A war is still being waged against the South, not by bullets and bayonets but by a campaign of demonization. As a political and social stratagem, demonization is a ploy as old as civilization itself. The objective of the game is to dehumanize an opponent, individual or a group in order to gain public support for diminishing his power and influence in one or more spheres: political, social, economic, or cultural.
Modern America over the past two decades abounds with examples of the demonization process, most of them perpetuated by the Left (which includes many on the Republican “right”) against the traditional Right. The Oklahoma City bombing, black church burnings, and the Atlanta Olympics pipe-bombing in the 1990s; the 9-11 “Truther” movement, the Obama birth certificate “Birther” movement, the anti-ObamaCare movement thus far this century have all been used by the government and its lap-dog media to portray anyone to the right of the mainstream GOP as dangerous to the public weal. But the boogie-man singled out to receive the lion’s share of the liberal/neocon hostility is the traditional Southerner, who is uniformly presented by the media, the academy, and popular culture as Beelzebub incarnate. Unfortunately, the demonization of Southerners and their region is not of recent origin.
The Origins of Conflict
Southerners of both high and low estate contributed mightily to the founding and advancement of the American Republic. Despite that, they have been subjected to a long-running campaign of demonization that has turned them into national whipping-boys in this post-modern, post-Christian era. The demonization of the South did not begin, as some may think, with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, though it did take on a particularly hostile tone during those decades. Rather, the campaign to portray the South as the sole blot on an otherwise pure and shining “City on a Hill” began in earnest in the 1830s with the rise of the Yankee reformist impulse (i.e. Abolitionist, women’s rights, temperance, and other like-minded movements) and fears that the so-called “Slave Power” of Southern aristocrats threatened American democracy. The three decades from the publication of William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator in 1831 to the outbreak of The War for Southern Independence in 1861 witnessed a virulent crusade to vilify not only the South’s culture and institutions but Southerners themselves.
To understand why the Yankee thought it necessary and profitable to demonize the South, we must trace briefly the dichotomy between a rapidly-changing antebellum North and a stable, conservative South. Southern men-of-affairs, especially South Carolina’s John C. Calhoun, understood that unchecked consolidation and the campaign against slavery would result in either the destruction of the South or in the dissolution of the Union. The gathering forces against which the South had to contend were foreboding. The sweep of “progress” was already gripping the North (especially New England), urging it toward finance and industrial capitalism and the exploitation of “free” labor. William H. Seward warned the South that unless it voluntarily discarded its old ways–particularly an outmoded adherence to States Rights and the “peculiar institution”–it would later yield them amidst a sea of blood. Such threats to the well being of their region caused thoughtful Southern leaders to consider what sort of checks might be imposed against an increasingly hostile North.
But progressive Northern leaders were in no mood to be checked by a numerical minority in the slaveholding South. Undermining the Southern way of life would be the first step in the triumph of the Yankee worldview, and to accomplish this, the South had to be demonized in the eyes of a majority of Northerners before the radicals could hope for its actual physical destruction.
Revolutionary change in the North’s economic and political systems had been accompanied by European-style reform movements of every stripe. Indeed, New England and parts of the Midwest now produced a breed of perpetual reformers in whom emotion trumped commonsense and hard experience. Eventually, all the reformist strands were woven together into the rope of Abolitionism, and by the 1830s the anti-slavery movement had become a messianic, apostate religious crusade. Radical abolitionist propaganda found its way not only into literature and public oratory, but into juvenile story books, church hymnals, and even almanacs, as well.
Boston in the mid-nineteenth century was the center of a Unitarian-Universalist revolt against traditional Christianity in which sinful mankind was transformed into a creature of innate goodness and light. If mankind was inherently good, then all social problems were external ones that could be eradicated by one sort of reform or another. Perhaps even the Southern slave-driver could be redeemed if only he could be made over in the image of the sturdy, democratic New Englander and his cousin in the Midwest who knew the proper interpretation of the Declaration of Independence. To these abstract idealists, the South seemed woefully out of step with the idea that “all men are created equal.” While New Englanders called down the wrath of God’s “terrible swift sword” against the South, western men in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, writes historian A. O. Craven, “had a way of viewing evil as something there ought to be a law against.” This combination of sanctimony and the appeal to laws that surely would be enacted by John Randolph of Roanoke’s “King Numbers,” served to unite the disparate elements of the White South and gird them for the impending conflict.
A Bloody Solution to the Southern Problem
The war waged from 1861-1865 was precipitated in no small part by the Abolitionists who had for thirty years fanned the flames of hatred against the South. When the fighting broke out in April1861, they all rejoiced, some at finally being rid of the South and others at the opportunity of destroying her. One of their own, Julia Ward Howe, while in Washington during the early days of the war, penned the lyrics to what became the Unitarian-Abolitionist anthem–”The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Her words hailed the advent of a holy war against an evil South and equated the crucifixion of Christ with the present crusade against slavery. The South Carolina Presbyterian divine, Rev. James Henley Thornwell, well understood the nature of the “irrepressible conflict” waged against his homeland. He wrote: “The parties in this conflict are not merely Abolitionists and slaveholders, they are Atheists, Socialists, Communists, Red Republicans, Jacobins on the one side and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battleground, Christianity and Atheism the combatants, and the progress of humanity the stake.”
Four years of Jacobin-inspired warfare devastated the South. In addition to some 450,000 Confederate soldiers killed and wounded, the region’s civilian population suffered horrendously, especially during the final campaigns of the conflict. The last months of the Confederacy were filled with arson, robbery, rape, and murder, crimes perpetrated more often than not with the approval of Union military officers and civilian officials. Much of the destruction was pure vandalism directed against defenseless women and children and represented a deliberate policy to strike terror in the hearts of the Southern people. What General William T. Sherman called the “holiest fight ever fought on God’s earth” made little distinction between black and white. A reporter for the New York Herald, who witnessed the sack of Columbia, South Carolina, in 1865, noted that “Negro women were for the most part victims of the [Union] soldiers’ lust. A number of them were woefully mistreated and ravished.”
In the wake of this carnage, Northern business interests began a systematic and wholesale economic plundering of the South that would continue through Reconstruction. Oppressive taxes were levied on cotton, and in just three years (1865-68) over $70 million was expropriated from the Southern economy. As late as 1880 the value of Southern agricultural lands was only two-thirds of what it had been in 1860. Gross farm income did not rise above 1859 levels until the early 1880s, though the South’s population rose nearly fifty-percent during that period. In the decades following the war, the South became an economic colony at the mercy of Northeastern plutocrats who exacted enormous sums of capital through usurious interest rates, stole lands and resources through tax foreclosures, and rigged local elections at the point of a bayonet. Famine and pestilence stalked the land, and it was common to see homeless widows and orphans begging bread from door to door and once-proud veterans reduced to destitution. Indeed, abolitionist Wendell Phillips summed up the situation well when he remarked after the war: “This [the North’s victory] is the new dispensation. This is the New Testament. 1860 is the blank leaf between the old and the new. . . . We have conquered not the geographical but the ideal South . . . and we have a right to trample it under the heel of our boots. This is the meaning of the war.” So it was.
The South’s defeat in 1865, as Thornwell predicted, cleared the way for the triumph of a Jacobin/Marxist worldview in a consolidated American Empire. Wasted by war and military occupation and swindled by crooked Carpetbag and Scalawag “entrepreneurs,” the Southern people could do nothing to halt the centralizers’ juggernaut. One would think the demonizers’ work done at this point. But after a truce of sorts prevailed for several decades, especially during times of war when America needed the services of Southern manhood, the demonization of all things traditionally Southern resumed apace in the 1950s and 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement and the age of leftist revolution. And it continues to this day, the perpetrators showing no signs of letting up.
The prevailing question for traditional Southerners is this: How long will you patiently remain as a second-class citizen in this current political arrangement, hoping it can be reformed? If you do choose to remain on the flimsy hope of reform, you likely will lose everything dear to you, including your children’s and grandchildren’s future. You must recognize that the war against you continues and will not end until everything you cherish has been destroyed. Such was and is the definition of “war” by the forces of evil in this conflict. And the prevailing evil is the USA.
The demonization and destruction of the traditional South has removed a counterweight from the political entity known as The United States of America. Without that counterweight of Southern conservatism and tradition, America descended into the pit of Enlightenment-inspired left liberalism from which it has not, will not, and cannot return.
Here are some concrete examples. Since the South’s defeat in 1865, America has: 1) fought a war for empire (the Spanish-American War); 2) helped destroy the old European order (World War One); 3) provided aid to the communists in Spain (the Spanish Civil War—which saw American volunteers in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade fight against Franco); 4) allied itself with the communist USSR under Stalin (World War Two); 5) provided political and economic support for black communist-backed regimes in Rhodesia and South Africa (in the Bush Wars and anti-Apartheid campaign); 6) supported the pro-Muslim forces against Christian Serbia in the 1990s; and 7) currently supports anti-Christian Muslim rebels against the Syrian government, including perhaps ISIS itself. Without a vital and viable old Southern conservatism—that “old time religion” that theologically defined the South–to provide balance, the USA has consistently pushed a leftist/godless ideology worldwide.
Thus, without the South to reel her in, America has become an unholy terror to the whole world. Perhaps a revitalized and independent South will be the necessary antidote to such hubris. And perhaps this is why the powers-that-be in the USA still demonize her.