Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Ersatz Jefferson Davis and an Inaugural Address Redux

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

At last!!!! I have found a way to use the words ersatz and redux in the same sentence! I am beside myself with joy!!

But a lot of people are not. Here's the deal. As you all know, as part of the nationwide Civil War Sesquicentennial celebration, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Various Southern Heritage Groups, and the state of Alabama - in all their collective wisdom - thought it best to reenact the inaugural address of President Jefferson Davis...the one and only president of the Confederate States of America. He did his thing on the very spot where the real event took place on February 18th, 1861 - on the steps of the Alabama statehouse in Montgomery.

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, the Sons of Confederate Veterans were intent on ending what they call "misrepresentation." I'll let them speak for themselves:

"A lot of people don't keep up with history," he said. "We are an organization that honors our ancestors because we felt they were fighting for independence," (SCV member) Gayle said. He hopes the younger generation "learns a little bit. All you hear about in the paper is that the Civil War is all about slavery. "We have been misrepresented for a lot of years. The Civil War was more about taxation than anything else. The federal government raised the taxes on exports, and that's what we were making down here at that time -- cotton. It jumped from 15 percent to 40 percent."

Comments such as this have angered plenty of folks - mainly because the SCV position is pretty ridiculous. Of course the war was about slavery - just read any newspaper from the period. And if that doesn't convince you - read the secession documents from each state. Taxes my ass.

But if anyone calls them on this nonsense - they respond with with the standard "not about slavery" argument and make vague references to some other rights that were apparently being threatened (for fun...ask one of these guys to list the rights he is talking about and see what happens). But sometimes their argument just gets plain bizarre. I was checking out some Southern Heritage Groups and Sons of Confederate Veterans websites the other day and one of their more articulate proponents had this to say about Unionist "detractors." Note - I have left the rambling and tenuous connections in place - lest I be accused of misrepresentation myself:

The reasons for the Civil War have been widely debated, with controversy surrounding the event Saturday due to the war's connection to slavery. Lt. Commander in Chief Kelley Barrow referenced fictional character Harry Potter in his speech, using him to address the struggle of good versus evil. He went on to mention Rosa Parks, stating while she moved from the back of the bus to the front, the "people of the Confederacy have been forced to the back of the bus."

So - the SCV have gone to the mat - Harry Potter and Rosa Parks? Do I really need to comment on this? I think I will leave that one to you - please...be my guest :) Let's just say the SCV is stretching things a bit...connecting the Confederate bid for independence to a story about wizards and such. Oy. And to suggest that modern Confederate people (is there is such a thing) face the same struggles as those who championed civil rights? Oy gevalt!

The SCV and other heritage groups insist that celebrations such as the reenactment of Davis's inaugural are not political. They are meant simply to preserve and commemorate history. But in essence they are making a political statement. There is of course, the obvious. This is a political event by definition - an inaugural address could be little else. But what is behind the clear editing of such historical events? Is this not political as well?

Your thoughts are - as always - more than welcome.




  1. Harry Potter, wizard; Nathan Bedford Forrest, grand wizard. Seems like a logical construct to me. ;-)

    Did I attend that event and not even know it? That dude looks like me.?

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Keith Harris and Keith Harris, Keith Harris. Keith Harris said: An Ersatz Jefferson Davis and an Inaugural Address Redux | Cosmic America: http://cosmicamerica.com/?p=659 via @addthis [...]