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6 Myths About the Confederacy, Debunked

One word: slavery
History • Views: 58,354

Time to clear up some misinformation.

1) “It wasn’t about slavery.”

It was totally about slavery. How do we know that? Because the Confederate States were very clear about that particular fact in their Declarations of Secession.

Take Mississippi for example:

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.

Texas went as far as declaring Slavery “the revealed will of the Almighty Creator”

That in this free government *all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights* [emphasis in the original]; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states.

2) “It was about States Rights!”

Specifically, it was about the Southern States objecting to the States rights of the non-slave states.

From the South Carolina Declaration of Secession:

an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.

and Georgia

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-slaveholding 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. This hostile policy of our confederates has been pursued with every circumstance of aggravation which could arouse the passions and excite the hatred of our people, and has placed the two sections of the Union for many years past in the condition of virtual civil war.

3) “The Confederate Flag just means pride in Southern Heritage.”

Not according to its creator, William T. Thompson:

“As a people, we are fighting to maintain the heaven ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.”

He went on to say:

“Such a flag would be a suitable emblem of our young confederacy, and sustained by the brave hearts and strong arms of the south, it would soon take rank among the proudest ensigns of the nations and be hailed by the civilized world as THE WHITE MAN’S FLAG.”

Given the fact that German neo-nazis have taken to flying the Confederate flag because Nazi symbols are banned, it looks like Thompson was right.

4) “Most Southerners weren’t slave owners and they were fighting for what they believed in.”

Most Southerners in the CSA were conscripted while slave owners received an exemption from military service due to the “Twenty Negro Law.”

The Twenty Negro Law was the popular name given to a section of the Second Conscription Act passed by the Congress of the Confederate States of America on October 11, 1862, during the American Civil War. This particular portion of that statute specifically exempted from military service one white male for every twenty slaves on a Southern plantation, or for two or more plantations within five miles of each other that collectively had twenty or more slaves. A reaction to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s preliminary Emancipation Proclamation issued barely three weeks earlier, the law addressed Southern fears of a slave rebellion due to so many white males being absent with the Confederate Army. It would prove extremely unpopular with poorer white Southerners, many of whom did not own slaves at all, and would contribute to the oft-repeated adage of the war being “a rich man’s war, but a poor man’s fight.”

5) “It was about taxes/tariffs.”

Obviously this issue must have been important to the South because they didn’t mention it once. In fact, Southerners had written the Tariff act of 1857, lowering tariffs to their lowest point in 40 years.

6) “The flag isn’t racist and if it is racist it was created by Democrats.”

Always a fun one. Yes, the “democrats” of the 1860s did create the flag, and at that time, they identified as conservative white supremacists.

Then 150 years of history happened, including the Civil Rights movement, when Southern Conservatives took to flying the Confederate flag as a symbol of opposition to equality, and the Republican party began its Southern Strategy, best explained by GOP strategist, Lee Atwater:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Ni**er, ni**er, ni**er.” By 1968 you can’t say “ni**er”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites…. “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Ni**er, ni**er.”

The KKK certainly agreed with this strategy.

“The realignment started as a backlash to the 1960s civil rights movement.” But recently published research suggests the channeling of racist attitudes into changed voting behaviors did not happen naturally, or automatically. Rather, it was due in part to the efforts of one organization: the Ku Klux Klan.

“Klan activism loosened entrenched party loyalties and directly contributed to the dealignment of white voters from the Democratic Party in the 1960s,” writes a research team led by sociologist Rory McVeigh of the University of Notre Dame. “This initial untethering process was critical to the more durable subsequent realignment with the Republican Party.”

It’s almost a given that Confederate apologists will come up with new spin to revise history, so expect this list to grow as time goes on.

‘A Chosen Exile’: Black People Passing in White America

History • Views: 25,458

MP3 Audio

More: ‘A Chosen Exile’: Black People Passing in White America : Code Switch : NPR

Several years ago, Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs was talking with a favorite aunt, who was also the family storyteller. Hobbs learned that she had a distant cousin whom she’d never met nor heard of.

Which is exactly the way the cousin wanted it.

Hobbs’ cousin had been living as white, far away in California, since she’d graduated from high school. This was at the insistence of her mother.

“She was black, but she looked white,” Hobbs said. “And her mother decided it was in her best interest to move far away from Chicago, to Los Angeles, and to assume the life of a white woman.”

“Her mother really felt that this was the very best thing she could do for her daughter,” Hobbs continued. “She felt this was a way to offer opportunities to her daughter that she wouldn’t have living as a black woman on the South Side of Chicago.”

In California, the young woman passed as white. She married a white man, and they had children who never knew they had black blood. Then, one day, years later, her phone rang.

It was the woman’s mother with distressing news: Her father was dying, and she needed to return home immediately to tell him goodbye.

The cousin replied, “I can’t. I’m a white woman now.”

She missed her father’s funeral, and never saw her mother or siblings again.

Hobbs was haunted by the story, and constantly went back to it in her mind. It made her realize that all the tales she’d heard about passing over the years involved the gains that people expected for leaving their black identity behind. But through her research, she came to understand there was another, critical part of the experience:

“To write a history of passing is to write a history of loss.”

‘Who Are Your People?’

Loss of self. Loss of family. Loss of community. Loss of the ability to answer honestly the question black people have been asking each other since before Emancipation: “Who are your people?”

More at NPR.

Motel Manager Pouring Acid in the Water When Black People Swam in His Pool, 1964

History • Views: 24,624

More: Motel Manager Pouring Acid in the Water When Black People Swam in His Pool, 1964

This famous photograph by Horace Cort shows a group of white and black integrationists in the former Monson Motor Lodge swimming pool on June 18, 1964. The photo was connected to the St. Augustine Movement, named for the town in Florida where it took place. Lots of peaceful protests and demonstrations were responded to with violence, which lead to more and more complicated protests.

On June 11, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr was arrested for trespassing at the Monson Motor Lodge after being asked to leave from its segregated restaurant. This (and other things) helped spurn on a group of protesters, black and white, to jump into the pool as a strategically planned event to end segregation at motel pools. The pool at this motel was designated “white only.” Whites who paid for motel rooms invited blacks to join them in the motel pool as their guests. This swim-in was planned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and two associates. The motel manager, Jimmy Brock, in an effort to break up the party, poured a bottle of muriatic acid into the pool, hoping the swimmers would become scared and leave. One swimmer, who knew that the ratio of acid to pool water was so great that the acid was no longer a threat, drank some of the pool water to calm the other swimmers’ fears.

More at Rare Historical Photos.

51 years ago. How times have [not] changed!

The Only Confederate Flag We Ever Need to Remember

The white one
History • Views: 25,902

Today is the 150th anniversary of the Confederacy’s Surrender at Appomattox.

In the spirit of this day, there’s only one Confederate flag that should ever be shown in the United States of America.

‘Matthew G. Bisanz [GFDL (gnu.org), CC BY-SA 3.0 (creativecommons.org), GPL (gnu.org), LGPL (gnu.org) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

A Few Facts About the Bush White House and Iraq Troop Withdrawal

History • Views: 26,636

December 4, 2008

Fact Sheet: The Strategic Framework Agreement and the Security Agreement with Iraq

To Ensure That The Security Agreement Is Consistent With The Capacity Of Iraq’s Security Forces, The Dates Included In This Agreement Were Discussed With The Iraqis, General Petraeus, And General Odierno - They Allow For The Continued Transition Of Security Responsibilities To The Iraqis

As we further transition security responsibilities to the Iraqi Security Forces, military commanders will continue to move U.S. combat forces out of major populated areas so that they are all out by June 30, 2009.

  • The Security Agreement also sets a date of December 31, 2011, for all U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq. This date reflects the increasing capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces as demonstrated in operations this year throughout Iraq, as well as an improved regional atmosphere towards Iraq, an expanding Iraqi economy, and an increasingly confident Iraqi government.
  • These dates therefore are based on an assessment of positive conditions on the ground and a realistic projection of when U.S. forces can reduce their presence and return home without a sacrificing the security gains made since the surge.
Graphic: The Strategic Framework Agreement and the Security Agreement with Iraq

December 8, 2008

President’s Radio Address

MP3 Audio

[…]

This withdrawal will take place in two stages: The first stage will occur next year, when Iraqi forces assume the lead for security operations in all major population centers, while U.S. combat forces move out of Iraqi cities and move into an overwatch role. After this transition has occurred, the drawdown of American forces will continue to the second stage, with all U.S. forces returning home from Iraq by the end of 2011.

[…]

Graphic: President’s Radio Address

Related:

Bush’s finest moment on Iraq: SOFA, not the surge
by Marc Lynch

Peter Beinart today bravely repeats the emerging would-be conventional wisdom. Rather than simply denounce everything Republican, he argues, Democrats should admit that the “surge” worked and — uniquely echoing a thousand recent op-eds — was President Bush’s finest moment. I have a hard time imagining anything as tedious as rehashing those tired debates from the campaign about the “surge” — perhaps we could have another round of arguments as to whether the surge brigades arriving in the spring of 2007 caused the Sunni turn against al-Qaeda in the fall of 2006? But in the interests of post-partisanship, I am willing to offer an alternative as Bush’s finest hour in Iraq: the Status of Forces Agreement.

[…]

And thus I offer Bush’s willingness to sign the SOFA mandating U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, and not the surge, as his finest moment in Iraq.

Read the whole thing at Foreign Policy.

At the 9/11 Memorial

Come kids, I want to show you where your grandfather’s name is…
History • Views: 27,609

This isn’t the first time I’ve been inside the WTC since the 9/11 attacks, particularly since I’ve been taking PATH since shortly after service was restored in November 2003. But it is the first time I’ve seen the completed 9/11 Memorial in person.

The fencing surrounding the memorial was taken down over the weekend and you no longer need to get a timed pass to enter the memorial (the 9/11 Museum is a separate issue, with a $24 admission fee imposed).

So, here are a few pictures taken earlier today of the memorial.


Looking across the South Tower Reflecting Pool.


Looking North at the South Tower Reflecting Pool


Stephen Siller, whose name is memorialized in the annual Tunnel to Towers Run to raise funds for responders.


Looking across the North reflecting pool.


The names of those killed in the 1993 WTC bombing memorialized on the North Tower reflecting pool closest to where the new 1WTC stands.


Rev. Mychal F. Judge, who was honored with being declared Victim number 1 by the Medical Examiner’s office.

Looking up at 1WTC from the corner of Liberty and Greenwich.

My observations of the memorial? The enormity of the attacks is hammered home by row after row of names, of those responding to the towers and to the thousands caught inside the towers or the planes that struck them. If you focus on the sound of the waterfalls, it is a serene oasis in the heart of a busy and bustling rebirth of Lower Manhattan.

But the most moving part is what you can occasionally overhear.

“Come kids, I want to show you where your grandfather’s name is…”

Considering that so many people have never been able to bury remains of their loved ones - more than a thousand people have never been identified from the remains that have been gathered at the site, these names are a silent tribute and memorial.

Cross posted at A Blog for All

85,000 Historical Films From British Pathé on YouTube

An incredible resource
History • Views: 14,931

British Pathé has posted 85,000 (!) short historical films at YouTube. A fascinating look at the history of the 20th century through the eyes of British media, before it was called “media.”

For a relatively recent example: “Arnold Schwarzenegger Wins Mr Universe (1969),” with casually sexist narration.

YouTube

This video is two archive reels in [HD]. Mr Universe 1969 + “Show of Strength”, International Bodybuilding Contest in Cologne, Germany 1966

Arnold Schwarzenegger flexes his extraordinary muscles for the judges in these two bodybuilding tournaments, one in Cologne in 1966, and the other (the first piece of footage) in London at the Mr Universe contest in 1969.

Mr. Schwarzenegger was a completely unknown figure then. Coe Boyer can also be seen in this footage.

Demolishing the Right Wing’s “Democrats are the Party of Racism” Meme

A little history
History • Views: 25,476

This image and others like it are making the rounds within conservative and other Tea Party-affiliated social media.

Rightwing meme on race

In favor of accuracy, below is a fact-check on each of these points:

Who started the KKK?

Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former Confederate Lieutenant General and war criminal (Fort Pillow massacre). He held no political office during his lifetime, so there is no indication as to what party he belonged to.

Who supported the KKK?

Southern conservatives formerly with the Confederacy.

To make this point perfectly clear, the KKK-affiliated “White Citizens Councils” are now known as the “Council of Conservative Citizens,” and have not changed their racist views at all. Claiming they are associated at all with modern Democrats is pure fantasy.

Who created Jim Crow laws?

Southern conservatives known as “Dixiecrats”. (See “KKK” entry for further details.)

Who enforced them?

Southern governments and law enforcement under the guise of “States’ Rights” - which is still a favorite among the Tea Party Republicans.

Who arrested MLK?

Assuming this is directed toward his most famous arrest in Birmingham, Alabama in April 1963. The Commissioner of Public Safety who directed the arrest, the denial of King’s Constitutional rights during and after the arrest, as well as directing acts of violence toward African-American protestors was Eugene “Bull” Connor, a pro-segregationist “Dixiecrat” who ran for Governor several times in the 1940s-1950s. He also was responsible for the arrest of (former) progressive Democratic Vice President Henry Wallace on the charge of violating segregation laws.

Who opposed Civil Rights Legislation?
Who fought against the right of black Americans to vote?

Southern segregationist conservatives. Here’s the actual voting record, broken down by party and geographic region:

Congressional vote on Civil Rights Act - by party and region - Source: Wikipedia (click to enlarge)

As a result of this vote and the one for the Voting Rights Acts - both of which membership of the Republican Party TODAY are fighting tooth and nail to repeal - Harry Dent, Sr, Pat Buchanan and Lee Atwater orchestrated the Southern Strategy to get Southern conservatives into the fold of the Republican Party. With the election of Ronald Reagan, this takeover of the party succeeded.

A Lost World: 1960s Afghanistan, the Photos of Bill Podlich

The fragility of modernity
History • Views: 17,520
Parking lot of the American International School of Kabul (AISK). The school no longer exists, although alumni stay in touch through Facebook and hold reunions every few years at different cities around the U.S. The next reunion will be held in Boston in 2013. “AISK’s last year was 1979, so the school had a 20 year history. AISK was located on the same campus that currently houses the American University of Afghanistan (on Darul-aman Rd in west Kabul). In 1967-68, there were about 250 students attending AISK and 18 graduating seniors.” - Peg Podlich

In 1967, Dr. William Podlich took a two-year leave of absence from teaching at Arizona State University and began a stint with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to teach in the Higher Teachers College in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he served as the “Expert on Principles of Education.” His wife Margaret and two daughters, Peg and Jan, came with him. Then teenagers, the Podlich sisters attended high school at the American International School of Kabul, which catered to the children of American and other foreigners living and working in the country.

Outside of higher education, Dr. Podlich was a prolific amateur photographer and he documented his family’s experience and daily life in Kabul, rendering frame after frame of a serene, idyllic Afghanistan. Only about a decade before the 1979 Soviet invasion, Dr. Podlich and his family experienced a thriving, modernizing country. These images, taken from 1967-68, show a stark contrast to the war torn scenes associated with Afghanistan today.

More: Remembering 1960s Afghanistan, the Photographs of Bill Podlich

100 Year-Old Photographic Negatives Discovered from Doomed Antarctic Expedition

History • Views: 20,619

On Ice: 100 Year-Old Negatives Discovered in Antarctic

Conservators restoring an Antarctic exploration hut recently made a remarkable discovery: a small box of 22 exposed but unprocessed photographic negatives, frozen in a solid block of ice for nearly one hundred years.

These negatives were meticulously processed and restored by a Wellington photography conservator. Antarctic Heritage Trust executive director Nigel Watson said of these never-before-seen images:

“It’s the first example that I’m aware of, of undeveloped negatives from a century ago from the Antarctic heroic era. There’s a paucity of images from that expedition.”

The team from the Antarctic Heritage Trust (NZ) discovered the box in a corner of one of the many supply depots Robert Falcon Scott established for his doomed Terre Nova Expedition to the South Pole (1910-1913). Though Scott reached the Pole, he and his party died of starvation and the extreme cold on their return trip.

Also see

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 Frank says:

There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to a lake of fire upon hearing it.