Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Confederates Are Not Nazis

[caption id="attachment_721" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Lee and his generals. Traitors yes - Nazis no. "][/caption]

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Did you ever think that you would see the day when I would defend Confederates? Well...this is not so much a defense as a clarification. Nothing drives me more crazy  than when people flippantly compare Confederates to Nazis. Seriously - it happens all the time...and by people respected in their fields. I suppose understand when people want to make the worst possible connection to a nation founded to preserve slavery - it's just bad history.

For example - Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP and a man for whom I hold a great deal of respect and admiration...not to mention, have shared a few meals with - (he is an excellent and most fascinating dinner companion) has missed the mark in the Confederate/Nazi regard. Having publicly referred to the Confederate flag as a "Swastika" he explicitly connected the governments. The two are not even close.

Many others have made similar comparisons...suggesting that the Confederacy was akin to Nazi Germany due solely to the southern nation's racial policies. Authors such as Peter Kalajian, to site just one example, claim that both societies stood for hate, oppression, wanton murder, and destruction.

Not so fast. Now no one would ever accuse me of standing up for the Rebels, but let's get a couple of things clear. One - the southern states seceded to protect slavery. Two - this, as I see it, was treason. Period. But they were not Nazis. They did not resemble Nazis in any way, shape, or form.

The Confederate States of America was a democratic republic, with a Constitution and a representative government run by elected officials held accountable for their actions. It was a slave holding republic to be sure - just like the United States of America from 1776 to 1865. Just like it. The significant difference - the CSA was a little more clear on the whole "permanence of slavery" thing.

[caption id="attachment_722" align="alignright" width="165" caption="New Georgia state flag proposed by the editorial staff of The Onion - ok, I have to admit....this made me laugh. "][/caption]

Yes I know...whenever a bunch of white supremacist a-holes get together they trot out all kinds of symbols - including the Swastika and the Confederate flag. But what do these guys know? I am not sure that any of them could give you much information on either of the governments they are supposedly representing.

So next time you hear some one make the tenuous comparison between a 19th century democracy and a 20th century Fascist dictatorship - just roll your eyes. Or better yet - ask them to clarify. Exactly how are the two related???




  1. Devil's advocate: Has the hateful use which has been heaped on the Confederate Flag in the 150 years since its advent transformed it into a symbol as bad as the swastika?

    I agree that Confederate =/= Nazis. That's a facile argument, and proves Godwin's Law to boot.

    But that "Confederate" flag (i.e. the 3' x 5' ANV battle flag)... it raises two things in me: my ire and my blood pressure.

  2. No, Dear, I never thought I would see the day when you would defend the Confederates [or help them clarify their position, even], but gosh! You did a right fine job, As Always.

    Thanks for a smart column, now where's that reTweet button, ppl R w8tng Auntie Em

  3. Great post, and something I have been thinking for quite a while. This analogy is misinformed and drives me crazy! Of course, the logic should apply both ways. Check out this quote from a SCV member in Time magazine:

    "Lincoln waged a war to conquer his neighbor," Rand explains. "In our view, he was an aggressor against another nation, just as Hitler was an aggressor against other nations."

  4. Hi Keith,

    Have you ever read Arthur Schlesinger's "War, Morality, and Slavery" ? He actually compared the Confederacy to Nazi Germany.

    To be sure, the Confederates didn't build gas chambers to systematically exterminate people, but slavery was evil. How do you differentiate between evils? Today, I'm not sure the comparison is useful, simply because it enflames passions and shuts down real discussion.

  5. I have not - but I will. Thanks...I am interested in his take. I have not read much Schlesinger, but know he is a respected historian (or at least, was once).

  6. wow - so it works both ways!!!

  7. agreed - it is hard for me to separate this flag from those hate mongers who use it. I generally just shake my head - and sometimes exchange a few words.

  8. "wow � so it works both ways!!!"

    Of course it does! Haven't you come across the Lincoln = Hitler nuts on the Internet?

  9. Point of clarification: The 3x5 version of the "Confederate" flag you speak of is not the ANV battle flag. The ANV battle flag is the same design only its a perfect square (i.e. 3x3). The 3x5 version that everyone calls the battle flag is actually the naval jack that was flown on Confederate warships. Forgive me, I'm a naval historian.

  10. It's politically-correct to say the Confederates seceded for racism and slavery? I think now it's more politically-correct to say the Confederates didn't fight or secede for racism & slavery I miss the days after 9/11/01 when people here in the country displayed nothing but the American-flag (Unlike Now)

  11. How on earth were Confederate's traitors? Sorry they were just standing up for what they believed in. The South only lost because Robert E. Lee was a gentleman, and didn't want anybody (on either side) to die anymore.

  12. I amazes me that people still buy into this sappy romanticism. Lee and others fought against the nation and Constitution they swore to protect. They were traitors by definition. Confederates committed treason pure and simple when they took up arms against the United States. Suggesting that they did not commit treason because "they were just standing up for what they believed in" is the most flawed logic I have ever read.
    And, let's face it. The Confederates were beaten - badly - on the battlefield. That is why they lost the war.

  13. I definately agree that the Confederates are traitors, but on average their commanding officers had more military service and better military training. The reason the North won was that the South lost at Gettysburg, losing a large cadre of experienced officers and its infantry. the south was never again to raise an army comparable to thr one they fielded for the invasion of Pennsylvania. Lee lost one battle, Gettysburg, and was never defeated on his home territory. And he was a gentleman. he payed forsupplies taken from the North on his Gettysburg campaign, and also ordered his men to show restraint and when if necessary reprimand those who disobeyed that order. Unlike a Northern general we all know who razed the city of Atlanta to the ground.

  14. Exactly how are the two related? Since no one else has replied directly to your question, I'll give it a shot.

    Both Nazi and Southern Slave societies utterly dehumanized specific "minority" groups (in some Southern states Blacks were actually the majority).

    Confederate defenders point out that mass extermination is very different from slavery. And while that's true, it doesn't refute those who equate Confederates with Nazis.

    The Nazi's mass extermination program (The Final Solution) began at its earliest in 1941. So from 1933 to 1941 the Nazi's were deporting, marginalizing, oppressing, etc. the Jews. But they were not exterminating them until 1941 and not using gas chambers until 1942.

    In fact, during the early years of Nazi Germany, say about 1933 to 1937, a Jew in Nazi Germany had MORE rights than a Black slave in South Carolina or Texas. The Jews during this period owned businesses, owned private property, traveled, married who they wanted (until 1935 they could still marry Christians), were able to keep their children, etc.

    In contrast, a Black slave in the American South in the 1840s enjoyed none of these privileges. His next breath depended upon the whim of his owner.

    Hope that answers your question!