Thursday, July 6, 2017

What Modern Confederates Believe

I don't speak for every person who identifies with the Southern Confederacy, or who reveres it as his or her heritage.  However, I am active enough in various pro-South organizations to have a fairly good sense of what the mass of us believe.  Here it is:

1.  We acknowledge that slavery was a great evil.  However, in 1860 the Southern generation at that time had inherited an entrenched system that was very difficult to get rid of.  Immediate, uncompensated emancipation would have resulted in economic ruin for the South (and probably the North as well), and starvation for the former slaves.

The North never, at any time, proposed a practical plan for peacefully ending slavery.  Further, slavery was an American evil, not merely a Southern one.  The North was equally responsible for its presence in America, as Lincoln admitted candidly in his first speech of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

2.  We do not believe that the North invaded the South to free the slaves, or had any altruistic motivations in that regard.  We believe they invaded the South to preserve the Northern economy, that would have been severely damaged had the South been permitted to leave the Union.

3.  We believe the South had a Constitutional and moral right to secede from the American Union and form a new union of Southern states, i.e., the Confederate States of America.  Secession was not, and is not, treason; it is the natural right of any people to govern themselves.

4.  We do not honor or display the Confederate flags in order to offend anyone.  We don't want to offend anyone, we aren't trying to offend anyone.  However, if you are offended by flags and monuments, we don't really care that much.  We see your feelings of offense to be borne of ignorance of history and Southern culture, and that's your problem, not ours.  We see attempts to repress Southern flags, songs and statues as a grave insult to our ancestors.  Such repression assigns dishonor to them, and strongly (and wrongly) implies that they were evil.

5.  Not everyone who flies the Confederate flag or plays Dixie is a "racist" or a member of the Ku Klux Klan.  We resent it when anti-Southern bigots conflate Southern pride with racial prejudice.  We resent it when outsiders assign to us positions, feelings and beliefs that we do not possess.

6.  We resent the violent invasion of the South in 1861 and the numerous crimes against Southern civilians.  The injustice of Lincoln's War causes feelings of resentment and bitterness to this day.

7.  We insist on the Confederacy being given an honorable place in American history, and that its flags, monuments and other icons be preserved.  To the extent these things are dishonored and disrespected, the greater we feel removed, ostracized and marginalized from the American family.   This does not cement our loyalty to the United States, but instead revives a yearning for a new secession.  It underscores, in our minds, how right our ancestors were to seek separation and self-government.

8.  You don't have to agree with every point in this list, but hopefully, you will better understand our position.  We just want to be left alone, to LIVE AND LET LIVE.  Give us the benefit of the doubt and we may return the favor.