OPINION: The GOP's Neo-Confederate Problem, Rewriting The Civil War

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The GOP has a neo-confederate problem. Rather than viewing slavery as a genocidal crime, many in the Republican party seem to view it as a romantic, proud way of life defended by noble warriors who were defending their states’ rights, culture and way of life in the Civil War.

Recently the governor of Virginia, declared April, Confederate History Month. To many African Americans, the Confederacy is a reminder of slavery, brutality, dehumanization, rape and murder. Still, many southern white Americans hold the Confederacy, its history and its flag in high acclaim.

Can you imagine if states in Germany began showing off the Nazi flag? What if a state in Germany declared Nazi history month or people began bringing Nazi flags to protests supported by a political party like Tea Party protesters use Confederate flags. The confederate flag has been used as symbol for racism both before and after the Civil War and to African Americans, shares the same connotations as the Swastika.

Still it seems as if the Republicans, especially southern members of the party, are holding on to Confederate history and pride. Despite the fact that both slavery and the Confederacy are viewed as being on the wrong side of history, many right wingers have their own revisionist history in which the South was the victim and the north was to blame for the war, while ignoring slavery.

Several prominent republicans have attached themselves to the Confederacy, they are known as neo-confederates. One neo-confederate who has recently come to prominence is South Carolina congressman, Joe Wilson. Wilson gained national media exposure by yelling “You Lie!!!” during Obama’s speech.

Wilson is a member of Sons Of Confederate Veterans, the group that lobbied for Confederate History Month in Virginia. The group started off to preserve southern heritage but has recently been taken over by neo-confederate extremist “lunatics” who want to secede from the union again, see slavery as a benign institution and belong in camps named after Jesse James and John Wilkes Booth (the man who assassinated Lincoln).

Joe Wilson is not the only Republican with neo-confederate ties. Republican congressman, Ron Paul has also has several ties to neo-confederates and has expressed neo-confederate ideas. Paul told Tim Russert that he believes that the Civil War was unnecessary and that the north should have bought the slaves back from the south to end slavery.

Ron Paul is also closely tied to the Ludwig Von Mises institute. The SPLC labels the Ludwig Von Mises a neo-confederate organization. Ron Paul’s former chief of staff, Lew Rockwell, Paul’s close friend and former chief of staff heads the organization. Of the Civil War, Rockwell said it “transformed the American regime from a federalist system based on freedom to a centralized state that circumscribed liberty in the name of public order.” Ludwig Von Mises publications have been very supportive of southern secession.

Several members of the racist League of The South, which credits Rockwell as a founding member, have spoken and give presentations at the Von Mises Institute. The SPLC labels the League of The South as a hate group and that they believe the “godly” nation it wants to form should be run by an “Anglo-Celtic” (read: white) elite that would establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate blacks and other minorities.”

Paul has also been publicly endorsed the works of Thomas Dilorenzo. Dilorenzo is a senior faculty member at the Von Mises institute and also an affiliated scholar of the racist League Of The South. Dilorenzo has published several books about the civil war. In “The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War,” Dilorenzo argues that the Civil war was a war to prevent southern independence and blames Lincoln for the war while defending the Confederacy. Ron Paul would use that book to back up his claim that the Civil War was an unnecessary war that Lincoln was to blame for on MSNBC.

The problem with Ron Paul, Joe Wilson and the many neo-confederates who support or work in the Republican party is that you can not separate slavery and the Confederacy, once you defend one, you defend the other. That is like separating Nazis and the holocaust.

The history of the south that should be celebrated, is the noble Blacks and Whites who fought against slavery, not those who fought for it. In order for the south to move past its history, it must condemn the practice of slavery and those who fought to preserve it. I know this may be hard for people whose relatives may have fought in the war, but they must respect the many more people whose relatives who were enslaved, murdered and raped due to slavery.

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