I don’t know, but somehow it feels like we might be in a kind of Berlin Wall falling-type moment right now in American history.
All of these issues around the Confederate flag, the Confederacy, the entire legacy of the Civil War, and the white privilege and power for which it was fundamentally fought - it seems to be coming to some kind of real turning point. Dylann Roof wanted to trigger a new Civil War, a new resurgence of the exact same cause that was unleashed in that same town of Charleston over 150 years ago. It didn’t quite work out the way those original Confederates anticipated. I’m sensing this one may not either.
Perhaps this effort will go the same way, and maybe, just maybe, begin to truly put an end to the ignorantly racist illusions for which it was originally initiated. It’s as if southern culture and national racist xenophobia was never truly eliminated, just repressed. And like a diseased infection, has continued on like a permanent low grade fever, always present, always compromising the health of the nation. Myths and illusions about the Confederacy and “southern pride” have been allowed to fester on in a way that would have been totally intolerable in Germany after the defeat of National Socialism. In the U.S., we have continued to allow for, and even institutionalize, expressions of respect for that which is wholly unrespectable, and displays of honor for that which is fundamentally disgraceful. Perhaps those days are coming to an end.
I hope the Confederacy is about to *finally* for once and for all lose the Civil War, and its violent, racist ideology get chucked into the dustbin of history. The surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia did not mean the end of the Confederate cause. It just went into guerilla mode, turning the struggle into a campaign of terror and domination.
However, as I’ve referenced before, hopefully the jig is finally up. The U.S., to its lasting shame and degradation, incorporated an unreconstructed barbarity into its national structure; a virulent, knuckle-dragging racist ideology that, rather than calling it out and purging it for the disease that it is, mollified it and perfumed it with words like “honor” and “heritage” and “tradition.” There’s is no honor to what became a nation that allowed for a domestic terror organization to become the de facto governing authority of power within a huge realm of American society for over a century. It would be somewhat akin to allowing Nazis to continue to fly swastikas and hold office and run the police force through half of Germany for a century after 1945. However, the Nazis wanted to exterminate those they felt superior to. The southern racist Confederates and their copperhead sympathizers just wanted to own and dominate them, and exploit them for their own personal profit. Is one that markedly worse than the other?
In 1917, the publication the Confederate Veteran made it quite clear who these southerners thought was the real hero of the war, and what they were fighting for…
“Great and trying times always produce great leaders, and one was at hand‚ Nathan Bedford Forrest. His plan, the only course left open. The organization of a secret government. A terrible government; a government that would govern in spite of black majorities and Federal bayonets. This secret government was organized in every community in the South, and this government is known in history as the Klu Klux Clan…
“Here in all ages to come the Southern romancer and poet can find the inspiration for fiction and song. No nobler or grander spirits ever assembled on this earth than gathered in these clans. No human hearts were ever moved with nobler impulses or higher aims and purposes. Order was restored, property safe; because the negro feared the Klu Klux Clan more than he feared the devil. Even the Federal bayonets could not give him confidence in the black government which had been established for him, and the negro voluntarily surrendered to the Klu Klux Clan, and the very moment he did, the Invisible Army,vanished in a night. Its purpose had been fulfilled.
“Bedford Forrest should always be held in reverence by every son and daughter of the South as long as memory holds dear the noble deeds and service of men for the good of others on, this earth. What mind is base enough to think of what might have happened but for Bedford Forrest and his Invisible but victorious army.”
As Ta-Nehisi Coates pointed out…
“In praising the Klan’s terrorism, Confederate veterans and their descendants displayed a remarkable consistency. White domination was the point. Slavery failed. Domination prevailed nonetheless. This was the basic argument of Florida Democratic Senator Duncan Fletcher. The Cause Was Not Entirely Lost, he argued in a 1931 speech before the United Daughters of the Confederacy:
“The South fought to preserve race integrity. Did we lose that? We fought to maintain free white dominion. Did we lose that? The States are in control of the people. Local self-government, democratic government, obtains. That was not lost. The rights of the sovereign States, under the Constitution, are recognized. We did not lose that. I submit that what is called “The Lost Cause,” was not so much “lost” as is sometimes supposed.”
Time to bring this charade of white “freedom” to a close for once and for all. Time to make it clear to the racist, murderous, antebellum South that it ain’t gonna rise again. Ever.
For as Coates points out…
“The Confederate flag should not come down because it is offensive to African Americans. The Confederate flag should come down because it is embarrassing to all Americans. The embarrassment is not limited to the flag, itself. The fact that it still flies, that one must debate its meaning in 2015, reflects an incredible ignorance. A century and a half after Lincoln was killed, after 750,000 of our ancestors died, Americans still aren’t quite sure why.”
Read Coates’ article What This Cruel War Was Over. A great read.
POST NOTE: So what’s all that hoopla about the Confederacy and the Civil War and ending slavery and such? From the plantation to the penitentiary. Profits Über Alles!