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April 08, 2010

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i still want my Benedict Arnold Day.

as a native upstate NYer, the great general's deeds are my heritage!

What I never understand is why the Civil War isn't remembered by a national ceremony of rending of garments and throwing ashes on our heads.

It was a freaking calamity, and we were driven to it by our inability to deal with our desire to treat black and brown people as livestock.

Not "like" livestock. As livestock.

Slavery, war, blood, and death.

WTF is romantic about that?

WTF is romantic about that?

A good question for Ken Burns.

WTF is romantic about that?

If you've got a beard fetish, then this was your golden era.

Thanks for these posts, Bob.

I'm going to toss Marty a bone and assert that good people can fight and die, heroically, on the side of evil. Folks want to commemorate the heroic-fighting-and-dying part without the barest nod to that it was in the name of evil.

That, and everything russell said. I look on the Civil War as payment for the Founder's compromise, which in turn was necessary, IMO, to unite all of the colonies.

Whether it was all worthwhile is another question. It undeniably was though, and the price for it was the Civil War & attendant slaughter, plus a century and a half of our culture's slow, reluctant inclusion of Americans of African and Amerind descent. And we're still not done.

I'll throw Marty another bone, as it were, and point out that slavery in the Western Hemisphere began with Columbus, and began in the English speaking American colonies with Samuel Maverick, in Massachusetts, in 1624.

And for every southern plantation slave-owner, there was a northern slave-trader keeping him supplied. Lots of northern fortunes were built ferrying blacks across the Atlantic.

Slavery died out first in the north in part because it wasn't essential to the northern economy. In New England in particular, the availability of fast-moving rivers made industrialization feasible. For labor, we had lots and lots of immigrants who would work, beginning as children, for subsistence wages.

We didn't need slaves, we had the Irish. As it were.

So, there really isn't all that much place for regional finger-pointing. I don't think so, anyway.

My father was a natural born Scot-Irish southerner, whose forbears came to South Carolina as indentured servants in the 18th C. A lot of my family is in the south, I have spent lots of time in the south, I have a great appreciation for southern culture.

I also recognize that it is virtually impossible to divorce the history of the Confederate States of America from a damnable and stubborn insistence on continuing the practice of chattel slavery of black people. To the point of insurrection and war against family, friends, and neighbors.

I frankly do not see anything there to celebrate.

Odd but true: In observance of Confederate Memorial Day, a legal holiday for employees of the State of Mississippi has been proclaimed for Monday, April 26, 2010.

Every year late in April this holiday is 'celebrated'* in Mississippi. Does any other state do this too?

Most of the folks I work with just enjoy the day off and don't give a rats ass about the 'why' of the day off.

What I never understand is why the Civil War isn't remembered by a national ceremony of rending of garments and throwing ashes on our heads.

Because white Southerners prefer to remember their "genteel heritage" rather than their heritage of treason in defense of chattel slavery. As Marty demonstrated in the previous thread. And while they lost the war, historically it was their prejudices that triumphed in school textbooks and commemorative days.

The descendants of Nazis would likely have done the same in Germany and Austria, if they had been allowed the same freedom to control the school curriculum as the descendants of slave-owners were allowed in the American South: there's a reason that Germany and Austria are the only European countries that have legislation making Holocaust denial illegal. Not to "catch" the occasional nutter who likes to rewrite history, but to ensure that future generations were saved from growing up like white Southerners in the US, allowed to learn only about their "genteel heritage" and never about their heritage of atrocity and dehumanization.

I wonder, however, if we can revisit the results of the Civil War, just a bit. I think that we would be better off now and in the future, if we just let some of those states go. Off with you deep south. The rest of us WANT to be more like Europe; if you want to love in the 19th century- go for it, but dont force the rest of us down with you !

m. carey - For all the spittle-flecked rhetoric about secession, I think the only way the South would really be interested in seceding is if they get to own slaves again.

In which case, it'd be a fascinating, horrifying spectacle, as anyone who didn't want to be part of a slave culture fighting to get north of the border before it closed forever. (And, to be fair, there might be a wave of people running toward the South, eager to realize their fantasies of owning other human beings).

Well, at least the lying turkey McDonnell became a lame duck the minute he was inaugurated.

Its up or out for VA governors. I don't imagine Warner or Webb running the kind of hideous campaign that Creigh Deeds did for governor.

I look on the Civil War as payment for the Founder's compromise

Or, to say it another way:

Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether"

Damn. Well, I guess "Celebrate British Military History circa 1776 Month" is out now, too.

McDonnell seems to be just the latest instance of a never-failing practical joke: a Republican who campaigns as a "moderate" and gets elected by a gullible public.

Or maybe a not-so-gullible public. Maybe the public knows perfectly well that modern-day Republicans are basically unreconstructed Confederates, and is content it should be so.

I don't know what "events" a state-proclaimed "Confederate History Month" involves, but I assume some of them are open to the public. I'd love to see a bunch of black guys show up at some of those, holding signs like "You lost. Get over it."

--TP

Do the right thing Governor. Recall the proclamation. Reissue it as "Civil War History Month."

A southern Republican knows not to refer to the Civil War. The yahoos to which he panders call it the War Between the States--except for those who call it the War of Northern Aggression.

I'd love to see a bunch of black guys show up at some of those, holding signs like "You lost. Get over it."

Or maybe, "We have guns now too, @sshole".

The descendants of Nazis would likely have done the same in Germany and Austria, if they had been allowed the same freedom to control the school curriculum as the descendants of slave-owners were allowed in the American South

And the success in Austria was only partial at best. It's still something of a national dogma there that Austria had nothing to do with either World War but was the helpless victim of Germany. Not to forget the still practiced offcial whitewashing of the home-grown Austrofascism that only ended with Hitler's invasion (Heim ins Reich).
It may be bit harsh on my part but I believe that in Austria one can be Nazi (and antisemite*) and still be respected as long as the dreaded word is avoided.

*typical quote: I am not an antisemite, I just can't stand Jews.

And the success in Austria was only partial at best.

Bill Bryson claims to have noticed an unpleasant resemblance between Austria and the deep South when he and three other long-haired unwashed-hippy friends wandered unthinking into the Austrian equivalent of a redneck bar in the early 1970s... (Neither Here Nor There)

"I'll throw Marty another bone, as it were, and point out that slavery in the Western Hemisphere began with Columbus, and began in the English speaking American colonies with Samuel Maverick, in Massachusetts, in 1624."

Because the indians didn't practice it before we got here? I'd need some evidence of that, the "noble savage" thing is way overblown.

No expert on this but I am unaware that slavery in the Americas pre-Columbus* was based on any theory of racial inequality.
More like the slavery in antiquity that could hit anyone.
---
Jes, that would not be limited to Austria but also to parts of Southern (and to a lesser degree Western) Germany. For that matter, I'd consider it highly unwise to be visibly not Roman Catholic in certain regions on certain days (e.g. Happy Cadaver).

*if I am not mistaken limited to the 'high' cultures in Central and South America

Any attempt to summarize in one sentence the cultural practices of multiple nations across an entire continent is usually going to be too simple to be true.

Some nations in pre-Colombian America certainly practiced slavery. Others didn't. In some nations a person became a slave by debt or by being captured in war, and their children would not be slaves: in others slavery could be hereditary, so someone could be a slave only because one or both of their parents had been slaves. There's a very basic site here.

(For once I agree with Brett, that to refer to the original inhabitants of an entire continent as "noble savages" is - way overblown.)

The commercial practice known in the UK as the "Bristol trade" in which people were shipped from Africa to the West Indies or to the American mainland with such indifference to their welfare in transit that their deaths en route were simply regarded as a percentage of acceptable losses against profit: sold to plantations where they could be - and were - worked to death for further profit, and bred like animals to produce further generations of people for future profit - people who would be (who were) even when free, legally regarded as perpetual/hereditary second-class citizens - that is as much a unique kind of atrocity as any other holocaust - and began when the original European colonists realized they were running out of native Americans to work to death in their mines and farms.

Russell's brief summary isn't all that historically precise, but it's certainly more so than Marty's "genteel heritage" or Brett's dismissal of all the first nations as "noble savages"....

"No expert on this but I am unaware that slavery in the Americas pre-Columbus* was based on any theory of racial inequality."

Well, yeah. That fits what I've heard: Neighboring tribes might raid each other for slaves, but it's not like they were different races.

But it's not like the slaves weren't, you know, slaves, either. Columbus didn't bring slavery to North America, it was already here. Just objecting to the usual white man as the source of all evil in the world/noble savage nonsense.

Just objecting to the usual white man as the source of all evil in the world/noble savage nonsense.

Rule One of Brett Bellmore history: Even when white men are clearly identifiable as the primary instigators, maintainers, and beneficiaries of an evil practice, any reference to this historically verifiable fact must promptly be dismissed as "the usual nonsense".

Tell me again why I wasn't surprised to find out that Brett is a Birther...

Even when white men are clearly identifiable as the primary instigators, maintainers, and beneficiaries of an evil practice

Um, no. White men adopted and altered a previously-existing practice of ownership (including outright buying and selling) of other people.

I've read some things that suggested that the inferior-race thing sprung up later. And that black slavery stuck around for as long as it did largely because they couldn't escape and blend into a nearly exclusively white freeman population.

I think it's silly to imagine that white men invented slavery. But it's even more silly to attempt to justify slavery by pointing at someone else and saying they did it first.

Humans invented slavery of other humans. We might as well own it as a species, because trying to pin it on any particular race is, well, racist, in addition to being historically inaccurate.

No amount of hand waving can elide the fact that the substantial social and economic structure built to capture, chain, transport, and condemn to perpetual agricultural bondage HUMAN BEINGS based solely on RACE was a construct of white Europeans.

Only the comfort provided us by the passage of time enables the civilized mind to contemplate this barbarity-for-profit enterprise without throwing up.

No doubt Brett can excuse the Holocaust since, after all, other folks, not just the German nazis, engaged in anti-semitic activities from time to time.

White men adopted and altered a previously-existing practice of ownership (including outright buying and selling) of other people.

Um, that went a bit too far, and lost much of accuracy in the process.

Slavery has been around as long as written histoy, IIRC. What I was trying to say is that the African slave trade already existed before Europeans tapped into it.

Slarti: Humans invented slavery of other humans

Humans invented war. Every war in human history was begun by humans and humans were killed by war.

This does not, however, prevent us from discussing specific wars as different one from the other, and noting that some wars killed more people than others, some wars were more justifiable than others, some wars went on longer than others, some wars were carried out with greater atrocities than others.

I fail to see why we should ignore the massive differences between different forms and practices of human enslavement, and pretend that it's all one thing and all humans everywhere are equally culpable.

No, Slarti, it is neither racist nor historically inaccurate to notice that the Bristol trade in human beings was a form of slavery that was substantially different from (for example):
-debt slavery where the debtor was owned by the creditor until his labor had paid off the debtor:
-child slavery where a family may sell an unwanted child to a richer family (treatment of children so sold varies from unspeakably awful to effective adoption):
-serfhood where a peasant was required to work a specific number of days for the landowner:
-wife slavery where a man literally buys a to be married either to himself or his his son:
In fact, it is both racist AND historically inaccurate to pretend that the horrors of the "Bristol trade" were just the same as other forms of slavery which were not so exclusively the practice of white Europeans/Americans buying, selling, breeding, and working to death people browner than they were.

"Because the indians didn't practice it before we got here?"

Well, they practiced but never quite got it right.

We, of course, exhibited exceptional professionalism, not to mention professional exceptionalism when it came to slavery, managing to do more with less like any rational, competent businessman, and showing the natives how to do things right.

Until government interfered. Then we ended up with the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

Which is .. and is not ... like German veterans of World War II getting together to listen to a little Schubert.

to pretend that the horrors of the "Bristol trade" were just the same as other forms of slavery

Which is why I didn't do that, I suspect.

Brutal treatment of slaves isn't an invention of white Europeans, even if it wasn't practiced in the majority of slaveowning cultures.

Eh, some ant species know both war and slavery and did so long before man. They just did not come up with any ideological justification for it (T.H.White notwithstanding). Humans reinvented both institutions independently though.

Slarti: Which is why I didn't do that, I suspect.

Ah, this would be your brand of Intentional Obscurity again. OK. It's Friday. John Thullen is filled with wit and wisdom. Wine.

All,
Honestly, everybody has enslaved everyone else at some point. That is just a fact of human history.

In defense of white men, you have to note the simple fact that white men--from Garrison to Lincoln--did a hell of a lot to end slavery. You really have to ask yourself if slavery would have ended without white men, given the fate of slave uprisings in the 17-19th centuries. It was the abolitionist movement--formed and led by whites--that created the social change needed to end slavery. If it had not been for the abolitionists, it is questionable whether we would have had a civil war at all, or if we did have one, whether it would have led to any sort of meaningful change in the least.

Because the indians didn't practice it before we got here?

A good point. American white man blinders claims another victim.

I actually don't subscribe to the "white men are the source of all evil" point of view, or the "noble savage" one. The American indians, for example, were expert torturers, and in fact did engage in slavery.

And, the trade in black Africans as slaves predates the existence not only of the US, but of European settlement in the Western Hemisphere. IINM Arab and Berber groups in North Africa were at it long before Hispaniola was a gleam in Ferdinand and Isabella's eye.

And, the systematic trafficing of one ethnic or national group of another as slaves or forced labor goes back as far as I'm able to follow.

White Europeans are, as far as I can tell, not unique in engaging in systematic chattel slavery.

We have, however, and thankfully, given it up, at least de jure.

None of that has anything to do with whether an insurrectionist government, brought into being through an act of war and specifically to preserve chattel slavery as a way of life, is something that deserves our fond nostalgia.

None of that has anything to do with whether an insurrectionist government, brought into being through an act of war and specifically to preserve chattel slavery as a way of life, is something that deserves our fond nostalgia.

A-friggin'-men. If ever there could be a final word on this particular aspect of this discussion, this is it.

None of that has anything to do with whether an insurrectionist government, brought into being through an act of war and specifically to preserve chattel slavery as a way of life, is something that deserves our fond nostalgia.

This.

I'm pleased that, thus far, no representative of the neo-Confederate flying squad has sniffed out the blog and arrived with stories of willing black Confederate soldiers, etc. Perhaps their radar is defective.

"I think it's silly to imagine that white men invented slavery. But it's even more silly to attempt to justify slavery by pointing at someone else and saying they did it first."

I wasn't trying to justify slavery. I was pointing out that a statement has been made that was objectively false. If you're decrying evil, are you entitled to invent "facts" that aren't true?

"You really have to ask yourself if slavery would have ended without white men, given the fate of slave uprisings in the 17-19th centuries."

Slavery didn't end. The African slave trade continued in Africa even after white Europeans stopped tapping into it, and continues to this day.

"None of that has anything to do with whether an insurrectionist government, brought into being through an act of war and specifically to preserve chattel slavery as a way of life, is something that deserves our fond nostalgia."

Couldn't agree more. I'm not the slightest bit nostalgic about the Confederacy. Neither do I have a Pollyannish view of the motives and conduct of the North. Lacking the one does not actually require the other, you know.

"WTF is romantic about that?"

I read Shelby Foote's trilogy last summer--it's romantic if you push the slavery issue into the background, as Foote tends to do. He was a liberal for his time and place, but he's definitely one of those romanticizers who, for instance, criticized the white racists of his own day by saying they had no right to the Confederate flag they would wave around, because in Foote's view the flag stood for valor and self-sacrifice and so on.

I enjoyed the books, only occasionally feeling the desire to throw them across the room (as when Foote talks about the Ft. Pillow massacre). But it was like reading the Lord of the Rings and not worrying much about whether monarchy and a medieval social structure would really be so pleasant to live in. I don't worry about that with LOTR, since there aren't a lot of unreconstructed monarchists pining for the day when those of pure Numenorean blood ruled "the West" with fairness and wisdom. It's harder to do this with real life, but that's what the romance of the Civil War depends on. It's not that Foote isn't critical of slavery or denies its importance, but he somehow manages to make it seem less important than all the battles and the heroism--in short, he was kidding himself and his readers.

I'm pleased that, thus far, no representative of the neo-Confederate flying squad has sniffed out the blog and arrived with stories of willing black Confederate soldiers, etc. Perhaps their radar is defective.

To that I can only say that Hitler was (at least initially) supported by many Jews too. And some 'useful' Jews got their family tree cleaned up by the high 3rd Reich officials. Göring is famously quoted with "Wer (bei mir) Jude ist, bestimme ich" (I decide who is a Jew (in my department)) when someone pointed out to him that his chief of staff may be of Jewish family background.
Or closer to home: What about women against the right to vote for women (Coulter being one of them iirc)?

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