I originally published this July 2, 2015. It is perhaps more important today than when I wrote it. I am now blending it in with my series about white supremacists and Nazis.
I am a fan of the SPLC. I reference the SPLC’s work so often I’m surprised they don’t either go after me for plagiarism (just joking) or charge me by the link. Their work is critical to fairness in this country. It helped to start my political evolution with dramatic eye-opening, slap-in-the-face reality, along with actual facts. But, I think the SPLC is now seriously hurting its cause. We are told to know our enemies. In other words, we’re told to use some psychology, once in awhile. You have over-played your hand, giving in to the hype of the moment. It is very poorly done.
If you knew your ‘enemy’ you would understand that you are giving the haters and the white supremacists just exactly what they want. In the past, when some monster committed a horrific crime, in the name of some group, those in power were quick to say that they don’t represent everyone who believes what they do. A person can be a white supremacist, a confederate sympathizer, and a racist, and NOT be a criminal. If your numbers are accurate, then just studying them for a bit, and comparing them to FBI numbers completely contradicts your claims. Southern sympathizers are quite often very very different from the CofCC, American Renaissance, and very much different from Stormfront. It is also disingenuous to constantly state that these organizations are ‘Southern’. You know you are misleading people.
I was born in south Florida, I grew up in Oconee County, South Carolina, and went to Clemson. By the very fact that the land on which the university is located once belonged to John C. Calhoun, I guess that establishes it as racist, right? That’s the current way things are being seen. I lived in SC for 40 years of my life. I know the state, the politics, and the people. There are some very bad people who live there, but by in large, most of them are good people. I was always actively involved in GOP politics in the state. What no one is mentioning is that we tried to have the Confederate flag removed from the state capitol back in the 1980s. It was opposed by numerous Democrats. Also, what you are failing to mention is that the governor of the state, who was opposed to desegregation and had the flag put up on the capitol was a Democrat, supported by the Democrats in the state. At the time, there were very few Republicans in the state. Oconee County did not even have a county party until my mother helped organize it, back in 1964. Strangely enough, Strom Thurmond is still damned because of the sins for which he repented, but the governor who put the flag on the state capitol never did. I don’t get it. Truly, I don’t.
I am a historian. One of the things I loath most is historical revisionism, of any ilk. The GOP is suffering from the mendacity of David Barton. But, you don’t make it worse by delving into revisionism from the left, either. I grew up on the stories of what happened to the South after the Civil War. I actually knew people who had lived through those years of Reconstruction. It might help if someone dared have the courage to discuss the fact that some of the hate groups were the result of the atrocities and the corruption of Reconstruction. Do you even care that Lincoln ordered a scorched earth policy throughout the South? Sherman was heart-sick but was required to follow orders. Ironically, he loved the South, and chose to reside there, once the war was over, but Lee, even though he was the commanding general of Confederate forces, was far less committed to the South. It was only by a quirk of fate that he did not lead the Union forces. He was not a bad man.
Union troops committed horrible atrocities throughout the South. When a person drives through the South, and remakes over the beautiful antebellum architecture, you might want to stop and consider the fact that in all likelihood, the reason that building is still standing is because the wives and daughters of the house prostituted themselves to Union soldiers, in order to save their homes. Women were routinely raped by Sherman’s troops. Their homes were destroyed, everything they owned taken from them. Left destitute, they faced starvation, disease, and absolute denigration of everything in their lives.
Those who could, left. That’s another little part of the story being ignored. If a person could, they fled the South, going into Arkansas, parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and into Mexico. New Mexico was considered a Confederate state. It was occupied by one of the most corrupt generals James Carleton, this nation has ever known. Under orders directly from Lincoln, he rounded up the Navajo and Apache, putting them in what was literally the worst concentration camp in this nation’s history. That is part of the history of the war and post war. While Lincoln was involved in ‘freeing’ Southern slaves, his Indian policy was brutal, vicious, with his appointees abjectly corrupt. Nothing is said about this.
Strange, how no one bothers with the fact that New Mexico was a Confederate state until Kit Carson defeated Confederate forces at the Battle of Glorietta Pass. No one even bothers connecting the dots to the abject corruption of Carleton, Murphy, and the Santa Fe Ring led to the Lincoln County Cattle War, and the Posse Comitatus Act. By censoring and deleting history, you are ignoring the direct connections to Quantrill, the James Gang, the Youngers, and the birth of organized crime in this country. It happened in Kansas, not the South. You are ignoring the fact that the Lincoln County Cattle War directly led to the Cochise County Cowboy War and the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
There are some hot-heads who want the movie, Gone With the Wind banned. Once again, we are dealing with the ignorance of those who don’t bother going beyond face value. GWTW was NOT about the Civil War. It was the only way Margaret Mitchell could get away with telling the history of the Fulton-Holiday family. Like all in her generation, and the one that followed, she was sworn to secrecy. The true family history could not be told because of the prestige of the family. It was only until the last remaining member of a generation died could the real family story be told. It wasn’t about the South or the Civil War. The history they were hiding was that of one Dr. John Henry Holiday, DDS.
Too bad you can’t tell about the draft riots in NYC or the fact that the war was so unpopular in the North that Lincoln hired mercenaries to come in and fight for the North. The reason I know this is because my great-great-grandfather, Johannes Froehlich was a Hessian Mercenary. Family lore says that Lincoln was present when he was sworn in as an American citizen. My father’s entire family was from the North. Not one single person fought in the war. The only ancestor I have, who fought, was Pierce Butler Bohannon, who was from Kentucky. He spent most of his time a prisoner in Camp Douglas, which was far worse than Andersonville, but that too, has been forgotten. Also ignored is the vast unpopularity of Lincoln. He was hated in the North. The only reason he was reelected was due to Sherman’s destruction of Atlanta.
You can’t ignore and erase history. This is what is now happening in the South. To me, it is like someone rubbing long finger-nails on a chalkboard. It hurts. It is painful, no matter if it is Southern or Northern history. It is history. You don’t take monuments down and deface them. You do like the do in the UK and put another up next to it.
But, that requires thought, logic, and temperance. It also requires the act of humanizing Southerners. Quite frankly, if we were not in the United States, I would be absolutely terrified over what I am seeing. An entire region of the country, and entire group of people are being demonized, marginalized, and turned into monsters. This is how ethnic cleansing begins. Even more alarming is the demand to remove statues and rewrite history. This is ethnic cleansing. Suddenly, just normal people in the South, especially South Carolina, are being treated like monsters. We both know they are not that at all.
We also know that the real monsters are those who are linked via the KKK, CofCC, American Renaissance, and Stormfront. Isn’t Stormfront out of Palm Beach County, Florida? Isn’t the CofCC very strong in Illinois and Ohio, with their patron politician coming, not from the South, but out of Colorado? American Renaissance is connected with John Tanton’s racist anti-immigration organizations. They’re out of the DC area. And, they all link, politically, not really with the GOP, but Ron Paul libertarians. You know that. The SPLC has literally written the book on the subject.
What is the agenda behind the new hatred of just normal, run of the mill, Bubba, redneck, NASCAR watching, football tailgating, beer drinking, good old boys? Why are they to be demonized? The vast majority of them are not racist. You tell them that and they will tell you they aren’t. But, this constant innuendo of hate that is being spewed against them is creating trouble.
If you really wanted to diffuse the issue, and turn the average Southern Bubba into an asset, you would learn how to work with them, and not damn them. By in large, they are of Scots-Irish ancestry. They are pig-headed. They are romantic. They will fight until the bitter end and are fiercely loyal. If they are wrong, they will admit it, and appear, had in hand, seeking forgiveness. They are annoying, but very good people. They have a heart. What is being done to them is cruel, vicious, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen here in this country. It is amazing how they have been turned into objects of hatred and derision. The bigotry I now see spewed against them is terrifying.
Is this the new normal for life in the United States? If so, I don’t know if I want to be a part of it. You are helping to deliberately do to them, what you consider horrifying when done to others. Why are people from the South so deserving of such bigotry? The idiot waving a Confederate flag is no more responsible for what happened in Charleston than you or I am. Too bad you can’t be honest enough to admit Root was radicalized by Stormfront and their Neo-Nazi followers. But, if you were to do that, then you would be forced to admit that there are just as many, if not more, followers of this agenda in other parts of the country. That would be admitting you were wrong.
This is where I mention that the worst racists and bigots I’ve ever encountered were not in South Carolina but Arizona, Florida, and Ohio.