Politics

The New South In the Shell of the Old

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Spotted on Ben Smith's blog: a Confederate flag and an Obama sign share a yard.

Politico

Reminds me of something the great southern sociologist John Shelton Reed once wrote:

…last year I was startled, then amused, then heartened to see the battle flag flying from a student residence at the College of Charleston—right next to the green, red, and black banner of black nationalism. I have no idea who flew those flags together, or why, but that sort of juxtaposition can make people stop and think, and I'm optimist enough to believe that's not usually a bad thing.

These examples make me wonder whether there's some way to universalize the Confederate symbols after all, some way to accept the past for what it was, not deny it or forget it, but transform it for our common use….Consider, for instance, the T-shirt designed by Southern Reader, a quirky, neo-secessionist, "eco-regionalist" bimonthly out of Oxford, Mississippi. It bears a battle flag, transformed: black and white on a field of green. And a motto from James Brown: "Keep It Funky."

Elsewhere in Reason: In 1999 I wrote about a similar shirt.

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  1. Well, in Europe the Confederate Flag has become a symbol for National Socialism. Some people forget the Hitler was a National Socialist. So is Obama.

  2. I think he’s more of a social nationalist.

  3. Maybe they’re just really, really stupid.

  4. A girl I once knew who was from the deep South explained to me that the Confederate flag has since evolved for contemporary southerners into nothing more complex than an expression of empty parochial nationalism. Whether or not that itself is a positive thing is another subject. Perhaps when this country ceases demonizing the “South” as some iniquitous haven of atavism and hatred, they will no longer feel the need to visually represent themselves as a separate civic entity.

  5. I didn’t find this at all unusual at first.That is until I read the flag is flying in Indiana. I am always suspicious of those Confederate flags flying in Yankee States.They think it means the same thing as Yankee liberals do–only in a “good” way.

  6. Southern Indiana and Illinois had big Confederate sympathies in the Civil War.

  7. Somehow, I don’t think Stonewall Jackson would have approved of flying the Stars & Bars on the same pole as the Stars & Stripes. All kinds of confusion going on at that house.

  8. BTW, I saw the same thing in Chesterfield County, VA today.

  9. A girl I once knew who was from the deep South explained to me that the Confederate flag has since evolved for contemporary southerners into nothing more complex than an expression of empty parochial nationalism.

    I think she’s thinking way too hard about this. I’ve known quite a few people that had Confederate flag bumper stickers, etc. For them, it was nothing more than a declaration of intent to be a hard-drinking, hard-partying kind of a guy. A “rebel,” the kind who likes to smoke the tires on his Camaro (back in the day) or Mustang and blast whatever on his stereo.

  10. Makes perfect sense to me. The Confederate Flag represents whatever the viewer wants it to, kinda like Obama.

  11. I didn’t find this at all unusual at first.That is until I read the flag is flying in Indiana.

    Sociologically speaking, huge chunks of Indiana are colonies of the South.

  12. An awful lot of oppression of black people — not to mention Indians! — has been perpetrated by the govt represented by the US flag, too. The Confederacy was no libertarian haven, to be sure, but why the Confederate flag has become a symbol of pure evil is beyond me.

  13. I live in Georgia, so the confederate flag is ubiquitous. Sometimes they claim that they’re upholding tradition (The confederate battle flag being the model for the flag of Georgia from the 1970s until a few years ago).

  14. “why the Confederate flag has become a symbol of pure evil is beyond me.”

    They lost.

  15. “Perhaps when this country ceases demonizing the “South” as some iniquitous haven of atavism and hatred, they will no longer feel the need to visually represent themselves as a separate civic entity.”

    I agree. It is taboo to make any sort of ethnic joke but it is perfectly acceptable to make “Redneck jokes”. Some Southern and Appalachian comedians have even cashed in on this double standard. Personally, I see comedians like Jeff Foxworthy as the Stepin Fetchit’s of the modern world.

  16. Sociologically speaking, huge chunks of Indiana are colonies of the South.

    Isn’t that pretty much the consequence of a migration of poor whites from Kentucky as Indiana industrialized after the Civil War?

    Seems to me almost everone I know from Indiana has roots in Kentucky.


  17. Sociologically speaking, huge chunks of Indiana are colonies of the South.

  18. In Ohio this is true in Columbus and pretty much anywhere south of Columbus.


  19. Sociologically speaking, huge chunks of Indiana are colonies of the South.

    Damn tags

    Culturally speaking, they are most certainly not.

  20. so i read tony horwitz’s confederates in the attic some time ago and it had about a chapter devoted to some white guy in a tennessee/kentucky border town who was flying a confederate flag from his truck and got shot by some black guys outside a gas station. and it turned into a big deal with all kinds of race baiters on both sides and the sons of the confederacy or whatever made him an honorary veteran and all this stuff… and horwitz interviewed his girlfriend and she said “aww, he didn’t care bout none of that stuff. he’d-a done anything to make his truck look sharp.”

  21. Kentucky is not the South either.I’ve worked in SE Ohio it bears no resemblance to the South.
    Dumb asses calling West Virginia the “South” is a pet peeve of mine.

  22. “but why the Confederate flag has become a of pure evil is beyond me.”

    Uhhh, maybe because they made slavery their greatest value?

  23. but why the Confederate flag has become a symbol of pure evil is beyond me.

    Yes, the US flag represents a very long history with all sorts of highs and lows, but the Confederate flag represents a few years marked pretty much exclusively by bad things.

    This should really be a no-brainer.

  24. “Uhhh, maybe because they made slavery their greatest value?”

    Uhh, maybe you need to read more about the “Civil War” than what was in your high school textbook.

  25. “Some people forget the Hitler was a National Socialist. So is Obama.”

    Right on! I mean, when you look at what Hitler and the Nazis proposed and then at what Obama and his party propose they just are so, well, so very very different. Stop being retarded.

  26. It sounds to me as if many of you attach a great deal more importance to the confederate flag than it actually possesses.

    To see the union flag and the confederate flag on the same flag pole seems no big deal to me. Likewise with the Obama placard.

  27. Let me guess Ironic, the South wasn’t concerned with slavery, just states rights?

  28. Probably just an autoworker cojoled by AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka into to swallowing his (white) pride who has, albeit grudgingly and temporarily, put aside his racism for the greater good of Big Labor.

  29. “Right on! I mean, when you look at what Hitler and the Nazis proposed and then at what Obama and his party propose they just are so, well, so very very different. Stop being retarded.”

    Do you know what National Socialism is? Do you know what facism is?

  30. “Let me guess Ironic, the South wasn’t concerned with slavery, just states rights?”

    The main issue was actually trade policy – tarrifs. Slavery was used as an excuse my politicians to get notherners who otherwise would have supported the South.

  31. “was used as an excuse my politicians”

    Change my to by

  32. ironic
    Oh yes it was all tariff policy, heard that one too.

    All the talk about slavery and the anger at the addition of non-slave states in numbers greater than slave ones, that was all code for the tariff thrown in for the North…

  33. Yes, and the centrality of the tariff issue in the Civil War is the reason that the end of the war was marked by Constitutional amendments addressing the tariff issue once and for all.

    Oh, wait, that didn’t happen at all.

    I realize that there is no such thing as a simple war with one and only one causal factor, that history is always complicated, but slavery was pretty clearly a key factor in the Civil War.

  34. Angela Davis meets Jefferson Davis

    or

    Reggie Hammond meets Roscoe P. Coltrane.

  35. Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, you’re being glib – you don’t know the history of Psychiatry National Socialism.

  36. The battle flag made something of a comeback during the segregation battles of the 50’s-60’s so you have to account for that in the “why is it evil” discussion.

  37. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_csa.asp

    The Confederate Constitution. Notice the provisions that explicitly protect slavery, many more than reference any tariff.

    But hey, it was all spin for the North, right?

  38. “All the talk about slavery and the anger at the addition of non-slave states in numbers greater than slave ones, that was all code for the tariff thrown in for the North…”

    Explain why the Emancipation Proclamation did not free the slaves in states that remained with the Union? Explain why Lincoln said if he could have kept the Union together and kept slavery he would have? Hmm?

  39. However carefully you might wish to define “the South” and “Southern-ness” there’s no escaping the fact that Indiana is a shithole, and its prototypical inhabitant, the Hoosier Clem, is an ignorant, slackjawed hillbilly. No matter what color or creed he may be.

    [I lived there for a dozen years. I know.]

  40. Jammer-

    Perhaps the threat of Communism in the 50’s and 60’s led to a passionate opposition to restraints on trade, and hence enthusiasm for symbols of opposition to tariffs. This would explain why the primary display of Confederate flags in the 50’s and 60’s was at rallies for free trade agreements.

    Oh, wait, that didn’t happen either.

    Damn, it’s almost as though this tariff narrative is completely inconsistent with the actual motivations behind historical events.

  41. Ironic

    Do you plan on running out the Lincoln quote about saving the Union by ending slavery, leaving it alone, or ending some places and leaving it alone others too?

    Or the line about only 10% of Southerners owning slaves (or whatever it was)? Or Grant owning a slave, or about how Robert E. Lee didn’t own slaves?

    What are the other bits that always come up in these arguments?

    /kinda hopes Ironic is a troll

  42. “Yes, and the centrality of the tariff issue in the Civil War is the reason that the end of the war was marked by Constitutional amendments addressing the tariff issue once and for all.”

    Perhaps you missed history class on the day this was covered so I will inform you of this basic fact. The South lost the civil war.

    The reason the South wanted to secede was that they opposed the tariff scheme that was already in place. That tariff scheme did not change immediately following the War Between the States.

  43. Explain why the Emancipation Proclamation did not free the slaves in states that remained with the Union? Explain why Lincoln said if he could have kept the Union together and kept slavery he would have? Hmm?

    Oh yeah, that’s one of the other ones. The EP and how it affected slavery. Of course, the EP came in 1863, and had nothing to do with why the South seceded, you know. If you’re not really a troll, I could explain Lincoln’s reasons for why he worded the EP as he did.

  44. And I suspect “workin’ man blues” called it dead to rights; the union told this guy the Evilpublicans would make him work for minimum wage, and force him to do different stuff on the same job!

  45. Lincoln was considered a pretty moderate abolitionist outside of the South where any dissent on the topic was considered treasonous talk. So it’s hardly incredible that he would have taken measures to hold the union together that involved something less than instant total emancipation.

    It was of course the South’s view of Lincoln and the federal government that mattered as they fired first. For the South slavery was the big issue.

  46. Ironic:

    “Explain why the Emancipation Proclamation did not free the slaves in states that remained with the Union? Explain why Lincoln said if he could have kept the Union together and kept slavery he would have? Hmm?”

    Because. Slavery. Was. The. Reason. For. Secession.

    Slavery caused secession (even those seceding said so), and secession had to be punished.

    Explain why Lincoln didn’t say that he would amend the tariff if he thought that would keep the union together? Hmmmm? Maybe because changing the tariff would have had no effect on the union? Hmmmm?

    The south seceded because they believed their “rights” (to enslave others) were about to be violated. They said so, repeatedly. And anybody who can read a primary source can see that for themselves.

  47. It must have been the evil unions…

    Look, over the years many people have argued that the Confederate flag, for them, does not represent racism, so maybe the guy is one of these fellows. They are not all certainly lying. Or maybe he actually is racist but eight years of GOP misrule have goaded him to overlook the factor of race in order to return some sanity to our nation for a spell.

  48. hey morons – the civil war started when the yankees all dressed up like indians and sank the maine in pearl harbor. it was known as “queen anne’s war” in the territories.

  49. I’m guessing ironic’s craziness on the South can justify my assumption that he has even less of substance to say about Nazis…

    Was it that both Obama and Hitler wanted higher tariffs?

  50. This thread has descended into stupid.

  51. Anybody who thinks Obama is a Nazi, or who thinks the primary cause of the Civil War wasn’t the status of slavery in the territories, needs to read a book by an actual scholar. That’s all I’m saying on this thread.

  52. thoreau, I think you misunderstand me.

    I was simply suggesting that the strong association of the CBF with the segregationists has played a part in its, er, demonization. Had the segregationists *not* seized upon the CBF it is possible that it might be a less charged symbol today.

    And I am well aware of the fact they made use of it had nothing to do with tariffs.

  53. Fact: there were slaveholding states that remained with the Union. If slavery was the big issue why did they choose to do this?
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Slave_and_Free_States_before_the_American_Civil_War.svg

  54. Click my name on this post for a good primary source.

    The House of Representatives met in December of 1859 with no party having a majority. The first order of business is to elect a speaker by majority vote. This took over 2 months to accomplish. The House met every day for 4-6 hours (once for about 30 hours) and voted once or twice a day, but spent most of the day yelling at each other, and, if you read far enough along, getting into fights and pointing guns at each other.

    Take a few hours to read through the speeches made on the floor by those who were about to endorse secession. What was the issue getting them so riled up? Are there hours and hours of speeches by southern Democrats about the tariff?

    I think as you read you will find that there was only one thing that any of them cared about, and it was not the tariff.

  55. “Explain why Lincoln didn’t say that he would amend the tariff if he thought that would keep the union together? Hmmmm? Maybe because changing the tariff would have had no effect on the union?”

    Because he was a Yankee Republican who was unwilling to budge on tariffs.

  56. Wow, Ironic, you mean there were slave holding states in the Union!?

    Surely nobody who didn’t read a book about the Civil War never knew that!

    (end snark)

  57. Surely nobody who read a book on the Civil War didn’t know that!

  58. Last thing I will say (I swear):

    The states don’t mean jack shit. It was the status of slavery in the western territories that was the cause of the Civil War. Namely, the question of whether Congress had the power to outlaw slavery in the territories, or not. That was THE primary cause.

  59. Jammer-

    I know. I was making a sarcastic reply as a side-swipe at Ironic. Sorry I didn’t make it clear.

  60. “Surely nobody who didn’t read a book about the Civil War never knew that!”

    And yet, slavery is still pointed at as the cause.

  61. “Fact: there were slaveholding states that remained with the Union. If slavery was the big issue why did they choose to do this?”

    Fact: All states in which more than 20 percent of the residents were enslaved seceded. No states in which less than 20 percent of the residents were enslaved seceded.

    No state that did not have slaves ever considered secession. Did Iowans not have a complaint about the tariff, also? Why was there no secessionist movement in Iowa, when there was one in Missouri. Why was secession successful in Arkansas but not Missouri? The economies of those 3 states were virtually identical, but only 2 considered secession and only 1 seceded. There must have been a factor other than the tariff.

    But what could it have been?

    I guess it will remain a mystery, except to those who go back and look at why people said they favored secession.

  62. Friends and commenters,

    Please don’t feed the troll. Especially historically inaccurate ones, who especially hurt my heart.

  63. Virulent racism is sick, ill, ailing, whatever term you wish to use. I’m far to cynical to think it will ever die, but having it waste away in the back bedroom would be kinda cool.

  64. “Please don’t feed the troll. Especially historically inaccurate ones, who especially hurt my heart.”

    OK, I will stop feeding the troll.

  65. The Confederate Battle flag made a big comeback in the late 1950s to mid 1960s in part because of an anniversary.They made a big deal about the Centennial. When they were trying to change the GA flag proponents poured through the legislative minutes from when the Confederate emblem was added.Damn if they could find any reference to segregation or resisting federal Civil rights actions.All the talk was off the upcoming Centennial, history and heritage.
    You know,codewords

  66. MNG-

    You do know that Lincoln supported Illinois’ black codes?

    Have you ever given thought as to why America had to engage in a bloodbath that pioneered the use of total war (deliberate burning, looting and killing of civilians as part of the overall military strategy) while England, France, Spain and Russia were all able to free their serfs/slaves without the slaughter of nearly three quarters of a million people?

  67. “Virulent racism is sick, ill, ailing, whatever term you wish to use. I’m far to cynical to think it will ever die, but having it waste away in the back bedroom would be kinda cool.”

    I think it will die one day. Each year there are fewer and fewer racists. One thing that could set back the death of racism is if [I AM NOT PREDICTING THIS]there are riots after this election [BUT IF IT DID HAPPEN IT WOULD SET BACK THE DEATH OF RACISM].

  68. No prob, thoreau. I was just worried I was being lumped in with the other neo-confederate!

    You’re right, though, about how those tariffs still get people all riled up.

  69. hey morons – the civil war started when the yankees all dressed up like indians and sank the maine in pearl harbor. it was known as “queen anne’s war” in the territories.

    I knew that. It lasted thirty years.

  70. Who is the neo-confederate? I did not realise there was a neo-confederate on this thread.

  71. I heard it all started when Abraham Lincoln freed the Japanese in Boston.

  72. Hitler really wasn’t an anti-semite. The cause of WWII was the Versailles Treaty.

  73. “Hitler really wasn’t an anti-Semite. The cause of WWII was the Versailles Treaty.”

    Hitler WAS an anti-Semite but if the United States had not involved itself in “The Great War” the Holocaust might never have happened.

  74. i’m pretty sure yall are overlooking the role of the illuminati in all this.

  75. libertymike:

    Obviously, the north could have let the confederacy go. Maybe it would have worked out better, maybe not. Argument for another day.

    But I don’t think the situations you describe are all that comparable. For one thing, England had no or virtually no slaves on the home island. And of course the Russians serfs were…Russians, not people from Africa. France I don’t really know about, but I suspect something of the same situation as England applies there. And AFAIK, none of those places had a John C. Calhoun whipping up the passions like the USA did.

  76. ps libertymike… the only reason the french didn’t kill enough people when their slaves were freed was because they didn’t have the guts. you do realize that freedom for french slaves (haiti) came after a decades long race war?

  77. libertymike
    I don’t want to be some apologist for Lincoln. His casual treatment of civil liberties is something more people should know about him.

    But as to your question as to why so much death occurred in our struggle to free slaves I imagine any honest answer would have to admit that the South became very, very militant on this issue and they were arrogantly under the delusion that they could whip the North.

    Look, I was born in the capital of the Confederacy. The South was not a place of deminically evil people, and many Southerners exhibited great courage and manliness in the civil war, but they were caught up in and supported an evil system at that time.

  78. I cant believe no one posted this:

    Proctor: All right, here’s your last question. What was the cause of the Civil War?

    Apu: Actually, there were numerous causes. Aside from the obvious schism between the abolitionists and the anti-abolitionists, there were economic factors, both domestic and inter–

    Proctor: Wait, wait… just say slavery.

    Apu: Slavery it is, sir.

    Supposedly based on a true story – the wife of one of the writer’s was a foreign bored history professor.

  79. bored? bored?

    born, obviously.

  80. Obviously, the north could have let the confederacy go. Maybe it would have worked out better, maybe not. Argument for another day.

    Yes, but odds are that there would have been a war over western expansion, a bloody slave rebellion or a war over Northern agitators freeing slaves, or a combination of all.

    Not to mention the inevitable attempt by the CSA to expand into Mexico, a long ennunciated goal.

    To pretend tat the southern slavers and their rabid politicians were some poor innocents victimized by the Yankees is pure hogwash.

  81. So the legislatures of Missouri, Kentucky, and Delaware were willing to vote to stay in the Union and send their citizens off to die in battle against slavery — but they weren’t willing to outlaw slavery within their own states?

    The western territories thing is a canard. Secession actually guaranteed that slavery would never spread to the territories, as they were under the now mostly anti-slavery Union’s control.

    The belief that the Civil War had slavery as its primary issue can only be held if one thinks that everyone in the south, everyone in the border states, and the president himself were all complete and utter idiots. Their actions make no sense if that was the case.

  82. ” But as to your question as to why so much death occurred in our struggle to free slaves I imagine any honest answer would have to admit that the South became very, very militant on this issue and they were arrogantly under the delusion that they could whip the North.”

    If slavery were their actual concern there were more peaceful ways the Union could have dealt with this issue. For one they could have repealed the fugitive slave law. That law was a de facto federal subsidy of slavery in the slave states. The escape of slaves cost the slaveholders a great deal of money. It is doubtful the practice would have survived without the federal government forcing the return of slaves who managed to escape. Imagine if we had federal subsidies for the tobacco industry . . . oh wait.

  83. cunnivore
    Yes, they were willing to do that. They had slaves, but leaving the union was a very big step, even if they felt disabused by the anti-slavery actions of the feds. I mean, they made the right choice if you think about it (Sherman didn’t march through Delaware for example).

    And you’re missing the point as to why western expansion was so imporant for the South: it meant they were going to become a smaller minority in the federal government. But dropping out of that federal government solved that in their eyes. That’s pretty simple.

    I’m not sure I follow your last point. I do think the southern states acted in a very idiotic fashion though, both morally and in terms of prudence. But they were blinded by their interests and certain views they had. This happens to people and nations all the time.

  84. South Carolina nearly seceded over tariffs during the Jackson administration. It may seem like a laughable thing to wealthy 21st century Americans, but to a population living off subsistence farming it’s a big deal.

  85. Again ironic it was the Southern perception that the North was going to do just those things that made them rebel in the fashion that they did.

    You’re making the same mistake you did upthread. It’s the South’s perceptions and actions that explain the Civil War as they, well, started it…You keep arguing something that we accept as true, that the North did not want to fight a Civil War over slavery. You’re right. They didn’t. But the South felt their favorite institution was threatened and started a rebellion. They were ready to leave and fight to stay leaved over slavery.

  86. But cunny, as noted upthread we can go look at the primary documents (the speeches by Southern legislators, both federal and later Confederate, the newspapers extolling secession, the Confederate Consitution, etc.,) and slavery takes a much more prominent place than tariffs as the given reason for the hullabaloo.

  87. So, MNG, you admit that at least for the Union, the Civil War was more about enforcing federal authority than ending slavery?

  88. Ironic & Libertymike,

    A lot of midwestern abolitionists like John Brown viewed slavery as a satanic institution that had to wiped off the face of the earth by any means necessary. If southerners refused to free slaves peacefully than to force them to free slaves was a just & necessary religous crusade(war). It didn’t matter if the south was fighting for other reasons than slavery if the north was.

  89. Dammit, here we go again with the Civil War argument. This is always a big loser, because otherwise rational commenters come off looking like assholes. SYG, IGH.

  90. So when Southern States seceded right after Lincoln was elected because he was a know supporter of tariffs, as opposed to an abolitionist.

    The Confederacy was no libertarian haven, to be sure, but why the Confederate flag has become a symbol of pure evil is beyond me.

    Do you also wonder why the Nazi flag became a symbol of pure evil?

  91. Tariffs were just as hard on places in the northern “west” like Ohio, but they never considered secession. Funny, that.

  92. it meant they were going to become a smaller minority in the federal government. But dropping out of that federal government solved that in their eyes.

    If they thought they could preserve their independence, why didn’t they wait until this actually happened instead of quitting while popular sovereignty in the territories was the law of the land, enforced by the SCOTUS?

  93. Libertymike and Ironic,
    Leave it. You’re digging a deeper hole with each post. Just walk away.

  94. Jammer, tariffs were unquestionably a sensitive enough issue for SC to threaten secession during the Nullification Crisis of 1832.

  95. For one, slavery was not the South’s “favourite institution” for another the South did not consider merely leaving the union as an act of “rebellion”. If France decided to leave the European Union would the other EU members go to war with France over that? What if a group of seven European nations decided that they agreed with Ireland about the way the EU should be organized and all bolted to form their own trade treaty? Would that be a cause for war? The South viewed the Constitution as a voluntary agreement among sovereign States and not a permanently binding agreement.

  96. “…why the Confederate flag has become a symbol of pure evil is beyond me.”

    Well, for one thing while the US Constitution implicitly legalized slavery the Confederate constitution explicitly legalized it.

  97. The western territories thing is a canard. Secession actually guaranteed that slavery would never spread to the territories, as they were under the now mostly anti-slavery Union’s control.

    Precisely why war was all but inevitable.

    Blocking expansion of slavery into the west was a major grievance of the South.

    So the legislatures of Missouri, Kentucky, and Delaware were willing to vote to stay in the Union and send their citizens off to die in battle against slavery

    Missouri’s legislature voted for secession but were overthrown (an illegal act, to be sure) before the articles could be made official. As many men fought for the south as fought for the North. Whole regiments were raised and equiped and sent south by southern sympathisers as well as the informal guerillas who terrorised the population. So technically Missouri had seceded but did not become part of the CSA since it was occupied by Northern forces so quickly.

    Kentucky was all but neutral accepting Lincoln’s promise to do nothing on slavery but like Missouri whole regiments were raised for both sides from Kentuckians.

    I suspect Maryland would have suuceeded if it weren’t for the huge Federal presence in the state. Southern sympathisers had a way of getting themselves arrested (one of the legitimate complaints against Lincoln).

    While a few hundred Delawarans(?) went south and enlisted no military units were actually organised there for the southern cause. By 1860 slavery was on the decline and was pretty much a dead issue.

  98. cunny
    Sure, the union largely did not want to fight the civil war over slavery. But your missing something here. The South had this idea that the Union under Lincoln would harm their favorite institution. They rebelled. And the federal government acted to stop that rebellion. Thus, slavery was the central cause of the civil war.

    Now let me ask you my version of your question:
    “cunnivore, can you admit that at least for the South, the Civil War was more about protecting the institution of slavery than lowering the tariff? To argue otherwise would be to fly in the face of the very words of the Southerners as to why they were doing what they were doing as noted in the primary documents mentioned upthread.

  99. Here in NM we have a public access TV program hosted by a couple of the leading Libertarians around here…. They fly the Confederate Battle Flag behind them and are, in my opinion, an embarrassment to Libertarians. I got into an on-line pissing match with them a few years back — joined by a fellow traveler and old friend back east — urging them to pick something else. We suggested the Gadsden Flag but they would have none of it.

  100. Ironic
    Yes, yes, the South often talked about the Constitution as a voluntary agreement between the states (and not the people, which was a common union counter-argument, which is why it’s interesting to find libertarians taking the Southern side, they denied that “the people” as individuals had formed a union, rather it was the “states” as entities) and that the states could walk away.

    But the issue you raised was, why did they want to walk away in 1860? And the main answer is slavery.

  101. I, Kahn O’Clast,

    If everything else about this group of libertarians were the same but instead of the Confederate flag they had the official state flag of New Mexico would you call them an embarrassment?

  102. Now tariffs did spur some talk of secession, both in S. Carolina as correctly noted upthread and among New England states when an embargo was put on trade with France and England.

    So I agree its not ahistorical to think of states talking secession over tariffs. I just maintain that is not why the South did it in 1860.
    The fact is that the speeches from Southern legislators, the declarations of secession, the newspapers calling for it in the South, the Confederate Constitution, etc., are solid evidence that they went ballistic over Lincoln’s perceived abolitionism, not his tariff policy.

  103. “(and not the people, which was a common union counter-argument, which is why it’s interesting to find libertarians taking the Southern side, they denied that “the people” as individuals had formed a union, rather it was the “states” as entities)”

    I am an anarchist but from a pragmatic standpoint I support smaller government. Smaller often means smaller in physical size as well as in the more common meaning of “smaller government”. If Vermont wants to secede I for one would support that. I might not choose to move their but from a pragmatic standpoint it would give people more choices.

  104. So, MNG, you admit that at least for the Union, the Civil War was more about enforcing federal authority than ending slavery?

    That has never been in question as the motive for fighting in 1860. Lincoln the politician always asserted that he had no authority to abolish slavery and that abolition would come about through gradual lawful means.

    Now while the public Lincoln stated this policy I have heard that some historians have found letters of his that indicate that the private Lincoln was a much more radical abolitionist. So the evolution of of the moderate and patient 1860 Lincoln to the Lincoln that welcomed Frederick Douglass to the White House as a social and racial equal in 1863 may not have been nearly as abrupt as was previously thought.

    The point is that the reason for secession was slavery. No slavery, no war.

  105. and not the people, which was a common union counter-argument, which is why it’s interesting to find libertarians taking the Southern side, they denied that “the people” as individuals had formed a union, rather it was the “states” as entities

    And the states as entities were controlled by who again? Aliens from the planet Xanox?

  106. Ironic,

    If a state wants to leave over taxes, I have no problem with that. If they want to leave so they can jail people for sodomy, I have a problem with that.

  107. Cunnivore, we’re not talking about 1832. We’re talking about 1860, and tariffs just did not measure up to the task of rousing secessionist passions in 1860.

  108. Of course Lincoln tried to paint the war as a battle against slavery when the Union public wanted to end it. That doesn’t mean he always secretly intended it to be about slavery.

    Or do you think George Bush invaded Iraq in order to whip Moqtada al-Sadr?

  109. Mo,

    Do you support invading foreign countries to force them to decriminalize sodomy?

  110. For one, slavery was not the South’s “favourite institution” for another the South did not consider merely leaving the union as an act of “rebellion”.

    Well, interestingly, some southerners thought a right of secession was something of a weak reed, and argued instead they were exercising the right of revolution. Thus one of the many contemporary names for the ACW was “The Second American Revolution.”

  111. Reasons for war:
    * Slavery
    * Tariff
    * Federal control of CSA territory

    I think any one of the issues would have been enough to motivate the elites to push for war, but the slavery was probably critical for ensuring popular support in the north, while outrage over invasion by a “foreign” power was critical for maintaining support in the south.

    That said, I think the latter was probably the most important, though it could just be libertarian anti-Washington bias. But reassembling the union wasn’t necessary if the point of the war was to end slavery. It’s not as though we forced Germany to become the 51st state just to make sure they wouldn’t continue the Holocaust.

    Also, unless you view secession itself as an act of war and inherently illegitimate (I don’t), the South didn’t start it. I don’t think repelling a foreign nation’s attempt to reinforce a military base on your own territory, after giving them months to abandon said base, is an act of war. If anything, failing to do so is admitting a de facto lack of territory sovereignty.

    As for the original topic — reasons for using Confederate flag as a symbol:
    * KKK sympathizer
    * Regional “nationalist”
    * Rebel
    The latter is less likely due to the former. Except among bigoted rebels, I guess.

  112. “…when you look at what Hitler and the Nazis proposed and then at what Obama and his party propose they just are so, well, so very very different.”

    “9. All citizens must have equal rights and obligations.

    10. The first obligation of every citizen must be to work both spiritually and physically. The activity of individuals is not to counteract the interests of the universality, but must have its result within the framework of the whole for the benefit of all Consequently we demand:

    11. Abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes. Breaking of rent-slavery.

    12. In consideration of the monstrous sacrifice in property and blood that each war demands of the people personal enrichment through a war must be designated as a crime against the people. Therefore we demand the total confiscation of all war profits.

    13. We demand the nationalization of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).

    14. We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries.

    15. We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.

    16. We demand the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation, immediate communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low cost to small firms, the utmost consideration of all small firms in contracts with the State, county or municipality.

    17. We demand a land reform suitable to our needs, provision of a law for the free expropriation of land for the purposes of public utility, abolition of taxes on land and prevention of all speculation in land.

    18. We demand struggle without consideration against those whose activity is injurious to the general interest. Common national criminals, usurers, Schieber and so forth are to be punished with death, without consideration of confession or race.

    20. The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program, to enable every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education and subsequently introduction into leading positions. The plans of instruction of all educational institutions are to conform with the experiences of practical life. The comprehension of the concept of the State must be striven for by the school [Staatsbuergerkunde] as early as the beginning of understanding. We demand the education at the expense of the State of outstanding intellectually gifted children of poor parents without consideration of position or profession.

    21. The State is to care for the elevating national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.”-The 25 Points 1920:
    An Early Nazi Program
    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/25points.html

    http://multimedia.nydailynews.com/pdf/2008/08/21/2008_democratic_platform/index.html

  113. Of course Lincoln tried to paint the war as a battle against slavery when the Union public wanted to end it. That doesn’t mean he always secretly intended it to be about slavery.

    cunnivore, you’re engaging in one of the most common errors of the “it wasn’t slavery” outfit, and that is assuming that because Northeners did not fight to free the slaves, the war was not caused by the South’s desire to preserve slavery. The Declarations of Causes created by many of the seceding states make it quite plain.

  114. To correct a mistake further up thread that is frustratingly too common- the flag in the picture is NOT the “stars and bars”. The stars and bars looked a lot like the stars and stripes. The “stars and bars” was the first national flag of the Confederacy. It looked just like the current state flag of Georgia (yes, crafty Southerners replaced one controversial confederate themed flag with an even more confederate themed replacement) except a field of stars sat where the current Georgia seal sits. The flag shown in the picture, and commonly flown throughout the US as a symbol of the South or just rebellion in general was a battle flag. The symbol was originally used by the Army of Northern Virginia, and made its way west to the Army of Tennessee (where it adopted the now standard horizontal shape) as well as being adopted as the Confederate Naval Jack.

    The fact that the flag is a battle flag and not the flag used to represent the Confederate States of America is an important distinction from a libertarian standpoint. We can all find fault with the constitution of the confederacy, and thus its flag. But what true libertarian could find fault with rebellion against the Federal Government? That’s why the battle flag remains a popular symbol among historically astute libertarians.

  115. Mo, while I sympathize with your point of view and certainly would oppose such laws, my view is (again from a pragmatic standpoint) that the more tiny states there are the greater a variety of potential lifestyles that exist. Let us suppose that a U.S. State, for the purposes here I will call it Evangelicalchristianland chooses to secede from the Union. Would you choose to live there? Probably not. I would also bet that the vast majority of homosexuals who live there would quietly sell their property and move elsewhere. Meanwhile a lot of people who adamantly oppose homosexuals and what to make darn sure they don’t have a homosexual neighbor will move there so that they can live their lives as good wowsers. A side effect will be that the remaining federal government would be net more tolerant and friendly of homosexuals without the state of Evangelicalchristianland as a part of it. Overall, it would be a boon for liberty from a pragmatic standpoint.

  116. Mo,

    Do you support invading foreign countries to force them to decriminalize sodomy?

    If said country seceded from the US with the purpose to criminalize sodomy, then yes.

  117. Mo, what about Iran? Why not invade Iran for this purpose? Don’t you care about the oppressed gay people in Iran?

  118. “Explain why the Emancipation Proclamation did not free the slaves in states that remained with the Union?”

    Because the Proclamation was an executive order justified as a war fighting strategy under the Presidency’s powers as commander-in-chief. Lincoln did not believe he had the constitutional authority to apply it outside the war zone. He did not feel that trying to put a law through the Congress would be politically wise at the time. However, the Proclamation once accepted had the effect of making the end of slavery one of the Union’s war aims.

    The politcal situation was complicated to say the least. Lincoln made effective use of the limited powers of the Presidency to present the remaining slave states with a situation they had to swallow which they might have effectively resisted had Lincoln tried to do it more directly.

  119. Because Iran isn’t made up of my fellow countrymen seceding primarily to deprive my countrymen of rights. There’s a practical difference.

  120. Economist- 7:35pm

    I posted only once on the subject at 6:42. I notice that you did not answer my question in your post. In addition, how am I stepping into it with the question I posed?

  121. Mo-

    The Declaration of Independence was a secessionist document. The signatories of the same announced their secession while signaling their intentions to deprive native americans of their rights.

  122. It seems like you boys could discuss something, I dunno, a little more current, like why that flag and that sign can co-exist right now.

  123. Mo-

    The higher the ends the higher must be the means. People who think it is ok to go to war in order to stop slavery, end poverty, force the legalization of sodomy, etc. are meglomanicial monsters indifferent to the death, destruction. mayhem and misery inevitably wrought by their high minded, but ultimately, diabolical, intentions.

  124. If one’s cause is right, does one then have the right to impose his cause on others, at their expense, upon the pains and penalties of incarceration or death?

  125. The Declaration of Independence was a secessionist document.

    Um, no. The Declaration was a *revolutionary* document. I don’t think there was anything in English law that suggested the colonies had freely joined the English Crown.

    The secessionists believed they had a legal right to secede (or hoped they could convince enough northerners of such). The colonists thought no such thing.

  126. This thread has descended into stupid.

    Threads disgress into a debate on the Civil War at least three or four times a month. The only remarkable thing about this one is that it wasn’t really a digression.

  127. “Lincoln made effective use of the limited powers of the Presidency to present the remaining slave states with a situation they had to swallow which they might have effectively resisted had Lincoln tried to do it more directly.”

    Lincoln certainly did not believe his presidential power was “limited” or if he did his constitutional theory was shambolic at best. Someone willing suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus either little respect for the Constitution or a chaotic understanding of the Constitution.

  128. “Because Iran isn’t made up of my fellow countrymen seceding primarily to deprive my countrymen of rights. There’s a practical difference.”

    I see, so you are more willing to kill people in your own country than you are people in another country?

  129. I see, so you are more willing to kill people in your own country than you are people in another country?

    No, I’m more likely to fight for the rights of my countrymen.

    I’m done with this ludicrous conversation.

  130. “but why the Confederate flag has become a symbol of pure evil is beyond me.

    Yes, the US flag represents a very long history with all sorts of highs and lows, but the Confederate flag represents a few years marked pretty much exclusively by bad things.

    This should really be a no-brainer.”

    Wow! I love how hatred and ignorance always walk together.

    I’m from Arkansas and those comments will not fly here with educated people. I hate seeing a Redneck in the Stars and Bars as much as the next person when they intend for it to signify hatred to blacks.

    The truth is it’s much more than that. It stands for states rights.

    My sister had a black History Professor at UCA that displayed the Confederate battle flag above his fireplace. I work with a black man that wears Confederate apparel and has a front liscense plate of the Confederate flag.

    It isn’t hate, it’s heritage.

    Lest we all forget that it was The War of Northern Aggressions.

  131. Mo, they’re not your countrymen once they secede.

    How about if they secede over taxes and then decide a month later to jail sodomers? Is invasion justified then?

  132. So since the Nazis wanted to eradicate Germany of “Bolshevikism” and since they killed hundreds of thousands of commies (foriegn and domestic) and since Obama is a Nazi then I guess Obama is one of the greatest Commie-fighters of all time?

    You see how stupid this can get, I hope.

    Oh yeah, and he is an anti-Semite, a believer that all civil liberties can be waived in an emergency, a expounder of strange fire-and-ice Aryan mythology…Yeah, he really is just like the National Socialists!

    The thing is the National Socialists, who had many spokespersons and programs at varying times, advocated literally hundreds of proposals. Of course some of them will overlap with any given modern political party and politician, but the differences are rather huge unless you’re just willing to consciously ignore them.

    MJ, you have very little knowledge wtf you are talking about or you have one of the most shaky grasps on basic logic that I have seen in a while. You should check yourself as to what about your ideological yearnings would make you present such a dumb, dumb argument.

  133. “The truth is it’s much more than that. It stands for states rights. ”

    The CSA stood for states rights alright, the right of states to leave the Union lest their cherished institution of slavery be threatened. That’s just how they described their own secession I’m afraid.

    “It isn’t hate, it’s heritage.”

    Now here is something sensible. It’s stupid to argue that the CSA wasn’t motivated by a strong stated desire to preserve slavery. But certainly post-Civil War the flag has come to mean many things to many people, and for many of these folks that meaning has very little to do with hate.

    Look, if Michigan decided tomorrow that it would confiscate all personal property and distribute it as their government saw fit and that women under a certain IQ would be sterilized forcibly, you don’t think we have an obligation to do something about it? If we proposed to do something about it and they voted to secede does that mean that now it would be wrong to do something about it?

    “And the states as entities were controlled by who again?”

    Uhh, I can tell you one group that had no control in those states but made up a sizable portion of the population: slavery.

    “Lincoln certainly did not believe his presidential power was “limited” or if he did his constitutional theory was shambolic at best.”

    I actually agree here. Lincoln’s actions make Bush II look like defender of the Constitution.

  134. “The truth is it’s much more than that. It stands for states rights.”

    States have powers, not rights. Only people can have rights.

  135. For some suburban kids in Atlanta, Charlotte or Northern VA the confederate flag is a juvenile answer to “who the fuck am I”. You have no real ethnicity because your mom is Italian and your dad is Irish. Your granny and pop live in Pennsylvanian or Ohio so you don’t really have a place that means home. You invent yourself as a southerner because you don’t really belong to any other tribe. My guess is that in any place with high immigration the second generation rebels from there parents and bonds using the superficial aspects of the culture around them.

  136. It’s interesting that those arguing that the CSA was not motivated by a desire to protect slavery don’t seem to have much reference to major primary documents by the leaders and opinion makers of the CSA. That’s because we have a rather voluminous record from the CSA leaders rather plainly stressing the centrality of the issue of slavery.

    But that’s a hard thing to swallow when you’re from the South (like I am myself). And so this bizarre mythology built on a kernel of truth (that a full understanding of the causes of the Civil War would include a discussion of other issues) but covering up the plain evidence (as evidenced by the record) of the centrality of the slavery issue has percolated up among many otherwise quite rational Southerners.

    A more rational approach would be to accept the historical evidence that the South cherished slavery and fought a stupid and immoral battle to save it. But as any good libertarian should see what people in the South did in 1860 does not reflect on how people born or who live there now feel about things. It does not mean that Southerners cannot be proud of things like the great Southern intellectuals (Poe, Faulkner), statesmen (Jefferson, Washington), generals (Lee, Jackson) and the rest of our heritage and that we cannot or should not honor the invididual courage, bravery and intelligence that were displayed commonly albeit for a terrible cause in the Civil War. It’s just that we must acknowledge that its a good thing the South lost that particular effort and hope we will never be that in the wrong in our national history again.

  137. Over a period of decades, Southerners felt more and more that their interests were ignored by a North that was increasing in population and prosperity relative to the South. In previous years there had been battles over many issues, including slavery and tariffs. Much like certain conservative Christians today, many Southerners felt under siege by a government with, if you will, different values. They didn’t trust the Northerners, and they certainly didn’t trust Lincoln, who was elected with Northern votes.

    In 1860, the cause of the disagreement was unquestionably mainly slavery, though the prospect of admitting future non-slave states to the union was probably seen as threatening to the South’s interests on a host of issues besides just that.

    Also, I don’t agree with a lot of Lincoln’s actions during the Civil War, but the Constitution clearly did give him the power to suspend Habeas Corpus during wartime; it did not give him the power to free the slaves. I think he read that correctly.

  138. Someone willing suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus either little respect for the Constitution or a chaotic understanding of the Constitution.

    “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.” – Art. I, Sec. 9 U.S. Constitution

  139. “but the Constitution clearly did give him the power to suspend Habeas Corpus during wartime;”

    Brian and TAO
    That power (to suspend habeas), in Article I is granted to CONGRESS, not the President as I read it, right?

  140. The only reason that this juxtaposition causes any cognitive dissonance is because one is an idiot or intellectually lazy. I grew up in Arkansas where this symbol was all over the place. Not everyone who had this flag was a racist inbred idiot.
    To many it represented what Hank William’s Jr. said in his song Country Boy Can Survive: Saying grace, Saying Ma’am, growing your on food, and making your own wine…independence. (something you’d think would fucking resonate with libertarians)

    But like The Late Great Philosopher George Carlin said….”symbols are for the symbol minded.” So ya get idiotic comments like this

    Confederate flag represents a few years marked pretty much exclusively by bad things.

    This should really be a no-brainer.

    Fuck your no brainer.

    Using slavery as the central States Rights issue was monumentally stupid…because (and we learned like in fucking kindergarten or something…)….slavery is wrong. But not wanting to be part of the Federal Imperial Government (the one that suspended Habius Corpus then, and the one today who wants to do it) is not wrong.

  141. *giggle* just love how these types get their cute little selves in a frothy tizzy over this.

    “DAT WON’T FLY WITH EDUCATED FOLKS DOWN HERE”
    “FUCK YOUR NO BRAINER”.

    tee hee.

  142. To secede means to break away, withdraw or disassociate from, usuaally from some organization or political bond. The suggestion that one can only secede from that which one voluntarily joined is not supported by the meaning of the word secede or from its historical use and application.

    Therefore, the Declaration of Independence is a secessionist document.

  143. TAO,

    Habeas corpus was suspended in areas where no rebellion or invasion was taking place. Do you think the federal govt can suspend habeas corpus in Maine because of an insurrection in Hawaii?

    VM,

    When you call something a no-brainer, what are you saying about people who disagree with you?

    thoreau deserves whatever he gets. Making a debatable assertion and then claiming it’s “simple” or “a no-brainer” is intellectually dishonest.

  144. The motive behind secession was to preserve the vile institution of slaver. However, the war was fought over the right of the states to secede. One can find the intuition of slaver abhorrent and still support the cause of states rights, believing that for what ever reason the people of the states in a federal union can decide to leave said union.

  145. Habeas corpus was suspended in areas where no rebellion or invasion was taking place. Do you think the federal govt can suspend habeas corpus in Maine because of an insurrection in Hawaii?

    Of course it can. Why do you hate America?

  146. “”””Also, I don’t agree with a lot of Lincoln’s actions during the Civil War, but the Constitution clearly did give him the power to suspend Habeas Corpus during wartime; it did not give him the power to free the slaves. I think he read that correctly.””””

    Show us where in the Constitution the President has that authority.

    “”””Habeas corpus was suspended in areas where no rebellion or invasion was taking place. Do you think the federal govt can suspend habeas corpus in Maine because of an insurrection in Hawaii?”””

    The feds can do what they want. what are you going to do about it? Hasn’t that been the theme of the Bush administration? Of course, sometimes we did do something and Bush had to retreat. But Bush did what he wanted first, then dealt with the fallout and only retreated when defeat became obvious, and not a moment sooner.

  147. Note to self: Never post on a thread concerning the confederate flag again.

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