Quote of the day

Posted by: ST on April 7, 2010 at 9:39 pm

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.

And Ed:

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.

And, of course: Nets Upset by Confederate Proclamation, But Skip Obama Planning to Cleanse ‘Islamic’ Terminology.

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14 Responses to “Quote of the day”


  1. Xrlq says:

    Downplaying slavery strikes me as especially silly in Virginia’s case. While other states can say it was all about opposition to tariffs, does anyone seriously think it was support for these same tariffs that convinced a sizable chunk of what was then Virginia to secede from it?

    I’m also a bit amused by Ed’s suggestion that McDonnell may be playing to his base. If so, what on earth for? Sitting governors can’t run for re-election in Virginia.

  2. Anthony says:

    Thanks for the link, ST. :)

    Interesting bit of historical trivia: I don’t have a citation handy, but, at the time of the Revolution, North Carolina had fewer slaves than Delaware.

    Take that, Joe Biden! :p

  3. Evan Eye No Better says:

    Imagine if the leader of the Bavarian state in Germany announced a month-long state celebration of all the honorable and dedicated soldiers of the Wehrmacht who faught gloriously for God and country during World War II without mentioning Hitler, the Holocaust or the Nazi system. Do you suppose that folks in Europe and the US would be upset? How tone-deaf can you be and still be elected to public office?

  4. AST says:

    “With malice toward none, with charity for all, …let us strive on to finish the work we are in, …to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

    Can’t we ever get beyond racial hatred going one direction or the other. Governor McDonnell didn’t mean to offend descendants of slaves, nor does he condone slavery or wish to deny African Americans their rights as citizens.

    I read about the old system in the South where people were categorized by the amount of African blood they carried: mulattoes, quatroons, octoroons, etc. The whites made the African component more important than the American one. And now, it seems to matter more to the descendants of those people than it does to anybody else.

    At some point, we have to let the wrongs done in the past die with those who did them and those who were wronged by them, and just get on with our lives.

  5. ZippyTheWerewolf says:

    I’m a little put off by baldilock’s assessment of the Northerner’s hiding their racism. Her analysis might be based on her jaded perception, which SOME racism is. I’m a Northerner and do see rare instances of racism masked, and have discussed it with black friends (who will not be labelled African-Americans since many of them are from Haiti, Jamaica, Grenada, etc.) but I’ve seen it displayed rather pointedly when living in South Florida… So much so, that it gave me whiplash. So to generalize something based on her PERCEPTIONS alone, is incorrect.

  6. Zippy – she’s talking more about northern liberals than anything else, who support a different kind of enslavement …

  7. Frank Tenesmus says:

    …but I’ve seen it displayed rather pointedly when living in South Florida…

    Unfortunately for your argument, south Florida, while geographically south, is not part of the South. With respect to culture and mores south Florida is in reality a confluence of Caribbean and Brooklyn, as would be expected from the immigration from those general areas.

    Unless you are deep in the swamp, all you see is transplanted northern racism.

  8. your mama says:

    It is a part of history.If you’re going to put it out there,tell it all,the good the bad and the ugly.

  9. Kate says:

    Historically speaking we should all remember the fact that so much blood was spilled in our land in order to preserve it. A reminder that lest we forget history, it will repeat itself. Families were divided, not just states. There were rich traditions and a culture that was lost, even if you disagree with slavery, it was a globally recognized and valid system. Many people around the world had to do a lot of work to make the inhumanity of the system apparent to people who would otherwise be isolated from it. We could explore the history and facts and not get bogged down in emotion. By this stage in our life as a nation we should extinguish the seeds of bitterness and anger and forgive the wrong in order to move forward in unity. That’s what I thought the Civil Rights Era was about.

    Today we may not have such well aligned geographic lines, but we do have ideologically differences. It’s frightening to think how there are people who would turn this into a dividing point instead of listening to what other people have to say.

  10. PE says:

    Oh the outrage. I’ll bet there will be many self immolations once our lefties hear about this.

  11. Just Plain Bill says:

    If we do not rid ourselves of “every thing is about race” we will never get beyond race as a qualifier or dis-qualifier for anything. I for one, am completely and totally sick of the subject. Everyone needs to get over it and move on.

  12. Crystal T says:

    I wouldn’t apologize for one minute. If anyone thinks I am so stupid as to wish for enslaving blacks, I don’t know what to say to them. Confederates were wrong for wanting to protect slavery, but they were people like every other culture that has enslaved people which covers just about everyone. Do we just condemn all of ourselves and never celebrate anything?

  13. ZippyTheWerewolf says:

    Yeah ST, I knew that, lol, but my overreaction nerve gets plucked way too much with blaming Yankees and hearing the ‘racism’ default line over and ovvvvvver and ovvvvver again.