I received this letter from a friend today.
This article influenced how I see the Confederate flag and references to "heritage". What do you think?
I skimmed it, need to read it more thoroughly. Thank you for sending it. I am going to give it some thought. But a few things off the top of my head. It is hard for me to get selectively moralistic about our history of slavery towards the africans we subjugated without also considering what we did to the original inhabitants of these lands.
The long marches, the internment camps, the outright genocide, the intentional distribution of smallpox and typhoid laden blankets. The great emancipator Lincoln himself once ordered the extermination of the Minnesota native americans.
Consider a few quotes of our most noble statesmen, writers and founding fathers:
"The Indians' disappearance from the human family will be no great loss to the world. I do not think them, as a race, worth preserving." Secretary of State Henry Clay
“They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear.”
President Andrew Jackson, in his fifth annual message, December 3, 1833
|General Philip Sheridan|
General Philip Henry Sheridan, 1869
“If ever we are constrained to lift the hatchet against any tribe, we will never lay it down till that tribe is exterminated, or driven beyond the Mississippi… in war, they will kill some of us; we shall destroy them all.”
President Thomas Jefferson
“I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.”
President Theodore Roosevelt
He is ignoble—base and treacherous, and hateful in every way. Not even imminent death can startle him into a spasm of virtue. The ruling trait of all savages is a greedy and consuming selfishness, and in our Noble Red Man it is found in its amplest development. His heart is a cesspool of falsehood, of treachery, and of low and devilish instincts. With him, gratitude is an unknown emotion; and when one does him a kindness, it is safest to keep the face toward him, lest the reward be an arrow in the back. To accept of a favor from him is to assume a debt which you can never repay to his satisfaction, though you bankrupt yourself trying. To give him a dinner when he is starving, is to precipitate the whole hungry tribe upon your hospitality, for he will go straight and fetch them, men, women, children, and dogs, and these they will huddle patiently around your door, or flatten their noses against your window, day after day, gazing beseechingly upon every mouthful you take, and unconsciously swallowing when you swallow! The scum of the earth!
Mark Twain - The Noble Red Man - 1870
I read a book called the Most Southern Place on Earth last year and was startled to see how many New York garment manufacturers were behind the south's efforts to retain slavery during the civil war era, needing a cheap supply of cotton for their businesses to survive.
Many northern cities had and continue to harbor incredible racist attitudes as did many in California where in some tony burgs, blacks, jews and hispanics were explicitly prohibited by deed restriction and land covenant until the early 1960's. So there is something rather selective and overly moralizing to heap a bunch of opprobrium on the south at this point in time when in reality nobody's hands appear to be all that clean.
|Bosque Redondo internment camp - 1864|
I don't ask my german friends about their grandparents activities during the second world war and I don't revisit the sins of slavery with my friends from the south. Everyone should be entitled to take pride in their heritage and nobody's past is spotless.