Still fighting the Civil War

Here’s something completely unexpected: A new poll says that a majority of Tea Parties and Republicans (aka TeaPublicans) admire the leaders of the Confederacy more that the leaders of the Union, and a majority of the same group does not believe that slavery prompted those same leader to secede in 1861.

Never mind that the secession documents of those state say plainly that their obsession with holding fellow human beings in perpetual slavery, controlling every part of their lives they could possibly control — and their fear that the federal government would outlaw the reason for their wealth — was the reason.

That, my friend, is what “states’ rights” is all about — the seeds of the dog whistle, code for the one of most despicable economic strategies in the history of mankind.

And doesn’t it just look like the TeaPublicans of today want to get right back as close as they can to that day? It’s behind their attacks on unions — “Wages are too high!” they say, voting against any attempt to raise the minimum wage.

And what of that minimum wage? It may be good for the high school student trying to make some extra bucks, but do TeaPublicans really think anyone can live on that wage? Say you get a job, and you’re paid $8.25 an hour — that a buck higher than the minimum. Know what that comes to per week? $330. Before taxes. Not including any health insurance, any savings, retirement.

No, my friends, the TeaPublicans would love to get back to paying slave wages — they’ll give you a ramshackle shed for you and all your extended family, whatever scraps of food they don’t eat themselves and beat the living shit out of you if you complain. Or take your wife and children and ship them off to some other overlord. Or both.

What better plan to enrich themselves. There’s hardly any labor cost at all.

But here’s the really bad news about that poll, released this morning by CNN. Barely a majority of all Americans believe that slavery was at the heart of the secession. I imagine that’s caused by a deteriorating education system (again, thanks to those TeaPublicans) and the loud mouths of the lying Right.

Another scary prospect: Independents are evenly split on that question. But here’s something funny: While a majority of TeaPublicans don’t understand that “states’ rights” = slavery, a plurality of Southerners do.

The good news: A majority of every group except Southerners (a plurality leads there) are Union-sympathizers. At least we have that going for us.

The Civil War is very real for me, both the one that started 150 years ago today and the one we’re fighting now. I grew up in a Southern state that was a divided as the rest of the union — in fact, my state initially voted not to secede, but after a little blackmail from slaveholders who blocked the way to the major trade route, its legislators reversed the vote. Legislators in the part of the state I’m from didn’t change their votes.

In the fields behind my childhood home is a line of bunkers built by soldiers trying to hold the line. Archaeologists have dug up bullets and buttons in those fields. An electrician wiring a 1785 house in the 1960s found full uniforms hidden in the walls. After the town librarian died and family friends bought his antebellum home, they found an unexploded ┬áCivil War mortal shell in the attic. There’s an old, old rumor that two deserters were shot and buried in the fields my father owns. Another rumor says there was a tunnel escape route from the 1785 house into those fields.

Interestingly, today is the anniversary of another Civil War event — a group of Union African American soldiers surrendered at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, and the Confederates killed them all.

Today I fight the good fight with the rest of you, trying to undo the damage done by centuries of slavery and prevent a slide back toward those dark days. I find it ironic that the party positions were once reversed, the Republican Party the party of Lincoln and the Democrats the party of a Reconstruction that made things worse than they should have been.

Republican leaders like to claim Lincoln, but he’d be disgusted by their antics. Democrats made a shift too, to being champions of labor and the people, but now even they seem to have forgotten what made them strong.

Our infrastructure is crumbling, our education system makes a laughingstock of us, our health care system is a disgrace, the economy is in shambles, jobs are nonexistent, and the Right’s media saturation constantly bombards the country with lies. Meanwhile, in Congress, no one will do the right thing, or even consider what that might be, in the struggle to keep the lobbyists’ money flowing.

I’d love to be proud of my country, but I’m not. I’m embarrassed by it. And I don’t think I’m alone.