I do not often recommend long serious videos; I tend to short and/or funny.
But please consider taking 23 minutes of your life to listen to this speech by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on the removal of four confederate statues.
Spotted via Tom Sullivan at digby’s blog, who links to a transcript at The Pulse and makes a link to the US Supreme Court’s recent 5-3 decision Cooper v. Harris that struck down two racially gerrymandered districts in North Carolina.
Contrast this speech to the despicable bills passed in the last few days by the Louisiana House to protect confederate monuments statewide and the bill passed by both houses of the Alabama legislature to prohibit “the relocation, removal, alteration, renaming, or other disturbance of any architecturally significant building, memorial building, memorial street, or monument” that have stood for more than 40 years on public property. The bill also prohibits renaming schools named after people.
I confess that I don’t know much about Mich Landrieu, but if this is typical of the man, I hope he has a long future in politics.
I didn’t watch it, but I read the transcript little bits at a time throughout the day. It is a very good speech. And, for the most part, I agree with it. I do, however, think that it is an oversimplification of a very complicated subject.
Yes, for Alexander Stephens and others on both sides the Civil War was about slavery. But the Civil War was about almost as many things as there were participants in it. For example, some slave states remained loyal to the Union – apparently, the Civil War was not about slavery for them. Also, most southerners didn’t even own slaves – I find it tough to believe that the Civil War was about slavery for all of them (to say so would be like saying that WWII was about killing Jews for all Germans). More to the point, Lincoln himself famously (or perhaps infamously) said “[i]f I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it. … What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union.” Although Lincoln was no fan of slavery, the Civil War, in Lincoln’s mind, was about the Union and not about slavery – or at the very least, it was about the Union above all other considerations.
I am not a southern good ole boy. I am the son of immigrants and have personally encountered the prejudices still found in this country (for example, when I went away for college in New Orleans I was called a “white nigger” because my parents are Cuban). So, I have no particular love for the “cult of the lost cause.” I just don’t think that the Civil War and the history of the Confederacy as a whole can be written off as a single subject issue.
In fact, it often feel like people want to over-simplify the Civil War as it implicitly absolves them of the sin of slavery – which the Civil War does not do. The Union was a participant in slavery. After all, the Union did not start the war and did very little to help slaves (with some notable exceptions). Prior to the Civil War, not a single slave had been freed by act of federal law, or threatened to be freed by act of federal law. It was the law of the land, in every state, that a slave was property and was to be returned to his master.