Detail, Conrad Wise Chapman, The Flag of Sumter, Oct 20 1863
We live in a contemptibly stupid society in a loathsome time in which bigoted morons and moon-maddened fanatics occupy the most prominent and influential establishment positions in the land and get to call the shots nearly all the time concerning our laws, institutions, history, and culture.
Americans have been living under a Second Reconstruction regime for roughly 50 years now. The first Reconstruction affected only the states which had seceded, been defeated in the war, and were under military occupation, and lasted only 12 years. The Second Reconstruction has been national in scope, has already lasted five decades, and shows no signs of ever coming to an end. No Knights of the White Camelia are coming riding to the rescue as they did at the end of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915). (How’s that for an un-PC reference?)
The national establishment has been taken over by radicals and fanatics whose opinions and philosophies are typically somewhere to the left of those of Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, and Benjamin Butler.
Currently, pretty much the entire national media, all of the left and quite a number of Quislings on the right, are busy mau-mau’ing the public display of the Confederate flag and are even demanding the removal and/or replacement of public monuments to Southern military leaders and statesmen. The Southern Confederacy, and all its heroes and leaders, must be ostracized for the crimes of Racism and a belief in White Supremacy.
Of course, by contemporary standards, everyone alive in 1860 and 1865 and not as fanatically Afrophiliac as Thaddeus Stevens, was a “Racist” and a “White Supremacist.” The list of guilty parties can hardly be held to be restricted to members of the Confederate Government, like Jefferson Davis, or generals in the Confederate Army, like Nathan Bedford Forest. Ulysses Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and Abraham Lincoln himself were all, by current standards, indisputably racist believers in the intellectual and cultural inferiority of the Negro race and –worse, yet!– White Supremacists bent upon a vision of a future United States comprised of an overwhelmingly white population of European descent and governed by white men.
Be sure to send the bulldozers over to the Lincoln Memorial, as soon as they finish crushing the statue of former Secretary of War Jefferson Davis.
This little exercise in sarcasm is intended to be funny, but it really is not a joking matter. Rush Limbaugh and some other commentators have already warned that, if the radical left is permitted to succeed in defining the Confederate Flag as a hateful emblem of Slavery, Racism, and White Supremacy and get it pulled down from every public display and banned like the swastika in post-WWII Germany, they are next going to come after one more American historical icon after another. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave-owners! Get their names and faces off our currency and out of our public buildings. The American Flag flew over a once White Supremacist and Segregated America. Looking at the Stars-and-Stripes snapping in the breeze is bound to be painful to Ta-Nehisi Coates as a reminder of the days when Slavery even flourished in Northern states. We need to tear that flag down as well, and adopt the Gay Rainbow Banner as our national colors.
We’ve obviously reached a point where we need to draw the line and say: Enough! The Civil War ended 150 years ago. Segregation ended more than 50 years ago, and we’ve had 50 years since of Affirmative Action, Federal supervision of Americans’ hearts and minds, national grovelling to victim groups, self-hatred, and reverse racism. Enough. The Civil Rights era should be declared over and the era of Political Correctness and of National Rule by Rancid Radicals should be over, too.
There were, all rational adults should recognize, complexities in the politics of the 19th century. There was more than one possible legitimate point of view on how, when, and by whom slavery ought to be ended. Slavery was not somehow mystically forgivable when practiced before 1783 in Massachusetts, before 1841 in New York, or before 1848 in Connecticut, but a crime against Humanity when practiced in South Carolina or Alabama in 1861.
Secession was undoubtedly constitutionally problematic, but it is necessary to reflect that when sectional passions were uncontrollably inflamed, and overwhelming majorities of state conventions and votes in state-wide referenda confirmed that political course, the best, the most intelligent, the most honorable and patriotic men of Southern states, many of whom had always opposed secession, accepted the decision of the citizens of their own states and supported the cause of Southern Independence.
The preservation of the Union by forcible conquest and armed invasion of fraternal states was, I think it is very easy to argue, rather more problematic legally and constitutionally even than secession. Several former presidents, including two Northerners (Pierce & Buchanan), opposed and condemned Abraham Lincoln’s decision to wage war on fraternal states, and one former president (John Tyler) actually served in the Congress of the Confederacy.
It is simply not the case that the sectional conflicts leading to Civil War are reducible simply to being for or against Slavery. And the generation of Americans residing in Southern states in 1861 were not personally responsible for institutions and economic circumstances inherited over the course of two centuries.
History, Fate, and God (if you believe in God) decided against the cause of Southern Independence. The South was conquered and forcibly reunified, but Abraham Lincoln, and Grant and Sherman, his leading generals, all believed in generosity on the part of the victor toward the vanquished. The country was successfully reunited, within the lifetimes of many men who served in the Confederate Army, precisely because Northerners rejected the policies of the Northern radicals, allowed Reconstruction to be ended, and in general took the position that Southerners had fought gallantly and honorably, if perhaps misguidedly, and treated their former adversaries with affection and respect. There is a touching film clip of a 1913 (50th Anniversy) reunion at Gettysburg. Old men who decades earlier had faced each other as enemies met this time as friends, and as aged Confederates limpingly tried reenacting a portion of Pickett’s Charge, their former adversaries stood atop Cemetery Ridge cheering for them.
The American left is utterly and completely intoxicated with the pleasures of racial politics and is carried away with its success in obtaining any and all demands it cares to make after applying the moral jiu-jitsu of pointing to some pitiable victim. It’s long past time to declare the Civil Rights Movement and politics of the 1960s over and done with. We need to tell the leftists and their craven conformist establishment allies we’ve had enough and we are putting out more Confederate flags.