The Washington Post article, "Destroying Confederate monuments isn't 'erasing' history. It's learning from it."1 by African American associate professor Keisha N. Blain of the University of Pittsburgh, proves that not only does the Washington Post peddle in fake news, it peddles fake history.
Professor Blain's contention in the short article is that "Confederate monuments, as well as Confederate-named Army bases, are modern inventions meant to distort history and celebrate a racist past" because:
These symbols serve one primary purpose - to honor figures of the past who upheld an undemocratic vision of America. They were created by white supremacists. And they function as a balm for white supremacists who long to return to a period when Americans regarded black people as property.
This is a silly, self-important view of history by a person obsessed with race.
Whether Prof. Blain likes it or not, the culture and institutions of America came from white Europe. Great Britain is our Mother Country.
We were founded because Europeans were looking for resources and wealth. The Virginia Company, the Massachusetts Bay Company, we were founded by capitalist companies out to make money and create markets, which creates opportunity for average people.
Europeans were Christians, Jews, Protestants, and their culture was derived from Greek democracy, ancient Athens and Sparta, the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church, the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Bible, English Common Law, Magna Carta, the philosophy of John Locke, which found its way into Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.
There was a scientific revolution to go along with the industrial revolution. This was great progress for mankind.
That was the dominant culture from white Europe. It is more accurately described as American, not just white. White doesn't do it justice.
Professor Blain's characterization is racist. White supremacy? If you go to Africa you have black supremacy. In Central America, Hispanic supremacy. In Asia, Asian supremacy. If you go up by the North Pole, you have Eskimo supremacy.
Whatever the dominant culture is, that is what is supreme.
White supremacy in America when we were founded by white Europeans is not too profound an observation, so big deal.
The problem in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for blacks and whites was the bringing together of two diametrically opposite cultures: the tribal culture of Africa, and the advanced industrializing scientific civilization of Europe that had evolved and become strong and confident and was exploring the world looking for resources, markets, wealth, and opportunity. There was great competition among European nations for expansion, to spread their innovative cultures.
Africans in Africa knew about capitalism too because they knew they could make money selling other Africans into slavery first, to the British, then later to Yankees, mostly New Englanders, who were America's slave traders.
The tribal chieftains of Africa built slave forts like the one on Bunce Island off modern Sierra Leone, and the barracoons Zora Neale Hurston, the famous African American anthropologist, wrote about in her book, Barracoon. It describes African tribal warfare and their slave trade in great detail.2
The goal of white European culture was not to have slaves. It was to build great cities and nations and wealth for all. There was some opportunity for blacks even during slavery because people like William Ellison, the famous black cotton gin maker in Sumter County, got rich and became one of the largest slave owners in South Carolina.
Once slavery ended and the decades long rebuilding of the Southern economy was complete, more opportunity was created. We have continued to evolve until we have, today, unlimited opportunity for everybody from sea to shining sea.
There is nothing holding anybody back in America today. Anybody can achieve anything they want with the right attitude and willingness to work hard. Opportunity is all over the place for blacks, whites, women, men, everybody.
People just have to solve their individual problems, get the education or training they need, develop a strong work ethic then do like Sam Walton said and "get after it." Develop an intense determination to succeed.
Those who buy into the false narrative of the left, that America is a horribly racist place founded on racism and slavery: you ain't going nowhere. You can drown in your misery or you can shake off that nonsense and get to work.
We have had a two-term black president in America, no matter how mediocre and divisive he was. That proves America is not a racist nation in the least.
The Democrat Party's false charge of racism against anybody who disagrees with them, promotes real racism, and so does their war on the past.
Southerners did not secede because of slavery. They seceded because they were fed up with the Northern hate Republicans used in the election of 1860 to rally their votes.
John Brown's terrorist raid at Harper's Ferry had been a wake-up call for the South. It proved Northerners were serious about murdering Southerners since Brown was financed by Northerners, then celebrated in the North as a hero when he was brought to justice. Two Union states, Ohio and Iowa, protected Brown's sons who were wanted for murder in Virginia. Protecting fugitives from justice when wanted by another state was unconstitutional. This was yet another Northern violation of the Constitution.
Brown's mission had been to create a slave revolt like Haiti's that would result in thousands of Southern men, women and children brutally murdered.
Republicans also used Hinton Helper's The Impending Crisis, as a campaign document. It called for the throats of Southerners to be cut in the night.
This was the future for Southerners in the Union.
So, ask yourself, if you were a Southerner in 1860, would you let Lincoln's terrorist, money thieving party rule over you?
Or would you secede and form a new nation more to your liking as was your sacred right laid out in the Declaration of Independence where it states:
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prof. Blain also accuses Southerners of being traitors.
The idea that Southerners were traitors when they had the right to secede and exercised it properly, again, shows Prof. Blain's ignorance of history.
The New England states threatened to secede many times more than Southerners. Horace Greeley believed in the right of secession ("let our erring sisters go") until he realized it would affect his money then he wanted war like the rest of the North.
Three states - New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia - demanded the right of secession in writing before joining the Constitution. All the other states accepted the reserved right of secession of New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia, thus giving it to them as well, because all the states are equal with the exact same powers.
Prof. Blain's statement that Confederate monuments, Confederate-named bases, etc. serve "one primary purpose - to honor figures of the past who upheld an undemocratic vision of America" shows that she knows nothing about Southern history and probably has never cared to trouble herself with it.
What Southerners did by calling conventions of the people (their secession conventions) to debate, then vote on the one issue of secession, is the most democratic thing to ever happen on American soil.
It goes straight back to the Founding Fathers when they required that states call conventions of the people to ratify the Constitution rather than having it ratified by their legislatures. This was a far sounder foundation for the country than a legislative vote that could be rescinded by a later legislature.
Each Southern state called a convention, elected delegates as secessionists or unionists, debated the issue thoroughly, then voted.
Seven states seceded and formed a new democratic republic on this earth - the Confederate States of America - very similar to the one formed by our Founding Fathers but with States' Rights thoroughly protected.
Four states rejected secession at first. Prof. Blain skips over this. She says only "By June 1861, four more states had seceded."
The reason they seceded had nothing whatsoever to do with slavery though Prof. Blain does not tell you that because she, herself, does not know it.
The four states that had rejected secession seceded because Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to invade the South. They were horrified that Lincoln would use the Federal Government to invade sovereign states and murder their citizens. The Federal Government was supposed to be the agent of the states, not their master.
In those four states - Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina - lived 52.4% of white Southerners, therefore a majority of white Southerners seceded over nothing to do with slavery. They seceded over unconstitutional federal coercion.
Prof. Blain does get one thing right. She says Lincoln "made no such promise in 1860" to end slavery. She's right. Lincoln and the North supported the Corwin Amendment which would have left black people in slavery forever, even beyond the reach of Congress, in places where slavery already existed.
Not a single Confederate monument went up to honor whatever Prof. Blain means by white supremacy.
All went up with pennies from school children, and such, in the war-impoverished South to honor their dead from a war in which 750,000 died, and over a million were maimed. Is that not enough suffering for Prof. Blain to understand that the region wanted to honor those souls who were their blood and kin in a permanent way?
Basil Gildersleeve, a Confederate soldier from Charleston, South Carolina who is today "still regarded as the greatest American classical scholar of all times."3 describes the sentiment well in 1892, 27 years after the war. He writes:
A friend of mine, describing the crowd that besieged the Gare de Lyon in Paris, when the circle of fire was drawing round the city, and foreigners were hastening to escape, told me that the press was so great that he could touch in every direction those who had been crushed to death as they stood, and had not had room to fall. Not wholly unlike this was the pressure brought to bear on the Confederacy. It was only necessary to put out your hand and you touched a corpse; and that not an alien corpse, but the corpse of a brother or a friend.4
Not a single Confederate monument went up out of fear that black people were raising themselves up, another of the absurd assertions of Prof. Blain.
If you what to know why Confederate monuments went up, straight from the mouth of Confederates, all you have to do is read the original Confederate Veteran magazine from any of its 40 year run.
The raising of the money for all the Confederate monuments is in it, day by day, penny by penny, a massive work of love and patriotism.
You can read the stories of the veterans organizations, the United Confederate Veterans, The Sons of Confederate Veterans, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and others.
Read original stories of battles, speeches at dedications, look at pictures, read a lot of poetry. It is the most warm and wonderful thing you can imagine, exciting, dignified, extremely patriotic, by wonderful, decent people, and you can see that there is nothing the least bit racist about them.
Prof. Blain has no idea what she is talking about. Her understanding of history is abysmal, bless her heart.
What has happened to Southern history since the 1960s is a national disgrace, it is a "cultural and political atrocity" as Eugene Genovese said, especially what has happened in the past month with the Democrat Party's violent mobs and riots destroying historical monuments around the country.
But unlike flighty liberals, Southerners know our history and are solidly grounded. We will immediately begin a new round of monument building across America so we end up with a net increase, and the new ones will be more magnificent than ever.
We have one of the greatest historical records of all mankind, and throughout all of history, especially of valor, bravery and self-government. Here's how Basil Gildersleeve sums it up and is why we will make our history more known to the future than ever before:
All that I vouch for is the feeling; . . . there was no lurking suspicion of any moral weakness in our cause. Nothing could be holier than the cause, nothing more imperative than the duty of upholding it. There were those in the South who, when they saw the issue of the war, gave up their faith in God, but not their faith in the cause.5
1 Washington Post, "Destroying Confederate monuments isn't 'erasing' history. It's learning from it." by Professor Keisha N. Blain, June 19, 2020, https://www.WashingtonPost.com/outlook/
2020/06/19/destroying-confederate-monuments-isnt-erasing-history-its-learning-it/, accessed June 22, 2020.
2 Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon, The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" (NY: Amistad, 2018).
3 Clyde N. Wilson, Abstract, The Creed of the Old South by Basil L. Gildersleeve, Society of Independent Southern Historians, http://southernhistorians.org/the-societys-southern-life-recommended-reading/11-southern-literature/11-09-southern-literature-southern-view-of-southern-culture/11-09-04/, accessed 10/11/2014.
4 Basil L. Gildersleeve, The Creed of the Old South (Baltimore: The Johns hopkins Press, 1915; reprint: BiblioLife, Penrose Library, University of Denver (no date given), 26-27.
5 Gildersleeve, The Creed of the Old South, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1915; reprint: BiblioLife, Penrose Library, University of Denver (no date given), 26-27.
This piece was previously published at the CharlestonAthenaeumPress on June 25, 2020.
Gene Kizer, Jr. is an author and historian in Charleston, South Carolina, and founder of Charleston Athenaeum Press. He graduated magna cum laude from the College of Charleston in 2000 at middle age with History Departmental Honors, the Rebecca Motte American History Award, and the highest award for the History Department, the Outstanding Student Award. He is author of Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument.; The Elements of Academic Success, How to Graduate Magna Cum Laude from College (or how to just graduate, PERIOD!); and Charleston, SC Short Stories, Book One. He married his last ex- by sneaking into Fort Johnson and saying vows on the exact ground from where the first shot of the War Between the States was fired, at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861. He lives on James Island where he is also broker-in-charge of Charleston Saltwater Realty . Please contact him through Charleston Athenaeum Press.