Visualizing the Lost Cause

Check out the excellent video that Caitlin, from Vast Public Indifference, put together in response to one of my recent posts on Civil War art.  Caitlin’s commentary begins around 2:10.  The video is here, but I encourage you to read her full post, which includes another video.  Does anyone really believe that the images in this video reflect how white Virginians lived?  More to the point, do people who fall into the demographic of those who are attracted to this “maudlin crapfest” actually believe that this reflects how they would have lived in antebellum Virginia?  Even a cursory understanding of Virginia’s antebellum history demonstrates that many believed the commonwealth was headed in the wrong direction [click here and here].  Can we do no better than yearn for a return to a time when slavery was accepted?  Such nostalgic silliness is nothing less than a yearning to return to slavery.

I am going to show this to my Civil War Memory class tomorrow.  They are currently working on their final projects and a number of them are putting together videos from our trip to Richmond as well as collections of various images related to memory.  Well done, Caitlin.

Update: Check out the obligatory response from Richard Williams who can’t think of anything more interesting to say other than to accuse us of South bashing [blah, blah, blah].  Do you really find the history of the Confederacy and the antebellum South in these images?  Scary and just a little disturbing – no offense.

9 responses... add one

Thanks for the heads-up on this Kevin. An excellent clip, and it raises a number of questions about the act of “remembrance” of the Civil War in modern times.

What a powerful video! The romantic Lost-Cause Images ignore both slavery and the ordinary whites who fought, died, or were impoverished by the “Cause.” I’m going to share with my Civil War colleagues at Texas State U.

Vikki Bynum
http://www. renegadesouth.com

You are absolutely right. And once again, the point I was trying to make is that the people who find this stuff to be so alluring today more than likely would have been living in a very different economic/social class compared with what is depicted in these images. In that sense these images function as escapism.

I did see once a Confederate flag with the legend “The South Will Rise Again” …. on the wall of the hangout of some German skinheads … the type that fire-bomb hostels of immigrants & laugh about it afterwards, or kick the living daylights of a poor Turkish man caught walking alone.

Yes, indeed, Robert E., the lost cause has come a long, long way.

Addendum to my previous post .. I should have added that the Confederate flag had equal billing with the Swastika.

Now, why would a bunch of brutal German neo-Nazis consider the Confederates as kindred spirits?

Yes, German skinheads have been known for using the symbol of the Confederate flag, but let's not reduce the symbol simply to any one group. It's meaning is much more complex and interesting than what you have chosen to acknowledge. Thanks for the comment.

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