Monday, August 22, 2011

The Evilization of the White South

(Note: The essay below was edited from a post that originally appeared on the Southern Heritage Preservation Group Facebook page on August 12, 2011. I wrote it shortly after this entry appeared at the Civil War Memory blog the same day:

ProYankee Blogger Defends Confederate Flag?
IMO, the purpose of this (blog entry okaying Confederate flags in cemeteries) is to have a post up he can point to when he's accused of anti-Southern bias and say, "No, I'm not biased. See?"

Frankly -- and this is MY OPINION, a conclusion I've drawn based on my (admittedly limited) lookarounds over there -- that blog is not about the Civil War, or how it's remembered, despite the title. It's about slavery. It's about how slavery is remembered. Even that is a sort of generalization. It's about Southern slavery; it's about Southern slaveholding and Southern slaveholders. We know that because of the inattention given to Northern slaveholding and Northern slaveholders, and slaveshipping, a basically Northern enterprise.

This is the sort of inattention that will argue with you that the Union was fighting to free the slaves while ignoring that there were five Union slave states and slaves were helping to build the U.S. capitol.

The Civil War, in other words, is a cover for the subject that truly interests proYankee bloggers: white Southern evil. When they say "slave women were raped," using the passive voice like that, what they really mean is evil white Southern men raped slave women. When they say "slaves were beaten," what they mean is evil Southern white men beat slaves. When they say "slave families were separated," what they mean is evil Southern white men separated slave families.

We know it's not about how the Civil War is remembered because of the references to the "Jim Crow white South" -- which occurred long after the war, long after reconstruction. But it does fall within the realm of discussion of evil white Southerners.

The question is, why?

Why such an interest in so evilizing white Southerners? We're no worse than anyone else -- our ancestors were no worse than anyone else. The great majority of antebellum white Southerners owned no slaves. (They have to be evilized by saying, "Well, yeah, but they wanted to. They aspired to being a slaveowner some day," though I've never seen anyone offer the "scholarship" that proves it.)

So why? Because Southerners have to be made deserving of the horrific brutality done to them by the north in the war. It is that simple. There may be a few critics, but basically, the United States cannot admit to ever having done anything wrong. But what the north, doing the bidding of the feds, did to the South during the war and for five generations afterward... Is. Not. Justifiable.

So they came down here and killed us, stole everything that wasn't nailed down, burned towns and farms, and laid our region waste; installed a military dictatorship over us, and puppet governments that would put state treasures so deeply in debt it would take generations to get out, leaving us little or no capital for investments, jobs, schools, and kept us in widespread poverty until almost WWII -- and then ridiculed us for being poor and uneducated.
THAT is why the South -- why Southerners (white ones) -- must still be evilized -- in the classroom, on television, on Hollywood's silver screen, in the corporation, the government bureaucracy, even in freakin' video games. Throughout the popular culture. And especially in academia. That mission of keeping Southerners evil is the motive, perhaps buried so deep it isn't recognized, behind nearly all the "Civil War" "scholarship" and that's what almost all the Sesquicentennial commemorations intend to commemorate, in one way or another.

Don't let the occasional token Confederate flag post fool you. Don't let the occasional "fairminded" comments fool you. Look at the totality.

(Note: On August 21, over a week after that post appeared on Facebook, I discovered that it had been referenced, more or less, at the Civil War Crossroads blog, where Brooks Simpson posted but one sentence from it: "The Civil War, in other words, is a cover for the subject that truly interests proYankee bloggers: white Southern evil." He titled the post "Too Funny to Pass Up." Odd thing, though...he wasn't laughing.
Now, he put that on his blog on August 14 -- three days AFTER he posted (on August 11) an entry titled "An Embarrassment to Southerners and Southern Heritage" wherein he likened me, David Tatum and members of the Southern Heritage Preservation Facebook group, to cockroaches feeding on garbage [and Andy Hall calls my "Huffpoo" comment childish -- but he calls us "odious" and blockquotes Simpson's entire entry, including this churlish cockroach comment, on his blog).
In that same August 11 blog entry, Simpson says,
"But I wonder about giving these fringe elements too much attention, and, after having reviewed some of their blogs and a Facebook page over the past few weeks ... I have come to the conclusion that to feature these groups and blogs is in fact to grant them a sort of recognition and legitimacy that they do not deserve. They simply aren’t responsible participants: indeed, they are rather childish ... I think that to give these fringe ranters undue attention is a disservice to the South and all southerners. Other bloggers may continue to draw attention to these folks, but, aside from highlighting specific examples of research claims, I will let them languish and stew in their own scalding juices of hate and resentment."
And then, a mere three days later, he devotes an entire blog post to me -- albeit a short one, but it identifies me by name and links to my blog. What resolve! What determination! LOL! Either he changed his mind, or else he considers my post about academic interest in white Southern evil to be a specific example of a research claim he's highlighting. LOL! Which do YOU think it is? And who do you suppose endowed him with the authority to up decide who/what deserves legitimacy and recognition? 
BTW, 180 readers, if you enjoyed my attention to Civil War Crossroads, stay tuned. There's more on the way.)

(Photo: C. Ward)

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