Comments Posted By Wattsboss
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Hey there superhawk, good post. You make the Malcolm X argument, the hard line stance that white northerners and southerners were both criminals when it came to their views and treatment of the black man and that the stars and stripes is as offensive as the confederate battle flag.
I think you miss my point, though. And I acknowledge that some northerners were pro-slavery and nearly all were racist. But I'd be careful at equating any type of casual, nasty racism of the north with a systemic of enslavement. (Clearly the Northern states were racist--the state of new york for example removed blacks from the franchise in 1860. Frederick Douglass was livid at the time, could not believe it). But again, I think you're performing the white southern dodge. Wars and war aims are not determined by the soldier on the field. (It doesn't matter what my 21-year-old neighbor/soldier thinks about the war in Iraq. It's George W. Bush who determines the war aims and goals. Wars and war aims are determined by the leaders and political officials who send those soldiers into the field. It frankly does not matter what the individual German soldier thought about Hitler or the Jews. The cause was evil. The soldiers were simply soldiers. It does not really matter what the WW II American vets thought about Nazism; what matters is what Franklin Roosevelt thought and said and what his war aims were. And so here we are: the Confederate's aims, in state resolution after resolution, were to protect, defend and maintain enslavement of African Americans. That was the aim and goal. Post-bellum, after they lose, their leaders come up with all sorts of "better" reasons for the war, but it was that one: protecting enslavement. And the leadership and its generals were quite clear on that.
Now, you dismiss Lincoln, who was a member of an increasingly anti-slavery party called the Republican Party. There were hardline Republicans and softer Republicans. The Republican Party was not anti-slavery as in they came to power on a platform of going to war to end it. No, they were not. But the Republicans were engaged in a fierce battle to limit the spread of slavery in the territories and many were strongly against the Fugitive Slaw Law etc ... Yes, many Republicans wanted to curtail and limit the power of the South. Again, notice: it doesn't matter what the soldier on the street thought. So no, Lincoln did not seek a war against the south on the grounds of slavery, but he had clearly voiced strong anti-slavery sentiments. That's not debatable, and his and his party's anti-slavery stance, timid though they were (look up the battles in the territories if you don't believe me on this) simply sent the southerners in a panic.
So here's the difference between states that seceded and states that remained in the Union. The political leaders of pro-slavery states like Maryland were willing to stay in the Union to resolve differences--and they were later willing to have the system of enslavement ended for compensation. The leaders of states of the Confederacy ran from the Union at the first hint of anti-slavery sentiment.
One group remained loyal to the Union. One did not.
And yes, I would eventually like to honor the Confederate soldiers, but first, I want white southerners to come clean about the aims of the war the Confederate soldier served in. One must go along with the other.

Comment Posted By Wattsboss On 4.05.2005 @ 08:40

re: the confederate battle flag, I see that you trot out the oft-repeated white southern dodge: that is to proclaim that that many conferate soldiers did not own slaves. Well, that is interesting, but that does not answer the question of what these soldiers thought of slavery and more importantly, the question of what their political leaders (the people who usually determine war aims) thought of slavery. The leaders were clearly pro-slavery and a might "touchy" about the issue as they fled the Union rather quickly when a mildly anti-slavery president named Lincoln was elected. And you mention the great Princeton historian James McPherson, while leaving out McPherson's books on the letters of soldiers and the point he has repeatedly made: that the Confederate soliders were so pro-slavery that the question would not have even occurred to them. Enslavement and subjugation of African Americans was, so to say, part of the natural order to Confdederate soldiers.
Finally, this argument (that the average Confederate soldier owned no slaves and was therefore anti-slavery--a complete non-sequitur) is sort of like saying that that the young men and women who served in Persian Gulf War I owned no oil and so therefore the campaign to expunge Saddam Hussein from Kuwait could not have possibly had anything to do with protecting the flow of oil to the West. Or to make the point another way, it's like saying that because I don't currently own a house, I am anti-homeownership. Please give this tired old moral and historical dodge the quiet internment that it deserves.

Comment Posted By Wattsboss On 3.05.2005 @ 20:55



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