By George E. Curry
Someone identifying himself as Jimmy Oliver sent me an email objecting to a column I wrote under the headline, “Confederate Traitors Don’t Deserve to be Honored.” I presume he wrote to get a reply, so here it is, with Oliver’s words in italics.
I do not appreciate you calling my ancestors traitors, Benedict Arnold or traitors.
Well, I do not appreciate your ancestors enslaving my ancestors. I do not appreciate your White ancestors thinking they were superior to my ancestors solely because God created us a different color. I do not appreciate your ancestors forcing my ancestors to work long hours for free. I do not appreciate your ancestors treating mine like property, buying and selling them at will. I do not appreciate your ancestors breaking up African families whenever they wanted to and I do not appreciate your male ancestors raping my powerless female ancestors.
And, yes, your ancestors were traitors. In fact, their photographs should be placed next to the word “traitor” in the dictionary. The definition of traitor is clearly spelled out in Article 3, Section 3 of U.S. Constitution: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.”
In case you missed it, the Confederacy leveled war against the United States from 1861-1865.
The Civil War was fought, not because of slavery, but for southern states rights.
Yes, it was fought because southern states wanted “states rights” – the right to maintain slavery.
Slavery was not the most compelling issue of the Civil War.
That’s pure nonsense. The states’ orders of secession prove otherwise. For example, “A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union” began: “In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.
“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.”
Virginia cited, “the oppression of the Southern Slaveholding States.” And South Carolina, the first state to leave the Union, asserted, “…The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.”
The Cornerstone Speech by Alexander Stephens is one man’s opinion.
Stephens was not merely one man – he was vice president of the Confederate States of America. In the speech, he was very clear when he said, “the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery – subordination to the superior race – is his natural and normal condition.”
Other Confederate leaders expressed similar sentiments. Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States, said, “My own convictions as to negro slavery are strong. It has its evils and abuses…We recognize the negro as God and God’s Book and God’s Laws, in nature, tell us to recognize him – our inferior, fitted expressly for servitude…You cannot transform the negro into anything one-tenth as useful or as good as what slavery enables them to be.”
You say remove the monuments and tributes of the Civil War to whom my ancestors served and I consider to be a part of my Southern Heritage.
Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying. Alabama Gov. Robert J. Bentley’s decision to remove four Confederate flags from the Capitol grounds in Montgomery and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recommendation that a statue of Kentucky-born Jefferson Davis be removed from the state Capitol are steps in the right correction. As the headline on my initial column stated, “Confederate Traitors Don’t Deserve to be Honored.”
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and BlackPressUSA.com. He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook. See previous columns at http://www.georgecurry.com/columns.