Ten: Racist Lies and Ties That Bind and “Heritage, Not Hate” Nonsense
It’s not a coincidence that the Confederate flags–especially the battle flag–enjoy a resurgence in popularity every couple of decades. In fact, it really isn’t a surprising fact amongst most well-adjusted, sane people. There is a direct correlation between the surges in popularity and visibility and the social context within which they once again thrived. The KKK and the United Daughters of the Confederacy used it quite prominently during the Reconstruction and Early Jim Crow eras (and, as a curious artifact of history, some Northern groups also adopted the Confederate flag in opposition to Civil Rights and in support of Jim Crow laws). Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrats adopted the battle flag during the earliest stages of the Civil Rights Movement. Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama employed their flags to protest racial integration in the 1950s and 1960s, with Alabama going so far as to hoist the flag above its state capitol in opposition to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s protest march that began in Selma. In the late 1980s, the white residents of Forsyth County, Georgia, a county that had nothing but white residents for 75 years, used the flag to protest racial integration. The Tea Party, which is defined mostly by its vehement opposition to President Barack Obama, supports the use of the Confederate flags and the tolerance for Neo-Confederate groups and, oddly enough, their states’ rights (sound familiar?).
This isn’t just a coincidence. It is much, much more than that.
Seven: The Southern Mythos, Part 1: The “Lost Cause” & States’ Rights Myths
In November, 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee laid what would be the foundation upon which Confederate apologists would construct a Southern mythology now known as the “Lost Cause” myth. In a letter to Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early, Lee wrote, “My only object is to transmit, if possible, the truth to posterity, and do justice to our brave soldiers.”
The “Lost Cause” myth was born in 1866 with the publication of Southern historian Edward A. Pollard’s The Lost Cause: New Southern History of the War of the Confederates. In his work, Pollard argued that secession was a necessary step toward the preservation of the state’s right to sovereignty without any influence from the federal government. Pollard’s ultimate goal, however, was to present the South in a softer light:
One: Warnings and Threats
In 1858, Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis, the future President of the Confederate States of America, spoke before Mississippi’s state legislature. In his speech, Davis predicted that the next President–if he be an abolitionist–would lead the North to violate the rights of states in the South:
It seems now to be probable that the Abolitionists and their allies will have control of the next House of Representatives, and it may be well inferred from their past course that the will attempt legislature both injurious and offensive to the south. I have an abiding faith that any law which violates our constitutional rights, will be met with a veto by the present Executive. – But should the next House of Representatives be such as would elect an Abolition President, we may expect that the election will be so conducted as probably to defeat a choice by the people and devolve the election upon the House.
Davis then went on to state his support for a “revolution” if that should occur: