The Right Thing

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Like medieval monks scourging themselves in public, Southerners must now subject themselves to self-mortification, humiliation, and contrition for the original sin of being Southern. If you think that’s an exageration of what the official apology for slavery means, read what the ever-predictable Charlotte Observer had to say about it:

That puts the General Assembly on record as expressing contrition for the laws it passed and the appropriations it made to enforce slavery, finance our state’s role in the Civil War and then strip black people of their rights in the late 19th century and during much of the 20th. That is a dramatic turnaround for a state that was not enthusiastic about launching the Civil War, but once in, sent more soldiers to fight and endured more casualties than any other Confederate state.

The falsehoods in those two lines is staggering, and would require whole books to address them all. But one point that needs to be made is that the conflict between white Southerners and blacks in the years after Reconstruction can be traced directly to the punitive, repressive measures the triumphant Radical Republicans imposed on the conquered provinces. White Southerners were deprived of their homes and farms by greedy carpetbaggers, and many lost the right to vote. The old imperial game of manipulating native peoples against each other worked for DC, playing one side against the other as it maneuvered for advantage over both. The Jim Crow laws did not grow out of slavery, but were instead inspired by Northern practices. The Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction, and restored a measure of self-government to the South. To keep control of the White House, Northern Republicans sold out blacks in the South, and knew it. Southern Whites saw blacks as the surrogates of the Radical Republicans and military rule, and no doubt revenge motivated the disenfranchisement of blacks during this period. Not a pretty story, but there’s a lot of blame to go around. It is not purely the fault of Southerners.

Implicit in this apology is that Southerners sinned not only against blacks, but against God’s representative on earth—the holy Union, led by Saint Abraham. The Federal government, then, is the rightful heir to the divinity of Abraham Lincoln. Resisting it is to resist the ultimate good, so failure to submit to the growth of Federal power is to rebel against righteousness itself.

The same editorial goes on to endorse the notion that questioning or resisting the central government, which Southerners are most definitely guilty of, is a sin against the holy State. Notice the language used:

Republican Rep. Ruth Samuelson of Charlotte, for instance, was working on a draft resolution calling on the citizenry to repent of their “hard heartedness, complacency and pursuit of political and economic gain that has delayed this apology.” She also wanted to create a “Week of Atonement” in November to promote discussion in schools and civic organizations about the state’s role in slavery and culminate in churches, synagogues and other religious groups seeking forgiveness and reconciliation.

Brace yourselves for similar apologies in the rest of the South, as well as an orgy of public humiliation and self-scourging. It promises to be quite a show.

Posted by Mike Tuggle on 04/17

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