Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Confederaphobia! by Paul Graham: A Review

By: Jonathan Harris

I had the privilege of meeting Paul C. Graham at a conference on Southern history/philosophy/poetry earlier this summer. He, along with Dr. Clyde Wilson, have started Shotwell Publishing. Shotwell’s tag-line is “Southern without apology,” and that’s exactly what I found in Graham’s new release “Confederaphobia.”

Graham offers his readers a short, but perceptive, and often humorous work on the modern purging of all things Confederate. One chapter chronicles a few of the famous, and many not-so-famous scuffles “Confederaphobes” have had with Southern symbols. For instance, “A student at Framingham State University (FSU), located 20 miles outside of Boston, was ‘traumatized’ when a Confederate flag sticker was seen on another student’s laptop computer.” As the story unfolds Graham tells us how the school administration castigated the symbol and offered counseling for those traumatized by such a display.
   
Graham offers a brief but powerful defense of Southern monuments when he states:

If they were really monuments to “white supremacy” or some other nefarious cause, they would have said so during the unveiling ceremonies and inscribed them on the monuments themselves. Who would have stopped them, especially if the culture was as “racist” as these advocates of cultural genocide claim? The fact is that they did not wish to confuse anyone, they were perfectly forthright and clear so that they would be understood by future generations.

Graham doesn’t stop here though. He thoroughly exposes, using modern-day psychological jargon (which makes the whole humorous) the ailment that is Confederaphobia, and the unfortunate toll it takes on its victims (namely themselves).

Perhaps Graham’s greatest contribution is his encouragement to Southerners themselves (for whom he wrote the book). “The self-aware Southerner— at least until he or she is exposed to their history— often reacts with guilt and shame.” Graham further writes, “Because of their naturally good disposition, attention to manners, and desire to be left alone, self-identified Southerners are reluctant to make trouble, but the circumstances in which they find themselves are making this more and more difficult.” By the end of the book, the hang-your-head Southerner is encouraged to think about the issue much differently. The burden of proof is not for them to bear, but for the “Confederaphobes” as Graham calls them.

I won’t spoil the book by telling you more, but I will encourage you to pick a copy up and read it yourself. It’s extremely short, and I trust will encourage the Southerner, conservative, and lover of Western Civilization alike.

Pick up yours here!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Seminary Professors should interpret exegetically, Baptist seminary student says

By: Jonathan Harris

I am a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. For the most part, I am very grateful that the Lord has given me the opportunity to study under some very godly and wise men who have pointed me toward Christ. I have not had Dr. Brent Aucoin for a class since he teaches undergraduates and I'm in the seminary, but it deeply disturbs me that my tuition money is also going to pay for the salaries of people like him who promote political correctness. Knowing the same leftist slant that exists in secular universities is present here used to surprise me, but now it doesn't. It's effects are evident in the student body. In a recent article in the The State, Dr. Aucoin was featured under the heading, “Confederate monuments should go to the scrap heap, Baptist seminary professor says.”

Aucoin says, "I just find it strange to venerate someone who waged war against our country." Well, I find it strange that he, as a history professor with a Ph.D. in American History, finds this strange? Obviously, before the War Between the States especially, state allegiance trumped allegiance to one's national government. It would take hardly any work to demonstrate that this was the attitude of the vast majority of the Founding Father's themselves. Those who died defending their state were in essence defending their country. I'm sure Dr. Aucoin is familiar with Lee's dilemma and decision to stand with his homeland of Virginia. There is nothing strange about this. He also assumes the national government is "our country." This would not have been the assumption of North Carolina where Aucoin teaches. In fact, just the opposite. Defending North Carolina from an invasion of a foreign government WAS fighting for one's country. A second problem with this statement is that he says the Confederates, "waged war." If self-defense against an invasion is "waging war," I need to go back and correct most of my history books. Poland did not "wage war" on Germany. They defended themselves, unsuccessfully. The same can be said for the South. Dr. Aucoin's statement is absurd from a historical point of view. Only someone effected by revisionism would make such a claim.

Dr. Aucoin again plays fast and loose with the facts as he tries to pin the South with the moral stain of fighting for the expansion of slavery. He cites "documents published at the time by delegates from the states that seceded from the Union, starting with South Carolina. Its secession delegates defined states as 'slaveholding' and 'non-slaveholding,' and said that slaveholding states had broken the contract of the union of the United States by refusing to capture and return runaway slaves."

Two things should be noted from the outset. 1) The vast majority of monuments are not to the governmental policy of the Southern states or their politicians, they are to soldiers who fought to protect their homes. 2) Even if Southern states seceded in order to perpetuate slavery, this still does not mean the soldiers were fighting for it. In fact, there are extremely good reasons to believe the perpetuation of slavery had nothing to do with the war itself. When someone confuses the causes for secession with the causes for the war (and the monuments dedicated to the soldiers of that war) you know they are deceiving you. With those two observations out of the way, let us examine the statement more closely.

Aucoin cites original “documents” as proof for the South’s nefarious reason in secession. There are two things however he does not do. 1) He does not cite the secession documents of the upper South. South Carolina, along with other lower southern states DO sight the institution of slavery as being related to their motivation to secede, but about half the states DO NOT. For instance, Virginia does not mention slavery except to refer to “slave states” as a matter of distinction between regions. The mobilization of Federal troops for the purpose of invasion had more to do with the upper South’s reason for secession. 2) He does not put the question of slavery in historical context. Slavery was not a moral question, but an economic and a political question. For more information on this I refer people to my blog (therisingseed.blogspot.com) where you can read articles on the economic, constitutional, and political question of slavery. Long story short, as Jefferson Davis said, slavery was not the CAUSE, but rather the OCCASION for conflict. The North’s insistence on disallowing blacks from the territories in order to keep them for free white labor, the insistence of abolitionists in wanting the South to emancipate without any plan to compensate or integrate former slaves into the North, and constitutional questions of the Fugitive Slave Act and the allowance of slaves (and thereby Southern political influence) into the territories that would gain statehood, must be part of any discussion on how slavery relates to secession.

Aucoin neglects any of the questions that would cast the political situation of the 1860s in a more nuanced and balanced light. Instead he opts to let the reader assume a black and white false dilemma, insinuating that the South was in the black. We read in the article, “‘Often times the debate over the Civil War is whether the southern states seceded because of states’ rights or because of slavery,’ Aucoin said. ‘In part, it’s both, but mainly it’s because of slavery. States’ rights is simply the basis upon which they seceded.’ Aucoin quotes from the documents’ assertions of the 'undeniable truth' that Africans were an inferior race.” As shown previously, State’s rights vs. slavery as the cause for the war is an oversimplification. Aucoin seems to admit the false dilemma, but then turn right around as if to wink and say, “But we really know it’s over slavery!” A more accurate historical way to view “State’s rights vs. slavery” is to admit that the war was over State’s rights, and secession was partially connected to the political question of slavery. The central question of the war was, “Is a state allowed to leave?” A question the 13 original colonies were fortunate enough to have answered in the affirmative in contrast with their Southern descendants. The central question of secession was, “Would the South stay in a union in which the Constitution of that union was trampled on?” The South’s rights were not secure from her point of view. The tariff, the postal crisis, denominational divisions, the American System, the question of Southern influence in the territories, the disregard for the Fugitive Slave Act, John Brown and other radical abolitionists attempts to encourage slave insurrections, all factored into this question. To oversimplify the issue and then follow up with a quote about racial superiority is irresponsible—especially for a time in which almost every American (including Lincoln) believed in a kind of racial superiority. Racism is a weight large enough for both regions of America to bear.

Dr. Aucoin continues his anti-Southern address by turning our minds toward the purpose of Confederate monuments. He states, “The monuments, along with lynchings and segregation, he said, were intended to remind African Americans in the South that, ‘This is a white man’s region. We are superior. You are inferior. You need to know your place and as long as you maintain your place, we will have peace between the races. But if you challenge white supremacy, you will pay a high price.’”    This may be the most ridiculous statement of all. Dr. Aucoin has taken on an unbearable burden of proof without, well, giving any proof! Aucoin teaches at an institution that prides itself on “exegetical preaching.” In other words, letting the text speak for itself and not imposing external meanings onto the text. This is however precisely what Dr. Aucoin does with history. He imposes an outside meaning, and one that will not ride no matter how many carrots you give it. Fortunately for lover’s of Dixie, civic groups which erected monuments left no doubt as to their true intentions in the form of plaques. I’ve probably seen hundreds of Confederate monuments, and not one of them says a thing about slavery or white “supremacy.” What they do talk about are sacrifice, honor, and bravery. They are to soldiers. Those who sacrificed life and limb for hearth and home. Now the question must be asked, “Why are those who agree with Dr. Aucoin hard-pressed to furnish proof?” If they can demonstrate that the majority of monuments incorporate racially insensitive language in their plaques it wouldn’t be such a hard sell. This proof does not exist however. Dr. Aucoin’s position would require us to believe that in a culture thoroughly embedded with racism, for some odd reason the racists who lived in it were not allowed to express their “real” feelings. . . because why? If the culture is racist, there would be no repercussion. Such is the absurdity that Dr. Aucoin wants us to buy into. I can’t speak for everyone, but this seminary student will continue to interpret both Confederate statues and the Bible exegetically.
   
The article ends with Dr. Aucoin quoted as stating that monuments “probably should not be on the grounds of government institutions, like the one that stood outside the old Durham County Courthouse before it was toppled by protesters.” It is a sad day indeed when those defending a local community should be barred from being honored by that community. I wonder whether or not Dr. Aucoin makes a distinction between Federal, State, and local authority? I’m not sure what the answer is, but one thing I am sure of- I am concerned for the institution I am attending. Dr. Aucoin is not alone in his sentiments. I do know there are professors who disagree, but they tend to keep quiet. One told me not too long ago that if he told people what he really thought he would likely be fired. That is not the kind of environment where learning can thrive. There must be debate. There must be opportunity for challenge. There must be humility. Instead what I’m noticing more and more is an arrogance—a pride that says, “We can slander and disregard our Christian ancestors, especially to the sound of the applause coming from the world.” If the seminary continues in this direction it will not survive. The church must be different from the world, not attempting to gain the world’s respect or acceptance. One day Southern Baptists will learn that they will not achieve the acceptance they're looking for, this student just hopes it will not be too late.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Gospel- The Only Solution For Racism


If You Want to Really know what the "Civil War" Was Over. . .

I have received numerous messages from people asking me if I can explain clauses in various secession documents from the lower South that seem to indicate that the Confederacy seceded over the issue of slavery. These are good questions. The quick response is that these clauses had nothing to do with the moral question of slavery. As Jefferson Davis said, slavery was an occasion, but not a cause of the conflict between North and South. It was the political question of slavery. Could well-to-do Southerners take their slaves into the Territories. The Constitution said, "yes," the Republican party and abolitionists said, "no."

Northerners did not want Southern influence in the territories for a few reasons. Once the territories gained state-hood they may also be Southern in character and therefore not support the Northern commercial philosophy ("American System"). Northerners wanted to ensure that high protective tariffs would continue and that infrastructure projects would be paid for by the government at tax payer expense. Another reason the North opposed slavery in the territories was that they were opposed to black labor competing with white labor. Republicans wanted the newly formed states to be for white labor, and white people only. Many Northerners wanted the South to abolish slavery, but without allowing the slave-masters to be compensated for the money that they had originally paid to Northeastern flesh merchants.They also did not want the free blacks that would result from emancipation to be integrated into Northern society. They had to stay in the South. Northern "Jim Crow" laws made sure of this. Many Southerners did want to free their slaves, but without compensation and integration it would be impractical immediately.

Thus as you can see the issue is more complicated and less cartoonish then we are lead to believe. This being said, the motivations of the lower South which were concerned with 1) The breaking of the Constitution and 2) The tariff were not the same as the motivations of the upper South. The upper South saw the invasion of the lower South as a thread to the very fabric of American government. They seceded in an attempt to defend themselves from an expanding national government. If one looks at the motivations for the North invading, one comes up short with a slavery narrative. For more in-depth analysis I refer you to two excellent articles on the issue. If you have not received a Southern-side-of-the-war education, I suggest you read them and become familiar with what the historians have conveniently left out.

The Lincoln Myth: Ideological Cornerstone of the America Empire
How We Know The So-Called “Civil War” Was Not Over Slavery

For further study on slavery as a political question from a Southern point of view I suggest Dr. Donald Livingston's Paper Yes, But What About Slavery?

5 Reasons to Keep Confederate Memorials




Why I Defend the Confederacy

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The "Civil War" Was NOT About Slavery

By: Jonathan Harris

Perhaps the most oft-repeated inaccurate historical assumption about American history to have been foisted upon the public by so great a class of educators ranging from ignorant to prejudiced is the idea that the “‘Civil War’ was about slavery.” Packed into this conveniently vague statement are all the stereotypical assumptions concerning racism and slavery as “moral questions” painted upon a political canvas. To the victor goes the spoils, including historical interpretation—or in this case—down-right falsification. But a noble reason must be given to justify the taking of 750,000 lives.

The war itself was over one question—Does an American state have the right to leave the union (as the thirteen original colonies left Great Britain). This is why Southerners commonly say the war was over “State’s Rights.” Secession itself was over a number of conflicts that separated two very different worldviews—that of the orthodox Christian and traditionally conservative South, and the increasingly humanistic and progressively utopian North.

Spiritually, secession was over Biblical Authority. Christian denominations split over Northern insistence that a moral law outside of Scripture declared the relationship between master and slave to be sinful in and of itself. Southern Christians supported scriptural restrictions on the institution, but it was a bridge too far for them to accept the spiritual authority of a section of the country hypocritically benefitting from the profits of the transatlantic slave trade, while simultaneously beginning the adoption of Darwinism and higher criticism. Southerners could look for political ways to end the slave trade, something the Confederate constitution directly restricted, but they could not call sin what God had not called sin.

Socially, secession was over Northern aggression. In the years leading up to the war, Southerners became increasingly worried that radical elements in the North were hell-bent on vilifying and subsequently destroying the South. The Postal Crisis, the effect of anti-southern publications, the tolerance for and even championing of “slave insurrections” all served to fan the flames of sectional division. Southerners found themselves portrayed as the source of the national sins of backwardness, ignorance, and slavery. Why could the North not focus on its own flaws? The conditions for children and immigrants in Northern factories, the kind of prejudice that existed against free blacks, and the dehumanization that came with commercialism were out of step with the agrarian South. Yet the South did not seek to re-make New England in its image. The favor however was not returned and the South did not want to be New England.

Politically, secession was over the implications of Northern dominance in the general government. The South had long been in a political struggle with New Englanders dating back to the 3/5 compromise. The South favored Agrarianism, free trade, and Constitutional originalism. The North championed industrialism, social programs, and a generous reading of the constitution. Perhaps both sections could have lived in peace if it were not for one thing—The North wanted the South to pay for its “American System,” even if it meant subverting the Constitution. The North had threatened to secede many times before the war based on the fear that the West would alliance with the South and dominate the general government. Now it was the South’s turn to fear. In 1828 South Carolina narrowly dodged an invasion of federal troops over the states nullification of the “Tariff of Abominations,” which as one contemporary said, gave the North in effect 40 out of every 100 bales of Southern cotton. Between this event and the war, the North and South were in a death struggle to see if New England commercial interests would be allowed to dominate the country. It is at this point that the question of slavery enters the discussion—not as a moral question, but as an economic one. The question was not over the “expansion of slavery.” Outlawing slaves from entering the territories did nothing to effect the total number of slaves. What it did do however was keep influential Southerners from moving into the territory, thus ensuring that when it became a state, it would have been under Northern influence. What it also did was keep blacks from competing with white labor and becoming an undesirable presence in the community. The North cared about subjecting the South, not the plight of blacks. With the dreaded “Morrill Tariff” on the horizon and the election of a president who was more than happy to enforce it while restricting Southern influence in the West—The South knew it was doomed. The war and subsequent Northern victory only confirmed that its suspicions were correct. The “Civil War” was NOT about slavery.

For more info on slavery as a political question, check out Brion Mcclanahan’s podcast this week!