Or, in some minds, will white Southerns use the occasion to herald the Confederacy and obliquely celebrate slavery and racism?
I really appreciate the way that
Explanation of “Disunion”: One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, Americans went to war with themselves. Disunion revisits and reconsiders America’s most perilous period — using contemporary accounts, diaries, images and historical assessments to follow the Civil War as it unfolded.
Teaser for “The Minds of the South”: “Secession wasn’t evidence that the South didn’t have a reasoned intellectual life. In fact, it was the strongest evidence that it did.”
One thing I would note is the use of “Southerner” to mean all Southerners, but really only whites–this happens a lot in contemporary popular discourse and ignores the very large numbers of Southerners who were black and anti-slavery.
The author, Cambridge University Professor Michael O’Brien, notes that the white Southern idea of secession arose out of a rational idea of the role of states in the union and that the fear of the end of slavery was at least in part a fear of the economic collapse that would follow the complete upheaval of the Southern economy. He argues that it was not a war of the wise North against the irrational South. Yet, no mention is made of the biggest reason that today we consider the South irrational–the massive abuse of human beings in the institution of slavery. It is possible to have rational discourse that upholds an abhorrent system (that may work perfectly rationally). My philosophy professor brother once argued that women shouldn’t have the vote because every family should have one vote and it is divisive for the family structure if a husband and wife votes’ cancel each other out. That is in some form rational, but I find it immoral. Sometimes we equate rationality with correctness, but they are not synonymous.