Neo-Confederates and Holocaust Deniers

Posted on February 1, 2013 by

Ninety percent of white voters in Mississippi opposed Barack Obama in the last election.  I was thinking about that when I read Chris Hedges piece about what he calls the “rise of neo-confederate ideology in the south.”

A strident critic of American institutions, Hedges is inclined to demonize the “liberal class” – including our president – and is usually too extreme for my taste.

But in comparing “the rewriting a history in the south” to “Holocaust deniers,” he got my attention.

Pointing out that four states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi – honor the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and that “re-enactments of Confederate victories in the Civil War crowd Southern calendars” Hedges continues:

The steady rise of ethnic nationalism over the past decade, the replacing of history with mendacious and sanitized versions of lost glory, is part of the moral decay that infects a dying culture. It is a frightening attempt, by those who are desperate and trapped, to escape through invented history their despair, impoverishment and hopelessness….

Violence becomes in this perverted belief system a cleansing agent, a way to restore a lost world. There are ample historical records that disprove the myths espoused by the neo-Confederates, who insist the Civil War was not about slavery but states’ rights and the protection of traditional Christianity. But these records are useless in puncturing their self-delusion, just as documentary evidence does nothing to blunt the self-delusion of Holocaust deniers.

Hedges conclusion is chilling:

Those who retreat into fantasy cannot be engaged in rational discussion, for fantasy is all that is left of their tattered self-esteem. When their myths are attacked as untrue it triggers not a discussion of facts and evidence but a ferocious emotional backlash. The challenge of the myth threatens what is left of hope….

Comments (3)

 

  1. Alan says:

    It is this kind of literate, intelligent analysis that infuriates these people…that triggers their triggers.

    All of what is said, and summed-up in the conclusion, applies to the those opposed to the current attempt to have a rational exploration of how to control gun violence in America.

    There is real anger that seethes below the surface of the whacka doodle paranoia that thinks that guns will be needed to ‘take back our country’; that our government is “the enemy.”

    Because there appears to be no way of reaching these people with reason, facts, or even love they may, in the end, be setting themselves up for their own demise, through their
    unbridled failure to accommodate any vision other than their own warped one.

    Too bad but we are arriving at a place where the society cannot survive their continued hostility and the danger they pose to all around them.

  2. Lewis Levy says:

    Fantastic analysis and, sadly, very true with regard to where- in my view – the majority of southern/rural whites are these days. Keep the good stuff coming Lou!

  3. marc says:

    As to Lou and Hedges’ comments, I would note a few observations. Using a comparison of Holocaust deniers to advance an argument is disgusting and offensive. I also won’t attempt to teach basic history as to the civil war but I would like to address the quoted material:

    “The steady rise of ethnic nationalism over the past decade, the replacing of history with mendacious and sanitized versions of lost glory, is part of the moral decay that infects a dying culture. It is a frightening attempt, by those who are desperate and trapped, to escape through invented history their despair, impoverishment and hopelessness….”

    I am not sure what decade he is referring but his argument is not only wrong it is backwards. Since he likes to use the Holocaust in his argument its only right to correct it. First, in the real world, history is not written by the impoverished, hopeless, lower class people. It is written and rewritten by those in power in order to retain and expand that power. When Adolph Hitler ran for office and was democratically elected, the basis of that election was not hate. But rather rebuilding a war torn/economically depressed country. Once in power, he rewrote “history” created new “facts” etc and took power. Examples are rampant throughout history that the victor shall write the history, which is why it is so important that we keep track of those in power. How the argument could be seriously made that these “desperate, trapped” people are what we should worry about is just beyond me.

    As for the comment, it is really not at all thoughtful. The author seems to use mental gymnastics to verbally assault a group of people that under his definition, I doubt exist. I would doubt there is much of a belief in this country that a “revolt” against the government would ever be necessary or even successful. The more interesting aspect, I doubt intentionally, is that the author is correct in alluding to the fact that the right to bear arms was included in the constitution not to protect hunters but to allow the people and their respective state to potentially defend the state and its people from an intrusion or attack by the federal government in violation of the Constitution. Thus the issue is whether people wish for this right to be maintained. If people like the author wish for it to be changed they should simply pass a Constitutional amendment. We live in a democracy with a Constitution that provides for changes through a democratic process. What creates stability is a fair consistent (due) process where intellectual honesty and free thinking debate is welcomed but the result accepted without personal attacks. Both the opinions raised reek of deep seeded bigotry and disdain for the democratic process. What is most disturbing is the last sentence of the comment. This sentence is something I could easily imagine in some newspaper under the control of a fascist or dictator that wants to remind his people why he had to take away their freedom. I would suggest he may want to read 1984 and a few books on history to augment his “knowledge”.

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