Monday, June 30, 2003

To Joe Zollars on the Southern cause
Here's some advice for you, son (I'm not quite old enough to be your dad but almost) - think abstractly. That is, think about the issues behind the history and the slogans.

As you know, as somebody who has learnt a lot of his politics from Lew Rockwell, I have more sympathy for the Southern cause than many Americans. I liked Gods and Generals, Ted Turner's nearly four-hour film canonization of Stonewall Jackson. The Confederacy had a right to exist and Robert E. Lee, not a racist, was a hero. It was wrong about some things, such as slavery, but like any sovereign country (such as pre-invasion Iraq) it had a right to be. Its agrarian, almost medieval, ostensibly Christian culture was arguably better in some ways than the industrial North, which could and can be viciously antiblack in its own way. (I know - I live there, on the edge of a poor black city neighborhood I ride my bike through up to three times a week.) I've read enough articles by Thomas DiLorenzo on LRC not to believe the myth passed off as American history - Lincoln didn't care about the slaves.

And, having spent some time in the real South (namely, North Carolina, whose citizens don't consider Kansans like you Southerners), with wonderful, real people, sitting on a screened porch sipping iced tea on a hot summer night and sharing Sunday dinner, I think I have some understanding of the culture. Among my older white Southern hosts, incidentally from a social class in theory more likely to hate the blacks with whom they historically have competed economically, I saw a lively evangelical Protestant faith but no displays of racial hatred. A conservative blog for peace does not reflexively Southern-bash.

I don't see how opposing injustice equals 'disrespect for the dead', Joe. The record stands: while he may have opportunistically changed his stance later, in 1948 Strom Thurmond was nothing but a Truman Democrat who was antiblack. All the Old South sloganeering in the world doesn't excuse this un-Christian position. (I believe in states' rights, BTW.) Thurmond and Lester Maddox had a right to their racialist views and to exercise them on their private property, and I have the right both to defend their rights and as a Christian publicly reject their views.

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