The South’s Confederate mindset is always stunning to ‘Northerners’ like me

Jefferson Davis, Präsident der CSA {{de|1861: ...

Image of Jefferson Davis via Wikipedia

The news that Virginia’s governor is embracing Confederate History Month has stunned civil-rights leaders, and why not? The proclamation makes no mention of slavery or the long fight to end the slave trade – an omission that today’s Washington Post calls “incendiary” in its editorial chastising of governor Bob McDonnell.

To anyone who has visited the American South, McDonnell’s action comes as no surprise. Almost 150 years after the end of the Civil War, the South still celebrates the principles of the Confederacy in ways that are stunning. A small example: In Memphis, Tennessee, a major park features an homage to Jefferson Davis, the slave-owning president of the old Confederate States of America. The tribute is in the form of a giant statue – a towering figure that hovers over the grounds in a way that the Statue of Liberty oversees New York harbor.

When I saw the Jefferson Davis statue on a 2007 visit to Memphis, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Why? Because Davis was the South’s mouthpiece on slavery – a man who defended its practice, a man who wrote a memoir rationalizing the South’s reluctance to take anti-slavery orders from “Northerners.” In his acclaimed book on Davis, Donald Collins (an emeritus history professor at East Carolina University) says Davis “believed firmly in slavery and the inferiority of African Americans.”

In his book (and a radio interview you can hear here), Collins says Davis became, in death, a martyr/hero to Southerners. There was a competition to see which Southern state would get to house Davis’ grave. Virginia won out. Davis is buried in Richmond, the old Confederate capital – and the state’s current capital, from where McDonnell issues proclamations like the one that is rankling people across the country.

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11 Responses to The South’s Confederate mindset is always stunning to ‘Northerners’ like me

  1. gdauth says:

    Being a redneck seems to be genetic. Do you know what a 1960s Dixiecrat is called today? A Republican. For those of you that are too young to know, a Dixiecrat was a Southern Democrat who opposed civil rights during the 1960s.

  2. andylevinson says:

    I don’t know….could it be because the south was the Confederacy? There were even blacks in the confederate army

  3. expatjourno says:

    I think the rest of the country should make April the “We kicked your racist, slave-owning butts” month.

  4. kurtfawnigat says:

    grudge crackers

  5. Mr. Curiel,

    You wrote:”In his book …Collins says Davis became, in death, a martyr/hero to Southerners.” This should be amended to read White Racist Southerners. There are no Black Southerners who see Mr. Davis as a hero, nor any Southerners who are not racists.

    • legaleagle says:

      No Southerners who are not racists? Are you not surprised by your own ignorance? Such a claim is demonstrably false, remarkably pretentious, and smacks of more than a little of the “prejudice” contemporary liberals whine so much about. Grow a brain, David.

      Look at the parts of the country that are experiencing growth: Texas, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, parts of Alabama, and Georgia. Which states are falling apart? How about California, Michigan, and New York. Before you feel the need to be an arrogant ass, give a little thought before you speak.

  6. scottchaffee says:

    Those who lack an educated or spiritual identity, fill the void with a false identity. Look around the world. It is the same everywhere. People cling to ugly ideas in lieu of a strong personal foundation.

    • legaleagle says:

      Right, Scott. Thanks for clearing it up: Southerners are all back-woods illiterates who are fortunate enough to be able to stand up-right much less use indoor plumbing. The way you people speak of the South reminds me of the way nineteenth century Europeans spoke of Africans, Indians, and Arabs–in patronizing, paternalistic, and racist terms. Give it a little thought; I know you can do it.

  7. Pingback: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell so sorry he forgot Confederacy was all about slaves - Michael Roston - Newsbroke - True/Slant

  8. libtree09 says:

    Here’s the thing…no matter how poor a white southerner was, during slavery and segregation, there was always a class below. You could still move up and we, the Northerners, took that away. Not only that but we put all southerners in danger because like South Africa, there were more blacks in the Confederacy than whites. There was also an expectation that these blacks might be…well pissed. Like the Shia against the Sunni in Iraq so who the hell was going to protect the women? Remember these were people seeped in ideas of chivalry and honor codes…insulting someone’s wife’s dress could easily bring on a duel. Then there is the labor intensive cotton picking WTF? There isn’t enough white folk willing to do that work.

    So lots of these people thought they got royally fucked in losing the war, they lost their sense of masculinity, their code of chivalry, their idea of social mobility and place in the social order.

    So let them fantasize about some long gone era and maybe in their haze of white houses and white suits and white umbrellaed ladies and sucking chilled mint juleps served by smiling white toothed black men maybe they will see another white suited crippled man with a ivory cigarette holder in his smiling teeth, a liberal, a progressive who used government money to build shiny white dams to bring the south out of its resentment and offer it a chance at living the the 20th century and reconsider its black past.

  9. legaleagle says:

    The North’s pomposity and arrogant mindset is always stunning to “Southerners” like me.

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