Tag Archives: slavery

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  Civil 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.

White lies

Just for fun, as the Tea Baggers and their Southern state governors attempt to rewhite history, I thought I’d look up the declarations of the causes of secession put out by the Southern states that formed the confederacy back in the 1860s. First up, Georgia.

The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.

These are the very first words of the declaration, and, right off the bat, they talk about their problems with “non-slaveholding confederate states” on “the subject of African slavery.”

Now, since Georgia was, and in many ways still is, a slave state, I’m betting their problems had to do with the growing humane consciousness of states that didn’t feel compelled to force other living breathing humans to work their asses off in cotton fields.

Also notice the reference to slaves as “that property.” Good one, Georgia. And pretty much the entire document is about slavery. Look it up, teabag idiots. Sonny Perdue, you’re a moron.

Next, let’s look at Mississippi, the state of Gov. Haley Barbour, who recently said all the liberal whining about southern states celebrating Confederate History Month with no mention of slavery doesn’t “amount to diddly.”

Well, governor, it seems your predecessors didn’t agree. The second paragraph of Mississippi’s declaration of causes for secession.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.” Damn. Can’t get much more clear than that. Get this – Mississippi didn’t like it that the federal government “advocates negro equality, socially and politically” or that it had nullified the Fugitive Slave Laws or that it “denies the right of property in slaves.”

Well. Read it and weep, silly teabaggers and confederate apologists. Haley Barbour, you, too, are a moron. And an unconscionable bigot.

South Carolina – now, this may be where the numbskulls of our country have gotten confused. The first part of South Carolina’s declaration is a largely incoherent recitation of the history of the Revolutionary War, focusing on George III’s recognition of the colonies as “free, sovereign and independent states” and how some of the states have now reneged on their duties to support the other states no matter what vile and disgusting thing they do. But keep reading, because there it is. The Fugitive Slave Laws.

Those States have assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

“Encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes.” Their homes. Right. And there’s that “property” thing again. This is Mark Sanford’s state, soon to be Andre Bauer’s state. Both are assholes.

Number 4, the great state of Texas, which at the time of its secession, had only been a state for 16 years. But right away, there’s all that talk about “slave-holding states” and “non-slave-holding states.”

In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color– a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.

Here’s my favorite part, which deserves to be repeated: “…  beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color — a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law.”

So, no luck there. Four Southern states, four seceding because of slavery. Rick Perry, you’re a jackass. Why don’t you go pull the switch and execute a few more innocent people?

I pulled this next item from the official Alabama ordinance of secession, not quite the same as a declaration of causes, but interesting nonetheless.

Whereas, the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to the offices of president and vice-president of the United States of America, by a sectional party, avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions and to the peace and security of the people of the State of Alabama, preceded by many and dangerous infractions of the constitution of the United States by many of the States and people of the Northern section, is a political wrong of so insulting and menacing a character as to justify the people of the State of Alabama in the adoption of prompt and decided measures for their future peace and security.

Key phrase here is the declaration that the then Republican Party was “hostile to the domestic institutions and to the peace and security of the people in the State of Alabama.” “Domestic institutions” – just a euphemism for slavery, my friends.

And furthermore, said the good people of Alabama

And as it is the desire and purpose of the people of Alabama to meet the slaveholding States of the South, who may approve such purpose, in order to frame a provisional as well as permanent Government upon the principles of the Constitution of the United States,

Y’know, it’s probably these ordinances that the modern day slave-holders use to justify their “belief,” if by belief you mean outright lie, that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. These official documents — short and sweet — were designed only to declare that the referenced state hereby withdrew from the union, and as such, most didn’t mention slavery. But some couldn’t resist even then, like Alabama, and, well, Virginia, which started this modern day kerfluffle.

The people of Virginia in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slave-holding States:

So there, Gov. McDonnell.

Arkansas declared that remaining in the union “would be disgraceful and ruinous to the State of Arkansas.” Tennessee, which initially voted not to secede but changed its mind when the slave-holders of the western part of the state pointed out to the more ration rest of the state that they might have trouble getting their products to the great trade route of the Mississippi River, waived “any expression of opinion as to the abstract doctrine of secession” but seceded anyway. Missouri and Kentucky essentially declared the federal government evil. And West Virginia, well, it seceded from Virginia and rejoined the union. Because of slavery, as in, West Virginians really didn’t play that, kinda like the rest of Appalachia, essentially slaves themselves because of the abject poverty of the area.

As it is today, the whole thing was about money. Free labor makes for big profits. And once free slave labor was illegal, those bigots used every trick in the book to keep workers as low as they could — and they still do, through union-busting, opposing any real reforms that would help the American people and conniving to separate the rest of us of any money we might have to line their own filthy pockets.

Y’know, there’s one thing about those old bigots of the South that I admire, something that we sure as hell can’t say about their modern day, teabagging counterparts.

The Southerners of the 19th Century were at least honest about their reasons for being so angry and so anti-America. Quite unlike their 21st Century brethren, who know their real hearts are dark and hateful and do their damndest to convince the rest of us that what is so plain to our eyes just isn’t true.

But they’re liars. And one thing they do have in common with their slaveholding ancestors is this: They don’t care one whit about anyone who isn’t just like them, but they will do and say anything to keep us from the truth.