10 Facts About ‘Southern Pride’ Trump Supporters Can’t Wrap Their Brains Around
‘Southern Pride?’ Not So Much. The Bigoted ‘Unite The Right’ Rallies Have Nothing to Do With the Civil War or ‘Uniting’ Anyone
When conservatives hear the phrase “southern pride,” they imagine a romanticized version of the Antebellum South. A south where every southern lady and gentlemen dressed up fancy and treated each other with a respect contemporary society would be wise to try and emulate.
Does slavery exist in these fantasy visions of southern pride? Certainly not. Neither do the brutal, horrific, oppressive practices deployed against slaves. If conservatives spent even a little bit of their daydreaming time trying to imagine how awful slavery was… well, they wouldn’t be conservatives much longer, I can tell you that.
These mythical southern pride fantasies conservatives have aren’t rooted in reality. It’s high time someone dispelled a bunch of these silly myths conservatives keep telling themselves. I know the Trump supporters reading this will feel the urge to shout “Fake news!” and ignore the article completely, but hey, you made it this far. What will it hurt to read the ten points listed below, which are factual?
1. Yes, The Civil War really was fought over slavery
It takes a special brand of stupid to argue with this, and yet here we are, cruising through the second act of the information age, and you folks still can’t wrap your heads around why the Civil War was fought? The Civil War happened entirely because of slavery. It had several reasons for happening, all of which were related to slavery. If slavery didn’t exist, the American Civil War? Yeah… it never would’ve happened. That’s a fact. Claims to the contrary have earned a “Pants on Fire” rating from Politifact. Read their article if you’re still somehow struggling to wrap your head around this.
And try to keep that in mind the next time you try to defend the Republican Party by arguing Lincoln was a Republican. The Confederacy you so love? They were fighting against Lincoln. So which is it? Are you pro-Lincoln and anti-slavery, or pro-confederacy and anti-equality? Let me get my popcorn out of the microwave. I want to watch your face go through the motions while you agonize over this question.
2. The Confederate flag doesn’t represent what you think it represents
You think the Confederate flag represented the Confederacy itself… and you’re dead wrong. The Confederacy had three flags throughout the Civil War, and the flag you know today as the “Confederate flag” appeared in the corner of two of those flags, but it was never by itself a Confederate flag. The design was rejected as a full flag by the Confederacy, relegated to making a smaller appearance on those other two flags. The Confederate flag you know was the battle flag for Robert E. Lee.
So where did the confusion come from? Well, that would be the KKK, who was infatuated with all things Lee (and still are, apparently). The KKK was founded by former Confederate soldiers, who fought under the battle flag and adopted it after the war as a symbol for their new organization. They would don white sheets in an effort to mimic the ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers. And you thought those costumes couldn’t get any more ridiculous?
The Confederate flag came to become a hate symbol thanks to the KKK’s horrible use of it: to harass and intimidate Black Americans throughout the South and around the country as a whole. It doesn’t represent the Antebellum South, or “Southern pride,” or anything else, really… it’s a hate symbol used to oppress people of color, and it has literally no other meaning in the contemporary world at all.
3. No, the KKK was not “Founded by Democrats”
The KKK was formed by former Confederate soldiers — specifically six former Confederate officers — a few months after the end of the Civil War. They weren’t really “Democrats,” but Confederates who wished the Civil War had gone their way. Also, Democrats in that era were considered conservative, while Republicans were thought of as more liberal (in most respects); the two parties swapped ideologies slowly throughout the twentieth century, particularly during and after the Civil Rights movement, when Republicans turned the blue south red and adopted conservatives views. Contemporary Democrats are the polar opposites of Democrats from the 1800’s. So no, the KKK was not “Founded by Democrats” in any sense of that phrase. Not even a little bit.
4. Robert E. Lee and George Washington are not “the same guy”
Yes, George Washington was a slave owner, and yes, that’s terrible. But Washington fought the British for American Independence. Robert E. Lee fought the United States Washington helped to found in an attempt to split our nation apart, which makes him a traitor; Lee is the bad guy in this historical story. Oh, and he lost. Let’s not forget to add that in there. Robert E. Lee is a hero in the white supremacy camp, but beyond those dirt bags, Americans who actually love this country should see him for what he really was: a traitorous separatist asshole who attempted to destroy our country and (thankfully) failed.
5. The protests in Charlottesville had nothing to do with “Heritage” or “History”
The Charlottesville “Unite The Right” march was organized by white nationalists and consisted of a bunch of sociopathic nincompoops chanting “Jews will not replace us” as they paraded about. They didn’t care about “Preserving history.” To them, it was an opportunity to spread their racial hatred while standing up for symbols of that racial hate. Nothing more.
6. No, you cannot blame “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville
The “United The Right” rally was organized by white supremacists. A white supremacist drove the car that plowed into counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring nineteen others. Counter-protesters taking a stand against racial hatred doesn’t make them culpable, and it doesn’t make them criminals. It makes them heroes. Standing up to terrorists and Nazis is a good thing, folks.
If the white supremacists never organized their hate rally in the first place, those counter-protesters wouldn’t have been there. And let’s not forget that the white supremacists who organized that rally were also anticipating, if not hoping for, violence, and came prepared for that violence. so no, you can’t blame “both sides” for the violence.
7. Statues of Confederate figures are a lot newer than you think they are
The statue of Robert E. Lee at the center of the Charlottesville march? It’s not as old as you probably think it is. The statue wasn’t built during or immediately after the Civil War, but nearly 60 years later, in 1924. The Lee statue, as well as another of Stonewall Jackson, came from Charlottesville’s biggest benefactor at the time, Paul Goodloe McIntire. Whether or not McIntire was a member of the KKK is not known, and perhaps never will be. But both statues showcase figures idolized, then and today, by the KKK, and the KKK was at the peak of their influence in Charlottesville in the 1920’s. So yes, it’s certainly possible McIntire belonged to the heinous organization, though we’ll never really know for sure.
What we do know is that the KKK loves statues honoring their heroes, like Lee. And if not for the KKK and their influence in the earlier 20th century, most of those memorials would not exist today. Tearing down the KKK’s hate symbols is a good thing. There’s a reason you won’t find any Hitler statues in Germany, folks. Hitler, like the Confederacy, lost. And the world is a vastly better place in both cases.
9. Pride in a failed attempt to overthrow the US government is Anti-American
You can’t have pride in a failed separatist movement and also have pride in the United States. That’s not how pride works. You either love this country, or you love a would-be country that failed to secede from our own. Hailing the Confederacy is like hailing North Korea or some other nation hell-bent on destroying the United States. You can’t have it both ways.
10. The South lost and the Civil War was more than 152 years ago… GET OVER IT!
It’s been the favorite catch phrase of countless conservatives since Trump won the election: “Hillary lost months ago, get over it!” And it’s rather ironic, because most of those same people shouting “Get over it” are the same people who can’t “get over” the fact that the South lost the Civil War over 152 years ago.
We all need to stop pretending these arguments are about “Southern pride.” The people who believe that haven’t cracked open enough history books to have a valid opinion on the matter. “Southern pride” is a fancy code-word for “open bigotry.” And those who abuse our first amendment rights in the name of hatred? Those who believe the South should’ve won the Civil War? Those who prop up figures like Lee and Jackson and romanticize the Antebellum South while ignoring the horrible oppression of slavery? I no longer view them as Americans. It’s 2017 and the Civil War is over and done with. The North won. Get over it!
Featured image courtesy of Sean Rayford/ Getty Images
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