Sunday, April 10, 2005

Confederate "Heritage" Month - April 10: Educators defend the eternal truth of the Confederacy

This is an instructive little document, presenting the results of a conference of educators in North Carolina that expressed their warm solidarity with the principles of treason and slavery:  Address to the People of North Carolina, Conference of Teachers and Friends of Education (1861: Raleigh, N. C.).

Today's neo-Confederates tell us that the Civil War and the Confederacy had nothing at all to do with slavery.  Evidently, these supporters of the Confederacy were quite deluded on what their cause involved:

Truth is eternal, and for all places; and whenever its conclusions are taught and enforced by our people, whether in physical or moral science, we would not circumscribe its influence by the prefix of a name implying only a sectional use or importance.

Ah, yes, eternal truth.  Always instructive.  And what constitued eternal Confederate truth?

The just defence of our society implies a condemnation of that of many other nations; and it is time that we cease to occupy the attitude of criminals arraigned before the bar of civilization, and assume our true position of teachers of the unalterable truths of Revelation.

To explain what we mean, we would remark that two opinions in regard to slavery are generally illustrated in the habits of nations, and that in the present condition of the world, almost every leading power holds some race of fellow-creatures in subjection, enjoying the fruits of their labor as remuneration for protection, and the administration of justice among them.

The theory of our practice is that the superior should adopt the inferior as a member of his household, placing him under his own immediate supervision, and that of his wife and children, where the sympathies between man and man are brought into active play, where every want is seen and felt for, where every crime is discovered and punished, and where the influences of religion and of a constant observation of the habits of a higher civilization are allowed to exert their educational and disciplinary power.

We have seen in some of this month's posts how diligently the Christian slaveowners sympathized with every need of their enslaved charges, how they punished "crime" and how the blessings of Christianity and civilization were imparted to them.

We hold, that if we are to have others in subjection to us at all, it must be in this way; and that a system of personal servitude of this kind, and for whose origin we are not responsible, is justifiable, and the only kind of paramount domination of race over race that is justifiable by the light of God's revealed Truth.

In our moral science we are to teach this doctrine not merely for our own defence, but for the general promotion of justice among men; and as our political and social system is put beyond the pale of its sympathy by all modern literature, and can appeal to nothing that is written but the infallible Word of God, so would we have all our institutions to dip their roots in this Fountain of Living Waters. (my emphasis)

If this seems to make a travesty of the Christian faith, this next passage offers helpful clarification:

It is a remarkable and anomalous fact that the people of the Confederate States are compelled to cut loose from human teachings in defence of their social condition, and are shut up to the Holy Scriptures; and in singular keeping with this state of things in the political world, is the present position of our schools. We are now nearly out of text-books, and are cut off from the publications of other countries; and this we hail as a merciful Providence, for a miserably diluted morality, a subtle semi-infidelity had crept into almost every modern system of morals, and in fact diffused its poison into nearly all the teeming productions of the press.

As then, we have to begin to construct and defend political theories from the simple Word of God, let us at once fill our schools with books which draw all their ethical doctrines from this Divine source, and which make the incarnate Son of God the centre and sun of every moral system. (my emphasis)

Since virtually the entire human race outside the American South condemned their "Peculiar Institution," they had to turn to theocratic justification.  God told us to do it!  And, strikingly, only the enlightened white slaveowners of the Confederacy had been granted this divine insight.

(See the Index to Confederate "Heritage" Month post 2005 for links to all this year's posts.)

1 comment:

purcellneil said...

Ultimately, there is no perversion or absurdity which cannot be justified by an interpretation of a phrase in a book of the Old or New Testament.  Even a war of aggression, based on lies and carried out with brutality and in contravention of international laws and conventions, can be justified among people whose only moral guide is the Bible.

Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but the Bible is their most versatile source of justification.  And an ignorant people will fall for such scoundrels every time.

That's the Bush trifecta.

Neil