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April 09, 2010

Comments

What? God is not on my side? Even for militant agnostics like myself, this is a crushing blow indeed.

Robert, again, wow, and thanks. Great stuff.

*****

In the context of this post, I think it's worth returning to a couple of comments from the previous installments. One was this from Ugh:

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).

I’m glad to have the second clause of that sentence putting to rest any pretense that the war was really about states’ rights. The first clause, on the other hand, begs for a reminder that slavery was enshrined into the USA’s constitution as well. As slarti wrote:

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.

I think it would take much stronger words to fittingly characterize the course taken by the Founders in relation to slavery. (Someone else alluded to this too, but I don't have time to reread the whole original thread to find it.) It was not an “oversight,” it was a delibrate, deeply considered, carefully calibrated compromise, without which the country would not have come into being. Slavery was a foundation stone of this country, our (meaning the USA’s) original sin, our original (perhaps even yet to be) fatal flaw.

Clearly the wound is still festering. It was there long before the Civil War and it is still here even though the war, and slavery itself, are far in the past. The fact that it’s still festering is not entirely the fault of “the South,” but beyond that I’ll be damned if I have a clue what to do about it. Robert’s suggestions are good ones, though, and who knows, maybe someday we’ll get there.

As a programmer, I should be more careful about the placement of parentheses.

...our original (perhaps even yet to be fatal) flaw....

From Wikipedia:

The constitution likewise prohibited the Confederate Congress from abolishing or limiting slavery in Confederate territories (unlike the United States, where, prior to the Dred Scott decision, Congress had prohibited slavery in some territories). This did not necessarily mean that individual states could not ban slavery.

So, while I find the CSA repulsive, that does not appear to be a "gotcha" against the states-rights argument.

The gotcha against "states rights!" is to point people toward the speeches and writings of the day that CLEARLY demonstrate that the "right" in question was the ownership of slaves.

This!

Very nicely put.

As for how best to heal the wounds...

I don't know, but it occurs to me that de-coupling "Southern" and "Confederate" might be a good start.

So, while I find the CSA repulsive, that does not appear to be a "gotcha" against the states-rights argument.

That's my bad, I should have looked before posting as I was recalling (wrongly) something I had read months back at LG&M. Though, of course, none of the southern states were going to be banning slavery any time soon.

Though, of course, none of the southern states were going to be banning slavery any time soon.

That Jefferson Davis was himself a plantation owner probably had no bearing in the matter.

If you do not believe me, just read the collective writings of Jefferson Davis, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court Roger B. Taney, or of the 'moderate' plutocrats of South Carolina.

Coincidentally, I was listening to "Florida Frontiers" on NPR on the way home last night, and they were interviewing Daniel Schafer (professor emeritus of history, UNF), author of Thunder on the River: The Civil War in Northeast Florida. Mr. (Dr?) Schafer noted that his book was likely to be unpopular to an extent because it concluded in part that the Civil War was indeed about slavery, and he supported his conclusions with various letters to newspapers and other public speech.

Knowing and understanding the Constitutional original sin, the cause of the American civil war, and the long standing impact of regional, cultural, and economic divides that prevented having any sense of "nation" for almost 100 years should also help Americans understand better why other countries and regions have similar longstanding issues that cause tension, violence, and wars.

And perhaps we won't be so surprised when we can't establish equal societies with justice for all in other parts of the world over night (or ever), whether through diplomacy, money, or guns.

I came across a much better "gotcha" vs. the states rights argument, in a comment over at The Atlantic:

The Fugitive Slave Act (1850). "States Rights" my ass.

As a programmer, I should be more careful about the placement of parentheses.

Too late -- your comment is in an infinate loop!

"What were those mistakes that our present day political leaders need to reflect upon?"

The Southern Republican Leadership Conference reflected this week and flunked all five tests.

During Civil War #II, which I believe the anti-American Republican Party is actively trying to incite, I say we skip Fort Sumter and send Sherman to the sea NOW.

Just for fun.

Marx and Engels on the American Civil War

Responding to Rob on 4/9, 2:15. The "limiting slavery in Confederate territories" is the gotcha. The States Rights issue got legs over tariffs during Nullification and evolved during the formation of the Kansas/Nebraska territories into states. When Kansas was being organized, slavery was originally prohibited by the Missouri Compromise which Calhoun argued was a violation of the rights of states to bring their property with them we settling the territory which lead to Bleeding Kansas, the Kansa-Nebraska Act, yada, yada which crystallized slavery as being the central element of the States Rights issue of that day, which also demonstrates how deluded the Tenther Revisionists are really.

As a programmer, I should be more careful about the placement of parentheses.

Yeah, I couldn't tell if that was intended to be a parenthesized expression or a typecast.

I'd ask another "why?" Why, with the South's long, proud history from Jamestown, to the Virgina dynasty, to its presidential dominance in the late 20th Century (Johnson, Carter, and Clinton), with the vast number of statesmen and military heroes from the South, with its cultural icons from Poe to Faulkner to W. C. Handy to Elvis, why does "Southern Heritage" always mean the Confederacy, a government that existed for only four years out of the South's four centuries, that produced no figures remotely comparable to Jefferson or Madison, and that was founded on a principle of absolute evil?

Mike Schilling,

Excellent question, and the point about culture is a strong one. American music is heavily southern, as is American literature, yet so many just want to wave Confederate flags.

Maybe...the loudest Southerners can only appreciate their culture, through a racist lens...and all that other stuff is "fer the liburals"!

I mean the arts alone, towers over the that Confederate crap….and yet, the right to be a racist seems to be the strongest impulse for many Southerners, all in the name of state’s rights, of course.

"State's rights" is a misnomer. States have powers. People have rights. Or, at least, you would hope so.

I think the leaders of the Confederacy, got off easy...and the rush to create a nation of white brotherhood, after the Civil War, aloud that type of thinking to fester.

A great book, on the subject:

Edward J. Blum. Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, 1865-1898

From the review:

Observing the drift of American culture during the 1880s, Albion Tourgee, an abolitionist and keen observer of southern life, grumbled that “our literature has become not only Southern in type but distinctly Confederate in sympathy.”(1) He understood sooner than many of his contemporaries that white southerners had lost the war but were winning the peace. He also knew what this development would mean for the nation's future. Any prospects for racial justice in the United States were stillborn as long as the overwhelming majority of African Americans lived in the South and white southerners retained a de facto veto over the country's racial policies. More broadly, campaigns for social justice had to either accommodate the reactionary politics that prevailed in the South or attempt to overcome them. National reconciliation on such terms effectively foreclosed many potentially progressive paths for American society for at least three-quarters of a century.

{...}

Edward J. Blum's Reforging the White Republic is an ambitiously conceived book that does much more than explain how white southerners won the postbellum peace. Blum insists that the failure of Reconstruction should be traced to American religious institutions and values. Situating his work at the interstices of recent scholarship on historical memory, nationalism, and cultural history, he convincingly argues that an amalgam of “whiteness, godliness, and American nationalism” came to define not only postwar Protestantism but also the United States. With obvious regret, Blum traces “how whites claimed a new national solidarity at the expense of racial reform, how ministers and politicians marshaled religious and white supremacist rhetoric in order to wield social power, and how imperialism wrapped itself in sacred cloth”

Slightly OT: RIP Dixie Carter.

Dixie was probably best known for her role as Julia Sugarbaker in Designing Women, and for her epic, fiery monologues, of which this is one (why I include it here is left as an exercise for the reader):

I'm saying this is the South, and we're proud of our crazy people. We don't hide them up in the attic; we bring 'em right down to the living room and show 'em off. See, Phyllis, no one in the South ever asks if you have any crazy people in your family; they just ask which side they're on.

I absolutely loved her in that role, and watched that show on a semi-regular basis just to see what kind of rant Julia would take off on this week.

"And if they're so crazy that we can't have them around, we just elect them to Congress and ship them off to Washington, D.C."

She's become a bit of an icon among drag queens, here in LA.

The Golden Girls are huge on the USC campus.

There is more to the South than "state's rights" and the Confederacy.

There is more to the South than "state's rights" and the Confederacy.

My father was born and raised near Statesboro GA. I have lots of family in that area still. Many of my best, absolute best, memories from when I was kid are from family visits we made to my relatives there.

What I remember most is the feeling of relaxation, of freedom from the kind of stressing about stupid dumb crap that seemed so typical back home in NY.

I'm sure some of that was because we were on vacation, some of it was because we were guests, some of it was because we were hanging with family that we didn't get to see all that much of.

But I think a lot of it was due to the difference between Georgia and New York.

People relaxed. They spent time visiting with each other, enjoying each other's company. People dropped by, hung out for an afternoon doing nothing more special than talking and eating, and then they didn't worry about the 10,000 other things they should have been doing during that time.

My uncle kept goats in an old school bus. He took the trash out behind the barn and burned it in an old 50 gallon drum, and nobody hassled him about it. Dinner was catfish from the pond and vegetables that he and my aunt grew in the back yard. There were guns and motorcycles and some open land, which to me as a kid was freaking heaven.

People relaxed, and enjoyed each other. They didn't stress about annoying petty BS. Life was about living, and hanging out with friends and family, and not about getting ahead, or making a gazillion dollars, or having a Wolf stove in the kitchen.

All of that, and pulled pork sandwiches, years and years before you could get one up here.

I have a great, great affection for the American south. I just think nostalgia for the CSA, and for the myth of genteel plantation life, is a waste. It wasn't that great for the folks who lived through it, black or white, except for a very privileged few.

Crazy people.

Of course, now we're a few minutes late getting down to the living room to meet the company because we're not quite done previewing our latest blog post.

Who "we" is, is a question I leave as an exercise for my fellow kemosabes.

We rhymes with me, bit I'm a Northerner so I don't know what that's got to do with anything.

It used to be the crazy people were at least content to venture no farther than the living room. Now they get together at venues like the Southern Republican Leadership Conference to share the crazy.

They buy questionable doodads and pennants at the John Wilkes Booth .... booth.

David Vitter could get up and give a hair-raising rant at the dias against the evils of condom use and the gathered crazy aunts and uncles would stand and prematurely applaud.

But seriously and oddly, and relatedly, The South is a complicated place if you move beyond the demagogic cracker pants cartoon characters in the present-day GOP, which may one day require a cartoon Sherman to lay waste to their cartoon wardrobes and landscape.

Walker Percy and Flannery O'Conner capture that complicated nature, where sin finds a home among the Southern platitudes.

As an aside, I watched Tiger Woods at Augusta this weekend and wondered whether he would have received as kind of a reception anywhere else in the country.

Well, he could have blown it and announced he was in favor of tax increases and universal health care, but since he sticks to the venal sins, the gallery loved it.

But then you read Louisiana Rep John Fleming accusing President Obama of being a traitor (see Washington Monthly) because of the new treaty signed this past week and you realize the Civil War just ain't over in cartoon confederate coward land.

">http://www.jstor.org/pss/2926517"> Autobiography and Ideology in the South: Thomas Wolfe and the Vanderbilt Agrarians.

This article, definitely shows the struggle young Southern artists were having with the past.

I've lived in Michigan, and now for several years in South Carolina, and I'd say that racial tensions are, if anything, less down here. For whatever reason. I suspect it's got something to do with racial distribution patterns in the two states; Michigan is much more 'segregated', not in the sense of people being compelled to live apart, but in the sense that they DO, for historical reasons, live apart. The races mix to a much greater extent down here, and if you meet a southern black, the chances are much higher that he or she isn't living in an area that's urban, and upwards of 80% black.

True story: I grew up in lily white Warren, Michigan, and when I went off to college, got a black room mate. Complemented him on his tan... Boy, was I ever embarrassed when he corrected me!

The races mix to a much greater extent down here

This is my impression also.

Whatever else folks want to say about the north vs the south, in my experience blacks and whites have a lot more day to day contact with each other in the south.

I live near Boston, and I've found that it's *very* unusual for different races and/or ethnic groups to interact as part of normal daily life. Maybe in the workplace, but socially and in terms of where they live, not.

FWIW.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Sunday defended fellow Gov. Bob McDonnell for his decision to declare April "Confederate History Month" in Virginia without initially acknowledging the legacy of slavery, saying the controversy "doesn't amount to diddly."
[...]
Barbour, a Republican, said his state for years has marked a Confederate Memorial Day, under the leadership of Democratic and Republican governors -- and a Democratic legislature.

"I'm unaware of them being criticized for it or them having their supporters feel uncomfortable with it," Barbour said Sunday.
[...]

Mississippi Gov. Barbour Backs McDonnell on 'Confederate History' Declaration

And all of the above notwithstanding, Confederate History Month is and always will be one seriously dumb@ss idea.

In the absents of dumb@ss ideas, what would most politicians have to cling to?

My favorite Designing Women moment, because it reminded me so strongly of a friend who's from Georgia (I thought it was Julia speaking, but it's actually Charlene):

That reminds me of that story about a Southern woman who goes to this la-dee-da cocktail party in New York City. She turns to a Northern woman and says, "Where y'all from?" The Northern woman looks at her and she says, "We're from where we don't end our sentences with a preposition." So the Southern woman looks at her and says, "Oh...well then, where y'all from.......BITCH?"

Following up on someotherdude's cite, I would highly recommend the Vanderbilt Agrarian's collection of essays 'I'll take my stand'. Written in 1930, it is a defense of Southern life as one side of the Agrarian/Urban divide.

I think the dynamics of race operate differently, concerning region.

"Want to know the difference between North and South? Well, a man once told me that up North, it is OK to have a Black as your boss, but you will be damned if you will have one for a neighbor. Down South, it is OK to have a Black neighbor…but you will damned if you will have one as a boss."

From:

We’ll All Take Turns, I’ll Get Mine Too

"Well, a man once told me that up North, it is OK to have a Black as your boss, but you will be damned if you will have one for a neighbor. Down South, it is OK to have a Black neighbor…but you will damned if you will have one as a boss."

I truthfully have not seen any sign of the latter attitude while down here, but of course I've only been here a few years.

i've never had a black boss, here in NC, or back in NY.

no women, either.

Clearly the wound is still festering. It was there long before the Civil War and it is still here even though the war, and slavery itself, are far in the past. The fact that it’s still festering is not entirely the fault of “the South,” but beyond that I’ll be damned if I have a clue what to do about it.

"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despite, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of god." Aeschylus

If anyone knows of an easier path, please let me know.

First, let's discuss the history. Simply put, the Civil War was about slavery. It was not about anything else.

If that's the case, why did so many poor whites, far from the ante bellum aristocrats, rally to the cause right from the start, before any "invasion of the South" had actually taken place? Slavery was a major part of the problem, yes, but I think it's short-sighted to see it as the problem, itself. And at the risk of seeming as though I'm trying to pose as a wise old sage, I think it was a case of an entire way of life that Southerners in general felt was threatened. Money going to manufacturing plants in the North or England to turn their cotton into finished goods, garnering most of the cash for their physical labor. Jobs going to cities where people actually worked selling things they'd never made, instead of selling the results of their own work. Complicated markets of competing interests, vs a simple barter system. Slavery was the strongest, most emotive part of this system, but it really was an entire rural "arcadian" approach to living that was under threat. Nevermind that the threat was resolvable by taking responsibility for changing, and (to an extent) directing it, themselves. The South as a whole didn't want anything to do with it. And in a fashion that we've seen recently thanks to the teabaggers, their reaction was violent anger directed at anybody who appeared to threaten an already mythologized status quo.

Check out McPherson's Battlecry of Freedom: tons of statistics, showing just how resolutely Southerners rejected efforts to "urbanize" their over-culture for 20 years before the Civil War. And how bit by bit, slavery came to be a symbol for them of everything they disliked about the Other.

Mind, slavery is disgusting, whatever form it takes. But there are also fascinating lessons for today that can be learned looking at how average people reacted in a group-illogical way when faced with issues that could have been resolved sensibly.

If that's the case, why did so many poor whites, far from the ante bellum aristocrats, rally to the cause right from the start, before any "invasion of the South" had actually taken place?

For much the same reason as so many Americans will vote to support a conservative politician who intends quite openly to screw them over to benefit the very rich: the politician understands the trigger-words to use to get the teabaggers convinced they're all on the same side, against Those Sort Of People, Over There.

It would be ahistorical to name the opposition to Lincoln and the support of slavery "racist": the word didn't exist then, but white Confederates swam in it like a fish in water. You only have to read contemporary justifications for the Confederacy, for the antebellum laws supported by the slave states to impose slavery on the free states, to understand that.

I think it was a case of an entire way of life that Southerners in general felt was threatened.

Absolutely: the whole way of life in which white people were free and black people were slaves.

And at the risk of seeming as though I'm trying to pose as a wise old sage

That's okay, you're at no risk of that, son.

"If that's the case, why did so many poor whites, far from the ante bellum aristocrats, rally to the cause right from the start, before any "invasion of the South" had actually taken place? "

Why did young men go marching off to Flanders Fields? Why did they follow Napoleon into Russia? Why VietNam, Iraq...

I realize that various versions of the draft have something to do with getting people involved in the actually fighting of a war. The South eventually used conscripts on their side, after all. But throughout history, all over the world, in many nations and regions and kingdoms or whatever the same phenomenon has occured: people willing to follow a leader and kill other people for slogans. Particlularly slogans that appeal to our most primitive instincts as the genetic descendents of territorial pack hunters.There will always be lots of people who can be suckered by a percieved strong leader into killing the Other in "defense" of "home".

Be not too hard for life is short and nothing is given to man.

Be not too hard if he is sold or bought for he must manage as best he can.

Be not too hard if he sometimes kills, fighting for things he doesn't own.

Be not too hard when he tells lies or whenhis heart is like a stone.

Be not too hard, for soon he'll die, often nowiser than he began.

Be not too hard for life is short and nothing is given to man.

For much the same reason as so many Americans will vote to support a conservative politician who intends quite openly to screw them over to benefit the very rich: the politician understands the trigger-words to use to get the teabaggers convinced they're all on the same side, against Those Sort Of People, Over There.

And since most Southerners didn't own slaves and couldn't afford them in, say, 1840, the attack on slavery hit them exactly how...? And since politicians weren't by and large elected by the disenfranchised Southern poor, but by the wealthy; and since these politicians campaigned exclusively to the rich, why should the poor care?

It would be ahistorical to name the opposition to Lincoln and the support of slavery "racist": the word didn't exist then,

No. The concept definitely existed, and was fully understood. There are written broadsides going back to the 17th century against slavery for the same argument we understand today: that all humans are human, that they deserve to be treated with the same basic dignity, and even with a courtesy that you ignore in your final remarks to me. But every culture, as Levi-Strauss repeatedly noted, develops its own set of self-reinforcing myths that allows it to ignore conditions in a way we should term neurotic, if it appeared in a single individual. Southern (and to an extent, Northern) US culture of the period chose to demonize blacks as less-than-human, at a time when some European nations were at least showing nascent signs of understanding the matter.

You only have to read contemporary justifications for the Confederacy, for the antebellum laws supported by the slave states to impose slavery on the free states, to understand that.

You appear not to have really read what I wrote, above, since I never denied slavery's centrality. Why should I deny the obvious? And why don't you actually read all of what I wrote, think it over, and post about it after a while?

Absolutely: the whole way of life in which white people were free and black people were slaves.

You really aren't interested in finding out any facts about antebellum Southern life, are you? It's very simple: slavery/free, that's it. What study have you done on this issue, out of curiosity?

And at the risk of seeming as though I'm trying to pose as a wise old sage...

That's okay, you're at no risk of that, son.

I like you. No nuance, quick to judge, and fast with a flip insult. You'll go far on the Web.

Slavery was a major part of the problem, yes, but I think it's short-sighted to see it as the problem, itself. And at the risk of seeming as though I'm trying to pose as a wise old sage, I think it was a case of an entire way of life that Southerners in general felt was threatened.

I could be wrong, but I'm not sure it's possible to separate slavery as practiced in the antebellum American south from the acadian, agrarian "entire way of life" that you refer to here.

That way of life required slave labor. No slave labor, different way of life.

Hence the problem.

Maybe there's a distinction to be drawn there, but I'm not sure I can find it.

Money going to manufacturing plants in the North or England to turn their cotton into finished goods, garnering most of the cash for their physical labor.

Who does the "their" in this sentence refer to?

Non=slaving owning whites had a stake in preserving slavery because it preserved their status as superior to blacks.

Besides young men will volunteer to follow strong leaders into any war just for the vicarious sense of being strong and for the sense of being a winner. Rulers have never had any trouble getting people to fight against their own interests or for causes that had little to do with their interests.

You appear not to have really read what I wrote

You're new here, but you seem to be learning quickly.

Don't let Jesurgislac's hostilities deter you from posting here. The rest of us are, most of the time, at least, far more interested in understanding your point than in telling you what your point is, as well as how shriveled a human soul you must have for espousing it.

Not saying you won't ever be reviled, just that most of us tend to be less hair-trigger with the revilement.

BTW, I started with a quote from Balakirev so it is my own fault that my comments appear to be a response to his. In fact I have a low flash point on this subject because I am part of the generation that was bamboozled via public school history books into rationalizing that the war was not really about slavery. The argument that non-slaving owning whites volunteered to fight was one of the rationalizations in the textbooks and his comment recalled it to my mind.

I'm older now and know a great deal more history--and clearly people fight all the time for outcomes which will not affect them or won't affect them enough to make it worth killing other people.

I could be wrong, but I'm not sure it's possible to separate slavery as practiced in the antebellum American south from the acadian, agrarian "entire way of life" that you refer to here.

It isn't, Russell, you're right--anymore than it is possible to separate Athenian so-called "democracy" from the way freedom from work was achieved by males in that culture at the cost of slave and female labor. But to the average person who owned acres of farmable land, a few miles from a two-building village--a blacksmith, and a general store--it seemed that they raised crops, exchanged them for other goods in an occasional trip to the "city" (population: under 100) about 50 miles away, and thus kept their freedoms. Nothing else mattered. They didn't often own slaves personally, and didn't perceive that the entire culture was rooted in slave labor; that the wealthier, more knowledgeable members of their society did so, that the homes in bigger cities were erected by slave labor, that dockyard duties were performed by it, that it was the lynchpin of their way of life, just as certainly as they themselves were just a part of a much larger economic structure. I've read an interesting and pretty thorough collection of the newspapers from places such as Atlanta, New Orleans, and Richmond, that appeared on the eve of the 1860 presidency. Some of the editorials were vile, detestable things--well, actually, teabagger-style rhetoric writ large. Think: Limbaugh in 1860 elocution and style. But the majority hammered home the point that their way of life was under attack, that their cotton (to which white Southerners developed an almost familial feeling) was being underpriced deliberately by Northerners to leave them destitute. That they were being asked to abandon their farms and work in horrendous industrial conditions (that last phrase at least was correct--life expectancy in Manchester UK in 1870 in the plants was 28), or sell somebody else's goods in their stores. It was against the laws of nature, you see. It was tied up with personal liberty in the minds of the time--not to mention the Great Evangelical Revival of the 1830s that hit the South far more than the North, creating yet further divisions.

In short, it was a mess. The South had a ton of grievances, no understanding of the basic issues it confronted, and one solution obvious to almost everyone: the North was to blame for trying to kill off their way of life, take their land, their slaves, their farms, and their families. The whole, sad misunderstanding on Southerners' part can be read in Jefferson Davis' comment at the end of his life, "We just wanted to be left alone." No, they really didn't just want that, but the South thought they did. They really wanted to preserve what couldn't be preserved, a barter economy, a slave-driven society, and a simplistic way of relating goods to services that the Dutch in the 16th century had laughed at.

Rulers have never had any trouble getting people to fight against their own interests or for causes that had little to do with their interests.

And once the Civil War had begun, the South had a self-perpetuating reason for increasing enlistment: invasion. Nevermind the issues leading up to the conflict, one culture's people perceived itself as being invaded by another. At a time when anyone, North or South, had more sense of honor in a hangnail than John Yoo ever had in his body in his entire lifetime, it was necessary to serve.

Not saying you won't ever be reviled, just that most of us tend to be less hair-trigger with the revilement.

Heh. :) I guess I can live with that.

Saying that the Civil War was about Slavery, period (in other words, 100%) is, IMO, a reaction to all those "but, but, but it wasn't really about slavery... um, states rights, um, tariffs!" posts you see on the web, trying to remove slavery from the discussion. Balakirev seems to have been put in that box by Jesurgislac. Having read his 1st post carefully, I think that was a mistake.

My $.02:

Slavery was the dominant issue. Sure, it was not the ONLY issue. I think it's fair to say, however, that w/o slavery there is no Civil War. There would still have been regional political grievances & battles, but war? I highly doubt it.

As for why poor whites who didn't own slaves and never would own slaves volunteered to fight & die to protect the "way of life" that basically didn't benifit them... well, I think you basically answer that in your post, Balakirev. They were deluded, and slavery was central to that delusion.

Here is a mental exercise. State’s rights don’t seem to be an inalienable right or something grounded in natural rights. But it is used as a justification for something which on the surface, is not “appreciated” by the rest of the nation.

So, if the West Coast had a long tradition of child rape, a tradition the rest of the nation, thought could no longer be tolerated and took measures to quash…and then California decided that, it was essential to the culture and economics (let’s say industrious Westerners found a way to make billions of dollars off the rape of children) a way of life of Westerners and Sacramento claimed “States Rights.” And many other Western States, followed. And even though, it was, primarily wealthy Westerners who engaged in child rape, many poor Westerners, who had no use for child rape, but did see “States rights” as a noble cause, took up arms to defend Westerners’ right to rape children. And fought nobly, for defending child rape in the name of State’s Rights.

Now, how would you view their noble sacrifice? And their commitment to "state's rights"?

Slavery was the dominant issue. Sure, it was not the ONLY issue. I think it's fair to say, however, that w/o slavery there is no Civil War. There would still have been regional political grievances & battles, but war? I highly doubt it.

This pretty much encapsulates my understanding of the matter. Look, I've been in the states' rights camp. But after considering whether the Civil War have ever come to pass, without slavery as a pivotal issue, I had to admit that the states rights issue was bunk.

As I've said, elsewhere: at this far a remove, "the victors write the history books" rationale fails. Historians will eventually, when freed from personal entanglement of history, eventually tease the truth from the propaganda. And at this remove, it should be clear that the US Civil War was, in fact, fought primarily to preserve slavery.

And, at this remove, it's fair to say that no adult person in the United States has any excuse for failing to recognize that.

Commemorating the Confederacy in some positive way, therefore, is an exercise in whitewashing history.

[T]he white group of laborers, while they receive a low wage, were compensated in part by a sort of public and psychological wage. They were given public deference and titles of courtesy because they were white. They were admitted freely with all classes of white people to public functions, public parks, and the best schools.

Black Reconstruction in America W. E. B. Du Bois

But to the average person who owned acres of farmable land, a few miles from a two-building village--a blacksmith, and a general store--it seemed that they raised crops, exchanged them for other goods in an occasional trip to the "city" (population: under 100) about 50 miles away, and thus kept their freedoms.

That is just about exactly how my father, born in 1920, grew up. There were probably more than 2 buildings in the nearest village, but other than that this was the environment he grew up, to a T.

And that was a pretty different way of life than the plantation culture -- growing cotton, sugar, rice, indigo, maybe tobacco, on relatively large land holdings, for export -- that depended on slave labor.

I agree that both groups resented the north, but I also agree with wonkie and slarti that the issue that drove that resentment to insurrection and war was specifically slavery.

The American Civil War was motivated by the desire to preserve and expand chattel slavery of black people.

Preserve, at a minimum. I think more to the point: preserve (and, yes, expand) the lifestyle that was made possible only through ownership and exploitation of human beings.

Preserve, at a minimum. I think more to the point: preserve (and, yes, expand) the lifestyle that was made possible only through ownership and exploitation of human beings.

Lincoln, while he detested slavery personally, wasn't an abolitionist. As a practical politician, he knew quite well that abolition wasn't possible by any means short of war. Lincoln took what was the extreme "mainstream" anti-slavery position: to confine slavery to the states where it was already entrenched, that is, not to allow it to expand into the territories. That was a direct challenge to Southern capital: either learn to create and run enterprises that don't depend on slavery, or be shut out of the rest of the continent as it becomes settled. Either of those would undermine the slave-based Southern economy.

Thus, I think "expand" is fair. The Southern aristocrats knew quite well that expanding slavery into the territories was crucial to their survival. (In the short-term, anyway: I'm not sure any of them thought about the long term.) That's what "popular sovereignty" and Bleeding Kansas were about before the Civil War -- to expand slavery within the United States wherever possible. And the Confederacy was established not only to preserve slavery within its member states (where it wasn't threatened), but to allow its expansion into the territories it claimed (Oklahoma and Arizona) and whatever pieces of Mexico it could conquer in the future.

Lincoln, while he detested slavery personally, wasn't an abolitionist.

For an interesting perspective on this (at least I found it so) see this post on Slacktivist, "an account from the diary of Nathaniel Brown ... On New Year’s Eve, 1862, Brown and two other Baptist clergymen met with President Abraham Lincoln to present their “memorial,” or declaration, about the content and the intent of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued the following day."

Balakirev: I like you. No nuance, quick to judge, and fast with a flip insult. You'll go far on the Web.

Thanks, petal. But if you're no wiser, at least you are now better informed.

That is just about exactly how my father, born in 1920, grew up.

Just to expand on this slightly.... this is also just about exactly how my wife's people (mother, father, and grandparents) grew up in rural western PA.

It was more or less a normal way of life for lots and lots of people.

If I may be permitted to take this OT ever so briefly, it's one of the things that was largely lost with the spread of an industrial and post-industrial culture, and the rise of consumerism as the basis of the economy.

People don't grow, raise, hunt, or make their own stuff anymore.

Not saying that's good, or not good. It is what it is, and barring drastic events that few of us would find desirable, we ain't going back.

Just saying that public policy that is based on the idea that folks are, in fact, independent to any signficant degree of an industrial supply chain is wrongheaded.

IMVHO.

Sorry for the OT interjection.

Just to expand on this slightly.... this is also just about exactly how my wife's people (mother, father, and grandparents) grew up in rural western PA.

It was more or less a normal way of life for lots and lots of people.

If I may be permitted to take this OT ever so briefly, it's one of the things that was largely lost with the spread of an industrial and post-industrial culture, and the rise of consumerism as the basis of the economy.

People don't grow, raise, hunt, or make their own stuff anymore.

Not saying that's good, or not good. It is what it is, and barring drastic events that few of us would find desirable, we ain't going back.

Just saying that public policy that is based on the idea that folks are, in fact, independent to any signficant degree of an industrial supply chain is wrongheaded.

Good point. I think in it lies encapsulated the key to understanding the bitterness of a wealth of rural cultures that have seen politics, their economies, and their kids move away from them. The Arcadian belief in the purity of self-subsistence has led to a range of behaviors, from anti-slavery youths dying on behalf of the Confederacy to repel "invaders," to people fighting mad at the idea of health insurance care because it's a "handout." And it seems that the further we've receded from this Arcadian existence, the more of an aura of nostalgia it's acquired. It's corollary is that those who seem to lead the vanguard away from this Eden are devils incarnate. The hoards of teabaggers echo their Confederate soulmates in tarring even conservatives like Obama with the meanest, most disgusting filth they can find, because he is perceived as using his power to forcing them still further away from God's Own Mayberry.

Will the Confederacy rise again? It already has, in my opinion. As long as incoherent anger is fed by demagogues, you can give it whatever name you like: the Confederacy, teabaggers, Red Scare witchhunts, etc. The desire to simplify everything down to Them Against Us erases temporal divisions. One touch of ignorance makes the whole world kin.

The hoards of teabaggers echo their Confederate soulmates in tarring even conservatives like Obama with the meanest, most disgusting filth they can find, because he is perceived as using his power to forcing them still further away from God's Own Mayberry.

If that's what those folks are on about, they should try the Arcadian existence on for size for a while before they pine away for it.

My mother in law's folks couldn't afford to keep both her and her brother, so they (she and her brother) took turns living at a relative's farm, where they worked for their keep and were treated like servants.

My old man got off the damned farm just as soon as he could manage it, and he never looked back.

It wasn't all like on the Waltons. The folks in my family all lived through it, but it sucked. It was a lot of tedious, endless, back breaking drudge work just to survive.

Why do I go about this? Because the nostalgia for crap like the Old South and the Confederacy is exactly that, crap. With all due respect for the very many good aspects of agrarian and American southern culture.

The Confederacy was established as an insurrectionist government to preserve the right to own other human beings as livestock. It existed to preserve and expand slave plantation culture.

Slave plantation culture was a great system for folks who had capital in the form of land and slaves, and a crap system for pretty much everybody else who lived under it, white or black.

I have a very, very hard time seeing much of any daylight between nostalgia for the Confederacy and nostalgia for, frex, Nazi Germany, apartheid South Africa, or pretty much any other cultural system that is predicated on natural superiority of one group of folks over another, and/or the natural right of one group of folks to rule over another.

Not that nostalgia for all of those things doesn't exist. It surely does. I'm just not particularly crazy about the governor of Virginia being one of its advocates.

The "Arcadian ideal" is actually still around, but you're most likely to find it among the Amish, or folks raising kosher and halal goats, or folks farming small holdings for local sale through a CSA.

Those are the folks who are living the Arcadian dream these days.

I could be wrong, but I don't expect to find many of our modern teabaggers getting all hands-on with their independent lifestyle. My two cents.

" And at this remove, it should be clear that the US Civil War was, in fact, fought primarily to preserve slavery."

Yeah, pretty much. I'd only note that it's unusual enough for something on the level of the individual to be "just about one thing", to make that claim for something happening on the level of a nation is absurd hyperbole.

"The hoards of teabaggers echo their Confederate soulmates in tarring even conservatives like Obama with the meanest, most disgusting filth they can find, because he is perceived as using his power to forcing them still further away from God's Own Mayberry."

I'm suspect the closest you ever got to knowingly meeting somebody in the tea party movement was reading some political attack on them. You'll find that real political movements are not, generally, composed of monsters. Hell, I've met genuine communists who were not, in person, bad people. They were just in love with a really bad idea.

And the Confederacy was established not only to preserve slavery within its member states (where it wasn't threatened), but to allow its expansion into the territories it claimed (Oklahoma and Arizona) and whatever pieces of Mexico it could conquer in the future.

Iirc what I read in McPherson's book, Cuba was to be the nerve centre of the great slave empire stretching as far (South) as the fevered imagination of its proponents could reach.
---
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0389828/>Here is an interesting take on a winning Confederacy. It's remarkable how much of the stuff shown could be taken from reality (esp. the commericals).

Iirc what I read in McPherson's book, Cuba was to be the nerve centre of the great slave empire stretching as far (South) as the fevered imagination of its proponents could reach.

I think the Confederacy was right in perceiving that the North was growing. Where influence between the two sections of the country with very different broad philosophical and economic bases had once been roughly equal, the North had acquired new states and territories. What's more, there seemed no great impetus in those areas to include slavery, which meant the South was going to lose power in both the House of Representatives and the election of the President. So they saw their way of life as under threat on a federal level, and figured the only way to prevent that was to gain more allies in government. Hence Cuba, and other strange fixations of the imagination, in no way less bizarre than murdering half a million Iraqis so as to stand up to China.

Of course, the ironic thing was that the Civil War's losers in the North--the Democrats--would ultimately join forces with the South to halt and reverse reconstruction. So Southern conservative agrarian culture, complete with slavery, was pretty much able to continue not with foreign allies or war, but through the tools of an "enlightened federal government." Which nearly nobody in the South had the cold, cynical logic to envision before the Civil War started.

"They were just in love with a really bad idea."

The ideas a person choses to love are linked to the quality of their intellect and character.

Most people aren't monsters in person which doesn't necessarily make their ideas any more excusable. It just means that that your encounter with them came be reasonably pleasant as long as you are not one of the unfortunates effected by their hateful ideas. Hitler was a good family man etc. etc.etc.

No I am not comparing Teabaggers to Hitler.

Teabagggers probably are, for the most part, nice people except for the ones that spit at Congressmen and throw pennies at disabled people and bully their neighbors and Represntatives at public meetings. But the ideas they express range from the remarkably stupid thorough the rude to the paranoid, the common denominator beig a desire to find someone to hate and something to hate about. And being nice people on surface encounters with others doesn't make doesn't make that sort of behavior any less reprehensible or irresponsible. .

"So they saw their way of life as under threat on a federal level,..."
Their way of life was under threat not only by social and political conditions, but by the growth of technology. Plantation style slavery was probably on the way out regardless of whether the Civil War had taken place or not.

"Teabagggers probably are, for the most part, nice people except for the ones that spit at Congressmen"

But you've got to admit the ones who spit at Congressmen are really accomplished at stage magic, since they can do it with cameras running, and not get caught on film.

Seriously? The Congressmen have an underground trolley system they normally use, those Congressmen walked through the demonstration with the specific purpose of catching the tea party demonstrators being abusive towards them, (Which is why they had cameras rolling.) and when it didn't happen, they lied about it. That's my take on it.

Plantation style slavery was probably on the way out regardless of whether the Civil War had taken place or not. (emphasis mine)

I'm sure the genteel southern aristocracy would have found some other way to profit from free labor. I'm also sure that slaves don't like being slaves in any style of slavery.

Group Boundaries Without Groups: The Case of "Poor White Trash."

Boundary theory posits that social and cultural groups come into existence and negotiate their place in the social world in part through various forms of boundary work. Groups engaged in boundary work establish both symbolic and social boundaries that define membership and collective belonging and they rely on those boundaries for the survival and cohesion of the group. However, as Brubaker and others have observed, the various forms of “groupism”—the tendency to conceive of groups as bounded wholes—inherent in this approach is misleading. But if, as is widely acknowledged, “races,” “cultures,” “subculture,” “ethnic groups,” and other social groups are not bounded wholes, that is, if they cannot be conceived as entities and social actors, then who or what is doing the boundary work?

This paper examines this question by turning to an intriguing historical case: southern poor whites in the 19th century United States. Treated as a despised and stigmatized class in both the antebellum and post-Civil War eras, southern poor whites make an interesting case study precisely because they rarely if ever formed a group in the classic sociological sense. This was especially true of those whites in poverty who were labeled as poor white trash. Yet historical records and archives reveal that southern poor whites were invariably treated as a group by moral reformers, health crusaders, and social scientists. In short, this case provides for study a useful example of group boundaries without any bounded group.

It's instructive to view the Civil War as a struggle between plantation-style chattel-slavery and industrial-age wage-slavery.

Wage-slavery won, which has led us directly to the current struggle against corporate dominance - and the current resurgence of "Forget, hell!", wild-west butthurtedness we call the Tea Party.

On boundaries: reading about chaos theory years ago set me playing around with pictures generated by using Newton's method on the equation x^4 - 1 = 0.

I love this as a metaphor for the human urge to create in- and out-groups: there's no way to fence off an area of yellow (let's say), excluding green and red and blue, without also excluding some yellows. Or: there are no absolute boundaries between the colors, there's always intermixing.


"The Congressmen have an underground trolley system they normally use, those Congressmen walked through the demonstration with the specific purpose of catching the tea party demonstrators being abusive towards them, (Which is why they had cameras rolling.) and when it didn't happen, they lied about it. That's my take on it."

Your take on it is fact-impaired. The cameras caught the action and there was no need to lie.

The cameras caught the action and there was no need to lie.

Cite, please? I mean, I've seen some video, but the claims of spitting (not to mention, n-word hurling) weren't supported in the video I was looking at.

Slart, the video is apparently only 22 seconds long and the cameraman said that he was far away from the crowd. Here is the CBS news piece on it.

Of course, at this point, one gets to plug in whatever their worldview is. For Brett, who feels that all politicians are liars, any factual statement made by them is going to be a lie and quite possibly, the idea of congressmen taking a walk rather than using the underground trolley on the first decent day of spring is just a sign that they are picking a fight, perhaps with a helping of being uppity for good measure. For me, I'm trying to think why 4 congressmen would go to the trouble to make something up like this.

Also from the article

O'Reilly said, "Just because it's not on tape doesn't mean it's fabricated." A spokeswoman said O'Reilly thinks that something happened, but is not sure exactly what.

It's pretty frightening when Bill O'Reilly comes off sounding like the moderate one...

love this as a metaphor for the human urge to create in- and out-groups: there's no way to fence off an area of yellow (let's say), excluding green and red and blue, without also excluding some yellows. Or: there are no absolute boundaries between the colors, there's always intermixing.

Posted by: JanieM | April 13, 2010 at 01:12 PM

It would certainly give me an incredible way to visualize our various identities (i.e., gender, ethnic, racial, religion, hobbies, etc) and how they relate with each other.

As a matter of strict logic, it is possible to film an event from multiple camera angles, (there wasn't just one camera.) and not catch something that happened. It more or less requires that the person doing it be aware of where the cameras are, and be very adroit.

As a matter of reasonable presumptions, if you have multiple cameras filming an event from different angles, one person says something happened, other people say it didn't, and it doesn't show up on any of the cameras, yes, you can reasonably assume that it didn't happen.

It's a shame we have Congressmen will descend to this level, but that's the world we live in. You want to claim it happened? Cough up some evidence.

That teabaggers are stupid, racist jerks is sufficiently proved out of their own mouths, without really needing to care whether some few of them spat on Congressional representatives. (Unpleasant though the experience must have been for the people who were spat on, whether or not they can precisely identify who it was did it to them or if there is camera evidence.)

It's like Bush's desertion from the military: it's sufficiently proved without needing to care about memos from one of his commanding officers. The right-wing focussed on claiming that the Killian memos were forged because widespread ignorance of pre-computer typography made that relatively feasible, plus it was impossible to actually prove they were not forged. (The same strategy was used for Obama's birth certificate, except that there it was possible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the birth certificate was not a forgery.) The strategy was first to cast doubt on the memos, and to pretend that if the memos were doubtful Bush's desertion was unproven and unlikely: and then to howl that the real story was the "forged memos", not the desertion and lies.

Likewise with teabaggers and spitting. Brett focusses on this aspect of the story becausse he's smart enough to see it would be difficult to prove (after all, when spat on, the instinctive thing to do is promptly to wipe off the spit, not leave it there as evidence that it happened) and thinks that if he claims the spitting never happened, this will distract attention from the plain fact that the people he's defending are the worst kind of mob: people who do not know what they're fighting against but hate it anyway.

There's a Tea Party candidate for Governor of New York who has a history of emailing racist pictures of Barack Obama dressed as an Afican witchdoctor, etc.

We've got pictures of same at Tea Party rallies.

Reports are that the candidate and others in the bowel movement called the Tea Party have salivary glands in their racist mouths.

I don't need a f*cking gob of spit in an evidence bag to tell me who has spat.

The Governor of Virginia and his Attorney General were in that crowd at the Capitol with a mouthful of long-distance loogies.

I saw them, didn't you?

We've got video of white-trash Republican FOX filth dressed as pimps and hos at ACORN offices dragging underaged Latin American girls through the door for tax advice.

I saw that, didn't you?

ACORN is de-funded and bankrupted, or do my eyes deceive me?

Not only did the bullets not come from the Book Depository, but there is NO book depository.

We all live on the grassy knoll now. It's the only possible angle, don't you know?

There's a President defending his plan to partially privatize NASA today. The same President is a Soviet, Stalinist, Maoist, Muslim, Kenyan commie Kenyan.

I read it all on the Internet, where truth is an expectorate.

Erick Erickson has a goat. What he and his goat do to each other, the details of their relationship, used to be between him and the fetching goat.

Not anymore, baby.

You know what? I have no idea what happened. Wasn't there, didn't see it, didn't hear it.

Absent compelling evidence, I find myself presented with two possible scenarios:

1. Some black Congresspeople walked outside the Capitol while demonstrations were going on so they could get folks riled up and then later claim that they were called niggers.

2. Somebody in a crowd of angry protesters called a black Congressperson a nigger.

Net/net, I'm going to say that (2) is more likely. I don't know what actually happened, I'm just talking relative likelihoods. IMVHO.

What is this opinion based on? The entire history of the freaking United States of America.

I'll add the fact that one of the guys in the "they never said that" camp was Breitbart. The man is a liar.

I'm making note of this particular exchange because I'm curious to see what folks will have to say when more information is available.

Russell: Net/net, I'm going to say that (2) is more likely. I don't know what actually happened, I'm just talking relative likelihoods. IMVHO.

They were black? I didn't know that (though it explains Brett's willingness to assert that they must be lying.)

But I'm prepared to bet that this will turn into another Cynthia McKinney incident - how dare these uppity representatives be black in Congress?

So, what do we suppose is happening to Rep. Cleaver in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7wYt9jee2U

AT BEST, we can conclude that someone shouted something untoward and ignored the "Say it, don't spray it" rule. But based on the way Cleaver reacts when first passing the, ahem, "gentleman" with the cupped hands (at approximate 1:24), it sure looks a lot worse than that. Like he might have been called something nasty. And like something was deliberately projected onto his face.

Also.

A reconstruction of the events shows that the conservative challenges largely sprang from a mislabeled video that was shot later in the day. Breitbart posted two columns on his Web site saying the claims were fabricated. Both led with a 48-second YouTube video showing Lewis, Carson, other Congressional Black Caucus members and staffers leaving the Capitol. Some of the group were videotaping the booing crowd. Breitbart asked why the epithet was not captured by the black lawmakers' cameras, and why nobody reacted as if they had heard the slur. He also questioned whether the epithets could have been shouted by liberals planted in the crowd. But the 48-second video was shot as the group was leaving the Capitol — at least one hour after Lewis, D-Ga., and Carson walked to the Capitol, which is when they said the slurs were used.

Any video that surfaces that would, if taken at face value, prove the spitting and epithets will not be taken at face value by some so that it cannot prove the spitting and epithets to them. They will claim it was doctored. There is no longer a reality outside our own spheres of immediate sensory perception. All else is a collection of competing lies.

AT BEST, we can conclude that someone shouted something untoward and ignored the "Say it, don't spray it" rule

I can't disagree with that. I hadn't seen that video, and it's pretty clear that he was sprayed in some manner.

"1. Some black Congresspeople walked outside the Capitol while demonstrations were going on so they could get folks riled up and then later claim that they were called niggers.

2. Somebody in a crowd of angry protesters called a black Congressperson a nigger."

The thing here is, even if number 1 happened (not out of the realm of political possibility), number 2 certainly happened, was despicable and should be condemned by every American. The rest is a discussion of the extent of insult(sprayed etc.) which is irrelevant except whether they should be roundly criticized or charged with a crime.

Blaming the Congresspeople for being spat upon is like blaming my former colleague who was sexually assaulted for walking to near a rapist on her way to her car which was parked in her office parking lot. Congresspeople get to walk on the public streets and sidewalks on their way to and from work without being spat at. Even the Republican ones deserve that.

If, in fact, the claims of spitting and racial epithets were exaggerated, I suppose we have to in fairness conclude that the Confederacy was a good thing. (Either that, or this thread was hijacked, and we know that never happens.)

Wonkie: Blaming the Congresspeople for being spat upon is like blaming my former colleague who was sexually assaulted for walking to near a rapist on her way to her car which was parked in her office parking lot.

Yes. But you will find exactly that doublethink going on in comments very like Marty's on a thread discussing a specific sexual assault: The woman who was raped was to blame because she was out on her own in public, and rape is vile and wrong.

That way our guardians of morality can both lay blame where they think it belongs (black people for racist attacks on them: women for being raped: imams for being Muslim on a plane) and feel smug that they themselves are not so gauche as to actually call a black person n****r, not even if he's being intentionally provocative by walking through a crowd of white people...

But you will find exactly that doublethink going on in comments very like Marty's on a thread discussing a specific sexual assault: The woman who was raped was to blame because she was out on her own in public, and rape is vile and wrong.

Am I misreading Marty's comment or something? Because I don't see him saying anything like that. It seems to me he's saying the spitting and epithets were wrong regardless of what the congresspersons' actions or intentions were, thus not laying blame at all on the congresspersons. What am I missing here?

"Am I misreading Marty's comment or something?"

HSH, thanks for noticing.

Am I misreading Marty's comment or something?

Yes, I think so.

Marty claims that it's possible the Congresspeople walked through the crowd on purpose "so they could get folks riled up and then later claim that they were called niggers".

He then goes on to condemn the crowd for doing so, even if those four uppity Congresspeople were being deliberately provocative by actually presuming to be black in a racist crowd.

Marty joined this conversation about the Confederacy by reminding us that he's one of those people who thinks we just don't understand that slavery has its genteel traditions which ought to be fondly celebrated. Why would it surprise anyone that he thinks the descendents of slaves are being provocative by walking around being blatantly black in public?

Marty claims that it's possible the Congresspeople walked through the crowd on purpose "so they could get folks riled up and then later claim that they were called niggers".

Well, technically, it is possible. But "even if" means it doesn't matter with regard to who's to blame. Not that I think I could convince you of that, Jes, or even get you at least to concede that it's not an absurd reading of what he wrote, even if (there it is again) it's not your reading. (I'd be happy for you to prove me wrong on that point, BTW.) But it appears that I didn't "misread" anything, rather I didn't read it the same way you did.

I wasn't responding to Marty. I was responding to Brett Bellmore. Brett is the one that I thought was blaming the victim.

And yeah, the thread got jacked at least in part by me. Sorry.

Well, technically, it is possible

Well, technically, it is possible that Barack Obama was born in the Elsie Inglis Hospital in Edinburgh, UK. He's a human being, he had to be born somewhere, so it's possible he was born in the UK at a maternity hospital that has since been closed down.

And technically, it's possible that a woman who appears to be innocently walking to her car is in fact trying to entrap some poor innocent man into being falsely accused of rape.

And technically, it's possible that when black people are walking through a crowd of white people, they are doing so with malicious intent in order to facilitate the claim that the white people are racist jerks.

And technically, it's possible that the CIA blew up the WTC.

And technically, it's possible that Marty had no notion that black people were enslaved when he claimed that the Confederacy had all of these genteel traditions that ought to be remembered.

And technically, it's possible that the Internet could have been built out of a different software functionality than ttp.
It just doesn't seem all that likely.

And technically, it's possible that when black people are walking through a crowd of white people, they are doing so with malicious intent in order to facilitate the claim that the white people are racist jerks.

Why malicious? Some white people are racist jerks. Purposely exposing them seems perfectly justified to me.

"And technically, it's possible that Marty had no notion that black people were enslaved when he claimed that the Confederacy had all of these genteel traditions that ought to be remembered."

Or perhaps he knew that their were people enslaved, and objected to it, but didn't assign that as necessary for the genteel traditions of the South. I believe that some time spent in Charleston to this day would yield an experience of those genteel traditions without requiring a single slave.

"Look at that guy: he is walking maliciously! "

Somehow I don't think that has ever survived an editor for any novel.

Technically, members of Congress have their own spiffy private subway so that they can make that trip without ever having to lay eyes on a member of the public, unless they want to go out of their way to consort with the lower classes.

They deliberately walked through a hostile crowd, with cameras running. It makes about as much sense to deny they meant to film something they could describe as some sort of attack, as it does to deny that I'm fishing when I throw a baited hook over the side of the boat while at trolling speed.

So the members of congress are the blameworthy fisherman, while the spitting, nigger-shouting members of the crowd are innocent fish? Is that how it works?

I'm in the position of not being able to agree with you, Brett, or Jes.

Jes thinks it's not reasonably possible that the members of congress decided to get a reaction from the crowd by walking through the crowd. I think it is, though I don't assert that that's what they intended.

I disagree with you, Brett, because, if the members of congress did decide to get a reaction from the crowd, it's still entirely the fault of the members of the crowd (humans, not fish) for behaving the way they did. I would applaud the members of congress for exposing the racists for what they were, and the members of congress were perfectly within their rights to walk as they pleased, despite the "spiffy private subway."

Do you think it's worse to be black (and have the nerve to be a member of congress walking in public) than to be a spitting, epithet-hurling racist, or what?

So what if the Congresspeople walked past the teabaggers as a sort of test to see how they'd react? The significant thing is that the teabaggers failed the test. (If it was a test).

I heard the version that the congressbeings chose the way through the crowd (instead of the underworld) in order to show that they were not afraid, that they would not sneak through the backdoor for the vote.

I might add that it was and is SOP of the teabaggers* to call their opponents cowards for not confronting them**.

*and before them FOX 'news'
**the answer should of course be: Name your seconds. Sword or pistol?

"Do you think it's worse to be black (and have the nerve to be a member of congress walking in public) than to be a spitting, epithet-hurling racist, or what?"

What we disagree about, hairshirt, is whether there's any actual evidence they were spitting, or hurling epithets.

There is clearly a need for a constitutional amendment that all office holders (starting with congressbeings) have to carry a black box 24/7 that records anything said in the vicinity.

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