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uncle ebeneezer 12-08-2011 10:15 PM

Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Check out TNC's excellent article. The whole thing is worth reading.

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 05:34 AM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Disgusting. Anyone who refers to Shelby Foote as a "neo-Confederate" apologist is a hack. Sorry that the Civil War isn't treated as some sort of domestic "Shoah" to suit the nihilistic sensibilities of the American left, but some of us see the nation as something more than a "slave state".

TwinSwords 12-09-2011 07:22 AM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234059)
Disgusting. Anyone who refers to Shelby Foote as a "neo-Confederate" apologist is a hack. Sorry that the Civil War isn't treated as some sort of domestic "Shoah" to suit the nihilistic sensibilities of the American left, but some of us see the nation as something more than a "slave state".

Just to be clear, TNC (Ta-Nehisi Coates) is not the one who called Foote a "neo-Confederate apologist for Nathan Bedford Forrest." Those are the words of the reviewer of Coates' article, Eric Loomis, to whom Uncle Eb linked. Your comment might give other readers the mistaken impression you were talking about Coates himself.

Uncle: I haven't read the article yet, but I've been meaning to. Thanks for the link. I do find one of Coates' main premises quite compelling: that the Civil War is often thought of as a tragedy, while the Revolution is thought of as the glorious birth of freedom. Why the disconnect? Would Shelby Foote (or most others) ever be caught saying that the Revolutionary War represents a failure of our genius for compromise? Of course not; the mere idea is heretical. But that's the conventional take on the Civil War.

From the African American perspective, Coates argues, the Civil War should be seen as the real birth of freedom promised by the American Revolution, and is an occasion to be celebrated rather than viewed as tragedy.

stephanie 12-09-2011 10:19 AM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer (Post 234048)
Check out TNC's excellent article. The whole thing is worth reading.

Thanks, Uncle Eb. It's a very interesting article, and I always forget to follow TNC's book discussions as closely as I'd like. His ongoing transformation into a CW buff as seen through his blog has led to many interesting posts.

stephanie 12-09-2011 10:31 AM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwinSwords (Post 234062)
I do find one of Coates' main premises quite compelling: that the Civil War is often thought of as a tragedy, while the Revolution is thought of as the glorious birth of freedom. Why the disconnect?

Yeah, I found this thought-provoking too. To be fair, I think how the CW gets portrayed varies, both now and over history (and probably depending on where you are located). Thinking back, my own impressions and what I recall learning both in school and just through cultural sources is mixed. Partly tragedy, partly heroic story.

Part of the difference from the Revolution is just the number of deaths, the nature of a civil war, the type of warfare involved, the all involving nature of it in a lot of ways. You see this with the philosophical reaction (pragmaticism, skepticism about grand aims) that followed the CW -- quite different than what followed the Revolution.

Another reason is proximity in time, especially just a couple of generations ago., and well into the 20th c.

cragger 12-09-2011 12:16 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Coates' article is indeed excellent.

The whitewashing of the Civil War, not only in the racial sense that Coates centers on but also in a moral sense, seems to speak to a widespread inability or unwillingness to look at ourselves and our past actions as a nation honestly. Outside of military historians few people know much about the WWII German generals Guderian or Manstein, and those who do may recognize their military ability but hardly consider them cultural icons. The case is far different for Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, or Jeb Stuart, who have been transformed by our culture and revisionist history into noble heroes, despite the similarly vile cause in which they served. Lee's visage is widely recognizable today, and while most would be outraged by the display of the swastika on a license plate or wall flag, many seem to accept the myriad placements of the Confederate battle flag, often claimed as a "symbol of Southern Heritage" as though the symbol of five years of violent and arguably treasonous rebellion in support of slavery define "Southern Heritage".

Perhaps they do, though I hate to think quite that meanly of my fellow man. The revisionist whitewash of the war may include elements of racism, or possibly a view of slavery as the ultimate form of capitalism. It might seem too impolite or simply too pointless to engage the myth of the Noble South and the Lost Cause. But it seems to me that for all the unique elements regarding the Civil War, or any other particular instance in our history, there is a common pattern in a widespread American determination to view our history through the narrowest of blinders and the most rose colored of glasses.

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 02:21 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cragger (Post 234088)
Outside of military historians few people know much about the WWII German generals Guderian or Manstein, and those who do may recognize their military ability but hardly consider them cultural icons. The case is far different for Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, or Jeb Stuart, who have been transformed by our culture and revisionist history into noble heroes, despite the similarly vile cause in which they served. Lee's visage is widely recognizable today, and while most would be outraged by the display of the swastika on a license plate or wall flag, many seem to accept the myriad placements of the Confederate battle flag

That people on the left feel so comfortable comparing the Confederates with the Nazis just goes to show how extreme these people have become. This is exactly what I was talking about in my first post in this topic. Also, there is nothing wrong with Guderian anyway. Manstein is arguably a different story.

Lets remember the context here. The United States had a section of it that allowed slavery. And it did so about 50 years longer than France. Now, someone explain it to me. Why does American slavery taint the essence of the nation, making it comparable to the Nazis, while you can't speak of France without seeing the American left mist up?

And what are we talking about with slavery? Forced labor, yes. That is terrible. But the vast majority of slave holdings weren't analogous to concentration camps for God's sake. The SS used to vivisect people. They are responsible for 11 million civilian deaths in their custody, through deliberate targeted slaughter. The greatest "achievement" of the SS Economic office was the accounting of stolen gold teeth and looted luggage.

That is WHY the Nazis are considered evil. And that you can't see why that differs from the Confederacy in both nature and scale, says that you have been deceived about either history or morality.

Starwatcher162536 12-09-2011 02:32 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
It was only a fifty year gap because the Confederacy lost. Looking back at their Constitution it's difficult to make a case slavery, as an institution, was in any danger in the foreseeable future without duress from the North.

No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 02:42 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 234111)
It was only a fifty year gap because the Confederacy lost. Looking back at their Constitution it's difficult to make a case slavery, as an institution, was in any danger in the foreseeable future without duress from the North.

Oh it clearly would have ended pretty soon. Even the Empire of Brazil, which was about as atavistic a society as could be imagined, got rid of slavery in the 1880s. The end of the slave trade alone was gradually increasing the costs of slaves. With the deflationary pressure on cotton from British development of it, the real profitability of slavery wouldn't have lasted very long.

That doesn't matter though. Slavery is not a crime analogous to mass slaughter, anymore than feudalism is.

miceelf 12-09-2011 03:08 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234108)
And what are we talking about with slavery? Forced labor, yes. That is terrible. But the vast majority of slave holdings weren't analogous to concentration camps for God's sake. The SS used to vivisect people. They are responsible for 11 million civilian deaths in their custody, through deliberate targeted slaughter.

If you think the only problem with slavery was forced labor, then the rest of your conclusions aren't surprising.

AemJeff 12-09-2011 03:10 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234113)
... Slavery is not a crime analogous to mass slaughter, anymore than feudalism is.

That's a value judgment that I'd have been embarrassed to share. I'd say it's empirically false since "slaughter" is among the atrocities facilitated by a tolerance to chattel - but you're free to make the (much more difficult) case for what you've asserted.

Florian 12-09-2011 03:27 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234108)
Lets remember the context here. The United States had a section of it that allowed slavery. And it did so about 50 years longer than France. Now, someone explain it to me. Why does American slavery taint the essence of the nation, making it comparable to the Nazis, while you can't speak of France without seeing the American left mist up?.

Incorrect. There was never slavery in metropolitan France (unless you consider serfdom slavery). Slavery only existed in French colonies, was abolished during the French Revolution, re-established in 1802 by Napoleon, and finally abolished for good in 1848.

Cragger did not say that slavery "tainted the essence of the nation". He questioned the whitewashing of the Confederacy and its generals. I doubt if his eyes "mist up" at the mention of France, but your eyes do seem to mist up at the mention of the Confederacy.

Quote:

And what are we talking about with slavery? Forced labor, yes. That is terrible. But the vast majority of slave holdings weren't analogous to concentration camps for God's sake. The SS used to vivisect people. They are responsible for 11 million civilian deaths in their custody, through deliberate targeted slaughter. The greatest "achievement" of the SS Economic office was the accounting of stolen gold teeth and looted luggage.
Cragger did not say that slavery was comparable to concentration camps or mass slaughter. So why are you making the analogy? The analogy was between the generals of the Confederacy and the generals of Nazi Germany.

Quote:

That is WHY the Nazis are considered evil. And that you can't see why that differs from the Confederacy in both nature and scale, says that you have been deceived about either history or morality.
Gee....really, you don't say! Who would have thought that that is why the Nazis are considered evil.

cragger 12-09-2011 04:36 PM

Re: misty eyes
 
Perhaps the mention of France won't do it, but this display of reading comprehension within these precincts could. While you and everyone else are free to try to explain posts, and indeed could try to puzzle out just why the blunderbuss was loaded up to spray shot at France and some delusion of "the left", I'm trying to follow Bob Wright's advice on responding to inanity. Or, as Louis Armstrong put it more succintly than my capability permits:

"There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell 'em."

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 05:08 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 234118)
That's a value judgment that I'd have been embarrassed to share.

Of course, because you are incapable of viewing history in an emotionless, objective fashion. Unfair power arrangements have been the norm in human history up until recently. Slaughter on the scale of the Nazis has not been normal, historically.

We don't compare the Revolution to the Nazis, despite the fact that there were slaves in Revolutionary America. We don't compare historical Caliphates and Emirates to Nazis (Right, AemJeff?), despite the fact that there were entire nations built on slavery in the Islamic world.

I've noticed Apple being castigated for applying your leftist critique to non-Western nations.

Quote:

I'd say it's empirically false since "slaughter" is among the atrocities facilitated by a tolerance to chattel -
What would that matter as a link between ethical values? Both Nazi Germany and the United States both had prisons, simultaneously. Prisons are necessary to facilitate "concentration camps". Ergo, there is an ethical equivalence between Alcatraz and Dachau?

Obviously not. Most peoples have owned slaves. None are, in my observation, castigated for it as much as the United States.

Quote:

but you're free to make the (much more difficult) case for what you've asserted.
Actually if you divorce yourself from the self-mortification you people learn in catechism, the thing speaks for itself. Crime is not equal. Mistakes are not equal.

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 05:12 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 234117)
If you think the only problem with slavery was forced labor, then the rest of your conclusions aren't surprising.

Emotional appeal. Where am I factually in error?

I notice a lot of sputtering going on. I see very little rational critique of what I said. Sorry gentlemen, I know a bit too much about the Holocaust to be tolerant of flippant use of "Nazi" comparisons with American ancestors.

AemJeff 12-09-2011 05:15 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234133)
Of course, because you are incapable of viewing history in an emotionless, objective fashion. Unfair power arrangements have been the norm in human history up until recently. Slaughter on the scale of the Nazis has not been normal, historically.

We don't compare the Revolution to the Nazis, despite the fact that there were slaves in Revolutionary America. We don't compare historical Caliphates and Emirates to Nazis (Right, AemJeff?), despite the fact that there were entire nations built on slavery in the Islamic world.

I've noticed Apple being castigated for applying your leftist critique to non-Western nations.



What would that matter as a link between ethical values? Both Nazi Germany and the United States both had prisons, simultaneously. Prisons are necessary to facilitate "concentration camps". Ergo, there is an ethical equivalence between Alcatraz and Dachau?

Obviously not. Most peoples have owned slaves. None are, in my observation, castigated for it as much as the United States.



Actually if you divorce yourself from the self-mortification you people learn in catechism, the thing speaks for itself. Crime is not equal. Mistakes are not equal.

I don't see much relevant linkage between my argument and your response. institutional slavery implies a great deal of slaughter (and other evils, some arguabbly worse than that), and occurred here for a period lasting over many generations. That's the equivalence that you were denying and the assertion to which I was registering my disagreement..

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 05:29 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 234121)
Incorrect. There was never slavery in metropolitan France (unless you consider serfdom slavery).

I didn't say there was.

Quote:

Slavery only existed in French colonies
:rolleyes: I thought that was obvious.

Quote:

was abolished during the French Revolution, re-established in 1802 by Napoleon, and finally abolished for good in 1848.
And there is where I stand corrected: 17 years instead of 50. I was roughly gauging from L'Ouverture.

Quote:

Cragger did not say that slavery "tainted the essence of the nation".
He implied it.

Quote:

He questioned the whitewashing of the Confederacy and its generals.
There is no whitewashing. Does France "white wash" Bonaparte? I've been to the tomb of the Emperor; far more grandiose than Arlington or the Confederate museum in Richmond. What, do Frenchmen admire the fact that he executed 2,000 Turkish prisoners at Jaffa?

Quote:

I doubt if his eyes "mist up" at the mention of France
I doubt there is much that doesn't get the eyes of the left misty.

Quote:

but your eyes do seem to mist up at the mention of the Confederacy.
Not at all. Most of my ancestry fought for the North in that war. I just won't abide slander.

Quote:

Cragger did not say that slavery was comparable to concentration camps or mass slaughter. So why are you making the analogy? The analogy was between the generals of the Confederacy and the generals of Nazi Germany.
Why did he raise Nazi Generals? Because the uniforms are also grey? Don't be absurd. He raised Nazi Generals to suggest equivalence.

miceelf 12-09-2011 05:31 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234134)
Emotional appeal. Where am I factually in error?

???

I am not even sure I understand the question. Slavery, as practiced here and elsewhere, entailed a lot more problems than simply that slaves were forced to work for 8 or 10 or 12 or 14 hours a day.

As someone else noted, the chattel thing mattered a great deal.

To take just one example of a myriad of accompanying problems, family life, which is usually a conservative concern. Assuming slaves were allowed to marry, husband and wife could be sold away from one another and often were. Children could be separated from parents just easily and were just as frequently. And regardless of the incidence of the actual forced separation of family members, the threat was universal and can't but have affected family life- whether as punishment or the simple free market consequence of one's owner's financial vagaries, the threat that one could be sold away from husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, etc. hung over everything like a pall.

This is just one domain of life. The chattel thing is kind of a big deal beyond not having a choice about what one does with one's business hours time.

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 05:36 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 234135)
I don't see much relevant linkage between my argument and your response. institutional slavery implies a great deal of slaughter (and other evils, some arguabbly worse than that), and occurred here for a period lasting over many generations. That's the equivalence that you were denying and the assertion to which I was registering my disagreement..

The majority of slaughter in institutional slavery happens in the initial slave raiding. Since that wasn't done by Americans, maybe Cragger should be comparing some random Emir of the Magreb to Manstein instead of Robert Lee.

In terms of things that Americans did, there is a remarkable lack of realism. Were there places that engaged in gratuitous violence against slaves? Yes. There were more places where American slaves were more or less like Serfs, where punishment would more often involve unpleasant chores than actual violence. There is an economics to this thing, you know AemJeff, and most people, even slaveholders, thought of slaves as human beings.

The point of the Holocaust, on the other hand, was to exterminate the people in captivity.

Don Zeko 12-09-2011 05:41 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234137)
Why did he raise Nazi Generals? Because the uniforms are also grey? Don't be absurd. He raised Nazi Generals to suggest equivalence.

I don't think that's even remotely clear. Here's the relevant quote:


Quote:

Originally Posted by cragger (Post 234088)
The whitewashing of the Civil War, not only in the racial sense that Coates centers on but also in a moral sense, seems to speak to a widespread inability or unwillingness to look at ourselves and our past actions as a nation honestly. Outside of military historians few people know much about the WWII German generals Guderian or Manstein, and those who do may recognize their military ability but hardly consider them cultural icons. The case is far different for Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, or Jeb Stuart, who have been transformed by our culture and revisionist history into noble heroes, despite the similarly vile cause in which they served. Lee's visage is widely recognizable today, and while most would be outraged by the display of the swastika on a license plate or wall flag, many seem to accept the myriad placements of the Confederate battle flag, often claimed as a "symbol of Southern Heritage" as though the symbol of five years of violent and arguably treasonous rebellion in support of slavery define "Southern Heritage".

I don't see how this is anything resembling an attempt to weigh the moral monstrosity of a few decades of totalitarianism, aggressive war, and industrial genocide against a few centuries of chattel slavery, which is itself a fairly silly project. What Cragger is pretty clearly doing is bringing up Nazis to find other examples of competent and courageous soldiers that fought for an inexcusable cause. So if you're comparing the Confederacy to Nazi Germany in that very limited sense of being a cause that cannot be defended by any fair-minded observer, then the comparison is perfectly valid.

All of this stuff you're dredging up about the nihilistic left and slavery tainting American history is not coming from the people you're responding to, it's coming from your own hang-ups and ideological grudges. Bear in mind that the Coates article that started this whole discussion (and that every liberal in this thread has been praising) is arguing in favor of seeing the Civil War as a triumphant history of Americans overcoming past injustices to better embody the ideals of the Declaration.

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 05:48 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 234138)
???

I am not even sure I understand the question. Slavery, as practiced here and elsewhere, entailed a lot more problems than simply that slaves were forced to work for 8 or 10 or 12 or 14 hours a day.

As someone else noted, the chattel thing mattered a great deal.

To take just one example of a myriad of accompanying problems, family life, which is usually a conservative concern. Assuming slaves were allowed to marry, husband and wife could be sold away from one another and often were.

But usually weren't.

Quote:

Children could be separated from parents just easily and were just as frequently. And regardless of the incidence of the actual forced separation of family members, the threat was universal and can't but have affected family life- whether as punishment or the simple free market consequence of one's owner's financial vagaries, the threat that one could be sold away from husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, etc. hung over everything like a pall.
Of course. Slavery is terrible. But it is a terrible system of inequity, with long roots in human history. Nazism was an atrocity which involved dozens of different types of crimes committed with malice and intent to inflict injury.

Quote:


This is just one domain of life. The chattel thing is kind of a big deal beyond not having a choice about what one does with one's business hours time.
Granted.

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 06:09 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 234140)
I don't think that's even remotely clear. Here's the relevant quote:

Outside of military historians few people know much about the WWII German generals Guderian or Manstein, and those who do may recognize their military ability but hardly consider them cultural icons. The case is far different for Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, or Jeb Stuart, who have been transformed by our culture and revisionist history into noble heroes, despite the similarly vile cause in which they served.

Manstein as commander of both Army Group North and South was certainly aware of the actions of the Einsatzgruppen, as well as directly responsible for anti-"partisan" orders like this one:

This struggle is not being carried on against the Soviet Armed Forces alone in the established form laid down by European rules of warfare.
Behind the front too, the fighting continues. Partisan snipers dressed as civilians attack single soldiers and small units and try to disrupt our supplies by sabotage with mines and infernal machines. Bolshevists left behind keep the population freed from Bolshevism in a state of unrest by means of terror and attempt thereby to sabotage the political and economic pacification of the country. Harvests and factories are destroyed and the city population in particular is thereby ruthlessly delivered to starvation.

Jewry is the middleman between the enemy in the rear and the remains of the Red Army and the Red leadership still fighting. More strongly than in Europe they hold all key positions of political leadership and administration, of trade and crafts and constitutes a cell for all unrest and possible uprisings.
The Jewish Bolshevik system must be wiped out once and for all and should never again be allowed to invade our European living space.


On what planet is Manstein cut from the same cloth as Lee? This order gave license to the random execution of men of military age traveling behind the German lines without documents. Since Cragger suggests a familiarity with Manstein, that other people lack, he must know the controversies Manstein is involved in. Manstein is only admirable compared to greater monsters, he is not an honorable man in an objective sense.

Quote:

I don't see how this is anything resembling an attempt to weigh the moral monstrosity of a few decades of totalitarianism, aggressive war, and industrial genocide against a few centuries of chattel slavery, which is itself a fairly silly project.
Perhaps you missed this:

who have been transformed by our culture and revisionist history into noble heroes, despite the similarly vile cause in which they served.

The causes aren't "similarly vile".

Quote:

What Cragger is pretty clearly doing is bringing up Nazis to find other examples of competent and courageous soldiers that fought for an inexcusable cause. So if you're comparing the Confederacy to Nazi Germany in that very limited sense of being a cause that cannot be defended by any fair-minded observer, then the comparison is perfectly valid.
In what sense is this clear from what he said? He is suggesting that we don't admire Guderian or Manstein (Though I think the Germans DO, actually, admire Guderian and Rommel), because we know the Nazis are evil, but "revisionist history" has transformed Lee and Jackson into heros despite the fact that their cause was "similarly vile". I reject that. What planet do you have to live on to find Stonewall Jackson, a guy who taught slaves and freedmen how to read in his spare time, equatable to a guy in charge of the siege of Leningrad?

Quote:

All of this stuff you're dredging up about the nihilistic left and slavery tainting American history is not coming from the people you're responding to, it's coming from your own hang-ups and ideological grudges.
You notice that AemJeff literally came out and said what I'm saying you folks are saying. And indeed, said my position on the difference is embarrassing as a value judgement.

Quote:

Bear in mind that the Coates article that started this whole discussion (and that every liberal in this thread has been praising) is arguing in favor of seeing the Civil War as a triumphant history of Americans overcoming past injustices to better embody the ideals of the Declaration.
That is all well and good. But it seems as though you folks are seeking to inflate the "triumph" by exaggerating the "villainy" of the "bad guys" of this particular narrative.

Don Zeko 12-09-2011 07:40 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234142)
Manstein as commander of both Army Group North and South was certainly aware of the actions of the Einsatzgruppen, as well as directly responsible for anti-"partisan" orders like this one:

This struggle is not being carried on against the Soviet Armed Forces alone in the established form laid down by European rules of warfare.
Behind the front too, the fighting continues. Partisan snipers dressed as civilians attack single soldiers and small units and try to disrupt our supplies by sabotage with mines and infernal machines. Bolshevists left behind keep the population freed from Bolshevism in a state of unrest by means of terror and attempt thereby to sabotage the political and economic pacification of the country. Harvests and factories are destroyed and the city population in particular is thereby ruthlessly delivered to starvation.

Jewry is the middleman between the enemy in the rear and the remains of the Red Army and the Red leadership still fighting. More strongly than in Europe they hold all key positions of political leadership and administration, of trade and crafts and constitutes a cell for all unrest and possible uprisings.
The Jewish Bolshevik system must be wiped out once and for all and should never again be allowed to invade our European living space.


On what planet is Manstein cut from the same cloth as Lee? This order gave license to the random execution of men of military age traveling behind the German lines without documents. Since Cragger suggests a familiarity with Manstein, that other people lack, he must know the controversies Manstein is involved in. Manstein is only admirable compared to greater monsters, he is not an honorable man in an objective sense.



Perhaps you missed this:

who have been transformed by our culture and revisionist history into noble heroes, despite the similarly vile cause in which they served.

The causes aren't "similarly vile".

They're both vile, which is both the entire point of this comparison and the only comparison that I'm interested in making. Since the discussion began with the question of how we should remember soldiers that chose to fight for vile causes, let me steer things back in that direction. Are you saying that we should remember soldiers fondly who served in vile causes, but not those who served in extra-super-duper vile causes? If so, why? What level of inexcusability triggers this reaction? If not, why do you find this comparison objectionable?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234142)
In what sense is this clear from what he said? He is suggesting that we don't admire Guderian or Manstein (Though I think the Germans DO, actually, admire Guderian and Rommel), because we know the Nazis are evil, but "revisionist history" has transformed Lee and Jackson into heros despite the fact that their cause was "similarly vile". I reject that. What planet do you have to live on to find Stonewall Jackson, a guy who taught slaves and freedmen how to read in his spare time, equatable to a guy in charge of the siege of Leningrad?

I don't care at all whether he was kind to his slaves. The point that we've been making, and that you seem strangely unwilling to concede, is that Stonewall Jackson was wrong, wrong wrong. He fought for an inexcusable cause, and his talent as a soldier made that cause's eventual defeat much more costly in lives and treasure than it might otherwise have been. In that respect, he is similar to other talented soldiers that have fought for inexcusable causes, like Rommel, Guderian, and Manstein. Whether the sins of the Third Reich are worse, much worse, less, or incomparably worse than the sins of centuries of chattel slavery is a silly question that I have no interest in answering.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234142)
You notice that AemJeff literally came out and said what I'm saying you folks are saying. And indeed, said my position on the difference is embarrassing as a value judgement.

That is all well and good. But it seems as though you folks are seeking to inflate the "triumph" by exaggerating the "villainy" of the "bad guys" of this particular narrative.

Ummm, ok. So was Nathan Bedford Forrest not a villain? Was Robert E. Lee, whose army kidnapped free blacks and sold them south during his invasion of Pennsylvania, not a villain? Was Ulysses Grant wrong to call their cause "one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse?" If the answer is yes, then what exactly are you all hot and bothered about?

Don Zeko 12-09-2011 07:45 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234139)
In terms of things that Americans did, there is a remarkable lack of realism. Were there places that engaged in gratuitous violence against slaves? Yes. There were more places where American slaves were more or less like Serfs, where punishment would more often involve unpleasant chores than actual violence. There is an economics to this thing, you know AemJeff, and most people, even slaveholders, thought of slaves as human beings.

Speaking of white-washing....

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 08:15 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 234149)
They're both vile, which is both the entire point of this comparison and the only comparison that I'm interested in making. Since the discussion began with the question of how we should remember soldiers that chose to fight for vile causes, let me steer things back in that direction. Are you saying that we should remember soldiers fondly who served in vile causes, but not those who served in extra-super-duper vile causes? If so, why? What level of inexcusability triggers this reaction? If not, why do you find this comparison objectionable?

Because you are reducing a people to a social inequity which has existed since time immemorial. Slavery was the central policy issue which actually touched a lot of different, non-slave related issues. What was America, and what was it to be? This is a cultural question which was also involved in the Civil War. Slavery may be a terrible institution, but believe it or not, the autonomy of the states to decide the matter was important to a lot of people. I'm sure you know that the vast majority of Southerners owned exactly zero slaves. They didn't think of themselves as fighting for slavery, they thought of themselves as fighting for Virginia, or Florida, or Georgia. People conceived of these entities in far more significant ways than we do today.

Now, slavery is the item upon which this question raised by industrialist revolution in America was settled. But lets not fool ourselves here. Since slavery indicts the South and puts it in Nuremberg right next to Hermann Goering, I guess you should put George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in the dock. And indeed, repaint the revolution itself as a war by rapacious slavers and land owners against the enlightened British government, which liberated the benighted slaves of America for His Majesty.

Heck, why doesn't that trump everything, as it theoretically does in the Civil War? The Union was fighting to preserve itself, just as the British were seeking to preserve Imperium in the colonies. The de facto posture of slave liberation was secondary to these endeavors, but apparently its existence is the primary issue in determining moral value.

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I don't care at all whether he was kind to his slaves.
The point is that he was kind to blacks, not just "his slaves".

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The point that we've been making, and that you seem strangely unwilling to concede, is that Stonewall Jackson was wrong, wrong wrong. He fought for an inexcusable cause, and his talent as a soldier made that cause's eventual defeat much more costly in lives and treasure than it might otherwise have been.
Except that Jackson wasn't fighting for the cause you're suggesting he was fighting for. You are disregarding the political beliefs of the South in order to make a statement of hindsight. Jackson, just like Lee, engaged in war to protect the prerogatives of Virginia. Slavery was that prerogative, yes, but it wasn't the only one. It is just the most proximate.

But Virginia was once the heart of American political power. It had watched its place in the nation erode over sixty years, and like the rest of the South, feared that the explosion of Northern industrial power and settlement of the West was going to relegate the South to a meaningless rump position in American politics. Their answer? Form their own polity, which they considered their right.

This may seem extreme to us now. But moderns forget how young the nation was, and how often secession was brought up as a solution to political disputes. When South Carolina threatened to secede under Andrew Jackson, it had nothing to do with slavery, rather tariffs. When Federalists in New England threatened to secede from the Union, it was due to their correct perception of eroding political power brought on by the Louisiana Purchase.

Precisely the concerns for the powerful states of the South.

So no, simply rejecting the Union isn't 'vile'. The policy that underlines the divides in this instance is vile. The rest is just politics. And I won't stay silent when the ancestors of Americans are demonized in the name of politics.

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In that respect, he is similar to other talented soldiers that have fought for inexcusable causes, like Rommel, Guderian, and Manstein. Whether the sins of the Third Reich are worse, much worse, less, or incomparably worse than the sins of centuries of chattel slavery is a silly question that I have no interest in answering.
It is a silly question because the answer is obvious. No, in creating a hierarchy of value, "Bad is bad is bad" doesn't work. A hierarchy assumes tiers. Just as it is wrong to steal, and it is wrong to rape and then eat your victims, and then to argue that one is worse is simply "silly".

It isn't silly. To mention both in the same sentence it to suggest a connection of "wrongness". To do that is presumably not to vindicate rape and cannibalism, but to demonize theft. Why do that? Because someone is trying to push some sort of contemporary narrative.

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Ummm, ok. So was Nathan Bedford Forrest not a villain?
Sure. Nathan Bedford Forrest is a villain. But that wasn't Cragger's example. If Cragger had said, "I don't know why people celebrate Nathan Bedford Forrest anymore than they celebrate Sepp Dietrich", I would have said, "I don't think that many people really do celebrate Forrest, and pointed to numerous historical critiques of him.

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Was Robert E. Lee, whose army kidnapped free blacks and sold them south during his invasion of Pennsylvania, not a villain?
No. By all accounts, Robert E. Lee was a decent man who did his best to conduct war in accordance with the understanding of honor in his time.

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Was Ulysses Grant wrong to call their cause "one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse?" If the answer is yes, then what exactly are you all hot and bothered about?
Grant is not wrong if you view the war from the self-interested partisan perspective he was sitting in when he said that. By then, the moral narrative of "abolishing slavery" had advanced significantly as the virtuous casus belli for the war. In Grant's memoirs, however, he expresses nothing but his deepest respect for Lee as a man and, more importantly, a man of honor.

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 08:18 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 234150)
Speaking of white-washing....

Is what I said factually incorrect?

Would you disagree with this statement?

Slave settlements in the United States were more like serf villages in Europe than they were like Auschwitz.

Don Zeko 12-09-2011 08:44 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
So let me try to sum up the points that we disagree on. First, you don't seem to agree that war was really about slavery. Second, you object to people bringing up Nazi soldiers to make a comparative point about how we remember Confederate soldiers. Third, although this is a corollary of the first, you don't regard fighting for the Confederacy as a morally inexcusable act, and therefore think that we should venerate men that made that decision.

I'd argue against your first point, but then you're the one that appears to be arguing that the Confederates were the true heirs of the American Revolution, and that the Union was a latter-day Great Britain fighting to dominate a free people. I don't take this as a sign that we're going to have a productive discussion.

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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234154)
Now, slavery is the item upon which this question raised by industrialist revolution in America was settled. But lets not fool ourselves here. Since slavery indicts the South and puts it in Nuremberg right next to Hermann Goering, I guess you should put George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in the dock. And indeed, repaint the revolution itself as a war by rapacious slavers and land owners against the enlightened British government, which liberated the benighted slaves of America for His Majesty.

Heck, why doesn't that trump everything, as it theoretically does in the Civil War? The Union was fighting to preserve itself, just as the British were seeking to preserve Imperium in the colonies. The de facto posture of slave liberation was secondary to these endeavors, but apparently its existence is the primary issue in determining moral value.

The second point is one that I don't have any real interest in debating, since you are happily disputing that Jackson or Lee were morally wrong at all.

As to the third point, this was a Civil War. brother often fought literally against brother, which means that the men who fought for the Confederacy had a choice. They could have fought for the Union or even simply sat the war out, as many white Southerners did. But they didn't do that. They fought to perpetuate slavery, and as I've mentioned already, the behavior of their armies underlines that fact. Confederate soldiers summarily executed black prisoners of war and kidnapped free blacks in their march.

Oh, and by the way, about this:

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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234154)
And I won't stay silent when the ancestors of Americans are demonized in the name of politics.

My ancestors fought for the Confederacy, but unlike you I'm willing to accept truth when it's uncomfortable.

Don Zeko 12-09-2011 08:50 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
More background on this: Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy, speaking at the war's outset:

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Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the "rock upon which the old Union would split." He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically.

It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day.

Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew." Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

Don Zeko 12-09-2011 08:57 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234154)
Because you are reducing a people to a social inequity which has existed since time immemorial. Slavery was the central policy issue which actually touched a lot of different, non-slave related issues. What was America, and what was it to be? This is a cultural question which was also involved in the Civil War....

Except that Jackson wasn't fighting for the cause you're suggesting he was fighting for. You are disregarding the political beliefs of the South in order to make a statement of hindsight. Jackson, just like Lee, engaged in war to protect the prerogatives of Virginia. Slavery was that prerogative, yes, but it wasn't the only one. It is just the most proximate.

But Virginia was once the heart of American political power. It had watched its place in the nation erode over sixty years, and like the rest of the South, feared that the explosion of Northern industrial power and settlement of the West was going to relegate the South to a meaningless rump position in American politics. Their answer? Form their own polity, which they considered their right.

This may seem extreme to us now. But moderns forget how young the nation was, and how often secession was brought up as a solution to political disputes. When South Carolina threatened to secede under Andrew Jackson, it had nothing to do with slavery, rather tariffs. When Federalists in New England threatened to secede from the Union, it was due to their correct perception of eroding political power brought on by the Louisiana Purchase.

No. By all accounts, Robert E. Lee was a decent man who did his best to conduct war in accordance with the understanding of honor in his time.

Wait, don't you guys had a problem with moral relativism? Because I've got to say, this is a far more brazen articulation of it than I've ever heard from a liberal on this board.

Wonderment 12-09-2011 10:20 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234113)
Oh it clearly would have ended pretty soon. Even the Empire of Brazil, which was about as atavistic a society as could be imagined, got rid of slavery in the 1880s. The end of the slave trade alone was gradually increasing the costs of slaves. With the deflationary pressure on cotton from British development of it, the real profitability of slavery wouldn't have lasted very long.

I agree with you here, and I do view the Civil War as a terrible, needless tragedy. The South was definitely on the wrong, hideous and genocidal side of it, but that doesn't mean that the North was on the right side. There was no right side, and it's troubling that the only country that needed a million-casualty war (with the usual enormous negative consequences for future generations) to end slavery was the USA.

One of the worst unintended consequences of the Civil War was to reinforce the notion that the USA was an exceptional nation that could wage "righteous" wars for a greater good and glory. That mentality is a factor in our ongoing bellicosity and delusions of grandeur.

graz 12-09-2011 11:04 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
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Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 234160)
I agree with you here, and I do view the Civil War as a terrible, needless tragedy. The South was definitely on the wrong, hideous and genocidal side of it, but that doesn't mean that the North was on the right side. There was no right side, and it's troubling that the only country that needed a million-casualty war (with the usual enormous negative consequences for future generations) to end slavery was the USA.

One of the worst unintended consequences of the Civil War was to reinforce the notion that the USA was an exceptional nation that could wage "righteous" wars for a greater good and glory. That mentality is a factor in our ongoing bellicosity and delusions of grandeur.

Now if only y'all could perfect that hindsight time machine.

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 11:13 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
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Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 234157)
So let me try to sum up the points that we disagree on. First, you don't seem to agree that war was really about slavery.

No, I specifically said slavery is the proximate cause for the war. But it is ridiculous to suggest that people fought solely, or even mostly, over that issue.

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Second, you object to people bringing up Nazi soldiers to make a comparative point about how we remember Confederate soldiers. Third, although this is a corollary of the first, you don't regard fighting for the Confederacy as a morally inexcusable act, and therefore think that we should venerate men that made that decision.
Correct. I do not regard fighting for the Confederacy as a morally inexcusable act. And neither did the Union, which is why there were no show trials and no recriminations.

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I'd argue against your first point, but then you're the one that appears to be arguing that the Confederates were the true heirs of the American Revolution, and that the Union was a latter-day Great Britain fighting to dominate a free people. I don't take this as a sign that we're going to have a productive discussion.
In fact, if you reread my argument, I'm arguing the reverse. I'm saying that is your position. You are saying that since slavery is an irredeemable, in your words "morally inexcusable act", it becomes the primary characteristic of any state that has slaves. Thus you are defending the comparison between the Confederacy and the Third Reich. Well, I'm pointing out that what is true of the Confederacy is also true of the Revolution. If slavery is the overriding factor which determines one's place in a moral realm where the Nazis can be raised, then it seems to me that everyone can be compared to the Nazis.

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The second point is one that I don't have any real interest in debating, since you are happily disputing that Jackson or Lee were morally wrong at all.
They are morally wrong for violating their oathes to the Republic and the Constitution. That is a conscious moral decision.

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As to the third point, this was a Civil War. brother often fought literally against brother, which means that the men who fought for the Confederacy had a choice. They could have fought for the Union or even simply sat the war out, as many white Southerners did. But they didn't do that. They fought to perpetuate slavery, and as I've mentioned already, the behavior of their armies underlines that fact. Confederate soldiers summarily executed black prisoners of war and kidnapped free blacks in their march.
I think you might have missed the part of my post where I discussed the cultural impetus involved in "choosing" a side, and the powerful force represented in regional identity.

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My ancestors fought for the Confederacy, but unlike you I'm willing to accept truth when it's uncomfortable.
Do you find it interesting how your efforts here to demonize a historical enemy match the current political geography?

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 11:16 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
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Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 234158)
More background on this: Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy, speaking at the war's outset:

I am familiar with the Cornerstone speech. It doesn't really argue against my case.

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 11:22 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 234159)
Wait, don't you guys had a problem with moral relativism? Because I've got to say, this is a far more brazen articulation of it than I've ever heard from a liberal on this board.

What moral relativism? Is it morally relativistic to say that the social reactions of historical political identities to phenomenon are different than now? No. You even put in bold the section about the frequency of secession threats. That is a factual matter, not a value judgement.

I think what "we guys" object to is when people do things like...compare Nazis with Confederate infantrymen.

Don Zeko 12-09-2011 11:44 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234167)
I am familiar with the Cornerstone speech. It doesn't really argue against my case.

Oh really? Why not?

Don Zeko 12-09-2011 11:50 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234166)
No, I specifically said slavery is the proximate cause for the war. But it is ridiculous to suggest that people fought solely, or even mostly, over that issue.

Correct. I do not regard fighting for the Confederacy as a morally inexcusable act. And neither did the Union, which is why there were no show trials and no recriminations.

The same Union that barred ex-confederate leaders from holding political offices? The Union that was led by a conservative Southerner during the first few years of Reconstruction?

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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234166)
In fact, if you reread my argument, I'm arguing the reverse. I'm saying that is your position. You are saying that since slavery is an irredeemable, in your words "morally inexcusable act", it becomes the primary characteristic of any state that has slaves. Thus you are defending the comparison between the Confederacy and the Third Reich. Well, I'm pointing out that what is true of the Confederacy is also true of the Revolution. If slavery is the overriding factor which determines one's place in a moral realm where the Nazis can be raised, then it seems to me that everyone can be compared to the Nazis.

The difference is that the Revolution wasn't fought to preserve slavery. The Civil War was. If we build a monument to Thomas Jefferson, we're not celebrating his ownership of slaves. But if you're building a shrine to Stonewall Jackson, there's no way to explain his historical significance without reference to his (tactically and strategically masterful, valorous) treason in defense of slavery.

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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234166)
They are morally wrong for violating their oathes to the Republic and the Constitution. That is a conscious moral decision.

I think you might have missed the part of my post where I discussed the cultural impetus involved in "choosing" a side, and the powerful force represented in regional identity.

But doesn't this apply just as strongly to Nazis? If anything, Rommel and Guderian had far less opportunity to refuse to fight than Lee or Jackson. I don't dispute that many Confederate soldiers had other reasons to fight in their minds. But the fact is that there was a right side and a wrong side, and these men chose the side that was monstrously, disastrously wrong.

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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 234166)
Do you find it interesting how your efforts here to demonize a historical enemy match the current political geography?

No, not really. I mean, I used to think about these things differently. I spent years trying to carve out a space for admiration of Lee and Jackson, but I changed my mind after reading Coates's blog about this subject for the past couple of years.

Sulla the Dictator 12-09-2011 11:52 PM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
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Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 234173)
Oh really? Why not?

Because I am not arguing about the role of slavery in the politics of the Civil War. I am arguing that it is match which lights the powder keg of a great many regional, cultural, and political differences.

Sulla the Dictator 12-10-2011 12:05 AM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
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Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 234174)
The same Union that barred ex-confederate leaders from holding political offices? The Union that was led by a conservative Southerner during the first few years of Reconstruction?

Right: Those who violated oaths were not trusted to take back their positions in government. Those that didn't, of course, did take office about ten years later. Longstreet, for example, was appointed to state and federal office by former Union Generals, including as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

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The difference is that the Revolution wasn't fought to preserve slavery. The Civil War was. If we build a monument to Thomas Jefferson, we're not celebrating his ownership of slaves. But if you're building a shrine to Stonewall Jackson, there's no way to explain his historical significance without reference to his (tactically and strategically masterful, valorous) treason in defense of slavery.
So now it isn't the practical reality of slavery, it is intent? Because before, you seem to dismiss the importance of intent when it came to preserving the political authority of the various Southern states.

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But doesn't this apply just as strongly to Nazis? If anything, Rommel and Guderian had far less opportunity to refuse to fight than Lee or Jackson. I don't dispute that many Confederate soldiers had other reasons to fight in their minds. But the fact is that there was a right side and a wrong side, and these men chose the side that was monstrously, disastrously wrong.
Except that the Confederacy's core program was autonomy, the German core program was militarist expansion. And while Guderian and Rommel didn't sign on to the post-Heydrich atrocity regime, they were early and enthusiastic supporters of that core program.

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No, not really. I mean, I used to think about these things differently. I spent years trying to carve out a space for admiration of Lee and Jackson, but I changed my mind after reading Coates's blog about this subject for the past couple of years.
Perhaps you should consider the esteem the Union had for Lee. Lee almost fought for the Union. It wasn't slavery which moved him, it was Virginia.

Florian 12-10-2011 06:49 AM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
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Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 234140)
I don't see how this is anything resembling an attempt to weigh the moral monstrosity of a few decades of totalitarianism, aggressive war, and industrial genocide against a few centuries of chattel slavery, which is itself a fairly silly project. What Cragger is pretty clearly doing is bringing up Nazis to find other examples of competent and courageous soldiers that fought for an inexcusable cause. So if you're comparing the Confederacy to Nazi Germany in that very limited sense of being a cause that cannot be defended by any fair-minded observer, then the comparison is perfectly valid.

Precisely. After reading this entire thread from beginning to end, I still have no idea why Sulla cannot simply acknowledge that he misunderstood the point of the analogy. Unless what you go on to say....

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All of this stuff you're dredging up about the nihilistic left and slavery tainting American history is not coming from the people you're responding to, it's coming from your own hang-ups and ideological grudges.
is true.

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Bear in mind that the Coates article that started this whole discussion (and that every liberal in this thread has been praising) is arguing in favor of seeing the Civil War as a triumphant history of Americans overcoming past injustices to better embody the ideals of the Declaration.
Instead of recognizing this, Sulla devotes all his energy to justifying the institution of slavery in the south on the grounds that it was not so bad, that it was historically "necessary" or that slavery in general was a common practice before modern times. I am not sure what he is saying exactly. A sufficiently perverse historian could come up with a similar theory to justify the persecution of minorities, and even ethnocide, for example the extermination by design and accident of the Amerindians by European and later American colonizers from the 16th century on.

Sulla the Dictator 12-10-2011 08:18 AM

Re: Whitewashing The Civil War
 
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Originally Posted by Florian (Post 234188)
Precisely. After reading this entire thread from beginning to end, I still have no idea why Sulla cannot simply acknowledge that he misunderstood the point of the analogy. Unless what you go on to say....

You apparently missed this post: http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showth...188#post234188


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