History is littered with the lamentable stories of Cultures that ‘won wars’ but lost the subsequent peace that should have been the spoil of their victory. Case in point: The Union (The United States of America) v The Confederate States of America.
Grant accepted Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The Civil War ending was the Union’s high water mark. Turns out, it was all downhill from there. From Lincoln’s assassination to Johnson’s presidency (and his impeachment) to the terribly botched Reconstruction to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan to Separate But Equal to & through every awful instance of America’s deep-seated racism — all born of a terrible, terrible mistake: the refusal to deny SLAVERY at America’s inception — and IN America’s Constitution.
A lot of terrible things have flowed from the Civil War into our Timeline. But the most damning and damaging comes via the Confederacy’s Ghost: Having lost the War, it seemingly ‘rose from the dead’ and WON THE PEACE. How’d it do that?
Usually, it’s the Victors who get to write the History. But, perversely, that didn’t happen here. Southern writers — or writers influenced by Southern sympathies — started using the term ‘States Rights’ to describe the Confederacy’s motives for attempting to destroy the Republic. Suddenly the rebels went from trying to destroy the country to being the ones ‘dedicated’ to making us ‘A more perfect Union’.
It’s utter bullshit, of course. If you go back and read every Confederate State’s exit statement — not a one of them mentions (their supposed core principle) State’s Rights. On the flip side — the Northern states do talk about State’s Rights — what they are and what they aren’t. The NORTH cared about States Rights while events were happening, not the South.
And yet — the South latched on to States Rights as its means to re-write History — to paint themselves more favorably — and less honestly. And damn if they didn’t get away with it. We actually still debate, in this country, what caused the Civil War — as if, when the simple facts are presented, it wasn’t as obvious as a sledgehammer landing on your foot. The word we’re all looking for is: “Slavery’. That’s what caused the Civil War. But Slavery was such an egregious error on our part that even ENDING IT did not end our problem with it — because we enslaved people UNLIKE us — and never made that fact up to them. We never ‘owned’ our racism — and apologized for it — and made the people we enslaved ‘whole’ again.
We — the enslavers — did not do that. Slavery remains an open issue on our books. That happened because the Union, exhausted by its war win, left the storytelling part of the exercise to the war’s ‘losers’. They LIED about their story. They pitched a completely FALSE NARRATIVE. We bought it…
And, today, an empowered, racist South holds outsized power over the country’s future direction. Mind you ‘The South’ doesn’t just live ‘in the south’. it’s spirit lives all over the country in small enclaves of tiny-minded, racist-and-misogynist thinking. Their horse shit was allowed to thrive and prosper because it wasn’t cut down at its inception.
And every time the news media wonders aloud why White People are so angry, they’re adding to the South’s (and Conservatives’) narrative that their rage is justified. If we had just paid a little more attention at the start — when the first Southerner/Conservative spewed the words ‘States Rights’.
If we had just slapped them down — with our words — we wouldn’t be having ‘this’ problem now.