Friday, October 21, 2011

Second Vermont Republic's Thomas Naylor Clumsily Attempts to Co-opt the Occupy Wall Street Movement

The first hint that the baas of the Second Vermont Republic, the Dixie singin' Thomas Naylor, was about to make his move to begin his attempt at co-opting what he can of the Occupy Wall Street movement came in a screed pissing on virtually every New Yorker now living in NYC (except for, of course, Brooklynite secessionist flack, Christopher Ketcham). Kind of like Naylor's repeated past condemnation of all Vermonters that I wrote about here.

A week later Naylor showed where he was heading in a post at his website titled, The Wall Street Occupation Gets It, Almost, where he wrote:
"I view myself as an enthusiastic supporter of the Wall Street Occupation (WSO) movement."
Thing is, Tom, that isn't what the movement is called, nor is that the acronym universally used. It's much like the same problem you've had here with Vermonters - you arrogantly label everyone as you wish and then blow a gasket when someone objects, even minutely. Naylor then immediately undermines his claim of being an "enthusiastic supporter" when he notes that the "WSO"(sic) falls short of his own nihilistic standard:
"Unfortunately, many WSO(sic) supporters seem to believe that the United States Government is still fixable. They fail to realize that because of its size, the United States is unsustainable, ungovernable, and, therefore, unfixable."
"Regrettably, many of those in the WSO(sic) movement subscribe to the view that campaign finance reform will solve all of our problems."
And then in possibly one of Naylor's most cynically obvious, opportunistic flimflam attempts at co-option, he writes:
"But a word of caution to these idealistic revolutionaries. Avoid like the plague allowing your movement to be co-opted by the Obama administration, the Democratic Party, George Soros’s .org), or political opportunists such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Also, resist the temptation to get in bed with some particular political ideology. No political ideology can save America from itself.

The Wall Street Occupation
(sic) movement could be onto something very big – a paradigm shift in the way Americans view the political process. Is it possible to create a window of opportunity which might be open to heretofore unimaginable political options such as... secession..."
Too bad Naylor hasn't the honesty to tell the OWS movement that he hates Bernie Sanders because Bernie failed to resign his US Senate seat to run as Naylor's handpicked secesher candidate for Vermont governor, as Naylor had demanded years earlier.

Naylor also failed to disclose to OWS and Occupy Vermont (his real intended target audience) of his Vermont secesher movement's longtime association with white supremacists (League of the South), homophobes (Christian Exodus) and his promotion of virulent anti-Semites (like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to name just one), including past SVR board of advisor members like Franklin Sanders (neo-Confederate executive board member of the LOS), Thomas DiLorenzo (neo-Confederate, anti-union, anti-14th Amendment and whose work has been published in a Holocaust Denial journal), Jason Sorens (who's done work for the Koch brothers, founded the Free State Project and then has failed to New Hampshire as he requires of his followers, and favors limiting the voting rights of public employees) etc., etc., ad nauseum.

Even now, full blown Vermont secessionists like Matt Cropp (Vermont secesher ideologue and former campaign manager for the supremely failed secesher gubernatorial run of fringer, Dennis Steele) have embedded themselves into the Occupy Vermont-Burlington group.

It'll be interesting to see how the secesher crowd will do at co-opting the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Vermont movements. Given the Vermont secesher track record for failure, from elections to print publications like the soon to be defunct Vermont Commons journal, the OWS and OVB movements seem to be safe for the moment.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Facts? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Facts!!

Just when I start to think that Peter Garritano, the handpicked 2010 Lt. Governor candidate of the baas of the Second Vermont Republic, the Dixie singin' Magnolia Vermonter, Thomas Naylor, couldn't become more paranoid, more incoherent and more detached from the real world, he belts out another factless conspiracy theory.

In a blog post at Rob Williams' nearly defunct "Vermont Commons Journal" website titled Wall Street Hit Squad, Garritano asserts that,
"Nobody likes to be ridiculed and the con men on Wall Street have had enough of the protests. The recent allegations that the Mexican drug cartel teamed up with an Iranian to hatch a terror plot has all the markings of the made for TV events that the FBI has been sponsoring for the last ten years..."

"Wall Street was tired of the parades and signs questioning the integrity of the wealthy, so they made a call to members of their personal police force in the FBI. The people who once pretended to protect and serve us are now stuck writing bad scripts for the 49% of the population that still believes in Muslim boogie men. Wall Street has decided to show the 99% who’s boss by calling in a hit on Iran."
The only thing to be ridiculed in that hodge podge of unconnected dots is the thought processes of the declared 2012 secessionist candidate for one of the Vermont Senate seats of Chittenden county, Peter Garritano.

Back in May of this year in another of his rants here about the US gubmint and things he think have or haven't happened, Garritano said that,
"The Hall of Fame of (U.S. government) Fakery includes underwear bombs..."
Earth to Garritano: The so-called underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, pled guilty after opening arguments at his trial began to all eight of the charges lodged against him, including conspiring to commit terrorism.

To paraphrase Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Garritano is entitled to his own opinion but he is not then supposed to create his own facts to support his alternate universe. This should be of interest to all Chittenden voters who may find Garritano's independence spiel even slightly appealing - facts promoted by a would-be legislator should not be independent of reality. Little wonder then that during his last political go-around in 2010 he garnered barely more than 3.6% of the statewide vote. And to think that his superiors believed that he might do better, according to Thomas Naylor's (13%) and Jim "Ethan Allen" Hogue's (18%) estimation of statewide voter support for secession.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Consensus? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Consensus!

A friend wisely noted that I've taken my eye off the ball regarding secessionist "heavy hitters" while digressing into examination of some minor secesher links to the Occupy Vermont - Burlington group and I'm inclined to agree. The thing is that I've a rather low threshold of tolerance for posturing bullshit, a common stance of Vermont's seceshers, and they seem to have lent their talent for that sort of behavior to the OV-Bers; it all just makes me crabbier than usual.

A professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government has recently noted,
"The General Assembly at Zuccotti Park (site of the Occupy Wall Street encampment) is structured to allow participants to arrive at decisions through consensus. A central aim of this arrangement is to avoid subtle processes of domination by small factions and dogmatic leaders that have undermined many social movements."
So I was enthralled on Friday by an ongoing kerfuffle on the Facebook page of the Occupy Vermont - Burlington group. One admin at the page had posted,
"I've just been informed I suck at what i"m doing. And i"m trying to play leader. On that note, good luck guys. my attention will be focused where it will be appreciated."
From there things devolved into nearly a score of alternatively accusatory and sappy, kumbayaish comments of the sort one might expect in such a "decentralized" setting.

The occupier whose feelings got hurt was a Rutland area organizer by the name of Zach Cavacas. For someone who apparently objected to being labeled a "leader," he's sure been acting like one in Rutland; from being the one deciding to obtain and sign for park usage permits, to being the one to decide when or if an event was to be called off on account of rain. But that aside, what struck me was how the "problem" got handled.

Zach had followed up his first posting with a second that suggested that OV-B was sinking, followed by another half dozen or more comments. Not very collegial but certainly an opinion that he was entitled to openly express, as well as those who agreed or disagreed in their comments. Then the real leader of the pack arrived home and saw what had been going on. Result: all posts and comments related to Zach's complaint were deleted, with this statement,
"Good evening.I have NO idea what happened here this afternoon,but I can assure you it will not EVER happen again. Moderator in the house. Everyone is welcome here.Thank you."
The whole leadership issue, along with the superficial lip-service to the idea of consensus and openness, would seem to be a problem directly imported from the seceshers and their hacks who now frequent the ranks of OV-B.

Too bad.

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For the archive of the Free Vermont Framework listserv, click here.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

This Is What Democracy Looks Like?

I took a personal look this week at the Occupy Wall Street site and found myself not very impressed.

Certainly the actual participants are sincere but the whole setting has taken on a carnival-like atmosphere, complete with breathless Amy Goodman "interviews" and her irritatingly repetitive questions that start with "talk about" and then suggest the answers that interviewees should head to.

Occupation "peepers" vastly outnumber the not quite on Wall Street occupiers.

While some reports depict the various Occupy groups throughout the US as acting on behalf of 99% of Americans, that seems to be an inflation of representation on a par with some of the stratagems, tactics and imagery used by secessionists and Teabaggers. For instance, the Burlington group headed by (if you're the one quoted usually most frequently, you're the head/spokesperson, like it or not) Matt Cropp/OB uses an image from no, not Burlington, but rather an arrest in NYC. No context, no verifiable facts, just an arrest takedown with no other information.

Was a crime committed? By whom? What happened immediately before that arrest? Is there some relationship to the Burlington PD? Nope, just an image from somewhere else meant to evoke, you know, whatever it's hoped might be seen in it by whoever, although there's no absolutely relationship whatsoever to the Burlington PD.

Did Cropp or someone else slap that image onto their Facebook page for its emotional value? Who's to say? But its relevance to the Burlington PD or any inference regarding their treatment of the occupiers here would be a bullshit conclusion. It's just the sort of misinformation that can make the Occupy Burlington group as irrelevant to Vermonters as the secessionist organization that Cropp represents (or not, depending on who he's trying to stroke) has done to themselves over the years with their misrepresentations. Fostering bad relations with the Burlington PD without any basis can't serve Vermonters or the would-be occupiers. Any such movement must be based on truth if it's to take off, unless, of course, Cropp, et al, are following the Teabagger model.

Given "the amount of print and face time" that Cropp's managed to garner for himself up to now, he's most definitely the "spokesperson" for the Vermont Occupy groups.

Cropp has said,
"(T)he vast majority of people I met (at OWS NYC) were from places other than NYC; on the second trip it was majority New Yorker"
While the first statement by Cropp may have been true, his second statement is sheer bullshit. Zuccotti Park is crawling with tourists and tour buses clog the area streets to see the "action." If Cropp's actually been there, he'd know that or he's just lying to promote a political disinformation campaign.

What's missing from the OWS locale are any advocates of Cropp's signature issue - secession. I looked hard for any sign of secessionist sentiment and it ain't there. For those of you who've forgotten or who now wish to, Matt was the campaign manager of one of the most unsuccessful gubernatorial efforts in recent Vermont history, the secessionist campaign of the middle finger waving Connecticut native Dennis Steele; Occupy Burlington might want to take note of that fact.

Cropp is seen grinning here in an early warning by Occupy Burlington to the Burlington PD. With no problem yet having presented itself with the Burlington PD, why did the group seek to draw kind of some line in the sand? Looking for an incident that you think will inspire, Matt? Back in the day we use call that being a provocateur, not leadership.

The posturing by Cropp on behalf of Occupy Burlington seems to be pretty obvious, including the field trips to OWS that he's now involved in promoting while soliciting contributions. Hopefully there'll be a full, transparent, public financial accounting of this fundraising effort by Cropp's group and given its complaints about taxes one hopes that they'll make the necessary income tax declarations (I don't think that road trips to NYC will qualify as a charitable expenditure by an as yet to be applied for 501(3)(c) status).

In fact, when a Occupy Burlington supporter complained repeatedly about the junkets to New York, Matt sought to silence the public, transparent discussion on Facebook by directing the discussion to himself personally:
"Before throwing around baseless accusations imputing the goodwill of people who've been working damn hard to help build this movement, why don't you actually try and talk to us - I'm around this afternoon and available to talk through either skype or on the phone. Send me a private message with your contact info and let's discuss your concerns"
Source: Occupy Burlington, Matt's 10/11/11, 1:17 PM response to -Zach #AntiSec's 10/11/11, 11:14 AM complaint
According to tonight's news reports, the City of New York intends to assist the owner of Zuccotti Park assert its management rights in the park tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM.

Occupy Wall Street "spokesman" Patrick Bruner has "called on people to come to the site at 6 a.m. tomorrow, an hour before cleaning is scheduled to begin, 'to defend the occupation from eviction.'”

Here's an idea for Occupy Burlington spokespersons and organizers, Matthew Cropp and Jonathan Leavitt; instead of just "be(ing) here, strong and standing together in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.," they get on the road and be there in Zuccotti Park at 6:00 AM as is being asked for by OWS.

It's time to fish or cut bait, boys. You may want to download this app on the way there.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Vermont Secessionist Seeks a Position As a Director at the City Market / Onion River Co-op in Burlington

Matthew Cropp's electoral ambitions (read: power needs) continue. He's now offering his vast experience in pretty much nothing useful to the Board of Directors of the Burlington City Market / Onion River Co-op, to serve in one of three available positions on the Board as a new director.

I've read his candidate statement here and was surprised that he hadn't fleshed it out a bit more with some of his more recent endeavors, one being his stint as campaign manager for the 2010 Vermont secessionist gubernatorial candidate, Dennis Steele. Perhaps that was because the Steele campaign serves as an example of the most inept, most incompetent and most incoherent campaign in recent memory. While Cropp can't be held entirely responsible for Steele's erratic behavior, he must have had something to say about the images attached to that campaign. One particularly disturbing image was of the self-professed murderer, Che Guevara, superimposed on the Vermont National Guard battle flag that was used on the campaign website and campaign literature. Under Cropp's "stewardship" the campaign was able to "function" so "efficiently and rationally" that Steele eventually garnered barely three quarters of one percent of Vermont's 2010 gubernatorial vote, something that I'm sure that Cropp would rather re-frame as third place.

Cropp's commitment to a "trans-ideological" Vermont independence (read: secessionist) movement has included deep participation in what was called the "Free Vermont Framework listserv", which was set up, in part, as a way to avoid interference from "the pigs." (See "Free Vermont Framework listserv" archive at the bottom of the post and then search Feb. 2010 archive page 192) That commitment to "trans-ideological" involvement included remaining silent when one listserv member made repeated hateful statements directed at race-mixing and lesbians. Eventually, Cropp's Steele campaign accepted its largest out-of-state campaign contribution from this hateful individual, and when the matter was exposed on this blog the campaign chose to keep the bigot's money.

Cropp also said in his City Market / Onion River Co-op campaign statement,
"...I've had previous experiences ...including having served ...on the editorial board of several publications"
I don't know why he wasn't more forthcoming about who those editorial boards were that benefited from his expertise but I suspect that the one that I do know about, "Vermont Commons", and its reputation for harboring the written work of white supremacists, neo-Confederates and anti-Semites in its pages is something that Cropp would have difficulty explaining. Maybe it's just that "trans-ideological" thing at work again.

In addition to his work organizing the campaign of the handpicked gubernatorial candidate of the the Dixie singin' Thomas Naylor's Second Vermont Republic, Cropp interests now include central participation with the #OccupyVermont movement.

One certainly has to wonder how Cropp's unrevealed and varied interests and "perspective," as well as his experience in "cultivating working relationships" with some of society's more odious and hateful elements, will serve the Co-op, not to mention his own personal "aspirations."

As a measure of Cropp's dedication to his undisclosed ideals and the degree to which he's advanced his personal goals, one need look no farther than his creation of the Vermont Independence Alliance ten months ago and his statement of purpose,
"We are therefore dedicated to supporting service projects which strengthen our communities and strive to meet local needs with local resources."

"...In order to advance these shared principles, VIA chapters will first be organized in each of our state's counties. These groups will serve as local hubs of both political activism and community service, forming the movement's sturdy, grass-roots foundation. Once a sufficient number of counties are organized, a convention will be held to constitute a state-wide organization. While most resources and responsibilities will remain at the county level, the state organization will take the lead in coordinating large events and supporting state-wide candidates for public office." well as Cropp's lengthy announcement at the Vermont secesher homebase website, Second Vermont Republic, here. The question then would be, "How's that going for ya, Matt?"

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Earth to SVR Apparatchik and Vermont Commons Editor-at-large Kirkpatrick Sale: The Lost Cause of Southern Secession Was Always About Slavery

A Second Vermont Republic founder and longtime advisory board fixture, as well as a "Vermont Commons" editor, Kirkpatrick Sale, has been involved in the modern 21st century secessionist movement almost from its inception. Certainly, he has become one of the movement's "big thinkers"; fact is, I don't think there's one member of today's tiny, secession from the "US of Empire" movement that doesn't consider himself (yes, it's a largely male group) a "big thinker." And if by "big thinker" they mean that they'll just make shit up to have their way, I'd also agree with that descriptive for the lot of them.

Earlier this spring a friend of the blog passed along a piece that Sale had written about the sesquicentennial of this country's Civil War (here) and suggested that I comment on it. VTCommons
"publisher" and poohbah-in-chief at the Vermont secesher propaganda print journal, Rob Williams, personally promoted Sale's historical fiction in the February issue of his soon to be defunct rag.

In his convoluted perversion of history Sale asserted, in all seriousness, that,
"(W)e should understand that the issue of slavery, strictly, was not the cause of Southern secession or the reason for the war on the Confederate side."
Nothing could be further from the truth. Sale even goes so far as to say that Lincoln's refusal to capitulate and submit to Southern secessionist's demands was "a clear and deliberate act of war."

I'd meant to examine this bit of secesher historical revisionism earlier but when I recently found this piece by UVM race relations professor emeritus, James W. Loewen, that succinctly exposes the mythology (read: junk history) promoted by Sale and his friends at SVR, VTCommons and the rest of the sorry neo-Confederate enterprise, it seemed the perfect way to address Sale's historical dishonesty.

Getting the Civil War Right

William Faulkner famously wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” He would not be surprised to learn that Americans, 150 years after the Civil War began, are still getting it wrong.

During the last five years, I’ve asked several thousand teachers for the main reason the South seceded. They always come up with four alternatives: states’ rights, slavery, tariffs and taxes or the election of Lincoln.

When I ask them to vote, the results—and resulting discussions— convince me that no part of our history gets more mythologized than the Civil War, beginning with secession.

My informal polls show that 55 to 75 percent of teachers—regardless of region or race—cite states’ rights as the key reason southern states seceded. These conclusions are backed up by a 2011 Pew Research Center poll, which found that a wide plurality of Americans—48 percent— believe that states’ rights was the main cause of the Civil War. Fewer, 38 percent, attributed the war to slavery, while 9 percent said it was a mixture of both.

These results are alarming because they are essentially wrong. States’ rights was not the main cause of the Civil War—slavery was.

The issue is critically important for teachers to see clearly. Understanding why the Civil War began informs virtually all the attitudes about race that we wrestle with today. The distorted emphasis on states’ rights separates us from the role of slavery and allows us to deny the notions of white supremacy that fostered secession.

In short, this issue is a perfect example of what Faulkner meant when he said the past is not dead—it’s not even past.

The Lost Cause
Confederate sympathizers have long understood the importance of getting the Civil War wrong. In 1866, a year after the war ended, an ex-Confederate named Edward A. Pollard published the first pro-southern history, called The Lost Cause: A New Southern History of the War of the Confederates. Pollard’s book was followed by a torrent of similar propaganda. Soon, the term “Lost Cause” perfectly described the South’s collective memory of the war.

All these works promoting the Lost Cause consoled southern pride by echoing similar themes: The South’s leaders had been noble; the South was not out-fought but merely overwhelmed; Southerners were united in support of the Confederate cause; slavery was a benign institution overseen by benevolent masters.

A chief tenet of the Lost Cause was that secession had been forced on the South to protect states’ rights. This view spread in part because racism pervaded both North and South, and both ex-Confederates and ex-Unionists wanted to put the war behind them. Beginning with Mississippi’s new constitution in 1890, white southerners effectively removed African Americans from citizenship and enshrined their new status in Jim Crow laws. Northerners put the war behind them by turning their backs on blacks and letting Jim Crow happen.

From 1890 to about 1940, the Lost Cause version of events held sway across the United States. This worldview influenced popular culture, such as the racist 1915 movie The Birth of a Nation and Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 bestselling paean to the Old South, Gone With the Wind. As I point out in my book Lies My Teacher Told Me, history textbooks also bought into the myth and helped promote it nationwide.

What’s Wrong About States’ Rights?
But advocates of the Lost Cause— Confederates and later neo- Confederates—had a problem. The leaders of southern secession left voluminous records. The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s prompted historians and teachers to review those records and challenge the Lost Cause. One main point they came to was this: Confederate states seceded against states’ rights, not for them.

As states left the Union, they said why. On Christmas Eve of 1860, South Carolina, the first to go, adopted a “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” It listed South Carolina’s grievances, including the exercise of northern states’ rights: “We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.” The phrase “constitutional obligations” sounds vague, but delegates went on to quote the part of the Constitution that concerned them— the Fugitive Slave Clause. They then noted “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery. ... In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed ...”

South Carolina also attacked New York for no longer allowing temporary slavery. In the past, Charleston gentry who wanted to spend a cool August in the North could bring their cooks along. By 1860, New York made it clear that it was a free state and any slave brought there would become free. South Carolina was outraged. Delegates were further upset at a handful of northern states for letting African-American men vote. Voting was a state matter at the time, so this should have fallen under the purview of states’ rights. Nevertheless, southerners were outraged. In 1860, South Carolina pointed out that according to “the supreme law of the land, [blacks] are incapable of becoming citizens.” This was a reference to the 1857 Dred Scott decision by the southern- dominated U.S. Supreme Court.

Delegates also took offense that northern states have “denounced as sinful the institution of Slavery” and “permitted open establishment among them of [abolitionist] societies ...” In other words, northern and western states should not have the right to let people assemble and speak freely—not if what they say might threaten slavery.

Thoroughly Identified With Slavery
Other seceding states echoed South Carolina. “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery— the greatest material interest of the world,” proclaimed Mississippi. “... [A] blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.” Northern abolitionists, Mississippi went on to complain, have “nullified the Fugitive Slave Law,” “broken every compact” and even “invested with the honors of martyrdom” John Brown—the radical abolitionist who tried to lead a slave uprising in Virginia in 1859.

Once the Confederacy formed, its leaders wrote a new constitution that protected the institution of slavery at the national level. As historian William C. Davis has said, this showed how little Confederates cared about states’ rights and how much they cared about slavery. “To the old Union they had said that the Federal power had no authority to interfere with slavery issues in a state,” he said. “To their new nation they would declare that the state had no power to interfere with a federal protection of slavery.”

Their founding documents show that the South seceded over slavery, not states’ rights. But the neo-Confederates are right in a sense. Slavery was not the only cause. The South also seceded over white supremacy, something in which most whites—North and South—sincerely believed. White southerners came to see the 4 million African Americans in their midst as a menace, going so far as to predict calamity, even race war, were slavery ever to end. This facet of Confederate ideology helps explain why many white southerners—even those who owned no slaves and had no prospects of owning any—mobilized so swiftly and effectively to protect their key institution.

This historic map shows how the United States was divided in 1861, as the Civil War began. All of the seceding southern states were heavily dependant on slavery. Keeping African Americans in bondage allowed slave owners to cheaply grow cash crops like cotton, rice and sugar cane.

Tariffs, Taxes and Lincoln
The other alleged causes of the Civil War can be dispensed with fairly quickly. The argument that tariffs and taxes also caused secession is a part of the Lost Cause line favored by modern neo-Confederates. But this, too, is flatly wrong.

High tariffs had been the issue in the 1831 nullification controversy, but not in 1860. About tariffs and taxes, the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes” said nothing. Why would it? Tariffs had been steadily decreasing for a generation. The tariff of 1857, under which the nation was functioning, had been written by a Virginia slaveowner and was warmly approved of by southern members of Congress. Its rates were lower than at any other point in the century.

The election of Lincoln is a valid explanation for secession—not an underlying cause, but clearly the trigger. Many southern states referred to the “Black Republican Party,” to use Alabama’s term, that had “elected Abraham Lincoln to the office of President.” As “Black Republican” implies, Alabama was upset with Lincoln because he held “that the power of the Government should be so exercised that slavery in time, should be exterminated.” So it all comes back to slavery.

Study the Writing of History
None of this was secret in the 1860s. The “anything but slavery” explanations gained traction only after the war, especially after 1890—at exactly the same time that Jim Crow laws became entrenched across the South. Thus when people wrote about secession influenced what they wrote.

And here the states’ rights argument opens a door for teachers to explain how perceptions of the past change from one generation to the next. Most students imagine history is something “to be learned,” so the whole idea of historiography—that who writes history, when and for what audience, affects how history is written— is new to them. They need to know it. Knowledge of historiography empowers students, helping them become critical readers and thinkers.

Concealing the role of white supremacy — on both sides of the conflict — makes it harder for students to see white supremacy today. After all, if southerners were not championing slavery but states’ rights, then that minimizes southern racism as a cause of the war. And it gives implicit support to the Lost Cause argument that slavery was a benevolent institution. Espousing states’ rights as the reason for secession whitewashes the Confederate cause into a “David versus Goliath” undertaking— the states against the mighty federal government.

States’ rights became a rallying cry for southerners fighting all federal guarantees of civil rights for African Americans. This was true both during Reconstruction and in the 1950s, when the modern civil rights movement gained strength. Today, the cause of states’ rights is still invoked against federal social programs and education initiatives that are often beneficial to people of color.

In other words, teaching the Civil War wrong cedes power to some of the most reactionary forces in the United States, letting them, rather than truth, dictate what we say in the classroom. Allowing bad history to stand literally makes the public stupid about the past—today.

Source: Teaching Tolerance Magazine, Issue 40, Fall 2011
Well said, professor. I couldn't have said it nearly as well.

Professor Loewen's book, The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The “Great Truth” about the “Lost Cause” , written with Edward. H. Sebesta, a researcher and expert on the neo-Confederate movement, is noted in the links column to the right.

Editor's Note: Kirkpatrick Sale has relocated to South Carolina to wage his war against truth where it all began. He is also now a South Carolina delegate to the Southern National Congress, a reincarnation of the secesher movement of the 1850s. Here's what one local South Carolina commentator and admirer of Sale, Will Moredock at the Charleston City Paper, has to say about Sale's ludicrous historical revisionism.

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