(Note: A slightly different version of the following appeared in a post by me at the Southern Heritage Preservation Group's Facebook page.)
Recently at the forum Southern War Room, there were two posts that illustrate part of the reason why our side of the story is seldom heard.
The first was a link to an excellent essay by Dr. Donald Livingston, *Why The War Was Not About Slavery, found here: http://www.carolannwilson.net/Livingston.pdf
The second was a link to a Power Point presentation titled *The Antebellum South by Ms. Susan Pojer of Horace Greeley High School, Chappaqua, NY, found here: http://www.pptpalooza.net/PPTs/AHAP/AntebellumSouth.ppt
(The Power Point Palooza page is here: http://www.pptpalooza.net/ While there, you might want to check out other of Ms. Pojer's Power Point Presentations -- Civil War Atrocities, which concentrates heavily on the Ft. Pillow lie and Andersonville, barely gives a nod to Point Lookout, and doesn't have a syllable about deliberate starvation and murder at Hellmira and torture at Camp Douglas, what a surprise, huh?.... Also check out Reconstruction and I'm A Good Ol' Rebel [that last one's great, although I'm sure Ms. Pojer doesn't think so!] )
1. Dr. Livingston's essay is wonderful but it isn't likely to be read by anyone except we who are in the choir. It is nicely laid out, illustrated, etc., but it is thirteen pages of almost unrelieved text. THIRTEEN. PAGES. We do not live in a thirteen-pages-of-text world anymore. We live in a Power-Point, Facebook, Twitter, You-Tube, e-reader, SMS, sound-bite world.
2. If Ms. Pojer's entire lesson plan for her students follows what she has put in these Power Points, and if they're representative of what's taught in northern schools, is there any wonder why yanks continue to hate us?
3. ProSoutherners and Southern heritage advocates need to be making our own PPPs -- Power Point Presentations -- (and You-Tube videos, and other short-message venues) to get our message out. For example, a Power Point that distills the major points of Dr. Livingston's essay (with his permission, of course) that includes a link to it for those who can still read. A PPP refuting and/or "expanding" on Ms. Pojer's anti-South PPPs (i.e., showing what she leaves out). A PPP showcasing northern slavery, the truth about how/why it ended up there, and how the region continued to profit from "remote" slavery in the South. Think of all the subjects that can be presented this way. The truth about Forrest. Sherman's March. Black Confederates. Torture of Confederate captives in northern POW camps. And on and on and on.
4. Keep our presentations honest. In a section titled, "The South's Peculiar Institution," Pojer's The Antebellum South PPP includes a drawing of a slave wearing a metal muzzle, and a photo of three slave brands. If branding slaves had been routine in the plantation South, we would already have heard about it (and would never hear the end of it). I've done some rudimentary Google research on these images, and according to this site -- http://www.opendemocracy.net/arts/slavery_4446.jsp -- these items are relics of the Atlantic slave trade. To identify them as part of the South's peculiar institution as Ms. Pojer has done is either boneheaded ignorance, or willful lying. However, you see this all the time -- the conflatation of the Atlantic slave trade (which sent far more slaves to other parts of the western hemisphere than the South and was truly horrifically inhumane) with Southern plantation slavery, and it needs to be vigorously refuted -- with facts.
5. Thus, our presentations, whatever method is used to present them, must, must, must include source documentation. Pojer's doesn't. (Does anyone really believe she tells her students, "Now, that picture of slave muzzles and brands actually relates to the Atlantic slave trade, not the antebellum South, but I included them in this presentation about the South because _____ "(fill in the blank).
6. A note about execution. Don't use fancy transitions (checkerboard wipes, etc.) in PPPs and videos, as Pojer does, or use them sparingly. Especially don't use them on title pages. Don't make the fonts on your title pages too big, also as Pojer does. There's lots of instructions available for making high-quality video, much of which would apply to slide presentations like PPPs. There's no excuse for making stuff that looks amateur and thrown-together. (In the future, hope to write or link to articles with instructions on how to make professional-looking videos and presentations that have impact, so check back often.)
7. How do we get our view out there? We need to move beyond blogs and forums, and create our own proSouthern alternate media, including e-newspapers and e-magazines, books, both fiction and nonfiction (we already have many fine books, but more never hurts!), videos and PPPs, our own coloring books for our kids, comics for our teens, puppet shows, toys -- an entire proSouthern pop culture, including music, movies, radio and eventually television (featuring our own "stars") -- our own sports, our own schools (shadow schools with classes held after regular government indoctrination center classes, or on Saturdays and in summer), our own home-schooling curriculum and our own **awards for excellence in these endeavors. The digital revolution makes most of it accessible, relatively affordable, and easier than ever. We simply need to learn how to use it.
So read up on self-publishing, learn screenwriting. Educate yourself on independent filmmaking. Draw a coloring book or comic book (called "graphic novels" these days). Write songs, form a band or singing group, record the music, burn it on CDs and/or make your own digital recordings to sell as downloads. If you don't have the time or inclination to do all this, donate money to those who do and cheerlead for them. (Which leads to another though -- we need our own fundraisers and financial backers.)
In my wanderings through cyberspace, I've found lots of Southern sites. These aren't necessarily heritage or Confederate sites (though some to pay homage to Confederate heritage) but they are very, very culturally Southern. (See http://usadeepsouth.ms11.net/index.html and http://www.propersouthernwoman.com/ What this says to me is, despite encroachment by the rest of the country, despite the homogenizing effects of TV and other pop-culture elements, and ridicule of the South by Hollywood and the big six publishers in New York, and despite anti-Southern indoctrination in schools, our people still tenaciously retain much of their regional identity. These are the people we need to be reaching.
I would add one other item to my list:
8. Don't confine your efforts for the South to Facebook, forums and such. As wonderful as it is to "meet" with likeminded folks in this manner, there is a possibility that it will become too cathartic and take the fire from our bellies.
How do we create our own media, movies, pop culture, etc. Start small, with Power Points or YouTube videos that will not only illustrate our views, but attract others (perhaps even indie filmmakers or financial backers we need). We start with what we can do, and then move up....
In the spirit of practicing what I preach, I have produced a short (under three minutes) video about secession that I will post at the end of this essay. If you agree, please repost far and wide, and leave comments here and/or at the video's YouTube page.
*(These were posted by Roy and RHC40AL; thanks to forum manager PoP for permission to repost.) http://www.southernwarroom.info/
**Kudos to the Military Order of the Stars and Bars for their Literary Awards: http://www.militaryorderofthestarsandbars.org/programs-services/service-programs/literary-awards/