Thursday, April 29, 2010
Reflections On Confederate History Month
Well, Virginia's Confederate History Month- which was basically her white governor's big " fuck you" to his constituents who had the bad taste to deliever his state to Barack Obama in Nov. 2008- is over. Time once again to reflect on the long history of the white Southern elite's attempt to rewrite history- an effort that they undertook while the last corpse produced by their disasterous rebellion was still warm.
The standard slavocrat portrait of " the peculiar institution" was ( and still is among some of their descendants) one of happy " servants" singing in the fields, knocking off early to devour large meals of meat and veg, and basking in the glow of the benevolent master's love. 19th century or 21st century, this crap is still gospel to the Unreconstructed Rebel crowd. " Well," say the neoconfederates, " look at how those damnyankees ( yes, pronounced as one word) treated those immigrant workers in their factories ( as if one form of oppression justifies another)." Well, yes, no one denies that workers in Northern factories toiled in horrible conditions for low wages for the profit of moneygrubbing assholes. But at least the Yankee worker's daughters were not the property of his boss, to be raped whenever he felt like it. Nor could the Yankee's employer break up his family forever when the boss decided to sell his wife. And I wonder what those Southern apologists make of the thumbscrews, whips, and brands used by overseers on slaves who tried to escape the Worker's Paradise of the Land Of Cotton? Perhaps they were used to improve the soprano section when the field hands were singing "massa's" praises?
But why dwell on slavery at all? Everybody knows that the war was about- wait for it- state's rights! Of course! The evil Federal Gub' mint was pushing around the poor little Southern states because it was controlled by abolitionists, who were interfering with the state's rights to... well what exactly? Regulate banking? Issue commemorative postage stamps?
Alexander Stevens, the Vice- President of the C.S.A., knew exactly what the Southern rebellion was all about. He said it plainly in his now infamous Cornerstone Speech that slavery was "the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution." So much for slavery not being the cause of the war ( to be fair to Governor McDonnell, he did admit that slavery was the root cause of the war).
But cannot the South take pride in her military accomplishments during the war? Well, sure, if you want to glorify the idiocy of lines of workers and farmers blasting the shit out of each other at close range with .58 calibre rifle- muskets. Military glory is for histories about generals- nice clean maps with colorfull arrows showing that Stonewall Jackson flanked this way and General Longstreet flanked that way. For the poor slob in the ranks it meant getting his guts shot out or limbs hacked off while most of the planter aristocracy, the ones who called loudest for seccession, sat the war out in their mansions. Probably the greatest defeat for the confederacy came not from Yankee bullets, but her own crass and greedy elite, who began conscription in 1862 to provide the Southern armies with more cannon fodder in order to defend their property. See, what popular Civil War history doesn't tell us is those poor Southern boys weren't dumb, blindly following the battle flag into the next slaughter. A hell of a lot of them were beginning to see what the fighting was all about after the promised six- week war evaporated. And the Confederate government confirmed their worst suspicions when men who owned a certain amount of property could avoid conscription. As Private Sam Watkins put it: " It gave us the blues. We wanted twenty negroes. Negro property suddenly became very valuable, and there was raised the howl of ' rich man's war, poor man's fight'... we cursed the war... we cursed the Southern Confederacy. All our pride and valor was gone."
And what do we make of the silence of our Confederate apologists on the way the Confederacy was created? After all, the word " freedom" drips from a Southern politician's mouth like shit from a goose's ass. But not a word on how the Confederacy was created in the most undemocratic manner possible by the planter class and a few governors ( sound familiar?). Opposition to secession was silenced by the familiar tactics of intimidation and electoral fraud.
These are but a few of the inconvienient truths that torpedo the sugar- coated, neoconfederate version of the history of the Confederate States Of America. By all means, let's have a Confederate History month- but in every state. Let us remind the American people that because of a few greedy and ruthless bastards this country was plunged into the bloodiest conflict in its history. That they inflicted untold suffering upon the people and soldiers they called upon to defend their way of life- a way of life that was parasitic and benefitted only themselves.