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

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

Posted by Mike Tuggle on 04/17

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