Where the Confederacy Is Rising Again

When the review finally takes place, likely in the few months right before the November elections, Texas lawmakers will find themselves in a tough spot: They will be forced to either deny historical truths about the Confederacy, or potentially face the wrath of a devoted, active and organized subset of conservative Texans.

.. Throughout this tempest, the Texas chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, an aging army of deeply religious, federal government distrusting, neo-Confederate true believers, has emerged as a steadfast defender of Confederate iconography. The Texas SCV only claims about 5,000 members, but their ideology carries significant weight in the state.

.. Levin pointed to the words of Confederates themselves, particularly Texas’ Ordinance of Secession. The document, which officially separated Texas from the Union in 1861, declared that African-Americans were “rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race.” It says that Texas seceded because non-slave-holding states “demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the Confederacy.” The document does not mention tariffs or any state right other than the right to own black people.

.. “They were fighting for states’ rights, not slavery.” According to Toungate, before secession, the federal government mistreated Southern states by issuing unfair tariffs. “Thirty thousand blacks fought for the Confederacy because they loved their masters,” Toungate argued, offering the fact as proof that “slavery could not have caused the war.”

.. Levin pointed to the words of Confederates themselves, particularly Texas’ Ordinance of Secession. The document, which officially separated Texas from the Union in 1861, declared that African-Americans were “rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race.” It says that Texas seceded because non-slave-holding states “demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the Confederacy.” The document does not mention tariffs or any state right other than the right to own black people.

Toungate waved off the document when I showed it to him later. “People have a distorted view of the Confederacy because liberal Northern historians wrote the history books,” he insisted. But these are primary sources, I noted, the words of the Confederates themselves. Toungate went silent for a beat, and then changed the subject. “I’m sick of the federal government wasting money,” he said, and “people living off welfare.”

.. “A lot of these people have ancestors that fought for the Confederacy and that personal connection, of course, colors how they view the event,” he said. Slavery, after all, was abhorrent. Who wants to admit that their family members fought to preserve it?

.. The SCV’s rejection of unequivocal historical fact, can, in part, be attributed to what psychologists call motivated reasoning,” says Sander van der Linden, a Princeton University psychologist and director of the school’s Social and Environmental Decision-Making Lab. When people are emotionally invested in a belief, says van der Linden, they are inclined to accept information that confirms pre-existing beliefs and to dismiss conflicting evidence.

.. Neo-Confederate adamancy is as much about reactionary politics and identity as it is about history. It’s a declaration of values, a way of seeing the world, and its prevalence divides along political lines. Polls show that Democrats tend to view Confederate symbols, such as the battle flag, as emblems of racism, while Republicans more often see them as representations of Southern heritage.

And in Texas—the epicenter of anti-government angst, the home of the last two Republicans elected president

.. One book published by McGraw-Hill Education, features a section titled, “The South Secedes,” which states that “the majority of Southerners viewed secession as … a necessary course of action to uphold people’s rights.” The section does not list specific rights.

.. a member of the state board of education said that the standards listed slavery third because it was a “side issue to the Civil War.”

The Texas Education Knowledge and Skills guidelines for teaching the Civil War offer a crystal-clear example of how the state curriculum politicizes history

.. In his book, Race and Reunion, Yale historian David Blight argues that after the Civil War, Southern whites coped with crushing defeat by justifying why they had seceded. Reluctant to admit the Civil War was fought over slavery—a moral anachronism in much of the world at the time—many Southerners framed the war as a fight for states’ rights. Blight argues that Southern whites worked, through memorials and monuments, to etch the false narrative in the nation’s collective memory.

.. With 13 large Greek columns and 26–32 Confederate flags, it will be the largest Confederate monument built in a century, according to the SCV.

.. It is impossible to miss: an 8-foot statue of Jefferson Davis atop a 23-foot-tall granite base with four 7-foot bronze Confederate soldiers standing at his feet. The inscription etched into the memorial’s base dedicates the sculpture to Confederate soldiers who “Died for state rights guaranteed under the Constitution.” “The people of the South animated by the spirit of 1776,” it continues, “to preserve their rights, withdrew from the federal compact in 1861. The North resorted to coercion.”

.. The July 2015 letter in which Democratic lawmakers asked for a review of the Capitol’s pro-Confederate monuments calls out that plaque’s statement as an “outright falsehood.” In an email to me, state Sen. Rodney Ellis, one of the letter’s signatories, said that it is undeniable that the memorials are “part of an effort to rewrite history.”

“The Texas Capitol — the face of our state government,” said Ellis, “ought not to celebrate individuals whose notoriety stems from their service in defense of human slavery.”

.. But Toungate and the other Texas SCV members I spoke with vow that removing or altering the memorials would mean surrendering to politically correct, liberal distortion.

“You’ve been listening to Northerners who have moved down here and are raising Cain about Texas being racist,” Toungate said. “Confederate men were good Christians, and they don’t deserve to be treated like dirt.”

The Chilling Effect of Fear at America’s Colleges

Multiple possible explanations exist, of course, including the hypothesis that parents have coddled a generation of youngsters to the point where students feel that they should not be exposed to anything harmful to their psyches or beliefs. Whether or not these psychological narratives are valid, there are, I believe, additional cultural, institutional, and societal explanations for what is going on. And the overarching theme is that today’s youngsters, beginning in preschool, are responding to living in a contrived culture of fear and distrust.

.. Counterintuitively, liberal students are more likely than conservative students to say the First Amendment is outdated.

.. Indeed, the distortion of fear pervades today’s students’ thinking—they tend to overestimate, for example, the probability of a terrorist attack affecting them. When this fear is combined with the rapid expansion of social media and the prevalence of government surveillance, students often dismiss concepts like “privacy” as old-fashioned values that are irrelevant to them

.. many students believe that the very idea of privacy is obsolete; most of my students don’t seem to mind this loss when it’s weighed against uncovering potential terrorists.

.. Many of the young adults at highly selective colleges and universities have been forced to follow a straight and narrow path, never deviating from it because of a passion unrelated to school work, and have not been allowed, therefore, to live what many would consider a normal childhood—to play, to learn by doing, to challenge their teachers, to make mistakes. Their families and their network of friends and social peers have placed extreme pressure on them to achieve, or win in a zero-sum game with their own friends.

.. While some educators and policymakers see college primarily as a place where students develop skills for high-demand jobs, the goal of a college education is for students to learn to think independently and skeptically and to learn how to make and defend their point of view. It is not to suppress ideas that they find opprobrious.

.. By design and by effect, it is the institution which creates discontent with the existing social arrangements and proposes new ones. In brief, a good university, like Socrates, will be upsetting.

PC Culture has run out of Edginess because the counterculture won

So why are we served up 52 seconds of non-controversy dressed up as edgy controversy? My guess is that in today’s society, genuine controversy is near-certain to run afoul of the forces of political correctness and social-justice warriors. And HBO, home of Bill Maher, Lena Dunham’s Girls, and that agitprop Anita Hill docudrama, doesn’t want to deal with that headache.

.. You can’t have much of an edgy, brave, dangerous counterculture without a buttoned-down, proper dominant culture to rebel against, and that dominant culture started dying in the 1950s. What we have here is a desperate effort toemulate the 1960s rebellion against the old order by a bunch of powerful people who refuse to recognize they’re the new order. Who are they rebelling against?The president? Nah, they love him. The pope? Have you noticed the complete disappearance of edgy, provocative comedians mocking the pope since Francis became associated with activism for climate change, illegal-immigrant rights,and denouncing corporate greed?

..  Of course, there’s nothing edgy or brave about mocking Donald Trump from Manhattan or Los Angeles. Try making fun of Turkish President Erdogan in Germany; now that takes courage. Or try making fun of Islamists anywhere.

.. Washington Redskins fans who wanted to keep their team’s name were asked, without warning, to justify the name to angry Native Americans on camera. Are these really the Americans most deserving of nationally-televised on-camera rebuke and humiliation?

A Dialogue With a 22-Year-Old Donald Trump Supporter

If Hillary wins, we’re going to see a further tightening of PC culture. But if Trump wins? If Trump wins, we will have a president that overwhelmingly rejects PC rhetoric. Even better, we will show that more than half the country rejects this insane PC regime. If Trump wins, I will personally feel a major burden relieved, and I will feel much more comfortable stating my more right-wing views without fearing total ostracism and shame. Because of this, no matter what Trump says or does, I will keep supporting him.

.. Having Trump in the White House would both give me more confidence to speak my own opinion and more of a shield from instantly being dismissed as a racist/xenophobe/Nazi (all three things I have been called personally).

.. For context, my right wing views include:

  • Lower taxes for all, and with it a reduction of various benefits.
  • Reduction or an end to affirmative action in favor of a pure merit-based system.
  • Support for law and order, and an intense dislike of disruptive protests.
  • A temporary ban on Muslim immigration.
  • In favor of “melting pot” culture instead of multiculturalism.

.. I get frustrated by the dialogue of letting immigrants into the country without control, letting Black Lives Matter protest without consequence, watching qualified Asian and White students lose places in universities and companies in the name of diversity.

.. I’m intrigued that you voted libertarian in 2012, would sign up for a Gary Johnson presidency in 2016 if you thought it was a realistic electoral possibility, but also describe yourself as “slightly more authoritarian than the average person.” Can you tell me more about your respective thoughts on libertarianism and authoritarianism?

.. I think most of my opposition comes from what I feel is a loss of the patriotic American identity and the advancement of multiculturalism and political correctness. The rhetoric of today feels so different than where we were back in 2008, or even in 2012. One issue I have is that many of these illegal immigrants will go over to the Democratic Party. I feel that the Democrats have become a party that I am almost completely opposed to and I have no desire to give them any further political power.

.. Long term, illegal immigrants will have children who will compete against my children for university spots and job opportunities. It’s admittedly very selfish, but I do want to ensure the greatest advantages I can give them.

.. I don’t know how to describe it, exactly, but I feel in a lot of ways that my identity as a white man is shamed. I am in zero ways a white nationalist or supremacist, and I consider myself a feminist. I will likely sacrifice my career goals, either with fewer hours or relocation as needed, so that my fiancee can pursue her ambitions and goals. But I do not want to be shamed or held back or attacked for just being what I am.