Does the SBOE Think Treason Is Patriotic?

The Texas State Board of Education‘s approval in January of a requirement that students study the ideas in the inaugural address of Confederate President Jefferson Davis hasn’t received a lot of attention. Far-right board member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, proposed that addition to the eighth-grade American history curriculum standards.

In states that once made up the Confederacy, nostalgia for the Old South is hardly new. To many on the right, the Confederacy offers a heroic stand against the “tyranny” of Washington (never mind that slavery was the key issue at the time of the Civil War). Segregationists of the 1950s and 1960s, for example, waved the Rebel flag in defiance of federal court rulings and Congressional acts protecting civil rights. Today some elected officials — including Texas Gov. Rick Perry — pander to wild-eyed, anti-government extremists and flirt with secessionist, “states’ rights” and “nullification” rhetoric common in the years leading up to the Civil War.

So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that far-right members of the State Board of Education want Texas students to study the ideas of Davis, the Confederacy’s only president. But let’s look at some of Davis’ ideas students will be considering, thanks to Ms. Cargill and her board colleagues. (Quoted passages below come from Davis’ inaugural address.)

Treason is patriotic.

“Doubly justified by the absence of wrong on our part, and by wanton aggression on the part of others, there can be no cause to doubt that the courage and patriotism of the people of the Confederate States will be found equal to any measure of defense which their honor and security may require.”

Some Americans can seek to destroy the Union if they decide they no longer want to be part of the country. (Such as, perhaps, when an election doesn’t go the way they want?)

“Our present political position has been achieved in a manner unprecedented in the history of nations. It illustrates the American idea that governments rest on the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish them at will whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established.”

Those who complain today about the supposed overreaching of the federal government can find their champions in the traitors of the Confederacy.

“The declared purpose of the compact of the Union from which we have withdrawn was to ‘establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity;’ and when, in the judgment of the sovereign States composing this Confederacy, it has been perverted from the purposes for which it was ordained, and ceased to answer the ends for which it was established, a peaceful appeal to the ballot box declared that, so far as they are concerned, the Government created by that compact should cease to exist.”

Honor, equality, liberty and justice are compatible with defending evil, including the institution of slavery.

“It is joyous in the midst of perilous times to look around upon a people united in heart, where one purpose of high resolve animates and actuates the whole; where the sacrifices to be made are not weighed in the balance against honor and right and liberty and equality. Obstacles may retard, but they cannot long prevent, the progress of a movement sanctified by its justice and sustained by a virtuous people. Reverently let us invoke the God of our fathers to guide and protect us in our efforts to perpetuate the principles which by his blessing they were able to vindicate, establish, and transmit to their posterity. With the continuance of his favor ever gratefully acknowledged, we may hopefully look forward to success, to peace, and to prosperity.”

The “enlightened verdict” of mankind and God’s judgment vindicate even the most treacherous acts conducted in support of the most evil institutions.

“The impartial and enlightened verdict of mankind will vindicate the rectitude of our conduct; and He who knows the hearts of men will judge of the sincerity with which we have labored to preserve the Government of our fathers in its spirit.”

Well, here are a few things for the rest of us to consider. Ms. Cargill and her far-right board colleagues objected to seventh-graders learning about Santa Barraza because one of the painter’s many works (which almost certainly would not appear in a textbook) includes a depiction of a woman’s breasts. They rejected third-graders learning about Dolores Huerta because she’s a socialist. They don’t want high school world history students learning about the influence of Thomas Jefferson, who argued that a “wall of separation between church and state” is essential to freedom, on political revolutions since the 1700s. They blocked a requirement that high school students learn that our nation’s Founders protected religious freedom by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any one religion over all others. And they oppose students in all grades learning that the word “capitalism” describes the economic system in the United States because it’s supposedly a “negative” word used by “liberal academics,” as board member Terri Leo, R-Spring put it.

Yet they want students to learn about the “unintended consequences” of the civil rights and women’s rights movements. They insist that Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s political witch hunts in the 1950s have been “vindicated.” And they want students to study the ideas of someone who justified treason against against the United States in defense of the institution of slavery.

Is it a wonder that many people across the country cringe when they look at Texas right now? They must be astonished at how know-nothings and extremists came to be so influential over the education of not just public school students in Texas, but also students across the country who will be learning from textbooks publishers craft to meet the social studies curriculum standards our State Board of Education adopts in May.

15 thoughts on “Does the SBOE Think Treason Is Patriotic?

  1. This is what’s going on in Virginia, under Bob “KKKen Doll” McDonnell.
    It’s an orchestrated plan in the South to consolidate a “fortress” against progress.
    Basically they want Jim Crow back.
    They always have.
    This has always been on the back burner of the RRR.

  2. Well, gee, folks, it took long enough…it’s finally 1984 and Newspeak is here. Better it is later late than never, so what if it’s twenty-six years late? It is FINALLY here!

    The SBOE needs to be taken to court to stop them and then to a hospital with nice people dressed in white uniforms and let them out when they go out feet first. THEY ARE CRAZY! They’ve crossed the line.

    Is it okay to say I want my mommy?

  3. The dumbest thing the Confederacy did was to secede to protect their peculiar institution (slavery). The only way that slavery could have been abolished at the Federal level was by a Constitutional amendment. It takes three quarters of the state legislatures of the United States to ratify amendments. Of thirty three states in the United States in the election, fifteen were slave states, eleven of which seceded. Fifteen slave states could have prevented a Constitutional amendment then and even today where thirteen states can stop an amendment.

    Given that Abraham Lincoln garnered 180 electoral votes out of a total of 303, it is clear that the legislative might of the US Congress and President would overwhelm Southern interests, be it slavery or protectionist tariffs favorable to the North.

    Four slave states remained with the Union and so did slavery in those states. The Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery only in those states and counties then in rebellion. Lincoln did not have the authority or power to abolish slavery per se. The Emancipation Proclamation gutted the instutition of slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment was a formality.

    The Union as the name of the United States that was used and is used points to the central political issue, which was union or not. There were powerful factions in the Union including Presidential contenders in the elections of 1864. Slavery was still a political hot potato in Northern politics until Appomatox and Lincoln’s assasination made it moot.

    It should be quite clear that it is not clear that the Civil War aka War Between the States was over slavery with the Confederacy for and the Union against. It became clear that those states of the Confederacy brought back into the Union fold at first, promptly began to re-elect former Confederates to office to which the Union reacted by the Reconstruction and the Fourteenth Amendment which barred former Confederate from holding office.

    Thus began an odd process by which states who could not secede were required to be readmitted which required ratification of the Thirteenth, Fourteeth and Fifteenth Amendments by thier respective legislatures. Emancipation of the slaves also destroyed a huge amount of the capital of the South. Formerly, slaves as property had economic value in addition to thier productivity. Those same persons as employees became costs with no permanent value as assets.

    Defeat in war followed by economic devastation and humiliation is not something that simply faded away. However unreasonable, it is unreasonable to expect that it would. The current exploitation of Confederate sympathies by the the Conservative Right is just that. Exploitation of old injuries.

  4. There ya’ go again, Mr. Smarty pants Fowkes. Trying to use egghead historical fact and rationality. We don’t play that game. Lincoln was a KGB mole who was successful in instituting the Illuminati Agenda, and forced the Negro population from the protective and nurturing embrace of the Baptists. Finally he was defeated by Ronald Reagan and Jesus at the Alamo, and Wall Street was restored to it’s rightful place as the New Jerusalem of Godful Capitalism, er Free Enterprise.

    The thing we have to remember, is that these people are operating out of fear. The decline in the family and the other seeds of doubt in their own faith, have caused them to project that doubt and failure of faith onto an “other”, and televangelist hucksters, especially, have exploited, and perverted this politicized Christianity for their own purposes.

    In order to overcome this trend, we have to understand it. Then we can focus our efforts more strategically in defeating it.

  5. Republicans, especially those to the far right, only think actions and/or words are treasonous when they do not meet with their particular world view.

    For example, all those kids who protested against the Vietnam War (and were subsequently vindicated by one the Republican’s very own: Robert McNamara) were commies, pinkos and, most importantly, unpatriotic. But that is only because the view held by the protesters wasn’t shared by Republicans.

    Republicans in recent years have adopted a very staunch “Us vs. them” mentality and anyone who isn’t “us” is a traitor or worse. It is this sort of absolutism that both fuels the Republican party and provides its Achilles Heal. Eventually everyone who is part of “us” winds up becoming a “them” at some point.

    Look at George Will, a Republican intellectual, who went from “us” to “them” when he dared to suggest Palin wasn’t the right choice for VP during the election. The same for David Frum formerly of the American Enterprise Institute, when he deigned to suggest, “We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.” (concerning healthcare legislation).

    The best way for the Democrats (and moderates) to move this country back towards more civil discourse and better governance is to convince the right-of-center Republicans that the far Right is a liability and not an asset. That the vast majority of Americans are nearer the center than either end. That we can work together, but until the Grand Old Party removes the cancer that is folks like Palin, Rove and Beck there will be no progress.

  6. I have been known to let facts interfere with cherished misconceptions. The problem with facts is that all too often there isn’t a big “gotcha” at the end.

    The sad facts of the Christian (read Protestant) hegemony concerning moral issues from the belt down came to a silent halt once a pagan (JFK) was elected and crucified by an Italian POS carbine. One the Catholics were through the door, all the other pagans and idol worshippers did not have to cringe to the Almighty Moralizer.

    So began the agonizing and religiously unfamiliar trend to have some sort of moral standards for behavior above the Belt.

    OBTW: Only a few former Confederates (namely Jefferson Davis) were tried for treason. During the War, spies were executed, but not uniformed members of the Confederate military. Labeling the South as Traitors is like using propane to blow out a campfire.

    The legality of Secession is a bit murky. The former Confederate states had to be re-admitted to the Union which extablishes some form of legality of Secessuion, But the Supreme Court in 1869 in Texas vs White ruled that Secession was unconstitutional. If they never left, then how does the re-admission process fit constitutionally.

  7. I think the readmission process is akin to what we saw almost a century later in Germany with the Entnazifezierung, or a formal process by which we acknowledged that those not responsible for making the decisions could be “washed clean.” An olive branch of practicality not truly necessary under a cold and logical legal framework.

  8. Unlike Denazification in Germany after WW2 (and extant in some German laws), no one was washed clean.

    Foreigners immigrating from those alien places on the other side of the Sabine and Pecos (like me) have no recollection passed down from father to son about the ravages of the occupying forces (Yankees) known as Carpetbaggers and Scalawags. Carpetbaggers were Yankees who rolled up their belongings and came to Texas much as contractors did in the Coalition Provisionnal Authority. Scalawags were Southern collaborators with the occupying forces.

    Since de-slvavorification de-capitalized the South, and due to the expenses of the War complicated by worthless currency, Southerners could not pay the taxes levied by the Occupation forces and were forced to sell out to the Scalawags and the Carpetbaggers. There is some debate as to whether Old Texas money was originally Scalawag or Carpetbagger, but it is within the realm of conjecture that we hear from them in the SBOE

  9. Along these same lines, I was munching on a ham and extra Swiss with light mayo and reading my local newspaper a couple of days back. A far right fruitcake had written a letter to the editor. Best I could follow the idiocy, he allowed that the First Amendment gave the right of free speech to Americans, but it had the unfortunate side effect of allowing liberals to publicly voice their opinions and oppose fruitcakes like him. However, to counterbalance that effect, the founding fathers offered up the Second Amendment, which gave fruitcakes like him the right to own the firearms necessary to kill the liberals for what they believe.

    Well, just the night before on PBS, I was watching an American Experience documentary about the desegregation of public schools in the United States. You know—one of those awful liberal acts that should never have been done. Well, with regard to the history of that time, I was familiar with the famous “Clinton 12” and James Meredith’s attempts to attend college in Mississippi. However, I had never seen a detailed look at the most famous case of all, the desegregation of the public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. All of the race bigots (read that as far right Republicans and Tea Party advocates today) were really upset about that one. They were out in the streets beating up people and causing general trouble. Some had their precious Second Amendment firearms. Things got pretty out of hand.

    However, the thing I did not know is what Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower did to enforce the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Back in those days, the police were generally called out in force to deal with such problems. With the Clinton 12 in Tennessee, Governor Frank G. Clement sent the Tennessee National Guard (local boys) to enforce desegregation—but still pretty light-handed. What did Eisenhower do in Little Rock? He mobilized the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky—regular troops, heavy military equipment, and helicopters—and sent them to Little Rock to restore civil order by force and ensure that the court ruling was carried out. Just for emphasis again, it was a Republican President who did this.

    This should be an important message to the letter writer to my newspaper, the far right wing fruitcakes, and the Tea Party people. You may have a 30-06 in your closet and you may hope to one day gun down some liberal who disagrees with you. However, all of the Second Amendment hunting rifles in the United States are not going to help you when the Abrams tanks, Apache helicopters, A-10 Warthogs, and Raptor fighters come after you.

  10. It’s always important to remember that the RRR, the gunworshippers, and all the satellite groups of anti-education disgruntlement have their roots very solidly in the Segregationist South of the ’50’s.

  11. Have you noticed that most of the old Confederacy states are nearly all red states. Defending slavery is like defending the Vietnam War. They are both indefensible.

  12. “Treason is patriotic.” Sounds like the double-speak out of 1984. Or was it Animal Farm or Brave New World?

    (Sorry, it’s been a long time since I was in high school and read all those).

    This is just like what I wrote about a few conversations back: the tea partiers brandishing their guns and anti-government slogans, and marching on Washington D.C.. I bet if ole Tim McVeigh did his thing today the tea partiers would hold him up as a hero, not as a terrorist.

  13. Treason is not mutually exclusive from patriotism, something illustrated by Count von Stauffenberg who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler, along with a number of other patriotic German officers. The act of acting against the defacto government and in support of that government’s is treason 101 from any legal standpoint. That the governmetn in question is really bad news bears, the moral obligation may be to do some bear hunting. That which is moral is not alway legal, nor is what is legal necessarily always moral. It’s a real mind bender, and best to follow the leader until the leader really slips, then the moral pounce.

    The the Red States include the Old Confederacy was made certain by JFK and LBJ in the invasion of the Freedom (Bus) Riders into the Old Confedercy to encourage rebelliousness and to vote such against the Democratic Party Machines in place since the KKK first rode. This betrayal of the Solid South by the Liberal North caused a seismic shift in US national politics. The Dixiecrat had to vote Republican to keep the vestiges of the Peculiar Instuction in place. This had the tragic efffect of dividing the Dixiecrat liberals and populists to join ranks with the Special Interests (latest buzz word for Capitalist) creating a schizophrenic Populist/Rich People alliance.

    The populist base of the Great Plains, formerly Great American Desert cum Dust Bowl, had been galavanting around with the likes of Father Coughlin and Charles Lindbergh of the America First contingent. The natural synergy between the Dixiecrat and Isolationist is one side of the two faced GOP establishment. The Corporate side is having trouble keeping in step with Isolationism Forever, Nuke the Whales rhetoric.

    Understanding George Orwell begins with reading his “Homage to Catalonia” where he records his adventures with the POUM in the Spanish Civil War. POUM was a Communist faction with serious personality issues with Josef Stalin. Joe won in the end, and incarcerated any Red Fighters for Communism who had demonstrated independent thought. This whole adventure is portrayed in a Spanish=British film “Land and Freedom” in which Orwell demotes himself to working stiff.

  14. Yes, but it also depends on where one is standing. To the Brits, the American colonists who took up arms against them were treasonous. To Americans, the rebels were patriots.

    Are we to compare the current U.S. administration to that of Stalin and Hitler, thus justifying treason as patriotism? I’m opposed to much of what Bush did and what Obama is doing. But it would be a big leap for me to compare either of them to Stalin and Hitler.