Deconstructing Confederate “Heritage”

Over at Civil War Memory they’ve been talking about me and this blog … or at least one of the recent themes of this blog (I’ve excerpted the main discussion … click on the names for the full comment):

[Phil Ross]:  Brooks Simpson has been playing a masterful game of chess on his blog by baiting the SHPG and the flaggers, and in the process has subtly impelled them to make distinctions amongst themselves. In doing so he has successfully drawn out the arch-conservative neo-confederates who, while their racial views are despicable to most 21st century Americans (which they don’t consider themselves), they are absolutely crystal-clear and accurate in their history. There isn’t a hair-breadth of difference between your understanding of the causes of the war and theirs. Simpson has done an incredible service in prompting neo-Confederates to define themselves along a political spectrum that has often appeared monochromatic to the mainstream.

This leaves the Confederate Heritage folks in a bit of a conceptual conundrum, though, which explains a lot of the cognitive dissonance they leave in the wake of their blog posts and replies. They are attempting to define their heritage in a paradigm that they, themselves, consider to be an invalid politically-correct 21st century liberal context. Mr. Lucas’ replies above are chock full of liberal buzzwords–”intolerant,” “bigotry,” “racism,” “diversity,” etc.–implying an acceptance of the interpretive paradigm that followed the civil rights era. The problem is, it simply can’t be done. There is no logical way to do this, knowing what we know about the rock-solid, unassailable facts of southern history.

This leaves neo-Confederates like Mr. Lucas in the rather ironic position of being stuck between mainstream history and hard-line conservative reactionary neo-Confederate views, neither of which consider their point of view valid. Existentially, they inhabit an interpretive no-man’s-land.

[Kevin Levin]: “I am as big a fan of Brooks’s blog as the next person, but the views of these folks have been made crystal clear on their own websites. He hasn’t impelled them to do anything that they haven’t already done themselves.”

[Phil Ross]: I could have been more clear here. His modus operandi is to call attention to those websites and blogs on his own blog. Their reactive responses–on their own blogs as well as Simpson’s–make the exact points he was seeking to make. It’s been truly fascinating watching this play out over the last several weeks. And it was especially amusing watching Connie Chastain get outed as a closet liberal. :)

To which I have this to say:

Okay, okay … I think they got the point the first time.  No need to rub it in.

UPDATE: Hunter Wallace agrees with Phil Ross.  Kinda.

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3 thoughts on “Deconstructing Confederate “Heritage”

  1. Personally, I think that the whole “flagging” thing is one of the most galactically stupid things that I’ve encountered in a very long time, so much so that I don’t really quite know what to make of it other than to say that it’s galactically stupid. It’s why I haven’t addressed it on my blog.

  2. Personally, I think that the whole “flagging” thing is one of the most galactically stupid things I have ever heard of, which is why I haven’t addressed it on my blog. Other than to state the obvious–that it is galactically stupid–I can’t think of anything else to say. I just didn’t think it was worth the bandwidth to point out just how incredibly moronic the whole thing is.

  3. But when Ross says this:

    “But others, by continuing to allow ideology to influence the course of their education, will have finally found the courage of their convictions and identify with the “racialist” Confederate nationalists–thereby freeing themselves of the cognitive discord that comes from trying, and failing, to accommodate mutually antagonistic viewpoints.”

    Isn’t he leaving out the option of non-racialist Confederate nationalism for those so inclined? I just finished “Military Necessity” by Paul D. Escott and that was the real question at the end of the war. There were those who wanted to ditch slavery (support emancipation) and keep the nationalism and independence and those that didn’t. At the end of the day there weren’t enough of the former, and even if there were Confederate nationalists had immense problems because I think the idea that the Confederates were arch-constitutionalists is a myth anyway, as is the idea it is a cohesive and distinct culture in a strong enough way that a majority actually supported independence. So I’m not saying this move works or that I’m friendly to it at all, but I’m just saying that it is a legitimate move in theory. As is holding some squishy form of “the Confederates were the real Constitutionalists and they were right about a lotta stuff” sort of idea I see a lot of. Many Paleo-Conservatives are in this camp. I would strongly argue that this view is wrong on the merits, and do, but few want to argue from an informed view of what the Confederates actually planned to do (theoretically), and in fact did. In the end it is a romantic idealism.

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