Wednesday, July 08, 2015

1509 The Land of Cotton

1509 The Land of Cotton

It was Carl Sandburg who said the Civil War was about one word: “is.”

Sounds like Bill Clinton. But much more… poetic. What Sandburg meant was that before the war you said “the United States are…” a country but after, you had to say “the United States is.”

Maybe the war that officially ended in 1865 -- that’s 150 years ago! -- may at last be winding down.  But don’t hold your breath.

“I wish I was (sic) in the land of cotton
Old times there are not forgotten…”

No, old times there are not forgotten.  Those good old days when people “knew their place.”  And some even had their very own public restrooms, water fountains and hotels.  And for those, the minimum wage was zero dollars and zero cents an hour.

The man credited or blamed for the words and music, Daniel Emmett, was writing from the viewpoint of the white southern ladies and gentlemen of the mid 1800s. And where in Dixie was he from?  Knox County. Ohio. That’s northeast of Columbus and southwest of Cleveland.  The old south? Hardly.

A song that celebrates slavery.  From an Ohio yankee.

Perfect aural backdrop to the flag that celebrates slavery, designed by William Tappan Thompson.  Tappan owned a newspaper in Georgia but was also was born in that stronghold of southern culture, Ohio.

Good we got that all cleared up.  The two most important symbols of that era of southern culture were created by northerners.

Only in America.

So the flag may or may not come down in places it never belonged.  But don’t worry, reenactors, civil war buffs and white supremacists, the battle flag will still fly bravely in the hearts of millions.

We Americans are said to be the least likely to fall in love with symbols.  And to an extent, that’s true.  Terrorists demolish the World Trade Center… a tragedy, a terrible loss of life.  But as a symbol of US commerce, the buildings themselves didn’t mean all that much.  We rebuilt.  Stuck a replacement symbol down the throats of our enemies. Only lower.

The Confederate “battle” flag, as that schmatta now is more widely known, won’t go down as easily.

A friend suggests it’s a flag of losers.  And it is.  And treasonists.


--The Civil War gave us more disease than slavery and the flag. Up until the mid 1800s, almost no one owned a firearm but this was the war that started us on the road to the troubles we face today. It started our most dangerous fettish, the remote control death machine.

--Europe’s current civil war is more civil than ours was and more lopsided.  This time, it’s most of the Eurozone on one side and Greece on the other.  This one will not end well either.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015

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