Looking back at the Reconstruction

Originally published at: Looking back at the Reconstruction | Boing Boing


No biggy, but I think that you mean “the hasty end of the Reconstruction is responsible…”

The backdoor dealing that resolved the contested election of 1876 by ending Reconstruction was easily one of the biggest betrayals in American history.


I’m not here yet. I cannot describe myself as an optimist. Not anymore, at least. And the Neville Chamberlain-ing of the mainstream Dems is certainly leading in this direction. However, I still believe that there is enough sanity in the majority of Americans to stop this progression. It is always worth remembering that the Qnuts and MAGAts are a minority part (although this is increasingly questionable) of a minority party (this is not questionable at all.) If the majority remain silent and just accept whatever insanity these asshats throw down, yes, we are fucked. I cling to the hope that they have already overplayed their hand and are about to face a reckoning, but I can point to no evidence for that faith. Mostly, I do not want my kids to face a choice of living in Gilead or a war zone that would make the Irish Troubles look like a neighborly disagreement. Also,

Tired Over It GIF by The Lonely Island


As someone who wants to have children, I pray you’re correct.

I just think we’re at an ideological impasse that can’t be resolved with words. Or rather, it can be solved with words, but that requires a level of compromise and civility that I don’t think is possible.


you and me both man. its position in the history curriculum sucks for one thing. i don’t know how they split it in other states but in texas you have two grades that do the required u.s. history: 8th grade which gets european invasion (often described as “discovery” despite millions of natives already here) to reconstruction then junior year of high school which covers reconstruction to the present. so it sounds like the kids get a double shot of reconstruction but they hardly get anything. 8th grade spends huge amounts of time covereing the american revolution, the westward expansion, and the civil war, and “we don’t have time for reconstruction, you’ll learn more about that in your junior year”. meanwhile in the second part of u.s. history the teacher for that course wants to focus on the spanish-american war and the rise of the u.s. as a global power, the first world war, the great depression, world war 2, the cold war, and “the glorious victory of the capitalist system over godless communism”, and “we can’t spend any time on reconstruction but i’m sure you learned all about it in 8th grade.”

another problem that has been added since i took the course, hell since i retired is all these laws passed by red states making it illegal to teach so-called “critical race theory” or if not that explicitly making it illegal to make any liottle white kids feel uncomfortable about the past. which means fuck all, the whole story of reconstruction, if told honestly ought to make the little white kids uncomfortable about the past because for the most part their ancestors either directly abused and murdered the freed slaves or their ancestors deliberate looked the other way while white people abused and killed the freed slaves. there might be a tiny fraction of white kids who can point to ancestors who administered the freedmans’ bureau honestly or went south and put their lives on the line to teach the freed blacks how to read and write or helped them try to organize against the abuse, the murder, and the exploitation they suffered but that isn’t going to be many.

reconstruction represents a period of our history which is shameful for so many reasons including wasted opportunities, abuse, murder, exploitation, oppression, and greed. any curriculum that teaches recopnstruction without making anyone feel some discomfort is not doing it right.


as one blogger wrote back in 2004 or 2005 about compromising with the death cult (aka the modern g.o.p.)-- it’s like going on a blind date and you tell your date you’d like a nice italian dinner to which your date replies that they’d like a platter of tire rims doused in anthrax spores. if you can find a satisfactory compromise that splits the difference between lasagna and anthrax-laden tire rims then you’re qualified to negotiate with the death-cult (aka the modern g.o.p.).


The course of Reconstruction in the U.S. is a good illustration of how winning a war at a high price in blood and treasure doesn’t necessarily guarantee the success of the cause for which it was fought. It takes something on the scale and extent of the de-Nazification programme in West Germany (with the co-operation of both victors and vanquished) to even get close.

So it’s useful history, although not enough to prevent the usual collection of fascist death cultists* and their allies and appeasers from fomenting some degree and variety of serious armed civil conflict in the U.S. over the five years.

[* Many of whom are still butthurt over the outcome of the 19th century Civil War despite their effective victory during Reconstruction]


I understand your trepidation about having children in these crazy times, but there is still a lot of beauty and joy and goodness in the world. And besides, your future children (inshallah) will have you as a father, so that’s a pretty good start to life, I’d say.


It’s not primarily their sanity that’s going to stop it. Most of that majority of Americans, including those who talk about the prospect of a civil war, are still blissfully unaware how much it will affect and disrupt their lives if it comes to pass. They’re under the impression it’s something that will happen elsewhere, to other people.

The original Civil War, where civilians could sometimes drive out with a picnic lunch and spyglasses to observe a setpiece battle before heading home, was horrible enough. This will be something different, more akin to the Syrian conflict of recent years.

We’re talking about neighbourhood vs. neighbourhood fighting, roaming death squads, regular cut-offs of water and power, food shortages, “disappearances”, snipers, etc. It will be miserable for everyone, including wealthy people stuck in-country.


Exactly why I said this. No clear boundaries, no “front lines.” Neighbor against neighbor, families divided violently, terroristic disruption, urban vs. rural, and of course, cleansing of the “insufficiently loyal.” No winners anywhere. Nightmare fuel, man.


I thank you for the compliment and words of encouragement.

I still really want to have kids. I was talking to my mom about this very topic the other day, and she said, “it must be a weird time to have kids,” referring to the pandemic.

I was like, “It’s always a weird time to have kids. The Cold War, the Civil War, Segregation, the Great Depression, etc…It’s always a weird time to raise kids.”


Lots of smart people have written on this at length but yeah, if there’s a second American Civil War it’s going to play out very differently from how the first American Civil War played out. Maybe the Reconstruction period in the United States isn’t the precedent we should be examining for what a post-war situation would look like.


The hyperobject of the climate emergency (for which the pandemic serves as a sort of sneak preview) does throw a concern substantially different from those earlier crises into the mix, though. Not to sink us into nihilistic and helpless doomsaying, but not recognising the gravity of the situation as regards future generations will do us no good.

The sight and presence of young children in the world has always been a particular delight for me. A number of years back, though, that joy in their guileless and playful exploration and wonder started being tempered by a constant undertone of “man, I feel sorry for those little munchkins.” That really sucks.


I think to some extant this glosses over the complicated multitude of reasons that people in the North supported the war. Many were motivated by racism, and not against it. Like the immigration debate today, the problem that they had with slavery was not the oppression of people of color. Their problem is that they didn’t want to compete against people forced to work for so little. They would have preferred shipping all those brown people back to Africa, and failing that, at least keeping them in the South for the Southerners to deal with.

Sounds about right. I’m not saying that is a likely outcome, but that is what another civil war would look like. And not that different from the way that white supremacy was enforced in this country. Remember, one of the difficulties that they had investigating the disappearance of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in the “Mississippi Burning,” case was that they kept finding other lynching victims when they looked through the swamps.


As someone who has a child, let me assure you that being a parent is scary as fuck right now; you may want to consider your long term choices very carefully, young man.

Not that I am trying to discourage you; just saying it was already hella difficult before the world went full tilt with the rise of Nazis and Covid, not to mention all the other multitudes of problems facing our society.


Yes, it’s fair to note that many of the people supposedly fighting for a stated cause have other motives that are sometimes in opposition to the spirit of that cause. As happened during Reconstruction, some of those people will then sabotage any attempt to truly enshrine the cause after they’re victorious.


In fairness, being a parent has always been scary as fuck. The current environment has turned that up to 11, though.


But emancipation (let alone equality) was NOT the stated cause. Indeed there would have been little support for the war in the North if it had been.


I totally agree; you are absolutely correct.

Word; I look at people who are pregnant right now and think to myself how brave (or foolish) they must be, because I don’t think I could handle all the extra stress on top of the regular amount that comes with being a parent, especially one ‘starting from scratch.’


If we had half-assed the Marshall Plan like we half-assed Reconstruction, there would have been another war in Europe.

If we had completed Restoration, our nation would look very different today.