Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Last Throes of the Confederacy

The ghost of the southern confederacy has raised its ugly head in a variety of ways as of late. Texas Governor Rick Perry spoke of secession, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell made a point of celebrating confederate history month while ignoring slavery, and most tellingly, Oklahoma lawmakers are considering raising a state militia to protect themselves from the policies of the Federal Government.   
     Referencing terms such as “Union and Confederacy” would seem over the top in this day and age were it not for the unusual developments in right wing political circles. We must also bare in mind that the Confederacy lost the Civil War, but won the peace in a variety of ways.  The most obvious confederate victory was that they were allowed to continue practicing social and economic apartheid for at least another hundred years. From the perspective of African Americans, the Civil War granted immediate relief from legal physical slavery but not much else. They were denied their constitutional rights as citizens, often worked as semi-slave sharecroppers, and suffered vicious brutality at the hands of right wing terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Less than 10% of Southern White citizens owned slaves so most southerners lost little, other than battle damaged property, as a result of the Union Victory. In fact, for many years after the Civil War, suppression of Black voters in the South allowed Southern whites to wield an inordinate amount of power in the Federal Government.  The “Gentlemen’s agreement” surrender at Appomattox is viewed as an armistice by modern day confederate sympathizers.
     The issue of race and the political dynamics of the ongoing metaphorical Confederate v. Union conflict are inseparable. The Civil War was almost entirely about slavery and almost all other peripheral issues such as state’s rights were related to slavery. Modern day confederates view the existence of an African American President as an assault on the informal armistice agreement which allows them to maintain their Southern culture of racism and privilege. Adding insult to injury, the new President comes into office speaking of a more perfect Union, swears in on Abe Lincoln’s bible, and maintains power alongside a female Speaker of the House and a Jewish Chief of Staff.  
     The Tea party movement is the modern incarnation of the Confederacy. When confronted with the opportunity, Tea Party protesters conspicuously singled out civil rights icon John Lewis for racial harassment and spit on another African American Member of Congress. As could be expected, the only other member of Congress singled out for direct attack was Jewish (Barney Frank).
     The brandishing of weapons at Presidential appearances, signs threatening gun violence, and the April 19th second amendment march are indications that confederate sympathizers view themselves as protectors of the southern culture and are likely poised for violence.  We should keep in mind that the original violent terrorists in the U.S. were the Southern KKK members who also viewed themselves as protectors of the southern culture. I believe that the media has been irresponsible in assigning the Tea Partiers unwarranted credibility and failing to adequately address the violent rhetoric.  We overlook the overt attempt at raising a new confederate militia at our own peril.