Introducing A Third Niggardly Principle, And A Dilemma: Does It Apply To The Confederate Flag?

Scarolina flag

Before unveiling the new Third Niggardly Principle, indulge me some observation  on the emergence of a renewed controversy over the Confederate flag as a response to the Charleston, South Carolina shooting of nine black churchgoers last week:

1. The Confederate battle flag did not cause Dylann Roof to start shooting. If  all the Confederate flag had been retired to museums 100 years ago, it would not have turned him into a civil rights advocate.

2. The effort of anti-flag advocates, who are frequently advocates of censorship and restrictions on free speech as well, to exploit this tragedy to advance their pet grievance is transparent and obnoxious, and is even more attenuated than the furious efforts of anti-gun zealots to do the same thing.

3. The flag, like many symbols, represents different things to different people. Racial hate and bigotry is only one of them. The flag legitimately represents pride in a family legacy (“My great grandfather died bravely in Pickett’s Charge”), the historical record, opposition to federal government overreach,  aesthetic appeal, or defiance of authority generally (“I’m a rebel”). Old Glory also represents different things to different people, and we do not ban it because what it symbolizes to some people is unpleasant for them. (Yes, I know some schools have done exactly that. One hopes they are outliers)

4. Mitt Romney’s much praised tweet—“Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims.” —is simple-minded and irresponsible. (See the previous post.) Is Mitt arguing that any speech, symbol or expression that “many” find offensive should be suppressed? It sounds like it to me. Since Roof’s act had nothing to do with the flag, nor was it related to slavery or the Confederacy, how does taking the flag down “honor” his victims? Sure: Roof liked the flag, because of what it symbolized to him. He also liked Gold’s Gym:

dylann-roof1

Would closing down all the Gold Gyms in South Carolina honor his victims? The fact that the attack was racially motivated and that racists often display Confederate flags does not make a state flying the flag complicit in the shootings. Stop using Twitter to discuss complex issues, Mitt!

5. The abandonment of the Confederate flag (and the battle flag) should have been a condition of the Union accepting the Confederacy’s surrender. Every Confederate state that adopted the flag was expressing defiance: “We may have lost, but we are proud that we fought.” Proud that you tore the country apart, sparked a horrible war and led hundreds of thousands of young men to their deaths to preserve an institution they largely didn’t understand? Proud that the nation is still suffering for that “peculiar institution” you defended, which violated the nation’s core ideals from the moment of it’s founding? Wrong. Join the nation, accept its values.

6. Carrying Romney’s lazy argument to less excusable depths is a Detroit Free Press op-ed, which advocates burning Confederate flags because “the flying of the flag is a purposeful affront not only to African Americans but also to humanity in general.” No, in fact it isn’t. It can be, but it isn’t in all or even most cases.

“The display of the Confederate flag — anywhere — is a nonverbal statement of race hate,” says Joe LaPointe. Nonsense: the flag wasn’t even an expression of race hate during the Civil War. Most slave-owners didn’t hate slaves, or blacks. This is spreading historical ignorance, and The Free Press was irresponsible to publish it. Like Romney, LaPointe is arguing that expression that may not be intended as denigrating to blacks should be suppressed because blacks find it offensive. Many blacks find Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and anyone who dares to criticize Barack Obama offensive too. In Great Britain, some profess to be offended at “Jurassic World” because the film shortens a dinosaur’s technical name into a nickname that resembles an British racial slur.

That segues neatly in to the Niggardly Principles, which arose from the D.C. government’s brief effort to declare the word “niggardly” ( adj.: cheap, penurious) as offensive because the graduates of its pathetic public school system were prone to misconstrue it. Now it’s time to unveil the Third Niggardly Principle. Here are the first two; the Second moderates the First, and the Third will moderate the Second.

The First Niggardly Principle:

“No one should be criticized or penalized because someone takes racial, ethnic, religious or other offense at their conduct or speech due to the ignorance, bias or misunderstanding by the offended party.”

The Second Niggardly Principle:

“When an individual or group can accomplish its legitimate objectives without engaging in speech or conduct that will offend individuals whose basis for the supposed offense is emotional, mistaken or ignorant, but is not malicious and is based on well-established impulses of human nature, it is unethical to intentionally engage in such speech or conduct.”

The Third Niggardly Principle is…

When, however, suppressing speech and conduct based on an individual’s or a group’s sincere claim that such speech or conduct is offensive, however understandable and reasonable this claim may be, creates or threatens to create a powerful precedent that will undermine freedom of speech, expression or political opinion elsewhere, calls to suppress the speech or conduct must be opposed and rejected.

Does the new Third Niggardly Principle apply to South Carolina’s flag?

It does. When speech is effectively censored by the culture, timing, motive, context and message are crucial. The message sent by the state removing the Confederate flag at this time would be that tragedy confers on a group  special privileges to limit the free expression of others. It must not. South Carolina, for the right reasons, should retire its defiant, provocative flag as soon as possible because it is the ethical, fair and responsible thing to do, and because its continued presence risks compromising the nation’s freedom of  speech by a state prominently abusing it.

 

 

 

120 thoughts on “Introducing A Third Niggardly Principle, And A Dilemma: Does It Apply To The Confederate Flag?

  1. Ban that flag! And Gold’s Gym. And wearing stupid hats.

    Since Dylann was inspired to hate Black people in part by unfair reporting on the Trayvon Martin case…wouldn’t banning the Confederate flag just make him an even more passionate racists? You know, because “persecution.”

    (If I were a state lawmaker, I’d have personally voted to remove the flag though. There’s no reason to fly a flag over a government building that represents no actual political entity that exists there.)

    • Can anyone explain the downside of prosecuting those so-called “journalists” for murder? After all, their dishonest reporting incited racism, which led to murder.

      • Oh please. This kid is a sick-in-the-head 9th grade dropout; you can’t blame the speaker for an incompetent understanding on the part of the listener. Which now that I think of it is akin to Jack’s Niggardly Principle.

    • “…There’s no reason to fly a flag over a government building that represents no actual political entity that exists there.)”

      True – but that won’t stop “rainbow” flags from being hoisted there. Watch.

    • The right reasons to retire the flag were stated in the post. The wrong reasons include 1) to capitulate to partisan and ideological attempts to tar the state for the shooting of 9 people, essentially making a political connection that doesn’t exist. In law, after the fact repairs are taken as an acknowledgment of guilt for a particular event. 2) Because it’s offensive to “some,’ which is why it is being called for now. I don’t care that the flag is offensive. I care that it asserts values that no state should embrace.

      • The reasons you state are, “1) because it is the ethical, fair and responsible thing to do, and 2) because its continued presence risks compromising the nation’s freedom of speech by a state prominently abusing it.”

        Re the first reason, you’re preaching to the choir with me, but I’m not sure anyone who disagrees would be persuaded by “because it’s the ethical, fair and responsible thing to do.”

        Re the second reason, are you suggesting the flag should be retired FOR the reasons people are against it, but only after long enough time has passed so that the retirement can’t be seen as being BECAUSE of those people being against it?

        There actually is some commonsense support for the idea of waiting – a cooling off period is appropriate for many human and societal issues – but it does strike me as curious that an ethical issue should be hinged on a question of timing.

        Or am I not interpreting your intent correctly? It seems a subtle point , I’m not trying to be cute or snide here.

        • That’s right. That’s the point of the Third Niggardly Principle as well. That’s why politicians and comics shouldn’t start apologizing for comments that were misguided or poorly stated just because the PC police starts blowing whistles. That’s why I will not support efforts at better gun regulations that are promoted with false statistic and emotional blackmail. Same principle. Worthy ends can be tainted and corrupted by unethical means. How’s that?

          Why should the fact that unethical people don’t see obviously unethical acts as unethical make “it’s unethical” an inadequate explanation? I explained earlier why the flag should have been blocked by the Union as a condition of surrender, and that’s what is unethical about it. Anyone who is proud of the Confederacy’s role in causing and continuing the Civil War is certifiable.

          • Niggardly, right? (lest someone jump on you for that) This leads me to a question building on this, if I may. This type of bullying is used not just in this particular dispute, but in other causes too. There was a request some time ago that the Empire State Building light its lights in yellow and gold for children’s cancer. The ESB, as is its right as a private building, declined to do so. This resulted in a huge social media campaign seeking to have them change their decision, and ultimately a statement by ESB that this was abusive, there would be no lighting this year, and that responsible organizations could apply in the future. There has been no such lighting and there probably never will be, since they don’t want to give the impression that a) they were successfully pressured, and therefore b) anyone with access to social media can pressure them into getting what they want. The question is, where does the ultimate fault lie ethically in situations like this, where good causes arguably go noplace? Does it lie with the bullies who overplay their hand and arguably lose the moral high ground, or with the bullied, who now almost HAVE to dig their heels in and say no, lest they show they can be pressured into doing what anyone who leans hard enough on them wants?

  2. Numbered comments to your numbered comments:

    1) The Confederate Flag, like the so-called narrative of the Lost Cause, is a symbol charged with meaning, and one of the main meaning-givers is the North which, in my researches, I have determined has very little understanding of the South, nor desire to understand. Truth be told, the North desires to misunderstand in very many different senses; to mis-designate, misinterpret, and to interpret in at times very bad faith. My researches have led me to understand, or to propose, that the North has very deep and troubling issues with the South. The North is part of a problem therefor.

    2) ‘Anti-flag advocates’, as you have labeled them, are modern exponents of a tradition, a religious tradition principally, that extends back in time to the mid-1800s and of course earlier. The advocates of ‘anti-flag’ are advocates AGAINST a form of identity, a way of seeing oneself, or one’s culture, or one’s place in this world, that the anti-flag advocates really really don’t like. They cast onto the Confederate flag a psychological constellation which is part of their own make-up and which they see as something close to ‘absolute evil’. It does not matter if, as you say, the flag is simply a remembrance of participation in a battle and a military event with which one is connected, or even if it IS a symbol of white identity or even ‘racism’ (a complex term that only the accuser of it uses, and thus it is really HIS), none of this matters. For the Confederate flag represents a whole group of things, some visible and describable, and some invisible, subconscious and unknown, in the psyche of the northerner. And important element in understanding the Confederate flag issue, is to understand the psychological underpinnings.

    3) Though the flag does represent different things to different people, it also represents the possibility of a constellation of interests that could/might oppose a sort of national groupthink, a questionable and even sometimes false interpretation of history, which is to say a constellation of lies, and also the psychological underpinnings and ramifications of self-deception. To get to the bottom of *that* is almost impossible because, it would seem, the force of self-deception is powerful. As with therapeutic processes the dismantling of lies of this sort (out of which identity has been formed is a difficult and psychically costly affair).

    4) Mitt Romney, it would seem, expresses a ‘surface’ reaction to something almost incomprehensibly horrible and evil. I think it is safe to say that any person, in any context, that attacks and harms or kills people in a temple or place of worship, filled as they are with the higher symbolisations and the better parts of human conceptualisation, has committed an atrocity. To sit with people with open Scripture and then to murder them in the coldest of cold blood, should be an inconceivable act.

    Mitt is correct though to notice the link between white identity politics (or sociology) and what resulted from the imposition of northern values and will on the Southern states in the aftermath of the Civil War. By imposing a military rule, and by forcibly seeking to change the South against its own will, the North committed a crime, though it is one that it is easy to hide behind since it appears altruistic. Mitt then, and with a large segment of the population, puts his weight behind a further eradication of any oppositional will to the authority of the northern narrative, to the psychological duplicity of the northern mind, for after all the same tendency (invasion and forcing ‘change’ on people) is an active aspect of the American psyche and its foreign politics. The War Between the States was a testing ground for tactics and policies which are part-and-parcel of the American system.

    5) Are you giving voice to a Southerner when you describe him as “Proud that you tore the country apart, sparked a horrible war and led hundreds of thousands of young men to their deaths to preserve an institution they [the North?] largely didn’t understand?”

    And “Proud that the nation is still suffering for that “peculiar institution” you defended, which violated the nation’s core ideals from the moment of it’s founding?”

    I have a few comments but don’t want to make them until I understand what is actually being said here.

    6) The Confederate flag is a complex and loaded symbol of the possibility of radical alternatives in history and as such it VERY MUCH IS a relevant symbol for burning or for loyal display. In my view, when one has penetrated down into and through the many many layers of lies and self-deceptions that are an essential and abiding Northern problem, one begins to see the entire issue very differently. And when one has exposed the many issues in it to view, one staggers to a degree with the enormity of them. It is not at all surprising if people desire to burn the Confederate flag, nor is it surprising that it has been seized on and will be seized on again and again as a focus-point for Northern rage and psychological projection.

    An issue that is not being spoken about, openly, and in our various media, is one not at all easy to broach, and when it is broached it immediately invokes a firestorm of countervailing and oppositional ideas. It has to do with white identity, Northern European identity, and Occidental identity, and an assault that is being made on it and against it. You cannot be white and open your mouth. You cannot be white and see what you see, and describe what you see. There is a huge danger if you do. You can lose everything. Your job, your source of income, your reputation. One mess up and you’re dead meat. To put forward ANY platform of white identity is ipso facto suspect. In this sense ‘our country is no longer ours’ and has been taken over by others, and other groups of interests. Well, that is one narrative, isn’t it? that is a real one (many people do think this) and yet it is one that cannot be discussed seriously. Mention it, and it MUST be undermined.

    As long as these issues remain submerged and suppressed, it will all continue to function in these under-scene ways.

    • Regarding 5): No, I’m speaking for myself, pointing out to “Lost Cause” romantics there is no reason NOT to be proud of the individual gallantry, sacrifice and bravery of South; even Northern soldiers expressed such sentiments. There is no reason TO be proud of the Confederacy, secession, the stubborn refusal to change attitudes regarding slavery after Uncle Tom’s Cabin so precisely defined its human dimension, and fighting the Civil War. The Confederacy is accountable to blame for horror, death and destruction, and horrible scars that have yet to heal completely or well.

      • You must feel good about demonizing the population of a large section of the country? There’s nothing self-righteous about you, is there? Please define “Lost Cause romantic.” Does that term include all southerners? Perhaps all Civil War buffs who take an inordinate interest in the Confederate side? Anyone who owns a facsimile of the Confederate flag? My great great grandfather and his brother fought and died in the Army of Northern Virginia (22nd Virginia Battalion). Should I be ashamed? Should I curse their memory? Dictionary.com defines “gallantry” as “dashing courage; heroic bravery; noble-minded behavior.” Explain how noble behavior is something one should be ashamed of? Have you at any time read a memoir of a Confederate soldier, such as those written by Samuel R. Watkins, William A. Fletcher, David Holt and others? When it comes to the South, the Confederacy and southerners in general, you seem quite the ignorant ass.

        • How about reading the post, you pompous, illiterate, defensive jerk? Did you miss this, for example:

          “The flag, like many symbols, represents different things to different people. Racial hate and bigotry is only one of them. The flag legitimately represents pride in a family legacy (“My great grandfather died bravely in Pickett’s Charge”), the historical record, opposition to federal government overreach, aesthetic appeal, or defiance of authority generally (“I’m a rebel”). Old Glory also represents different things to different people, and we do not ban it because what it symbolizes to some people is unpleasant for them.”

          Got all that? Wait, since it will doubtlessly take you too long to mouth-read it, have someone read it to you, because it invalidates…lets see…yes, all of these parts of your dumb as rocks post:

          You must feel good about demonizing the population of a large section of the country? There’s nothing self-righteous about you, is there? Please define “Lost Cause romantic.” Does that term include all southerners? Perhaps all Civil War buffs who take an inordinate interest in the Confederate side? Anyone who owns a facsimile of the Confederate flag? My great great grandfather and his brother fought and died in the Army of Northern Virginia (22nd Virginia Battalion). Should I be ashamed? Should I curse their memory? Dictionary.com defines “gallantry” as “dashing courage; heroic bravery; noble-minded behavior.” Explain how noble behavior is something one should be ashamed of? Have you at any time read a memoir of a Confederate soldier, such as those written by Samuel R. Watkins, William A. Fletcher, David Holt and others? When it comes to the South, the Confederacy and southerners in general, you seem quite the ignorant ass.

          Let’s see..what does that leave, besides your insults that are in no way justified by the post, you Dufus? Oh, right, this:

          “Please define “Lost Cause romantic.” I define that as anyone who gets wistful about the land of cotton, where old times were not forgotten, or who thinks there was anything ennobling about waging such a destructive war on the wrong side.

          Now apologize for throwing around accusations backed by nothing, or shut up.

      • Umm, I think you mean no reason NOT to be proud of individual gallantry, etc., right? I agree, by the way, a lot of the Southern high officers were both good officers and good people who picked the wrong side in that conflict, and a lot of them (Jackson, Stuart, A.P. Hill and others) paid the ultimate price.

      • I’d say that Generals Sherman and Sheridan played a large role in that “death and destruction” part. Remember; the war was waged largely on Southern soil, as the Confederacy lacked the manpower and logistics to carry the war to the north, except for two forays that didn’t turn out well. Nor was the South into waging total war. That was Sherman’s innovation.

  3. I would note that, in the historical context, if the “flag banners” had a genuine antipathy towards a Confederate symbol (in the sense of “social justice”, etc.), then it should be directed at the Stars & Bars- the Confederacy’s national flag. The battle flag (or battle ensign) was adopted by the army after the First Battle of Manassas, where it was discovered that the flags of the two contending nations resembled each other too closely during field operations. (Ironically, that confusion helped the South win that battle, but the possible ramifications for the future were readily seen.)

    I’d just tell them to leave the battle flag alone, just as they should the Gadsden Flag, the Gonzales Flag, the Pine Tree Flag and others of American history that patriots proudly fly to this day. Good American soldiers fought and died under those banners in protection of their homes and liberties from invaders. If the Southern battle flag is to be cast down, then will it be long before those others are, as well?

  4. Jack wrote: “No, I’m speaking for myself, pointing out to “Lost Cause” romantics there is no reason to be proud of the individual gallantry, sacrifice and bravery of South; even Northern soldiers expressed such sentiments. There is no reason not to be proud of the Confederacy, secession, the stubborn refusal to change attitudes regarding slavery after Uncle Tom’s Cabin so precisely defined its human dimension, and fighting the Civil War. The Confederacy is accountable to blame for horror, death and destruction, and horrible scars that have yet to heal completely or well.”

    I don’t accept the term ‘Lost Cause’. It has a complex history and even (as is said) if it was coined by a Southerner I think it has become a non-useful term to describe Souther secession and so much else. It is a term wielded by Northerners. Once you have attached that label you are no longer in the domain of conversation, you are in the domain of assigning your value-system to someone else. That is a really big defect for Americans, generally speaking.

    Additionally, ‘romanticism’ is a powerful and very real aspect of human consciousness. Romanticism is often ‘vision’ and romantic sentiments often contain the best of a person’s hope and idealism.

    While I agree that Southern secessionism certainly ended badly for the South, and were they to have known that they might well have chosen other routes, I have come to understand that Southern secessionism (as will, as vision, as ‘possibility’) is and represents a dignified and valuable Will.

    In short, the best route for the South would have been to have been able to have dealt with its own issues, in its own way, and in its own time. The rest of the hemisphere did that. Yet the Southern fear of the Republican power-structure was real and cogent.

    If one were to honestly seek to assign ‘accountability’ I think one would have to start from a premise of ‘shared blame’ and then attempt to work out some of the finer points.

    “I define that as anyone who gets wistful about the land of cotton, where old times were not forgotten, or who thinks there was anything ennobling about waging such a destructive war on the wrong side.”

    A very northern perspective! There is of course another side and it is rational, intelligent, cogent, and has integrity.

    • That pretty well reflects my own attitude, Gustav. I just chalked it up to Jack’s Beantown outlook and let it go at that. Personally, I consider the South’s struggle for independence against such daunting odds- a cause that nearly succeeded on several occasions- to be an epic of human history. As Americans, we should all be able to acclaim that effort, whether or not we approve of all facets of the cause.

      • That makes no sense whatsoever, and is no different from making the same claim on behalf of Hitler’s Germany, Imperial Japan or the Al Quida. “all facets of the cause”? Come on.

            • You and Charles both offer nice, but divertive stats. Let me put it in focus for you both. The South WAS fairly prosperous, mainly on the basis of its cotton output and the prices it fetched in British and French mills. The tariff threatened that and would have forced Southern planters to send their cotton to Northern mills, making them and the entire Southern economy dependent on the price the Yankees set.

              The South was also mainly rural and agricultural, likewise lacking in railroads and a merchant fleet of its own. That also meant that they lacked many vital industries in place for maintaining a nation at war. Therefore, it was of prime importance to seize all federal bases and armories within its territory to supply and maintain an army in the field that could achieve a notable deterrence to invasion or be able to defeat one, if necessary. Note, too, that General Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter after Major Anderson moved his garrison there and after an attempted provisioning by the merchant vessel Star Of The West. The fort sits right in a spot that commands the entire harbor of Charleston, a major Southern port. Now… what the hell else could he have done??

              The South declared its independence on the basis that it was culturally and economically divergent from the North (it was) and that its rights were threatened by Northern interests which sought to dominate their area… also true. There was also the issue of state’s rights under the Constitution. Nowhere in the process did the Southern leaders mention slavery as an issue, except by individual opinions. Never in any of the reminiscences of Confederate veterans have I seen any that declared they went to war to keep slavery. The big landholders were pretty well (but not all) pro-slavery… but that’s because they owned damn near all of them. The vast bulk of Southrons were small farmers and small businessmen who had no use for mass forced labor.

              • You glide over the root causes of the war. You say “The South declared its independence on the basis that it was culturally and economically divergent from the North…and that its rights were threatened by Northern interests which sought to dominate their area.”

                “Culturally divergent? Dominate their area?” What kind of cause for war is this? This is revisionism pure and simple.

                By contrast, Pulitzer Prize-winning author James McPherson writes that, “The Civil War started because of uncompromising differences between the free and slave states over the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states. When Abraham Lincoln won election in 1860 as the first Republican president on a platform pledging to keep slavery out of the territories, seven slave states in the deep South seceded and formed a new nation, the Confederate States of America. The incoming Lincoln administration and most of the Northern people refused to recognize the legitimacy of secession. They feared that it would discredit democracy and create a fatal precedent that would eventually fragment the no-longer United States into several small, squabbling countries.”

                You say, “Nowhere in the process did the Southern leaders mention slavery as an issue, except by individual opinions.”

                If you Google jefferson Davis’s quotes on slavery, you get the folowing (You may call these individual opinions, but when the president of the CSA says them, one might be forgiven for thinking them to represent something official).

                “If slavery be a sin, it is not yours. It does not rest on your action for its origin, on your consent for its existence. It is a common law right to property in the service of man; its origin was Divine decree.”
                ~Davis

                “African slavery, as it exists in the United States, is a moral, a social, and a political blessing.”
                ~Davis

                “My own convictions as to negro slavery are strong. It has its evils and abuses…We recognize the negro as God and God’s Book and God’s Laws, in nature, tell us to recognize him – our inferior, fitted expressly for servitude…You cannot transform the negro into anything one-tenth as useful or as good as what slavery enables them to be.”

                • McPherson is very fair, and hardly an anti-South scold. But that interpretation is unavoidable; Ken Burns’ documentary, for all its even-handedness and pro-Lee propaganda, reached the same conclusion, and it was hardly an earth-shattering one. Bottom line: without the slavery conflict, no Civil War. SMP’s phrasing avoids the ugly truth.

                  • Jack: As in virtually all wars, the root causes were economic. I never said that the slavery question was not a contributor to the break, only that it is overstated. One of the events that touched off the war was John Brown’s abortive raid on Harper’s Ferry. He was a man openly intent on causing a bloody slave revolt in the South and had the backing of many rich Northern liberals. Again, the bulk of the Southern people had nothing to do with slaves. John Brown managed to unite the South in the nightmare of a murderous race war. That’s not the only parallel between those times and today, either.

                • McPherson is entitled to his opinion, Charles. That opinion is also the standard gloss-over that you find in junior high textbooks. As for individual opinions, offered either in public or private; that’s another item, isn’t it? I thought I made it plain that I was referring to the official founding documents of the Confederate States. In regard to President Davis, I might point out that he was also the man who finally pushed through the bill that allowed him to raise black troops to fight for the South, to include volunteer slaves.

                  • Not everything in Jr. High school textbooks is wrong.

                    And re black troops for the south – are you kidding? Is that meant to be some sort of indicator of Davis’s magnanimity? Passing a bill a month before Appomattox?

                    Let’s get some data here: about 100,000 black troops fought for the Union. As to the Confederacy, here’s some data:
                    http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/faq/?referrer=https://www.google.com/

                    “Slaves and free blacks were present in the Confederate lines as hand servants and manual laborers. On March 14, 1865 the Confederate military issued General Orders No. 14, which provided for the raising of black combat regiments, but there is no official military documentation that indicates these orders were carried out or that any black soldiers were ever properly enlisted in the Confederate army. There are a few photographs of blacks in Confederate uniforms, but these appear to be hoaxes.”

                    This is desperation, SMP.

                    • It’s been estimated that 30-50 thousand black soldiers served in the Confederate ranks. As I mentioned, many served unofficially from the very beginning. Are you aware that the first combat death in the field was a Union officer who was shot by a black Southron? They did more than K.P. duty, Charles. No, the desperation is yours.

                    • “It’s been estimated…”

                      Stvplln – Really? By whom, exactly? Because I’ve already cited a REAL source that says you’re completely off your rocker. Here it is again:

                      ——–
                      Q. Were there black Confederate soldiers?

                      Slaves and free blacks were present in the Confederate lines as handservants and manual laborers. On March 14, 1865 the Confederate military issued General Orders No. 14, which provided for the raising of black combat regiments, but there is no official military documentation that indicates these orders were carried out or that any black soldiers were ever properly enlisted in the Confederate army. There are a few photographs of blacks in Confederate uniforms, but these appear to be hoaxes.
                      ————-
                      Here’s the source for that information:
                      http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/faq/?referrer=https://www.google.com/

                      Now, your turn: where the hell do you come up with the claim that “30-50 thousand black soldiers served in the Confederate ranks”?

                      Enquiring minds would like to know.

                    • Good Lord, Charles. Do you actually perceive this as a threat to your worldview? That some black Southerners took up arms for the Confederacy? The estimation came from a review of the sketchy final records of the Confederate government after the bill was passed to raise negro troops for the Army. That’s why the estimates are so varied. But there is no doubt that black regiments DID serve during the waning days of the war. A number of black people are members of organizations composed of the descendants of Confederate veterans. And, as I mentioned, a number of black men served in an unofficial capacity from the very onset. Is this so difficult to understand? Whether they were freedmen or still officially slaves, these men felt a natural loyalty for their country against an invading army.

                  • “In regard to President Davis, I might point out that he was also the man who finally pushed through the bill that allowed him to raise black troops to fight for the South, to include volunteer slaves.”

                    Desperation no?

                    Davis enlisting blacks to help perpetuate slavery. That is desperation.

                    • I think that President Davis was smart enough to realize that, either in victory or defeat, slavery was over in the South. Had the Confederacy prevailed on the efforts of its (now) black citizen-soldiers, emancipation would have soon prevailed among its states. The war had already devastated the large plantations, where the bulk of the slaves existed. Nor could an independent South have endured without the foreign recognition that the slavery issue (masterfully utilized by President Lincoln) had denied them.

              • “The South declared its independence on the basis that it was culturally and economically divergent from the North (it was) and that its rights were threatened by Northern interests which sought to dominate their area… also true. There was also the issue of state’s rights under the Constitution. Nowhere in the process did the Southern leaders mention slavery as an issue, except by individual opinions. Never in any of the reminiscences of Confederate veterans have I seen any that declared they went to war to keep slavery. The big landholders were pretty well (but not all) pro-slavery… but that’s because they owned damn near all of them. The vast bulk of Southerns were small farmers and small businessmen who had no use for mass forced labor.”

                Steven. Please. You’re a smart guy. Slavery was the single most divisive issue of the day, and had been for more than a decade, between North and South. The question of whether slave states or free states would get the upper hand in Congress was the basis of two major compromises. Kansas was divided and at virtual war. Southern Congressmen were attacking Northern abolitionists with canes on the House floor. The Republican party was formed as an abolitionist party, To recast slavery as if it was not the pivotal, catalytic decisive issue over which the “States Rights” rationale was deemed worthy of ripping up the Union is just ignoring the T-Rex in the parlor because it is so mean and smelly. You are better than this. You cannot possibly assert honestly that there would have been a Civil War had the South abandoned slavery. Or, for that matter, that Lincoln would have been elected. Yes, we know that most of the soldiers had no stake in slavery, but that’s a red herring. The State’s leaders went to war over state’s rights to maintain slavery (or not), and the common soldier, and non-common like R.L. Lee, followed their “countries.” that’s not evidence that the war wasn’t essentially about slaves. It’s not even relevant.

                • I think our point of disagreement still lies in how predominant the slavery question was as a root cause of the conflict. I would continue to argue that this issue was mainly an emotional one, spurred on by Northern economic interests and the big landholding families in the South who had inherited the system from colonial times. The prime factor in the war was the tariff issue that threatened the economical and political self-determination of the entire South. Then there was the fear and anger generated across the spectrum of Southern society by the Northern backed attempt by John Brown to initiate a brutal race war in order to subjugate Southerners. If I had been a typical townsman or small farmer of that time, those factors would have been enough to swing me to the cause of secession… with slavery playing no part of the equation.

                    • But they did secede over the prospect of being dictated to by the North and being used as a cash cow to be milked. They also had a slight objection to being murdered in their beds by a Northern sponsored revolt of blacks.

                    • This is Absolutely incredible SMP.

                      Incredible. I don’t want to call you flagrantly and willingly stupid.

                      Being dictated to by the north to STOP slavery…

                      You can’t pretend like slavery wasn’t the issue by abstracting the argument.

                      That’s like avoiding calling Jeffrey Dahmer a cannibalistic murderer by saying he merely had dietary differences with his dinner guests.

                      Quit. Just quit.

                      And why do you suppose southern plantation owners might be worried about being murdered by slaves?

                      Could it be because no man should have to endure the wretched and daily murder of their minds and bodies as a slave?

                      Come on. Just quit. You have made yourself sound fully uneducated now.

                    • Tex: It was probably the big landholders in general who had the LEAST to fear from a slave revolt. They treated their servants (they rarely called them slaves) with kindness and had a loyal group of house servants who tended to be highly loyal. It was the other segments of
                      Southern society who sensed physical danger from a rampant race war. What the plantation owners DID fear was a disruption of their business from unruly field hands, political instability and the lines of transportation of their goods to market. Farmers of any size or order have enough to worry about without this sort of thing. When it’s being orchestrated by interests who also want to dominate your livelihood and force themselves on you as your sole consumer…

                    • JFKDLAJ;KAFJ;KDAKJAJ;F

                      WHAT?

                      Oh Great! They called them servants! Holy ballsweat! We fought a war over servants?

                      God we sure were stupid. Damn that Lincoln! 600,000 dead! Over servants!

                      No wonder the rest of the world thinks we are idiots.

                      No but seriously. You are tap dancing worse than TGT when he was confronted with bald reality.

                      Servants? Instead of murdering people, would I soften the blow if I called it lifespan readjustment? Maybe if I treated my victim with kindness before offing them?

                      Are you even listening to yourself or are you getting a good laugh out of this?

                      They feared a disruption of their business? Do you mean they feared having to work themselves or pay their workers? Holy crap what a concept!

                      You are really exhausting all the methods of rephrasing slavery as something benign.

                      I’m sorry, but you are flagrantly and willingly stupid.

                      I didn’t want to call you that.

                      Oh, and your sign off, if there was any basis for that, it sort of undoes your own argument… the Southerners were worried about having an economic situation “forced on them”… not at all like forcing an economic situation on their labor.

                      You’re full of it. Which is sad, because you reach good conclusions on other topics. I’ll have to assume you didn’t reach those conclusions logically, but happened on them accidentally. Blind squirrels do find nuts…

                    • Oh, come off it, Tex. All I said was that the plantation owners often used the term. So what? You’re going on an extended rant in more of the TGT style than I am by a damn sight. Alright. You have a different perspective on the Confederacy than I have. Big deal. I can live with it. I just think you’re crapping in an overflowing outhouse, that’s all.

                    • That’s like avoiding calling Jeffrey Dahmer a cannibalistic murderer by saying he merely had dietary differences with his dinner guests.

                      I was trying to come up with a similar analogy but gave up. Glad you persisted. And you owe me a keyboard.

                    • Love your Dahmer citation; it inspires me to borrow from JC Watts’ father – a black man fighting for the Confederacy is like a chicken fighting for Colonel Sanders.

                    • It’s also a comparison without meaning, Charles. Men are not chickens… except in liberal orthodoxy. Men fight for their land, their families and the hope of a better world for their children. Chickens would not fight for Colonel Sanders, but black Southerners would have rallied to his colors against the Northern invasion… and enjoyed his poultry concoctions between battles.

                  • “The prime factor in the war was the tariff issue that threatened the economical and political self-determination of the entire South.”

                    The economical and political self-determination of the entire South to able to own slaves.

                    I love this breed of Southern pride spinners…

                • “Yes, we know that most of the soldiers had no stake in slavery, but that’s a red herring.”

                  No immediate stake in slavery. But they did, very much indirectly. The ENTIRE southern system was wrapped up in the peculiar institution, from non-slave owning dirt poor white to black slave…everyone at the bottom was beholden to the slave owners at the top.

                  • And to add to it, you’ll often hear the stat drummed up that 9 out of 10 southern soldiers didn’t own slaves.

                    But a deeper investigation into that will reveal that number, though literally true, drops significantly if you don’t consider solders in terms of “slave owning vs non-slave owning” but rather in terms of “from slave owning households vs not from slave owning households”. The war, as all wars, are fought predominantly by young men. Slaves were hefty economic investments, the likes of which most young men couldn’t initially afford. But their daddy’s sure could.

                    That 9 out of 10 drops significantly when we recognize that though the soldiers personally didn’t own slaves, many came straight out of slave-owning households.

              • All of that to maintain slavery, SMP.

                Discuss all the side facets of the war you want and the Southern society.

                The war was over slaves – even the “vast bulk of Southrons” who didn’t own slaves, were fighting to perpetuate slavery.

              • “The South was also mainly rural and agricultural, likewise lacking in railroads and a merchant fleet of its own.”

                Governmentally backed forced labor (read as a type of monopoly) definitely disincentivized any free market competition away from agriculture…

              • SMP,

                You say, “Nowhere in the process did the Southern leaders mention slavery as an issue, except by individual opinions.”

                Here is a link that contains the actual official documents of secession from all the Southern States. Their words, at the time.

                http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/primarysources/declarationofcauses.html

                What you will find, front and center, is SLAVERY. Their words; their declarations; slavery.

                You will not find much mention of cultural divergence, or state’s rights. What you find is SLAVERY as their stated reason for secession and for going to war.

                For example, here are the opening lines of Georgia’s Declaration of Secession:

                “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.”

                Here are the opening lines from Mississippi’s declaration:

                “In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

                “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. That we do not overstate the dangers to our institution, a reference to a few facts will sufficiently prove. ”

                The critical question to be asked is: How in the world have people like you come to believe that this never happened? How is this different from holocaust denial? How do you believe that up is down? I just find it astonishing.

                Read the actual history.

                • Charles: Didn’t i mention that the fear of a bloody slave revolt- sponsored by Northern interests via another John Brown type fanatic- was concurrent with those interest’s quest to hijack the Southron economy? I say again; perpetuating slavery was not the motive for the Southern Secession. Security, state’s rights, the growing cultural gap between North and South and a free economy was. Naturally, the large landholders dominated the political process in the largely agricultural South and they were the ones who had become invested in the “peculiar institution” over several centuries. They were not solid in a belief that slavery should forever endure, but their attitudes had hardened with the Northern attitude toward them and those other factors I mentioned. The average Southerner didn’t give a damn about slavery, but cared about those other factors every bit as much as the plantation owners did.

                  • Didn’t i mention that the fear of a bloody slave revolt- sponsored by Northern interests

                    A slave revolt wouldn’t have interested the slaves?

                    “those interest’s quest to hijack the Southron economy?”

                    hijack the ‘Southron’ economy = eliminate the gawdawful Southern practice of human bondage?

                    So?

                    Why don’t you refer to us as Southerners? Though ‘Southron’ is definitionally correct, I think it’s archaic and sounds like we’re characters from a Tolkien novel.

                    I say again; perpetuating slavery was not the motive for the Southern Secession.

                    Security

                    From pesky laws declaring the practice of slavery illegal.

                    state’s rights

                    To define particular humans as property. Because, as history will attest, abolitionists weren’t interested in denying Southern states the ability to pass any other laws they saw fit…

                    the growing cultural gap between North and South

                    Such as the some people recognizing the horrific nature of human bondage and some people still peachy keen on it?

                    and a free economy was

                    Who do you think had the free economy?

                    Sorry, but State protected non-agreed-to forced labor contracts do not a “free” economy make. Au contraire, it does make the kind of economy governing centralists have reductio ad absurdum wet dreams about.

                    Naturally, the large landholders dominated the political process in the largely agricultural South and they were the ones who had become invested in the “peculiar institution” over several centuries. They were not solid in a belief that slavery should forever endure

                    No? They just figured their great grand children might bother to get around to freeing their slaves’ great grand children because working in the South outside was going to get easier?

                    The average Southerner didn’t give a damn about slavery, but cared about those other factors every bit as much as the plantation owners did.

                    The average Southerner apparently didn’t do much to free the slaves and apparently went wholeheartedly with the plantation owners and politicians when it came time to defend slavery – because the abolitionists weren’t trying to stop southern states from passing their own laws so long as those laws weren’t a betrayal of the Declaration of Independence…

        • Hidden in all that is the hard to describe notion that, although many causes and objectives described are horrendous and appalling, once you distill those causes away and isolate the mere component of “willingness to die for your beliefs against those who would force you to capitulate”, that IS actually a good quality to possess.

          Now, in confusing that when people try to explain the value of righteous pigheaded tenacity to the point of death, is they end up getting lumped in with defending “Nazis and Al Qaida”. Except, the key difference is one aspect is “willingness to die defending your beliefs” vs “willingness to kill imposing your beliefs”.

      • “The South’s struggle for independence against such daunting odds…an epic of human history.”

        Well, that’s one narrative line.

        Another is that several Southern States seceded before any shots were fired..and those first shots fired were by the South. As to “struggle” and “daunting odds,” consider this bit of economic research: from http://civilwartalk.com/threads/best-estimate-of-southern-gdp-gnp.10909/

        “Far from being poverty-stricken, the South was quite rich by the standards of the antebellum era. If we treat the North and South as separate nations and rank them among the countries of the world, the South would stand as the fourth richest nation of the world in 1860. The South was richer than France, richer than Germany, richer than Denmark, richer than any of the countries of Europe except England (see table 5). Presentation of southern per capita income in 1860 dollars instead of 1973 dollars tends to cloak the extent of southern economic attainment. The South was not only rich by antebellum standards but also by relatively recent standards. Indeed, a country as advanced as Italy did not achieve the southern level of per capita income until the eve of World War 11.”

        “As a group slaveholders were extremely wealthy in the South. Their average wealth in 1860 was $24,748, almost fourteen times greater than that of non-slaveholders ($1,781). They accounted for 26 percent of the white population in 1860 and they owned 93 percent of “agricultural wealth.”

        “Or in short your average slave holder was wealthier than everyone else, but was a minority in the south in which the majority were less wealthy than everyone else. In 1830, 35 percent of Southern households included slaves. By 1860 the figure stood at 26 percent, with fewer than 5 percent of white households owning 20 or more slaves, southern society was very rigid in financial mobility, and any average for the south is therefore very misleading as society simply had a a mega elite rich and have nots.”

        This suggests quite another narrative.

        Lincoln had secession thrust on him, he wasn’t looking for it. (And speaking of Lincoln, how many victors were as magnanimous? Until the Marshall Plan, anyway).

        The war was started to defend the interests of a powerful and wealthy ruling minority in a rigid and economically unequal society.

        “An epic of human history?” Not exactly the words I’d go with.

    • First, the comment was supposed to read…

      “pointing out to “Lost Cause” romantics there is no reason NOT to be proud of the individual gallantry, sacrifice and bravery of South; even Northern soldiers expressed such sentiments. There is no reason TO be proud of the Confederacy, secession, the stubborn refusal to change attitudes regarding slavery after Uncle Tom’s Cabin so precisely defined its human dimension, and fighting the Civil War.”

      I left out the first NOT in error, then erroneously added it in the wrong place when the error was pointed out. (It’s not easy being an idiot.) Then again, since neither incorrect version made any sense in context, I would expect most to recognize them as errors, and to understand my meaning.

      That said…

      Jack wrote: “No, I’m speaking for myself, pointing out to “Lost Cause” romantics there is no reason to be proud of the individual gallantry, sacrifice and bravery of South; even Northern soldiers expressed such sentiments. There is no reason not to be proud of the Confederacy, secession, the stubborn refusal to change attitudes regarding slavery after Uncle Tom’s Cabin so precisely defined its human dimension, and fighting the Civil War. The Confederacy is accountable to blame for horror, death and destruction, and horrible scars that have yet to heal completely or well.”

      No, I didn’t say or think that, I wrote it incorrectly. Move on.

      I don’t accept the term ‘Lost Cause’. It has a complex history and even (as is said) if it was coined by a Southerner I think it has become a non-useful term to describe Southern secession and so much else. It is a term wielded by Northerners. Once you have attached that label you are no longer in the domain of conversation, you are in the domain of assigning your value-system to someone else. That is a really big defect for Americans, generally speaking.

      Uh, YOU raised “Lost Cause,” not me. I was using your term.

      Additionally, ‘romanticism’ is a powerful and very real aspect of human consciousness. Romanticism is often ‘vision’ and romantic sentiments often contain the best of a person’s hope and idealism.

      Irrelevant. We’re taking right and wrong, not emotion, and even if romanticizing can be useful and have value, romanticizing human rights violations does not.

      While I agree that Southern secessionism certainly ended badly for the South, and were they to have known that they might well have chosen other routes, I have come to understand that Southern secessionism (as will, as vision, as ‘possibility’) is and represents a dignified and valuable Will.

      It didn’t end badly for the South, it ended badly for the nation. Lots of abstract principles are noble in theory and disaatrous in practice, and this is a great example. The only way the South’s gamble made sense is the assumption that the North wouldn’t try to stop them.

      “In short, the best route for the South would have been to have been able to have dealt with its own issues, in its own way, and in its own time. The rest of the hemisphere did that. Yet the Southern fear of the Republican power-structure was real and cogent.”

      Absurd, delusional, stunningly unethical statement. Tell that to a slave. Ridiculous.

      If one were to honestly seek to assign ‘accountability’ I think one would have to start from a premise of ‘shared blame’ and then attempt to work out some of the finer points.

      That’s like blaming the police for the deaths in a shootout with terrorts. The South was objectively in the wrong, fighting for the right to buy and sell human beings as property. 100% at fault. No argument.

      “I define that as anyone who gets wistful about the land of cotton, where old times were not forgotten, or who thinks there was anything ennobling about waging such a destructive war on the wrong side.”
      A very northern perspective! There is of course another side and it is rational, intelligent, cogent, and has integrity.

      Translation: “you just don’t understand.” Yes I do, all too well. A few more nostalgic comments like this rationalizing the South’s position on slavery and I’ll start agreeing with Mitt. By the way, I’ve lived in Virginia most of my life. I have defended the confederate statues they have tried to tear down. But excusing the south is ethically and logically unsustainable.

      • Jack wrote: “Irrelevant. We’re taking right and wrong, not emotion, and even if romanticizing can ge usefal and have value, romanticizing human rights violations does not.”

        The base of your argument, here, is emotional in fact. And ‘romantic’. It is also a wee bit ignorant. You cannot operate your present ethic backwards in time. The 17th and 18th centuries functioned with a very different anthropology. In order to understand that time-frame and that anthropology, one has to enter into it so to speak. It is simply silly, a little stupid if I may be so bold, to interject into history a perspective of modernity that you describe as ethical. To understand the early American states, and certainly the South of 1760-1860, requires entering into a very different mind-frame. A key to understanding that era is to understand that a whole anthropological definition was in a process of change and evolution. Examining history with your frame of mind will lead only to error and misperception.

        Jack wrote: “It didn’t end badly for the South, it ended badly for the nation. Lots of abstract principles are noble in theory and disaatrous in practice, and this is a great example. The only way the South’s gamble made sense is the assumption that the North wouldn’t try to stop them.”

        You fail to take important things into account. It certainly ended badly for the North in terms of war dead, that cannot be denied. But the Northern victory laid the ground for one of the most stunning constructions of empire in the history of the planet, of which we are all outcomes. In no sense at all can that be described as a ‘bad end’ for the Northern economic and cultural system.

        But for the South it was a very different picture. The South—similar perhaps to Iraq or other places where altruists have performed their wonderful deeds for humanity—was left in ruins. Its economic base undermined, and its cultural system undermined as well. By good-natured folks who thought in similar terms as you think, I should add! The North performed crimes of all sorts and did not have to live THOSE consequences. To cover over its complicity it usually resorts to a false-moralistic high-mindedness. It is really very challenging to sort through. I’ll give you about 10 years to move through the first stages. So 2025 we will review, okay? 😉

        I wrote: “In short, the best route for the South would have been to have been able to have dealt with its own issues, in its own way, and in its own time. The rest of the hemisphere did that. Yet the Southern fear of the Republican power-structure was real and cogent.”

        You exclaimed: “Absurd, delusional, stunningly unethical statement. Tell that to a slave. Ridiculous.”

        Again, the ethic that allowed for the capture and enslavement of primitive, tribal Africans was part-and-parcel of a functioning system that was different than the one we operate with today. It is ‘absurd’ and ‘delusional’ and also ethically unsound on your part not to understand a very complex, and a very different dynamic and to fail to understand how it was structured and functioned. These represent grand shifts between late Medieval perspectives to ‘modern perspectives’.

        Your grasp of ethical foundations seems sophomoric. But how can that be, I say, scratching my head. You are from Boston and you went to HARVARD. You open your mouth just a crack and the Lord thunders forth …

        Jack wrote: “That’s like blaming the police for the deaths in a shootout with terrorists. The South was objectively in the wrong, fighting for the right to buy and sell human beings as property. 100% at fault. No argument.”

        Try this:

        *The whole foundation of your country, and from top to bottom, has been constructed on twisted ethics, on lies, on immediate advantages, on layer upon layer of self-deception, and vast rhetorical shenanigans. You are a lying, cheating and a murderous people, insanely violent and violence-inclined, and yet you assume (for Yahweh Himself lives in the Holy of Holies in your ultra-sophisticated, crack-head mind) that you can set the world to right, and you march out into that world, bludgeoning those who oppose you, and giving yourselves medals for your endless mistakes …*

        I don’t know, what do you think? I thought I’d attempt a real condemnation with some dramatic rhetorical flourishes. Sort of fun! I am not as good at it yet as you but with time I will surpass you!

        All culture and all civilisation is a trade-off between core and basic violence and ‘evil’, and what is constructed on top (so to speak) of those core and basic evils.

        The Southern system would have, in time, and left to its own devices, very likely have slowly modified the system of slavery. There are various sources of information about this. While it is impossible to say definitively, this is what happened in the whole hemisphere. There is also a perspective that the North worked shrewdly to eliminate a rival by provoking a war. It is really a common tactic: Find or invent some great evil and then rally the country against it, when in fact it is all being done for other, hidden, and as I say ‘Machiavellian’ reasons.

        In any case, that is how I have begun to understand the ACW …

        • “The Southern system would have, in time, and left to its own devices, very likely have slowly modified the system of slavery. There are various sources of information about this. While it is impossible to say definitively, this is what happened in the whole hemisphere. ”

          Then again, the South, with all its problems, has ended up a much better place than pretty much of of Latin America and the Caribbean. Also, I’m not sure I’d share your same antipathy for the “Northern” model (imperialism aside, and it’s worth noting that the South itself had imperial pretensions towards those even further south), given that it was the Hamiltonian/Listian model that served as a blueprint for the industrialization of Germany, Japan, South Korea, etc.

          “Again, the ethic that allowed for the capture and enslavement of primitive, tribal Africans was part-and-parcel of a functioning system that was different than the one we operate with today. It is ‘absurd’ and ‘delusional’ and also ethically unsound on your part not to understand a very complex, and a very different dynamic and to fail to understand how it was structured and functioned. These represent grand shifts between late Medieval perspectives to ‘modern perspectives’.”

          Come on. It’s fully possible to understand how things work, and why people might not be able to rise completely above the ways of their times (heck, Jack himself is a big George Washington fan, despite all the slaveholding), but just because things turn out the way they do for a reason, doesn’t mean that they should necessarily stay that way (though you’d better think damn ong and hard before embarking on a painful and costly Reconstruction).

        • NOTE: As you might guess, this snotty, addled, insulting comment got Gustaf banned. Insults and a good argument would get a warning. Insults and a really ridiculous argument is on the cusp. This was insults, a terrible argument AND rationalizing slavery. Signature significance. The man is an asshole. GONE. (I just checked his comment history. One is a sensitive musing about why people are uncivil in web arguments.) I also cop at the outset to ejecting GB with harsh assessments that may be hyperbolic and are definitely personal in tone. When someone comes on a blog that I maintain as a resource and forum for civilized argument and someone insults me to the extent that I am forced to throw them out the door, yes, I like to make sure he lands on his head.

          Jack wrote: “Irrelevant. We’re taking right and wrong, not emotion, and even if romanticizing can be useful and have value, romanticizing human rights violations does not.”

          The base of your argument, here, is emotional in fact. And ‘romantic’. It is also a wee bit ignorant. You cannot operate your present ethic backwards in time. The 17th and 18th centuries functioned with a very different anthropology. In order to understand that time-frame and that anthropology, one has to enter into it so to speak. It is simply silly, a little stupid if I may be so bold, to interject into history a perspective of modernity that you describe as ethical. To understand the early American states, and certainly the South of 1760-1860, requires entering into a very different mind-frame. A key to understanding that era is to understand that a whole anthropological definition was in a process of change and evolution. Examining history with your frame of mind will lead only to error and misperception.

          1. Call your host stupid, silly or ignorant,,particularly on the topic of American political history, and you usual y get one warning here. However, you do it repeatedly here (strike 2), and then make dishonest arguments and rationalizations for slavery. Strike 3.

          2. There is nothing the least bit “emotional” in my statement. Defending 19th Century slavery and the intellectually dishonest rationalizations for it is untenable, and you don’t even make a fair pass at trying.

          3. This isn’t anthropology, and you should know that—don’t accuse me of mixing up slavery/human rights and racism when that’s what you are doing. Don’t give me that “retroactive values” straw man—I always call out those who try that retroactive tactic, but that’s not what I’m doing in any way. I’m not condemning 18th Century slaveholders like Washington, who was able to figure out that slavery was wrong long, long before the Civil War. The founders were all racists, but I’m not talking about racism That was an accepted cultural value. Slavery was not. Blacks were recognized as human beings in the Constitution. Slavery was understood as the selling of human beings and reducing them to chattel a hundred years before the Civil War. Europe recognized it as wrong. Jefferson did; the intellectuals did, and by the time Stowe published her reality-based novel, most of the public got it too. The belief that blacks were inferior human beings was a majority contemporary belief, and I do not condemn anyone for that. The fact that the slaves were still human beings, however, was well understood, as was the fact that the practice of slavery was brutal, inhuman and wrong. You act as if this was a modern construct. The South was addicted to slavery, and denied the truth using dishonest arguments and desperate fictions.

          Jack wrote: “It didn’t end badly for the South, it ended badly for the nation. Lots of abstract principles are noble in theory and disastrous in practice, and this is a great example.”

          “You fail to take important things into account. It certainly ended badly for the North in terms of war dead, that cannot be denied. But the Northern victory laid the ground for one of the most stunning constructions of empire in the history of the planet, of which we are all outcomes. In no sense at all can that be described as a ‘bad end’ for the Northern economic and cultural system.”

          Good lord. This is stunning consequentialism, maybe the worst I’ve ever read or heard. First of all, that outcome would have occurred with or without the war: you are seriously giving the South credit for it? Unbelievable. 620,000 died in the Civil War, almost five years were wasted in expensive, wasteful, deadly, family and community-wrecking self-destruction, and the bitterness caused by the war has caused endless grief since. That is, by any sane standard, a horrible, irredeemable outcome. Airily brushing off over a half million deaths as having a silver lining because the recovery went relatively well is either a mad argument or a dishonest one.

          “But for the South it was a very different picture. The South—similar perhaps to Iraq or other places where altruists have performed their wonderful deeds for humanity—was left in ruins. Its economic base undermined, and its cultural system undermined as well. By good-natured folks who thought in similar terms as you think, I should add! The North performed crimes of all sorts and did not have to live THOSE consequences. To cover over its complicity it usually resorts to a false-moralistic high-mindedness.”

          This is just bizarre talk, unmoored to history, common sense, logic or fact. The South suffered because it started a WAR. Warfare results in these things. The South knew it. You can, and probably do for all I know, make the same batty argument regarding Japan and Germany during World War II. As I wrote elsewhere, all those consequences were 100% due to the South’s stubborn refusal to recognize that slavery, being wrong, as it knew it was, had to stop.

          “It is really very challenging to sort through. I’ll give you about 10 years to move through the first stages. So 2025 we will review, okay? ;-)”

          Just so you know, this was the sentence that clinched your future in the spam pile, jerk. I don’t tolerate that kind of condescension from commenters, especially those making arguments this asinine.

          I wrote: “In short, the best route for the South would have been to have been able to have dealt with its own issues, in its own way, and in its own time. The rest of the hemisphere did that. Yet the Southern fear of the Republican power-structure was real and cogent.”

          You exclaimed: “Absurd, delusional, stunningly unethical statement. Tell that to a slave. Ridiculous.”

          Again, the ethic that allowed for the capture and enslavement of primitive, tribal Africans was part-and-parcel of a functioning system that was different than the one we operate with today.

          Just shut up. You are nauseating. As I just said, and am backed by the history, writings, philosophers and commentators of the times, slavery was well understood to be a human rights violating well before the South seceded. It violated the Golden Rule. It violated all ethical systems, which were well understood at the time. This was why the most desperate of slavery’s defenders tried to find crackpot scientific theories to claim that slaves weren’t human, just as Bush administration defenders tortured language, tradition and logic to argue that waterboarding isn’t torture. Slavery was never credibly defended on ethical grounds, but on pragmatic and economic grounds.

          “Your grasp of ethical foundations seems sophomoric. But how can that be, I say, scratching my head. You are from Boston and you went to HARVARD. You open your mouth just a crack and the Lord thunders forth”

          I may even ban you, you pompous creep, before I finish commenting in this post. I like nothing less than someone who is biased and ignorant, and who accuses others what they are flagrantly guilty of.

          “Jack wrote: “That’s like blaming the police for the deaths in a shootout with terrorists. The South was objectively in the wrong, fighting for the right to buy and sell human beings as property. 100% at fault. No argument.”

          Try this:

          *The whole foundation of your country, and from top to bottom, has been constructed on twisted ethics, on lies, on immediate advantages, on layer upon layer of self-deception, and vast rhetorical shenanigans. You are a lying, cheating and a murderous people, insanely violent and violence-inclined, and yet you assume (for Yahweh Himself lives in the Holy of Holies in your ultra-sophisticated, crack-head mind) that you can set the world to right, and you march out into that world, bludgeoning those who oppose you, and giving yourselves medals for your endless mistakes …*

          I don’t know, what do you think? I thought I’d attempt a real condemnation with some dramatic rhetorical flourishes. Sort of fun! I am not as good at it yet as you but with time I will surpass you!

          Bye! You try to rebut a statement of fact with fantasy and ideological cant, because you have no substantive position at all..

          I’m finishing this, and I’m banning you, with prejudice. You are an articulate fool, and arguing the historically fantastic position you have taken here just exposed your lack of fitness to associate with, much less argue with, the genuine, open-minded, learned and aruculate visitors here, whether they agree with my analysis or not.. The other apologists for slavery we get here are the virulent racists from Chimpmania. At least they know what they are.

          “The Southern system would have, in time, and left to its own devices, very likely have slowly modified the system of slavery. There are various sources of information about this. While it is impossible to say definitively, this is what happened in the whole hemisphere.”

          I repeat: tell it to the slaves. I dunno, maybe Rand Paul would agree with this: it’s his position on segregation. You don’t allow human rights violators who a selling human beings, beating them at will, breeding them like cattle and raping them for fun sort of work it all out on the their own comfy schedule. I’d ask what’s the matter with you, except that I don’t really care.

          “There is also a perspective that the North worked shrewdly to eliminate a rival by provoking a war.”

          There are all sorts of dishonest and outrageous theories rejected by the vast majority of historians. You identified one of the more spectacularly dishonest of them. Good work.

          “It is really a common tactic: Find or invent some great evil and then rally the country against it, when in fact it is all being done for other, hidden, and as I say ‘Machiavellian’ reasons.”

          Thank you!!—you make it easier to ban you by the second. Pure alibis for slavery and secession, nothing more. Jefferson Davis would have never humiliated himself with such a lame argument.

          “In any case, that is how I have begun to understand the ACW …”

          How sad. But then you’re an idiot, so there’s that.

          • I’m glad you brought up the Rand Paul angle. There are some things I like about the Tea Party, but the absolute devotion to States’ Rights (and the adoption of the romanticism associated with its history) is not one of them. The rhetoric coming out of that party is shocking right now — including its advocating of State nullification of Federal law and policies, instead of attacking those laws properly (through the Courts). We are now even seeing mainstream Republican candidates adopting some of this rhetoric now re the likely Supreme Court outcome on gay marriage.

        • “The Southern system would have, in time, and left to its own devices, very likely have slowly modified the system of slavery.”

          Doubtful. Go back and look at the census information, decade by decade, other than Florida, slave ownership per capita was INCREASING until the civil war ended it.

          The South was psychologically tied to Slavery. Like an addict, it wasn’t giving up it’s drug anytime soon.

          By the way, isn’t a “modified system of slavery” still slavery?

  5. The picture you put up was of the Confederate Battle Flag, not the official flag of the Confederacy. Not that it make much difference as Dylan clearly committed a hate crime. Btw, I was not born in Dixie or any of my ancestors. A part of the battle of Gettysburg was fought on my great, great grandfather’s farm in Pennsylvania who was on the Union side.

  6. I’d note here that the famous Palmetto flag of South Carolina was itself a battle flag. That was the banner that Sergeant Jasper so courageously replaced on the ramparts of Fort Moultrie during the British bombardment.

  7. Having grown up on the fringes of the South (Miami, Florida) and having bunches of relatives throughout rural and semi-rural Florida and Georgia (and having read a LOT of Faulkner), I’m fairly certain the United States would have become totally Balkanized had the South succeeded in breaking away. The United States is essentially about eleven or so different countries with a common currency and (largely) common language. We have the Northeast, Greater NYC, the Mid Atlantic, the Midwest, the South, Texas, California, the Pacific Northwest, the Great Basin/Mormon lands, New Mexico and Louisiana. Had the South been allowed to secede, we’d look like the (quaintly titled) former Yugoslavia. Nobody’s trying to make Southerners not be Southerners.

    9/11 was the greatest single-day loss of life in the U.S. since Antietam. Casualties on BOTH sides were American kids slaughtered by musket era tacticians in the age of rifles.

    In any event, anyone who thinks the South should rise again or that it was a tragedy the secession failed or that the North is still out to get the South is dangerously deluded.

  8. Just to counter the “it was complicated back then” pro-South argument in regards to slavery.

    Yes, it does little good to view past civilizations through a modern lens. But in regards to slavery, the voices against it were loud, everywhere, came with a great deal of moral clarity, and existed long before there was a “South.” So, even through the lens of the time, slave-holders in 1860 can’t really be protected by the “that’s just how everything was back then” defense.

    Don’t want to bother getting into a lot of detail and verifying anything, so this is approximate:

    -Some European countries banned slavery first, on moral grounds, after the Reformation. A fair bit prior to 1776.
    -The Wilberforce-era political and religious revival in England ended slavery there. Maybe around the late 1700’s. A lot of the economy in the Empire depended on slave labor, so it should be noted that this was done at great economic pain, for moral reasons.
    -The Second Great Awakening turned slavery into the spiritual and moral Goliath of the age in the United States. Southerners were well aware of all of the anti-slavery arguments from scripture, from appeals to common decency, and from natural theology at the time.
    -The British Empire eventually banned slavery in its territories and colonies, which sped up the process of making slavery a condemned practice worldwide, as it (mostly) is today.
    -The pro-slavery Biblical arguments were WEAK, and they disappear entirely with the least bit of understanding of context. The South was always destined to lose the theological war, just as slavery-defenders had lost it elsewhere in the Christian world. They never had a chance there.
    -Clear condemnations of slavery as an institution are found in the New Testament, including mentions of slave-trading (equivocated with murder), and a scathing direct attack on having an inadequately paid labor force, in the book of James.

    Point being, the American South was a holdout, not typical. For a variety of reasons, all selfish.

    • And—thank you—this is not some kind of “little known facts that historians strangely missed.” What you said was understood THEN, and many in the South were embarrassed by it. To ignore it today takes determination to ignore ugly truth.

    • Don’t buy any of the “Europeans are superior in regards to slavery” Crap.

      Many of their nations still had serfdom – which was for all intents and purposes, a form of slavery- until the mid-1800s.

      And in terms of 2000 years of Western Civilization, “stopping slavery” 50 years before we did is hardly a bragging right.

      • You’re right, I wouldn’t say they were superior. Just pointing out that there wasn’t some bubble where anti-slavery ideas hadn’t seeped in to the South by then.

  9. NOTE: Just banned nostalgic “Dixie” fan Leonard Martinez too, not for that, but for launching into a diatribe that was completely unjustified by anything I wrote—the post did not advocate banning the Confederate flag, nor ostracizing those who display it, nor did it attack the South and its populace (my Dad was a proud son of Kentucky, and his family once owned slaves in their Old Kentucky Home), other than to condemn the South of 1860, which it richly deserves. I gave old Col. Martinez a chance to apologize for misrepresenting my position and being obnoxious about it as a new commenter, and he replied with more insults. To Spam with him.

    And may I say that the defenders of the Old South are officially bananas. This post opposed immediate caving to attacks on the Stars and Bars and its ilk, but that still wasn’t enough for these re-enactors: they are offended that one dares to suggest that the Civil War was not a great idea.

    Wow.

          • it’s technically correct, but deceitful. The North could have allowed the South to secede in peace. A good legal argument can be made that the North had no authority to do otherwise, but it would have destroyed the country, and also condemned Southern slaves to continuing harm. The “Northern Aggression” was ethically correct, courageous, and essential.

            • It was not aggression.

              The South fired on Fort Sumter, which effectively destroyed any Northern political opposition to an invasion.

              • You don’t have to fire shots to be aggressive.

                1) Northern representation in Congress was increasingly rapidly enough that a vote to *force* the end of slavery would soon be an easy task.

                2) National level policy is *enforceable* by national level centers of *force*.

                3) Threats of force are aggressive as is use of force, though less so.

                4) Sure the south wasn’t justified in its “cause”, but the “North” was being aggressive towards the South.

                  • In the context of the “South”, you must have missed my comment #4. Thanks.

                    In the context of any war, No, I don’t care who fires first, because if it IS justified to fire first, especially because someone else is acting aggressively even if they haven’t become physical, then by all means fire first.

                    • You mean, Tex, that you won’t renounce first-strike policy, and reject conquest by thousands (or millions) of microaggressions? How irredeemably disappointing you are to those on the Left! Warmonger!

  10. It does not look good when banning occurs on forums or blogs. It is more and more common that open debates, differences or view, are eliminated. There is a great deal of [empty] talk about Freedom of Speech – its importance, indeed its sacredness, – but when the rubber hits the road it is exactly the freedom to speak that is jettisoned.

    • I don’t know what “look good” means here: I have commenting policies and rules. One rule is “Don’t gratuitously insult the host.” This blog is moderated. I don’t have to tolerate abuse. If I make a stupid mistake, or misstate a fact, I accept fair and reasonably respectful criticism. Attacks on my integrity, qualifications, honesty and ability will not be well-received, and combined with outright misreading of the original post, in the case of one banned commenter, and arrogantly asserted historical falsehoods in the case of the other, I have no compunction whatsoever in kicking them off the blog.

      Freedom of Speech is a right that the government may not infringe. No one is required by that right to allow a guest to come into his house and behave like an ass. Nor is there any freedom here to speak dishonestly, offensively or with relentless bias, ignorance or stupidity, wasting the time and patience of readers who know how to behave.

  11. Put another way it looks very bad that you banned some people whose ideas you did not like. I hope that you won’t take offence that I point out that in response to a Mr Martinez, above, you described him as ‘you pompous, illiterate, defensive jerk’. It seems to me that you demonstrate a fairly obvious double-standard. I read Gunther’s comments and I felt he was just pulling your chain a bit. Perhaps have you read it wrong?

    • 1. I am the host, he is a guest. There is no double standard. There is a single standard. My house, my rules.
      2. He is all of those things. His assertions were not opinions with which I disagree. They were factually false. They also misrepresented my words, and he then called me “stupid” when the mistake, misunderstanding and misrepresentation was his. If he was”pulling my chain,” he was trolling. Exactly. And that’s why he was banned, along with his gratuitous and unprovoked insults. (My insults to him were both provoked and justified. If someone behaves like a jerk here, I am likely to point that out. And the Comment policies so warn). People may not come to EA and throw monkey wrenches into the discussions for their amusement, nor am I obligated to allow them to do so, nor does any competently moderated blog. My record of allowing vigorous dissent here is recorded through more than 100,000 comments.

      And there is also a level of absurdity I won’t tolerate for long. The casual dismissal of 600,000 human deaths easily crosses the line. I don’t care to read more opinions from anyone who would argue that.

      • I said something like this on my fb page when a discussion spiraled somewhere I didn’t want it to go and I had to delete it. Frankly I should have not let it begin in the first place, since it was started by a friend cheering on the death of a militant atheist. Abusive criticism and throwing insults are something no one has to tolerate, and I think we can all tell the difference between those and telling someone he is wrong and here are the reasons why. I agree there’s a level of absurdity you can ignore, which is why 9/11 truthers, jihadists, militant atheists (I have no problem with people believing or not believing, I have a BIG problem with people who don’t believe calling those who believe ten different kinds of ignorant and five kinds of stupid), and a few other categories of people aren’t welcome on my page.

    • “Lyle” confessed that he is “Gustaf.” That post was spammed: when I said banned with prejudice, I meant it. He was pulling my leg? People who call other people who are not friends or close acquaintances “stupid,” “silly,” and “ignorant” to see how they will react are properly diagnosed as assholes. Glad to have my diagnosis clinically confirmed, by the diagnosee—as does the act of sneaking back on the comment list by using a fake name.

      • And now I hear from Lyle/Gustaf, who has completely dropped his fake European persona, and he thinks this is all so hilarious. Thus a commenter tricks me, and others, into responding to insincere opinions, then engaging in button-pushing exercises to see how we react, and how far he can go before he gets banned. It’s really despicable, as dishonest and unethical a use of the web as there is, just less overtly harmful.

        • He thinks it’s hilarious…I think he has problems. In real life I’d run from someone who held those views, and used a fake personality to do it, what’s different about it being online? If someone’s English is different in tone and composition I surmise that they may not be a native speaker and I am careful with how I phrase things so there is a lesser chance for misunderstanding. People who fake being foreign rely on those tendencies in polite people as a shield and a weapon, to try and sneak outrageous comments past others who may just say ‘Oh well, he’s not a native speaker, maybe that’s not exactly what he meant’. Gustav was so over the top that his meaning was very clear, and it’s right that you gave him the boot.
          On top of being a boor, he’s dishonest, and he’s a couple sandwiches shy if he thinks that intentionally deceiving people is hilarious.

    • Yes, the link is worth having, though the issue was arcane: are license plates really government speech, which a state can sell in limited messages, or citizen speech, which the government can’t regulate.

      • So far, my thinking on that case is not so much based on agreement on the distinction between government speech and an individual’s speech (I realize the majority signed up to that). But there is such a thing as government property (like dollar bills), and so I am willing to believe, or accept, that there is something akin to eminent domain which the agencies of government possess over license plates, such that any and all speech on or via those plates is not purely an individual’s speech. I was reminded of the “hate crimes” that were committed against drivers of cars with Texas plates, after John Kennedy was shot. Obviously (I’m being sarcastic here), after that crime, all Texas plates should have been replaced immediately and forever with plates from another state, such as Massachusetts.

  12. It appears that he successfully derailed the discussion, but maybe it can be returned to the ethics of displaying or not displaying a Virginia battle flag.

    I think it is dangerous to ‘erase’ all traces of historical information about events where large numbers of people died or were enslaved or killed. Keeping the display but allowing comment from both sides keeps future generations aware of the actions, attitudes and possible future intent of current advocates for/against the historical actions.

    This month is paper genocide month, which recognizes the acts by several states of changing the ‘race’ of many Native Americans in the census and on their birth certificates to black. This was done to place them under the Jim Crow laws and prevent interracial marriages. Many Native Americans were designated black so they could be enslaved. Paper genocide continued well past the end of the civil war and the results affect many people of Native American heritage because their tribal heritage has been erased.

    As a nation, we must be careful what we ‘erase’ because the historical knowledge can keep us forewarned about future ethical issues that descend from our history. It is important not to ‘erase’ the Virginia battle flag from public display and discourse. It is healthy to have a reminder of our past as long as we don’t use it as an excuse for unethical acts.

    I am sorry that this is not very eloquent or particularly well written.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.