Sesquicentennial – Another Opportunity to Demonize The South

The Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum, which is being refurbished. Take a look at the facial expression. Care to guess how The South will be portrayed?

An article in the New York Times talks about the upcoming sesquicentennial events regarding the War for Southern Independence (of course, they incorrectly called it “the Civil War”). As if the demonization of Southern Whites since the election of Obama was not enough, we can count on even more of the same in the coming years commemorating the 150th anniversary of the War for Southern Independence.

Those who hate The South and all it stands for have but one weapon – the subject of slavery. They have none other. We have made a good faith effort to clearly and calmly explain the facts – both the good and the bad – about slavery, but it has made little or no difference. The South is still made into the whipping boy for all the racial problems in America.

It has long been my belief that we should simply refuse to engage in discussions about the topic of slavery with those who try to destroy Southern heritage. I have found that there is simply no way to make any progress in such discussions.  The typical belief is that The South is synonymous with slavery, and everything else hinges on that idea. Any attempt to get them to step outside their little box results in charges of “racist”. OK, enough is enough. I refuse to allow myself to be affected by that now-meaningless word. The Left has used that as their magic talisman to instantly silence their critics and claim moral superiority. They get away with it because we let them.

Our path is clear – we must continue to uphold the high standards of the Southern gentleman and treat everyone with respect and dignity – including our Southern ancestors and the heritage and culture that they represent. For far too long, we have mistakenly looked at treating “others” with respect and dignity as a one-way street and applied it only to those who mock and demonize us. Those “others” include our fellow Southerners, our families, our culture, our heritage, and our kinship.

We hold to The Definition of a Gentleman by Robert E. Lee:

“The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman. The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly — the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light. The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others.”
Robert E. Lee

Treating everyone in the manner of a Southern gentleman does not mean closing our eyes to reality. It does not mean obsequious deference to those who mock all that we stand for. It simply means treating all others with respect and dignity. How they respond may determine the tone of future interaction, but the assumption is always that the other person is due a full measure of respect and dignity.

About Stephen Clay McGehee

Born-Again Christian, Grandfather, husband, business owner, Southerner, aspiring Southern Gentleman. Publisher of The Confederate Colonel and The Southern Agrarian blogs. President/Owner of Adjutant Workshop, Inc., Vice President - Gather The Fragments Bible Mission, Inc. (Sierra Leone, West Africa), Webmaster - Military Order of The Stars and Bars, Kentucky Colonel.
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4 Responses to Sesquicentennial – Another Opportunity to Demonize The South

  1. Willie Smith says:

    Speech of E.S. Dargan, in the Convention of Alabama, Jan. 11, 1861
    E.S. Dargan was a member of the Alabama State Senate and Mayor of Mobile in the early 1840’s, U.S. Representative in 1845-47, elected to the State Supreme Court in 1847, and became Chief Justice in 1849 serving 5 years. He was a delegate to the secession convention from Mobile County. After secession, he was elected to a term in the Confederate Congress. My thanks to Justin Sanders for sending me this.
    Source: “The History and Debates of the Convention of the People of Alabama,” William R. Smith (Montgomery, Ala: White, Pfister, & Co, 1861; reprint Spartanburg, SC: Reprint Company Publishers, 1975), pp. 93-94.

    I wish, Mr. President, to express the feelings with which I vote for the secession of Alabama from the Government of the United States; and to state, in a few words, the reasons that impel me to this act.

    I feel impelled, Mr. President, to vote for this Ordinance by an overruling necessity. Years ago I was convinced that the Southern States would be compelled either to separate from the North, by dissolving the Federal Government, or they would be compelled to abolish the institution of African Slavery. This, in my judgment, was the only alternative; and I foresaw that the South would be compelled, at some day, to make her selection. The day is now come, and Alabama must make her selection, either to secede from the Union, and assume the position of a sovereign, independent State, or she must submit to a system of policy on the part of the Federal Government that, in a short time, will compel her to abolish African Slavery.

    Mr. President, if pecuniary loss alone were involved in the abolition of slavery, I should hesitate long before I would give the vote I now intend to give. If the destruction of slavery entailed on us poverty alone, I could bear it, for I have seen poverty and felt its sting. But poverty, Mr. President, would be one of the least of the evils that would befall us from the abolition of African slavery. There are now in the slaveholding States over four millions of slaves; dissolve the relation of master and slave, and what, I ask, would become of that race? To remove them from amongst us is impossible. History gives us no account of the exodus of such a number of persons. We neither have a place to which to remove them, nor the means of such removal. They therefore must remain with us; and if the relation of master and slave be dissolved, and our slaves turned loose amongst us without restraint, they would either be destroyed by our own hands– the hands to which they look, and look with confidence, for protection– or we ourselves would become demoralized and degraded. The former result would take place, and we ourselves would become the executioners of our own slaves. To this extent would the policy of our Northern enemies drive us; and thus would we not only be reduced to poverty, but what is still worse, we should be driven to crime, to the commission of sin; and we must, therefore, this day elect between the Government formed by our fathers (the whole spirit of which has been perverted), and POVERTY AND CRIME! This being the alternative, I cannot hesitate for a moment what my duty is. I must separate from the Government of my fathers, the one under which I have lived, and under which I wished to die. But I must do my duty to my country and my fellow beings; and humanity, in my judgment, demands that Alabama should separate herself from the Government of the United States.

    If I am wrong in this responsible act, I hope my God may forgive me; for I am not actuated, as I think, from any motive save that of justice and philanthropy!

  2. michael simons says:

    It is true we must stand strong and tall as Lee did and never give a inch.

  3. Podesta says:

    There is much in your rant that makes no sense, but I will focus on just two aspects.

    (1) You never refer to the President of the United States by his title. Yet, a person with good manners, a gentleman, which you claim to be, would say “President Obama.” Why don’t you refer to the first African-American to win the White House as “President Obama”?

    (2) What are the good facts about slavery you refer to? (I cannot think of any.)

  4. 1) First, the quote you are referring to is “the election of Obama”. That statement refers to an event (the election) and not to the position of President. Second, the office of President deserves respect purely due to its position. The man occupying that position deserves respect until such time that he demonstrates that he is not worthy of respect – as is the case of any man. Do not confuse the man with the office – they are two very different entities.

    2) To take my words and twist them to say “good facts about slavery” is being far from accurate. The context is The South’s role in the issue of slavery – not whether slavery is “good” or “bad” as you claim. For every fact that demonstrates that The South seceded in order to protect the institution of slavery, another fact demonstrates that it was issues of power and taxation. Those who try to demonize The South as narrowly focused on slavery simply pick and choose the facts that support their side and pretend the other facts don’t exist.

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