But back to the Southern apologia. The essence of the argument is two-fold, that secession was legal (and ergo Lincoln illegally forced the south back with the war) and that slavery was not the cause of the Civil War. Slavery, they contend, was started by the North (nice justification), and the North (including Abraham Lincoln) were more racist than the South. Yes, that is right, the clearly racist North was more racist than those in the South who actually bought and sold human beings at cattle markets, or bought the most attractive slave women for their nightly pursuits. Or rewarded their wives with the gift of not working by, you know, buying them a slave. Which anniversary is slave again?
What bothers me the most about this apologia is the constant contention that the South was morally superior and deeply religious. One even argued that the South was deeply committed to orthodox Christianity. That worked out so very well, didn't it? Sure, they might have defended slavery, or owned slaves, or threatened abolitionists, but they did so with the spirit of the Lord.
And after the Civil War, even if it was illegal for Lincoln to bring the South back, good Southern Christians might have turned to the freedmen (after all, the apologia says that most didn't own slaves) and extended grace and acceptance, right? Nope. They turned first to the Black Codes restricting black employment options and even occupations, and often forcing them into contracts with their old owners. Then, after Reconstruction forced them to recognize the civil rights of the freedmen, they turned to the Klan and other "social clubs" for a good old Christian "reign of terror."
We think we have come so very far. And we have in so many ways. I am reminded of the conservative efforts to gut the Voting Rights act, because those were issues of the past. (Hell, after Bushco and Diebold, I think we need to expand the Voting Rights act to include, well, all of us who aren't Republican operatives). But then there is this story of the Jena 6. You can read more there, but the gist is that the high school at this heavily segregated community in Louisiana had a tree where only white students congregated. A black student requested (last fall) to sit under that tree and the administration told him to sit whereever he wanted. But when he and other black students did, they found three nooses--all in school colors--dangling from the tree. Those white students were suspended, but the superintendent intervened and called the nooses "a prank."
Racial tensions flared with white students beating a black student. A white man held a shotgun on black kids. The man was never charged. A white student racially taunts the black kid who was beaten, and is beaten in return himself. His wounds are superficial and he attends a party that night. But the six kids are charged with attempted second-degree murder.
Six Black Jena students (Mychal Bell, Robert Bailey Jr., Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Theo Shaw and Jesse Beard) were subsequently arrested and charged with attempted second degree murder. All six were expelled from school. On the morning of the trial, the District Attorney reduced the charges from attempted second degree murder to second degree aggravated battery and conspiracy.
The all-white jury deliberated for less than three hours and found Mychal Bell, the only one charged as an adult, guilty on the maximum possible charges of aggravated second degree battery and conspiracy. He awaits a Sept. 20 sentencing hearing. Mychal Bell faces up to a maximum of 22 years in prison. The cases against the other five Black students are pending.
This is the Southern culture that I am supposed to applaud? Or can we simply blame this on the North as well?