We continue to marvel at the nostalgia some — such as certain members of the Texas State Board of Education — seem to have for the Confederacy of the American Civil War. This is 2010, after all. Isn’t it about time to let go of the misguided notion of the “Lost Cause”? This nostalgia, after all, is the product of a political perspective that sees southern history in some glorified way that grossly distorts reality.
For example, in new social studies curriculum standards adopted in May, the Texas state board deliberately downplayed the central role that slavery played in causing the Civil War. The new standards also require students to study the ideas in Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address. That address is full of excuses for southern secession but includes not one word about slavery despite the abundance of historical evidence showing that the bitter divide over slavery led to secession and war. State board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, even won approval for a standard requiring that Texas history students learn about the state’s Confederate war heroes and Civil War battles.
Now we see the conservative magazine Human Events is promoting what it bills as a “myth-busting” book — The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War. According to the magazine, the book offers “a rousing guide to the great war that shaped America — and to the spirit of the Old South that we need so much today.”
America needs “the spirit of the Old South”? Can they really be serious?
Do they mean the spirit of treason in defense of the indefensible? The insistence that black people weren’t fully human? The theories of racial supremacy that justified the building of a southern economy based on the brutal enslavement of millions of people?
There are many positive things about southern culture and heritage that can warrant feelings of pride among people of the South, but the Confederacy and the supremely evil cause for which it fought are not among them. And arguing that the Confederacy wasn’t about defending slavery is simply a lie.
From the Human Events pitch:
“This is the Politically Incorrect Guide that every Civil War buff and Southern partisan — and everyone who is tired of liberal self-hatred that vilifies America’s greatest heroes — will have to have on his bookshelf.”
“America’s greatest heroes”? Good grief. Have the folks at Human Events lost their minds?
Sadly, we suspect that the historical revisionists who sit on the Texas State Board of Education would love to see this text on their bookshelves — and in public school classrooms as well.
7 thoughts on “Coming Soon to Texas Classrooms?”
Holy Shamoly! I was raised in Louisiana in the 50’s and even we got over the Civil War.
Have the morons taken over the Nut House?
This comes as no surprise to me at all. In fact, it is consistent with what we’ve always seen from conservatives. Sen. John Cornyn and other Republickins proved it again in their vicious attacks on Justice Thurgood Marshall during the Kagan hearings. Justice Marshall is a civil rights hero but it was presented as if he was some kind of villain. To Republickins, he was.
Maybe this explains some of it. It is from Rousas J. Rushdoony, the father of Christian reconstructionism and the Christian homeschool movement.
“Rushdoony has been accused of Holocaust denial and racism. Rushdoony believed that interracial marriage, which he referred to as “unequal yoking”, should be made illegal. He also opposed “enforced integration,” referred to Southern slavery as “benevolent”, and said that “some people are by nature slaves.”
The Union under GOP member Lincoln represented traditional American democracy. You remember Abe Lincoln, enemy of the Confederaate States of America who said: “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.” Yet we have this blatant statement from fruitcake Rushdoony, one of the principal influences on the Religious Right today. He said the following:
“…the heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state … Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies.” “Christianity is completely and radically anti-democratic; it is committed to spiritual aristocracy. He also called democracy “…the great love of the failures and cowards of life.”
I ask you friends. I ask any Christian who visits here. How could Christian men and women build anything on a foundation like this Rushdoony fruitcake and NOT end up with 1000s of little fruitcake children like Confederate nostalgia, the Texas SBOE, and the Tea Party? Elephants give birth to baby elephants. Seals give birth to baby seals. Fruitcakes give birth to fruitcakes. It is one of the basic laws of the universe.
Abolition lead to Secession. The threat of abolition to abolish slavery was overblown by Southern idealogues as it would have taken a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Dred Scott Decision. Since the number of slave states was almosst half the number of states, it takes three quarters of the state legislatures to pass any amendment.
The terms of surrender offered to Lee by Grant and Johnston by Sherman in the spirit of Lincolns directions to his generals just before his assasination, was “with charity to all, and malice towards none”. The political structure of the South picked up where it left of, until Radical Republicans chose vengeance and represssion to punish those who had rebelled. The status of the Southern states as states was, under Reconstruction, that they were no longer in the Union and had to be “re-admitted” which mean ratification of the XIII, XIV and XV Amendments in order to be allowed Congressional representation.
Despite the Emancipation Proclamation, which applied only to the Confederacy, Union leaders including leading Generals Sherman, Sheridan, McClellen, and Freemont prefered to reestablish status ante bellum. Emancipation Proclamation’s practical effect was to destabliize slavery even in those Union states and those parts of the Confederacy under Union control where slavery was still in effect.
The racist rhetoric of the Texas Act of Secession did not disappear with the end of Secession and Reconstruction. One heard that Blacks were inherently inferior well into the Fities. The Tuskegee Airmen were opposed by powerful people on that same assertion that Blacks couldn’t fly airplanes.
The big “what if” of the Civil War is what might have happened if Lincoln had not been assasinated. His plans, as announced in his Second Inagural Address and as initially carried out by his miltary commanders would have led to quite a different aftermath. One issue that might have changed things was compensation for the loss of capital represented by the huge investement in slaves.
That there were bloody race riots in the major cities of the North throughout the Twentieth Century casts a shadow on the presumption of Northern purity.
As a former PS history teacher I am appalled by the clowns on the TX SBOE. Let’s hope their damage to our schools cab be headed off.
So many fascinating comments. Charles, the let you know just how crazy Rushdoony was, he was a believer in geocentrism — for biblical reasons — and spent some time promoting ‘orrerys” (sp?) that showed the various ‘epicycles’ needed to show the routes the various planets — and the Sun and Moon — follow as they go around the Earth.
Gordon: You are portarying the ‘reconstruction was an evil imposition on the poor Southerners’ myth that was common when I was growing up. But if you think about it, Reconstruction was one of the most positive affirmations of the idea of democracy in the history of the world.
Think about it. A group of people — deliberately, legally, to have been kept uneducated — subject to the inherent cruelty of the Slave System — being handed control of state governments while the whites were — supposedly — being kept from influence. People who — according to the ‘myth of the times’ — were ‘savages incapable of being civilized.”
Where were the beheadings, the mass slaughter of owners and overseers, the mass rapes of those whites who had regularly used the slave quarters for their own sexual pleasure? Where were the confiscations, the mass jailings, the trials of those who had let ‘ownership’ of other human beings free them from all human restraint?
No, the worst charge against the Radical Republicans is that they believed in blacks having political power, they believed that people who had argued (and — see Alexander Stephens — still did argue) that t was better to break up the country than to give up slavery should not be regiven the control they thought they deserved on ‘racial grounds.’ That and corruption — in the most corrupt time in American history, even that was supposed to be by (and for) ‘whites only.’
Look at the record of the post-bellum legislatures. Then glance around the world at other overthrows of artistocracies — ones that had never pretended to own their peasants, that had never made it a crime to educate them, whose <i<'droit de signeur's didn’t reveal themselves so visually in the offspring. Think of the punishments wreaked on the former ‘masters’ elsewhere.
Then remember the former slave’owners’ were trying to reinstitute the practice under different names with the ‘black codes’ were trying to throw the blacks out of government forever (and were to succeed starting in 1881).
Then tell me how the “Radical Republicans’ chose vengeance.
What do you even mean by the word?
Reconstruction was more revenge than reconstruction. Certainly Abraham Lincoln would have pursued an better approach that he believed was necessary to bind up the nation again. He said so in his Second Inaugural and his leading commanders in the field were given similiar guidance in taking the surrender of the Confederate commanders by both Grant and Johnston, and later in Texas. It is still a matter of some speculation of what Lincoln would have done, particularly about the mix of freed slaves in the Old Confederate lands ,and slaves currently held in Union hands.
The Radical Republicans and other Unionists wanted to punish the South for the costs in blood and treasurer that it took to defeat the Secession. Not all of that angst was over freeing the slaves, as it is politically correct to believe today.
What happened was the wreckage of the Southern economy, with the bits and pieces left over snapped up by Carpet Baggers and Scalawags. Jim Crow laws passed in the South were often matched by the same in the North, as Northern wage earners were wary of Blacks from the South stealing their jobs. Hence the race riots that lasted past WW 2.
Whatevef wrongs committed under slavery were not corrected by Reconstruction, at least until after the Second Reconstruction of the 1960’s. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the Southernors, mere defeat in battle did not break their sense of self identity. All the issues raised during the run up to Secession have been preserved and updated over the last century and a half, and one should not be surpriesed to see them run up the flag pole again.
Your can’t really kill an idea on the battlefield, and that goes for good ones just as much as bad ones. The Latvians grinned and smiled for the Soviet apparatchiks, and as soon as the Soviets/Russians took their troops out, nearly every Russian built building was torn down and replaced by faux Hansa buildings. Their military museums have exhibits of Latvian soldiers who fought on both sides of the Russian Civil War, and of WW 2.
The German and Japanese WW 2 military establishments were so discredited by their catastrophic losses, and severe bombing damage to the home fronts, that both nations have watched their militaries like a hawk after a rabbit. In Japan, there has been a vocal minority left over from the militaries past, but have no real military power. Sooner or later, both nations will tire of wearing ashes and sack cloth. The French brough Napoleon out of the trash and buried him at Les Invalides in 1861.
I suspect that the leniency of our occupations of Japan, Germany and Austria after WW 2, were inspired by the tales of the Reconstruction told to the large number of senior officers and generals who had a Southern upbringing. George Patton was a newphew of John Singleton Moseby, the Greay Ghost, on whose knee Patton was told tales of Confederate derring-do. The South has a had a disproportionate representation in our military, and that includes both Black and White.