Friday, July 03, 2020

Those who will not learn from history

I enjoy the good memes and when I first read the whole 'the Confederacy only lasted four years dude' thing, I nodded and thought 'yeah that's right, hit 'em'. And the underlying sentiment -- that nobody in 2020 really gives a shit about the Confederacy or the Confederate flag or Dixie, those who claim to just really dig on the whole white supremacy thing, they really like the idea of being at the top of the social ladder for no reason except the skin color they were born with -- that's both true and utterly odious.

But I don't like it when my fellow lefties and progressives twist shit the way the conservatards always do, so I feel constrained to point out that while the Confederacy only lasted four years or so, the culture that it represented, that for those four years it distilled and crystallized and gave a name and an emblem to, was around for centuries. Arguably, African chattel slavery started in North America as long ago as 1619, when the slave ship White Lion brought twenty African slaves ashore and sold them. That particularly vicious and toxic culture rooted in deep in the Southern part of the United States before there was even a United States.

So let's not try to hang a lot of weight on the 'four years' hook; the vile moral rot of African chattel slavery was around shaping the economy and sociology of the largely agricultural, plantation centered Southern regions of North America for a long, long time.

The Confederate flag as it exists and is revered today is not even historically accurate, and we all know that, and it doesn't matter. The Tea Party's use of the "Don't Tread On Me" banner is also perniciously historically subliterate. Symbols mean what people want them to mean; the Confederacy may have only been around four years, but it has come to represent certain things to people. Those things are ghastly and evil but like everything that represents deep emotional responses, it is something people will cling to unreasonably. Yes, it represents white supremacy and those who revere it should never be allowed to forget that. But the culture they pine for was around much longer, and those yearnings go much deeper, than the 'four year' meme allows for.

We do history a disservice when we forget that, and we let those who still wave the Confederate banner off much more easily than we should. The rot of white supremacy is deep in the history of the United States; the Second Amendment and the deeply shameful 3/5ths Compromise only exists to placate the Southern slave holding states into signing on. In heart and spirit, the Confederacy was around for much longer than four years, and in many hearts and spirits, it still lives on today.

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