Sunday, July 8, 2012

If the South had won ...

Professional fool Ted Nugent is in the news this week for remarking that things would have been better if the South had won the American Civil War.

Now this is not a new sentiment, of course. As pointed out here:

For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago….
William Faulkner, “Intruder in the Dust”

Left unsaid by Faulknor, of course, is that it's for every white Southern boy fourteen years of age ...

And this, of course, is the rub. Like any great dispute, undoubtedly some folks would have been better off if the losing side had won, but it's hard to see how America as a nation, the liberal democratic world, black Americans, women, labor, and countless other identifiable groups would have been better off if the South had won. It takes an extremely narrow and blinkered view of liberty and what America mea ns to think that the country would have been better off sundered by civil war.

Can  a 21st Century American truly subscribe to the idea that this would be  a better philosophy?

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.  Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the CSA, March 21, 1861

No, it's hard for me to disagree with Gen. U.S. Grant's sentiments as expressed in his Memoirs: 

I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.  I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.

1 comment:

  1. Nugent's an idiot. That's why he makes money playing guitar instead of talking.

    I actually had one commentor to my own blog tell me once that the ACW was not about slavery and that I should read a book. The obvious response - So would there have been an ACW without slavery? Sorry, the answer is an unqualified no, there would not have been an ACW.

    Of course, we live in a time where facts = whatever it is I want to hear to validate whatever opinion appears in my mind. A year ago, sitting at breakfast on a cruise ship, I was asked by a Brit if I thought Obama would be reelected, and I said it was hard to tell when both sides screaming their position at the top of your lungs was what passed for political discourse in the US. Another person at the table got extremely huffy and said that was the sort of thing he expected to hear from a liberal. That was the end of that conversation.

    Sadly, the genie is out of the bottle, and we cannot put it back. America is not going to wake up one day and decide that having an informed electorate is a good idea, not in my lifetime. Not when a pedophile like Nugent can get airtime for saying something as asinine as what he did. It's like saying the Nazis had the right idea, it just got out of hand. Some ideas are simply indefensible, and we should stop pretending that they are valid because everyone has a right to their opinion. You do, but you have the obligation to have an *informed* opinion, and I have the right to tell you why the idea is a bad one.