January 04, 2005
More Confederate Stupidity
I've noted before that one of the most fascinating things about Confederate sympathizers is how tortuously they will twist their tiny but ambitious intellects to suggest that the Confederacy was really about something more than a bunch of rich white people owning a bunch of poor black people, and managing to bamboozle a bunch of poor white people into thinking it had something to do with them, too. Another one of these jackasses has popped up in the comments to this entry, in which I note that the CSA is fundamentally evil because it explicitly codified the enslavement of humans into its Constitution, something that even the US, despite its shameful, not-to-be-minimized history of slavery, never did. Get a load of this particular attempt at getting the Confederacy off the hook:
Your assertion that the CSA was evil because of Article IV, Section 2 of it's Constitution falls flat on it's face when Article I, Section 9 is considered. To wit: "Sec. 9. (I) The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same". This is a demonstration of the fact that the CSA government was not so concerned with the perpetuation and expansion of slavery as it was with the protection of private property rights. Yes, at the time slaves were considered to be private property. As reprehensible as this is to us now in the 21st century, it is hardly fair to judge the actions of those in a society were slavery had been largely deemed an acceptable practice by comparing it to a society (like ours currently) where such a practice is considered immoral.
Leave aside for the moment the monstrously ignorant and ahistorical dismissal that would suggest that everybody in the 19th century thought owning slaves was just peachy, despite the massive piles of evidence to the contrary. Focus instead of the following line of reasoning:
1. Yes, the CSA encoded slavery into its Constitution.
2. But look! They didn't want to get slaves from anywhere else.
3. So that meant encoding slavery into the CSA Constitution wasn't about slavery, it was about property.
4. Property which just happened to include, you know, other people.
The author of this comment apparently believes that banning the international slave trade meant that the slave populations in the South would thenceforth be static and then would eventually decline as the existing slaves died out. As quaint a picture as that provides, it does ignore one small detail, which was that one of the reasons that the CSA could choose to ignore the international slave trade was that there was already a robust slave trade inside the southern states (and thus, by extension, within the CSA). Here's a fun little excerpt from an article on the matter:
Several ante-bellum events converged to encourage slave breeding. Legal limitations on the Atlantic slave trade reduced the number of slaves entering the country, despite smuggling. The soil in Virginia began to wear out from overuse and some planters turned from tobacco to slave farms. The Deep South had insatiable needs for workers for labor-intensive crops, from sugar to cotton.
A slave breeder would select a group of healthy young black women and lock them up with some healthy black men who were strengthened by having been fed meat, not in the usual slave rations. After a few days it was hoped that the women would be pregnant.
Other references I see online to the interstate slave breeding trade note that slave women were started breeding at ages as young as 12 and 13 and that some slave breeders would promise these women their freedom from slavery if they could produce 15 babies. Consider, if you will, the human mind that would tell another human that the way to purchase her own freedom is to condemn 15 of her own children to slavery.
Note also that the CSA specifically exempted US slaveholding states and territories from its prohibition, which says a lot about the mentality of the CSA -- not only did it fully intend to continue its own internal slave trade, it kept a door open to trade human lives with what slave areas remained in the US. What would the effect of this be? Well, aside from the obvious economic benefit, it could potentially serve to keep the US off-balance internally, because the bitter division between slave and free states would still exist. A US that was busy with its own internal politics is a US too busy to bother with the CSA. In other words, the slave trade could have been a potentially effective political tool for the CSA.
But wait, there's more! If breeding slaves was a profitable enterprise, as it clearly seems it was, couldn't one view the prohibition of an international slave trade simply in protectionist terms? Which is to say, by prohibiting the international slave trade, the CSA is protecting a growth industry within its borders from undue competition. The CSA had a native slave population of some three million (a population only slightly less than the entire population of the US at the time of its independence from Britain); this was a large enough number to assure a robust breeding pool for some time to come.
In short, my Confederate friend's suggestion that encoding slavery into the CSA's Constitution wasn't actually about slavery works only if one ignores the inconvenient fact that slave breeding already existed in the south and/or CSA, and the obvious benefits of continuing such breeding programs for the white, racist, evil sons of bitches who created the CSA in the first place. And I don't see any reason to do that, because unlike Confederate sympathizers, I don't have to pretend that the hateful and pathetic political entity that was the Confederacy was anything more or less than a system designed to let one group of people deny the human rights and dignity of another group of people for no other reason than that there was profit in it.
Given that my correspondent's assertion that the CSA isn't evil is handily disposed of (and indeed, is shown to enable further perpetuation of the evil practice of slavery, thus deepening the fundamental soul-rotting evil of the CSA), his continuing blatherations on the matter are moot, and I only cursorily scanned them, noting only in passing that he trots out the tired "the CSA had a right to secede" blah blah blah, which I took a hammer to some time ago, the gist of my thinking on the matter being: Would that the USA had agreed on that point, because then it would have been a simple matter of kicking the ass of the foolish and evil political entity to the south of us and taking its territory for our own, instead of hewing to the polite fiction that the CSA were merely rebellious states. But isn't that just like a Confederate not to think things all the way through.
But let's leave aside the demolition my correspondent's idiotic line of reasoning to note one simple thing: No matter how you slice it, and in any era you choose to place it, slavery was evil, period, end of sentence. Any state that codifies slavery into its very constitutional fabric codifies evil into its very being. Therefore the CSA was, is, and will until the very end of the human race continue to be, evil. All rationalizations, all excuses, all twisty attempts at tortured logic fall under the simple question: Did the founders of the CSA choose to make slavery part of its fundamental nature? They did. Any attempts to distract from this fundamental evil are merely the attempts of the morally vile to disguise the festering inhumanity at the very heart of the CSA.
The problem is, you can't hide something like that. And you shouldn't. The fact Confederate sympathizers continue to try says something very small and sad about them.
Posted by john at January 4, 2005 10:02 PM
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