Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Black And Whistling Dixie

Nelson W. Winbush of Kissimmee FL, whose grandfather fought for the Confederacy.

This from the AP today.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A black state senator is pushing a bill that would require South Carolina cities and counties to give their workers a paid day off for Confederate Memorial Day or lose millions in state funds.

Democratic Sen. Robert Ford's bill won initial approval from a Senate subcommittee Tuesday. It would force county and municipal governments to follow the schedule of holidays used by the state, which gives workers 12 paid days off, including May 10 to honor Confederate war dead. Mississippi and Alabama also recognize Confederate Memorial Day.

Years ago, Ford said, he pushed a bill to make both that day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day paid holidays. He considered it an effort to help people understand the history of both the civil rights movement and the Confederacy in a state where the Orders of Secession are engraved in marble in the Statehouse lobby, portraits of Confederate generals look down on legislators in their chambers and the Confederate flag flies outside.

"Every municipality and every citizen of South Carolina, should be, well, forced to respect these two days and learn what they can about those two particular parts of our history," Ford said Tuesday.

Read the rest here.

Although certainly rare, this sort of thing is not completely unknown.

From the St. Petersburg Times October 7th 2007...

KISSIMMEE -- Nelson Winbush rotates a miniature flag holder he keeps on his mantel, imagining how the banners would appear in a Civil War battle.

The Stars and Bars, he explains, looked too much like the Union flag to prevent friendly fire. The Confederacy responded by fashioning the distinctive Southern Cross -- better known as the rebel flag.

Winbush, 78, is a retired assistant principal with a master's degree, a thoughtful man whose world view developed from listening to his grandfather's stories about serving the South in the "War Between the States."

His grandfather's casket was draped with a Confederate flag. His mother pounded out her Confederate heritage on a typewriter. He wears a rebel flag pinned to the collar of his polo shirt.

Winbush is also black.

"You've never seen nothing like me, have you?"

Read the whole story.

First, I'm a Yankee born and bread whose ancestors wore the blue uniform (one gave an arm for the Union at Gettysburg). And yea I do find the idea of African-Americans standing up for the Confederacy more than a little odd. But as they say, it's a free country. And while, I have read some Neo-Confederate apologetics, and concede that a strict construction of the Constitution may have given states a right to secede; I find the argument that the defense of slavery was not the primary motive behind the South's decision to exercise that right, to be spurious at best.

All of this said, I respect the efforts by (most) Southerners to preserve their heritage as long as they present it honestly. I think it unreasonable of some to demand that an entire group of people go forth and collectively spit on the graves of their ancestors. Most soldiers in the Confederate Army did not own slaves and were not fighting for or against the institution. In their minds they were mainly fighting for the right to be left alone. Those seeking to vilify the soldiers of the Confederacy would do well to consider the complexity of Southern society in that day and age. It was not nearly as monolithic as some would have us believe. And then of course we must also bear in mind the caution about attempting to pass moral judgments on persons of another era according to our modern societal norms. That is a dangerous and slippery slope.


John (Ad Orientem) said...

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Dr.D said...

I am an elderly white man who grew up in South Texas. I was raised around both blacks and mestizos in a culture quite different from that which exist today. This was in the days of so-called "Jim Crow," but there was a far greater level of racial harmony then than exists today. My town had segregated schools and most public places were segregated, but blacks and whites worked together and everybody got along rather well; they simply did not socialize but kept to themselves. With that memory, I do not find this story quite so strange.

The cause of "states rights" was indeed the driving force behind the Civil War, and it may well be the cause behind the next division in this country. There are resolutions currently in the legislatures of a number of states calling upon the national government to remember the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, the one that says that all powers not specifically given to the Federal government remain with the States. Our Federal government long ago usurped many powers going far beyond the original intent of the Constitution, and now we may be seeing a ground swell of sentiment to demand that they back off; I hope so.

Your closing caution is most apt wherein you said, "...then of course we must also bear in mind the caution about attempting to pass moral judgments on persons of another era according to our modern societal norms." I think that this caution is rarely, if ever, observed but it is most certainly needed. We are simply not equipped to see things as they saw them and to make the judgments for them.