So I was delayed leaving. I’ll be heading out shortly. But before I go, I would like to pose a question. The buzz across media, among educators, pundits, journalist, activists and Catholics is that the Confederacy was basically Nazi Germany, and the Confederates themselves Nazis. Hence they must go.
How? What made them the same? Apart from the fact that the Confederacy embraced racism to justify slavery, and the Nazis peddled in their own brand of racism with their warped Master Race theories. what were the similarities?
Why is the Confederacy singled out over racism? We know that Northerners were, by our standards today, every bit the racists. And so were Europeans. Yes, Europe had mostly banished slavery by then, but it was also embarking on the greatest leg of its quest for empire. And riding shotgun with its carving up of Africa, China, and anywhere else it could get was its belief in the superiority of White Europeans over the rest of humanity. The White Man’s burden and all. So if the Confederacy was Nazi because Racism, that should still implicate just about everyone else in the West. Is therefore all Europe and America Nazi?
And bonus for people who know history: We’ve always known that long before Europe was trading in African slaves, the Islamic Arabic world had a robust African slave trade and embraced the idea that Africans were more animal than human to justify it. So contrary to what an amazing amount of Americans think, we didn’t corner the market on that brand of ‘their kind is inferior to us.’ And we know that Muslims continued to traffic in African slaves, in some places well into the 20th century. Nazi Muslims maybe? And let’s not even get into the xenophobia and racism of Imperial Japan. Was the world Nazi?
Some polemicists point to the brutality of the South, which I’ve seen brought up as a reason for the comparison. But it was 19th century. Hello. It could still be a brutal world, here and elsewhere (some might ask if we are much better today). See the treatment of subjected peoples under Ottoman rule. Asia was still going strong, and we needn’t remind ourselves of basic human rights within Native American tribal culture. As for Western cultures, Europe was still plenty brutal, and as one moved east, the treatment of peasants and other unworthies had barely improved since the 18th century, when historians often point out that serfdom in the east had reached an all time low.
They’re villains because they rebelled? Well, that doesn’t make them Nazis, unless the Founding Fathers were (and you can hold that thought). We could go long on the differences between the Confederacy’s rebellion and the Nazis seizure of power. Because they rebelled for Slavery? If you ignore every other difference, you might be able to make the case that since its rebellion was linked to racism, and the Nazis certainly embraced racism as part of their designs, perhaps. But that’s it. That’s the closest you get.
No. It seem to me that this ‘Confederacy was Nazi’ meme relies on ignoring a million differences to zero in on one partial similarity. It’s like saying a chihuahua and an Elephant are the same because they both have ears. There is no justification for it for any serious student of history. If you are willing to ignore the Himalayan Mountain range of differences and qualifiers and ignore the rampant racism that continued to exist around the world (and some would argue, still does today) and say that makes them Nazis, then I suppose there’s a case to be made that Hitler did have a pope after all. Just ignore all the inconvenient facts.
I certainly can’t help but notice, BTW, that many who scream loudest about Nazi Confederates also have few problems linking Nazis and Catholicism just the same. Perhaps Catholics at least should put their heads on straight before jumping on the iconoclasm/vandalism bandwagon. After all, he who lives by lousy historical studies will often die by them. And in the case of Catholics, it would serve them right, since they’re usually the first to protest and insist on careful historical studies in response to lame notions like Hitler’s Pope.
So please, discuss. What have I missed? Exactly what sets the Confederacy apart from its historical context that makes it and the Nazis virtually indistinguishable? Ciao.