John Brown & Harriet Tubman Sitting in a Tree
The Civil War was about Slavery.
Some days people need to be reminded that the earth is not flat.
Over the past few days I have been assaulted by the impudent ignorance of poor sad people barking like junkyard dogs at anyone who dare suggest that America is not a white supremacist nation and always has been. Like the flu, there are seasons when this dementia grabs hold of weak individuals and flies around the country with all of its incessant symptoms. Ironically enough, they have the nerve to call themselves ‘abolitionists’, in that they want to abolish both capitalism and police departments. Boil the ocean much?
Because of these periodic epidemics of ignorance, and because of the fertile economy of useful idiots, there are plenty people who aim to preserve an interpretation of history that aims to suggest that the war was not about slavery but economics. In other words that the anti-slavery sentiment of the Union was just a figleaf. This argument is bolstered by those that hold it because of Seidule's association with Dennis Prager who is conservative.
The persistent myth-making that requires little thought is that conservative = Republican = racist. Therefore there was no legitimate anti-slavery or pro-African sentiment or reason for the Civil War. This is a critical necessity for all those who claim that America has always been racist (back to 1619) and the Gettysburg Address was just pretty speechmaking. In order to discount the idea that white Americans would fight and die to rid the nation from slavery, the Civil War needs to be portrayed as anything but exactly that violent struggle. In that way the trope of white supremacy can extended to the Republican Party (and of course Reagan, Trump, et al) because the Southern Strategy is proof that the racist neoconfederates and Jim Crow apologists is the tail that waves the dog of the Republican party all the way back to Lincoln, who was no Great Emancipator at all. This fallacious thinking remains pervasive and current.
I think it would help to make it patently obvious (which is historically accurate) that John Brown and other abolitionists working the Underground Railroad clearly aimed for both the violent uprisings in Kansas and the raid on Harper's Ferry to be the spark for the Civil War, and that it was pure blind luck that Harriet Tubman, was unable to be there that day because of illness. They had always been in league, and America suffers because of the widely held delusion that John Brown was a madman, not a principled Christian who sought full equality in every respect for the Africans in America.
Additionally, many Americans suffer from the fallacy that nobody in the history of America had enough moral clarity to see that racism was wrong, and that we have only recently become wise enough to figure that out. This justifies an ever-increasingly shrill demand for a new and improved national conversation on race, chock full of new theories, historical revisionism and wonky terminology. This is all baffling bullshit parading as bloody brilliance, and of course we have a good decade of undergraduates who cannot think outside of that ornate box.
It was once convenient for me to suggest that there were several resets in American society that gave most Americans enough brutal trouble to find other things to be obsessed about than race, but I haven’t thought about it for a while. I still think of them as at least as significant as the Civil Rights and Black Consciousness movements and the presidency of Barack Obama. It’s a hard sell considering that I tend to talk about it during bonehead flu season, like right now. The first was WW1 and the great Flu Pandemic that killed my great grandparents. The second was the great depression that basically impoverished everyone. I still do think about the 1970s and crossover as a very naive yet well intentioned change evidencing fatigue from the race riots of the prior decade. It’s difficult at the moment to see if people are really as angry and oppressed as their rhetoric often suggests. Nevertheless, people talking about the Attica Prison Riot as a step in the right direction are out there, and they’re not 70 year old hippies. They are young, energetic and loud. That’s what I get for hanging out on Clubhouse.
What I don’t often hear about when the histrionics start is an explanation of how the KKK and White Citizens Councils dramatically lost membership over their histories. It wasn’t as if the NAACP and Urban League found their offices and burned them down. It also can’t be credibly argued that they all snuck away into junior chapters of the John Birch Society in the 80s and successfully made their way into the dark web in the 90s.
The clear fact is that the hate groups and dangerous white supremacists are marginalized pretty much in all aspects of American lives except for the minds of the paranoids. I don’t expect any of them to match well-researched statistics to the contrary than that as done by Pew Research, then again I tend to be dismissive of cities as large as Ferguson, MO and individuals as significant as Derek Chauvin. Nevertheless it doesn’t surprise me at all that racial intermarriage is high in cities where there is a large US military base. People who enlist to serve their country tend to put a lot less weight on race than patriotism.
Don’t take my word for it. Go look up your metro in the big table that Pew has provided.
I suppose I should have put WW2 as the biggest social reset. Clearly it was black soldiers coming home with rifle skills and shore leave in France that made it very clear to all concerned that these Negroes could not be put back in any pre-war pigeonholes. The US Army shortly thereafter integrated setting the precedent and methodology for all Affirmative Actions going forward. Counting noses in promotions works well in institutions with objective requirements. Not so easy in white collar creative gigs. But it’s the clarity of deadly conflict that war begets that cuts through the excuse-making and pseudointellectual racial theories. When it’s a matter of life and death, color matters less, and this is validated by Roland Fryer’s massive 2017 study about police use of force.
Isn’t it interesting that when blacks and whites become family a lot of racial bullshit hits the skids? I think so. This is why I made the title what it is, something I hope can be a simple reminder of how close we are to erasing the pollution of badthink in our society. Love and death, the human extremes make the human mediocrities disappear by comparison. I suppose the trick is to make those comparisons more simultaneous. So the next time somebody wants to tell you that some minorities are suffering excess death under racist circumstances among the 320 million of us, find out how many of them are falling in love across racial lines. That, I think, makes a pleasant and uplifting counter argument which is quite different than a counterpunch.
But if you’ve got to punch, I think you’ve got to talk about the Civil War and the Underground Railroad remembering that Harriet Tubman was an armed woman who personally freed slaves and raised money for John Brown, the man who sent his sons to do battle in Kansas to keep that state free from slavery. Great Americans.