Reenacting History: Secession and Slavery

Last month the decision of some white South Carolinians to hold a “secession ball” to celebrate the events of December 20, 2010 drew much commentary (none of it having to do with the fact that it took attention away from my daughter Rebecca’s nineteenth birthday).  I declined to join in the discussion on this blog, largely because I thought it was covered elsewhere and that the arguments were fairly predictable (and sometimes misrepresented, as in the response to some of Kevin Levin’s observations about the event).   More recently, some folks decided to reenact a slave auction in St. Louis, Missouri.  That drew far less media attention, although it was not ignored here and here and here (with video).

If you look for coverage of both of these events using the Google news search engine, you’ll discover that the secession ball drew far more attention than did the slave auction.  I wonder why that is.  Is that because it’s easier to ridicule white southerners than it is to look straight at the ugly horrors of slavery itself?  After all, this auction happened in Union-controlled territory.  Is it because the debates over the secession ball are, in fact, more predictable?  You know how it is.  Find a white southerner who supports the ball and who does so by shoving slavery to the side (sometimes with comments that it was a bad thing, but that’s not what it’s all about) … something one could not do at the slave auction.  Find other people who are outraged at holding the ball for any number of reasons.  Find yet more people who shake their heads sadly at what happened.  Find the clips and post links to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.  Search out Fox, MSNBC, and CNN for more commentary. You know the drill.

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