History and Slavery

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Re: History and Slavery

Postby valent » 28 Feb 2018, 02:34

More than once in my life, I have seen a Confederate flag and have been scared. Flying the Confederate flag strikes fear in many people who look like they have nonEuroprean ancestors.
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Re: History and Slavery

Postby mhsmith0 » 28 Feb 2018, 04:06

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Re: History and Slavery

Postby MildWombat » 28 Feb 2018, 04:35

Right, the CSA bombarded Fort Sumter for a long time and all that, but, the Confederacy did not actually declare war, they only began taking their new country under their control. I am sure that the Confederacy did NOT want a war with the Union at the start of their new nation. That would be silly for the CSA to ask for a war. They needed time to get on their feet. They probably did know that firing on Fort Sumter would bring about war, but maybe they hoped it would not. Now, Lincoln did not consider the CSA to be a separate country, he thought of it as a rebellion to be crushed. Thus, Lincoln moved against the Confederacy before the CSA really moved against the Union. It doesn't matter who really fired the first shot.

Take the "shot heard round the world" in the American Revolution of 1775. England moved against the Colonies first by moving to seize weapons, so it really doesn't matter if a Colonist fired the actual, literal first shot. Right, or wrong?


Firing on a nations fort for hours on end is a de-facto declaration of war.

I want to focus on the bold-ed part. First, it is a very interesting part of history how careful Lincoln was to avoid legitimizing the confederacy and instead fighting an insurrection. Second, you provide no warrant that Lincoln moved first other than claiming it would be silly for the Confederacy to ask for a war. (there we can agree) I would counter that it was silly to secede. People, organizations, and nations do silly things.

You are right on first shot, but the context there is much different. This is largely an aside though. The point is, Lincoln, even as states seceded, in his speeches expressed a desire for a peaceful path and said the federal government was not going to assail them. It was the Insurrectionists who truly brought war unto the continent.

MildWombat wrote:
nowadays, many people see the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism, bigotry, and slavery. But, it’s just not. It symbolizes another era, an era where brother fought against brother, and a country was destroying itself.I think you can agree with me upon reflection this statement is not...complete. To you the Confederate Flag is not a symbol of racism, bigotry, and slavery. First of all, just because to you, the flag does not symbolize such ideals does not mean it does not. Symbols "meaning" are what people perceive they mean. For instance, the swastika was originally a religious symbol associated with goodness. For most of the world, it is a symbol associated with the Nazi Party. Just because you hold to the former, does not mean the latter is any less true.



OK, both Fatmo and WildWombat brought this up. I must say, you are right. To ME, Myself, Personally, the flag is not racist, slave related, etc. To another fella, perhaps the flag is a horrifying thought, so horrible and all that. I can see why. I suppose a better way to have stated my view on the flag itself would be to present it as an opinion and ask you guys to take a look at another perspective, mine.


That is fine. I see where people come from when they see the flag from another point of view. However, that does not diminish the real symbolism it communicates to many and that it shouldn't be removed from prominent places on government property. (Personally, I've taken a more hard-line perspective, telling myself if "we" (the Union) won the war I'm not sure why the flag is allowed to be flown on government property, but I understand it is much more complicated then that)


1) The CSA started with tons of natural resources, but no factories to speak of, so how long could they last like that?
2) Part of this theory lodges on the idea of what Lincoln should have done:
a) Blockade the South
b) Accept the CSA as a Nation
c) Not attack, only defend Northern States when and if the CSA decides to attack(Which I don't think they would have)
d) Gain the support of foreign countries
e) Generally make it hard for the CSA to survive without attacking the CSA
3) Times change fast, and with the changing times comes changing thoughts:
a) With the invention of things such as the Steam Engine, the Cotton Gin, and other industrial revolution stuff slavery would become obsolete(just like it did)
b) the rest of the world had been experiencing an abolitionist movement as well, and a whole bunch of other countries ended slavery mostly because it became obsolete.
c) The Industrial Revolution came late to the U.S.
d) When slavery became obsolete, then the CSA could come back to the U.S. because the original rift was gone!


2) A Blockade is an act of war.
b) Accepting the confederacy as a nation would destroy Lincoln's credibility and would have won the confederacy huge politically points.
d) Foreign countries largely wanted to enter the war on the side of the confederacy.
3a) I wish I could share your optimism, but I can't. The world today is filled with examples of slavery from between the civil war till now and today there is still slavery in multiple forms across the globe. You are also arguing that improving economics would have made slavery obsolete. The southern culture of the time largely viewed their slaves as (at least) 2nd class humans. Economics would not have changed that. Even with improved economics people still find a way to fuel racism.


-The slave owners thought that if their slaves were freed, they would be destroyed. They greatly feared the day they would lose their slaves.


I think we can all agree to that. Fear should never be the rational for the mass subjugation and enslavement of human beings. It honestly amazes me how fear is accepted as a rational in many other circumstances as well for behavior.
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Re: History and Slavery

Postby MildWombat » 28 Feb 2018, 04:40

Fatmo wrote:If that's a bit too scholarly or abstract, I also think these are good teaching tools, because they are so upfront. You're strolling through an old park with your kids and come across a statue of Lee or Jackson. Kid asks who that is. You can then explain that this man was an important figure on the wrong side of the Civil War. Say what you will about him defending his home state and all that, but in the end he was fighting to preserve a government system that actively fought as hard as they could to keep the institution of slavery alive. It does future generations no good to erase monuments such as this. They are a part of our history. Yea, they are offensive to some people, and they are right to feel offended. Tearing them down takes away from the awareness of future generations that America once condoned human slavery, and that even after the issue was settled, people continued to revere the people who fought to maintain the institution. Keep them around so people can remain rightfully offended by them and what they stand for. They serve as a reminder of the fact that we actually fought a war between the states over slavery, and that the proponents of a political system that advocated for slavery lost. This may not be as important right now as, say, 500 years from now.

So yes, even though we may be coming from somewhat different places, we do both agree that those statues should not be torn down or altered or moved. Keep them where they are and on peoples' minds. Not torn down or tucked away in a museum devoid of provenance.


I'm really curious about your latter point.

I used to hold the same thought process as you, but recently reversed course. (was always against the Southern Cross being flown)

Outside of statues at say battlefields or Appomattox, why do museums not do the trick?
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Re: History and Slavery

Postby asjohnstone » 28 Feb 2018, 05:17

Slavery is an absolute moral evil, that required to be opposed by all means including war.

No shades of grey here (pun intended)
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Re: History and Slavery

Postby Fatmo » 28 Feb 2018, 05:49

mhsmith0 wrote:Image


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Re: History and Slavery

Postby Fatmo » 28 Feb 2018, 06:47

MildWombat wrote:
Fatmo wrote:If that's a bit too scholarly or abstract, I also think these are good teaching tools, because they are so upfront. You're strolling through an old park with your kids and come across a statue of Lee or Jackson. Kid asks who that is. You can then explain that this man was an important figure on the wrong side of the Civil War. Say what you will about him defending his home state and all that, but in the end he was fighting to preserve a government system that actively fought as hard as they could to keep the institution of slavery alive. It does future generations no good to erase monuments such as this. They are a part of our history. Yea, they are offensive to some people, and they are right to feel offended. Tearing them down takes away from the awareness of future generations that America once condoned human slavery, and that even after the issue was settled, people continued to revere the people who fought to maintain the institution. Keep them around so people can remain rightfully offended by them and what they stand for. They serve as a reminder of the fact that we actually fought a war between the states over slavery, and that the proponents of a political system that advocated for slavery lost. This may not be as important right now as, say, 500 years from now.

So yes, even though we may be coming from somewhat different places, we do both agree that those statues should not be torn down or altered or moved. Keep them where they are and on peoples' minds. Not torn down or tucked away in a museum devoid of provenance.


I'm really curious about your latter point.

I used to hold the same thought process as you, but recently reversed course. (was always against the Southern Cross being flown)

Outside of statues at say battlefields or Appomattox, why do museums not do the trick?


Well that makes me really curious about your course reversal. Obviously you get where I'm coming from since you used to feel similarly. Yea, I've never really advocated for the flag to be flown either. But the statues and monuments I think are important to keep around (and in their original locations) for the general reasons I mentioned. What part of my point of view would you like me to elaborate further on? I just think they should be kept where they were built if we see the need to preserve them. Why bother just moving them to a museum a few miles away? Where fewer people will really understand what they really mean? Especially as time passes. They will have more impact and more meaning if left in their original provenance. Think about this in a meta, long-term context. Have you ever been to the British Museum in London? Granted, it's absolutely amazing and really cool to be able to see all the statues and monumental structures they have there. But in the end, they are not in their original context, or provenance. There are entire ancient temples and whole complexes they literally stole from other cultures and rebuilt them in the museum, often with little regard for the original meaning of the sites. They become simply a curiosity. They don't have the same meaning there as they would if they were still in their original locations. When they were taken out of their original context, the way people originally built them and meant for them to be used or viewed, we loose so much in terms of what they actually meant to the people who made them. It's one thing to put a bunch of arrowheads or pottery or torture devices in a history museum, or maybe old books and scrolls or whatever, but in 500 years, these statues and monuments will not be able to properly convey what they actually mean to people who built them if they are just tucked away in a museum. The history is kind of a part of the landscape. It's important to understand why people decided to make these statues so we can know the history of our own culture.

Of course I'm not saying these men should be revered or worshiped in any way. They fought to maintain slavery. But they will be a better reminder of our past and be of more use to future scholars and thinkers and philosophers and regular people who stumble across them if they are left where they are. I worry that a knee-jerk reaction to all the outrage about these monuments will mean that many are torn down or put in museums, not allowing people in the future to also be able to reflect on what they mean, and to talk about them. Imagine if they had been torn down fifty years ago? Or had all been put in museums then? That would deprive us of the opportunity to actually face our history and reflect on it. If it wasn't actually blatantly out there where people go about their daily lives, society won't pay attention or learn from them. If having these statues reminds us of how far we have come since then, and maybe inspires future generations to never forget and to constantly try to do better, that's a great thing. The fact that the very presence of these monuments causes so much action and constructive change in the way people feel about the country in general right now is only possible because they are there constantly reminding us that this really happened. This would not happen if they were all in museums.

I realize this is simply my point of view, and I certainly understand the sentiment behind wanting to tear down these monuments. I just think it's actually counter-productive in the long run to the ideals of the very people who want to tear the monuments down. Don't tear down what reminds people of a grave injustice. Keep it there as a reminder to strive to be better. Maybe put additional plaques up next to the existing ones that explain how wrong these people were in hindsight. And to make sure future generations can properly understand how far we've come and that if we are not careful, history can repeat itself if we don't watch out and be vigilant.

I'm curious to know why you changed your mind. Did this happen during the most recent wave of activism about taking down statues and monuments? What new points of view changed your thinking?

Oh, if it makes any difference, I'm not from the south, so I'll grant that I'm not actually immersed in all this stuff on a day-to-day basis.
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Re: History and Slavery

Postby Don Juan of Austria » 28 Feb 2018, 08:36

Giving my two cents... And marking so I can follow this easily.

Just on whether or not the South would have returned to the Union, had they been given the chance... I would highly doubt it. Tensions were high, and these were proud people. Proud of themselves, their families, their states, and now their new country. Do you know how humiliating it would be to return to the Union?
I suppose things could have drastically changed, and then bam, 100 years after the secession, they reunite.

I think a lot of Northern Generals fought to preserve the Union. George Thomas, or, "The Rock of Chickamauga", was a Southerner by birth, (and thus his family was too), who "fought the war to save the Union, not to abolish slavery".
He even had his own slaves, which he never emancipated himself.
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Re: History and Slavery

Postby MildWombat » 28 Feb 2018, 17:18

Fatmo wrote:
MildWombat wrote:
Fatmo wrote:If that's a bit too scholarly or abstract, I also think these are good teaching tools, because they are so upfront. You're strolling through an old park with your kids and come across a statue of Lee or Jackson. Kid asks who that is. You can then explain that this man was an important figure on the wrong side of the Civil War. Say what you will about him defending his home state and all that, but in the end he was fighting to preserve a government system that actively fought as hard as they could to keep the institution of slavery alive. It does future generations no good to erase monuments such as this. They are a part of our history. Yea, they are offensive to some people, and they are right to feel offended. Tearing them down takes away from the awareness of future generations that America once condoned human slavery, and that even after the issue was settled, people continued to revere the people who fought to maintain the institution. Keep them around so people can remain rightfully offended by them and what they stand for. They serve as a reminder of the fact that we actually fought a war between the states over slavery, and that the proponents of a political system that advocated for slavery lost. This may not be as important right now as, say, 500 years from now.

So yes, even though we may be coming from somewhat different places, we do both agree that those statues should not be torn down or altered or moved. Keep them where they are and on peoples' minds. Not torn down or tucked away in a museum devoid of provenance.


I'm really curious about your latter point.

I used to hold the same thought process as you, but recently reversed course. (was always against the Southern Cross being flown)

Outside of statues at say battlefields or Appomattox, why do museums not do the trick?


Well that makes me really curious about your course reversal. Obviously you get where I'm coming from since you used to feel similarly. Yea, I've never really advocated for the flag to be flown either. But the statues and monuments I think are important to keep around (and in their original locations) for the general reasons I mentioned. What part of my point of view would you like me to elaborate further on? I just think they should be kept where they were built if we see the need to preserve them. Why bother just moving them to a museum a few miles away? Where fewer people will really understand what they really mean? Especially as time passes. They will have more impact and more meaning if left in their original provenance. Think about this in a meta, long-term context. Have you ever been to the British Museum in London? Granted, it's absolutely amazing and really cool to be able to see all the statues and monumental structures they have there. But in the end, they are not in their original context, or provenance. There are entire ancient temples and whole complexes they literally stole from other cultures and rebuilt them in the museum, often with little regard for the original meaning of the sites. They become simply a curiosity. They don't have the same meaning there as they would if they were still in their original locations. When they were taken out of their original context, the way people originally built them and meant for them to be used or viewed, we loose so much in terms of what they actually meant to the people who made them. It's one thing to put a bunch of arrowheads or pottery or torture devices in a history museum, or maybe old books and scrolls or whatever, but in 500 years, these statues and monuments will not be able to properly convey what they actually mean to people who built them if they are just tucked away in a museum. The history is kind of a part of the landscape. It's important to understand why people decided to make these statues so we can know the history of our own culture.

Of course I'm not saying these men should be revered or worshiped in any way. They fought to maintain slavery. But they will be a better reminder of our past and be of more use to future scholars and thinkers and philosophers and regular people who stumble across them if they are left where they are. I worry that a knee-jerk reaction to all the outrage about these monuments will mean that many are torn down or put in museums, not allowing people in the future to also be able to reflect on what they mean, and to talk about them. Imagine if they had been torn down fifty years ago? Or had all been put in museums then? That would deprive us of the opportunity to actually face our history and reflect on it. If it wasn't actually blatantly out there where people go about their daily lives, society won't pay attention or learn from them. If having these statues reminds us of how far we have come since then, and maybe inspires future generations to never forget and to constantly try to do better, that's a great thing. The fact that the very presence of these monuments causes so much action and constructive change in the way people feel about the country in general right now is only possible because they are there constantly reminding us that this really happened. This would not happen if they were all in museums.

I realize this is simply my point of view, and I certainly understand the sentiment behind wanting to tear down these monuments. I just think it's actually counter-productive in the long run to the ideals of the very people who want to tear the monuments down. Don't tear down what reminds people of a grave injustice. Keep it there as a reminder to strive to be better. Maybe put additional plaques up next to the existing ones that explain how wrong these people were in hindsight. And to make sure future generations can properly understand how far we've come and that if we are not careful, history can repeat itself if we don't watch out and be vigilant.

I'm curious to know why you changed your mind. Did this happen during the most recent wave of activism about taking down statues and monuments? What new points of view changed your thinking?

Oh, if it makes any difference, I'm not from the south, so I'll grant that I'm not actually immersed in all this stuff on a day-to-day basis.


I will probably disappoint you with my reasoning.

It was a combination of the new wave of activism/not feeling strongly enough and a trip. Some of it I think is silly, tearing down a statue of Jefferson at the college he founded, but other instances of statues to men of the confederacy outside battlefields. I went to Berlin for a few days last year, touring the city was powerful. I thought they did a really good job of memorializing the past without glorifying it. I thought about the statues in front of courthouses, etc in the south and if they were more a symbol of what really happened or if they were celebrating what happened. Both spur the reactions we see today, but I'm not sure the latter helps society. I played a mental game with myself and asked if these statues were gone/moved to another public less "official" place would I have the same knowledge/understanding of history. As someone from the North I can't say it would change. (I know that is a super self-centrist point of view) Back to my original statement of not feeling strongly enough, I have not found myself on the same common ground as some of the activism in the last 2-4 years and felt this was a good place to compromise coupled with my experience in Berlin and rethinking through the statues place.

You make a compelling argument, I'm just struggling with if there really is marginal value in keeping them in there original spot vs a museum/battlefield a couple of miles away. The London museum is a great example, but I'm not sure if it completely is a parallel since that museum is essentially one of the world. On the other hand, going to Gettysburg or another famous site is largely a museum to just that time period and event. In fact much of the eastern seaboard and a bit western is the original "grounds." (and west some of course)
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Re: History and Slavery

Postby willie23 » 28 Feb 2018, 18:30

Statues, to me, are extremely inportant. Take, for example, ancient Roman and Greek statues. Not only can we learn about cultures from over 2000 years ago, we can see who they respected, what kind of craftsmanship they used etc.

There are statues of horrible fellows like Emporer Nero, who should probably have his statue torn down(I bet people back then wanted to tear it down) but it is still up, because we can learn from it.

Imagine your great, great, great, great grandson/daughter walking through, say, Alabama. What will he see? A statue of Lee, the horrible slave owner, or a statue that gives insight into past times? It is rash and insensible to tear down statues today because of a crazed civil rights movement and other absurd organizations.

[redacted]

My only thing with the Confederat Moniments is this: We should keep them exactly where they are beacuse they are part of a past that we should NOT try to forget.
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