Sunday, April 11, 2010

Of Traitors and Terrorists

Gotta love Roland Martin for this. To be sure, Confederate soldiers weren't terrorists in any general sense -- that label, I think, is reserved for folks who as a matter of policy violate international humanitarian norms in order to achieve political ends, and I haven't read anything that suggests that Confederate war tactics were, as a matter of course, outside the normal bounds of the laws of war at that time. But Martin isn't really using the terrorist label for that purpose -- rather, he's making a comparison between the specious justifications given for "honoring" Confederate soldiers ("they were fighting for what they believed in!" "There were aggressive acts by the North") and similar rhetoric used by terrorist apologists the world over.

The fact is that Confederate soldiers weren't terrorists, so much as they were traitors. But either way, there is nothing honorable about it.

Meanwhile, Matt Yglesias has a great post about "the white southern political tradition’s very partial and selective embrace of majoritarian democracy."
As long as national institutions are substantially controlled by white southerners, the white south is a hotbed of patriotism. But as soon as an non-southern political coalition manages to win an election—as we saw in 1860 and in 2008—then suddenly the symbols of national authority become symbols of tyranny and the constitution is construed as granting conservative areas all kinds of alleged abilities to opt out of national political decisions.

And then the rest of the country is supposed to honor this as authentic Americana. Count me out.

1 comment:

PG said...

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

You only get called a traitor in history books if you lose. If you win, you're the Founding Fathers and the greatest collection of white dudes that ever existed.

Of course, the problem for the Confederates in trying to compare themselves to the Founders is that they were sadly lacking most of the reasonable objections that, for example, John Adams had. They were represented in Congress; they had the same freedoms as the other members of their polity, plus the joys of denying freedom to another group of people; they could continue to expand their populations (and thus representation) by attracting immigrants who could be naturalized.