Sunday, April 03, 2011

Continuity in white racism

I recently read extensively through secessionist-era speeches and sermons. Word for word, they echoed the racist diatribes that I heard growing up in the South - from invocations of African barbarism to blatant portrayals of rape and racial amalgamation. Secession died in 1865, but the ugly sentiments behind it persisted. My hope is that the 150th anniversary of the Civil War will spur reasoned discourse and an end to our forebears' destructive vision. I also hope that it will end denial by my fellow white Southerners. The next time you hear someone proclaim that secession was about state's rights, not slavery, ask what right it was that the seceding states were so anxious to protect. [my emphasis]
This is from the contribution of Gordon Rhea to the article A Civil Discourse Charleston Magazine April 2011 (scrool down). It's a reminder of the elements of direct continuity from the days of slavery and the white racism that developed to justify it and white racism of today. As Rhea points out, that means that Confederate imagery is very servicable to present-day white racist agendas:

The Confederate battle flag of my youth represented opposition to integration. Today, it decorates the armbands of skinheads and white supremacists here and abroad.

Confederate apologists protest that hate groups have hijacked their flag, that Confederate symbols represent a proud heritage, not a hateful ideology. But white supremacists did not appropriate the Confederate flag by accident. They were not drawn to it simply by its design. They embraced it because it represented a nation stridently and openly dedicated to its principles. In 1861, the Confederacy's vice president Alexander Stephens proclaimed: "The Confederacy's foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man, that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based on this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth." [my emphasis]
He also points to the sometimes hysterical fears that antebellum slaveowners embraced and encouraged, which was a huge part of the political dynamic that led to the Civil War:

Southern spokesmen described an apocalyptic vision of emancipation, race wars, and miscegenation: The collapse of white supremacy would be so cataclysmic that no self-respecting Southerner could fail to rally to the secessionist cause. Modern Confederate apologists contend that secession was about "states rights," not slavery. They should read the speeches and pronouncements of their forebears, who give lip service to "states' rights" only in the context of the rights of states to decide whether some of their inhabitants could own other humans.
Tags: , , , ,

| +Save/Share | |

Links to this post:

Create a Link


"It is the logic of our times
No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."

-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?


  • What is the Blue Voice?
  • Bruce Miller
  • Fdtate
  • Marcia Ellen (on hiatus)
  • Marigolds2
  • Neil
  • Tankwoman
  • Wonky Muse


  • Arms for Libyan rebels?
  • Does Benjamin Barber know the meaning of "full dis...
  • Two views of Obama's Libya War
  • Libya War: Reuters said US to provide aid to rebel...
  • Obama's Libya (non-)War speech pleased Bill Kristo...
  • Juan Cole's defense of the Libya War to "the Left"...
  • "Humanitarian" war in Libya and the "responsibilit...
  • How militarism looks in 2011
  • Obama justifying his Libya War, Saturday version
  • Libya War, atrocity propaganda: "beware of babies ...



    [Tip: Point cursor to any comment to see title of post being discussed.]
    www TBV




    Environmental Links
    Gay/Lesbian Links
    News & Media Links
    Organization Links
    Political Links
    Religious Links
    Watchdog Links



    Atom/XML Feed
    Blogarama - Blog Directory
    Blogwise - blog directory



    hits since 06-13-2005

    site design: wonky muse