Honoring the South

After writing this I realized some may well find me “nominating” people who owned slaves as not in keeping with rejecting slavery. It’s a fair point. For me it’s a matter of looking at the total picture of the person’s life, as best I understand it. But — more importantly — while I’m happy to debate my choices the real point is make your own choices as to how to honor the South.

Looking for a way to honor the important role the South played in US history? Here are some examples of the many images you could use:

George Washington. Father of His Country. Admittedly a slave owner but at least he freed his upon his death. Characterized by King George III as being one of the greatest men of the age because he did not seek to become king in his own right even though he probably could have. Told his former men-in-arms, when they were threatening revolt after the War because they hadn’t been paid and he took out his glasses to read something to them “Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown old in the service of my country and now find that I am growing blind.” Which brought everyone to tears and ended the brewing coup.
Thomas Jefferson. Coined the immortal words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Admittedly another slave owner, who did not free all his slaves upon his death (probably because he was a terrible businessman and broke at the time — which doesn’t offset the wrong of what he did but at least he tried to do the right thing albeit only in the end). Founded the University of Virginia. Articulated the important principle of keeping church and state separate.
Frederick Douglass. Famous abolitionist who dedicated his whole life to getting us to live up to those “all men are free” words our nation is founded upon.
Harriet Tubman. Born a slave, escaped to freedom and then risked her life to save others and serve as an armed scout and spy for the Union army. Spent her later years working to get the nation to remember “all men are free” really means “all people are free”, not just those of us living with a Y chromosome.

There are many, many other Southerners who can and should be honored for the sacrifices they made and the work they did in order to keep this more perfect union moving forward, for all.

So when you choose to display this:

you are choosing to ignore all those other elements of Southern greatness in favor of highlighting the South’s1 greatest evil: slavery.

And make no mistake about it. Don’t be seduced by the bullshit propaganda Jeff Davis and his friends promulgated when they — unbelievably and successfully — rewrote history at the end of the 19th century. The Confederacy was always, first and foremost, about protecting the right to own other human beings. Which is nothing short of evil.

You can see this in many Confederate state constitutions and political documents. Here’s one of the clearest ones, the Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union.

In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

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.

I’d reproduce more of it, and more of the ones from the other Confederates states. But even reading them makes me want to puke2.

  1. and the North’s, to a lesser but significant extent 

  2. You can find all this stuff online, e.g., at https://www.battlefields.org/learn/primary-sources/declaration-causes-seceding-states.. 

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