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Old 09-11-2018, 06:42 PM
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Worthwhile Debunking of Lost Cause Myth

Found as a comment on YouTube, of all places:

Quote:
There are basically two types of groups who “support” the Confederacy and this Lost Cause bullshit.

The first are simply white supremacists. They’re racists and proud of it. The number of people fitting this description is abhorrently large for the present day, but a relatively small portion of the population and certainly the smaller of the two groups. The second doesn’t necessarily support the Confederacy, but they romanticize it, glorify it, whitewash it. They’re both victims and purveyors of revisionist propaganda, having been educated, indoctrinated, and infected with distorted versions of history going back generations. Having been successfully instilled with a conveniently self-aggrandizing, skewed understanding of history, they bristle and often aggressively push back on any assertion that what they were taught and proudly internalized is anything less than the absolute truth. It’s just human nature to want to believe rosier versions of your ancestry when the more accurate alternative is embarrassing. It’s cognitive dissonance at a macro level, scaffolded by systemic generations long campaigns to change popular understanding of history.

This phenomenon, and the mythology they’ve systematically injected into their curricula and culture, is known variously as the Cult of the Lost Cause, the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, or simply The Lost Cause. Proponents of this mythology “support” the Confederacy because they define and remember it differently. “As historian James McPherson explained in a recent article, it is especially difficult for southern whites ‘to admit - that the noble Cause for which their ancestors fought might have included the defense of slavery.’" There’s overwhelming evidence that it was slavery that was paramount in their reasoning, but it’s a lovely delusion to retrofit more righteous rationales.

They look back on it not as a violent civil war they instigated for the most heinous of reasons, to enslave millions and all their descendants in perpetuity, but as a noble defense of their freedom and rights, of a most honorable defense of their families from brutal aggression, of being outnumbered underdogs scrappily taking on Goliath in a just but hopeless, courageous defense of their values. And by values, they don’t refer to slavery, but to chivalry, honor, and gentility.

“The Lost Cause portrayed the South as more profoundly Christian than the greedy North. It portrayed the slavery system as more benevolent than cruel, emphasizing that it taught Christianity and civilization.”

“For most white Southerners, the Lost Cause evolved into a language of vindication and renewal, while critics have argued that white supremacy is a key characteristic of the narrative.”

This narrative changed the war from a shameful act of treason to an honorable defense of their liberties.

Thus, the War of the Rebellion, as it was known at the time, became the War Between the States, a conflict between two sovereign entities, such as Athens and Sparta, thereby removing the taint of treason. Most important, the strategy was used to impose and codify the Jim Crow laws that subjugated black Americans for another 75 years.

The cause of Southern revisionism was a political movement that manipulated the past to justify a present that deprived blacks of civil and political rights through terror and intimidation. It is ironic that the appeal to “preserve heritage” is now being used to justify memorials built to erase historical memory.

Countless books have been written on this topic and there are endless aspects to discuss, but I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew so instead here’s a nice summary of the issue:

The Cult of the Lost Cause has its roots in the Southern search for justification and the need to find a substitute for victory in the Civil War. In attempting to deal with defeat, Southerners created an image of the war as a great heroic epic. A major theme in the Cult of the Lost Cause was the clash of two civilizations, one inferior to the other. The North, ‘invigorated’ by constant struggle with nature, had become materialistic, grasping for wealth and power. The South had a ‘more generous climate’, which had led to a finer society based upon ‘veracity and honor in man, chastity and fidelity in women.’ Like tragic heroes, Southerners had waged a noble but doomed struggle to preserve their superior civilization. There was an element of chivalry in the way the South had fought, achieving noteworthy victories against staggering odds. This was the ‘Lost Cause’ as the late nineteenth century saw it, and a whole generation of Southerners set about glorifying and celebrating it. Glorification took many forms, including speeches, organizations such as the United Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, reunions, publications, holidays such as Lee's birthday, and innumerable memorials.

The six main assertions of the Cult are: Secession, not slavery, caused the Civil War; African Americans were “faithful slaves,” loyal to their masters and the Confederate cause and unprepared for the responsibilities of freedom; the Confederacy was defeated militarily only because of the Union's overwhelming advantages in men and resources; Confederate soldiers were heroic and saintly; the most heroic and saintly of all Confederates, perhaps of all Americans, was Robert E. Lee; and Southern women were loyal to the Confederate cause and sanctified by the sacrifice of their loved ones.

This false narrative was crafted after the war ended, with more layers added over time, but the misinformation continues to this day, in textbooks, movies, oral traditions, monuments, holidays, etc. There are cities, schools, highways, even U.S. Army bases (!) named after leaders of the Confederacy. Beyond places, structures, and events named long ago, there are even living, breathing, walking tributes to the Confederacy in our news every week. The Attorney General in the Trump administration, a former U.S. Senator from Alabama, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, is named in honor of two different leaders of the Confederacy, its president (Jefferson Davis) and the Confederate general who attacked Fort Sumter, starting the Civil War (P. G. T. Beauregard).

Getting back to why the two groups support the Confederacy, the answer is really the same for both, they bought into the mythology. White Supremacy is very much an integral part of the legend they created how else could they justify the horrific things they did during slavery, the horrific war they instigated, or the horrific things they continued to do for another century after it ended? The overt white supremacists of today just take it further, so I separate them from the others who simply believe what they were taught and take solace in its more pleasant depiction of their “heritage.”
--Comment posted by Brian Glover at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOFtpzdJc3E
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Old 09-11-2018, 11:00 PM
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I have run into these people more than once. Makes me ill.

I just read an essay by Richard Hofstadter which suggests that Lincoln's consistent opposition to the expansion of slavery into the new states was the telegraphing philosophy that caused the South to secede because of his election in 1860. The Republicans also used the fear that if not destroyed slavery could indeed seep into the Northern states and hurt wages of free white labor, even going so far as to suggest whites could become slaves if the institution was not checked. In this manner people in the North who were not abolitionists could be convinced to support the war against the South on selfish economic grounds rather than on the idea that slavery itself was morally wrong in and of itself.

The issue was slavery.
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Old 09-11-2018, 11:26 PM
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I've heard the analysis Hofstadter cited before, and it makes sense to me. The South's leaders saw themselves being outvoted in congress, in the future. Because of tariffs? Ridiculous. Tariffs they had. The new threat was Republicans in power, because Republicans were firm on blocking slavery in all new states. And someday the blacks would gain civil rights, if the southerners were outvoted. Someday their ability to oppress blacks freely would slip, they feared.

And oh, did they fear the slaves. They feared them because of guilty knowledge, and because of Nat Turner's rebellion (the antebellum South's 9/11), and because of John Brown. They were scared as hell of the blacks. That's what drove secession.
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Old 09-11-2018, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icenine View Post
I have run into these people more than once. Makes me ill.

I just read an essay by Richard Hofstadter which suggests that Lincoln's consistent opposition to the expansion of slavery into the new states was the telegraphing philosophy that caused the South to secede because of his election in 1860. The Republicans also used the fear that if not destroyed slavery could indeed seep into the Northern states and hurt wages of free white labor, even going so far as to suggest whites could become slaves if the institution was not checked. In this manner people in the North who were not abolitionists could be convinced to support the war against the South on selfish economic grounds rather than on the idea that slavery itself was morally wrong in and of itself.

The issue was slavery.
period. Full stop.

A lot of southern veterans, aka Johnny Rebs, settled here in Orange, Riverside, San Berdoo and San Diego counties after the war. You can still run into echoes of their ways now and then. I call them the 'Hills Have Eyes' folk.
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