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Hedges writes: "The split between those in Memphis who hold up authentic heroe...and those who memorialize slave traders and bigots such as Forrest points up a disturbing rise of a neo-Confederate ideology in the South."

Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges. (photo: Truthdig)
Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges. (photo: Truthdig)

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+20 # Regina 2013-01-28 14:50
The Civil War never ended. It just went underground for a while, and has emerged in a lot of its retro glory except for the slaves. I got a whiff of it during WWII, in Alabama and Texas (which is more South than West). Hey, they're screaming again for secession. They are certainly the hotbed of the Republican War Against Women. The incidental factoid that they changed party label after the Civil Rights legislation didn't change substance.
 
 
+24 # Barbara K 2013-01-28 14:53
I believe that is one of the problems today. The wealthy southerners still want free labor. It is obvious with them dismantling the unions so people cannot make a livable wage. Then they bellyache because many people need food stamps. That can be fixed by paying them a livable wage. Hope the South knows enough history to remember that the first Civil War didn't go so well for them; and I doubt a second one would either. They really need to spend some time with educating their kids with the truth and stop feeding them lies and re-writing history.

.
 
 
+10 # dkonstruction 2013-01-29 08:12
Quoting Barbara K:
I believe that is one of the problems today. The wealthy southerners still want free labor. It is obvious with them dismantling the unions so people cannot make a livable wage. Then they bellyache because many people need food stamps. That can be fixed by paying them a livable wage. Hope the South knows enough history to remember that the first Civil War didn't go so well for them; and I doubt a second one would either. They really need to spend some time with educating their kids with the truth and stop feeding them lies and re-writing history.

.



Just because "wealthy southerners still want free labor" doesn't mean we should forget that it was/is "wealthy northerners" that have been moving their shops to these "right to work" (for less) states. So, just as prior to and during the Civil War, it was and is never just about the white Southern elite but about capital as a whole that always looks for and goes to the source of the cheapest labor. It's the nature of the system, capitalism as a whole and not just about the attitudes of white Southerners.
 
 
+13 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-01-28 14:57
Dear Chris Hedges, how truth can hurt. But, hear it we must, and thank you, over and over again, for 'truthing' us so well.

Should we not hear truth, especially on the most ugly and evil sins that we and our ancestors have committed, even more inclined we will be to fall again into evil sin committing.

Go, so brave and truth telling Chris H., and kudos to you, and your brother/sister journalist, whistleblower, and peace and justice activist truth tellers - our true heroes!
 
 
+13 # tclose 2013-01-28 15:02
Chris' column is disturbing - I and maybe many others have felt hopeful that civil rights had made progress in the South, and would over time become the norm as the younger population took over positions of influence from those of an earlier generation. I hope this is not an indication that it just ain't so.

I would recommend Colin Woodard's book "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America" for insight about how the South's culture and institutions were formed and how they persist a full 350 years later:

http://tinyurl.com/astgwae
 
 
+16 # dkonstruction 2013-01-28 15:44
Another wonderful, timely and needed piece by Hedges.

At the same time, it's also important for us to remember how race has from the very beginning been used by the white ruling elite to divide the "working class" (broadly defined) and that the threat of a "united front" of white and blacks (and early on Native Americans as in the case of Bacon's Rebellion in 1676) was (and still is) always what was most frightening to the them.

See for example Theodore Allen's brilliant two-volume "Invention of the White Race."

It's also important to remember that the vast majority of southern whites owned no slaves and were not as gung-ho for the war as the traditional narrative (both in the north and the south) has made it out to be. Many white southeners saw the war as a "planters" war of the rich southern whites against the north; a war in which they had no real stake. So, this whole notion of "southern history" (as if it is a single story which included all Southeners)is in itself something of a "myth" and a much more nuanced understanding of southern history is also needed.

See, for example, David Williams wonderful "People's History of the Civil War" and "Bitterly Divided: The South's Inner Civil War" (in the latter he shows how at least 300,000 southern white soldiers defected to the north).
 
 
+13 # charsjcca 2013-01-28 16:35
I wish that rather than leave in tears
Councilwoman Fullilove had read the Southern Manifesto of the 1950s into the record, a document that every common school student ought to know and understand. That is why we repeat these same scenarios.
 
 
+8 # Glen 2013-01-28 17:45
I attempted to post a bit of an essay when this article was first put up, then that original presentation of this article disappeared, to be replaced by this one, and all original responses disappeared.

This is a complicated issue, and it isn't just the south that has experienced upheaval. Any territory, including native american territory, the Middle East and Africa today when smashed, and attacked, will never forget. Union troops certainly exacted their ton of flesh when crushing the south and afterward those from the north swept into the south to install even more reminders of how the south was crushed.

Racism is not only concentrated in the south. Never forget that. Even black children in South Dakota were burned alive when a white family dared to teach them to read. Slaves were owned by folks both north and south, and the south made a buttload of money for the country with slaves, just as Thomas Jefferson did for himself.

Sad that this issue came up in Memphis, but it isn't the first time those on the losing side have attempted to recoup the losses:

“Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory is won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War
 
 
+3 # amye 2013-01-28 18:23
When so many suffer tragic economic hardship today with no work and money, cruelty and horror against another race is what arises for hopes and dreams! Obama and our government must turn this economy around now or we will continue to see this kind of horrific racism and fear rise again!
 
 
+1 # Interested Observer 2013-01-28 18:40
Hedges correctly identifies an ongoing problem but commits some rhetorical overkill and yellow journalism worthy of the right doing it.

He omits that Forrest also ordered the Klan disbanded in 1869 when it moved too far from advocacy of white interests as he saw them to violence. ("being perverted from its original honorable and patriotic purposes, becoming injurious instead of subservient to the public peace" as Forrest put it.) At that point it had been in existence for a mere four years. Later in 1875 (Forrest died in 1877), Forrest made public views in favor of "racial reconciliation" . However insufficient that may seem now, it does put him at odds with the Klan in his own lifetime.

All that hardly undercuts the issue nor rehabilitates Forrest into the good fight of civil rights. Hedges can make his point on the new honoree simply being more appropriate today and show righteous outrage at the values and actions of those who defend the existing shrine, but he cannot truthfully hang the entire KKK and Jim Crow legacy on Forrest to complete that argument.

He also does himself no honor with yet another of those all too common "call'em a Nazi" cheap shots, this time featuring Amon Goeth instead of You-Know-Who. Beck and the rest do this too. Can you imagine Goeth, if allowed to live, ever endorsing reconciliation of any sort with Jews? It needs a rest.
 
 
-9 # Skyelav 2013-01-28 19:23
Sorry Chris but there are many holes in this story. Lets begin with the history if the Klan. It was formed in response to Republican (abolitionist ) militias who came down to a bankrupted south and assassinated any reconstructive confederates trying to have a say in local politics. When the racist element hijacked the Klan Forrest publicly resigned.
Lots of people made money with slaves on both sides. Forrest was fir kinder treatment of his slaves and perhaps thats why he made good money. He also refused to break up families. Slaves it is said didn't run away on his farm
He was perhaps as good a soldier as Patton or Rommel who studied his campaigns. He tied down his campaigns with as few as 1200 men. A complex man was Forrest. Perhaps he deserves more from you
 
 
+7 # Timaloha 2013-01-28 21:04
No one who bought and sold slaves for a living refused to break up families. There would be no profit in that, and Forrest became spectacularly rich practicing this barbarism. If you can overlook the massacre at Ft.Pillow - the willful murder of hundreds of captive men, women and children for the crime of being black - and you believe this psychopath rejected the Klan due to excessive racism or even that he was a good man on any level then perhaps you are part of the problem.
 
 
+6 # dkonstruction 2013-01-29 10:01
So, you're point is that Forrest was a "kindler, gentler" slave holder and defender of that "peculiar institution" and the Klan was really just defending the South from the big, bad, northern "carpetbaggers" ....that's like saying that "Gone With The Wind" presents a more "fair and balanced" history. And, to use the word "reconstructive " in relation to southern confederates (and, yes, there were some including the estimated 300,000 southern soldiers that defected to the north not to mention the fact that the vast majority of southern whites owned no slaves at all) is to pervert and smear what Reconstruction, particularly the radical reconstructioni sts were all about and fighting for. It is one thing to say that the north too was involved in and profitted from slavery it is quite another to try and rewrite the history of the confederacy, slavery or the klan. Did the South have better generals than the north, sure, but so what? But that doesn't mean we should we be installing (at public expense) statues to honor them?
 
 
+11 # Allen 23 2013-01-28 19:39
I was taught to think that racism could end if white individuals changed their attitude. But a "white" skin in the United States opens many doors for whites whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us.

Individual acts can palliate but cannot end, these problems.

To redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions. The silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political tool here. They keep the thinking about equality or equity incomplete, protecting unearned advantage and conferred dominance by making these subject taboo. Most talk by whites about equal opportunity seems to be about equal opportunity to try to get into a position of dominance while denying that systems of dominance exist.

Obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly acculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already.

As someone else mentioned, maybe here, maybe elsewhere, the sin, in the eyes of the white and affluent, is not the racism itself, but being reminded of it.
 
 
-9 # Martintfre 2013-01-28 20:30
//I was taught to think that racism could end if white individuals changed their attitude. //
It also requires Black individuals to change their attitude,
and the Chinese,
and the Hindi ,
and the Latino ,
and the Bengali,
and the slavic ,
and the German,
Just to mention a few others


maybe -- just maybe -- we may start to judge individual people by the content of their character. Think it is worth a serious try?
 
 
+6 # dkonstruction 2013-01-29 10:04
Quoting Martintfre:
//I was taught to think that racism could end if white individuals changed their attitude. //
It also requires Black individuals to change their attitude,
and the Chinese,
and the Hindi ,
and the Latino ,
and the Bengali,
and the slavic ,
and the German,
Just to mention a few others


maybe -- just maybe -- we may start to judge individual people by the content of their character. Think it is worth a serious try?


Racism is not about attitudes it is a set of structural, institutionaliz ed power relations that still exist in this country (take, for example, the number of "qualified" african american borrowers that were steered into subprime mortgages even though they qualified for prime rate ones). So, racism is not and never has been about judging individuals by the content of their character (which of course we should all do) but rather about overturning racist power relations that still exist.
 
 
-3 # Skyelav 2013-01-28 19:42
Can we see any of this through the eyes of a southerner? Of course they fought hard. Sherman was basically a terrorist burning raping and leading hundreds of so called freed slaves to a river and then giving the orders to blow up the bridges. They had been promised freedom instead they were abandoned with no food and sanitation resulting in the death of droves
 
 
+7 # Glen 2013-01-29 09:09
Yes, Skyelav, there were numerous military leaders who were vicious sadists on both sides. It is now thought that many southerners burned their own towns and homes simply to ensure the union solders under Sherman would keep on marching past them, rather than exacting even more punishment.

The results of the killing of the southern culture encouraged prejudice beyond what would have developed and was then passed along to progeny, just as is happening today in countries the U.S. is attacking and decimating.
 
 
+5 # dkonstruction 2013-01-29 11:59
Quoting Skyelav:
Can we see any of this through the eyes of a southerner? Of course they fought hard. Sherman was basically a terrorist burning raping and leading hundreds of so called freed slaves to a river and then giving the orders to blow up the bridges. They had been promised freedom instead they were abandoned with no food and sanitation resulting in the death of droves


Which Southerners eyes are you suggesting that we need to see this through? Do they all have the same eyes and did they all see the same things?

What about the vast majority of white Southerners that owned no slaves and saw the war as a "planters war" of the ruling white elite that were using them as fodder to defend their own interests? What about the 300,000 (according to historian David Williams in his excellent ""Bitterly Divided: The South's Inner Civil War") confederate soldiers that defected to the north. What about Souterners like the Grimke sisters that opposed slavery and became abolitionists?
 
 
+3 # Glen 2013-01-29 13:00
I do believe Skylav was hinting at that side of the coin, indicating the terrorism that entered the south from the north. But yes, a LOT of southerners fled west and south - "running like a dog through the Everglades", and settled in south Florida. Union soldiers also fled.

As I have said, it is very complicated, but it wasn't just the south. The north also was and is a complicated territory. State after state got sucked into what the government and the wealthy promoted, just as they are doing today. Peripheral groups and outlaws benefited greatly from that war, just as they are today in other countries.

Folks must always remember that war. Most especially when radicals call for a revolution or spout off about the usual nonsense they are afraid of, rather than reality.
 
 
-17 # Martintfre 2013-01-28 20:14
Shameless omission from the article is that the KKK was a purely DEMOCRAT party institution as were the Jim Crow laws they created and enforced.

A natural fit for collectivist who still despise the individual and instead substitute a different generalized gang label like it was negro's or Jew's from the past and now use dehumanizing terms like teabagger's to dismiss individuals.
 
 
+15 # Timaloha 2013-01-28 22:29
And that particular incarnation of the Democratic Party is now known as the Republican Party.
 
 
+14 # gentry cooper 2013-01-28 23:35
And where are these so-called democrats now? Why in the republican party now. That's where. They switched parties because the republican party more clearly identified with their ideological views. And yes those views include paying people today as little as possible including $0.00 an hour if they could get away with it.
 
 
+11 # Regina 2013-01-29 00:45
The old Democratic enrollment of the Southern power politicians was nicknamed "Dixiecrats" -- they switched party when the mid-20th century civil rights laws were enacted by a Democratic-majo rity Congress over their objections. As for today's "teabaggers," that crude-dude gang adopted the term in a grossly erroneous comparison with the 18th century "tea party" in which colonists threw British tea into Boston harbor because of the taxes demanded for it by the British regime. It would help a lot, Martinfre, if you learned our history instead of distorting it.
 
 
+1 # Glen 2013-01-29 09:05
I'm not certain why you are getting minus points, Martinfre. The south was a reactionary democratic territory against republicans and remained so for many decades. It has only been in the last 20 or so years that the morphing into republicans began. The passage of the civil rights act made a decidedly major impact on the south.

It is true that a genuine democracy, which we no longer are, does consider and look out for the rights of the individual. Those who were unhappy with the workings of the government - all government - began working together, and yes, were soon clumped into a rabid organization then labeled teabaggers as a propaganda tool. Powerful wealthy types made certain these folks were dragged into the republican fold and increased in numbers by folks who truly ARE rabid. I feel certain many original individuals who were angry and seeking recourse, have withdrawn from that grouping.
 
 
+6 # dkonstruction 2013-01-29 10:06
Quoting Martintfre:
Shameless omission from the article is that the KKK was a purely DEMOCRAT party institution as were the Jim Crow laws they created and enforced.

A natural fit for collectivist who still despise the individual and instead substitute a different generalized gang label like it was negro's or Jew's from the past and now use dehumanizing terms like teabagger's to dismiss individuals.


First, to compare the Democratic Party of the mid 19th Century with the Democratic Party today (or the Reblican Party of Lincoln with the Rebpublican Party of today) is to not understand the nature of either then or now. And, the Republican Party (of post-Lincoln) did nothing to break up the plantation economy or the power of the planter class that existed before the Civil War so to blame it all on the Democratic Party is also to fail to understand what was really going on at the time in both parties.
 
 
+11 # Texan 4 Peace 2013-01-28 21:08
That free labor continued (and continues) long after 1865. Read Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow". No surprise that Florida and Texas are among the biggest prison states.
 
 
+2 # Glen 2013-01-29 08:56
I also recommend Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon.
 
 
+1 # dkonstruction 2013-01-29 10:08
Quoting Glen:
I also recommend Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon.

Quoting Glen:
I also recommend Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon.


Another excellent book recommendation.
 
 
+3 # Glen 2013-01-29 13:24
Folks would also benefit from books concerning the war and after, written by scholars and journalist researchers. Then they might want to move on to read the stories of Missouri and Kansas during and after the war. The impact of that war destroyed more than just the south.
 
 
+2 # dkonstruction 2013-01-29 10:07
Quoting Texan 4 Peace:
That free labor continued (and continues) long after 1865. Read Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow". No surprise that Florida and Texas are among the biggest prison states.


I second your recommendation. ...it's an important book and a great (though depressing) read).
 
 
+2 # Holmes 2013-01-29 00:01
So the cry of I need a gun for my protection is a claim that I have the right to dominate the other with out due process. Is the NRA merely a front for those who wish to reimpose slavery on the other?
 
 
+2 # nancyw 2013-01-30 12:27
It is not just against the blacks that these certain groups of whites lynched, murdered, harrassed and burned. The Chinese, the Japanese, Mexicans, Muslims, Jews, First Nations, Women, Children,defens eless Animals.

One might suspect what these men and women have is one huge low self-esteem, fear of impotency and infidelity, a sense of real powerlessness and so a lot of envy, jealousy and resentment. So they kill those who have something they think they don't have enough of.

What does one do about that?
 

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