupt by modern standards. Hence defending the flag of slavery is problematic – especially when one realizes that the resurgence of the stars and bars was in protest of fall of institutionalized racial discrimination. But even then I don’t think it’s particularly productive to deal with as a “moral issue” in most cases.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  45. dazedandconfused says:

    @al-Ameda:

    We’re just not over the Civil War. I often joke that Lincoln’s big mistake was in not letting the South go. I’m beginning to think that that’s true.

    I think that counter-factual is a very interesting one to explore, but my conclusion is Lincoln was motivated by the problem of slave states and free states sharing a border being problematic, the slaves know where the border is, and that, along with competition for control of the West, made war(s) with this new nation inevitable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  46. john personna says:

    For what it’s worth, I think the seal showing both the “cradle of the confederacy” and “the birthplace of the civil rights movement” does show the wheel of history. It’s better than “confederacy? nope, never heard of it.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  47. al-Ameda says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    I think that counter-factual is a very interesting one to explore, but my conclusion is Lincoln was motivated by the problem of slave states and free states sharing a border being problematic, the slaves know where the border is, and that, along with competition for control of the West, made war(s) with this new nation inevitable.

    I generally agree with you. Civil War was inevitable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  48. Tyrell says:

    @al-Ameda: If Booth had missed, we probably wouldn’t be having these discussions now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  49. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    @al-Ameda: If Booth had missed, we probably wouldn’t be having these discussions now.

    You believe that Reconstruction would have turned out differently? I do not see how Lincoln would have changed the post-war minds of Southerners.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  50. mantis says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.

    Mr. Faulkner’s estate will be in touch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  51. Dave Schuler says:

    @mantis:

    Good on you. I was wondering if anyone would pick up the source (who seems pretty apt under the circumstances).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  52. @Dave Schuler:

    I’d be suprised if many of the regulars here didn’t know the source. It’s like wondering if anyone will pick up on the source of “To be or not to be?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  53. mantis says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I love WF, and he knew a lot about what it is to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but I don’t think Requiem for a Nun has permeated the culture quite so much as Hamlet. Of course, I assumed the quote would be familiar as it has been in the news and discussed here at OTB recently.

    Neither a borrower nor a lender be. Steal!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  54. anjin-san says:

    I hear more remarks from people that want to degrade the south than others.

    The south did a fantastic job of degrading itself. No outside help was needed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  55. Moosebreath says:

    @al-Ameda:

    “You believe that Reconstruction would have turned out differently? I do not see how Lincoln would have changed the post-war minds of Southerners.”

    I think it would have. Lincoln was the duly elected President who was a member of the Republican Party from its beginning, as opposed to Johnson who was a lifelong Democrat whom Lincoln put on the ticket as a show of unity. Lincoln was a masterful politician, who had shown time and again he could keep a coalition together on key votes and keep members of his party from straying too far. Johnson was none of these things.

    Thus, I suspect Lincoln would have been able to steer the Congress to avoid the harshness of the post Civil War sanctions on the South in such a way that reconciliation would likely have occurred no later than when that generation died out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  56. Frozentexas says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    thanks Steven. It is good to have a place where issues can be discussed in a thoughtful way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  57. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Veritas: “…95% of the Southerners who did not own slaves and had no vested interest in slavery…

    Siiigghhhh…. alas, their descendents are still defending the interests of the monied elite. Only, it’s their disdain and superiority complex towards “Libruls”, Academics, and non-whites that are driving the train this time around. Wait. Thats what drove it then too.

    Boot Lickers

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  58. @Frozentexas: One tries. It can be a challenge at times ;)

    Long time since we had a good discussion of any kind!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  59. Frozentexas says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: First, thanks for raising this and being so honest.

    On the moral superiority of the north: I did not mean to imply that you had raised the issue. I suppose I was trying to say that at one time the whole US allowed slavery. As the north industrialized, it became more economical (I conjecture) to us cheap immigrant labor than to use slaves. So it was not as if the north had an enlightenment or was any less prejudiced. You are right to say that this does not excuse the south, however or change the reason for the civil war.

    Bottom line is, I am persuaded. Regardless of what the situation was in the north, the confederacy was formed to protect the institution of slavery and the battle flag has been used since as a symbol of intolerance.

    Now, how do you feel about the “Redskins”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  60. dazedandconfused says:

    @Moosebreath:

    How was the North terribly harsh on the South? The North abandoned the attempts to occupy the South within a few years. Couldn’t manage to keep enough men down there on garrison duty and Congress wasn’t going to tax and spend that kind of cash either. Nathan Bedford Forest immediately took over (on the big issues) and Apartheid reigned for the next 100 years.

    Reminds me of the places we “defeat” these days. Less the MRAPs and drones. I guess.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  61. @Frozentexas: Indeed, slavery was an American sin, not just a southern one. However, the south was not interested in repenting.

    Having said that, my emphasis on the south in these discussions is not an attempt to exonerate any other injustices committed over time in various parts of the US, but rather because of the romanticism about the CSA that is quite alive and well in the south and it is something I would like to see go away. There are way too many southern whites who refuse to come to grips with the past and I think that hampers race relations (and, really, other aspects of national politics).

    In re: the Redskins, my basic response is that I think they should change the name.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  62. Rob in CT says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    This. I just read Foner’s Reconstruction. Reconstruction was not particularly harsh. It *seemed* harsh to the former elite of the South, to be sure! They’d lost a horrific war, and then a collection of Southern Unionists (traitors, in their eyes), Northern opportunists and Freedmen started running their states (which I’d argue absolutely had to happen, because the #1 priority for the old elite coming out of the war was the de facto resurrection of slavery, or, failing that, serfdom. They were partly successful as it was)! There’s no way, no matter how nicely it was handled, that wouldn’t sting like hell. Plus, the South was in many places absolutely devastated. Even without Congressional Reconstruction policies, not too many folks were going to be happy.

    The point of all of this is not to dump on the South. The quarrel is with a particular tendency of some Southerners (and, by the way, not a few foolish Northerners) to glorify the Confederacy. If you can see that South != Confederacy, then it does not need to be read as an attack.

    Regarding revering one’s ancestors… I don’t see this as a requirement. One side of my family comes from Devonshire. There’s a cemetary in a little church in a tiny town whose name I’ve forgotten, with an entire row of headstones memorializing male members of my family, with the inscription “lost at sea.” All the way down the row: lost at sea, lost at sea, lost at sea. Could some of them have been slavers? It’s possible. Many of them lived through the rise of the British Empire. Things were done, as they say. Could some relation of mine have fought in the Opium War? Possibly. What a disgrace that was. Perhaps some were involved in taking over India. For a long time, it was familiy legend that we had a semi-famous pirate in our line (turns out he was just borrowing the family name as nom de guerre, and was in fact Irish – The Horror!). Anyway, I can’t say any of that would bother me, and I certainly wouldn’t feel compelled to defend them.

    Perhaps it’s the distance? A little more water under the bridge? Or a difference in how I was raised. I’m not sure. For whatever reason, I’m not emotionally invested in my ancestors. I view this as a good thing, as I have zero control over said ancestors (being that they’re, you know, dead).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  63. dazedandconfused says:

    Rob,

    I think there are distinct cultural differences. It was difficult to form one nation out of it from the beginning. In time they will fade.

    It is interesting to note that up until the last iteration of the Klan they rode under the stars and stripes. The switch to the Confederate flag came after the Civil Rights Act. It was no longer possible to easily consider themselves as part of the US. A sure sign the times, they were a-changin’. If that hadn’t happened the symbol might not carry quite the terrible associations it does now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  64. Rob in CT says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Granted. But it’s hardly mysterious that the KKK or those who wanted to show resistance to the civil rights movement chose that particular flag.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  65. @Rob in CT:

    The point of all of this is not to dump on the South. The quarrel is with a particular tendency of some Southerners (and, by the way, not a few foolish Northerners) to glorify the Confederacy. If you can see that South != Confederacy, then it does not need to be read as an attack.

    Indeed,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  66. @john personna:

    For what it’s worth, I think the seal showing both the “cradle of the confederacy” and “the birthplace of the civil rights movement” does show the wheel of history. It’s better than “confederacy? nope, never heard of it.”

    I take the point. However, there are ways to recognize and remember the past that do not result in wearing “Cradle of the Confederacy” as a literal badge of honor. It isn’t like the phrase is there as a somber reminder of the errors of our forefathers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  67. Moosebreath says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    The Reconstruction as it was actually applied was a bit of the worst of both worlds. As you and Rob in CT point out, had the Radical element of the Republican Party prevailed, it would have been longer and would have kept the former slaves in power long enough to have prevented many of the Jim Crow abuses.

    Had Lincoln not been assassinated, it likely would have been shorter and would have included far more financial benefits to the South, possibly including compensating the former slave holders (which Lincoln had pushed for years), as well as almost certainly compensating the former slaves. With some property in the former slaves’ hands, and reduced anger on the part of the former slaveholders, again they may have been able to prevent many of the Jim Crow abuses.

    Instead, we got several years of fighting between Johnson and the Radicals, with nothing in particular done to defuse the tensions, followed by mostly benign neglect under Grant, followed by the bargain which followed the 1876 election, returning power to the former slaveholders with nothing done to protect the former slaves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  68. Rob in CT says:

    Had Lincoln not been assassinated, it likely would have been shorter and would have included far more financial benefits to the South, possibly including compensating the former slave holders (which Lincoln had pushed for years), as well as almost certainly compensating the former slaves.

    I’m not so sure. I think Lincoln understood compensated emancipation was dead. Slavery had been killed w/o it. Yet Lincoln was still playing around with absurd resettlement schemes right before he was shot. Some of his last musings on the subject of “what next” involve him saying he just doesn’t see a way for the freedmen and their former masters to live together in harmony (he cites white anti-black prejudice as the key factor). In this I think Lincoln was basically right. It’s not at all clear to me that he could somehow have altered this reality by sheer force of will.

    It would have been better if there was more $$ thrown at the South immediately after the war, absolutely. Could Lincoln have made that happen? Maybe. Would he have? Maybe.

    Could Lincoln have managed to rally support for Thaddeus Stevens bill to provide land & money for feedmen (40 acres and $50, IIRC)? I don’t know. Maybe, but that’s a heavy, heavy lift.

    Shorter: Lincoln >>>> Andrew Johnson. So had Lincoln not been shot, I agree the outcome would likely have been better. But I think only a little.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  69. Rob in CT says:

    One more thing, then I’ll quit rambling on about this. A significant faction of the Republican party considered their work done once they had passed the amendments abolishing slavery and establishing voting rights. From that point on, more and more of them took a “pull yourselves up by your bootstraps! We freed you and gave you voting rights, what more do you want?” approach. Thad Stevens was the most radical of the radicals. There were few like him, and fewer and fewer as time passed. Some moderated. Some just plain died off. Some lost elections.

    What we would consider good outcomes in the South in the aftermath of the civil war amounts to the most radical aims of radical reconstruction. Lincoln, who was not a radical, was IMO unlikely to make that happen where others failed. He wouldn’t have fought it the way Johnson did, clearly, so more could have gotten done in the window the GOP had from the end of the war until the resurgence of the Democrats.

    But seriously, I don’t see any way to “reduced anger” on the part of the former slaveholders. Their whole world had been upended.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  70. Moosebreath says:

    @Rob in CT:

    “But seriously, I don’t see any way to “reduced anger” on the part of the former slaveholders. Their whole world had been upended.”

    I think we are going have to agree to disagree on this, but many other groups in history have had their whole world upended following military defeat without a century and a half of trying to undo it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  71. Rob in CT says:

    I’ll grant that we’re so far into the land of speculation here that I could be totally wrong.

    And yes, other cultures have handled it better. But I’m not actually sure that leniency was the key to that. How many other civil wars ended with not only all the rebel combatants being let go, but all of the top leadership being let go? They all just got to go home. That’s incredibly lenient. Yet their reaction to this was hardly reduced anger. Many (most?) immediately set about trying to win the peace, having lost the war.

    Was the century and a half of trying to undo their military defeat a result of Northern (Federal) policy (either not enough leniency or too much?) or, perhaps, was it due to something unique in the culture of the Old South?

    Me, I think the latter is more likely than the former. But I could be wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  72. Matt Bernius says:

    @Veritas:

    I myself find the concept of the 95% of the Southerners who did not own slaves and had no vested interest in slavery defending their hearth and home against a tyrant who trampled the Constitution as something worthy of great pride.

    I had initially missed this, but find this logic to be rather dubious, especially when deployed by anyone who believes in “I built this/Trickle Down Economics.” In modern conservative thought the fabric of a society is intimately tied to it’s upper class and the wealth that they generate and then spend in the community.

    And if that wealth was being created and maintained through slavery — remember it’s that wealth that makes the rest of the society possible — then regardless of whether or no Johnny Reb owned slaves himself, unless he had totally gone Galt and didn’t take money or goods from anyone else, his way of life was enabled through the web of slave economics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  73. dazedandconfused says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I suspect they, especially men such as Lee, were raised with a different view of the structure of the US government than what prevails today. He and many others of that era, thought of themselves as “Virginians” or “Carolinians” first and “Americans” second. This was rooted in a conviction that if the Federal government became too powerful it would become tyrannical. They appear to have felt fighting against ones state a larger treason than fighting against the Federal government.

    They had been careful to prevent anything that banned states from leaving the union from being included in the Constitution, and founded military academy’s, such as Citadel and VMI, to prepare for the possibility that might become necessary.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  74. Raider says:

    The city seal is what it is. Rather than just show what you say should inspire pride, it shows everything, thereby being a much more honest seal. I’m sure there are some people who look at that seal and say progress was made here in that the city went from being the birth place of the Confederacy to the birth place of civil rights.

    Besides, I’d be interested in seeing how you would defend the American flag as being a symbol of freedom to the Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, and Yemenese who suffered and lost many loved ones because of U.S. bombs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  75. Matt Bernius says:

    @Raider:

    Besides, I’d be interested in seeing how you would defend the American flag as being a symbol of freedom to the Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, and Yemenese who suffered and lost many loved ones because of U.S. bombs.

    I wouldn’t.

    And frankly, I’d be pissed if I was an Iraqi and my neighbor decided to run up the Stars and Stripes for exactly the reasons you mention.

    Congratulations, you finally get the argument.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  76. @Raider: I meant to respond to this yesterday, but Matt Bernius beat me to it. What he said.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  77. Rob in CT says:

    @Raider:

    I love this argument. What you are saying is that you do not see yourself as an American, but rather a Confederate. Ok, wear it. Others will respond accordingly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  78. Rob in CT says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    I suspect they, especially men such as Lee, were raised with a different view of the structure of the US government than what prevails today. He and many others of that era, thought of themselves as “Virginians” or “Carolinians” first and “Americans” second.

    I understand that.

    One does have to chuckle, however, at the idea of slaveholders worrying overmuch about tyranny. That’s industrial strength hypocrisy.

    Some folks actually thought it through and confronted the contradiction. Some became abolitionists. Others, like De Bow, instead argued that you couldn’t have a full flowering of liberty without mastery/slavery. Only the master, freed from daily toil, could rise above drudgery and contemplate the arts and such. Therefore, slavery was not only compatible with liberty, but a prerequisite.

    Of course, this all predated robotics… ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  79. Raider says:

    Steve and Matt, you’ve lost me.

    Are you trying to tell me that the reasons for our civil war are the same as our usurped government going off and bombing foreign countries who have done nothing to us at all?

    As I see it, the south had the right to secede according to the Declaration of Independence. They felt the federal government had become overbearing. The U.S. government bombing foreign countries today has no justification at all because it was only done to fulfill the interests of the foreign international bankers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  80. @Raider:

    Are you trying to tell me that the reasons for our civil war are the same as our usurped government going off and bombing foreign countries who have done nothing to us at all?

    No, the point is the once violence has been done under a given flag, the victims of that violence are unlikely to like the flag in question.

    Hence, African-Americans are rather likely to see the battle flag as a symbol of an oppressive state and of support for segregation. Therefore, they are likely to take offense and with cause.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  81. Raider says:

    “I love this argument. What you are saying is that you do not see yourself as an American, but rather a Confederate. Ok, wear it. Others will respond accordingly.”

    No Rob, I never said that nor implied that. I guess life is easier for you when you make simple judgements, package them, and then try to move on. Life isn’t that simple or easy Rob.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  82. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Hence, African-Americans are rather likely to see the battle flag as a symbol of an oppressive state and of support for segregation. Therefore, they are likely to take offense and with cause.

    Correct, because under that flag was first raised in a battle to maintain the practice of keeping black people as slaves and then later raised in a battle to legally keep black people as second class citizens.

    How different is that, @Raider, from the question that you posed here:

    I’d be interested in seeing how you would defend the American flag as being a symbol of freedom to the Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, and Yemenese who suffered and lost many loved ones because of U.S. bombs.

    The same reasons an Iraqi doesn’t want his neighbor to fly the American Flag is the same reasons many of us don’t want the Stars and Bars to fly over state capitals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  83. Rob in CT says:

    Oh yes you did, it’s just that you’re apparently not smart enough to follow your own argument.

    I’d be interested in seeing how you would defend the American flag as being a symbol of freedom to the Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, and Yemenese who suffered and lost many loved ones because of U.S. bombs.

    The American flag represents America, including the Southern states. You presented it as if it was the flag of a foreign power. If that’s how you see it, fine: it’s how the CSA saw it. I’m pointing out that if you want to identify with the CSA, be my guest. Others will react accordingly. (which was Matt’s point: you fly the flag of the CSA, or rather their naval jack, and he will read that as support for a rebellion against his country for the express purpose of setting up an independent republic founded on the institution of slavery).

    But whatever. Aren’t you the Obama’s the antichrist guy? Why am I bothering?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  84. Raider says:

    “No, the point is the once violence has been done under a given flag, the victims of that violence are unlikely to like the flag in question.

    Hence, African-Americans are rather likely to see the battle flag as a symbol of an oppressive state and of support for segregation. Therefore, they are likely to take offense and with cause.”

    It depends on the person. Overall, our schools when we were going to school, gave us the basic message that the South was basically bad because they had slaves and the North was good because they fought to free the slaves. Someone under that kind of teaching is likely to see things as you say.

    However, a lot of black people wanted to and chose to stay in the south during the war. Towards the end of the war, the South had even begun forming black fighting units. Black people joined the Confederate fight.

    There’s a lot more to history than what we are lead to believe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  85. Raider says:

    “I’d be interested in seeing how you would defend the American flag as being a symbol of freedom to the Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, and Yemenese who suffered and lost many loved ones because of U.S. bombs.”

    Rob, the reason I said what I said to Steve, was because he was saying that the symbol of the Confederate flag was a symbol of oppression. Our usurped federal government is flying the American flag while it bombs foreign countries. They are bombing these countries only to fulfill the will of the international bankers, they are not doing this bombing to protect American citizens nor to free foreign people. So my point is, our flag has been turned into a symbol of oppression and tyranny and this is how many people throughout the world see it now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  86. Rob in CT says:

    If I was an Iraqi and one of my neighbors ran up a US flag, I’d probably be pissed of. That makes sense.

    If one of my neighbors here in the US ran up the Rebel flag, I’d view that person with contempt, at best.

    So my point is, our flag has been turned into a symbol of oppression and tyranny and this is how many people throughout the world see it now.

    This I don’t really dispute. I’m all for a change in US foreign policy, specifically a less interventionist, less Imperial approach. I do what I can on that front. The hell does this have to do with folks flying the Rebel flag here in the US?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  87. Tillman says:

    @Raider:

    It depends on the person. Overall, our schools when we were going to school, gave us the basic message that the South was basically bad because they had slaves and the North was good because they fought to free the slaves. Someone under that kind of teaching is likely to see things as you say.

    Having been born and educated in the South, here is a capsule version of how I was taught about slavery and the Civil War growing up:
    Elementary school – “It was over slavery. Slavery is bad.”
    Middle/High school – “It was about states’ rights. Slavery was just a part of it.”
    College – “Yes, but what right were those states fighting for, eh?”

    Asshole College Student: It was about economic rights, property rights.
    Professor: Sure, but what property did they go to war for? Perhaps something essential to an agrarian economy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  88. @Raider:

    he was saying that the symbol of the Confederate flag was a symbol of oppression

    How a flag flown to defends a country founded on preserving and expanding chattel slavery is not such a symbol, I do not understand. But, worse, it was a flag flown directly in opposition to integration in favor of Jim Crow. This, too, would make it a symbol of oppression.

    And to second Tillman, I spent most of my K-12 schooling in Texas. I did not emerge from that experience with an overwhelming sense of southern guilt or sin. Even when I took American History in CA this was not the message.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  89. And part of what inspired my posts on this topic was watching young men in Alabama public schools thinking that CSA symbols are just symbols of southern pride. I don’t think the indoctrination is what you think it is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  90. Matt Bernius says:

    @Rob in CT:

    If I was an Iraqi and one of my neighbors ran up a US flag, I’d probably be pissed of. That makes sense.

    You missed the key turn of his arguement sir — since at least one Iraqi supported the US and served in the provisional US run government, then the Iraqis really have nothing to get upset about… you know, because… um… Buffalo Soldiers and some Negros really liked either being slaves or sitting at the back of the bus.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  91. Grewgills says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Exactly so. If the ‘indoctrination’ were as they seem to think it is we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  92. Raider says:

    @ Steve and Tillman, I went to school in the North and what I said is really the impression that was given concerning the North and South. I was very leary of the South growing up, until I moved South.

    Let’s compare the Battle flag to a gun. A gun can be used by bad people to kill or harm others. A gun can be used by decent people to protect and help others. Or a gun doesn’t have to be used at all by a person.

    The Battle flag can be used by certain people to promote oppression and anger toward others if they choose to. But their use of the flag in this way doesn’t make it right. Nor is it a true use of the flag. Others can fly the Battle flag because they believe in states rights and the freedom to secede whenever the government becomes oppressive to their life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And others don’t fly it at all. My point in this possibly poor analogy is that it depends on the person’s motives for flying the flag.

    I was reminded of something after looking at Rob in CTs name. I assume he is from Connecticut. I think the Battle flag if anyone in the South wants to fly it, should be able to fly the flag in the South without being judged for flying it. But if someone flies the Battle flag in the Northern states, then they should think twice about it, and probably not do it.

    I was in Carlisle PA. years back. Carlisle PA. was captured for a little while by Lee’s army. To this day, there are still people who fly the Battle flag or show the Battle flag in one form or another in Carlisle and honestly it does cause friction at times between people there. I can understand the friction being that a lot of soldiers North and South died at Gettysburg.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  93. Raider says:

    @ Steve and Tillman, Here’s a quote from CSA Major General Patrick Cleburne:

    “It is said slavery is all we are fighting for, and if we give it up we give up all. Even if this were true, which we deny, slavery is not all our enemies are fighting for. It is merely the pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties.”

    Why do you think he flew the Battle flag?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2