Going to the Worst Possible Source

Someone at The Gift That Keeps On Giving, aka The Southern Heritage Preservation Group, asks a question:

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Mr. Smith, obviously arguing the factually incorrect position that slavery had nothing to do with the war, comes up against one part of the mountain of evidence that contradicts him–the mountain of evidence he’s obviously never come into contact with before.  It’s probably not his fault.  So he asks about it to a group that is guaranteed not to give him good information.  To wit:

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So the first guy admits slavery drove secession, but then, amazingly, he identifies the reason for the war as “freedom.”  Yeah, sure.  The freedom to deny freedom to others.  Our second Einstein shows the lack of logic we’ve come to expect from neoconfederates.  Apparently this genius thinks only one side fought in the war and never heard of Fort Sumter.

We now have some more mental midgets weigh in:

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So one idiot has obviously never read what the secessionists had to say about anything.  The other one lacks logic as well as intellectual integrity.  The third is simply ignorant of history.

Now we enter an almost surreal zone of ignorance:

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The first moron doesn’t think the southerners who seceded had any influence over their government.  He obviously has no clue about how the US government is set up or works.  The second moron has no idea what the secessionists said about why they were seceding.  And the last idiot thinks every state in the Union had slavery in 1860.

This next person seeks to make himself feel good:

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So according to this person, slaveholders were okay, slavery was on its way out anyway, blacks were better off as slaves, and the confederates were only victims of the evil “North.”  When the truth hurts, some folks wrap themselves in a fantasy.

Next we have more of the same on display:

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Ms. Holder is obviously thinking of the book, Secession Debated:  Georgia’s Showdown in 1860, edited by William W. Freehling and Craig M. Simpson.  Mr. McLendon is off on a tangent and tries to lay all the blame for slavery on blacks themselves.  Then Ms. Holder thinks you can tell the slant of a book by the date it was published.  Interesting.

So let’s head on down the line here and bring this home:

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The bottom line is when people are “preserving” confederate “heritage,” they’re not interested in accurate history.  For them, “heritage” is about making them feel good about themselves.  A real view of history won’t do that.

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6 comments

  1. I have no idea how your interactions (if any) with these communities goes, so as someone blatantly ignorant of in-depth history but nonetheless enjoys and agrees with your posts, I’m not sure if this is the “correct” way to engage them

    It’s really unfortunate that stuff like this happens, and it’s really unfortunate that people are even capable of stringing together piecemeal evidence which, if only superficially investigated, does actually appear to stand up. I honestly know that if I was reading this and knew little to nothing about the motives for the Civil War, I would have an inclination to go, “…..darn, they have a point”.

    In addition to the “feel-gooders” and the Southern moral crusaders trying to reassert that the South did nothing wrong, I legitimately feel that there’s a fair contingent of people sitting there and observing these talks, interested in it because it *does*, from a weak glance, appear to make sense. When people are able to subtly surround themselves in an echo-chamber of confirmation bias that has a veil of authenticity, it makes sense to me that they believe it. I think getting to those people is hard if it’s done through ad hominems, even if accurate.

    I also can’t say that this is “wrong” because I have no idea what your goals are in publishing this and there are plenty of legitimate reasons for you to deride them.

    Nonetheless, a decent read (even if most of it was just poor points made by others; getting to understand is good). Sorry for the moral critique, and good luck. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for the comment. The problem for a lot of these folks is they’ve been exposed to accurate history and either lack the skills necessary to understand it or reject it because either it doesn’t make them feel good or there is a political motive. They equate their fantasies with being conservatives and they regard people who view history accurately as liberals. That’s a sad commentary in so many different ways.

  2. Michael Rodgers · · Reply

    Al,
    They joined the heritage religion and have drawn conclusions to help them feel better and/or to advance their political agenda. Ignore them. Leave them alone.
    I’ll put it another way using cliches that might work to help you: Pick on someone your own size and don’t shoot fish in a barrel.
    Regards,
    Mike

    1. Mike, I appreciate your view on it. I agree they’ve joined the heritage religion. I think it’s worth highlighting what folks like this believe.

  3. BorderRuffian · · Reply

    AM-
    “So one idiot has obviously never read what the secessionists had to say about anything.”

    Yes, yes, they need to read what the secessionists actually said about the cause of the war.

    Alexander Stephens said slavery was the cause-

    “The principles and position of the present administration of the United States–the republican party–present some puzzling questions. While it is a fixed principle with them never to allow the increase of a foot of slave territory, they seem to be equally determined not to part with an inch ‘of the accursed soil.’ Notwithstanding their clamor against the institution, they seemed to be equally opposed to getting more, or letting go what they have got. They were ready to fight on the accession of Texas, and are equally ready to fight now on her secession. Why is this? How can this strange paradox be accounted for? There seems to be but one rational solution–and that is, notwithstanding their professions of humanity, they are disinclined to give up the benefits they derive from slave labor. Their philanthropy yields to their interest. The idea of enforcing the laws, has but one object, and that is a collection of the taxes, raised by slave labor to swell the fund necessary to meet their heavy appropriations. The spoils is what they are after–though they come from the labor of the slave.”

    -from the “Cornerstone Speech”

    1. Nice snip out of context. That’s the lack of intellectual integrity portion of “what it takes to be a neoconfederate.” The paragraph prior to your carefully snipped section says, “The prospect of war is, at least, not so threatening as it has been. The idea of coercion, shadowed forth in President Lincoln’s inaugural, seems not to be followed up thus far so vigorously as was expected. Fort Sumter, it is believed, will soon be evacuated. What course will be pursued toward Fort Pickens, and the other forts on the gulf, is not so well understood. It is to be greatly desired that all of them should be surrendered. Our object is peace, not only with the North, but with the world. All matters relating to the public property, public liabilities of the Union when we were members of it, we are ready and willing to adjust and settle upon the principles of right, equity, and good faith. War can be of no more benefit to the North than to us. Whether the intention of evacuating Fort Sumter is to be received as an evidence of a desire for a peaceful solution of our difficulties with the United States, or the result of necessity, I will not undertake to say. I would fain hope the former. Rumors are afloat, however, that it is the result of necessity. All I can say to you, therefore, on that point is, keep your armor bright and your powder dry. [Enthusiastic cheering.]” The sentence prior to what you carefully excised says, “The surest way to secure peace, is to show your ability to maintain your rights.” Stephens is telling the audience that the United States needs them more than they need the United States, and that if they stayed firm the United States would negotiate and even give into their demands in order to have access to wealth produced by slave labor.

      Here’s what Stephens clearly and directly said was the cause of the “late rupture and present revolution:” “But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other — though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution — African slavery as it exists amongst us — the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the ‘rock upon which the old Union would split.’ He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact.”

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