Neo-Confederate Beliefs Common in the South

My dad likes to say that if it was announced that they were forming a new Confederate army, it would take less than a week to get a million men to sign up. David Firestone’s blog post at the New York Times about neo-Confederate views in the south suggests he’s right. But the key is that those views are becoming more and more mainstream.

A particularly relevant case started about 14 years ago, when Maurice Bessinger, owner of a chain of South Carolina barbecue restaurants called Maurice’s Piggie Park, began distributing pro-slavery tracts in his stores. One of the tracts, called the “Biblical View of Slavery,” said the practice wasn’t really so bad, because it was permitted in the Bible. It argued that many black slaves in the South “blessed the Lord” for their condition, because it was better than their life in Africa.

When the tract was discovered, Mr. Bessinger was denounced and his restaurants boycotted. Many retail stores pulled his distinctive (to be kind) yellow mustardy barbecue sauce from their shelves.

But one prominent South Carolinian decided to stand up for Mr. Bessinger. Glenn McConnell, then a state senator from Charleston, stocked the sauce in his Confederate “art gallery,” which was loaded with secessionist flags and uniforms, as well as toilet paper bearing the image of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. When a local power utility banned its trucks from the parking lots of Piggie Park, Mr. McConnell threatened a legislative vendetta against the company.

Mr. Bessinger died in February. Mr. McConnell is now the lieutenant governor of South Carolina.

That’s frightening.

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  • John Pieret

    No doubt McConnell would deny wanting to bring back slavery and would just claim he was defending free speech … just like allowing discrimination against LGBT people is freedom of religion.

  • raven

    The good news is they lost the last civil war and will lose the next one. For one thing, blacks didn’t really fight all that much, not being able to. Although the Union did have some black soldiers who fought well. It’s different these days. They have just as many guns as the slaver wannabes.

    That bad news is that it would almost certainly go nuclear. Civil wars are about the most vicious wars there are. Because neither side thinks they have any alternative or place to retreat to.

  • raven

    Glenn McConnell, then a state senator from Charleston, stocked the sauce in his Confederate “art gallery,” which was loaded with secessionist flags and uniforms, as well as toilet paper bearing the image of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.

    Mr. Bessinger died in February. Mr. McConnell is now the lieutenant governor of South Carolina.

    I’ll bet Wingnut McConnell gets up every morning and checks the paper to see if Barack Hussein Obama, that half black half white guy, is still…president.

    And then cries tears of rage.

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    But the Civil War was totally not about slavery, right?

    Right?

  • D. C. Sessions

    It’s hardly confined to the South these days. It’s pretty much mainstream all over the USA, wherever you find the hard-Right. The “slavery” part is still toned down, but it’s not far under the surface when you get into the dog whistles.

  • Trebuchet

    A week to sign up a million…two weeks before they’re all splintering into rival factions and pointing guns at each other, like the morons at the Bundy ranch.

  • raven

    How White People React to Losing Their Majority Status in …

    www .policymic. com/…/how-white-people-react-to-losing-their-majority-…‎

    Apr 11, 2014 – Fear of losing their majority status actually makes Americans more conservative. … While researching for “On the Precipice of a ‘Majority-Minority’ … from the Racial Demographic Shift Affects White Americans’ Political … In other words, the white majority will try to “ensure” that they remain as ….

    It’s no secret overt racism has increased drastically over the last few years. As well as racially split voting. 88% of Romney voters were white versus 56% for Obama.

    What is driving this is IMO:

    1. The US is on trend to become a nonwhite majority in 2043. Four states including Texas and California already are. Whites are afraid they will have done unto them, what they do to others.

    People do not give up power and privilege without a struggle.

    2. The shrinking middle class. Thanks to the 1%, the majority of Americans are being economically squeezed by decades of economic inequality. This means more conflict over a shrinking pie.

    Rather than blaming income inequality, the Koch brothers, the GOP, and the oligarchy, they blame people more vulnerable to retaliation, the nonwhite lower classes.

    If this is right, it is going to get uglier. A whole lot uglier.

  • noastronomer

    Mr. McConnell threatened a legislative vendetta against the company.

    Wouldn’t that be illegal? I mean just the threat. let alone actually acting on it.

    Mike.

  • eric

    I think Firestone’s third example is also worth mentioning. The College of Charleston assigned its Freshman a book to read that was memior with some gay themes. In response, the SC legislature tried to cut their budget, and then when they couldn’t, they made McConnell the President of the College. He takes over this year. He has no experience running Universities.

    That is not just mainstream acceptance of neo-confederacy. That is active promotion of it, using the power of the legislature to squash more liberal ideas when and where they are taught.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    @raven #2 – “Civil wars are about the most vicious wars there are. Because neither side thinks they have any alternative or place to retreat to.”

    The US Civil War was, by any metric, in which the US was a party. The official combatant death toll was 620,000*, while the combined combatant death toll in all other wars — WW I, WW II, Vietnam, Korea, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, the Gulf War, the War of 1812 and the on-going occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan — comes out to about 644,000. The Battle of Gettysburg alone saw 51,000 casualties, almost as many as the three years of the Korean War (58,209.) Source.

    I expect another civil war would be even worse.

    * Some estimates put the toll as high as 850,000.

  • a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    My wife was born in the south. She says that the motto there has always been, “If at first you don’t secede, try, try again.”

    My ancestors marched with Sherman. He was too lenient. We should have let him finish the job.

  • Chiroptera

    It argued that many black slaves in the South “blessed the Lord” for their condition, because it was better than their life in Africa.

    That would explain the Underground Railroad smuggling all those free blacks from Canada into Southern plantations.

  • colnago80

    Re Gregory @ #10

    The figures for Gettysburg include both wounded and dead.

    Re #11

    Actually, there were very few fatalities during the march due to battlefield engagements. I don’t recall the exact numbers but the number of Southern civilians killed was less then 100.

  • doublereed

    Hatewatch has several articles on Glenn McConnell’s Neo-Confederate views, and he was recently tapped to be the President of the College of Charleston, despite the protests from the students and faculty.

  • scienceavenger

    @10 Those figures are even more appalling when you consider that they are equivalent to approximately 7 million killed today due to our country’s significant population growth, Some estimates are that 20% of fighting aged southern men died in the war.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Trebuchet “A week to sign up a million…two weeks before they’re all splintering into rival factions and pointing guns at each other, like the morons at the Bundy ranch.”

    Harry Potter & the Moron of Bundy Ranch was the best book in the series, I think.

  • raven

    The official combatant death toll was 620,000*, while the combined combatant death toll in all other wars — WW I, WW II, Vietnam, Korea, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, the Gulf War, the War of 1812 and the on-going occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan — comes out to about 644,000.

    As SA pointed out, in percentage terms it is much more so.

    I expect another civil war would be even worse.

    If as is likely it went nuclear, the dominant surviving lifeform in the USA would be the…cockroach.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    “My dad likes to say that if it was announced that they were forming a new Confederate army, it would take less than a week to get a million men to sign up.”.

    You think that the Baggerz Brigade is pissed off, now? Wait until they find out that once the war starts the feds will not be sending them any checks or paying their medical bills.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    democommie “You think that the Baggerz Brigade is pissed off, now? Wait until they find out that once the war starts the feds will not be sending them any checks or paying their medical bills.”

    Thanks Obama!

  • busterggi

    Southern secession wouldn’t be so bad. The average IQ of the USA citizenry would jump at least 20 points and the export market for banjos would stimulate the economy.

  • pocketnerd

    Thus Spake Zarabusterggi, #20:

    Southern secession wouldn’t be so bad. The average IQ of the USA citizenry would jump at least 20 points and the export market for banjos would stimulate the economy.

    You think the neo-confederates would settle for mere secession? I’d give it ten years, tops, before they decide they need to start “liberating” northern and western states for their agricultural, mineral, and industrial resources for FREEDOM.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    1. Do you really think the secessionists would pay the South’s share of the National debt when they left?

    2. Southern Secession would not help non-secessionist states downwind or downriver from them, and, most importantly…

    3. Southern Secession wouldn’t help Southerners who aren’t secessionists

  • reedcartwright

    Racism is not becoming more mainstream in the South. It is actually becoming less common in the South as children grow up in a more integrated society. The only reason you encountering neo-confederate arguments is that the racists feel compelled to defend their views in the court of public opinion. A couple generations ago they would not have needed to because they held the dominant view point.

    It is just like creationists who suddendly feel the need to rationalize their beliefs once they realize they are losing.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    There’s nothing in the bible that says slaves can’t be white. I for one think Maurice Bessinger would make a fine kitchen slave. who will one day bless the Lord for his servitude, because it will be better than his life as a bankrupt restauranteur.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    But the key is that those views are becoming more and more mainstream.

    I agree with reedcartwright. Neo-confederate views are on the wane, not on the rise. Confederate battle flags, once ubiquitous and even splattered over statehouses and on state flags, are disappearing. There was a time not too far back that the views of Maurice Bessinger would not have raised an eyebrow. At the time they came to light, they caused serious controversy. His brother, who also ran a BBQ joint, was very quick to tell the community that he did not share Maurice’s views. Mainstream society there did not condone slavery apologetics back in the 90’s, much less today.

    McConnell is a kook and his obsession with All Things Confederate is weird, but he’s looked at as a harmless fuddy-duddy, kind of like Strom Thurmond was toward the end. His breed is on its way out.

  • Nick Gotts

    Area Man@25,

    So how did he get elected lieutenant-governor?

  • thebookofdave

    If as is likely it went nuclear, the dominant surviving lifeform in the USA would be the…cockroach.

    Advantage: Neo-Confederates. Don’t encourage them, raven.

  • Ashley F. Miller

    Regarding some of the comments here, it’s really depressing to me that when people comment on the bad things in the South they act as though everyone in the South subscribes to those views. Southerner bashing is really easy, and it’s really shitty because there are millions of people in the South who are good, progressive, intelligent people. And when this stuff comes up someone says “I wish Sherman had committed a genocide of the Confederacy.” Saying, “I wish your people had been cleansed from the earth” is kind of horrific.

  • magistramarla

    My Texan son-in-law proudly displayed a confederate flag on his house. He’s a member of the US Air Force and is currently stationed in Germany. We raised our children to appreciate and respect all cultures. (My hubby is a retired AF officer). We were saddened when our daughter recently complained about how awful the Germans are and says that she looks forward to living in Texas again.

    She has whole-heartedly adopted her husband’s attitudes and we barely recognize the sweet and tolerant young lady who grew up in our household.

    I therefore tend to believe those generalizations about southerners. I’m currently living surrounded by them and I simply can’t wait for hubby to retire so that we can flee the south.

  • Ichthyic

    If as is likely it went nuclear, the dominant surviving lifeform in the USA would be the…cockroach.

    and that would be different than the way it is now?

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    The city I grew up in is racist. The cities I have lived in for the last 40 years since leaving the AF have been racist–every single one of them.

    The racism has been of varying degrees of severity and visibility, but it has ALWAYS been there. The difference between the cities I’ve lived in for most of my life and the cities I’ve visited or lived in, in the American South is that the racism in the South wasn’t just palpable, it was institutional and acceptable–long after the racism in the North had been deemed unacceptable.

    There’s a reason that the National Guard was in Little Rock and Lester Maddox and George Wallace (among HUNDREDS of Southern politicians) were able to do what they did, their constituents were okay with it. It wasn’t only their silent acquiescence to the maltreatment of African-Americans by police, the courts, the financial sector and employers–it was their active participation in lynchings, cross burning and other acts of calculated terrorism against them. That institutional injustice and ignored or even sanctioned terrorism went on well into the 1960’s, over 100 years after the War of Southern Treachery had resulted in the South being largely destroyed as an economic engine by its leaders’ insistence on defying logic and societal mores to own other human beings.

    There are many reasons given for the CSA taking up arms against the Union, but the primary one was the same one that was espoused by the guys who decided to revolt against King George. Neither of those groups wanted to be told what to do by a government that was keeping them from being “Free” to do what they wanted to do. Of course in the case of the Civil War, what they wanted to do was to own people.

    The political leaders of the states of the old Confederacy have STILL not gotten the message that equality is not something that they get to bestow on others.

    “And when this stuff comes up someone says “I wish Sherman had committed a genocide of the Confederacy.”

    I don’t think that Shernan should have committed genocide. I think that the U.S. government should have tried every field grade officer and all elected politicians of the CSA and imprisoned those who deserved it. They should have simply shot or hung a fair number of them.

  • Ichthyic

    Southerner bashing is really easy, and it’s really shitty because there are millions of people in the South who are good, progressive, intelligent people

    …and they are losing the culture war there, badly.

    you KNOW this.

    for people to continually point out just how bad things are, and are getting, in the South is a service, not a disservice.

    you want people to say better things about the South? Then you better work a LOT harder to change it.

    and when you realize, it’s simply too big a problem to change with the minimal number of rational progressives you have to side with down there…

    what then?

    • Ashley F. Miller

      There is a difference between pointing out the systemic problems in the South and saying you wish all Southerners had been killed. There’s a difference between pointing out that there are systemic problems and saying that everyone in the South is a banjo-playing idiot. The disparity in the voting blocks are not as wide as you think, usually 60:40, and not everyone has the luxury of being able to leave. I don’t need anybody to say nice things about us, but I would like them to stop relying on insulting stereotypes and suggesting that we should all be killed instead of actually engaging with a discussion about what the problems are.

      You are wrong about culture change, the South is a much different place now than it was 20 years ago, it is changing and it has changed. And I work in abortion access in the South, so I don’t know that you’re calling out the right person to work harder for change here.

  • Ichthyic
  • lofgren

    We were saddened when our daughter recently complained about how awful the Germans are…

    I’m currently living surrounded by them and I simply can’t wait for hubby to retire so that we can flee the south.

    Sounds like and your daughter have a lot in common.

  • Ichthyic

    Sounds like and your daughter have a lot in common.

    I think you don’t know what you’re talking about. Perhaps she didn’t make it clear enough, or your ignorance of modern progressive German culture is showing?

    do I need to explain it to you?

  • Ichthyic

    There is a difference between pointing out the systemic problems in the South and saying you wish all Southerners had been killed.

    there’s even a difference between “Southern Bashing” and genocide.

    which point are you arguing against again?

    The disparity in the voting blocks are not as wide as you think

    …but very very consistent, and the south is ruled by neoconfederates. You see it in their legislative agenda constantly

    not everyone has the luxury of being able to leave.

    that’s an excuse, not an argument.

    And I work in abortion access in the South, so I don’t know that you’re calling out the right person to work harder for change here.

    yes, that’s why abortion access has been so heavily supported by legislators in the south over the last decade…

    oh wait…

    sorry, but until things really change for the better, it deserves scorn and condemnation.

  • Ashley F. Miller

    “There’s a difference between Southern Bashing and genocide.” Yes, obviously, what is your point. The application of these stereotypes to Southerners is bigoted behavior that mirrors the racial bigotry that supposedly the people in this thread find horrible. I don’t have a problem with scorn and condemnation of bad behavior or bad laws, I have a problem with that scorn being applied not only to the rich, powerful men like Glenn McConnell, who has much more in common with every other rich, white male politician than with any hick stereotypes, but also to the poor people with far less power who are the victims of his behavior.

    That not everyone has the luxury of being able to leave is a humanistic argument for making change rather than abandoning them.

    South Carolina has comprehensive sex ed in public schools and an abortion provider in every metropolitan area. We’re not perfect, but we’re better in some ways than a lot of this country. Which is probably an argument against the US more than an argument for South Carolina.

  • jws1

    Yes, painting all Southeners with the same brush is irresponsible. And it’s also true that “cleansing” Southeners from the Earth after the war would’ve been a massive crime, and one based solely on revenge, not justice. In addition, that genocide would’ve spared the victims of the KKK and Jim Crow.

  • Ichthyic

    Yes, obviously, what is your point.

    that you are moving goalposts.

    That not everyone has the luxury of being able to leave is a humanistic argument for making change rather than abandoning them.

    sometimes, the best way to make change is from outside.

    we’re better in some ways than a lot of this country. Which is probably an argument against the US more than an argument for South Carolina.

    are you saying that’s the best you can do?

    and I reiterate, because this is a fact:

    …and when you realize, it’s simply too big a problem to change with the minimal number of rational progressives you have to side with down there…

    what then?

    http://www.thefrisky.com/2014-05-06/south-carolina-advances-abortion-ban-after-20-weeks/

    tell me again how progressive South Carolina is…

    • Ashley F. Miller

      @jws — You do know that the victims of Jim Crow and the KKK were also Southerners, right?

      @Ichthyic How am I moving goalposts? I think it’s shitty to be a bigot about Southerners. I didn’t say South Carolina was progressive, just that it is better than it has been and that it is not as backwards in some ways as other places in this country. This country as a whole is not very progressive either.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    Area Man@25,

    So how did he get elected lieutenant-governor?

    The same way Dan Quayle got elected Vice President.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    The same way Dan Quayle got elected Vice President.

    Actually, this isn’t quite right. McConnell did not get elected at all. He took over the position when the previous Lt. Governor resigned due to ethics violations.

    • Ashley F. Miller

      South Carolina elects its Gov and Lt Gov separately anyway, at least until 2018.

      Glenn McConnell was elected to the SC Senate and assigned position of Senate President Pro Tempore by the them, which is why he ascended to Lt. Gov. Senate President Pro Tempore actually wields more power, it was rumored that Andre Bauer (2 lt. govs ago) and Mark Sanford (previous governor) were never asked to step down because Glenn didn’t want to take over that role.