Jim Webb Defends The Confederate Flag

If Jim Webb runs for President, he will be the only candidate in either party who is on record defending the Confederate Battle Flag. And he's thinking of running as a Democrat.

Sen. Jim Webb talks to CNN's John King about the political conflict in Libya.

Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb has become pretty much the only nationally known Democrat to defend the Confederate flag:

Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), a possible 2016 presidential candidate, said on Wednesday that Americans should rethink rushing to ban displays of the Confederate flag at state Capitols.

Webb, a former secretary of the Navy, defended the historic emblem’s use in a post on hisFacebook account.

The Confederate Battle Flag has wrongly been used for racist and other purposes in recent decades,” Webb said. “It should not be used in any way as a political symbol that divides us.”

“Honorable Americans fought on both sides in the Civil War,” he added.

Webb was the first potential candidate to launch an exploratory committee for next year’s White House race, though he’d face a steep climb to a Democratic nomination. Front-runner Hillary Clinton has strongly backed recent moves to remove the Confederate flag from positions of prominence.

Webb urged Americans to respect the bravery and heroism of individual Confederate and Union soldiers during the Civil War.

“It was in recognition of the character of soldiers on both sides that the federal government authorized the construction of the Confederate Memorial 100 years ago, on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery,” Webb said.

Not surprisingly, Webb’s fellow Democrats have criticized him:

“As one of your most enthusiastic supporters, I have to disagree with you on this issue,” David Dickerson wrote in a comment on Mr. Webb’s post. “As a fellow Southerner, I prefer to take Robert E. Lee’s path and disassociate from that flag and what it stands for.”

Others, such as Jordan Genso, expressed disappointment.

“I don’t need to agree with you on every issue in order to support you, but this should be low-hanging fruit for you to be on the right side of,” Mr. Genso wrote. “And there’s no reason not to state that the Confederate battle flag represents a quasi-nation whose short existence was spent trying to fight for an immoral cause.”

Mr. Webb has a history of defending the confederacy. In a 1990 speech at the Confederate Memorial in Arlington, Va., he said, “I am not here to apologize for why they fought, although modern historians might contemplate that there truly were different perceptions in the North and South about those reasons, and that most Southern soldiers viewed the driving issue to be sovereignty rather than slavery.”

In 2008, Politico reported that Mr. Webb’s book “Born Fighting” seemed to sympathize with the Confederate cause, potentially giving pause to then Senator Barack Obama as he was vetting potential running mates. In Mr. Webb’s book, Born Fighting, he wrote about acquiring a Confederate headstone through the Veterans Administration for a great-great-grandfather.

While other candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, and Lincoln Chafee have already jumped into what seems like a very quixotic campaign against the seemingly inevitable nominee Hillary Clinton, Webb has demurred when asked about whether or not he’s actually running for President. He may have been the first Democrat to form an exploratory committee and he has been on the ground in Iowa for some time, he has yet to jump into the race. Many have suggested that Webb’s historic aversion to retail politics, which seems to have been one of the reasons he declined to run for re-election in 2012, would ultimately result in his declining to run. That may well end up being the case, but there have also been signs that he will indeed enter the race in the coming weeks. These comments, which are different from everything that most Democrats and Republicans who have spoken in public on the issue of the Confederate flag have been saying since last week, seem to suggest that he may not be running after all. Largely, this is because it would be  odd for someone to run for the Democratic nomination after having taken a position on the Confederate flag that even Republicans aren’t willing to take anymore. If he does run, it will be interesting to see how his fellow Democrats in Iowa and elsewhere react to comments like this. Something tells me it won’t be a very positive reception. The comments are even more awkward considering that previous statements seemed to indicate that Webb would attempt to run to Hillary Clinton’s left,although to be fair it’s not easy to conceive of how a Democrat could run to Clinton’s right in a primary and be at all successful.

We should know in the coming weeks what Webb will do. Personally my guess for some time now had been that he would enter the race, but these comments are causing me to reconsider that. If he does run, he’s going to have to find a way to explain this to Democratic voters at the very least and may need to retract his comments at some point, which will be awkward considering his history on this issue. In any case, Webb’s comments are somewhat ironic given the fact that it was a Confederate flag that played a role in the undoing of former Senator George Allen, who Webb defeated in the 2006 Senate Election.

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FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Race and Politics, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Well, so much for Webb. He’s now to the right of Strom Thurmond’s own son. He just lost his base in his own party, and in the GOP. Bye, Jim, we hardly knew ye.

  2. PJ says:

    Jim Webb is now projected to win Appalachia in the 2016 Democratic primaries.

  3. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Jim Webb can’t even break above 10% against Clinton among likely Democratic primary voters in his own state of Virginia.

    Short version: who cares if he likes a flag?

  4. gVOR08 says:

    On paper Webb, a southern, male, veteran, would be a good ticket balancer for Hillary. I’m not sure this stance takes away from that. On the other hand you definitely do want your running mate to be good at retail politics.

    I was also going to say young. But on checking, I find he’s a year older than Hillary.

  5. SenyorDave says:

    Let’s see, you’ve alienated virtually 100% of a major part of the base of your party. What’s next? Maybe he can take lessons from Trump on how to appeal to Latino voters?

  6. Mr. Prosser says:

    “Honorable Americans fought on both sides in the Civil War,” he added.” No, Confederates may have fought honorably except when they didn’t (Fort Pillow, Tennessee, April 12, 1864). They were not Americans, they were declared enemies fighting against the United States of America.

  7. Mark Ivey says:

    And i really liked his book “Fields of Fire” too, oh well, i guess he can hook up with “Cooter” from Dukes of Hazzard fame and hit the confederate tour trails…

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    “Honorable Americans fought on both sides in the Civil War,” he added.”

    Honorable Americans fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War too, but we don’t festoon ourselves with the Union Jack in remembrance….

  9. al-Ameda says:

    Vaya con Jefferson Davis, Jim.
    We hardly knew ye’

  10. DrDaveT says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    They were not Americans, they were declared enemies fighting against the United States of America.

    Before that — and afterward — they were Americans. I’m sorry if that bothers you, but it’s pretty straightforward. We wouldn’t still be having these problems today if they weren’t Americans.

  11. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Which brings the corollary into specific relief – would we be having these problems today if we’d just let them leave?

    Food for thought …

  12. Tyrell says:

    I defer to and respect anyone who has two Purple Hearts.

  13. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    They were not Americans, they were declared enemies fighting against the United States of America.

    I’ll disagree. SCOTUS has been clear that the Confederacy was never, at any time, a separate nation. On that basis, they were Americans; Americans who were engaged in insurrection and treason. Accordingly, they should not be commemorated. They should be reviled.

  14. C. Clavin says:

    @Tyrell:
    Well that’s just dumb.
    I defer to no one…and my respect must be earned.
    Anyone can get shot on the battlefield.
    Thank you, Mr. Webb, for your service. Nothing more is required.

  15. grumpy realist says:

    @Tyrell: Bravery doesn’t indicate brains. He’s just made himself the “go-to” guy for every single White Power group out there, whether he realizes it or not. He’s going to have to check every single donation he gets to make sure it isn’t from someone who regularly posts on Stormfront.

  16. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Tyrell:

    I defer to and respect anyone who has two Purple Hearts.

    What about John Kerry? He has three 😀

  17. Tyrell says:

    @SenyorDave: What we are seeing today is sad and destructive: people insulting, denigrating, and casting dishonor on peoples’ relatives who were veterans of the southern army. Veterans who were respected and treated as comrades by none other than Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and MacClellan. Look , I may have relatives who were in that war, maybe some on both sides. I don’t know. It would be hurtful to hear people calling any of them “traitor”. My parents knew Civil War veterans when they were children. They showed them absolute respect, as they deserved. Everyone has always felt that way, regardless of how they felt about the war.
    Years ago I happened to meet a relative of John Wilkes Booth. I showed respect at all times. I guess today there would be some sort of wide spread protest and some people would want to run that person out of the country.

  18. CSK says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Indeed. I’m sure the Massachusetts Tories felt it honorable to maintain their allegiance to George III, but their descendants don’t insist that the Union Jack be flown over the state house in Boston.

  19. C. Clavin says:

    @Tyrell:

    What we are seeing today is sad and destructive: people insulting, denigrating, and casting dishonor on peoples’ relatives who were veterans of the southern army.

    Um…the Southern Army was traitorous to the United States and supported the cause of slavery…which in spite of revisionist history, was the primary reason for secession. That’s pretty dishonorable stuff, you gotta admit.

  20. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Tyrell:

    It would be hurtful to hear people calling any of them “traitor”.

    Of course it is. Moreover, it SHOULD be. Treason is a thing to be ashamed of.

    The South seems to have made a cottage industry out of avoiding that shame by creating this whole Lee was a gentleman / Lost Cause / “Gee, wasn’t Gone with The Wind wonderful?!” mythos. The truth hurts, so they just make up an alternate reality that spares them the grief of honesty.

    Sorry if your relatives were traitors, and sorry if that causes you discomfort, but it is reality. Pretending that it isn’t doesn’t fly.

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    On that basis, they were Americans; Americans who were engaged in insurrection and treason.

    I believe Lincoln was quite scrupulous about that point, that they were still U. S. citizens whether they liked it or not.

  22. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @gVOR08:

    Exactly – they were trying to leave, but they never succeeded, ergo they never left. SCOTUS affirmed that in Texas v. White.

  23. stonetools says:

    @Tyrell:

    What nonsense is this? Look, I’m sure many Southern troops fought with valor and distinction. So did the Germans who fought in Hitler’s Wermacht and the Japanese who fought for Tojo in World War Two.Rommel, Guderian, and Yamamoto were brave soldiers and great commanders. But cause matters.The Confederate cause was not only the Lost Cause-it was an Evil Cause.
    Frankly, I don’t see or hear anyone casting dishonor on anyone’s relatives. What I do see is people correctly describing the Confederate Cause as an evil Cause, and asking us to stop paying it a honor and a respect that it isn’t worthy of.

  24. stonetools says:

    And Hillary’s list of possible Vice President and Cabinet appointees shrinks by one…

  25. David M says:

    Seems like an odd position for Webb to take, but apparently it’s not a new one. Unfortunately he fails what should be an easy test for a politician. (Where does the confederate flag belong? In a museum.)

  26. Tyrell says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Yes, and I don’t always agree with his views, but he has been there, worn the uniform, walked the talk, took the hits. Yes, if he says it I will go with it. Same for Chuck Hagel.

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Jim who?

  28. Jeremy R says:

    “It was in recognition of the character of soldiers on both sides that the federal government authorized the construction of the Confederate Memorial 100 years ago, on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery,” Webb said.

    I’d forgotten about the Arlington Confederate Memorial. Given the recent crystallization of public sentiment against gov’t celebrating confederate symbols I wonder if the annual tradition of Presidents sending wreaths to the Confederate Memorial might finally come to an end.

  29. PD Shaw says:

    Malice toward none, with charity for all.

  30. stonetools says:

    @PD Shaw:

    It’s a nice sentiment. Maybe if the most stalwart devotees of the flag had shown charity to black people…

  31. dazedandconfused says:

    His comments are being used against him, of course, he’s in that “game”, but somehow I think they aren’t intended as an all-out defense of preserving the current prominent status of the thing, just a word that they didn’t and don’t stand for what the KKK and Roof think it does.

    The Confederate Battle Flag has wrongly been used for racist and other purposes in recent decades,” Webb said. “It should not be used in any way as a political symbol that divides us.”

    I have no objection to this statement, but I would point out to him that, unfortunately, only those such as the Hell’s Angels who are fully able, willing, and cantfrickinwait to beat the sweet be-Jebuss out of anyone or anything who misappropriates their “colors” can adequately curate who displays them. When a symbol becomes as tainted as the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia has, it honors the memory of RE Lee to do what he would have done after seeing the likes of the Klan and Roof waiving it around on his Tee Vee.

  32. michael reynolds says:

    @PD Shaw:

    The people to whom we were showing charity decided to dress up in white sheets and lynch black people. We showed charity to the Germans, too, but they didn’t promptly reopen Dachau and start goose-stepping around. Southerners have no one to blame but themselves.

  33. Dave D says:

    @stonetools: Ok, here goes and I never thought I would ever defend the south let alone the confederacy but here it is. I tend to have sympathy for the average joes in any army ever especially in an all out campaign. The average German or Japanese soldier toward the end of the war wasn’t fighting for the awful ideals of their government. Conscientious objectors in those societies disappeared along with their families victims of their awful governments. The south conscripted a majority of their soldiers and were forced to fight for a rotten government. I’m not saying we should honor their cause or the soldiers the way the south seems to. I’m just tossing out a reminder that part of living under an awful government is that you may be impressed to fight to defend it.

  34. Franklin says:

    “I don’t need to agree with you on every issue in order to support you, but this should be low-hanging fruit for you to be on the right side of,” Mr. Genso wrote.

    Whoever this guy is, he’s right. You pick your battles – I’m not sure why Webb would choose this particular issue to fight for.

  35. grumpy realist says:

    You know, the South is at least as bad as Japan is with historical amnesia. First of all, a lot of them claim that “oh no, it wasn’t slavery that caused the Great Unpleasantness.”, then, when you point out that in every single friggin’ Confederate state declaration there was mention of slavery as being what they were defending, they mutter something about “tariffs”, mint juleps, and how sweet Scarlett O’Hara looked in Gone With The Wind.

    (Note: Gone With The Wind was a work of fiction, mmmkay? And that’s even before we get to the movie.)

    And anyone who wants to pretend that the present use of the Confederate flag didn’t get started by segregationists doesn’t know much about history.

  36. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave D:
    And for that reason absolutely no one is suggesting we disinter Confederate war dead.

    Everything anyone’s talking about has to do with the cause, the government, and the military leadership. No one’s got a hard-on against the poor schmoes who fought their asses off in godawful conditions.

    Look at it this way: people were upset when Reagan went to Bitburg not because he was in a graveyard of German soldiers. The objection was to the SS buried there. You didn’t get drafted into the SS.

    The men who fought for the South were very often heroic, but they were also victims. Victims of the Confederacy, of the cause embodied by that flag. They were used. They were fed into the Union’s killing machine so that a relative handful of one-percenters could hold onto their “property.” They died for profits.

    This is the reality we should teach. This whole Lost Cause bullsh!t is the cover-up for the crime. Slavery hurt blacks worst, but it made it impossible for working class whites to make a decent living, too. And then their overlords ran them into Union bayonets to defend the very system that reduced them to penury.

    Well, that doesn’t reflect well on the Massa, now does it? And we wouldn’t want southern whites to start to notice how they’d just been sacrificed for the profits of evil men. So we cook up a story. We create a mythology. It’s a flattering, attractive mythology. And it’s purpose is to continue to keep black and white working people separated and thus impotent.

    And that is the story of the Dixiecrats and their nasty little flag which was adopted eagerly by the Republican Party.

  37. bob e says:

    nice hack job on this piece .. dougie .

  38. grumpy realist says:

    @Dave D: Didn’t Lee get a sizable cohort of his soldiers by impressing poor farmers?

    So much for Southern courtesy and gallantry. “Sorry m’am, but yoah husband is needed to fight for the Sawth. Sorry you can’t get your crops in and nobody’s going to be around to help you. Guess you and yoah kids gonna have to survive on your own. Oh, and we’ll be taking youah two hosses as well.”

  39. Lenoxus says:

    Various conservatives have been making noise to the effect that the Confederate flag is the “Democrats’ problem” insofar as Democrats engineered the Confederacy, plus primarily Democrats were the ones waving it in the 50s and 60s, and also someone made a pro-Clinton Confederate thing this one time didn’t you hear? Of course Webb’s position fuels that argument further.

    But it’s an argument I really want to see pursued in full. By all means, let’s hear Jeb Bush angrily condemn Democrats for their treason in defense of slavery that was the Confederacy. This Democrat would grab the popcorn if that happened.

    (Predicted reaction from the base: “No, the Democrats used to be a party for noble things like all that stuff the Confederacy stood for, but now it’s about racist policies like affirmative action.” I admit there are some who quite consistently pursue a “Democrats never changed” position coupled with an anti-Confederate attitude — some making the disgusting assertion that a “Democratic plantation” keeps African-Americans trapped in welfare — but they are going against the grain, as indicated by GOP waffling on the flag issue.)

  40. Pinky says:

    May God protect us from politicians who only seek low-hanging fruit.

  41. Cal American says:

    Every state in the Confederacy except South Carolina sent at least 1 regiment to the Union Army. Not everyone in the South was in rebellion. But, those that did join the Confederates did have a choice whether they had slaves or not, and most of them made a bad choice.

    If the South wants some heroes from the Civil War what about honoring those who sacrificed all for their country, The United States of America, and fought against a rebellion based on one race having mastery over another.

  42. michael reynolds says:

    @Cal American:

    Or they could celebrate the slaves who fought back or who fled and those that helped them.

    The South had heroes, all right, but they were Southerners fighting against the South’s horrors. The French honor their resistance fighters, not the Vichy collaborators or those who stayed silent. That’s the approach to take. Find the real heroes.

  43. Dave D says:

    @michael reynolds: My point, and I may have tried making it poorly is that you all seem to be equating the entire south to white supremacists, that went to war against this country to defend their rotten system. The men benefiting most from the system didn’t fight and the poor whites regardless of their beliefs impressed into the confederate army were also victims. I’m all for teaching how this corrupt system led uninvested men to the slaughter. I’m also for teaching how a rich minority duped the rest of their parochial region to wage their war. I just find the extreme condemnation of all rebs a bit harsh.
    And the fact that states believed they could leave the union (nothing until that point in history said otherwise) leads me to find the traitor label a bit harsh. Yes they tried leaving over an inexcusable system of chattel slavery but there was a belief at the time that states did in fact have the right to leave the union. I do not mean to make excuses for anyone who would defend the “right” to own another human or fly a flag born of that insurrection and popularized during a period of civil rights legislation, but there is something about crapping on the entire region and army that seems a bit overboard. The soldiers that were impressed by the slave masters in the south and sent to the slaughter are victims and don’t deserve your ire.
    All of that said, I have no sympathy for their cause, their generals, their flag or their current sad about heritage. I just unfortunately feel for people made to fight for evil and the wide spread impressment of southerners during the war was terrible. This is the empathy gap, I’ve lived my entire life in the north yet the extreme generalizations of some on these threads in the past few days has been extreme. Several states trying to leave the union in defense of bondage is terrible. As was the golden triangle plot, but this was an American war, and like every other American war the most vulnerable amongst us was forced to fight it. Some sympathy is due to them in the same way I have sympathy for the Hitler youth.

  44. MarkedMan says:

    I disagree with Webb, or at least his conclusion. But that wouldn’t stop me from voting for him. For myself it is important to understand decent people who hold contrary opinions versus the liars and phonies. Fox News is full of liars and phonies, racists and bigots who hold contempt for all they consider beneath them and who delight in successfully screwing them over. Webb is not one of those. We have a difference of opinion on a symbol, not on anything fundamental. Rallying to a symbol rather than a reality is a sucker’s game.

  45. stonetools says:

    @Dave D:

    My point, and I may have tried making it poorly is that you all seem to be equating the entire south to white supremacists, that went to war against this country to defend their rotten system.

    Frankly, I don’t see anyone doing that here. I’m going to call straw man.. I see no one here attacking the average poor southern shlub,who was brainwashed into fighting for the South and who fought bravely for the wrong cause.
    I’ll go further further. They can even keep their g-d@mned flag and their monuments and names on highways, if they would agree to sensible gun reform legislation.
    To me, it’s a disgrace that there is a Nathan B. Forrest anything-since NBF is to me the equivalent of Khalid Sheik Mohammed. But if we could get a gun reform deal, I would swallow NBF monuments.
    As for Webb, let him commemorate the Scots-Irish Appalachians who fought for the Stars and Stripes.

  46. KM says:

    @Tyrell:

    It would be hurtful to hear people calling any of them “traitor”.

    This is the problem in a nutshell – history hurts so we tell ourselves little lies to make it feels better. The fact that someone cannot personally accept their ancestors actions is on them and only them. If they meet the legal definition (and the majority of the South did) then they are, in fact, traitors. Should we not call someone who deliberately kills “murderer” because their great-great-grandson’s feeling will be hurt by it? Can an American work for ISIS and get a pass on the whole treason things since his mother is offended by calling him a traitor?

    “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open Court. The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason.”

    You can argue motives, external pressures and intentions till the cows come home but as far as the Constitutions is concerned, that’s what they are and that’s what they will be refereed to as if you hold that document as authoritative. While Dave D has a good point about conscription, there was no massive backlash in the Southern general population once the Confederacy was announced. The complacency damns them; just like the general German population was guilty of not rising up to take out the deadly vipers in the midst, so to the South stained her own honor by not casting out those who turned their guns on their brothers for the right to own another.

    Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, acts like a duck, lives like a duck, genetically tests out as a duck does not an eagle make.

  47. KM says:

    @Dave D:

    And the fact that states believed they could leave the union (nothing until that point in history said otherwise) leads me to find the traitor label a bit harsh.

    Actually the traitor part comes from having shot first. If they wanted to leave and thought they had the right to do so, that’s a completely different argument that might have some merit. Treason in the Constitution is very very specific IE levy war. When those guns went off on in April 1861, they immediately went from “maybe you have a case, let’s talk about it” to traitor. It was live ammunition they fired at US soldiers, not as friendly fire or warning shots, but in a deliberate attempt to kill or wound and they tried to take the military instillation. That was an act of war by past and present definition.

    It’s absolutely amazing how many people are willing to brush off the threats to life and limb of American soldiers back then to spare the sensibilities of modern readers. They were fired on by their brothers in arms, a truly shocking breach of military etiquette, culture and faith. Support the troops, indeed.

  48. PD Shaw says:

    @michael reynolds: As I pointed out in another thread, if you find yourself arguing against Lincoln and Grant, you may wish reconsider how you reached this point. Grant destroyed the first KKK, but didn’t act like every Confederate veteran was a violent terrorist.

  49. PD Shaw says:

    I should add that I’ve read “Born Fighting” unlike I suspect the writer of that Politico piece. Webb pointed out that the Scots-Irish did a lot of the fighting on both sides of the Civil War, which is true, though he had some more personal anecdotes from the Southern side.

    What his story was, if you want to honestly consider it, is that the Scots-Irish emerged from the violent border regions of Britain, were used by the Crown to try to pacify the Irish, and left for America where they played similar roles over the years. They were pushed to the frontiers to guard Early America, fought the Battle of New Orleans, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Vietnam, etc. He seeks martial honor for fighting the good fight, not judgment for how or why statesmen deploy them.

  50. KM says:

    @PD Shaw:
    There’s a interpersonal concept called false harmony. Ever been in a meeting where everyone just kinda nods or says “mmhmmm” so the damn thing will end but comes out of it bitching up a storm and displeased with the outcome? False harmony comes about from the need for “consensus” or peace when really it’s about avoid further conflict when the conflict hasn’t been truly resolved. The aftermath of the Civil War was one of the biggest false harmony periods ever. We all pretended we were one country again, that since the physical fighting had stopped the issues were done and resolved.

    They weren’t. One could easily make the argument they still aren’t.

    The Civil War ended without any real closure. Grant and Lincoln wanted peace so much they rushed to it and left festering wounds that undermined that peace. Good men that they were, it’s pretty clear they just wanted this whole thing over with. They wanted to move on. Their actions are predicated on this and it’s lead to a nation where 150 years later we’re still talking and fighting about it. They didn’t even stop the bloodshed, they just changed it from open warfare to more subtle methods.

    What America’s been seeing for the last half century plus is the false harmony breaking. The polite fictions are being challenged, the stories told maintain the “consensus” questioned. And the inevitable result of breaking the false harmony is uptick in conflict. Conflict is not necessarily bad – there are things we need to talk about. We need to be prepared to have our assumptions challenged (Northerners, this means us too!) but we will ultimately be better off as a nation to not blindly accept rationale as delivered by Lincoln just because Lincoln said it (appeal to authority). We need to come to a conclusion ourselves.

  51. PD Shaw says:

    @KM:”there was no massive backlash in the Southern general population once the Confederacy was announced.”

    Of course there was. You are unwittingly spinning a Confederate story here. Large parts of the South were under martial law because they opposed secession. The COnfederate government maintained secret service on trains to catch people trying to escape military service. When Union troops marched into the South, they would be joined by Southern whites. Regions tried to secede. There is a reference in To Kill a Mockingbird to Winston County which declared itself an Independent Republic. The context in the book I think is telling, it was kind of an embarrassment that people knew about, but shouldn’t talk about.

  52. Cal American says:

    @michael reynolds:
    Exactly!

    Who are the Oskar Schindler’s of the Civil War South? Who fought against the Confederates while living amongst them?

    They are the heroes of the South that need to be honored.

    That is an American Heritage to be proud of.

  53. stonetools says:

    @Cal American:

    TBH, western Virginia seceded from the Confederacy and rejoined the union. Eastern Tennessee was a hotbed of Unionist sentiment. (The North had its Southern sympathizer regions too in Missouri, Kentucky, and eastern Maryland).

  54. the Q says:

    Cal American, to the southerners, they WERE ALL Oscar Schindlers!!!!

    And that’s the problem, look at the comments on this and other threads from folks whose ancestors fought for the south and its all about tradition, bravery, fighting for home and hearth etc.

    Not treasonous rebel scum fighting for a barbaric socioeconomic cultural caste system that tortured, murdered and enslaved millions.

    Its all about the romanticizing the inhumanity – thats what the rebel flag is really about.

  55. Lenoxus says:

    Even if we only consider white residents, the Confederacy played loose with representativeness (the validity of at least some of the secession conventions has been questioned in later years) and free expression (abolitionist thought was oppressed by the states). It faced significant discontent, desertion from “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight”, and raids of military storehouses by women who needed basic supplies denied by the war effort.

    Yes, perhaps the average white Southerner basically went along with the whole thing, and the Confederacy’s purpose wasn’t enormously controversial among them. But the “rebel spirit” was far from unanimous, and loyalty, where it did exist, was often fickle. It’s very possible today’s white South is far more consistently pro-Confederate than it had been during secession or war — a beyond-the-grave cultural victory for the slaver class.

    Which makes it ironic that Southerners treat their reverence as the logical tribute to their ancestors. It’s sad to think that some pro-Confederate Southerner engaging in genealogy, discovering his particular ancestors were actually deserters, would feel ashamed of the wrong people.