Celebrating Confederate Heritage in Bloomington, Indiana

I wonder if the Confederate Heritage folks will rally around Thomas Buhls, who earlier today tried to celebrate Confederate heritage in Indiana with a sign that read, “CELEBRATE YOUR WHITE HERITAGE.”  I have no idea whether Mr. Buhls is a native southerner, but of course that shouldn’t matter much.  Confederate heritage transcends race, gender, and region.  Like Hunter Wallace, Buhls seems to embrace a narrative of the Confederacy that actually conforms to its history.  That’s right, the Confederacy was organized as a slaveholding republic built on white supremacy that was forced to fight for its independence and failed.  Buhls and Wallace are much closer to the views of Alexander Stephens and other pro-Confederate nationalists than most heritage types today who water down and distort this history and fantasize that the Confederacy was some kind of experiment in civil rights.  While I find their embrace of white supremacy to be utterly appalling, at least it is grounded in something that reflects Confederate history.

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17 thoughts on “Celebrating Confederate Heritage in Bloomington, Indiana

  1. Connie Chastain

    >>>I wonder if the Confederate Heritage folks will rally around Thomas Buhls, who earlier today tried to celebrate Confederate heritage in Indiana with a sign that read, “CELEBRATE YOUR WHITE HERITAGE.” <<<]

    Why do you wonder that? Do you imagine such "rallying" to be commonplace in the Southern heritage community? It isn't. The vast majority of Southern heritage advocates are not white supremacists. Therefore, I can only assume you're "wondering" in order to smear people you don't like because they see things differently than you do.

    Most Southern soldiers fought to protect their homes, families and communities from a barbaric military invader, but of course that's not useful in tarring, smearing and demonizing white Southerners with the racism brush, is it?

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    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      I am not surprised that you completely missed the point of the post.

      Most Southern soldiers fought to protect their homes, families and communities from a barbaric military invader…

      Sorry Connie, but you have never demonstrated any knowledge of what white southerners believed they were fighting for during the Civil War.

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    2. Brooks D. Simpson

      I’ve always wondered why certain people who claim that Confederate heritage isn’t racist fail to denounce those Confederate heritage advocates who embrace racism with the same passion and enthusiasm with which they denounce so-called enemies of Confederate heritage. You would think that they would want to mark their distance from racists if they are really concerned about being tainted by the charge of racism … but then again, given their own bigoted and intolerant rantings, perhaps they don’t really object all that much after all.

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      1. Kevin Levin Post author

        Hi Brooks,

        True, but some of them go out of their way to denounce folks like Thomas Buhls, who they believe have hijacked Confederate heritage. That is what I find so interesting. You have done an incredible job of teasing this out at Crossroads. I don’t know anything about Buhls, but Wallace Hunter is a more interesting case since he is well-versed in the history of the South and the Confederacy. His Confederate heritage is neatly wrapped up in the history as opposed to the SHPG and others who live in a fantasy world re: the region’s history. The only way that they can be denounced is if you somehow accept that heritage and history need not intersect whatsoever.

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    3. Michael Douglas

      “Most Southern soldiers fought to protect their homes, families and communities from a barbaric military invader, . . .”

      I doubt you truly know what “most” Confederate soldiers actually fought for. What we do know is that their overlords started, and sent them to, a war devised to perpetuate and expand a barbaric practice called chattel slavery.

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      1. Joshua Horn

        Of course the war probably would have not come about without slavery. Of course some southerners fought for slavery. But if you read the scholarly studies of the common soldier’s motivations, you will find that the common Southern mentions defense of home, family and independence far more than slavery.

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        1. Kevin Levin Post author

          But if you read the scholarly studies of the common soldier’s motivations, you will find that the common Southern mentions defense of home, family and independence far more than slavery.

          Much of the recent literature, however, acknowledges that the defense of home and family was not independent of slavery. This clearly emerges at certain stages of the war such as the summer of 1864 when Lee’s men first confronted large numbers of black Union soldiers. Their letters and diaries clearly draw a very close connection between the defense of home front and slavery.

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  2. Joshua Horn

    Of course racism is part of the full Confederate story. But it is to some extent part of the North’s story as well. I’m sure you have seen the racist statements that Lincoln made in his debates with Douglas. Both the SCV and those who point to the heritage from the North should not deny the problems of their respective heroes, and instead acknowledge and learn from them.

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    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      But it is to some extent part of the North’s story as well.

      Of course it is, but the story of the United States includes a much broader narrative when it comes to race and slavery. The Confederacy came into existence in order to protect white supremacy and slavery. Fortunately, it failed in that quest.

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    2. Bob Huddleston

      Those supporting the justice of the Rebel cause like to change the subject, basically arguing that both sides were racist.
      But Yankee racism is irrelevant: it was the slave state leadership who attempted secession to preserve slavery and who were willing to start a war to protect their Peculiar Institution. The average Yankee reacted, not to destroy slavery, but to preserve the Union. In 1861 and later the average Yankee did not care if slavery continued or was destroyed: the destruction of slavery came as the Unionist realized the Union could not continue if slavery survived.
      Of course, by Y2K standards, the number of non-racists in the entire country can practically be counted on the fingers of one hand. But, by mid-19th Century standards, Lincoln was a near Radical. And no matter how racist the comments of free state residents may sound to us, the Yankees rejected the ultimate racism of the slave states: the Northerners did not want slavery anywhere around them.

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      1. Lindsay

        They may not have wanted it “near” them as you say but they had no problem profiting from it either…but then again, as long as they weren’t the ones actually owning the slaves then they are absolved from all guilt I guess.

        On another note, there are many out there who can appreciate and honor their family and regional history without being racist. Racism in our country has come from BOTH sides (white and black)…yes, the South had slavery, an awful practice, but so did many other places in the world at one point or another – INCLUDING the North. The South fought for it because their economy and livelihoods depended on it – was racism a component too? Sure…but racism didn’t originate in the South.

        It almost feels like you and those who regularly comment want anyone from the South to proclaim how awful and terrible their ancestors are…talk about Southerners as if they are the worst of the worst because of their past. Post after post and comment after comment of South/Confederacy bashing is getting old to those of us who visit to expand our knowledge base.

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        1. Kevin Levin Post author

          On another note, there are many out there who can appreciate and honor their family and regional history without being racist.

          Of course they can. I for one have never suggested otherwise.

          Let me be clear that the history of the South/Confederacy is as much my history as anyone else. What I take issue with is when claims of heritage identification come at the expense of an honest historical account.

          It almost feels like you and those who regularly comment want anyone from the South to proclaim how awful and terrible their ancestors are…talk about Southerners as if they are the worst of the worst because of their past. Post after post and comment after comment of South/Confederacy bashing is getting old to those of us who visit to expand our knowledge base.

          Personally, I don’t see this as a battle between northerners and southerners.

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        2. Michael Douglas

          “. . .but then again, as long as they weren’t the ones actually owning the slaves then they are absolved from all guilt I guess. . . .”

          What an odd statement to make considering that standard straw man argument of “There was slavery in the North too!” I mean, it’s a bit disingenuous to state that the North practiced slavery when it’s convenient; then turn around and imply the North didn’t when *that’s* convenient.

          “. . .talk about Southerners as if they are the worst of the worst because of their past. Post after post and comment after comment of South/Confederacy bashing is getting old to those of us who visit to expand our knowledge base. . . .”

          Now see, the only word for that statement is that it’s a lie. You have not seen anyone here blaming “Southerners for their past.” What you’ve seen is Confederate apologists getting called on their misrepresentations, untruths and refusal to admit certain truths about the Confederacy and the conflict. Telling historical truths is not bashing. And the “South” is NOT the Confederacy, so stop conflating the two.

          And there’s a difference between wanting to “expand our knowledge base” and wanting to see the Confederacy glorified and canonized. History is full of unpleasant truths. The true seeker after knowledge accepts those along with the facts that he or she deems palatable.

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    3. Michael Douglas

      However, we usually don’t find the educated or intellectually honest individual denying the Union’s investment in slavery or Lincoln’s reputed racist attitudes. We do, though, see many Confederate apologists denying that their cultural forebears started a war to defend a perceived threat to slavery, and attempting to convince others that slavery was essentially a benign institution.

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      1. Kevin Levin Post author

        However, we usually don’t find the educated or intellectually honest individual denying the Union’s investment in slavery…

        I think we have to tread carefully as I believe it comes out in more subtle ways than is typically acknowledged.

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        1. Michael Douglas

          I’m intrigued by that statement and would appreciate your thoughts. A future blog post maybe? :) Unlike some, I have no problem with being corrected if I’m in error.

          Reply

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