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April 07, 2010

Comments

Robert, thank you.

I hate to think what it says about the state of our nation when McConnell is supposed to be some kind of "moderate."

There's nothing I can add to this fantastic post other than to say: It's so full of WIN, it hurts.

Thomas was the one who was asked whether they should bury the Union dead at Chattanooga state by state, which was the usual practice. Thomas replied, "No, no--mix 'em up. I'm tired of states' rights."

I hate to think what it says about the state of our nation when McConnell is supposed to be some kind of "moderate."

On the other hand, perhaps it actually says something positive about the state of our nation that a far-right ideologue out of Regent University had to pretend to be some kind of "moderate" to get elected governor of Virginia.

Well said. I couldn't think of a better course of study, not only for Virginia, but for the entire nation - Civil War Heritage Month - for the whole country. NOW!

It's been said that the South won the Civil War, or at least the received narrative of it. In the long view of history, this is as important as winning the actual war itself. The newest generation of historians has pushed back against that pretty hard, but they've got a century of misconceptions to battle. Plus Gone With the Wind.

ChrisJ

What does that mean ?


They surrendered and were occupied. They no longer have slavery.

How is that winning.

Robert, nicely put about little roundtop. It is quite overwhelming to stand there and imagine that day

In answer to "How is that winning," a little complexity and nuance http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2010/04/i-believe-that-this-is-called-bringing-the-awesome-sauce.html>here and http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/04/-the-victors-write-history/38403/>here.

And for ed_finnerty in my own words: Did you even read Robert's post? Declaring that an entire state is going to spend a month celebrating the glorious history of the Confederacy 145 years after the end of the Civil War, in effect disappearing and nullifying all the people Robert mentions and plenty of others as well, does seem to me to be a form of winning.

janieM

you are right. exterminate the brutes

And now the governor has amended his proclamation to include this:

"WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history..."

Here's the link.

ABC ran the story with *just* the right amount of "what are you, kidding?" disbelief. And they ran through the whole piece and only *then* added that the idiot had apologized and amended the proclamation.

Maybe there's hope yet for at least some of the MSM>

I love it when McConnell states the canard about slavery being "one of" the causes when Southerners of that era said it was THE cause of the war as in Alex Stephens Cornerstone Address.

It was particularly dumb to have floated this as a means of promoting tourism. Does McConnell think only southerners are interested in Civil War history? By promoting it as Confederacy Month, they're deliberately picking a side, thus disinviting all the potential tourists who'd like to visit these sites but aren't much interested in celebrating 19th century treason.

The apology and amendment are certainly an improvement, but McDonnell is a master of the dog whistle: the original proclamation, the two days of defensive dithering, and then the statement that pretends none of that racist, lost cause b.s. ever happened or was intended.

Uh huh.

Nice post, Robert. I would welcome an honest, full examination/remembrance of the civil war, which was a very complicated phenomenon in my part of Virginia. Something tells me an observance overseen by Bob McDonnell isn't going to accomplish that.

Still, the opportunity is here.

Does McConnell think only southerners are interested in Civil War history?

there are plenty of rebel-flag-flyin rednecks in the great northeast. a little 'screw the man' goes a long way.

It is no surprise that people claim that the South "won". We have raised the latest generation with the notion that there is no such thing as last place. We give out ribbons for 8th place in kids athletics, its no wonder these over-pampered and undereducated fools are thinking that they "won".

So according to "The MBA-Hole," the "latest generation," spoiled beyond reason, untaught in the lessons of defeat, dates back until at least the 1930s, when Gone with the Wind, book and movie, swept the nation as the apotheosis of celebration of the noble South.

Gives a whole new twist to history - and the kind of historical knowledge and logical reasoning they teach MBAs, apparently.

rebel-flag-flyin rednecks in the great northeast

There's also the guy who was governor of Virginia some years back and then became a one-term senator: George Allen, who somehow acquired a love for the Confederate flag while growing up in California and Chicago.

All--
Thanks for the thoughtful comments and great discussion. I read McDonnell's 'addendum'--got to love it when an entire race of people are 'an addendum' and 'an oversight.'

Of course, he still managed not to mention the tens of thousands of white and black Virginians that fought for the Union and ultimately enabled him to live in a free country.

I racked up a lot of hits on the backspace key trying to comment on this post, including on this comment right up until I hit "Post".

I mean, there is something to the underscoring of events that served to begin putting aright that which had been wrong since this country came into being. But that is not what this is about, I think. Nor do I think this is about the celebration of the slavery era. I suspect it's, instead, borne of the need to place some kind of noble gloss on what was, in my opinion, a completely senseless and avoidable (not to mention bloody) Civil War.

the need to place some kind of noble gloss ...

also, it's yet another iteration of "we're not like those people up north".

Yes, this ribbon-giving for last place in kids sports has got to stop.

I say Sherman their little butts, free their slaves, burn their crops, plunder their stores, disarm them, and salt their practice fields.

"also, it's yet another iteration of "we're not like those people up north"."

I followed this thread patiently, understanding that most here have no clue what the Confederacy or the remembrance of the genteel nature of the old south means to Southerners.

Slavery was a travesty, however the war itself didn't solve that problem and, in fact, ther is a great case to be made that prejudice against Blacks survived in greater numbers, for much longer, in the North than in the South.

The statement by cleek is absolutely true, and the staatement in reverse is just as true. In any situation where I am around a mixture of Southerners and Northerners(like any family get together) someone says something that insults the "other", both ways.

The shadow of the Civil War, the fundamental cultural differences that existed then and persist today, make this discussion more heated and less productive than it need be. Only the saame whackos that exist in the North(White supremacists) exist in the South, and there are actually fewer of them.

I followed this thread patiently, understanding that most here have no clue what the Confederacy or the remembrance of the genteel nature of the old south means to Southerners.

I'm not unmindful of any of that, Marty, but I do think that some get-over-it might be liberally applied, as needed, over a century after the fact.

"I'm not unmindful of any of that, Marty, but I do think that some get-over-it might be liberally applied, as needed, over a century after the fact."

I would just respond that we celebrate the diversity of our cultural heritage across a huge number cultures with some bad things in their background. I enjoy Beerfest and St Patricks Day and any number of other cultural remembrances without focusing on the worst of the cultural heritage.

Somehow the South should forget our heritage and "get over it". I don't see as ther is anything more to "get over" than many other cultures.

I think that what we need is to openly discuss the war--it all its glory, carnage, and horror, not to mention the causes--to allow for some sort of national healing. What we've had for the past 145 years is a national goal of focusing on the battles ("Drums and Bugles" history) while ignoring the bad parts--brutal guerrilla warfare that would make Al Qaeda proud (beheadings included), slavery-freedom-slavery of African Americans, and the deep seated racism existing in this nation (and in all races, regions and classes). If we keep on focusing on the 'agreeable' parts of the war, or even worse, forgetting about the war as some relic of the past, we'll never fix the problems that caused the war in the first place.

Southern heritage =/= Confederate heritage. There was a South long before and long after there was a CSA.

Somehow the South should forget our heritage and "get over it".

So "Confederacy" equals "Southern Heritage," Marty? I don't think anyone is expecting the South to get over, well, the South. It's more about not continuing to define the South by its attempt at secession over slavery.

The Confederacy came into being specifically to fight for the preservation of slavery. If all these people these people want to do is have a celebration of the "diversity" of a "genteel" "cultural heritage," why call it a celebration of the Confederacy?

Or, as I wrote in January here">http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2010/01/let-the-cool-goddess-rust-away.html#comments">here in another discussion when Marty was defending people's right to their precious lifestyles,

To give an extreme example, I’m sure southern slaveowners considered their lifestyle precious; there are plenty of people still sentimentalizing about Dixie to this day. But however precious their lifestyle was to them, insofar as it depended on slave-owning they had no right to it, and the sooner some “bigger bully” came along and forced them to relinquish it the better. I’m not equating being gay with being a slave, I’m just trying to draw in the starkest terms possible the distinction between the idea of a “lifestyle” as the personal and private choices people make and have a right to make, and the idea of “lifestyle” that extends beyond the personal to dehumanizing or disappearing other people, or -- in the modern context -- simply denying other people their equal right to participate in our shared public life.

Trying to refute Robert and "most here," Marty repeats the exact same thing Robert decries: most here have no clue what the Confederacy or the remembrance of the genteel nature of the old south means to Southerners."

Um, not "Southerners." Or is it that the millions of African Americans in the South aren't really "Southerners" and therefore don't count?

"Southern heritage =/= Confederate heritage."

True enough, but a flag is a powerfu8l cultural symbol and we like having one that represents our culture. The worst of it is appalling to most Southerners, the best is still a source of great pride.

I don't disgaree with the points made by Robert about having a discussion of the war. I was raised in the South and I was taught the horrors of the war, from roving bands of both Confederate and Union soldiers terrorizing the countryside, brutalizing civilians, sympathizers and each other to the horrors of any of the stand up battles as thousands died in senselessly cruel ways, to the horrors of Andersonville (making Abu Ghraib look friendly).

There are no Southerners pining longingly for those days.

I've followed this thread as well.

First, I'll heartily second Hogan's comment. "The south" and "the CSA" are not synonymous.

Other points, briefly.

My guess is that folks here have more exposure to southern culture than other folks might expect.

I will admit that nostalgia for either the CSA or the "old south" has no appeal to me. Then again, I'd find nostalgia for the "old industrial north" equally misplaced and hard to understand. Might just be me.

Also, I have no argument with the idea that prejudice toward blacks is widespread throughout the US, north south east and west, historically and now.

Also, I have no argument with the idea that prejudice toward blacks is widespread throughout the US, north south east and west, historically and now.

Neither do I. But the governor of New Jersey hasn't declared July to be "Black People Suck Month" either.

the genteel nature of the old south

A lifestyle that was lived by a vanishingly small percentage of actual Southerners, including exactly zero (0) blacks.

but a flag is a powerfu8l cultural symbol and we like having one that represents our culture.

You have one. It looks like this:

If that's not sufficient for you, then I trust we'll never hear another word about how the South and the Midwest represent "Real Americans."


That other thing is a symbol of treason, plain and simple.

I've always though Lincoln went too far when he outlawed the mint julep in the Relaxation Proclamation.

True enough, but a flag is a powerfu8l cultural symbol and we like having one that represents our culture

I assume you're talking about the Confederate flag.

The thing is, that flag is not just the symbol of genteel southern culture.

It is the symbol of a secessionary movement that sought to dissolve the American union by force so that it could continue an economy and culture based on enslaving other human beings.

You can't really pick and choose which parts of the history of that flag you prefer to associate with it. They're all, irrevocably, attached to it.

Without meaning any disrespect, and without looking to pick a fight, to me it's like a Bavarian wanting to fly the Nazi flag because they love dark beer and wurst, but without all of those bad Judenrein associations.

Isn't there some other symbol you can find to capture the positive stuff you'd like to embrace?

"If that's not sufficient for you, then I trust we'll never hear another word about how the South and the Midwest represent "Real Americans.""

So Phil, I assume you use the same tact with Irish flags on St Patricks Day, Italian flags, etc that get flown on any number of holidays or Chinese flags that get flown in Chinatown?


Boy, it sure is a shame that southerners are so cowardly a people that not a one of them stormed the beaches at Normandy or fought at Iwo Jima or died at Verdun or Khe Sahn. If only some southerners had participated in those battles, then maybe the South could take pride in seeing the American flag flying. Ah well. I guess it makes sense to privilege the four years of Confederate governance over the other 230 years of American governance. After all, the confederacy involved both treason AND the defense of slavery!

@Marty--you are confusing national identity (Irish, Chinese, Mexican, etc.) with regional identity. Confederate 'Nationalism' did not develop, according to most historians, until the early 20th century. That was one of the reasons the South lost the war--as one Confederate leader put it, the tombstone of the CSA should say 'died of democracy'; states rights literally kept the CSA from fighting an effective early industrial age war. Modern warfare takes central authority for planning, production, etc.

Simply put, there was no "Old South" until it was invented in the period from 1890-1910. And assuming that everyone south of the Mason-Dixon line was a pro-Confederate nationalist is just plain wrong. 200,000 blacks, mostly former slaves, and 150,000 white southerners fought for the Union. In fact, every Southern state, except South Carolina, raised Federal regiments in the war.

There is a difference between "Southern" culture and "Confederate" culture. I'm a Southerner, born and bred. My maternal GG Grandfather was in Co A, 7th Arkansas Infantry (CSA) and fought at Shiloh. My paternal GG Grandfather was an Irish immigrant and Union volunteer. My culture, at least as an honest to God Southern Hillbilly, is based on family, honesty, damn fine cooking and banjos.

So Phil, I assume you use the same tact with Irish flags on St Patricks Day, Italian flags, etc that get flown on any number of holidays or Chinese flags that get flown in Chinatown?

What associations do you see with those flags that represent the worst violations of human rights on American soil, Marty? If you can come up with something comparable, I'm game to listen. (Do they really fly Chinese flags, as in those of the PR of C, in Chinatown? That sounds weird to me.)

"You can't really pick and choose which parts of the history of that flag you prefer to associate with it. They're all, irrevocably, attached to it."

I agree with this, however, you are the one picking and choosing to only associate itt with slavery. So the only memory that should ever be associated with the German flag is the Holocaust? It is simply not a reasonable view of history.

So the only memory that should ever be associated with the German flag is the Holocaust? It is simply not a reasonable view of history.

If we're talking about the Nazi flag with a swastika, then yes. However, Germans, being a people that possess shame, do not fly that flag, so the issue doesn't usually come up.

Christ, Marty. Ireland never attacked the USA. Britain, maybe, but the Irish weren't exactly running that show. Do the Irish have a history of oppressing or otherwise harming Americans? No. (If somebody was displaying some IRA-specific symbol, that would be different, IMHO).

Wrt to the Brits, yeah we fought them but we've since made up and are good friends now. I don't think anybody would have a problem with displaying the UK flag, which represents the present-day UK, which has continued to change and evolve (whereas the CSA is frozen in time). How about Germany? Display the present-day German flag & it's all good, I figure. A certain other flag from the 30s-40s? Yeah, not so much.

You're right about one thing: the symbolism matters. It's generally a good idea to actually THINK about the symbolism involved.

...

I have a story about this sort of thing that continues to amuse me, years later. I was at a country line-dancing bar (my wife likes such dancing & music. Me, not so much). A friend and I were playing pool. I guess every evening around 7 they play the National Anthem. Everybody stops & does the hand over heart thing. Anyway, my buddy and I weren't paying attention. We never heard the anthem start. We were chatting & playing pool. So a guy nearby snaps something at me about respecting the anthem, which I then did. Afterwards, I looked up above my head and saw...

A GIANT Confederate battle flag hanging from the ceiling above me. Awesome. Real Americans, indeed.

I agree with this, however, you are the one picking and choosing to only associate itt with slavery.

The Confederate Flag, is associated with the Confederacy, an institution that existed for four years because a bunch of states decided to secede from the Union in order to keep human beings in chattel slavery.

It should also be noted slavery was enshrined into the CSA constitution, which also notably barred confederate states from abolishing it (so much for states rights).

And, IIRC, the stars & bars became popular again in the south only in the 1950s and 60s as a symbol of the south's violent resistence to integration and equal rights for african americans, the flag having mostly disappeared from the south after the civil war.

As has been repeated here over and over and over again, the Confederacy was brought into being to preserve slavery, a system that denied the humanity of millions of people and treated them like livestock, and often worse. Unlike Germany in relation to the Holocaust, the Confederacy came into existence for that one purpose and ended when that purpose was thwarted. So it is very hard to see how celebrating it can be separated from the celebration of its very raison d'etre, i.e. the preservation of slavery.

To say that the Confederate flag represents and is precious to "southerners" is to continue that offense. Yeah, okay, forgetting to remember that there are millions of actual, real southerners to whom that flag is a symbol of brutality and torture isn't as brutal, on its face, as the actual brutality of actual slavery. But it is still a statement of the degree to which some people in the south believe that the south is theirs and no one else's, especially not African Americans’. Who, the worship of that flag implies in the least offensive possible interpretation, do not matter and are not really southerners at all.

Every time Marty repeats his notions about “southerners” and how precious that flag is to them, he is saying things that are true only of white southerners, and only of some white southerners at that. At least he could have the courage of his convictions and say something like, most here have no clue what the Confederacy or the remembrance of the genteel nature of the old south means to some subset of white Southerners. But maybe not; that would actually be too much like admitting that blacks in the South count as “Southerners” too.

So Phil, I assume you use the same tact with Irish flags on St Patricks Day, Italian flags, etc that get flown on any number of holidays or Chinese flags that get flown in Chinatown?

I was about to respond to this, but others have dismantled this pretty well, so, uh, what they said.

Nonetheless, I stand by my statement: The Confederate flag is a symbol of treason, defined by the Constitution as levying war against the United States. Which is exactly what the Confederacy did.

Don't you like the Constitution, Marty? I was under the impression that you did, but I could be wrong.

Also, what Scott Lemieux said. Too.

Somehow the South should forget our heritage and "get over it"

Four years does not constitude "heritage", Marty.

The Confederacy was a rogue government put in place to perpetuate what amounted to a deliberate oversight of convenience on the part of the Founders. The quicker you face up to that, the quicker you can start to live a life more firmly rooted in reality.

The "state's rights" rationale is one of those things that is true but irrelevant. There wouldn't BE a state's rights rationale other than to perpetuate ownership of other human beings.

Not only did you not fight in the Civil War, you probably have never met anyone who did, or even had a thirdhand relationship to the conflict. Why do you then cling to it so?

All of that said, it's certainly your right to live a life of denial, Marty. It's the right of anyone to continue celebrating the Confederacy as if it really was an organism of liberty and independence (of white people but no others). I am not going to tell you that you must stop.

But neither can make me stop pointing out to you and like-minded others that you're horribly, pig-headedly mistaken.

First, it ignores the 490,865 African-Americans who were slaves in 1860 Virginia, and whose Confederate heritage was the lash, servitude, and a century of virtual slavery after 1865.

Let's also not forget the African-American women who had to endure the lash and servitude and legalized rape by so-called "Southern Gentlemen".

"Not only did you not fight in the Civil War, you probably have never met anyone who did, or even had a thirdhand relationship to the conflict. Why do you then cling to it so?"

Actually,this question is easier to answer than you might think. It does represent over a century of (not four years) of a common heritage and shared distrust and dislike of carpetbaggers and Yankees that pretty well exists to this day. It, at this point, has little to do with the Civil War. As I said, a flag is a powerful symbol and more than a hundred years later it represents different things to Southerners than it did then.

And if you read the tone of all of these comments you might begin to grasp why we still resent the view of the South as, let's see, what words were used, "hillbilly", being my favorite.

Slavery was bad, but if we treated the Iraqis the way the North treated the South after the war most people here would be up in arms, the slaves are free and they encounter less discrimination in the South than in the North, add that to your hundred year narrative.

It is not a single thread narrative that you can just say slavery was bad so the flag and the Confederacy still stand for evil.

Oh you can, but it is horribly, pig-headedly mistaken.

It does represent over a century of (not four years) of a common heritage and shared distrust and dislike of carpetbaggers and Yankees that pretty well exists to this day.

So you're pretty much saying black southerners don't count.

"So you're pretty much saying black southerners don't count."

No I am saying that, in general, they don't trust Yankees any more than the rest of us do.

It is not a single thread narrative that you can just say slavery was bad so the flag and the Confederacy still stand for evil.

I'm not sure what you mean, here. But you cannot just take the banner of Sauron, attach some nostalgia and postwar bitterness to it, and say it stands for goodness and light. Sorry, but no. What it means to you, now, is completely irrelevant to what it stood for originally. You're putting a tasty dessert topping on roadkill, Marty.

I did not use the word "hillbilly". The only other person that has, applied the label to himself.

Regarding carpetbaggers and the like, do you really want to hold a grudge against me for that? Are you then willing to sign up for reparations, given that you've aligned yourself with former slaveowners? Not saying you should, but it's the same kind of argument, only going in the other direction. I'm not a Northerner; I'm an American. As are you. You should keep that in mind, I think.

I want to press home that the Confederacy was, in fact, a four-year entity, nearly a century and a half of pining notwithstanding. If you're more for commemorating the century and a half of pining than for commemorating the Confederacy itself, cool. It's a free country.

If you're feeling belittled, here, that wasn't my intention. It's more my intention to point out that your cherished Confederacy stood for state's rights to decide whether people could in fact own other people, along with all of the really bad things that went with said ownership.

If you haven't read Joseph Ellis' American Creation, I urge you to take a look at it. I don't know how much reading you've done on the subject, so forgive me if you're already familiar with it.

...the slaves are free and they encounter less discrimination in the South than in the North, add that to your hundred year narrative.

Well, the slaves are all dead now, but I think I know what you mean. I also happen to think you have no basis on which to say as a matter of fact that freed slaves and their descendants have encountered or do encounter less discrimination in the South than in the North. You'd have to write quite the thesis to show that.

..."hillbilly", being my favorite.

You mean as a self-descriptor from one of Southern heritage? I guess Jeff Foxworthy hates the South, too, talking about rednecks and such.

Interestingly, I did a character-string search of the Wikipedia "Hillbilly" entry for "south." Not one instance, which probably explains why the self-proclaimed hillbilly used "Southern" as a modifier. Appalachia is big.

Hillbilly--

YES I'm a hillbilly.

It is worth noting that one of the probable definitions of the word is that it was a derrogatory term used by 'Southern lowlanders' (read: slave owners) when referring to the hill people of the American South. Why "Hill" "Billy"? Hill is easy--hill dwellers, mostly Scots, Irish and Germans. Billy? Billy Yank--the name used for Union troops in the Civil War (CS version--"Johnny Reb").

What about "Redneck?" If I recall correctly, it came from an old minstrel show--the kind where white actors dressed up in 'blackface'--in the late 1800s...about the time that the New South leadership was attempting to break up the Agrarian alliance between poor black and white sharecroppers. The actor said something like "I'd rather be on old massa's plantation than be a dirt farmer with a red neck." That did a couple of things. It was insulting to black people in general, and black farmers in particular, implying that they'd prefer a 'life of ease' on a plantation to farming. It directly insulted poor white farmers (e.g., "Who is that black guy making fun of me?"). And it helped to do its job--the fear of 'white women rape by black men' and this sort of racist propaganda prevented the growth of Agrarian unions in the South and ensured two more generations of sharecroppers that could be exploited. Until tractors came along and they were all pushed out in the 1930s.

Slart,

Always interested in another read, thanks. I do think a century and a half changes the discussion.

I am not sure that slave owners were the only ones negatively impacted.

And yes, people occasionally self mockingly refer to themselves as hillbillies, funny how that doesn't seem less insulting to someone who is one generation from the back hills of Tennessee, less than a generation from the honest hardworking independent people that term typically, and disdainfully, refers to.

I've known Northern blacks that refused to find employment in the South because...well, because of Marty's asserted lack of discrimination, I suppose.

I'd be interested in where Marty lives right now, and how much in touch with the rural South he is. I lived in the rural South for six years, and it really didn't look all that much like peace, love and understanding.

He's also saying that the flag is in fact a deliberate statement of hatred: "shared distrust and dislike of carpetbaggers and Yankees..."

So the purpose of the flag is to tell non-Southerners, "we don't like you" and then gets all put out that non-Southerners are offended by such a statement.

There are no Southerners pining longingly for those days.

Oh, this is a lie and you know it. You've never heard the expression, "The South will rise again?" Never seen that on a bumper sticker, belt buckle, hat pin, t-shirt? What exactly do you think that means?

And if, Marty, the flag is accepted throughout the south as a symbol of its heritage and culture, why have I never in my life (most of which spent in FL, NC, VA) seen a black southerner displaying one? Because, as Ugh pointed out, they don't count as southerners.

Slavery was bad, but if we treated the Iraqis the way the North treated the South after the war most people here would be up in arms, the slaves are free and they encounter less discrimination in the South than in the North, add that to your hundred year narrative.

I feel obliged to point out that this is an extremely selective reading of the history.

Slavery is no longer legal in the US. On that point, you are correct.

Marty, half of my family comes from West Virginia. Actually, they come from rural Virginia; they just happened to live in the part that became West Virginia. My ancestors then proudly fought on the side of the Union, but make no mistake, I have roots in that part of the South going back nearly 300 years.

I myself am only two generations removed from the coal mines; my mother was born in Shinnston, WV (pop. 2,295 in 2000), and had my grandfather not decided to relocate to Ohio after WWII, I or my genetic equivalent (since my mother would never have met my father) would probably have been a miner, too. So don't even front with me with some more-Southern-than-thou crap.

Aside from that, I actually lived in Virginia from 2000-2007. Granted, in Northern Virginia, but I made plenty of trips to the rest of the state. Your apologetic here is belied by, for example, the citizens of Richmond throwing a hissy fit over a statue of Lincoln, which included "letters [comparing]a Lincoln statue in Richmond to erecting a Hitler statue in Israel, or putting the likeness of Osama bin Laden in Manhattan."

Another thing, Marty:

Here's the Wikipedia entry under "American Civil Rights Movement". Look at the cities where action was taken, and tell me how many of those were in the North.

Not that the North was a paragon of virtue. Just that deprivation of civil rights of black people, or even people of partial black ancestry, was prevalent in the South.

Slart,

I have no doubt that overt discrimination was and is more prevelant in the South. I have lived both places for a substantial portion of my life and I find(and will find the thesis reffered to above) that more subtle forms of discrimination are much more prevelant in the society I find myself in (Boston) currently than any time in the South. Racists in the South are more often, note the "more", loud and obnoxious and easily identified.

And, I did remember this that discusses that difference in the North and South even as far back as 1831:

"At the North, few blacks are mechanics, because the whites will not allow them to work with them. At the South, on the contrary, few of the mechanics are whites, because they will not do the same sort of work as blacks. "


Always interested in another read, thanks.

Be warned: it's not about anything having to do with the Civil War. It's more about what succession of unlikely events occurred that resulted in this nation being formed. One of those was the deliberate decision not to push the slavery issue.

I'd like you to consider that part very carefully, and consider that this was and is very serious business indeed. I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts, if you choose to read that book. Not saying it's the only book that covers that ground, just that it's both fascinating and very accessible to those of brief attention span (me, for example).

funny how that doesn't seem less insulting to someone who is one generation from the back hills of Tennessee, less than a generation from the honest hardworking independent people that term typically, and disdainfully, refers to.

My old man was born into a more or less subsistence farming household near Statesboro GA in the early part of the 20th C.

You seem to want to paint all of the rest of us as some kind of elitist northern wankers looking down on southerners. It ain't that way.

if we treated the Iraqis the way the North treated the South after the war most people here would be up in arms

You mean military occupation, suppression of native institutions, destruction of property, and massive violence in response to resistance? Yeah, it would have been really bad if we'd treated the Iraqis that way.

Slart,

One more thing:

"Here's the Wikipedia entry under "American Civil Rights Movement". Look at the cities where action was taken, and tell me how many of those were in the North."

This is true until you get to the seection on race riots in the 60's and early 70's. Then almost all of the cities are in the North. The sum of that article begins to point out the difference in the kinds of discrimination in the North and South.

You seem to want to paint all of the rest of us as some kind of elitist northern wankers looking down on southerners. It ain't that way.

My father's family were poor manual laborers in the rural south.

South Canada, that is. Lumberjacks. Rednecks, is what they'd be.

The sum of that article begins to point out the difference in the kinds of discrimination in the North and South.

No one's saying there isn't racism in the North, Marty.

"No one's saying there isn't racism in the North, Marty"

I understand that Slart. I am genuinely peeved when it seems that the hundred year lag between the Civil War and any real progress in Civil Rights is laid at the feet of the South.

There are horrible things that happened, the KKK was, and is, an abomination.

But, the lack of real progress on Civil Rights was as much a product of the economic and cultural racial discrimination in the North as any overt racism in the South.

Marty: if we treated the Iraqis the way the North treated the South after the war most people here would be up in arms

POP QUIZ:

1) Who started the Iraq War?

2) Who started the Civil War?

There's a book I believe someone here recommended called "War Before Civilization", and it has an applicable quote:

"The most important and universal rule of war: do not lose."

Starting a war is rarely a good idea. Starting a war you are bound to lose is disastrously stupid. Complaining about your treatment after you start a war and lose it is rather missing the point.

I am genuinely peeved when it seems that the hundred year lag between the Civil War and any real progress in Civil Rights is laid at the feet of the South.

So it's not just the history of the pre-Civil War era in the US you want to rewrite: you also get "peeved" that people remember the Jim Crow laws, lynching, and other post-Civil War atrocities in the South?

But, the lack of real progress on Civil Rights was as much a product of the economic and cultural racial discrimination in the North as any overt racism in the South.

As has already been pointed out, no governor in the North is proposing a month honoring the history of racial discrimination in the North.

******

Someone should do a dissertation on these threads.

There are the tu quoques as above, but in general too numerous to count.

There's the goalpost-shifting, as in, first it's about the "genteel old South," then it's not about the "old" South after all, it's about white and back southerners united now in their distrust of northerners. (How the Confederate flag symbolizes that for black southerners remains to be explained, along with so much else.)

There's the inimitable logic: "Slavery was a travesty, however the war itself didn't solve that problem." It didn't? Slavery remained legal somewhere in the US after the war?

There’s the mind-reading: “most here have no clue what the Confederacy or the remembrance of the genteel nature of the old south means to Southerners.” (Besides mind-reading, more goalpost-shifting: Is it about what the Confederacy means to [some white] Southerners, or isn’t it?)

I'm sure there's more, but I have to get back to work.

I am genuinely peeved when it seems that the hundred year lag between the Civil War and any real progress in Civil Rights is laid at the feet of the South.

Uh . . . here are the voting records for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to Wikipedia, "Southern" here refers to the 11 states that comprised the Confederacy. So, e.g., Robert Byrd, who voted against it, counts as a Northerner:

The original House version:
Southern Democrats: 7-87
Southern Republicans: 0-10

Northern Democrats: 145-9
Northern Republicans: 138-24

The Senate version:
Southern Democrats: 1-20
Southern Republicans: 0-1

Northern Democrats: 45-1 (98%-2%)
Northern Republicans: 27-5


Now, we can suppose that in the 99 years between the end of the Civil War and the passage of this bill, the South was making rapid progress towards equality and meaningful civil rights, and at the last second decided to put the brakes on. And by "we" I mean "someone besides me," because you'd have to be crazy to even try it.

I'm not going to front and claim that segregation and racism haven't been a problem in the North. The Boston busing controversy alone would put the lie to that. Heck, I live within walking distance of where the Hough Riots took place in Cleveland.

But I can't sit here and just let you rewrite history, Marty. It is what it is. You can continue to resort to the tu quoque, or you can take a serious look at what the modern conception of "The South" has stood for.

The posting rules won't allow me to, as a person of colour, say what I really want to say to Marty atm. So I'll let MHL do the talking, since she avoids the harsh invective and torrent of epithets that would make The Kitty weep if yours truly were to elaborate further.

And now I'm going to walk away from this thread before my better judgment is overwhelmed by hand-shaking, teeth-clenching rage.

I wrote a real long response to some of these, then deleted it all. For anyone who was offended I apologize, there was no need for me to step in in the middle of this thread.

I initially responded to a specific statement I thought was unnecessary and got caught up in an intellectual discussion of a topic which certainly is difficult to discuss.


And, to JanieM only, discussions range, I don't set goalposts, I am not trying to score, or win, I am mostly not even trying to get anyone to agree with me. I bring up a point, someone else brings up a point, it spurs a thought, I add a comment. It creates texture to a discussion. I learn, I am intrigued, otherwise these comment threads are a boring string of "me too".

There are more nuances to discuss than the straight line to whether I agree or disagree with you. I found the discussion with Slart interesting and went away with things I will think about(and read).

I am disappointed if anyone was offended, and apologize again.

Marty, I am personally leery of using the phrase "I'm sorry IF you were offended," because it sounds evasive and blame-deflecting. Thoughts and propositions are right or wrong independent of an audience's response. If you stand in a forest and say "a square has 5 sides" and no one is around to hear you, you're still wrong. Ergo, posters here taking offense (or not) is immaterial to the validity of what you've said.

"Thoughts and propositions are right or wrong independent of an audience's response"

When we discuss opinions, feelings and thoughts here this statement is simply not accurate. Much of this discussion was around how people FELT about the south, the flag and the confederacy. I am pretty sure that there was a mix of fact, feeling and opinion I expressed and how it was heard matters to me.

When we discuss opinions, feelings and thoughts here this statement is simply not accurate.

So you feel that it's open to discussion whether enslaving human beings and actively discriminating against people by the color of their skin could be right or wrong? It's "simply not accurate" in your view to assert that it's just wrong?

Much of this discussion was around how people FELT about the south, the flag and the confederacy.

Slavery and racial discrimination, and a side-order of treason. That's what this discussion was about, and what you have been perceived as defending by claiming that a culture of slavery is a "genteel heritage" you "feel" is worth commemorating.

Jes,
Which is, of cpurse, NOT what I was defending. So I stopped, because that was how it was being interpreted. So we shouldn't have a Confederacy month or a Civil war month or a Southern Heritage Month because the discussion just can't be had.

Which is, of cpurse, NOT what I was defending.

I appreciate that having been brought up in the ignorance required of Southern schoolchildren, you evidently have never thought of your conception of the "remembrance of the genteel nature of the old south" as a defense of a society based on treating human beings as farm animals, to be bought, sold, bred, and worked to death.

Yet that's exactly what it is.

That you stopped defending a slave society as "genteel" because you can understand that people are offended, does you a certain amount of credit: that you can't comprehend that it's your willing ignorance that is the problem, not other people's offense, does you no credit at all.

So we shouldn't have a Confederacy month or a Civil war month or a Southern Heritage Month because the discussion just can't be had.

Well, why aren't you willing to have the discussion, Marty? What is it that makes you willing to stop defending a slave society, but unwilling to understand why you're being offensive when you praise a slave society as "genteel"?

because the discussion just can't be had

Aren't we having it right now? This is what it looks like.

Marty, I spent a year of my childhood in Valdosta, Georgia. Every kid had a built-in resentment of Yankees (which, to pretty much the rest of the world, they were as well. But let's leave that for the moment) and played Civil War reenactments at recess. I am not making this up.

Now, me, as a third-grader, had no idea what they were upset about. But they did.

This is indoctrination, Marty. But it's a fundamentally false, misleading indoctrination. Children in the South (some, not all) are fed Confederacy propaganda practically with their mother's milk, and their attitudes (again: some, not all) are formed before they even have a chance to think and decide for themselves.

Consider what that might mean, for a moment. Many Southerners are brought up resenting the North for a War that neither they nor their parents participated in, that was fought for reasons that are not defensible. Not. I'm interested in whether you agree with that last, because this whole discussion pretty much hinges on whether you, or anyone else defending ritual obeisance to the Confederacy, believe the South's cause in the Civil War was a just one.

Having been brought up in the North, I was at that point in my life completely unaware that there was any such thing as the South, and my awareness of what the Civil War had been about was vague. See, we in the North didn't (and likely still don't) make our identities about our participation in the Civil War. We didn't (and likely still don't) bring our children up to resent our opponents from a century ago for having made it necessary for many, many of our men to march off to war to be maimed or killed. For the North, the Civil War was a necessary period of horror that we'd just as soon not dwell on, but that we nevertheless learn about in history class. Not, instead, a nearly inbred reason to resent half of the country, none of whom had anything to do with the Civil War.

None. If I could round up every kid in the South and tell them one thing, this is what I'd tell them: we are not your enemies. Your enemies, if you ever had any, are long dead. But you don't have enemies; those people were the enemies of your many-times-great grandparents. Not yours. If you're resenting postwar carpetbaggers, none of those people are still alive, nor are any of their friends or children.

It's a poison, Marty. Think about what this poison does to the successive generations of children, and what a huge, futile, horrible waste of emotional energy is involved in perpetuating this fraud that the North is your enemy.

And if you still think it's just and reasonable, I'd like you to defend that thinking.

"This is indoctrination, Marty. But it's a fundamentally false, misleading indoctrination. Children in the South (some, not all) are fed Confederacy propaganda practically with their mother's milk, and their attitudes (again: some, not all) are formed before they even have a chance to think and decide for themselves"

I grew up in thye South, school, culture, etc. I raised my kids in the North, due to employment situations beyond my control.

MY KIDS have a parochial view of the South as less good, less smart and more racist. I don't doubt that the Civil War is not how Northerners self identify. I disagree that they don't see the south as their enemy and an inferior group. There is nothing Northerners enjoy more than making fun of someone who says nucular a very common dialect pronunciation across the south. and they all got to listen to it for the last 8 years nonstop.

Think about what this poison does to successive generations of children, to be treated as less smart and less good because you have a southern drawl.

Think about what this poison does to successive generations of children, to be treated as less smart and less good because you have a southern drawl.

That's a decent point. Still not reason, though, to perpetuate Confederacy-worship, IMHO.

Still, everyone makes fun of accent. It's almost obligatory. Pahk ya cah in Hahvad Yahd, and all that. Da Bearsss.

Think about what this poison does to successive generations of children, to be treated as less smart and less good because you have a southern drawl.

That's amazing, Marty. Did you just justify celebrating a culture of racism and slavery by complaining that Yankees are prejudiced against Southerners because of their accents?

There's a southern accent, where I come from The young'uns call it country The Yankees call it dumb I got my own way of talkin' But everything is done, with a southern accent Where I come from

People from New Jersey are commonly made fun of for the way they speak and for being stupid and boorish. I was born and raised, aside from a few years in Phoenix, in New Jersey. I'm still here raising my kids, all of whom were born in the same hospital I was. It is, for the most part, my ancestral homeland, going back who-knows-how-far in certain branches of my family, and no less than three generations even in those branches that involved known, specific immigration, aside from some who lived in Philadelphia, just across the river.

Somehow, that fun-poking does not inspire me to honor, say, the very real people on whom Tony Soprano was based or landfills or, gosh, I don't know ... it's hard for me to think of anything remotely on par with secession in defense of slavery that can be attributed to New Jersey. I haven't seen that Jersey Shore show on MTV. Maybe that comes close. In any case, whatever bad aspects there may be to New Jersey or its history, I don't feel the need to honor them either directly or by implication because people might make fun of the way people from New Jersey talk. That would be silly, I think.

It seems that most nations have their in-group* equivalent of a village idiot defined as the inhabitants of a certain region or city. In Germany it is the East Friesians, in ancient Greece the people of Abdera, in Rome the people from the tip of the Italian boot (Bruttium, I wonder whether the word brutus=slow on the uptake, awkward come from there) etc. not to forget the (often ficticious) proverbial backward places like Kyritz an der Knatter or Power Cable (Nebraska).

*as opposed to out-group = foreign/alien.

There is nothing Northerners enjoy more than making fun of someone who says nucular a very common dialect pronunciation across the south.

JFTR, since you brought it up, I defended both GWB and Jimmy Carter on the "nucular" issue. So let's not paint "Northerners" too broadly, here. At the very least, it's N-1.

There is nothing Northerners enjoy more than making fun of someone who says nucular a very common dialect pronunciation across the south.

I, a Northerner, enjoy sex; beer; football; loud music; white pizza with ricotta, broccoli and fresh tomato; jumping rope; playing the guitar; spending time with my wife (even when we're not having sex) and kids; watching and developing silly theories about Lost; reading Moby Dick on the toilet; and sleeping all quite a bit more than making fun of people who say "nucular." I could propably think of lots of other stuff, but you get the idea.

Or it was until I spent the last 45 minutes mocking them for it, just to neutralize you. Back to N it is!

Actually Marty's point there is fair, although at best extremely peripheral to the question of the meaning of the Confederate flag. I've spent many pointless hours arguing with educated Americans about the "nucular" issue, and am not impressed with supposedly-thoughtful people who are willing to jump on a meaningless regional variation as an in-group/out-group marker. "But it's not written that way!", they wail, ignoring the thousands of other words this also applies to.

So there is a real snobbery, but it's born from status insecurity and it applies to almost all non-"educated" accents or pronunciations, not just those of the South. And I think it's only gotten worse as the amount of media involved in professions has increased, and the currency of influence has shifted somewhat from written publications to personal appearances. So while I'm sympathetic to the problems of those with southern accents, it's not a problem peculiar to that accent. It is also, and somewhat justifiably if unfairly in many individual cases, associated with a picture of southern culture as xenophobic, racist, and suffused with religiosity. I hope that southerners can erase that record, as the inheritors of all accents have to; I tend to think of the associations of the South African accent in the same way. I suggest that the best way of changing the picture of southerners, however, probably does not involve an attempt to rehabilitate the Confederacy.

On "nucular" I would add that it's not a pronunciation that is unique to southerners. I used to work in the nuclear industry, and I will admit to being annoyed by the use of nucular, though mostly among people I worked with. In fact, I specifically recall a man with a title something very much like "Vice President of Nuclear Operations" who said nucular. He was otherwise a complete jackass, which probably made me more likely to find fault with his pronunciation, but, either way, someone like that should know how to pronounce the word properly. (And I'm guessing that Jacob is not suggesting that there isn't a proper way to pronounce the word, but that the broader judgment on the speaker based on his/her pronunciation is inappropriate.) Anyway, the Vice President of Nucular Operations was not a southerner.

Nor is Homer Simpson.

hsh: I'm guessing that Jacob is not suggesting that there isn't a proper way to pronounce the word

Guessed wrong. As far as I'm concerned, there are no grounds for deciding that there is one single correct way of pronouncing that word. There are several correct ways to pronounce it. As a matter of fact, the "standard" American pronunciation of "new-kleer" varies somewhat from the British pronunciation which tends to be something like "new-klee-er" (a little like the "skwerl"/"squih-ruhl" difference for "squirrel").

It is not a mistake or malapropism to say "nucular" if you grew up in a culture that says it that way, as tens of millions of Americans do, any more than it is a mistake for an American to say "erb" for "herb", even though it sounds like a mistake if you're British.

I'm not denying the existence of malapropisms or genuine mistakes in language, or even that certain regional variants can affect mutual intelligibility and might therefore be undesirable for general use. But "nucular" is not one of those. Its use as a shibboleth - as something innate that must be renounced for membership to the club of educated Americans - is indefensible. A minor thing, since it's just one of many such shibboleths, most of which most of us have embraced, willingly or wittingly or not. But it is a mistake, in my opinion, to take the refusal to conform in certain cases as a proxy for ignorance or stupidity.

Using cultural or ethnic markers as proxies for other characteristics has a pretty poor track record.

Now given that three of the last five Presidents of the United States were southerners with strong southern accents, the case for it being a grave prejudice is weak. But so far as it goes, it's a valid complaint.

As far as I'm concerned, there are no grounds for deciding that there is one single correct way of pronouncing that word. There are several correct ways to pronounce it.

Well, okay, I just don't think new-kyoo-ler is one of them, and wrongly guessed you didn't either.

Its use as a shibboleth - as something innate that must be renounced for membership to the club of educated Americans - is indefensible.

That I can agree with.

But it is a mistake, in my opinion, to take the refusal to conform in certain cases as a proxy for ignorance or stupidity.

This, too.

It is not a mistake or malapropism to say "nucular" if you grew up in a culture that says it that way, as tens of millions of Americans do, any more than it is a mistake for an American to say "erb" for "herb", even though it sounds like a mistake if you're British.

I would say that this makes the malapropism or mistake understandable and, in some cases, excusable, but still a malapropism or mistake.

I don't think either one of us gets the final word on this, since I'd say we're working on a margin that is within the bounds of opinion rather than absolute fact. I'm just not sure why nucular specifically should be in the range of proper pronunciations rather than in the range of not-particularly-objectionable-but-still-improper pronunciations.


the "standard" American pronunciation of "new-kleer"

??!!

In my sixty years in America, minus a few months' worth of foreign travel, I don't remember ever having heard this pronunciation, not in person, not on TV or the radio or YouTube, not in any example in the handful of online dictionaries I've just searched. They, and my own hardcopy dictionaries, all give the standard pronunciation (also the "non-standard" one) three syllables. Everyone I know says one of the 3-syllable variations.

[Pause]

Okay, my Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage mentions the 3-syllable variations and all the controversy around nucular, and says, in speculating about where nucular came from, that nu-kyir is "occasionally" heard and nu-klir is "fairly common...attested respectively from former President Jimmy Carter and from his mother, among others."

Maybe I heard the Carters say it thirty or forty years ago, but if so it certainly didn't stick in my memory.

That makes me curious about where you've heard it, Jacob. At best it seems to me that it's another regional variation; I certainly don't buy that it's the American standard.

If, one must ask, there is such a thing. I live in Maine, after all. Far downeast there are people I can barely understand after 20+ years here.

As a matter of fact, the "standard" American pronunciation of "new-kleer" varies somewhat from the British pronunciation which tends to be something like "new-klee-er" (a little like the "skwerl"/"squih-ruhl" difference for "squirrel").

Hmmmm...I grew up in the Philadelphia area and I think of "nuclear" as an unmistakably three-syllable word, along the lines of what you call the "British" pronunciation (but with the final "r" pronounced, of course).

Hmmmm...I grew up in the Philadelphia area and I think of "nuclear" as an unmistakably three-syllable word(...)

Me, too, on both counts. And, on the second, whether pronounced properly or as new-kyoo-ler.

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