Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Lost Cause

The South is no more racist than the rest of America. The rest of America is no less racist than the South.

For example, problems between black youth and the Police are very much a Northern and Western urban phenomenon, rather than a Southern one.

I do not see why people cannot understand the bafflement about the Confederate flag.

This is not about slavery. It is not about racism. It is about armed secession from, and war upon, the United States, unsuccessfully.

Why on earth do public buildings and other civic spaces in the United States fly the battle flag of that insurrection?

Why on earth do public officials, in and of the United States severally and collectively, send wreaths to honour those who died in and for that insurrection, and deliver speeches in praise of them?

Why on earth do streets in the United States bear the names of rebel commanders?

And so on.

There are even at least three United States Army bases named after Confederate generals, at Fort Benning, Georgia; at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and at Fort Polk, Louisiana. That is just insane.

(Leonidas Polk simply had to be real. No one could possibly have made him up. Consider his jaw-dropping history, and the history of the closely associated University of the South at Sewanee, in light of the fact that Province IV, which covers the South and which is very much centred on Sewanee, is still the Episcopal Church's largest by every measure.)

These questions have nothing to do with the cause of the secession. For those questions' purposes, that cause could have been anything. It still would not matter in the slightest.

The paleoconservative movement has done itself immense harm by so often identifying with the Lost Cause, closing the ears of Middle America and of the mainstream intelligentsia to that movement's vitally important critique of the neoliberal economic order and of that order's neoconservative foreign policy.


  1. Very good point. But it still has everything to do with racism, because one of the reasons the North allowed the South such extravagant commemoration for traitors was a post bellum racial solidarity, a sympathy born out of the feeling that maybe Southerners' had a point about African Americans. If the cause had been different, we wouldn't see huge statues of Confederate generals as we do today.