Why am I bringing this up? Because if you're reading this, and you have an ancestor who fought for the South, then this is something you need to think long and hard about. I've come across an book excerpt--very well-documented--from Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction, which describes in excruciating detail of how the SCV has always had a real problem of racism within its ranks, Well-meaning people inside it have tried heroically and repeatedly to "clean house," but their efforts have had mixed results at best. Their zeal to purge overt racists within the organization have been met with stiff resistance from their fellow members.
When I say "racist," obviously I'm not defining it as the Left loves to define it: Anything that opposes the Left regarding race relations. They'd define opposition to Affirmative Action as racist, for example, while I and fellow conservatives would utterly reject that assertion. No, I mean racism as it's traditionally (and rightfully) defined: "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race." Yes, the SCV has published articles (or endorsed books or articles) which present the following suppositions:
· Black people are inherently inferior
· Slavery in the Antebellum South wasn't all that bad.
· Slavery (as practiced in the South) is promoted by the Bible
· The KKK was a heroic organization which fought for freedom and liberty
· The Birth of a Nation is a "masterpiece" which has a lot of good points we need to consider
· The Republican Party was started by communists and started out as a communist organization
· The entire Civil Rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's was a horrible and completely unjustified attack on the South
I want to point out their PR strategy: They won't say egregiously racist things themselves. No, they'll just promote books and articles which do. This is a despicable organization which tries valiantly to hide its racism from the public eye, but, as they say, truth will out. I'm sure it contains a lot of good non-racist people, but those people need to leave it.
But I can't get past my personal experience with Neo-Confederates I've known personally as friends. They're not racist. They personally believe that slavery was wrong, and they utterly reject anything resembling racism in their personal lives. But it's entirely possible they have ancestors which fought for the South in the War, and they don't want to besmirch their blood relatives. Or--and this is my theory re: black Neo-Confederates like Walter Williams--maybe they're just pushing back against the "conservatives are racist and evil" narrative constantly submitted by our media and pop culture. I get that.
But my friends, the SCV is the main official organization for those who want to honor their ancestors who fought for the South in the Civil War. If not, could you please provide the rival organization which is?
Alright, I've tap-danced around this long enough: The Confederacy was an evil organization whose self-stated Raison d'être was the perpetuation and expansion of slavery based on white supremacism. They said this publicly over and over and over. Now, before I say what I'm about to say, I need to clarify something. The CSA was not genocidal. Nowhere did they call for the wholesale murder of an entire race or class, like the Nazis and Communists did. So on that score alone, they were not Nazis. They were not the moral equivalent of Nazis.
They were not Nazis. They were not Nazis. They were not the moral equivalent of Nazis. Have I said that enough times?
However, having said that, the principle behind my forthcoming analogy stands. During World War 2, you could probably find quite a few people wearing the Nazi uniform who were good people personally and who displayed some admirable traits. For example, there were several Nazi soldiers who displayed personal bravery and self-sacrifice during the war. And I'm sure that if you looked hard enough, you'd find several people wearing the uniform who--if you hooked them up to a real lie-detector--weren't personally anti-Semitic, and probably more than a few who'd reject Hitler's "Final Solution."
But they were wearing the uniform and fighting in the cause of a an evil organization.
Today, to their eternal credit, the modern German people have owned up to the evil carried out by their relatives 2-3 generations ago. With a tiny few exceptions on the fringe of society, they've completely eschewed any association with Hitler or making any excuses for his regime. To my knowledge, if you asked them point blank "Are you glad Germany lost the war?" they'd have no problem answering in the firm affirmative. And quite frankly, you don't see a lot of them extolling the alleged virtues of "Granddaddy Franz," who fought for Hitler with all his might, who took a bullet in the stomach in the Battle of the Bulge, but who was personally a great guy who actually didn't have an anti-Semitic bone in his body. And quite frankly, you don't usually see them decorating the grave of Franz, calling him a "hero," reenacting the battle in which he was wounded, or saying things like "Well, the Nazi regime was horrible and all, but it did have its good points. And Hitler did have some grievances worth addressing."
Maybe Franz was all that you're saying he was. Maybe he did have those admirable qualities you ascribe to him. But he was wearing the uniform and fighting in the cause of a an evil organization. And--continuing my brutal frankness here--the more and more and more this hypothetical German spouts off about what a great guy Franz was, the more uncomfortable I get.
Again, and I'll say this as often as I need to, the Confederacy at its worst was not the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany. But that's mainly because the latter was genocidal and the first wasn't. They both--as a society, not necessarily speaking re:every individual--were completely obsessed with racial superiority. So there are some parallels.
On Dedication Day at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1871, Frederick Douglass had this to say:
We are sometimes asked, in the name of patriotism, to forget the merits of this fearful struggle, and to remember with equal admiration those who struck at the nation's life and those who struck to save it, those who fought for slavery and those who fought for liberty and justice. . .
The essence and significance of our devotions here to-day are not to be found in the fact that the men whose remains fill these graves were brave in battle. If we met simply to show our sense of bravery, we should find enough on both sides to kindle admiration. In the raging storm of fire and blood, in the fierce torrent of shot and shell, of sword and bayonet, whether on foot or on horse, unflinching courage marked the rebel not less than the loyal soldier.
But we are not here to applaud manly courage, save as it has been displayed in a noble cause. We must never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the republic. We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation's destroyers. If today we have a country not boiling in an agony of blood, like France, if now we have a united country, no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage, if the American name is no longer a by-word and a hissing to a mocking earth, if the star-spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice, liberty, and civilization, we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in these honored graves all around us.
Am I saying that you should go to the grave of your Confederate ancestor and spit on it? No. But maybe, just maybe, you need to tone down extolling the personal virtues of your ancestor who wore the uniform and fought in the cause of a very evil regime. As Frederick Douglass put it, "there was a right and a wrong side in the late war that no sentiment ought to cause us to forget."
And if you have some real trouble with my calling the Confederacy an evil regime, then please go back and reread my previous posts in this series. If you've read them and still aren't convinced, then I guess there's nothing more I can say.