150 Years After Fort Sumter: Independence Is There For Those With the Will to Take it.
William Boggs, was an engineer who
helped prepare the gun emplacements at Fort Moultrie,
which delivered the heaviest fire. All my ancestors on
both sides of my family were
Confederates. There is not a single Yankee in my
family tree, so my lineage is about as Southern as it
could be. What does any of that mean
years after Appomattox?
are famously ignorant of history, and the past is always
not a few
Southerners, The War and its consequences are never
far below the surface. William Faulkner famously said:
“The past is
never dead. It`s not even past.” This rings true
only for Southerners (except perhaps for a few
Boston Brahmins). Indeed, some Southerners still
dream of an independent nation-state of their own. Since
1994, an organization called the
of the South has tried to prepare for independence,
though its leaders—thoughtful and honorable men—concede
that that time has not yet come.
ever come? There are enormous obstacles. The South is
filling up with Yankees and
Mexicans for whom the idea of a Southern nation is
meaningless. Blacks are
moving back from the North, and for them, a Southern
worse than meaningless: it is anathema. Southern
nationalists imagine a
benign and romantic revival of the Confederacy, with
battle flags, chivalry, and conservative Christianity;
but for many Americans, there can be no benign revival.
They cannot separate the Confederacy from slavery. And
any goal with even the slightest, second-hand,
undeserved, taint of slavery is at a deep disadvantage.
confident that not one person who dreams of an
independent South has the slightest desire to
reinstitute slavery. But that doesn`t matter. Any
Southern sovereignty movement that even mentions
Lee and Jackson or hums
is automatically suspect. And what Southern independence
movement can there be without Lee, Jackson, and
It makes no
difference that slavery
flourished under the Stars and Stripes for far longer
than it did under the Stars and Bars. It makes no
no use for blacks and wanted them
out of the country. The Confederacy and the entire
South have been nailed to the cross of slavery—but these
obstacles could be overcome by fiercely determined
more serious holds back Southern nationalism: Its
support is limited almost entirely to people who profess
a certain kind of politics, whereas national movements
must be beyond politics. An independent South would need
the support of people who may not be conservative, who
may not be suspicious of big government, who may not be
Christian, who may not
oppose marriage for homosexuals, but who are still
devoted to the South. The roots of a
Southern nation would have to spread widely and not
just sink deep.
admittedly unscientific sample of my sainted mother.
Born in 1922, she believed Southerners were different
from Yankees, and was thankful to have been born a
Southerner. She rose when
was played and looked daggers at anyone who did not. She
turned her back on
“The Battle Hymn
of the Republic”. When
Jimmy Carter was elected—after a campaign in which
Democratic radio ads throughout the South actually
featured Dixie, incredible as that may now sound—she thought it was
wonderful finally to have a President who did not speak
with an accent.
in Massachusetts for a year, and loved to drive through
New England countryside. She didn`t know what to
make of the monuments to the
Union dead that are in virtually every town square
until she came up with a good, Southern way to think
about of them: as monuments to
And yet, my
mother would not be part of today`s Southern
nationalism. She was a professional social worker and a
Norman Thomas socialist. She was an early champion
women`s liberation, and campaigned for gay rights.
She believed in the redemptive power of government, and
went to her grave a committed liberal.
loved the South because she grew out of that red dirt,
because that was the land that formed her. She was
Southern because she was born Southern. The Confederacy
was part of her extended family—and whatever a Southern
lady does, she loves and defends her family.
how many Southerners feel as she did about the South
also are deeply conservative? The cause of the South
must be at the political center, not the fringe.
Let me be
clear: I am not blaming today`s Southern nationalists
for their political opinions, many of which I share. I
am pointing out only that the broadly-based Southern
patriotism of which my mother was a part is gone. There
are not many Southern nationalists today who would march
gay rights or would expand the welfare state.
ago was the 100th anniversary of firing on Fort Sumter.
In 1961 I was a fourth grader in
and my teacher,
Bela Outlaw, was an outspoken Southern patriot. We
were never to talk in her class of the
“Civil War” but of the
“War between the
States” because, as she explained, ours had been a
battle for independence, not a fight over who sat in
the White House. She taught us that secession was in the
tradition of the American Revolution—which
secession from England—and that
George Washington is on the
Great Seal of the Confederacy because
our ancestors believed they were acting in his name.
She taught us that the 9th and 10th Amendments cannot be
read as prohibiting secession, and that our
ancestors were legally and morally right.
classmates were staunch Confederates.
a term of contempt. The Battle Flag was our symbol of
bravery and devotion. That year, I saved up my meager
allowance and bought two genuine
Confederate $20 bank notes. I thrilled to imagine
whose hands might have touched those sacred relics.
later, after the
Brown vs. Board and what can only be called the
Second Reconstruction, I suspect today`s Richmond
fourth graders are not as Confederate as my class was.
I`m certain their teachers are not as Confederate as
Bela Outlaw was.
Miss Outlaw was not a conservative. There were rumors
black children might be coming to our all-white
school, and she had firm views about that, too. She said
she would treat black children exactly as she treated
us, and, like it or not, we had better do the same.
know about my class-mates but I remain
secession. I would be glad to see an independent
South—or an independent
Texas or Cascadia. I applauded the disintegration of
much because it meant independent homelands as because
it signaled the death of
Communism. Today, I root for the Chechens against
the Russians, the South
Sudanese against the Arabs, the
against the Turks, the
Flemings against the
Walloons, the Quebeckers against Toronto. Men need
homelands that are
theirs, that commemorate their heritage and
ensure its survival.
the Czechs and the Slovaks peacefully seceded from each
other, it was because millions of people were Czech or
Slovak nationalists first, and many different things
second. They set aside all other disagreements in the
name of nation.
American South does not now have the same broad-based
national fervor, and the few sparks of Southern
patriotism that remain are smothered by newcomers who
are indifferent or hostile to the South.
back 150 years, I am struck by how remote an irritant
the federal government then was. About the only brush
most Americans ever had was buying stamps at the
post office. The feds never dreamed of telling you
whom you had to
what you could put in your
how many days off you had to give the help. No American
had to account to
then hand over a big part of it. Not even Louis XIV
Ivan the Terrible exercised that kind of tyranny.
The people of
have voted articles of secession before
did if they had lived in the grip of today`s central
the irony is that today`s pestilential
bureaucracy has nothing like the resolve
which Lincoln`s government fought the war. A country
that chants mantras about diversity and tolerance has no
idea what it even is. It has no identity to impose on
people who know who they are, know what they want, and
are prepared to fight for it.
tragedy is that Southern nationalism crested 150 years
too soon. I am convinced that if, today, the people of
the South—or of any state—were as determined to secede
as my ancestors were in 1860 and 1861, the federal
not now slaughter them to
their corpses in the Union.
Independence is there for any group of Americans that is
united in its determination to take it.
Jared Taylor (email
him) is editor of
and the author of Paved
With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in
(For Peter Brimelow`s review, click
The long-awaited sequel,
White Identity: Racial Consciousness In The 21st
Century, will be published this year.