On post-Civil Rights era racism in the North and South:
About the racism of the North and the South post Civil Rights Era: the North is far more racist in my experience–especially Chicago. (I was born there and I have a birth certificate to prove it!)
Anyway I have a theory about this. Before the Civil Rights Era, the discrimination and oppression toward blacks was pretty much equal in both regions. However, the South was forced to own up to its racism and emerge from it while the North never has had to. (It’s no coincidence that there’s another great black migration to the South going on right now.) Additionally, black and white Southerners have long been more likely to mingle with each other and be friends–and more–than is historically so for Northerners. Anecdotally speaking, of all the black-white interracial couples I know, the white half is almost always Southern–unless he/she is Jewish.
Northerners hide their racism very well. They usually call it liberalism.
– baldilocks, in a discussion that stemmed from Ed Morrissey’s post on VA Gov. Bob McDonnell’s major “Confederate History Month” blunder, a post with which I mostly concur – except for the part about not understanding the South’s preoccupation with remembering and officially recognizing the Confederacy. As former Charleston, SC police chief Reuben Greenberg (who is quite a pistol!) explained in a 1997 WaPo piece:
Of all the Confederate flags in South Carolina, none is more unexpected than the miniature one that adorns Reuben Greenberg’s wall. Greenberg, Charleston’s black police chief, believes there is honor in the rebel banner, even if some misuse it as a symbol of racial hate.
The battle flag “means a great deal emotionally to many whites — and these people are not necessarily racists — who respect their ancestors and the sacrifices they made,” said Greenberg, a history buff and Civil War reenactor whose office is decorated with flags from every continent.
For some of us, it also harkens back to a time when honor and chivalry and committment to your word was your whole life. A time when women were women and men were men, and where time seemed to stand still. I’d love if it we could get back to certain elements of that era that today country-wide – minus the slavery and lack of sufficient women’s rights, of course.
That said, Betsy Newmark is right on the money:
McDonnell might claim that his statement is in anticipation of the 150-year anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War which starts next year. I know that Virginia is devoting a lot of effort on education and tourism for the 150-year anniversary, but that doesn’t mean that they have to ignore the full history. Those tourists who are interested in coming to Virginia to study Civil War history wouldn’t be deterred by an honest gubernatorial proclamation. Let’s face it, no one would care about this proclamation if McDonnell had followed the pattern of both previous Republican and Democratic governors who had issued such proclamations that included a condemnation of slavery. Instead, McDonnell, who conducted a model campaign for governor will now waste time trying to explain away his myopic celebration of Confederate heritage.
As a history buff myself, I agree that it’s important to study history, but that doesn’t require a Confederacy Appreciation Month, which is what this sounds like. McDonnell could have broadened the perspective to a Civil War History Month, which would have allowed for all of the issues in the nation’s only armed rebellion to be studied. This approach seems needlessly provocative and almost guaranteed to create problems for Republicans in Virginia and across the country. It might have a short term effect of strengthening McDonnell’s attachment to his base, which didn’t appear to be threatened at all in the first place.
What do you think?
Update: ST reader Anthony has a great post up on this as well.