"So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this that I would have cheerfully lost all that I have lost by the war, and have suffered all that I have suffered to have this object attained."
Robert E. Lee
Yeah, I'm a day late with this but I was rather impaired last eve and thought it needed a more sober rewrite.
Meet the Tea-Bagger of the 19th century, Johnny Reb.
Of course, as has been beaten to death everywhere, 4:30 AM, 150 years ago today it all started - or ended - depending on your outlook.
The "hate-filled" (Dumbass George Hill's nomenclature) liberal sites I frequent have been awash with screeds excoriating those with the temerity to "celebrate" this horror, America's most costly war. Lots of revisionist history flying back and forth from both sides with, in all fairness, the most unrealistic coming from those with Southern sympathies.
The war was about slavery - nothing else. Not "state's rights" (Excepting of course the right of the states to allow slavery). But that's not what I'm talking about.
Everybody knows - and knew then in their heart of hearts - that slavery was evil.
Further, I doubt that anyone, at the time, didn't know that it was a doomed institution.
All the other "civilized" countries had already abolished it.
Our unpleasantness over what was supposed to be the settling of a Mexican state, Texas, came about solely because the new Mexican government - in their backwards way - had outlawed slavery in their brand-new constitution thereby robbing all those American entrepreneurs of their shot at the American dream - a big plantation growing cotton with free (Well, you had to feed them) labor.
None other than Robert E. Lee wrote in an 1856 letter to his wife: "... In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country."
The problem was - we'd gotten ourselves addicted to it.
Not to the idea of owning people like you own farm equipment but to the idea of being a sudden world power in a certain raw material.
That would be: cotton. Before Eli Whitney did his bit to help humanity self-destruct, cotton had been a luxury fiber, either imported from Egypt or India where they grew long-staple cotton or it was laboriously picked out of the bolls of American short-staple cotton.
I have no idea what cotton's portion of the GDP of pre-war America but it must have been considerable.
My point, and I do have one, is this: Stopping slavery didn't involve merely a change in behavior, but rather a shitcanning of an entire, very lucrative, way of doing business.
A greedy, selfish attitude on the part of those doing the business to be sure but there it is.
Talk to the Koch brothers about alternative energy sources for a "reenactment" of the mindset.
The problem, for me, is this guy. These guys, the first twelve I picked from the Library of Congress' eighteen pages of such portraits.
Actually, I was wrong. A lot of the images on those eighteen pages were dead JRs.
I'm going to cop to a having a real soft spot for the Confederate ground-pounder. First off, I've always liked the underdog but mostly what interests me isn't the regimented, well-equipped armies. It's the poor assholes making do.
The Monitor is interesting to me in a technical sense but the Virginia, I see as a real triumph. Serious back-of-the-envelope technology.
I really had my interest piqued when, discovering that "Hey, I can actually make knives - that cut stuff", I found myself scouring the Internet for possible ways to "monetize" my new skill.
I discovered... Confederate Bowies.
These things were perfect. They were historically interesting. They were big - always a plus - and there was absolutely no standard to them.
They were all over the map as far as size, quality of construction, type of construction, fit and finish (Something I've never been into).
A tiny sampling of examples can be seen here. A Google image search of "Confederate Bowie" will yield a far more serious bunch.
The fact that there were so many of them speaks, to me, the same thing the knuckle knives of the Great War do:
Knife as security blanket, Dumbo's feather, something to make the scared, excited, proud kid feel "manly" (and slightly less vulnerable) as he hiked off to war.
Plus the fact that some are so obviously homemade, it just breaks my heart.
Okay, Wahh - Wahh, poor me. What does this have to do with those absurd Tea Party nutfudges?
Well, leaving aside the fact that I hugely respect these guys and think very little of the overweight posers who drive the motor-home off to where ever Sarah Palin's next "squirmish" with reality takes place, those pathetic idiots share one attribute with the, far more admirable, Johnny Reb.
They were/are both tools for people who didn't/don't give a shit about them.
As I said, the Tea Party morons can tool about in their Medicare purchased Rascals while demanding a more "limited government and they're nothing but an amusing distraction ("We came unarmed... This time" Pu-fucking-lese!) but they drove there on government roads.
And, a significant number of them collect some sort of government pension. And yet, they've been convinced that they're "rugged individuals".
"All non-conforming in exactly the same way"; Charles Bukowski.
It might just be that JR has a little more historical distance for me but I think the biggie is really this: Johnny Reb fought and died, for a - just few days shy of four years - in what was certainly the most wrong-headed cause that Americans have ever fought and died for - although Georgie's Iraq adventure might compare in spirit if not in volume.
And, for the most part, it wasn't even their fight. They were fighting to perpetuate the aristocratic Southern "lifestyle" of the plantation owners - primarily.
Yes, lots of Confederate soldiers owned slaves - 10%, 25%. It depends on what you're looking at. One study determined that about half of the Rebels were involved in some way with slave ownership but that included - working for someone who owned slaves.
What I'm trying to say is this: 10%, 25% notwithstanding, how many of the 12,500 poor shites in Pickett's charge were thinking, while on their 3/4 mile walk into Union fire; "Once I get to that stone wall, that's one step closer to me ownin' some nigras of my own"?
I don't know. Maybe all of them but I doubt it.
It's unfair to denegrate these poor schmucks. They thought they were doing the right thing.
Yeah, yeah. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" Fuck you.
These guys were sold out.
They were suckers, chumps - and it pisses me off that some would shit on these who gave the last full measure just because they were sold a bill of goods by the powers-that-be.
And now, we have the Tea Party folks, prattling about "states rights" and secession", the same stupid idiocy.
Actually, that last, secession, really gets my attention.
Here's a thought:
How long is the "Free Republic of Utah (or Idaho, Texas, Arizona, pick one)" likely to last - landlocked - with resources, yes but of a rather narrow sort?
Or Alaska secession. Now, there's an idea! Alternate title: "Giving Alaska back to Russia - or Korea".
They're not rugged individuals. They're not self-sufficient - not by a long shot.
They've been fed a steady diet of Ayn Rand horseshit that truly is horseshit.
Case in point: Paul Ryan suckled at the Social Security tit himself after his Dad died when he was sixteen.
Do I begrudge him that? Hell no - not in the least but, now that he's successful and flush, don't you think that his convictions would lead him pay it back?
Better yet, Ayn Rand, hack author and half-baked "philosopher", received Social Security benefits while she was (Thank God!) dying from lung cancer. She'd applied under the name "Ann O'Connor" (Hubby's name).
And these poor idiots, just like Johnny Reb, are being goaded by moneyed forces that view them as an expense at best and an impediment at worst.
So, it's late. I'm rambling. Best close.
But, Johnny Reb, you were a good man and it sure would have been better if your life had gone to something more worthwhile.
You certainly deserve it.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."
1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"
1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"
"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."
The Wisdom of the Ages
"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"