and Nazi David Duke was arrested in Prague, Czech Republic the last
week of April 2009: it is a crime to deny the Holocaust. In Germany
and Austria, it is a crime to express support for National Socialism;
it is even problematic to honor soldiers who died fighting for Hitler.
contrast, recently Auburn, Alabama Councilman Arthur Dowdell removed
some Confederate flags from a local cemetery, and white supremacist
groups are calling for his arrest.
organizations, such as the 25,000-member
United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Sons of Confederate Veterans,
the League of the South, and the Council of Conservative Citizens
(sometimes called “the
uptown Klan”), typically send out a nationwide alert to respond
to what they call a “heritage violation.” Although to the general
public, their slogan is “heritage not hate,” anyone on the receiving
end—particularly if he is African-American, as is Councilman Dowdell—will
face a barrage of racist death threats, such as “I hope you are
killed in the most violent, bloody way possible by another worthless
jigaboo ni**er!!! WHITE POWER!!! HEIL HITLER!!!”
is significant is not that white supremacists share the neo-Confederates’
affinity for the (heritage, not hate) Confederate flag, but that
the neo-Confederates—despite trying to intimidate
a white Princeton University historian merely because he mentioned
the neo-Confederates’ “rather thinly veiled support for white supremacy”—never
disavow those elements of their movement, the way, for example,
Barack Obama disavowed Louis Farrakhan.
in 1931 the United Daughters of the Confederacy “voted to see that
the last meeting place of the Ku Klux Klan in Nashville, and from
where the last ride was made, is suitably marked.” You can
even find a UDC
postcard bearing the proud image of a Klansman on horseback,
in full regalia. Contemporary neo-Confederate groups will make
excuses for the Klan of the 1860’s or the Klan
of the 1920’s—saying that they were just defending “Southerners”
(not pointing out that they mean “white Southerners”)—but will not
condemn the Klan categorically.
claim neo-Confederates make is that the Civil War was not about
slavery, the “proof” being that only 0.00000004% of Confederates
ever even thought about owning slaves (and never mistreated any).
Despite that fact—the Civil War was actually caused by Lincoln’s
raising the mint julep tax—the United Daughters of the Confederacy
have wondered “whether emancipation has been a blessing to our country,”
or whether it “has introduced evils that in the end will be more
terrible than slavery.” This is a strange statement, since, according
to The United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine
in 1989, slavery was not too bad: the worst victims were “the crews
of the slave ships.”
Alabama’s ordinance of secession states quite clearly what the war
was about: “it is the desire and purpose of the people of Alabama
to meet the slaveholding States of the South” in order to form a
new government. Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy,
said in 1861 that “the new Constitution has put at rest forever
all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions—African
slavery as it exists among us, the proper status of the negro in
our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late
rupture and present revolution.”
so what? The Auburn councilmembers will be barraged with thousands
of calls and letters from angry neo-Confederates, and there will
be no supporters of Councilman Dowdell. Mayor Bill Ham will wash his
hands, and either criticize Councilman Dowdell himself or allow
others to use the government apparatus and the media to persecute
Dowdell, perhaps threatening his employment. Artur
Davis will get another “A+”
from the NAACP.
“truth”: As John Brown and Claus von Stauffenberg found, you can
be right during the day, and hanged by nightfall. Yes, you can.
Guest Commentator, Dr. Jonathan David Farley, is the
2004 Harvard Foundation Distinguished Scientist of the Year.
He is currently Teaching and Research Fellow teaching mathematics
at the Institut für Algebra Johannes Kepler Universität
Linz, Linz Österreich Click here
to contact Dr. Farley.