Tag Archives: Confederate Statues

Smithsonian Attacks on Confederate Heritage

(January 8, 2019) Two months ago Smithsonian Magazine published a misleading article claiming that a total of seven hundred Confederate memorials have received “at least” $40 million in taxpayer funding over the past decade. Even by the authors’ own accounting, a mere five memorials accounted for over 80% of the total. And over half of the 80% was used to restore the Jefferson Davis National Historic Landmark on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Except for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I am unaware of any organization that has challenged the article’s one-sided analysis. Nonetheless, several points merit consideration.

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First, the Smithsonian itself obtains about $640 million of its $960 million annual budget from the federal government. Given that two-thirds of their budget is a taxpayer subsidy, Smithsonian managers should feel obliged to provide a balanced analysis. But, as noted below, they don’t.  

Second, during the past eighteen months Smithsonian has published at least eight articles, in its magazine or on its website, criticizing Confederate statues. Most explicitly state or imply that such memorials are inherently racist as are their present-day supporters. In contrast, the Smithsonian has yet to publish a single article defending the statues.

Third, for purposes of their spending analysis the Smithsonian authors include homes, parks, museums, libraries, and cemeteries, as well as statues, under the rubric: “Confederate memorials.” But taxpayer funds spent at a memorial such as Georgia’s Stone Mountain are used almost entirely for park services. They include the maintenance of biking and hiking trails and other recreational facilities. Little, if any, is spent on the stone carvings of Robert E. Lee, “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis, which were completed nearly fifty years ago.

If you want to urge Smithsonian to publish at least one article presenting an argument in favor of Confederate statues you may wish to write:

Dr. David Skorton
Smithsonian Institution
Two Massachusetts Avenue, N. E.
Washington, D. C. 20002


Confederate Symbols Correlate to American Patriotism

(November 16, 2018) If a tendency to voluntarily join America’s military indicates loyalty to the United States, then Southerners may be stronger patriots than Northerners despite the South’s fondness for Confederate symbols. The table below shows that today’s residents of the eleven states of the former Confederacy are more likely to serve their country militarily than are residents of the twenty Northern and Western states that fought against the South during the Civil War.

Only Louisiana among the former Confederate states currently contributes fewer soldiers than its proportional share of America’s population. The rest provide between 105% to 144%. An arithmetic average of the eleven states indicates the entire region supplies about 120% of its population parity.

In contrast, the twenty Northern and Western “slave free” states that fought for the Union during the Civil War currently provide only about 85% of their population-based share. Thus, in proportion to regional population the South is supplying 41% more soldiers than the former “free” states.*

Of the twenty “free” states only Nevada and Ohio exceed 100%, although New Hampshire, Maine and Kansas are at parity. The remaining fifteen don’t contribute their fair share. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Minnesota and Wisconsin are the weakest suppliers with a below-parity arithmetic average of 67%.

While critics of Confederate symbols often disparage them as traitorous icons, it appears that the region that most reveres such emblems is making the greater per capita effort to defend our reunified nation. That ought to justify more  tolerance for Southern heritage.

*  [100*(120/85) – 100]

Source: Elizabeth Chang, “Where do Military Recruits Come From?” The Washington Post, July 17, 2017


Who Lynched Silent Sam?

(August 22, 2018) Notwithstanding that the majority of Americans want Confederate statues to remain standing, two days ago a student mob illegally toppled the 105 year-old Silent Sam infantryman sculpture at the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina. A couple of self-appointed expert groups encouraged student hostility toward Sam. One was the university’s faculty and administrators. The other was the “Make It Right” initiative of the Independent Media Institute.

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UNC’s History Department previously announced that it wanted the statue removed because Sam’s 1913 “creators . . . shared a veneration of slavery . . . and the ideology of white supremacy.” In truth, it’s more likely that Sam’s “creators” chose the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil War to honor the rapidly fading numbers of Confederate veterans—not for their supposed “veneration of slavery,” but for defending their homes against invaders. Consider, for example, that the former Confederate states had outlawed slavery in 1865 under leaders of their own choosing, three years before the Republican Party imposed corrupt carpetbag regimes upon the region. UNC’s History Department also suggests that Sam was not representative of North Carolina’s residents during the Civil War because “many ” in the state did not support the Confederacy. Nonetheless, North Carolina supplied more Confederate troops than any other state, except possibly Tennessee.

Finally, UNC’s History Department fails to mention a couple of points that are contrary to the “veneration of slavery” trope. First, North Carolina did not secede in order to protect slavery. She remained Union-loyal until the federal government required that she contribute soldiers to coerce the seven Gulf states that had earlier seceded back into the Union. Second, less than 6% of North Carolinians owned slaves distributed among only 29% of her families.*

Earlier this year the “Make it Right” initiative announced the targeting of ten Confederate monuments for removal. Silent Sam was second on the list behind the Dallas Confederate War Memorial. According to project manager Kali Holloway, “Confederate monuments were never about recognizing history, but were instead put up to ensure . . . a white supremacist future. . . With few exceptions, these structures were hastily built at the dawn of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement to intimidate and terrorize African-American communities as they struggled toward racial equality and political empowerment.”

Holloway’s assertions rely upon data supplied by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) showing that most statues were erected during the decade of the 1910s and in the early 1960s. The true reasons for the statue concentration in those years, however, is that they represented the fiftieth and centennial anniversaries of the war, respectively.

Holloway also wants to remove the Confederate engravings at Stone Mountain, Georgia and the Confederate Monument in Arlington National Cemetery.

Jan Frel manages “Make it Right’s” parent company where he has worked for fifteen years. Prior to that he was on Democrat Howard Dean’s Presidential campaign. During much of that period the Independent Media Institute owned AlterNet and was funded by many charitable organizations. Among them were the gift-giving foundations of Craig’s List and the founders of Sara Lee and RealNetworks.

*  J. G. Randall and David Donald The Civil War and Reconstruction (Boston: D. C. Heath, 1961), 68

Southern Heritage and Internet Censorship

(August 19, 2018) Ending Internet censorship might be the best way to preserve Southern Heritage. Since media shapes culture and politicians respond to the culture, media censorship must end. Mainstream media bias against the South has already caused removal of Confederate memorials. The trend will likely accelerate if pro-Southern opinions are blocked on such popular Internet sites as Apple, Amazon, Google, and FaceBook. Although my August ninth post shows how they might be immediately challenged, George Gilder’s Life After Google argues that an emerging Internet architectural shift will ultimately destroy their power, especially if they abuse  it.

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Gilder has been an accurate predictor of media change for decades. In the 1991’s Life After Television he wrote that the personal computer would replace the television and that computers would become wearable, as are today’s iPhones and Apple Watches. In fact, the iPhone was the sixteen-year delayed realization of Gilder’s “teleputer.” After listing all the tasks his “teleputer” might do, he added that “it might not do Windows,” which was a bold suggestion at a time when Microsoft was dominant.

Now Gilder foresees an Internet architectural shift toward blockchain. Although overhyped by the BitCoin application, blockchain will enable the power on the Internet to be distributed to individual users. It will obsolete sites like FaceBook and Google, which Gilder describes as “walled gardens” within the Internet much like the doomed—but temporarily dominant—AOL community was twenty years ago. A blockchain network is diagramed in the rightmost image of the picture above whereas the present walled garden architecture of FaceBook and Google is diagramed in the center image.

Although some readers might doubt that powerhouses like Apple, Google, FaceBook, and Amazon might ever be displaced, I have lived long enough to see that constantly evolving electronics and computer technology ultimately displaces the giants of one era with new ones. I look to authors like Gilder to alert me when such changes are pending. Eventually, the old industry leaders become too dependent upon aged technology or business models, which they cannot abandon without losing their extant user base. Next growth stops and eventually even the base abandons them. In the early 1980s, for example, nearly all experts believed that IBM would remain forever dominant. By the early 1990s similar experts concluded that nobody could unseat Microsoft. During the dot-com boom almost everyone rushed to buy stock in AOL, including Time-Warner, to their everlasting regret.

It will likely take years, perhaps decades, for the blockchain to cause today’s consumer-facing Internet giants to lose momentum, but the process will likely be quicker if they continue censorship.

Why Confederate Monuments Were Erected

(June 19, 2018) The diagram below graphs the number of Confederate statues erected between 1870 and 1980. Since the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) compiled the data, they suggest the memorials were most frequently constructed during periods of blatant anti-black activities in the South. In short, they imply that racism was the chief motive for Confederate monument building. To the objective observer, however, the genuine explanations obviously fail to conform to the SPLC’s assumptions. 

The two most notable peaks of were 1900-1915 and 1957-1965.

As the graph indicates, the SPLC implies that the first wave was due to “lynchings, ‘Lost Cause Mythology,’ and a resurgent KKK.” But the facts don’t support their conclusion.

First, the KKK’s resurgence was in the 1920s, at least five-to-ten years after the first peak had already past. Moreover, Indiana had more Klan members during the 1920s than any other state, yet it is north of the Ohio River. Second, the number of lynchings was steadily declining during the 1900-1915 period. Third, a regionally popular Civil War interpretation that the South was fighting for a correct Constitutional principle and heroically lost only against overwhelming odds (Lost Cause Mythology) was was not concentrated in the 1900-1915 period. It remained a popular concept in the South until at least 1950.

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In reality, four factors that the SPLC failed to consider caused the first surge during the 1900-1915 interval. First, the old soldiers were dying and survivors wanted to honor their memories. A twenty-one year old who joined the Rebel army at the start of the war was sixty years old in 1900 and seventy-five in 1915. Second, 1911 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the war and 1915 was the fiftieth anniversary of its end. Third, post-war impoverished Southerners generally did not have enough money to erect memorials until the turn of the century. The region did not even recover to its level of pre-war economic activity until 1900. Fourth, until about 1895 Union veterans often opposed displays of Confederate iconography, an opinion they effectively promoted through their Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) lobbying organization.  The GAR was so powerful that it impelled the federal government to grant generous pensions to Union veterans, while excluding former Confederates. In 1893 Union veterans pensions totaled 40% of the entire federal budget and annual disbursements did not top-out unit 1921.

As for the second surge between 1957 and 1965, the SPLC dubiously attributes it to Southern resentment over public school integration and the 1960s civil rights movement. But it was more likely due to initiatives that memorialized the Civil War Centennial. The U. S. Post Office, for example, issued five commemorative postage stamps during the period. Similarly, the federally sponsored Centennial Civil War Commission issued a commemorative medal featuring reliefs of Grant and Lee on the obverse with opposing infantrymen peacefully depicted on the reverse.

Sources: Leonard J. Moore, Citizen Klansman: The Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, 1921-21; Ludwell Johnson, Division and Reunion; Jill Quadagno, The Transformation of Old Age Security; City University of New York, “Bar Graph of African American Lynchings: 1890-1929,” American Social History Project [https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1884]; William J. Cooper and Thomas Terrill, The American South: A History-Volume 2; William H. Giasson, Federal Military Pensions in the United States

California Racism & Confederate Statues

(June 9, 2018) Notwithstanding that California gave Hillary a larger percentage of its vote than any other state save Hawaii, the first six minutes of the video below show that racism may be more prevalent in the Golden State than is commonly believed. It is one of a series of videos produced by a group of Los Angeles male YouTube pranksters. They approach attractive young ladies in a public setting to strike up conversations. Their purpose is to invite the girls to lunch, or a cup of coffee. Failing in that they try for the phone numbers. Initially the guys are turned-down until the girls realize that the boys own Lamborghinis. Then the young ladies invariably want to go for a ride. But the boys bluntly tell them that they are no longer interested because the girls demonstrated that they are merely gold diggers.

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In the instance below a black youth tries to initiate a conversation with a beautiful white girl inside a convenience store. The girl soon flatly says, “I don’t really talk to black guys.” The shocked and hurt young man leaves the store to stand next to his Lamborghini in the store’s parking lot. When the girl walks by the car she has a change of heart and begs the guy to take her for a ride. She even suggests that he take her to his house. When he tells her that he changed his mind because of her earlier racist remark, she audaciously denied ever speaking it.

While the alt-left academic historians and their acolytes dedicate themselves to the mass removal of Confederate statues as their method of attacking contemporary racism, they piously ignore present racism outside the South. Presumably, California’s one-sided vote for Hillary partly reflected her disdain for Confederate symbols. When asked about the Rebel Flag then flying on the state capitol grounds in Columbia, South Carolina she said, “I don’t think it should fly there and I don’t think it should fly anywhere.”

The social justice warriors that want to erase Confederate heritage by removing Confederate statues and symbols should first focus on the planks in their own eyes instead of piously condemning Southerners as uniquely evil racists. But that’s about as likely as a Cherokee Indian getting elected Pope.