PostHeaderIcon If We Rewrite History, Do The Facts Really Change?

Once again, despite my best efforts, I cannot remain silent. Today’s diatribe was triggered by recent crap concerning white supremacy, the Confederate Flag, and associated nonsense.

Before I begin, the following disclaimer/clarification: American slavery was a fact and it was wrong. What happened to most Black Americans in the years immediately following emancipation was equally wrong. Nothing said here is an attempt to justify or defend either.

Now, on to the diatribe…

A few days ago, several innocent Black Americans were slaughtered by an irrational person for no obvious reason other than the color of their skin. The perpetrator, who is white, associated himself with various forms of racism and intolerance including use of the image of an historical flag.

Let us digress a bit and discuss this flag. First, while it is one of the more recognizable emblems of the failed Confederacy of the middle 1800’s, it was not the official flag of that entity. Indeed, very few Americans, including those most proud of their southern ancestry, can accurately describe or recognize the actual “Confederate Flag”. The banner in question, the one that excites so much emotion, is actually the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. To southerners, this flag has long been the symbol of the valor and dedication of the thousands who suffered and perished while attempting to defend a principle they held dear.

Many of you will naturally assume that principle was the employment of slave labor. Is this true? Consider a few facts, largely ignored in today’s irrational arguments: At the time of the Civil War, less than 10% of the people in the Confederacy owned or employed slaves. Obviously, this means that over 90% did not. Let us assume that the makeup of the Confederate armies reflected this approximate 10%-90% makeup. The obvious next question is: if 90% of those willing to fight and die for the Confederate cause did not own slaves, what were they so willing to fight and die for? One might assume that the ignorant rednecks were totally willing to fight and die for a privileged minority whom many of them probably resented for obvious reasons. However, this strikes me as not only silly but totally illogical.

Indeed, the history of America is one of common people willing to fight and die to be free of the rule of an aristocracy or other form of “ruling class”. In a word, the common American wanted, above all else, to be left alone to make his/her own decisions and to live their lives as they chose. This was the principle than animated the Revolution and, I contend, it was this same principle that animated the Confederate cause in the Civil War. In a word, many people were willing to fight and die rather than be subject to an over-powerful central government, led by a “ruling class” (whether hereditary or wealth based). I further contend that this sentiment was far more prevalent in rural areas (like the South). Ergo, I contend that most of that 90% were willing to fight against big government in a cause popularly called “States Rights”.

There is no doubt that the issue of slavery was the catalyst that turned an internal quarrel into outright civil war. Aside from the fact that the slaves were human was the additional fact that they were a form of capital wealth. And, taken altogether, they represented a majority of the capital wealth of most Confederate States. So, what was seen by many as a moral issue – the freeing of enslaved human beings, was seen by the southerners as an economic issue – the collapse of the primary source of capital in their economy.

As a further digression, I often reflect on the fact that, if one understands the slavery issue from the economic angle, the real national tragedy is that the federal government could have bought the slaves then freed them for far less actual money cost than the cost of fighting the Civil War – and without the human and property losses war always involves. Of course, this would have had little long-term effect on what I contend was the real issue, leaving that wound to, no doubt, fester and erupt at another time.

So, I end these digressions and sum up to the present situation: Grandpa lost the great war but we have this flag to show that he fought and died bravely and we cling to whatever pride that leaves us with. Except, we are not even supposed to be allowed this going forward. Seems quite silly when summed up this does it not?

This brings us to the real issue. Does banning official display of any historical relic, does attempting to rewrite the narrative of a critical time in our history, actually improve the situation of millions of Black Americans? All rational people know the answer to that without further elaboration on my part. Indeed, given the hundreds of new laws and regulations and the trillions spent on programs intended to re-mediate the effects of slavery, how can there possibly still be a racial problem in America?

The sad but simple answer to that question is that racism still operates simply because so many people want it to. A few of these people, of all skin tones, are actually committed racists and probably always will be. But their numbers are so small they can be mostly ignored, albeit punished severely when their irrational ideas take physical form as they did recently in Charleston.

The bigger problem are those many who derive power and profit from the continuation of racial strife. Again, they exist on all sides of the color line. These include professional racists (Sharpton, Jackson, etc.), institutional racist organizations (the NAACP, the Urban League, the Congressional Black Caucus, etc.), and worst of all, politicians in general.

And, these last are by far the worst. They have repeatedly proven themselves willing to cast millions into a state of ignorance, poverty, economic slavery and government dependence simply to create a reliable voting group to help themselves continue in power.

And this is the real problem. Not some banner that most people ignore anyway. And, as long as we-the-sheeple allow this to continue, it can only get worse. Baltimore is only a preview of what we have coming. And, while we all abhor the violence and the irrational behavior inherent in rioting and looting, who can help but sympathize to some extent with the victims/perpetrators? Their frustration must be overpowering at times.

And in the end, so little has really changed:

A large group of people are systematically exploited for the benefit of others. Does it really matter whether they are picking cotton or forced into hopeless dependence on politicians?

The members of this exploited group are held in bondage partly by denying them the education necessary for self improvement. Does it really matter whether there are laws against teaching slaves to read and write or that schools are intentionally structured for political indoctrination rather than useful education? Or that politicians intentionally promote a dysfunctional culture that, among other things, discourages education, self-improvement and the formation of nurturing family units?

Many Black Americans are realizing their rightful share of the “American Dream” and they are doing so primarily by adhering to the mainstream culture that made America what it is. A culture that honors and rewards education, hard work, honesty, responsibility, civil involvement and the like. Meanwhile, a growing segment of our society which, for reasons beyond my comprehension, loathes America, is trying, with alarming success, to destroy that very culture that made us what we are and still could be.

As I end this screed, I ask you to remember this: It matters little what we have been because the past can never be changed. It does not even matter that much what we are SO LONG AS WE ARE CONTINUALLY GETTING BETTER. And, America always has been continually getting better – for all its citizens and will continue to do so if we will only let it.

Yet, there are many who would destroy us – mostly out of envy. The question is whether we will let them. Lately, I am very troubled by the answer.

Think about it.

Troy L Robinson

PS: Perhaps I can write another rant on the ISIS-like mentality of destroying the Jefferson Memorial but that can wait until the pressure builds up again.

4 Responses to “If We Rewrite History, Do The Facts Really Change?”

  • Chris says:

    Troy, Regarding the Confederate flag you hit on the true reason for the attacks against it possibly without realizing it. You said “Grandpa lost the great war but we have this flag to show that he fought and died bravely and we cling to whatever pride that leaves us with. Except, we are not even supposed to be allowed this going forward.” That is absolutely correct. Pride to progressives is a vice and pride in insurrection against the all powerful state treasonous. Any reminder of a struggle for rights whether failed or not is a threat to future control. The “offensive to blacks” mantra is a ruse and pathway to erasing the history of fighting tyranny.

    As far as America still getting better. I seriously have my doubts.

  • ◄Dave► says:

    Good rant on an important topic, Troy. I also rather liked the way Charlie Daniels put it.

    For what it is worth, I eschew the term “Civil War,” as being inaccurate. For all the reasons you posit, the southern States of the federation known as the “United States of America” chose to dissociate themselves from those populated by “Damned-Yankees.” They unilaterally declared their independence and formed a new federation known as the “Confederate States of America.” This political action only became a war when what was left of the United States chose to invade, conquer and subjugate the new country known as the “Confederacy.” Those patriots known as the “Rebels” were merely defending their new country from Yankee invaders, and rightly so.

    Essentially, the political ‘slavery issue’ had already been settled before the war, by the sovereign southern States declaring their independence from the meddlesome central government, which was overstepping its Constitutional bounds. Whatever one thinks from our modern perspective about the morality of slavery, the Yankees had no business invading another country for the purposes of imposing their moral standards on its inhabitants. Thus, the so-called Civil War was no such thing. It was a pretty typical war between two different countries, and the United States of America was the aggressor. ◄Dave►

    • Troy says:

      Dave,
      In all fairness, do not forget that our side opened the war by firing on Fort Sumpter, not that the outcome would have been any different had the “blue bellies” got in the first lick.

      Your overall implication is right on the mark though — the notion that the Confederate States had every bit as much justification to form a nation directed to their own best interests as did the original colonies when forming the United States.

      Either a group of people have the right to separate from an existing governing body and form a new government for their own ends or they do not. Period. Lincoln tried (successfully) to have it both ways at once.

      As an aside, I live just south of the Texas town of Cleburne, named for(Arkansas)Confederate General Patrick Cleburne, originally from Ireland. There is a museum there dedicated to the late General and visiting it led me to do more research into his life and times. It seems that Cleburne strongly advocated arming the slaves, presumably promising them freedom and land in return for fighting for the Confederate cause. The suggestion served only to limit Cleburne’s further advancement in the army but one cannot help but wonder, what if…

      General Cleburne subsequently died at the Battle of Franklin along with 5 other Confederate generals, the worst command loss in any battle. A testament to the poor leadership of John Bell Hood — yet our largest military installation is named after him. Go figure.

      Troy

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