The Confederacy and All That (I have a lot to learn).
April 13, 2011
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It certainly is the case that many Southerners still love the Confederacy. For a quick summary and some data, check here. The upshot of the data is this:
In the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Tuesday, roughly one in four Americans said they sympathize more with the Confederacy than the Union, a figure that rises to nearly four in ten among white Southerners. […] When broken down by political party, most Democrats said southern states seceded over slavery, independents were split and most Republicans said slavery was not the main reason that Confederate states left the Union.
I have friends that believe that sympathy towards the confederacy is akin to having sympathy for Stalin. Knowing what I know about the Civil War, which I admit is not much by a historian’s standard, I cannot agree with this extreme reaction. I don’t believe it’s fair and, frankly, cruel in some respects.
The thing is this: I do not know why I think what I think. I recognize all of the evils of slavery and the horrors of plantation economies. But I am also sensitive to the fact that there was a way of life in Dixie, a national — now regional — sentiment, that cannot be reduced entirely to slavery.
My sense is that demographics, a changing political economy, and technological change will shrink this to an ever smaller fraction of the South in the generations ahead. The data in the article cited above, however, suggests that it is alive and well. I am bracing myself to interact with it, to try to understand it. I have a lot to learn.