Confederate flag fan Andy Hallinan explains what the Civil War was really about


Ok. That was an unfortunate sentence fragment. I thought I was obviously referring to confederate apologists.

What exactly is pissing you off? I tried to make a case that confronting confederate apologists with at least some acknowledgement that they aren’t necessary inbred toothless hillbillys might be more productive than just yelling “the confederacy == slavery” at them. I don’t deny the confederacy was precisely about slavery. I’ll say it again since you appear to doubt my sincerity: The confederacy was precisely about slavery. But yelling the same things we’ve been yelling at them for the last 60 years doesn’t work, and it seems to be working less and less as time goes on. Maybe we need a new strategy.


Why is that? Seriously. Are southerners stupider than Germans?


I’m saying that type of denialism is an active form of racism.


Thanks! You’re absolutely right.


Which I’ve certainly not asserted. The people who created the lost cause mythology were the elites of southern society, generally speaking the Daughters of the Confederacy - not backwood hicks by any means.

I actually TEACH that to college students, thanks.

Neither has decades of historians writing books, giving talks, engaging in public education activities, or engaging in measured, reasoned discussions about the issue. It’s not just a bunch of pinko-commies shouting at red necks, this is about public policy and K-16 education, where those on the side of actual history have been engaged in discussions have been going on for decades. However, somehow, those who advocate for public education on this particular issue have been labeled commies, radicals, revisionists, and reverse racists, no matter how measured and respectable they go about doing this work of deprogramming some of the public on this very issue.

I’d respectfully suggest that maybe the people who are trying very hard to get the real history into the public imagination aren’t actually the problem with the perpetuation of this misinformation.

And that is? Because, as I’ve noted above, people have indeed been measured and reasonable in the face of a massive campaign against investigating the past.


Indeed! I just wanted to add onto your excellent point.


A lot has to do with the fact that they were the losers in a domestic rebellion rather than in a war with a foreign power. The impetus for the Union (itself as a whole no advocate of anti-racism until the 1960s) was to re-integrate the rebel states as quickly as possible, which in turn meant tolerating and normalising Jim-Crow scumbags like Strom Thurmond well into the 21st century.

Germany, in contrast, was (at least officially – the reality is more complex) de-Nazified by the occupying authorities and public expressions of Nazism were expressly forbidden. Along with the Marshall Plan came war crimes trials. Meanwhile the Stars-and-Bars hasn’t stopped flying in the South and plantation owners were able to keep their land and often their political offices.

There are other factors. For example, there’s the distancing time that’s passed between now and the original crimes against humanity. As we’re seeing now as the generation that lived through the 1930s and 40s dies out, the loss of living memory allows for the denialists and bigots to crawl out of hiding.

And to be clear, none of those enabling factors make current apologists for the Confederacy – whatever their intelligence level or education or location in the U.S. – anything else but what they are: racist denialists.


The people who created the lost cause mythology are long dead. Wasn’t writing about them. I was writing about living apologists, and just arguing that living apologists will shut down when if they perceive that you’re calling them a hillbilly. Which (in my limited experience) is usually how they take confrontation on southern culpability.

And I’m glad you do. But you’re mixing contexts - you’re talking about teaching history to college students, and I’m talking about confronting apologists where I don’t carry the same academic authority you do in a classroom.

And I know that, and it sucks.

I never suggested otherwise…

Fuck if I know. All I know is that when I’ve confronted these people directly, they have a very deep well of bullshit to throw back at me, and it ends being like a game of tic-tac-toe. On the other hand, when I’ve suggested the origins of the war were more about plantation owners who didn’t give a shit about how many people had to die to defend their lifestyle than about the 98% in the south who just wanted to be left alone, I’ve at least had a civil (hah!) conversation where the apologists had to concede some of my points.


But again, that lifestyle also goes back to slavery, which the apologists will continue to deny as a root cause and is a point they just refuse to concede, just as Hallinan does. Given that, it’s unbecoming for them to feel slighted because we’re not taking them seriously (and disingenuous for them to claim that not taking them seriously is the same thing as considering them all Cletus the Inbred Yokel).


They keep it alive, as do organizations like the Daughters of the Confederacy, which are very much still around and still supporting “education” that includes the lost cause mythology.

It’s irrelevant, because they won’t be swayed, no matter how many times you point at the very words of the founders of the CSA.

So, it’s not about tone, but about them refusing to believe facts when presented to them?

That doesn’t change historical reality. If people can’t look at the evidence (which are easily found online), and make a judgement, not amount of kind words are going to change that.


And moon hoax conspiracy theorists will shut down when confronted with indisputable evidence that humans landed on the moon.

It’s not our responsibility to soothe the fragile egos of people who insist on presenting objectively wrong, easily disprovable versions of history.




You’re treating this as if slavery was perfectly rational; it was not.

A rational approach to slavery would expect to see slaveholders treating their slaves as valuable equipment, protecting them from harm. The historical record shows that they did not; the torture and murder of slaves was utterly routine.

You need to consider the appeal of sadism and power. Some people like exercising total control over others.

Regarding Walmart housing and feeding their workforce…consider the history of the company store. Turning employees into captive consumers held at the edge of starvation was quite popular.


Wow, that’s an interesting point. It almost implies that the brutality of slavery ownership necessitates an inherent recognition of the enslaved’s humanity that can then be controlled and crushed. Interesting. I’m going to think on that.


I have found not one Southern defender in a hundred has read the constitution of the Confederacy. If they had, they’d at least keep their mouth shut about the war “not being about slavery” because it damn well was. Same for the Texas Republic: Their fight with Mexico was almost exclusively about keeping slavery with the Mexicans were ending and their constitution reflects that.

Same for those defending the flag so many of them think is the flag of the Confederacy. The real flag of the Confederacy was called “the stainless banner” and started out pure white and was specifically chosen to remind the “colored races” who was and would remain, in charge.

Once it was pointed out it was also the flag of surrender, a red stripe was added along one edge but the purpose remained the same: To keep “colored folk” in their place.


Maybe go read the rest of my comments if you think I don’t understand the historical context.


I’m afraid you may have misconstrued what I was saying, as the non-rational nature of slavery is, of course, obvious and not something I was disputing at all.


This. I have noticed the same thing, and when it is pointed out to them, they deny it. They claim the leaders of the Confederacy didn’t know what the Confederacy was about, the writings of the Confederates were wrong, and only THEY (the modern-day defenders) know what the Confederacy was really about.

It’s easy to see why so many of them are Trump supporters-they are used to denying reality in favor of their own, non-evidenced fantasy.


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