The South Was Right [by Ronald and Donald Kennedy] is a very misleading book that dishonestly portrays the facts and issues pressing on the Southern people today. The book is not a handbook or guide for effective or honest Southern political activism; it is a dishonest distortion, a plausible lie; told to make the Old South and the Confederacy appear palatable to today’s equalitarian society.
While the authors (called Kennedy from here on out) point out the immoral, violent, and hypocritical nature of Abolitionists and equalitarians, they never attack the equalitarian philosophy. No. In fact, whenever Kennedy speaks in moral terms, it becomes plainly evident that it is from exactly the equalitarian perspective against which our forefathers fought in the War for Southern Independence.
Still, Kennedy makes it clear he hates the Yankees. This reminds me of a line by the English poet Dryden in The Hind and the Panther:
“To abhor the makers, and their laws approve,
Is to hate traitors and the treason love.”
I propose and will show that the Confederacy seceded and fought a war because the North intended to apply to the blacks the tenets of the Declaration of Independence pertaining to all men being equal and in possession of certain rights, the “self-evident” phrase.
You won’t find this mentioned in The South Was Right despite the overwhelming body of evidence that substantiates it. And it is exactly this main tenet of Yankee equalitarianism that Kennedy wants to build a new South upon. This I will show.
The Plausible Lie
I want to quantify the plausible lie that is advanced in The South Was Right. It is this: “Everything in the Old South that is objectionable to today’s equalitarian society can be excused because the Yankees and others did the same things and even worse things. The view of history that the Yankees have taught to America is untrue and by gaining a correct perspective of the facts of history, one can come to see that the Old South really did not practice a socio-political system or way of life that people can reasonably condemn today, even by today’s standards.”
This plausible lie is an argument that the South is to be forgiven of all its transgressions because, after all, “everybody was doing it.” In The South Was Right, there is no polemic defense of the Old South in moral terms. Again, when Kennedy does express moral absolutes, they can easily be seen to be Jacobin and equalitarian in nature, as opposed to Christian and biblical in nature.
The False Use of Facts
Kennedy uses true facts to advocate untrue positions. In so doing, he leaves out facts that are pertinent to the issue at hand. In Anglo-Saxon society, the truth is held to contain the whole truth and nothing but the truth as well as the truth of the selection of facts given.
When Kennedy uses quotes by Southerners that express their opposition to slavery on one ground or another, but fails to include that despite their beliefs on slavery they were willing to fight to uphold the slaveowner’s right to own slaves, he is guilty of the false use of facts.
When he shows the Old South to be equalitarian in nature because a black boy lived in the Confederate White House with the Davis family, he is guilty of the false use of facts.
When he makes a case for the North being more segregated than the South, but fails to show that the South was based on a hierarchal social order in which blacks held the inferior position to the whites and were thus no competition to them, he is guilty of the false use of facts.
And when Kennedy advances causes for the War other than the cause of the War, he is guilty of the false use of facts.
The South Was Right is big on facts. But there are far too many instances of the false use of facts, wherein facts are used to prove something other than the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This I will show.
An Irrational Self-Determination
The plausible lie told in The South Was Right intentionally misrepresents the truth, distorts the historical record, and defends the Old South without defending the principles of the Old South that were under attack in the War For Southern Independence and today; namely, the right of the Southern people to self-determination unfettered by the political influence of blacks and others.
Kennedy grants that the South has a right to self-determination free from the influence of Yankees. But those of another race, who are even more incompatible with us than the Yankees, he gladly allows them to “share” our self-determination.
He goes so far as to include the blacks in the Southern people, the very thing the South fought against. This I will show.
Kennedy purports to believe in self-determination and independence for the South. And he makes a great legal and moral case for these things. But when taken together with other things he believes, the self-determination he advances is illogical and irrational. Kennedy wants independence from Washington. But he wants blacks in the South included in the body politic of the new nation.
There has been a Civil War and a Civil Rights War in American history. The side favoring the inclusion of blacks into the body politic has won both wars and the South has lost both wars. Since Kennedy wants to include the blacks in the body politic, what would the South gain by independence from Washington? None that I can see.
The South Was Right is a book that is hostile to the South; it undermines the South and the Southern movement today. Kennedy does the best he can under the circumstances. But he is responsible for the circumstances — his equalitarian belief system.
His book might win converts to a bastardized form of Southern nationalism through its false argumentation. But in the end, the tenets of this book will not stand. And any movement erected on its tenets cannot stand because those tenets are illogical, false, misleading, and contradictory. This I will show.
I. The Southern People
The first point we should cover concerns the nature and make-up of the Southern people. Who are the Southern people?
In The South Was Right Kennedy goes to great lengths to demonstrate how different the Yankees are from the Southern people. He quotes Professor Grady McWhiney: “But none of his critics have been able to refute Owsley’s basic theme of an Old South culturally dominated by plain folk whose ways were quite distinctive from those of Northerners.” (pages 22-23)
Kennedy states: “Dr. McWhiney wrote that the War for Southern Independence was not so much a war of brother against brother as it was a war of culture against culture.” (page 23)
He discusses the views on this topic of Anthony Trollope, David Hackett Fischer, John Adams, and George Mason. And then concludes this discussion by writing: “Thus we have the evaluation of the cultural differences between the North and the South made in colonial times by one of the Founding Fathers, a Virginia Anti-Federalist, an evaluation made at the time of the war by a foreign observer and two contemporaneous scholars, one from the North and one from the South. Notice that regardless of the time frame or their origins, all four described the North and South as culturally different and as distinct peoples.” (pages 24-25)
In Kennedy’s view, the Yankees and the Southerners are different peoples. So far, so good. This is true and proper.
The rub comes in his perspective that blacks and whites in the South are a part of the same people. Kennedy makes statements such as: “Both black and white Southerners suffered as a result of our second-class economic status.” (page 38) And also: “The issue of slavery, like the issue of race, has been used to keep the people of the South fighting one another while allowing the victors to enjoy the fruits of their victory. But never let us forget that the real issue of the war as the South saw it was liberty and freedom.” (page 117)
And another quote: “Both black and white Southerners were needlessly subjected to the terror of starvation by terrorist acts of United States troops. From Virginia we find one of many examples of the sufferings borne by black Southerners….” (page 143)
From these statements and others, it is clear that Kennedy views both blacks and whites in the South as the same people, although he never addresses the issue didactically nor makes any syllogistical case for his position. For this reason I can’t really respond to his argument that the blacks in the South are part of the Southern people. For he makes no such argument. He simply assumes this as fact and goes on from there.
A. Are the Blacks Southerners?
One of the best ways to deal with an argument is to reduce it to the absurd by showing the absurd nature of the logical ramifications of the argument. In the field of logic this is called reductio ad absurdum. Kennedy’s position that Yankees are a different people from Southerners but blacks living in the South are the same people is quite easily shown to be an absurd proposition.
First, Kennedy argues briefly that the Southerners are Celts and the Yankees are Anglo-Saxons. (page 23) This is both doubtful and dubious. But if we grant it as true for the moment, we must see that the blacks living in the South are not Celts. They are therefore something other than Celts, something other than Southerners.
Second, the physical, psychological, and emotional differences between the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons is not nearly as wide as those differences are between the Celts and the Africans.
Third, concerning culture, history, and tradition, the same conclusion must be drawn. The culture, history, and traditions of the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons, while different, hold much more in common than does the culture of either of them compared to those of the Africans.
Fourth, Kennedy makes many statements about how the South and the Southerners are blamed for slavery, racism, and a host of other sins. While true, these things certainly cannot be said of the blacks living in the South.
Fifth, Kennedy complains again and again about the corrupt, tyrannical, despotic government in Washington. True Southerners agree with him. The blacks living in the South certainly don’t agree with him. They love the government in Washington. It holds their complete allegiance. It is their agent for appropriating the wealth of the Southern people to themselves through various welfare programs and civil rights laws that make them privileged characters in the workplace and in the society.
This should be clear from the results of the latest election. Blacks thought that their man in Washington, Bill Clinton, was in trouble. So they turned out en masse to save him from the evil whites of the Republican Party. Messages posted on the League of the South staff listserver bear witness to the fact that this event caught the attention of both Dr. Hill and George Kalas.
And sixth, the blacks and whites have lived in the South for nearly 400 years and remain easily distinguishable from one another. There has been virtually no blood admixture between them in legitimate society. They tend to live, worship, and socialize apart, not together. They are easily distinguishable physically, mentally, emotionally, aptitudinally, and in many other ways. By only the most Clintonesque twist of the truth can they be called the same people group.
B. Let the Confederates Speak
Besides these factors, I can say that the place “where the rubber has met the road” in the South’s struggle against tyranny and injustice, has been the issue of social and political equality for the blacks living in the South. The North has constantly tried to force the South to grant this equality to the blacks and the South has resisted at great cost.
I will cover this more fully later, but let me give a few quotes that demonstrate that one of the points of conflict that led to war was that the North intended to apply the tenets of the Declaration of Independence that pertained to all men possessing equality to the blacks. The South would have none of this.
In The South Was Right, Kennedy prints the farewell speech of Jefferson Davis to the United States Senate. Davis told the Senate why the South was withdrawing from the Union. His words were these:
“It has been a conviction of pressing necessity — it has been a belief that we are to be deprived, in the Union, of the rights which our fathers bequeathed to us — which has brought Mississippi into her present decision. She has heard proclaimed the theory that all men are created free and equal, and this made the basis of an attack upon her social institutions; and the sacred Declaration of Independence has been invoked to maintain the position of the equality of the races. The Declaration of Independence is to be construed by the circumstances and purposes for which it was made. The communities were asserting that no man was born, to use the language of Mr. Jefferson, booted and spurred, to ride over the rest of mankind; that men were created equal, meaning the men of the political community; that there was no divine right to rule; that no man inherited the right to govern; that there were no classes by which power and place descended to families; but all stations were equally within the grasp of each member of the body politic. These were the great principles they announced; these were the purposes for which they made their declaration; these were the ends to which their enunciation was directed.”
“They have no reference to the slave; else, how happened it, that, among the items of arraignment against George III, was, that he endeavored to do just what the North has been endeavoring of late to do, to stir up insurrection among our slaves. Had the Declaration announced that the negroes were free and equal, how was the prince to be arraigned for raising up insurrection among them? And how was this to be enumerated among the high crimes, which caused the colonies to severe their connection with the mother country? When our constitution was formed, the same idea was rendered more palpable; for there we find provision made for that very class of persons as property; they were not put upon the footing of equality with white men — not even upon that of paupers and convicts; but, so far as representation was concerned, were discriminated against as a lower cast, only to be represented in the numerical portion of three-fifths.”
I give Kennedy kudos for not editing this speech, but printing it as it was given. Nonetheless, it undermines his position that the blacks and the whites in the South comprise a single people. (Please keep this speech in mind, it will also be shown to undermine more of his positions as you read on.)
Other statements also show that the conflict centered around the equality and oneness of the blacks and the whites in the South. Alexander Stephens stated:
“The relation of the black to the white race, or the proper status of the coloured population among us, was a question now of vastly more importance than when the old Constitution was formed. The order of subordination was nature’s great law; philosophy taught that order as the normal condition of the African amongst European races. Upon this recognized principle of a proper subordination, let it be called slavery or what not, our State institutions were formed and rested. The new Confederation was entered into with this distinct understanding. This principle of the subordination of the inferior to the superior was the “corner-stone” on which it was formed.”
And finally, the Texas Articles of Secession are very pointed:
“In all of the non-slaveholding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist even between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon the unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery—proclaiming the debasing doctrine of the equality of all men, irrespective of race or color—a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of the divine law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy—the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races and show their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States….
“We hold, as undeniable truths, that the governments of the various States and of the Confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependant race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.
“That, in this free government, all white men are, and of right ought to be, entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both, and desolation upon the fifteen slaveholding States.”
While these are hard statements and difficult to read, they are the perspective of the Confederates. The sentiments expressed in The South Was Right do not express the sentiments of the Confederates. They express the sentiments of the Yankee Abolitionists against which the Confederates fought.
To claim allegiance to the South and the Confederacy we must either accept their beliefs as they come or decide on some logical and reasonable modifications given the change in today’s political and historical landscape.
The South Was Right does neither. It assumes the Abolitionist morality and, through a plausible lie, passes that off as the morality of the Confederacy.
II. Equality of Opportunity
The second point we should cover is that of “equality of opportunity.” This is one of Kennedy’s favorite themes. His entire case for the social institution he wants to install in his new South is built upon this concept. It is integral to his system.
What you should see concerning his idea of “equality of opportunity” are three things:
(1) It attacks the traditional Southern position in exactly the same place the Yankee Abolitionists attacked it in 1861,
(2) It proposes the same social order as proposed by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s,
(3) It holds out as plausible the same foolish possibilities as were held out to the South by the liberals who wanted to end segregation in the 1960s.
In a nutshell, Kennedy takes the exact same position as the historical enemies of the South, repackages them, and tries to sell them to us again as something new and novel.
1. Revising Southern History
Attendant to these errors and hypocrisies are the mischaracterization of the South and the Confederates. He must drastically alter the historical South to make his liberal/Abolitionist scheme appear plausible. And in so doing, he performs the acts common to liberals, revising the South and its history, thus slandering its people and way of life.
Kennedy begins with a double standard, one for whites and a different one, a more lenient one, for blacks. He never states this double standard propositionally. But it is assumed and implied throughout The South Was Right. While never saying anything positive about Yankee founding fathers and the great contribution they made to the Constitution or the American way of life, Kennedy makes sure that he points out “our society has been influenced positively by the African-Americans.” (page 85)
Further, Kennedy makes this statement: “We have been forced to endure such insults as busing, racial quotas, minority set-asides, affirmative action plans, reverse discrimination, and a discriminatory South-only Voting Rights Act, just to name a few. All this (and so much more that space does not allow its printing) in the name of human equality, and still we are no closer to appeasing the gods of Yankee liberalism than when our political leaders first began their groveling.” (page 249) Notice that he lays no blame for these legal and social ills to the account of the blacks. His condemnation goes to the Yankees (whites). This is Kennedy’s double-standard in action.
To Kennedy, Yankees — Northern whites — are the worst vermin on earth. They are castigated as far worse than blacks, although he never directly compares the two. And racist Southerners — those who won’t go along with the plausible lie he has concocted, are next in line to be berated. The only blacks Kennedy criticizes are those of the NAACP, who do not view the world through the eyes of a raceless individualist.
The truth is that the blacks have been far more immoral throughout American history than even the Yankees. The blacks have done far more harm to the South than the Yankees, especially the past 35 years.. They are a far bigger problem for the South today than the Yankees.
But none of this fits the plausible lie Kennedy spins in The South Was Right. And so he presents only a selective rendering of the facts. And leaves the other facts unstated—such as black crime committed against Southerners and the denigrating effects black culture has exercised on Southern society since the Civil Rights Movement, although they bear on the situation with far more relevance than the ones he states.
Also, Kennedy revises the history of the traditional South by stating that it was a place that stood for individual liberty. Kennedy calls this “the individualistic heritage of the South.” His full quote is this: “This concept, equality of results, is in direct opposition to the traditional individualistic belief of our Southern heritage.” (page 247) I contest this perspective. The quotes I have given from Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stephens, and the Texas Articles of Secession undeniably demonstrate that our people have carried a “group” identity with them that has been the touchstone upon which we have been attacked by the equalitarian United States.
It is the Yankee Abolitionists and later the Civil Rights proponents who held to a belief in individualism. Kennedy tacitly acknowledges this when he states: “The Northern liberals are now demanding that the central government provide equality of results. No longer satisfied with the concept of equality of opportunity, modern liberals, like the citizen of the former Soviet Union, are now preparing to reduce all to the equality of slavery.” (page 247) Notice that he understands that the liberals at first demanded equality of opportunity but are now moving to a further step of demanding equality of results. Now who, pray tell, was it that the liberals were remonstrating against when they worked for equality of opportunity? Who was it in 1861 and 1961 that refused to go along with this first step to tyranny and slavery? It was the South; in both instances. The South stood against these forces of liberalism, the first program of which Kennedy has now accepted as valid and proper.
Richard Weaver gave this quote from a Confederate general commenting on our effort after the War: “Into the strange personnel of the Confederate Army… poured fighting bishops and prayer-holding generals, and through it swept waves of intense religious enthusiasm long lost to history. And when that army went down to defeat, the last barrier to the secular spirit of science, materialism, and democracy was vanquished.”
It was the South that stood foursquare against democracy and the individualism it represented. Kennedy has revised our heritage and now has the South standing for the very issue she was attacked for standing against.
Kennedy bases his system of “equality of opportunity” on the words from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” These are the very words that caused the South to leave the Union and fight the War in the first place. Remember the above-quoted words of Jefferson Davis: “She [Mississippi] has heard proclaimed the theory that all men are created free and equal, and this made the basis of an attack upon her social institutions; and the sacred Declaration of Independence has been invoked to maintain the position of the equality of the races.”
Therefore, Kennedy is trying to do to the South exactly what the North was trying to do to her that provoked the War for Southern Independence. He wants to apply this ideal of equality across the racial line; the exact matter that provoked the War.
It is this dishonest position that is integral to Kennedy’s system. He wants a raceless and individualistic social order, just like Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights liberals initially campaigned for. He has acknowledged this.
To buttress this position, he resorts to an evolutionary view of moral history. Kennedy writes: “What then did Thomas Jefferson mean when he penned the `self-evident’ phrase? In the early days of the American Republic, the term referred to equality before God and the law. It was an open attack against the then-prevalent concept of the divine right of kings. Later in the American setting, it came to mean equality of opportunity (i.e., that no one should be arbitrarily barred from the rights protected by law or from access to public services).” (page 248)
Notice that he makes no case for his conclusion that the meaning of the phrase changed from one thing to another. He just arbitrarily announces it has changed. Obviously, the phrase has not changed. If it’s meaning changed, then something must have occurred to change it. It did. The Yankee victory in the War for Southern Independence occurred. Their equalitarianism demanded that the meaning of the phrase change. Kennedy has bought into their philosophy. Therefore, in his mind, the meaning of the phrase has changed.
So Kennedy has taken the “self-evident” clause from the Declaration of Independence, acknowledged that it meant what the South said it meant, and now declares that it means what the North said it meant.
Kennedy needs to be told the same thing that the U.S. Senate needed to be told, and was told, by Jefferson Davis: “The Declaration of Independence is to be construed by the circumstances and purposes for which it was made. The communities were asserting that no man was born, to use the language of Mr. Jefferson, booted and spurred, to ride over the rest of mankind; that men were created equal, meaning the men of the political community; that there was no divine right to rule; that no man inherited the right to govern; that there were no classes by which power and place descended to families; but all stations were equally within the grasp of each member of the body politic. These were the great principles they announced; these were the purposes for which they made their declaration; these were the ends to which their enunciation was directed. They have no reference to the slave….”
The phrase has not changed. The meaning of the phrase has not changed. What has changed is the philosophy of the country and this new philosophy cannot live with the true and accurate meaning of that phrase. And so a decree to change the meaning has been made. The decree is dishonest, another plausible lie. But the new dishonest meaning allows the equalitarians to rule with the semblance of a direct connection back to the founding fathers. Kennedy has now joined in the dishonest ruse with them and pushes their new ideal.
Never let it be lost on us, that Kennedy’s bait-and-switch on the meaning of the Declaration of Independence is exactly the point on which the North attacked the South in the War for Southern Independence!
Gandhi, King, and Kennedy
I would also add that when laying out his vision of a future South as a place of equality of opportunity, Kennedy appeals to the example of Mahatma Gandhi. “When Mahatma Gandhi, a Hindu, was pressed by certain Moslems to reserve a specific number of jobs for minorities regardless of their qualifications, he objected. Gandhi, who was probably this century’s purest (if not only) humanitarian spirit, declared his stand on quotas thusly….” (page 250) (Kennedy next gives a quote by Gandhi against the quota system in hiring government employees.)
Every Christian should cringe in agony from Kennedy’s perspective on Gandhi. We know that Gandhi was a godless pagan. We know that he too was an integrationist. And we know that tens and hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered in ethnic wars because of his raceless individualism. And this is the model Kennedy would have us employ in a new South.
We also know that he was the model drawn upon by Martin Luther King. So it is now no wonder that Kennedy supports the same program as that of King; he salutes and reveres the same role model. And it should not go unnoticed that King’s program has also resulted in a terrible outbreak of violence, mayhem, and murder in the South. Since the blacks achieved the equality of opportunity, they have murdered thousands upon thousands of Southerners, raped thousands upon thousands of Southern women, and robbed millions and millions of Southern homes, businesses, and automobiles.
The South has become much more like Gandhi’s India since the program promoted by Gandhi, King, and Kennedy has been implemented.
2. Evolutionary Morality
Now how does Kennedy square these two incompatible positions, the desire for a raceless, individualistic social order with the South’s historic rebellion against the same? He revises morality. He holds to an evolutionary view of moral history in which mankind has somehow learned to overcome “racism.”
His words are these: “One fact that no historian can dispute is that nowhere in Europe or America were blacks granted the rights that whites enjoyed. The very nature of civilized society in that day would not allow for equal rights under the law. The principle of the innate worth of each individual was yet to be propounded.” (pages 116-117)
So here you see his attack upon the Bible and the Christian religion. He is saying that something has occurred since the time of the War to usher in a new morality to mankind. This implies that the revelation of ethics God gave to mankind in the Bible was incomplete. And it implies that people today are to be judged by a different standard than they were then. And it also implies that some event or chain of events has taken place since the end of the War that renders mankind liable to judgement under this new morality.
First, I dispute that any principle of morality has been discovered as new since the end of the War. The Christian Church has held the truth in its entirety for many centuries before that time. The innate worth of each individual was understood even from Old Testament passages, hundreds and thousands of years before the time of Christ.
Second, the thing that is new, the thing that is novel, is Kennedy’s philosophy. He has accepted the equalitarian philosophy of the Abolitionists. He has become reconstructed, despite his protests to the contrary. For he has accepted the Abolitionists’ basic presupposition: “The South must allow the full social and political participation of all persons living in the South regardless of race, creed, or color, or else be racists, bigots, and hate mongers.”
I invite Mr. Kennedy to explain to us what event or chain of events has taken place since the War that has ushered in this new morality. The only thing that I can think of is that the new Humanist savior, Martin Luther King, has come, died for our sins, and risen again and now all men are bound to obey his law. If Mr. Kennedy or anyone else can come up with some other plausible explanation, I would love to hear it.
I think the fact is that Kennedy has accepted the Abolitionist proposition that to withhold full social or political participation from any individual on the basis of race or religion is to deny the innate worth of that individual. And this position is fully refuted in Robert L. Dabney’s An Anti-Biblical Theory of Rights, so I won’t go into it here.
3. A New Social Order
Having seen that Kennedy attacks the South on exactly the same point the Yankees did in 1861, and how he holds forth the same program of raceless, color-blind individualism that Martin Luther King held forth, Let’s look at how he holds out the same foolish possibilities for the new social order that the liberals held out to the South in the 1960s.
Like all liberals, Kennedy wants to be judged by the “goodness” of his intentions and not the tragic results of his actions. He speaks at length against the policy of “equality of result.” Kennedy opposes socialistic programs such as quotas, affirmative action, minority set-asides, force busing, etc.
Here then is Kennedy’s moral polemic for the new South he wants to erect: “Equality of opportunity, equality before the law, and especially a realization that all people stand as equals before God are all important aspects of the Southern National political philosophy. (The latter is not meant as a theological statement but only to stress the point that all people are equally valuable and therefore not `expendable’ from an ethical perspective.) Results in each person’s life must depend upon the individual’s personal talents, skill, motivation, and intelligence.” (page 251)
Kennedy stops short of predicting how well his program will work or that the South will become a great nation within the family of nations because of his program. But you should never lose sight of the fact that Kennedy’s system is essentially a restatement of the rhetoric that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave us 35 years ago; he too wanted to build a color-blind society of raceless individuals. And the results have been disastrous.
The first problem with this is that the blacks and other minorities have no intention of acting like raceless individuals the way Kennedy envisions. He acts as if the South’s problems are presently caused by the North, when the truth is that the South’s problems today are caused by the fruit of the North’s victory, namely, the social and political equality of the blacks with the Southern people. (Add to this the terrible immigration policy that is bringing in millions and millions of other non-European peoples to the South.) They will not act like raceless individuals. They never have acted like raceless individualists. They continue to act in concert; using their votes to elect candidates that use their votes to appropriate everything the Southern people have to their own accounts.
The past 35 years have proven this proposition beyond a reasonable doubt. The elections of 1998 were but the icing on the cake.
Nonetheless, Kennedy holds out the same foolish possibilities that were held out to the South in the Civil Rights era: we can all act as one people and have equality of opportunity without enforcing an equality of result.
The second problem with his program is that trying to build a society is that it is at variance with the God-ordained program of separate peoples and separate nations instituted in Genesis 9-11 to keep mankind from uniting in defiance and rebellion against God and His Kingdom. Kennedy has about as much chance of success at building a new Southern society in equality with the blacks as he does of turning back the incoming tide with a broom.
This is exactly the system that has been in place for the past 35 years. It has not worked. It will not work. Kennedy’s ridiculous perspective that the racial problems in the South are caused by conspiratorial action by the Yankees is a simple cop-out, a way he can address the South’s problems without attacking the equalitarian social order instituted because of the Yankee victories in the Civil War and the Civil Rights War.
Finally, Kennedy does indeed put forth a few qualifications for voting. He wants the registered voter to be able to read and write, be a taxpayer, not be on the welfare dole, etc. He takes these guidelines from John Stuart Mill. But in reality, these qualifications are all enemies to the principle of equality of opportunity.
In truth, there is no equality of opportunity. There will always be inequities of talent, ability, family, etc. It is just a useless abstraction. So by equality of opportunity, Kennedy only means that it is wrong to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, creed, or color. Again, intrinsically, this is the same system we have in place now. It is a restatement of the Martin Luther King, Jr. position. It is the very system the South has despised and fought against through the decades. But now a son of the South has repackaged it and sent it to us as our salvation.
This is hypocrisy to the nth degree. It is dishonest and a violation of the ninth commandment (Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.) for Kennedy to push this on us as though it represents the views of the South.
If he wants to believe it, fine. If he wants to construct a new political order based on it, have at it. But he needs to remove his perspective that he stands for the principles of the Confederates or the historic South. That is a lie. He stands against the principles of the Confederates and the historic South. For Kennedy to display the Confederate Battle Flag in conjunction with his system is a slander against the men who fought under that banner.
True Southerners are duty bound to oppose him in his nefarious efforts.
Slavery and Racism
The two main attacks the Yankee Abolitionist and his modern-day descendants have leveled against the South have been in the areas of slavery and racism. Any attempt to show the South was right must face these attacks head-on to be of any value.
Kennedy fails in his defense of the South on both issues. Instead of making any attempt to show that the equalitarian perspective on both slavery and race is wrong, he assumes their moral position to be the correct one and then spins a plausible lie as to why the South should not be saddled with moral blame and culpability for them.
Anyone and everyone must define the world according to the moral presuppositions and assumptions they hold as their core beliefs. Having shown that Kennedy’s essential presuppositions and assumptions are both Jacobin and equalitarian, it is not strange to find that when dealing with the topics of slavery and racism, he speaks to these issues from the perspective of an equalitarian. In The South Was Right, Kennedy makes no polemic moral defense of the Confederate’s position of slavery or the post-Confederate’s position on race and racism.
No. On slavery he gives a comparative defense, arguing that the North had as much moral culpability, if not more, than the South on the issue. Even if we grant his case to him, we are still left with the perspective not only is the North as guilty as the South in the matter of slavery, but the South is also as guilty as the North. And this is quite a long way from making the case that the South was right.
On the issue of racism, Kennedy’s first mistake is to accept the equalitarian’s concept and definition as valid. For once this is done no logical defense is possible. So Kennedy resorts to a plausible lie. He attempts to show that the North was far more segregated than the South; that race relations were better in the South than in the North; and that the South really has no racial problem except that the Yankees have sought to drive a wedge between whites and blacks in the South—but the blacks themselves are virtually blameless in Southern racial problems. In so doing he necessarily revises the history of the South, which is dishonest. And he again makes moral condemnations of the North, which must rightfully be applied to the South as well.
And so the net effect of his argument is that the South’s post-war racial policies were wrong and immoral. And this is hardly a reasonable argument for a book entitled The South Was Right.
Kennedy’s chapter on slavery is entitled: Slavery; The Yankee Flesh Merchants. He begins: “Perhaps no other point can better demonstrate the hypocrisy of the Yankee myth of history than the issue of who was responsible for slavery in America, who made the profits from slavery, and who treated the slaves more compassionately. In this chapter we will explore these questions, and in so doing, explode some more Yankee myths.” (page 59)
This is the setting for the comparative morality he sets forth concerning the issue. The South Was Right never makes any propositional defense for the right of the Southern slave owner to own such property. No, he confines his narrative to showing how the Yankees were morally worse than the Southerners.
But in so doing, he also condemns the South because the South practiced African slavery; it profited from African slavery; it demanded its right to retain those slaves even in the face of war. Its best philosophers and ministers devoted much time and effort to defending slavery on Biblical and philosophical grounds. So if the institution of slavery is wrong and immoral in its own right, or if the institution of slavery as practiced in the South was wrong and immoral, then it certainly cannot be said the South was right..
This dilemma can be demonstrated in Kennedy’s statement: “Surely, if slavery was wrong in the South, it was wrong in the North.” (page 75) This is true. And so it is also true to say: “Surely, if slavery was wrong in the North, then it was also wrong in the South.”
Kennedy goes on to state: “…. we must come to a proper understanding of the slave question in America…. A study of the facts will show that the North was co-equally responsible for the system of slavery in America.” (page 61)
Here is the comparative morality in action. “The North was co-equally responsible for the system of slavery in America.”
Co-equal with whom? The South. Therefore, by logical extension, even though this is not his intention, any moral culpability that Kennedy shows toward the North on the issue of slavery must co-equally be attributable to the South.
He breaks his case down to four questions:
1. Who first legalized slavery in America?
2. Who first attempted to prohibit the importation of slaves?
3. How was slavery abolished in the North?
4. How were the freed blacks treated in the North?
And then he summarizes these four questions with another, over-arching question: “Who deserves the burden of guilt for the institution of African slavery in America?” (pages 61-62)
Notice his assumption here. It is unmistakable: Someone deserves moral guilt for the institution of slavery in America.
This is his core belief as expressed in The South Was Right. And in taking such a position, he necessarily condemns the South and the Southern slaveholder.
Next, Kennedy promises: “We will demonstrate that the South does not deserve the burden of guilt for African slavery in America.” (page 62)
But he never delivers on that promise. He makes no propositional defense of the South and its position of slavery at all. He merely attacks the Yankees for their hand in the matter. (And he does a pretty thorough job of thrashing the Yankees.) Nevertheless, Yankee culpability on this matter or any other does nothing to show the South does not deserve moral culpability for the same matter. Kennedy thus affirms the burden of guilt to the Southerner despite his intention to deflect it.
About the closest Kennedy comes to a moral polemic on the subject is this: “From the facts presented here, it is clear that the Southern people do not deserve the burden of guilt they have been forced to bear. There is enough guilt to go around. The blacks in Africa who kidnapped and sold their own kind into slavery and the Yankee merchants who traded rum and guns for blacks slaves in North and South America all deserve—yet do not receive—the larger portion of the guilt.” (page 78)
Kennedy’s entire argument is a sophism, ignoratio elenchi, missing the question. Concerning this type of false argument, the authors of Introduction to Logic. Copi and Cohen, write these words: “The fallacy of ignoratio elenchi (literally, false refutation), is committed when an argument purporting to establish a particular conclusion is instead directed to proving a different conclusion. The premises `miss the question’; the reasoning may seem plausible in itself, and yet the argument misfires as a defense of the conclusion in dispute.”
Kennedy’s argument seems plausible in itself, but it does not establish that the South was right. It misses that question—ignoratio elenchi.. His premises prove the North was wrong. But logically, it condemns the South for slavery just like the Yankee Abolitionists did. And this should not be surprising, having accepted their presuppositions of equality; Kennedy has no other choice than to lay out a case that condemns the South.
I want to explain why this is so important. But before I do, let me dispel the notion that such a line of argumentation is necessary in the current political climate. One Southern nationalist leader, Dr. Michael Hill, the president of the League of the South, in a letter to his organization’s members in the spring of 1998, wrote: “The day of Southern guilt is over—THE SOUTH WAS RIGHT—and let us not forget that salient fact. NO APOLOGIES FOR SLAVERY should be made. In both the Old and New Testaments slavery is sanctioned and regulated according to God’s word. Thus, when practiced in accord with Holy Scripture, it is NOT A SIN. Our ancestors were not evil men because they held slaves. This issue is our Achilles Heel, and the only way to deal with it is to confront our accusers boldly and without guilt. After all, what we are really upholding is GOD’S WORD. Let us fear Him, and we’ll fear no man.”
Now THAT was a defense of Southern slavery! THAT was a statement you can read and say “The South was right”! But you will never find any such statement in The South Was Right. You will never find anything there but facts that when applied logically and consistently indict the South for the institution of African slavery.
(In truth, Kennedy alludes to a Biblical argument concerning slavery, but he never makes one. His words are these: “The biblical foundation for the slave-master relationship was deeply rooted in America, being practiced by both Southerners and Northerners. The fist defense of slavery in America was made by the Puritan Fathers of Massachusetts, and that defense was based on principles founded in both the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible. Such notables as Cotton Mather and Judge John Saffin voiced their approval of the institution of slavery in Massachusetts, basing their arguments on the Bible. The idea that slavery was a moral system based upon biblical standards was held by Americans from Georgia to Maine.” (page 83)
By his allusion to a Biblical argument, Kennedy is actually advancing an historical argument that must go something like this. Many ministers and divines from the early years of America, from both the North and the South, advanced Biblical arguments in support of slavery. Therefore, the South was right for maintaining slavery since so many Christians and Christian institutions supported it.
The fact that this is an historical argument and not a Biblical one can be seen in his next statement: “Today, of course, we do not see slavery in that light, but it was held so by Americans both North and South during the early part of our history.” (page 83)
Kennedy never passes judgment on the merits of the beliefs of the early Americans, North and South. He believes it is sufficient to now slough off their views as untenable for us today. Logically, this is insufficient. Either the early Americans were right or they were wrong. The Bible has not changed. Their teachings were either accurate or they were inaccurate.
This is important because once the North underwent the philosophical shift of equalitarianism, which produced Kennedy’s boogey man, the Yankee Abolitionists, the North began to assert that slavery was wrong, while the South clung to the position that it remained legitimate. And it was on this very issue that the North attacked the South and the South resisted. For Kennedy to walk away from this issue as though it needs no resolution shows that he either doesn’t understand very much about the nature of the matter he is discussing or is dishonest and finding the Southern position on this issue untenable, he wants to dishonestly shift attention to another issue.)
Kennedy falls into a trap that has plagued the South since before the War for Southern Independence—a refusal to argue the issue on fundamental moral principles. Yet whereas others have stopped short of throwing in with the Abolitionists’ position, Kennedy plays it to the wall. Robert L. Dabney made a very enlightened statement not many years after the War when he said: “There were two courses, either of which might have been followed by our politicians in defending our Federal rights against Abolitionism. One plan would have been to exclude the whole question of slavery persistently from the national councils, as extra-constitutional and dangerous, and to assert this exclusion always, and at every risk, as the essential condition of the continuance of the South in those councils. The other plan was to meet that abstract question from the first, as underlying and determining the whole subject, and to debate it everywhere, until it was decided, and the verdict of the national mind was passed upon it.
“Unfortunately, the Southern men did neither persistently. After temporary resistance, they permitted the debate; and then failed to conduct it on fundamental principles. With the exception of Mr. Calhoun, (whom events have now shown to have been the most far-seeing of our statesmen, notwithstanding the fashion of men to depreciate him as an `abstractionist’ while he lived.) Southern politicians usually satisfied themselves with saying, that the whole matter was, according to the Constitution, one of State sovereignty; that Congress has no right to legislate concerning its merits; and that therefore they would not seem to admit such a right, by condescending to argue the matter on its merits…. A moment’s reflection should have shown that the decisive question was the abstract righteousness of the relation of master and slave.”
And it is this decisive question that Kennedy answers in accordance with the position of the Yankee Abolitionist; namely, that slavery is an intrinsic evil and moral guilt is to be assigned to the participants.
Now why is this issue important? Do we want to re-institute slavery in our day and time? Or am I just trashing Kennedy for no important reason? No and no.
Dr. Hill’s statement goes to the heart of the matter. Slavery as an institution was begun, or at least predicted, by God in the book of Genesis. Slavery is upheld as valid in two of the 10 commandments (#4 and #10). Slavery as an institution was practiced widely during the time of Christ and the Apostles of the Christian church and not one time did either Christ or the Apostles say a word against the institution. The Apostle Paul upholds the validity of a Christian slaveholder’s rights as a master. Also, Paul commands the slaves to give honor and obedience to their masters, both Christian and non-Christian.
So the larger principle at stake is the veracity of the Bible and the Christian religion. For Kennedy to assume the integral evil of slavery is to attack the foundation of the Christian religion.
Again, this goes back to Kennedy’s basic assumptions, which are equalitarian in nature. What else can an equalitarian believe except that slavery is intrinsically immoral? Nothing else, obviously.
Also, if slavery is evil as an institution, then our forefathers are to be blamed and condemned. If you want to argue that “everybody was doing it,” then that is not an accurate or honest argument. The Yankee Abolitionists weren’t doing it. They made great polemic arguments against the institution of slavery.
Also, Great Britain had freed the slaves throughout its colonies some decades before. The Jacobins in France, who came to power at the beginning of the century, were definitely opposed to slavery.
So the argument that slavery was a universal practice, while never a reasonable defense, is in this case simply untrue besides.
I’ll close this section with a quotation by Robert L. Dabney that shows the necessity of upholding the lawfulness of the Southern slaveholder’s practice, a thing that Kennedy not only fails to do, but condemns:
“Our best hope is in the fact that the cause of our defense is the cause of God’s Word, and of its supreme authority over the human conscience. For, as we shall evince, that Word is on our side, and the teachings of Abolitionism are clearly of rationalistic origin, of infidel tendency, and only sustained by reckless and licentious perversions of the meaning of the Sacred text. It will in the end become apparent to the world, not only that the conviction of the wickedness of slaveholding was drawn wholly from sources foreign to the Bible, but that it is a legitimate corollary from that fantastic, atheistic, and radical theory of human rights, which made the Reign of Terror in France, which has threatened that country, and which now threatens the United States, with the horrors of Red-Republicanism.
“Because we believe that God intends to vindicate His Divine Word, and to make all nations honor it; because we confidently rely in the force of truth to explode all dangerous error; therefore we confidently expect that the world will yet do justice to Southern slaveholders. The anti-Scriptural, infidel, and radical grounds upon which our assailants have placed themselves, makes our cause practically the cause of truth and order”
(Both quotes by Dabney’s were taken from the Introduction to A Defense of Virginia.)
From this we can infer that Dabney’s position, which is my position and ought to be your position, is that Kennedy’s position is based on a fantastic, atheistic, radical theory of human rights. It is a rationalistic belief, springing from infidelity and supported only by perversions of the Bible. It produced the Reign of Terror in France, and has now produced the Reign of Terror known as the Civil Rights Movement in America.
One of Kennedy’s most telling statements is this: “The Yankee establishment works overtime painting the South with slavery and racism. It does this while wrapping itself in robes of self-righteousness and declaring to the world how glad it is that the Yankee is a pure soul never having indulged in any such form of evil.” (page 57)
Kennedy’s chapter that deals the most with the subject of racism is entitled: Racial Relations in the Old South. Again, no argument is made that the South was right in its beliefs and policies concerning race and black/white relations.
Having realized that he is making no moral argument to support the Old South, I looked diligently to find out if he states what point he is making. I was able to patch a few statements together and become confident that these statements comprise Kennedy’s stated argument.
First, he writes: “The contribution to the development of the North and the South by black Americans is a subject that for too long has been played down.” (page 84)
Second: “As we look at the life and contributions of the black men and women of the Old South, we will prove their worth and loyalty to the South.” (page 85)
Third: “Yes, the life and death of President Jefferson Davis displays to all who are open-minded enough to look, how different the relationship between slave and master actually was as opposed to the way in which it is far too often depicted.” (page 106)
And fourth: “No other issue in American history has been abused more than the history of African servitude in the South. People who dare to speak about slavery in a light other than that demanded by the neo-Abolitionist left will find themselves an outcast from modern `PC’ society.” (page 114)
Just as a matter of logic, let’s grant to Kennedy each of these four propositions for the moment. Still, if all four propositions are true, none of them individually, nor all of them collectively, serve as any advocacy for the rightness of the Southern slave system nor the racial practices and policies after Reconstruction, known as “Jim Crow.”
So his arguments are again shown to comprise a sophism, ignoratio elenchi. His arguments are plausible in themselves, yet they do not prove the stated proposition, The South Was Right.
On the contrary, when you analyze the moral statements Kennedy makes concerning race and racism, you must logically conclude that the South was wrong. He doesn’t conclude that in his book; he saves his condemnations for the Yankees. But as a matter of logic, if the Yankees are to be condemned for racism, then so is the South. Kennedy has proved nothing.
I will grant to Kennedy that blacks made great contributions to the life and history of the Old South. I will grant that relations between the races were good, that there was a great love between the two peoples. I will grant that without their aid, our effort in the War would not have lasted nearly as long as it did, nor had as much success as it did. Yet attacks on the South on these issues are merely sideshows. The center ring of attack on the South has been that it would not admit nor allow social and political equality for the blacks.
Until you defend the South in the place it has been attacked, you have not defended the South at all.
Proving His Points
Kennedy works to prove one of his points with the following words: “A Northerner saw a group of Mississippi farmers encamped with their slaves near Natchez after hauling their cotton to market. Here they assumed a `cheek by jowl’ familiarity with perfect good will and a mutual contempt for the nicer distinctions of color. This type of relationship could not be enforced with a whip, but it existed and was based on respect and love.” (page 87)
The all-important issue, which Kennedy fails to address, is that the society in which this “cheek by jowl” coziness between whites and blacks took place was underpinned with a legal system of white social and political supremacy. An incident such as this shows how well such a system works. (But this was certainly not the point Kennedy was making.)
There was no political and social rivalry between blacks and whites like we have today in our equalitarian society. The two peoples could live in the same location without rancor because, and only because, of this lack of competition between them. They existed in a superior/inferior relationship. And this was the framework, which allowed them to get along together so well.
Kennedy attempts to explain the facts in a different manner, though. And this is part of the plausible lie he tells in The South Was Right: “The Abolitionist concept of Southern society placed the master on top and the black on the bottom of society. In reality, the structure of Southern society was not vertical, but rather circular. Each person could feel as if he or she were a little ahead of someone else in society. The white master felt better off than the white middle class, the slave felt better off than the poor white, and the white felt better off than the slave. Each group sensed that there was a group ahead and behind him in society as if they were standing in a circle. This allowed each group to respect another group without the fear of losing its place in society. Thus arose the closeness that has been reported by the Yankee about antebellum Southern society.” (page 100)
This is wacky stuff to be sure. The issue of superior/inferior is something that must be dealt with. Kennedy decided to deal with it in the manner expressed above. Notice that antebellum Southern society is described in subjective terms instead of objective terms. This is a tactic of evasion. In truth, he can only suppose what each member or group of society was feeling. He has no way of knowing the subjective mental and emotional states of the various groups.. The objective fact remains that in antebellum Southern society the white man was on top and the black man was on the bottom.
Even poor whites could vote and marry other whites. These things were denied to the blacks. The whites were citizens; the blacks were not. This description of a circular society is ridiculous. It is a dishonest attempt to stand up for the South without challenging the equalitarian morality of the society to whom he is appealing.
This concept of a hierarchal social order, in which blacks and whites existed in a superior/inferior social structure, was at the heart of Jefferson Davis’ farewell speech to the U.S. Senate quoted in Part One of this book report: “When our constitution was formed, the same idea was rendered more palpable; for there we find provision made for that very class of persons [blacks] as property; they were not put upon the footing of equality with white men — not even upon that of paupers and convicts; but, so far as representation was concerned, were discriminated against as a lower cast….”
The Texas articles of Secession stated the same principle: “They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy—the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races and show their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States….”
This was the point of attack against the South by the North, the hierarchal social order. For Kennedy to flinch at the point of attack, and to concoct some plausible lie in place of the truth, and to fail to defend the South on this point, is to fail and fail miserably at showing the South was right.
The only reason I can think of that Kennedy would resort to such a tactic is that in his heart, he truly believes the Abolitionist dogma of equality. And so he thought he needed to concoct a plausible lie concerning the societal structure of the antebellum South because he could not bring himself to defend the superior/inferior social structure the antebellum South actually employed.
Now Kennedy has no trouble in recognizing the superior/inferior social order of the North. He writes: “Even in Lincoln’s home state of Illinois, blacks were banned from moving into the state! In reality the North offered blacks only semi-freedom somewhere between a white man and a slave, but they were always in an inferior social and legal position.” (page 77)
To describe Northern society in terms of the superior/inferior relationship between the blacks and the whites but to deny it in regard to Southern society is simply dishonest hypocrisy on Kennedy’s part. No other words or concepts can accurately describe his actions. Many otherwise fine Christian men subscribe to the ideas of his book and his system. This system is dishonest, hypocritical, halting between two positions, and perverse. No Christian can adopt Kennedy’s perspective and remain free of the moral taint that goes with it.
One Mistake Leads to Another
Kennedy’s willful misunderstanding of the South’s hierarchal societal order and its importance taints his perspective on a variety of issues. When Kennedy talks about “the black Confederate soldiers” (a concept I will deal with more fully later), but fails to incorporate the notion that these fellows served within a system of superior/inferior relations with the whites around them, he is misrepresenting the South. When Kennedy talks about a black boy living in the Confederate White House after being “adopted” by the Davis family, but fails to mention that he lived there within the context of a superior/inferior relationship with the whites who lived there, he is misrepresenting the situation.
And when Kennedy talks about how 70% of the slaves testifying in The Slave Narratives stated their general satisfaction with the slave system, but fails to mention that their estate existed within the structure of a superior/inferior relationship to their white masters, he is misrepresenting the truth itself.
Here the words of Martin Luther from the 1500s: “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Wherever the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point.”
Kennedy flinches at this point of superior/inferior relations. And this is the very point of attack upon which we must remain strong if we are truly to defend the South and the Confederates. There is just no way around it. And this is exactly why people who hold to equalitarian principles in their hearts can never make good Confederates in our day and time.
One more time for emphasis, the point of attack against the South was not that the slaves weren’t happy; that was a side issue. The point of attack against the South was not that blacks and whites didn’t get along well; that was a Yankee lie used to marshal force against the South. The point of attack against the South was that the blacks were not equal in their social and political status vis a vis the whites. The Yankee Abolitionist could not stand this arrangement. His theory of human rights would not allow it. This is the point of attack upon which the South must be defended by those who would take her cause as their own.
“Rally ‘Round the Lie, Boys”
It is fashionable in some Southern circles to sidestep this crucial issue; to dodge it, to explain it away. I have come to view The South Was Right as the guide for those who would defend the South through misrepresenting it. That is why I am attacking this central premise so strongly.
One more point needs to be made. Kennedy is not content to misrepresent the societal structure of the Old South to make it palatable to today’s equalitarian society. No, he goes even further and stands truth on its head and makes a mockery of it. Look closely at his statement: “The Abolitionist concept of Southern society placed the master on top and the black on the bottom of society.” (page 100)
This description of the Old South is fairly accurate. Kennedy attributes it to the dishonest and mistaken perspective of the Abolitionist. His false attribution is dishonest.
In The South Was Right Kennedy spins a plausible lie that has logically lead many of its readers to repeat that lie as the truth. There are many instances Kennedy uses to demonstrate that the Yankees were the real segregationists; the South was more integrated than the North, etc..
And so many of his followers charge me and others with taking the Yankee perspective when I speak the truth concerning slavery, race relations in the Old South, and other matters. Recently, I placed an ad for this book report on the Internet newsgroup alt.thought.southern. One of the replies came from a Kennedy supporter. It went like this: “Why don’t you call it [this book report] “A Sheet-Wearer’s Perspective”? That’d be more honest. Your white racialist homeland is in Idaho, Wheeler. Why don’t you go there, instead of trying to sell your old Yankee line again? Go burn a cross, Klan-boy.”
In The Great Southern League Race Debate
[http://spiritwaterblood.com/docs/greatsouthernleagueracedebate.html] we saw a lot of this type of misrepresentation take place. For instance, one fellow wrote: “I assert that whatever one’s political or social opinions in regard to race may be, whatever one thinks of any particular black person, the Yankee sentiment of blind, fearful, ignorant racial HATRED is beneath the dignity of any God-fearing man who truly wishes to honor the Confederate cause.”
[I do not advocate that the Southern perspective was blind, fearful, ignorant racial hatred; but many Southern advocates believe that it was. Yet they won’t acknowledge that the South lived with a superior/inferior racial relationship. Instead, these fellows attribute this ideal to the Yankees.]
Another example of this plausible lie being advanced by Kennedy’s followers is this: “Dear Dennis, I have followed your posts on this subject with great interest. You are obviously very intelligent and have just as obviously done your homework. I think, however, that we must remember that the Southern position with respect to secession had everything to do with state sovereignty and little to do with slavery (race). That was the yankee position.”
And one more. One guy in the debate wrote: “If your statements were typical of the thinking of the majority of Southrons, the Yankees would be right. But your thinking is an anachronism, a relic from the 19th century….”
In that debate, as in this rebuttal, I have never, to my knowledge, made a statement that is not in line with the position of the Old South. The truth is that many in the Southern movement today despise the superior/inferior social order of the Old South. They really do believe the Yankee Abolitionist position of equality was morally right. And so arises the need for the plausible lie. This enables them to stand for Yankee moral principles but attribute them to the South while attributing “racial hatred” to the Yankees.
Many other examples could be given; I’ll let these be sufficient. This idea that segregation and white social and political supremacy is a Yankee idea and not a Southern idea permeates the Southern movement today. I have reason to suspect that the main impetus for this plausible lie comes from this book, The South Was Right. The plausible lie makes a mockery of truth and the South. The portion of the Southern movement that is advancing the plausible lie is on a go-nowhere treadmill. This is because no advancement can take place for the South until the Yankee equalitarianism that has permeated America is destroyed.
And the reason for this should be clear: No pro-Southern equalitarian can erect any social order that is in one whit better than the one Northern equalitarians erected and in which we now live. Therefore, no matter how many flags and monuments are saved in heritage battles, no matter how many pro-Southern politicians are elected to office, no matter how many new members are recruited into the ranks of Southern organizations, no effective change can be wrought in our society until the principles of Yankee Abolitionist equalitarianism are refuted and overthrown.
There is no way forward until we first go back to 1861. It is there we must begin. We must fight the same philosophical war over slavery and a hierarchal social order versus abolition and an equalitarian social order. This is the place the Constitution and the American way of life were overthrown. There will be no victory, not even a partial one, until this battle is fought and won by the South.
To argue for the South within the framework of the Yankee equalitarian moral system is like trying to fit square pegs into round holes. It is as dishonest as the system our conquerors imposed upon us. And it is dishonorable for Southern men to be dishonest in their presentation of the issues pressing on the South today.
The Use of the Word Racism and Related Concepts.
Having shown the nefarious nature of the plausible lie Kennedy advances to misrepresent the social order of the Old South, and having shown the negative effects this has brought to the morality of many within the Southern movement, let me now reprint some of those statements so you can see them as they appear in The South Was Right.
First: “…. when we look at the record [of Abraham Lincoln], we find that instead of a humanitarian we find someone guilty of the two unforgivable sins of modern times — a belief in white supremacy and a belief in a system of apartheid.
“Lincoln’s white supremacist ideas are a well-kept secret. (Let it be known at this point that these views are Lincoln’s and not the opinions of the authors.) In an 1858 debate, Lincoln made the following statement:
I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races — that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition that there is a physical difference between the white and black races …. I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.
“…. when the reality of Lincoln the white supremacist is presented, we can expect the myth-makers to declare that it was not uncommon at the time. So Honest Abe joins the ranks of the Skin-Heads.” (page 27)
These ideas of Lincoln that Kennedy condemns are precisely the ideas of the people of the South. They didn’t want blacks voting or becoming jurors or holding office or marrying whites, either. In condemning Lincoln on these points, Kennedy is of logical necessity also condemning the South. He may only intend to show that “white supremacy” was the policy of Lincoln, but this policy was also the policy of the South, and an unintended consequence springing from Kennedy’s equalitarian assumptions must be his condemnation of the South.
Notice that he never refers to Jefferson Davis as a Skin Head. But if Lincoln is a Skin Head for his beliefs as expressed above, then that title would logically fit Davis as well.
Second: “The racial bigotry of the Northern population against black workers had the effect of barring blacks from social and economic advancement, thereby contributing to the ever-increasing poverty of free blacks.” (page 54)
Here Kennedy again demonstrates his equalitarianism. While he never spells out the premises behind his proposition, it should be clear that he must hold that the blacks in the North were being held down by the whites. Perhaps they were when the situation is viewed within the context of the existing social system. But we must keep in mind a salient fact that Kennedy fails to incorporate into his discussion: the blacks could have never created a society in which they gained anywhere near the high standard of living they gained by living in a society fashioned by American whites.
After the War, when slavery and a hierarchal social order was no longer permitted in the South, the Southerners acted in a similar way toward the blacks, although there were differences owing to the different circumstances in play.
Kennedy attributes the actions of the Northern whites to “racial bigotry.” This belies his basic moral assumptions, which are equalitarian. I attribute their actions to a desire for self-preservation in view of a threat from a different and separate people in their midst. Northern whites perceived the danger of blacks living among them as equals, just as whites in the South did. No more, no less.
Third: “It appears there was a strain of race paranoia in the North that caused Northerners to fear a black peril, as if Northerners thought their fair states would be engulfed by hordes of free black men, women, and children…. This irrational fear of black people was not a phenomenon that appeared during the war. Northerners’ fear of black political power can be seen in their laws disenfranchising blacks. Remember, these are Northern states disenfranchising the black population even though the ratio of the black population to the white population was relatively insignificant as compared to that in the Southern states.” (pages 55-56)
Again we see Kennedy trying to show that “racism” was a Northern trait. This point has been picked up by many of his followers and used against others and me as we attempt to accurately portray the Old South.
But any condemnation toward Northern whites for their actions and attitudes toward the blacks is equally attributable to the whites of the South. We disenfranchised the blacks as we were able; we passed laws forbidding inter-racial marriage; we too feared black political power. And events have shown that this fear was anything but irrational.
One Final Point
I need to make one final point to tie two seemingly disparate truths together. You might reasonably ask: “How is it, Wheeler, that you say on the one hand that Northern whites practiced a social order with superior/inferior relations between themselves and the blacks, and on the other hand you say that the North intended to destroy the Southern social order of superior/inferior relations between blacks and whites?”
That is a fair question. As Davis stated in his farewell speech to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Constitution recognized the relationship between blacks and whites as one of superior/inferior. The appropriateness of this view held enough support throughout the country to make it a consensus. Around the turn of the century, especially in New England, contrary philosophical and theological forces began to make headway among the elite and some of the populace. These new forces called for the abolition of slavery and a social order of equality between the races.
(In his speech to the League of the South Annual Conference in Birmingham—July 1998—LS board member the Rev. Steve Wilkins made reference to this phenomenon: “With the turn of the 19th Century, the northeast became inundated with rationalism and all its ugly children, deism, Unitarianism, and transcendentalism. The disenchantment with Christianity that was already growing in the region was only accelerated by the influx by immigrants who were infected with the heresies of revolutionary Europe….”)
This new philosophy did not gain acceptance in all of the North, or among all of the people, at the same rate of speed. In fact, even at the time of the War for Southern Independence, equalitarianism was still a minority view in the North. And this is the reason there was widespread resistance to the War in some quarters of the North.
But with the election of Lincoln, the Abolitionists gained a disproportionate influence in politics. The South could see clearly exactly where these Abolitionists were heading.
A similar phenomenon exists today in America with the country’s policy toward Cuba. Fidel Castro is a communist. He leads Cuba. American trade policies call for open borders and open trade except for “pariah” countries. Cuba does not qualify for “pariah” status given the established precedents, which are admittedly vague and indefinite.
Still, Florida holds many Cuban voters. Both major parties view Florida as integral to any national political success. And thus the Cuban voters in Florida have gained a disproportionate political influence as neither party wants to cross them on their favored policy toward Cuba. and so Cuba remains closed to the United States because of the influence of a relatively few voters.
This example does not parallel that of the Abolitionists in every point. But it does show how that at times a minority can rule the majority.
Lincoln was elected without carrying one single Southern state. The driving force behind the Republican Party at that time was the Abolitionist faction. Dabney discusses this in his essay The True Purpose of the Civil War:
“…. the real purpose was far other than the pretense—to enlarge and perpetuate the power of his [Lincoln’s] faction. They had just seized the reins of Federal power by an accident, being in fact but a minority of the American people. This people had condemned it to a righteous exclusion from power for forty years. Its leaders were weary, envious and angry with their long waiting, and hungry for the power and the spoils of office…. At length, despairing of victory by its old tactics, it had thrown itself into the arms of the later born and despicable party of the Abolitionists, who had at last succeeded in their purpose of raising, in numerous States, their designed tempest of fanaticism. Thus the older and larger party gave itself away to the younger, smaller, and more indecent one; and by this traffic the two had won in November 1860.”
“The manipulators well knew their danger from `the sober second thought’ of the American people. It was but too probable that the elements of justice and conservatism, unfortunately divided in 1860, would reunite in 1864 to restore the Constitution. Hence, `they had great wrath,’ because they knew their time was short. They knew that something more must be done to inflame the contest between fanaticism and conservatism, or their glorying would be short.
“The hasty secession of South Carolina and the six Gulf States, although justified by the avowed revolutionary sectionalism of the new party in power, gave them their coveted opportunity. The conspirators said to each other: `now we have our game. We will inflame fanaticism and sectional enmities by the cry of Union and Rebellion, and thus precipitate a war between the States…..’
“That this war was made, not to preserve a constitutional Union, but solely to promote the aims of a faction, is confirmed by these further facts…. For the Union, no war was needed. It was made solely in the interest of the Jacobin party.
“Argument is scarcely needed to demonstrate that the infamous reconstruction measures were taken, not in the interest of a true Union, but of this Jacobin faction. For their architects brutally disdained to conceal their object…. True; those measures placed the noblest white race on earth beneath the heels of a foul minority constructed of a horde of black, semi-barbarous ex-slaves and a gang of white plunderers and renegades. It infected the State governments of the South with corruption and peculation. It injected into suffrage, in the Southern States, a spreading poison, which gives a new impulse to the corruptions of the ballot, already current among themselves. But what did the Jacobins care for that? They had gained their end, more Jacobin Presidents, more class legislation, a sure reign for the plutocracy.”
The Abolitionists were a minority within a minority party. Still, because they could provide the margin of victory, they gained the political ascendancy, forced a perilous war, tried to ruin the South in Reconstruction, and have since that time, gradually stamped their imprint onto every vestige of American social, political, and religious life.
It is a crying shame that 133 years after the War for Southern Independence, Southern advocates like Kennedy and his followers have now adopted their fanatical philosophy on the very issues upon which they attacked and brutalized the South.
I believe these quotes have shown clearly Kennedy’s attempt to paint the Northern whites as the repository of “racism.” His point is a dishonest point, in that the attitudes and actions of Northern whites were also the attitudes and actions of Southern whites.
Today, Kennedy’s followers try to show that because it was the North that was racist and segregationist, not the South, the neo-Confederate movement is to be inclusive of all religions and races and this is an accurate portrayal of the Old South as well.
Therefore, any true Southerner, who carries on in the tradition of the South on racial matters, can be branded as a Yankee racist, bigot, and hatemonger. This entire perspective stands truth on its head and makes a mockery of it. And The South Was Right is the place from which many of these nefarious and dishonest ideas emanate.
In his Birmingham speech, Dr. Michael Hill, president of the League of the South, said this: “The central creed of modern democracy is based on the false notion that all men are created equal, and all enjoy the same universal, mechanical rights of man. This Jacobinical creed is preached from the pulpits and taught in the seminaries of America as if it had its origins in God’s holy writ; nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.”
The problem the South faces today is not so much that its enemies believe this, but that many who would defend the South and act as an advocate for her believe this. The anti-Southern sentiments Dr. Hill attributes to the Jacobins express exactly the views promoted by Kennedy in The South Was Right on the very issues upon which the South was attacked by the Jacobins.
This I have shown.
Dennis Wheeler, Atlanta, Ga.
(Note: Mr. Wheeler passed away a decade ago, but his thoughts and ideas are still crucial to our struggle today as Southern nationalists–Michael Hill)