It’s amazing that the sudden removal of so many Confederate war monuments is just a footnote in this Spring’s news. The long and awful battles to remove these monuments to slavery and hatred are suddenly resolved, and it seems like an afterthought.
But all Americans who love liberty and justice for all are happy to hear it. We will pull from two previous posts, Confederate Monuments and the cult of the Lost Cause, and Pro-Confederate is Anti-American to celebrate, and contribute momentum to, this moment.
First, from Confederate Monuments and the cult of the Lost Cause:
There’s a great article from Smithsonian, by New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, called “How I Learned About the Cult of the Lost Cause,” which delineates the real reason so many Confederate monuments were put up in this country, both just after the Civil War and in the 1950s and 60s. One application for federal funding to preserve three Confederate statues as historically important specifically states that the statues commemorate the Cult of the Lost Cause:
“The Cult of the Lost Cause had its roots in the Southern search for justification and the need to find a substitute for victory in the Civil War. In attempting to deal with defeat, Southerners created an image of the war as a great heroic epic. A major theme of the Cult of the Lost Cause was the clash of two civilizations, one inferior to the other. The North, “invigorated by constant struggle with nature, had become materialistic, grasping for wealth and power.” The South had a “more generous climate” which had led to a finer society based upon “veracity and honor in man, chastity and fidelity in women.” Like tragic heroes, Southerners had waged a noble but doomed struggle to preserve their superior civilization. There was an element of chivalry in the way the South had fought, achieving noteworthy victories against staggering odds. This was the “Lost Cause” as the late nineteenth century saw it, and a whole generation of Southerners set about glorifying and celebrating it.”
It’s very odd that this clear-eyed assessment of the Lost Cause as a cult and therefore a myth was successfully used to justify maintaining three Confederate statues in Louisiana. One would think that the goal of preserving acknowledged racist propaganda would be recognized as out of step with real American founding principles.
The only thing we would add is that Landrieu mentions the fact that Confederate memorials were put up in the North as well as the South. This is true; it happened directly after the war as part of an attempt to heal the breach and offer a socio-political olive branch to the South. But that misguided effort quickly died away in the North, while statues continued to go up regularly and in abundance in the former Confederacy.
And now from Pro-Confederate is Anti-American:
No need to do much more than to point you to James Loewen’s frank article: Why do people believe myths about the Confederacy?
But we will go ahead and also point you to our own posts on this topic: Amazing Fact: The Civil War was fought over slavery, What made the north and south different before the Civil War?, and Slavery leads to secession, secession leads to war.
The Confederate States of America were founded with the sole purpose of perpetuating black slavery. There is nothing heroic in that. The men who created the Confederacy did not care about states’ rights—they had repeatedly demanded that states’ rights be trampled by forcing northern states that had abolished slavery to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act, by going into territories and voting that they enter the Union as slave states even though they were not residents of that territory, by terrorizing residents who wanted to vote anti-slavery, and by taking enslaved people into free states and forcing the free state residents to endure that slavery.
Soldiers of the Confederacy were not heroes. The old argument that most of them were poor and were not slaveholders is meaningless: they fought to protect their land and their governments, which meant protecting the slave system and the slave aristocracy that governed their land. If they won the war, those poor, non-slaveholding soldiers would have allowed slavery to keep going. They knew that. You can’t cherry-pick motives and focus on the heartwarming “they fought to keep their families safe” motive and ignore the chilling “the soldiers didn’t care if black Americans were enslaved as long as they kept their land” motive.
Secession was not allowed in the Constitution. There is no place in it that makes secession legal. So founding the Confederacy was the most anti-American action in our history.
It’s high time we became as tough on Confederacy worship as the Confederates were on America, democracy, and states’ rights.
2 thoughts on “Confederate monuments fall, America rises”
It is unfortunate that you mention the article, “Why Do People Believe Myths about the Confederacy?” written by a Washington Post writer, James Loewen. The Post is known for its Leftist bias and for having no qualms about publishing falsehoods in their newspaper. This is again evident in the above mentioned article. James Loewen claims that Michelle Bachmann said that slavery was pro-family. She did not say this out right. She was making a point about marriage and the family in the African-American community today and how so many such households are devoid of both a mother and a father which has led to never-ending poverty in many neighborhoods. I now know that I can not trust your publications since you put trust in newspapers that lost their credibility decades ago.
Hello Elizabeth – thanks for writing. The pursuit of history is the pursuit of objectivity. We can have strong emotions about what we learn, and that subjectivity is very important. Things our predecessors did affect us emotionally. But we can’t be subjective about facts. We have to take the facts we have and figure out why we have them. Here is what Bachmann said, and here we quote from Forbes magazine, a conservative-learning publication: “Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”
First, it is not true that a child born into slavery was likely to be raised by their parents, for a number of reasons. First, children could be sold away from their parents. Next, parents could be sold away from children. Most revoltingly, many children were born into slavery because enslaved men and women were forced to procreate to produce more people to enslave, after the Atlantic slavery trade was closed and new people couldn’t be brought from Africa to the United States to enslave. Those children were not raised by two loving enslaved parents. They were raised by the woman who bore them while the man who fathered them was sent to another woman.
Even if children born into slavery were raised by both parents, it was hardly within a “household.” It was in a cabin or shack that enslaved people were forced to inhabit, in brutal conditions. There was no nuclear “household.”
Finally, the reason that many black American children are raised in 1-parent households in the 20th and 21st centuries is because constant institutional racism has forced many black Americans to live in poverty, with fewer opportunities for education and good jobs, home ownership, and proper health care, all of which are crucial to creating stable families.
So even if it were true that slavery was “better” for black Americans when it comes to living in family units, that would just be a repellent indictment of the institutional racism that replaced actual slavery in this country.
Facts know no political party. Responsible and real history knows no party loyalty. It is not left or right. Real history doesn’t settle for short-cuts and leaps from one idea to another, or surface appearances. It’s long hard work, and too many people have done the long hard work of documenting the abhorrent evils of human slavery and institutional racism to dismiss that documentation as partisan falsehood.
Stay with us, Elizabeth, and read through more posts. You will not be exposed to liberalism or conservatism, but to history.