Friday, December 10, 2010

The American civil war re-enactment society | Diane Roberts

The American civil war re-enactment society | Diane Roberts | Comment is free |

escaped slaves during American civil warAbout five minutes after Lee surrendered at Appomattox courthouse in 1865, the white south got busy rewriting history, rebranding slavery as either benign paternalism or an accident that wasn't their fault: after all, the English brought the first slaves from Africa to the southern colonies. Those marketing geniuses of the "lost cause" renamed the carnage of 1861-65 the "war of northern aggression" and cast the Confederacy as a doomed but romantic collection of patriots: Saxons resisting Norman hegemony, Jacobites risking all for Bonnie Prince Charlie, or some other pseudo-history cadged from the novels of Sir Walter Scott.

These days, conservatives are the new Confederates. They may not all dress up and play Scarlett and Rhett, but their politics are at least 150 years old. Since Barack Obama was elected president, Fox News apocalypticist Glenn Beck has predicted a new civil war is coming. Senator-elect Rand Paul has expressed distaste for the Civil Rights Act. "Tenthers" – those who believe that the 10th Amendment gives states sovereignty – are increasing in number in state legislatures and in Washington. Recently, a Tea Party leader in North Carolina wrote in his newsletter, "Washington DC has become destructive of our economy and liberty. It is our right and our duty to throw off such a government."

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