Clinging to Symbols of White Supremacy

Many Southern whites cling to symbols of a racist past when whites reigned supreme and blacks were enslaved or segregated, a fight raging in New Orleans over Confederate monuments, notes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

Cultures do evolve, particularly those aspects driven by technology. But social attitudes and behaviors often have remarkable stability. This suggests that America’s essentially racist culture cannot be wholly overcome in, say, the years since the 1965 Voting Rights Act – particularly when the effort to fight against American racism has always been half-hearted.

Why would this be so? In an analysis entitled “Civil Rights Takes a Hit,” posted on March 5, 2013, I made the following relevant observations:

Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who also was a major Mississippi slaveholder and fierce white supremacist.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who also was a major Mississippi slaveholder and white supremacist.

–A culture of racism shaped the American way of life since before the founding of the United States. This culture became particularly deep rooted in the southern colonies/states, where slavery became not only an economic institution but one that marked the South’s social character.

–In the South the culture of racism was briefly interrupted when, following the Civil War, a short period of “Reconstruction” (1865 to 1877) took place. During this time a U.S. military occupation of the conquered Confederacy suppressed racist laws.

–However, after 1877 and the withdrawal of the U.S. army, the southern states almost immediately reverted to a racially dictated way of life, replacing slavery with a regime of laws legitimizing segregation and discrimination against black Americans.

–This state of affairs lasted close to another 100 years, until the 1960s, when a massive movement of civil disobedience known as the Civil Rights Movement, finally led to the outlawing of such racist practices within the public sphere. I emphasize the public sphere because, at the time of the passage of national civil rights legislation, little was done to change racist perceptions and behavior within the private sphere. For instance, no effort was made to mandate the teaching of tolerance in the schools so as to better erode private racist perceptions. The private sphere was left to itself.

Thus, until 1965, with only a hiatus of 12 years following the Civil War, U.S. law validated racial discrimination and segregation as a guide to the citizen’s behavior.

History Lesson 2

Against the history outlined above we now have 51 years wherein civil rights laws have guided behavior in the public sphere of the United States. However, given the protracted period the opposite laws were allowed to work on the American mind, it can be argued that this is certainly not enough time for the message that racial prejudice is wrong to be fully assimilated in the private lives of citizens.

As a result there has developed an unbalanced scenario wherein most white Americans are accepting of racial mixing in public spaces: hotels, bars, schools, shopping centers, the workplace and the like. Privately, however, they are less tolerant and continue to resist such levels of intimacy as racially mixed friendship circles, neighborhoods, or intermarriage.

This continuing divide becomes even more complicated in the South. A quarter of the U.S. white population identifies themselves as southerners and of those a significant subgroup, perhaps as many as 40 percent, have never truly reconciled to the notion of colorblind civil rights.

Since 1965 they have harbored a simmering resentment of government efforts to force cultural change upon them, even in the public sphere. In order to give a historical underpinning to their resentment they have maintained a sentimental loyalty to Confederate Civil War heroes and symbols (the Confederate flag, for instance).

These have become signs of resistance to federal hegemony and emblems of identity which, in some cases, are stronger than those representing the U.S. as a nation.

Civil War in New Orleans

This brings us to the current struggle in the city of New Orleans. The city, also known as Orleans Parish, has an African-American majority of 58.8 percent. The city council also has a black majority although the mayor is white. Yet, within the city, there are many monuments to those Confederate Civil War heroes so important to the white minority mentioned above.

Then, back in December of 2015, the council, at the mayor’s request, voted 6 to 1 to remove the three most prominent of these monuments (honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee and General P.G.T. Beauregard), from their outdoor public sites.

 

This move soon generated a backlash on the part of those local white southerners who never evolved beyond their historical racist orientation. Their reaction against local government efforts to de-racialize the city’s public spaces was characterized by angry feelings leading to violence.

Employees of the contractor hired by the city to prepare the monuments for removal were threatened and the owner of the contracting business had his car destroyed. In the face of this intimidation the contractor withdrew from his deal with the city.

Similar threats have been made to companies that might replace the original contractor. Protesters have also sued the city in an effort to keep the monuments in place. All these actions have momentarily halted the removal effort.

The Confederate battle flag, seen by many around the world as a symbol of white supremacy.

The Confederate battle flag, seen by many around the world as a symbol of white supremacy, but defended by some white Southerners as a show of respect for the Confederate Army.

It is significant that the effort to prevent the removal of the New Orleans monuments involved violence in tandem with efforts in the courts. That is a tip-off as to the nature of this resistance movement.

In response, the reaction of the state of Louisiana has been non-existent, and those respectively of the federal government and the city itself seem subdued. It is likely that the efforts in the courts to prevent removal will lose, and then, if and when New Orleans pushes ahead with its plans, there will be a return to intimidation and violence.

At some point government officials will have to have to confront those reacting in this way.

Things do change, but at the level of culture they do so slowly. How slow? Well, one could consider the 21st Century’s creeping demise of Confederate symbols as a belated chapter in a continuing process set in motion by the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

Unfortunately, these symbols and monuments may well go out with a bang rather than a whimper. They are identity markers for those who once were dominant but are now on the losing side of history. The public display of their heroes and symbols constitutes their eroding toe-hold in the public sphere.

Another way of assessing this process is to note that these white supremacists are being pushed, irrevocably, back into their tribal private space where resentment and anger have long been the emotional glue that holds them together. Violence on their part is probable.

That probability is a warning that the status and quality of our nation’s private space should concern us all. There are times when progressive changes in the public sphere, like that brought about by the Civil Rights Movement, call for purposeful, if temperate, intervention into the private sphere.

I mentioned the teaching of tolerance in the public schools as one example. If you ignore this side of things you make more likely the violent resistance we now witness in New Orleans.

So, as we grapple with the need to regulate banks and pharmaceutical companies, greenhouse emissions and guns, let us give some thought to the regulating of racism and other hateful attitudes through the judicious use of those public institutions that help shape attitudes from generation to generation.

Our legal system and its laws are major players here, but there are other venues, such as the public schools. Maybe we should begin this process in the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

24 comments for “Clinging to Symbols of White Supremacy

  1. TheMistakenPresident
    April 15, 2016 at 00:01

    A quick Wikipedia search reveals…
    2015 – Baltimore
    2014 – Ferguson
    2009 – Oakland
    2005 – Toledo
    2001 – Cincinnati
    1995 – St. Petersburg
    1992 – Harlem
    1992 – Los Angeles
    1991 – Overtown
    1991 – Crown Heights

    And, no, Florida is not part of the South. (That’s a little Southern humor there. No one likes the Gators.)

    Smaller government edicts? That doesn’t even make sense. Instead of holding on to your bias, which was the point of my first comment, start looking at the facts.

  2. David
    April 13, 2016 at 15:17

    Thank you for this article. I went to NOLA earlier this month and was surprised to see these statues, which clearly are meant to glorify their subjects.

    In Germany, you don’t find prominent public statues of Hitler and Goering. Instead, you see monuments to the victims of fascism.

    Fascinating to read the excuses for keeping them…

  3. Tomaz
    April 13, 2016 at 02:11

    Has the author ever been to the south and met these evil white southerners that cling to symbols of a racist past?

    I have been to the north and I have seen huge monuments built to glorify the racist cult leader and war criminal
    Abraham Lincoln that northerners kneel before and worship. It is a frightening spectacle to visit this Lincoln
    Memorial located in the Imperial Capital of Aggression. When will the northerners learn their own history of
    racism, brutality and participation in the slave trade? When will they stop clinging to the bloodied American
    flag that represents the imperial sickness of empire that their hero Lincoln was the father of?

  4. historicus
    April 12, 2016 at 22:34

    Confederate soldiers fought on to the bitter end for the same reason all men in combat fight. Once placed in harm’s way, in the terror and madness of battle, ideology and ideals vanish, and the only priority is to protect the man on either side of you. Unit coherence and loyalty kept the rebel armies together long after they effectively ceased to have a nation to fight for.

    In 1862 the slaveholder insurrectionists passed the first American military conscription law, forcing men to fight after the “Spirit of ‘61” had faded and not enough volunteers were coming forth to maintain the increasingly repressive new regime. But this first draft excluded large slaveholders, and the men in the ranks soon had a new catch phrase: rich man’s war, poor man’s fight. But fight on they did. Regiments were often raised from the same towns and districts. Men fought side by side with men they had known all their lives, forming a unique bond unknown in modern armed forces.

    Two-third of all the insurgent fighters would desert the rebel armies, as would fully one third of all U.S. servicemen. In the south the Confederate “Home Guard” functioned like the Gestapo, summarily executing dissenters and deserters, often torturing their family members to disclose their whereabouts.

    Yet when you consider that each deserter would have needed the help of at least two or three civilians to avoid recapture, you realize that the popular resistance to both governments must have numbered in the millions. This was perhaps the greatest mass disobedience in our history, but it has been quite fully censored out of popular memory.

    As for the former rebel flag, as early as 1893 the former CSA General Jo Shelby opposed displaying it in a July Fourth parade in Kansas City. He said it was too inflammatory a symbol to resurrect. He called such displays “waving the bloody shirt”, repeating the unprincipled Republican politician Ben Butler’s phrase for sectional antagonism manipulated by unprincipled politicians.

    Those former insurgents who clung to the past were called “bitter-enders”, and they became increasingly isolated in a south growing prosperous as part of a free Union, freed from the curse of chattel slavery. The majority of former rebels came to acknowledge their good fortune in shaking off the Richmond tyranny. It would be their grandchildren who would so heartily embrace the “moonlight and magnolias” fantasy version of the antebellum south, many years later.

  5. Brian
    April 12, 2016 at 12:21

    It’s an enormous mistake from the start to equate those who want the monuments to stay with racism. The Lee monument is historic and reducing the man himself to “racist” speaks more to our current “blurb” culture where most people learn American history through Facebook emojis rather than reading a freaking book.

    Bringing a bulldozer to Gettysberg to dig up confederate monuments while leaving Union ones would be a horrific mistake, and digging up Lee in New Orleans would equally be mistake. This absurd need to erase our history is soon going to lead to taking Faulkner and Twain out of the classroom and that’s not social justice, it’s pure ignorance. Of the vast majority of people calling to remove monuments, I guarantee you a tiny percent know or care anything about the civil war and didn’t give a thought to Lee until they were told to.

  6. Nicetry
    April 12, 2016 at 09:15

    Honestly, I come to consortium news to get unbiased articles and this is a far cry from responsible journalism.

    Much of the outrage about removal of these monuments is a concern that the destruction of historical monuments is an intentional effort to re-write history.

    Some people are proud of the champions of the southern cause. Some people are appalled at their actions. But to demolish historical monuments by simple majority votes is no different than the Daesh smashing historical landmarks with a sledgehammer in the middle east.

    How are we supposed to learn from our past if we don’t know where we came from?

    But the issue is not with the destruction of landmarks.The issue is that you include phrases such as “local white southerners who never evolved beyond their historical racist orientation” Rather than simply reporting that there was a backlash from locals who opposed the destruction of the landmark.

    This kind of agenda driven slant on sensitive cultural issues perpetuates the “Us vs. Them” attitudes that you so carefully support by referring to your opponents with slighting remarks.

  7. TheMistakenPresident
    April 11, 2016 at 12:41

    Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in PENNSYLVANIA.

    Lawrence, I recommend you focus on the racism north of the Mason-Dixon. The continual bashing of the South is a tired cause itself. Take a look at the civil unrest in the past couple years. It isn’t happening in the South. It is in fact the product of Democrat’s policies. Cities with left-of-center politics are the ones struggling with racial strife today. “Monument moving” is hardly worthy of an article, unless of course when someone from Pennsylvania (who has probably never been to New Orleans) wants to try to associate it with generational racism. It’s amusing when authors see racism in others but not in themselves.

    • J'hon Doe II
      April 11, 2016 at 14:13

      TheMistakenPresident — “Cities with left-of-center politics are the ones struggling with racial strife today.”

      ::
      Cities with left of center politics are the ones struggling with Right wing political discrimination. [aka racial strife]

      Poor and lower-middle class people in the Red states face the same struggles now. The rising opioid addiction in poverty stricken Red states can be linked to Right wing political addiction to Smaller Gov’t edicts.

  8. Bill Bodden
    April 11, 2016 at 12:19

    Unfortunately, racism is not the only expression of Man’s Inhumanity to Man. Class consciousness – social, economic, etc. – is another. There is some consolation that people in the United States have made some progress on the former but probably less so on the latter. In 1947 President Truman ordered integration of the armed forces that worked very well after a few early problems. We have made several improvements including interracial marriage in the South, but we still have a long way to go.

    With regard to the removal of three monuments in New Orleans instead of being confrontational it could be more effective to leave those monuments where they are but add displays with indisputable truth about the Civil War and the individuals portrayed on the monuments. Education would be more effective in the long run that battles in courts or elsewhere.

  9. Peter Loeb
    April 11, 2016 at 06:42

    A HALF CENTURY AGO…

    I joined in the battle for social justice. A white adding my young small voice.

    We made great progress, We also engaged in illusions which tend
    to be integral in movements. We focussed on the end of segregation,
    or “freedom”. We were brave and some gave their lives (a few whites but
    many more blacks).

    Today with 20-20 hindsight we can see that what we fought for was
    hardly more than a small step toward solution. It was a necessary
    small step and one might even say some needed illusions.

    With blacks being shot on streets, being considered a threat
    to whites, being automatically defined as “the problem” which
    needs “solving”, one begins to wonder where we went
    wrong, the “we” being both black leaders and and white followers.

    Now engaged in other advocacy pursuits because there are new
    generations of blacks, new spokespeople, new concerns for
    Afro-Americans, there is so far to go. It took hundreds of
    years to get to the 60’s and may take hundreds more
    for future advances.

    Perhaps one day, one will go to an all-Beethoven symphony
    concert where more than only one or two black performers are
    hidden in the wind sections Most of the orchestra will be black
    and no one would be surprised.

    (Historical reminder: Every marching band until the 19th century
    was an all-white affair except…in New Orleans.)

    —-PeterLoeb, Boston, MA, USA

  10. Evangelista
    April 10, 2016 at 19:52

    The history of the United States South, and its secession, Confederacy and the Americn Civil War that followed, and following that war “the Reconstruction” and the KKK Era and ‘Jim Crow’ era, is a lot more complex than a simple “slavery, anti-slavery, white-supremacy, anti-black racism to Civil Rights Redemption-not-yet-complete ambiguation narrative fiction of history can do anything to except make even more of a mess of. A side-effect of this kind of simple-minded stringing together and childishizing of selected elements of historical record is to harden still more the antagonisms and oppositions created by the similar generations promulgated in the past. Elements like the KKK were produced by what is called “The Reconstruction”, which was not constructive, or reconstructive. Actual reconstruction of the South came after the Reconstruction, and with it, for Reconstruction, came Jim-Crow.

    A significant part of actual recovery from the Civil War and its Reconstruction ‘hybrid-warfare’ continuation after the Confederates’ surrenders, and after the backlash that continued the ‘hybrid-warfare’ for the “Colored” (not all were ‘black’ or ‘African’) was the creation of the flag pictured with the Consortium News Article, and mis-defined “The Confederate battle flag”.

    Look at the picture and note that the pictured flag’s background is orange, not red, and the shape is rectangular, not square. The also mis-defined ‘Confederate Battle Flag’ (it was, correctly, “The Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia”) was square and red-background. Note, too, from a competent history of the South, that the Confederate “Stars and Bars” was an entirely different flag.

    The flag pictured is the United States of America’s “Stars and Bars”. It is rectangular (3×5) and has an orange background. It was produced by the Hearst Publications in their promotion for the Spanish American War. It flew, in reality or in legent, I do not know if “for the first time” or not, at San Juan Hill. It grew out of a Hearst reporter in the South interviewing Southern Confederate veterans at a memorial celebration, none of whom, the reporter reported, had owned slaves before the war, and all of whom saw themselves better off after the war. They gave their reasons for fighting for the slave-holding South it having been their duty and ‘my country right or wrong’. The Souothern attitude expressed, and the Southern patriots (before to the South, then to the United States) was made, by Hearst, an American equivalent to “The Light Brigade” and its “not to reason why, but to do or die” obedience. The Hearst presentation of the ‘old rebels’ in the new guise as unwavering patriots, mindlessly brave, but loyal to the death did more to reconcile South and North than anything of the Reconstruction that might have been done accidentally right (The force-it-down-their-throats Reconstruction was vengeance and so, except in accidental incidents and occasional intelligent actions, increased division).

    Today the new “Civil Rights Reconstruction” has undertaken to re-cast the once unifying United States Stars and Bars as a Confederate symbol, and not a States Rights one, a Racist one. The result is more dividing. You don’t bring anything together by encouraging antagonisms and antagonistic factions and belittlings of ex oponents and oppositions. You only create more opponents and harden opposition.

    For those who might want to assign me to be a “neo-confederate”, No, I am not Southern. My ancestors in that area (the Mississippi Valley) were there first and were run out in the 1830s, before “Racism”.

    • Andrew
      April 10, 2016 at 21:33

      @Evangelista Interesting thoughts. I am not enough of history buff to follow different flags, but I do notice that our nation loves false dichotomies: e.g., Democrats vs Republicans. We think of Civil War as North versus slave-owning South, but only 6% of southern whites owned slaves. I doubt those wealthy slave owners were fighting at the front line. So your point of “my country right or wrong” rings true.

    • Brad Owen
      April 11, 2016 at 07:12

      One can also think of the Civil War as the last overt attempt of the British Empire (the undisputed Super-Power of the 19th century), to recover a “Rogue Colony” with Imperial French assistance( BOTH Empires were in cahoots on this Project). It is more of a Patriot-Tory dispute (anti- vs. pro-Empire dispute). The “Tory” factions were the Neo-feudal southern, slave-owning “Aristocracy”; the Wall Street Money-handling crowd (the House of Morgan kept them aligned to City-of-London, handling the Cash from the lucrative Plantations), and the descendants of the “Essex County Junto”, New England “Blue-Blood” shipping & Insurance families with a hankering for the Mother Country (and titles of Nobility). One leg of this treasonous tripod was eliminated. The other two legs are still operative, and currently holding the upper hand in their dispute with republican Factions championing Democracy in the political and economic spheres. One can also “tease out” many other, different, threads in this “Tapestry”, but THIS one is the main operative one, IMO.

    • J'hon Doe II
      April 11, 2016 at 13:45

      Brad Owen — One can also “tease out” many other, different, threads in this “Tapestry”

      ‘The Clinton Foundation is a high level sham that is long past time for serious criminal investigation.’

      Clinton’s Rhodes scholarship indoctrination informs his position as self-imposed “protector” of the Haitian people vis-a-vis the “Clinton Foundation”

    • Brad Owen
      April 11, 2016 at 14:18

      Yes, slick Willy a Rhodes scholar and personally “mentored” by Carroll Quigley, represents the on-going “Plan B”( educational propaganda and immiseration-via-financial manipulations) of Cecil Rhodes efforts to reclaim the “rogue colony” for the New Western Roman Empire, after “Plan A” (carving up USA by igniting a bloody, Nation-shattering Civil War) failed. The Federals received a much-needed assist from Czar Alexander’s Russian Empire when he told the Brits and French that he would go to war directly against them and JOIN Lincoln’s Federals against The Brits’ and Frenchs’ Confederates. The Czar sent two battle fleets to New York and San Francisco with orders to engage the enemy, should the Brits and French invade, in support of their Confederates. They got cold feet after that (probably recalling Napoleon’s catastrophic Russian Campaign, and Franco/Anglo/Turkish defeats in the Crimean War a few years earlier, although the Russians lost that one at that time), and so Lincoln pressed on to victory. But now the RoundTable Group has got us by the short hairs, AND the Synarchy Movement for Empire (SME’s Eastern Roman Empire Project) has got Russia by the short hairs. Needless-to-say I have a completely different & positive P.O.V. regarding Putin and Russia. They’ve enabled the USA to exist since Catherine the Great’s League of Armed Neutrality favored our efforts to separate from the British Empire in 1776.

    • Zachary Smith
      April 10, 2016 at 22:51

      The actual history of the “Confederate Flag” is mostly irrelevant to the current situation. As the bland pablum of an NPR article says, it is widely understood to be a middle finger to those who want Blacks to have any kind of equal rights.

      hXXp://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/06/22/416548613/the-complicated-political-history-of-the-confederate-flag

      For most of my life I puzzled over why the soldiers of the South fought so long and so hard in what was – in the beginning – a very long shot, and was – in the final year – a totally hopeless cause. Dying for the rich bastards who were the slaveowners just didn’t make sense. And fighting for “freedom” when the war could no longer be won even less.

      Only last year did I locate a text which finally did make sense. The white soldiers of the South fought because generations of horror stories about the savage and dangerous negro subhumans had taken hold in their minds. Simply put, they fought for the continuation of slavery to protect their loved ones from those savage beasts.

      http://www.amazon.com/What-This-Cruel-War-Over/dp/0307277321/ref=la_B001JS0AKM_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460341917&sr=1-1

      The South was beaten to a pulp in physical terms, but the resistance to granting any kind of equality to the freed slaves started instantly. Well-meaning northerners who came down to educate the black children were terrorized, and murdered if necessary. Black Codes spread like a gasoline fire, and as soon as the northern politicians betrayed the freed slaves, the crackdown got even worse. Lynchings were everyday things. and lesser forms of terror were as common as lice on stray dogs. When the first southern President since the Civil War took office, he made Federal jobs virtually unavailable to blacks – even the ones currently having one.

      Through all of this a new fantasy retelling of What The War Was About took root. Until very recently it was a fuzzy thing about States Rights. Even in the North that’s what my high school books said. It was a direct lie, but like with the “black savages” propaganda campaign starting 100 years before the outbreak of the Civll War, it was a roaring success. Old tales die hard. Just last week Southerner Bill Clinton was defending the use of the old images.

      “Bill Clinton’s Racist Defense of the ‘Super-Predator’ Myth”

      hXXp://observer.com/2016/04/bill-clintons-racist-defense-of-the-super-predator-myth/

      No, you’re not a neo-confederate. You’re merely relying on your reasonable synthesis of the dozens or hundreds of books and articles you’ve read throughout your life. Misinformation is a condition which can be corrected, and sad to say, you’re more likely to do that than either of the Clintons.

    • J'hon Doe II
      April 11, 2016 at 13:27

      (re-post from the Hillary article next door – apropos to your comment)
      :

      “ They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel…” Hillary Clinton 1996
      :

      “We came, we saw, he died.” Hillary Clinton 2011

      These are words of a cold hearted politician void of a modicum of humanitarian consideration. .

      The Clinton Crime Bill, established after CIA Contra War funding via cocaine and weapon influx into inner-cities fueled the radical increase of criminality in poverty strapped minority communities. The ensuing mass incarceration and drug addiction became a debilitating WMD in inner-city America.

      Proclaiming Qadhafi an “Evil Dictator” and a murderer of his own people as justification for decimating Libya is literally not different than the dissipation of minority cities in America where inhabitants were looked upon as and deemed “Super-Predators.”

      Moreover, The Clinton Foundation is a high level sham that is long past time for serious criminal investigation. The Oligarchs, the true predators, must be pulled down, one election at a time. Our so-called democracy is seriously imperiled. If our ‘elected’ officials can condone mass incarceration of it’s own citizens, we’re all doomed..

    • dahoit
      April 12, 2016 at 11:52

      They fought all the way Johnny Reb,Johnny Reb.
      As an American with ancestors in both camps,one can’t help saluting the courage of the outgunned and out financed Confederate soldier,which my paternal GreatGrandpa was.
      My maternal Grandmas second cousin was Walt Whitman.
      And I’m thankful the Yankees won!America became America after that war.
      But remember Lincoln had his band play Dixie,when he heard that Lee surrendered.
      Judging 19th century people with 21st century mores is an exercise in stupidity,and in some ways,surprising,because murder was murder then,instead of collateral damage.What a joke.

    • Evangelista
      April 13, 2016 at 19:01

      Zach,

      “Actual history” is a record of consequences. Everything is relevant, right up to the present and through into the future. Every reaction comes from somewhere, and draws on perceptions, understandings and misunderstandings, interpretations, tangential imaginings and even reconstructive fabrications that all derive from history, and, when they become effective become components in the evolution of the history they effect in. The NPR propaganda does this. It does not alter actual history, it becomes a part in it. The current narrative that the U.S. Civil War was all about slavery, and everyone not joining that political church and submitting to that dogma being bigots wanting blacks to have no civil rights only adds that bigoted propaganda-perception to the mix that makes up actual history. Historians, whole different animals from historical-propaganda manufacturers, separate the threads of different narratives from the ball of history that all tangle in to create.

      In fact, your old history books were right; The Civil War was about States’ Rights. Permitting slavery was recognized, in the states that wanted to permit it, a State’s Right. The Federal government was perceived to not have a right to prohibit a state exercising the right. The seceding states seceded because non-slave states had been claiming right to, and attempting to, assert control, through Federal powers, to dictate their preference to the slave-states. The slavery issues, all of them, from wrong of owning another human being through abuse, misuse and prevention of cruelty to slave-animals, were all issues raised in the fight. They were reasons put forward why states should not be allowed the enslaving right.

      The actual start of the U.S. Civil War can be traced to “The Corrupt Bargain” of the election of 1824, where Jackson, elected by wide margin in the popular vote, was blocked by electoral college tabulation, and then lost due to a ‘horse-trade’ between Clay and Adams, both seen as members of the ‘old guard’ elite by jackson and the populists. In result, Jackson lost respect for the ‘old guard’ and what appeared to stand behind it. Standing behind the ‘old guard’ was the Marshal Court, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshal. Marshal, in the famous Marbury v. Madison case had elevated the Supreme Court to arbiter of what law, federal and state, the law of the nation, the Constitution, permitted. Marshal’s finding was rational and legal, since it did not prohibit anything except violating the Constitution: The other branches, and the states, were free to find other, Constitutionally legal, means. The decision was not popular, however, since it invoked a nay-saying power for the judiciary and asserted federal authority over state authorities. When Georgia (and other states) decided to annex lands within their borders belonging to indigenous peoples, they felt no federal restraints. That treaties were federal was irrelevant, in their opinions; the states were theirs, the indigenous-owned lands within them were theirs. The Cherokee in Georgia filed legal objections, Georgia ruled for Georgia, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Marshal Court, Marshal ruled federal jurisdiction (over the state of Georgia, not the Cherokee), and the treaties to prevail, meaning Georgia had to accept non-United States Cherokee land to exist within its borders, and respect the Cherokee land borders. The case was a federal authority vs. state authority case. It asserted federal right over states’ rights. If Jackson had had respect for federal authority he might have, as President, confirmed the Marshal Court’s authority and influenced Congress to accept responsibility to conform its legislation to the law as determined by the Court. Instead, Jackson brushed off the Marshal Court’s decision and, with Congress, who followed his lead, applied federal power and authority to support the right of the State of Georgia (and the other states desiring to displace indigenous populations within their borders) over the federal control assigned lawful under the United States Constitution by the Marshal Court judiciary.

      As you can see, there was, in this, precedent for states to make their own decisions, and to tell the federal government to go to hell. All the seceding states did in 1861, was what states had done thirty years before, with the President’s and Congress’s blessing, tell the federal government to go to hell and stay out of their affairs.

      You see how it works? We might call the Civil War the Cherokees’ revenge. Or the Corrupt Bargain’s payoff.

      And “The white soldiers of the South fought because generations of horror stories about the savage and dangerous negro subhumans had taken hold in their minds.” is propaganda. Draconian codes and laws were promulgated in the South for hysterias that blacks might rise up in Haitian-style revolt, but black revolt did not unduly exercise the minds of the “white soldiers”, who were, for the most part “trash” (a slaves’ designation for whites who were beneath them, slaves being property, having higher value, and so status, than poor whites worth nothing), and would have welcomed an excuse to ‘serve them back’ without incurring liability, and who composed most of the runaway-slave hunters, a runaway-slave being, for them, free money, like a lost wallet. Also, to critique this, look at the history of the KKK; note what it took for the early KKK to intimidate blacks, who had been armed and formed into ‘militias’ by the Union army and ‘Reconstruction’ governments, and note the behaviors of the ‘second-wave’, the ‘popular’ KKK, composed predominantly of ante-bellum suppressed, post-bellum elevated, ‘trash’ whites after the ‘aristocratic’ primary was disbanded.

      About Bill Clinton, my ‘favorite’ Clinton coinage was “Zero-Tolerance”, which allowed not tolerating without being intolerant… However that could be done… Note that today zero-tolerance is still very much with us, as demand is made to raze Confederate monuments and remove flags that look “Confederate”. Condemned the way DNA-freed black “rapists” were, for all looking alike to those who don’t look and don’t care.

    • Zachary Smith
      April 13, 2016 at 23:51

      “In fact, your old history books were right; The Civil War was about States’ Rights.”

      “And “The white soldiers of the South fought because generations of horror stories about the savage and dangerous negro subhumans had taken hold in their minds.” is propaganda.”

      Simple dismissals, huh?

      Well, I did try.

    • Evangelista
      April 14, 2016 at 20:50

      Zach,

      Not simple dismissals, but what was behind the roils, what the causes were, the fire under that heated to boil, and the convection that rolled up to a boil. Negro slaves in the South took away poor whites’ jobs. After the war poor whites were hired ahead of the blacks and the roles reversed. No sub-humans, only others in competition. Same in California between whites and Chinese.

    • Peter Loeb
      April 11, 2016 at 06:02

      WHAT???? (TO EVANGELISTA)

      I don’t understand “were run out in the 1830s, before “Racism”” America has been
      racist for centuries. In 1830 Andrew Jackson was President (No. 7) and never made
      any claims to being against “racism”. His main focus was the murder, dispossession,
      etc. hundreds of thousands of Native Americans. This included murder and one
      observer claimed that the 2nd Seminole War was indeed a “race war”. (Fugitive
      Slaves were welcome to the tribes of the Seminoles and US southerners felt
      entitled to invade another country—under Spain—and steal them back. The
      extent of racism is in Michael P. Rogin’s FATHERS AND CHILDREN:THE
      SUBJUGATION OF THE INDIAN wjoch while focusing on Native Americans
      makes perfectly clear the depth of racism throughout southern and “:frontier”
      society.

      Tih current racism against blacks in particular I would say we are far from
      the elimination. Blacks are expected to perform as athletes and rarely
      if ever in classical music (imagine a majority of black performers) but
      inevitably in jazz groups. Expectations and realities (eg #Black Lives Matter
      are ever-present or denied. And on and on, north AND south.

      Our soon past “technically black” President managed to be elected and
      preserve his white support which in fact was the crucial element in all
      his electoral victories.Pastor Jeremiah Wright (Chicago) once remarked
      of Obama: “He was selected, not elected.” You may recall that failure
      to distance himself from Wright would have cost Obama the 2008 election.

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MS.

    • dahoit
      April 12, 2016 at 11:36

      Re Jackson;Yes,Jackson responded to the wishes of his electorate,and yes,the white man of the 19th century was almost universal in his belief in the superiority of his culture over the native American.Of course that is all subjective,that superiority,but it was what it was.One can’t shoehorn people to times not their own.
      Might made right,a very common occurrence before those international laws of the early 20th century curtailed actions such as manifest destiny.
      Oops,then there’s Israel,and the abrogation of civilization.

    • Evangelista
      April 12, 2016 at 22:23

      Virginia Law of the early 18th century:
      “…[A]ll servants imported and brought into this country, by sea or land, who were not christians in their native country (except Turks and Moors in amity with her majesty, and others who can make due proof of their being free in England, or any other christian country, before they were…transported hither) shall be accounted and be slaves, and as such be here bought and sold notwithstanding a conversion to christianity afterwards.”

      As the above illustrates, before slave-status was associated to race and ethnicity it was associated to religion. It was not until after black slavery was established and had become the norm in the Southern States that black slavery became established as the norm. Slavery, itself, of course, had been around for eons. Before money became common slaving for another was a common exchange; Tacitus notes it used among the Germans to settle gambling debts The Heathan culture of Northern Europe ‘civilized’ slavery by timing it out, so that, under the cultural law, slaves could only be owned for specific period. The Roman Christian Church’s St. Patrick, for example, was enslaved under term limit, and opted to leave, instead of renew, when his term timed out, then used what he had learned to go back and missionary. ‘Indenture’ and ‘apprenticeship’ both grew out of that old timed enslavement construction. Both survived to appear in North America.

      The Indigenous of North America did not accept being enslaved. They walked off. So they were defined useless by the Europeans, and ‘varmints’, essentially animals, or animal-like, who were in the way, like wolves, coyotes, etc., legal to kill as part of clearing the land for civilization.

      Andrew Jackson’s choice, given to him by the Marshal Court decision in the Cherokee Lands case, was to use United States forces to enforce the Supreme Court’s definition of the law and the United States’ obligations under the law, to secure the borders of indigenous peoples owned lands, or to ignore the judiciary branch and the law, to use United States forces to rid states of indigenous peoples and move them from lands Europeans wanted to occupy.

      That was the end of Constitutionally defined rule of law in the United States. It established the executive and legislative branches to have a ‘right’ to ignore law as defined by the judiciary branch, effectively establishing a might-makes-right substitute for the republican government created by the Constitution.

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