Came across this list today of 26 Things To Know About Mississippi Before You Move There, & it’s just a bit disconcerting to read concerning my home state.
First of all, Mississippi seems to be the bastard black sheep in the United States. I couldn’t tell you how many things I’ve read where people wish this state would fall off in to the ocean or would just be obliterated. Most Mississippians, myself included, hate that we are hated so much, but on the other hand we also don’t really want people liking us so much that they move here in droves. It’s a complicated situation.
For one, we do not like people changing us or telling us what to do, mainly outsiders. I’ll probably lose any readers of this article right here, but I’m going to tell it like it is, and I find most people don’t like me for that, but I’d rather be me than what you want me to be, which ties in really well to the feelings of Mississippi as a state.
#’s 1 & 2 are really tied up together. I would probably be labeled as a Southern Sympathizer by the rest of the nation, & then yet a traitor by most southerners standards, but I always only speak from logic and truth. Not merely my opinion as logic and truth, but things based in the past; written documents and such.
Just like this 1% debate that’s been going around for a few years now, this was Mississippi, and generally the south, up to, during, and right after the Civil War. Everyone seems to believe that everyone in the south were white wealthy people and black slaves. That all of the wealthy white people rallied for the cause and fought the Civil War so as to keep their slaves. With a small percentage of people in the south actually being white, wealthy land owners this is a very poor explanation of the events that happened during that time.
People also like to conveniently forget that the north also owned slaves and also had segregation, which I find ridiculous. People not from the south, will cite that bringing this up has no relevance to anything, but I completely disagree. Their choice to ignore their own history is detrimental because they’re putting all of their denied guilt and wrong doings onto us, meaning the south, but more importantly, it creates an environment where the lives of those who were enslaved in the north, or who went through northern segregation are forgotten. Their lives have ceased to exist; it didn’t happen. What a slap in the face to all of those people who suffered so horribly and wrongly! Yet, it’s supposed to remain covered up? How dare you not acknowledge or atone for your past wrongs.
I will agree that the main reason that white, wealthy land owners joined the cause was to keep their way of life; to not have the north interfere with slavery, but those land owners were not the majority of the population by a long shot. The majority of the non-enslaved population were poor workers and immigrants, who would never fight for slavery. Some hated slavery, others just didn’t care because it was not something they were dealing with, the way most humans, even today, don’t deal with something unless it directly affects them. There were all sorts of reasons that southerners fought in the Confederacy. The main point of the cause was simply an agreed message of ‘don’t fucking tell me what to do, I deserve freedom!’ Which is more than a bit hypocritical coming from the low population of wealthy land owners since they were denying freedom to others.
But most people in the south could jump on the freedom bandwagon because most were downtrodden or had come from nations where they were downtrodden. There were even groups of Irish and Scottish immigrants who donned their kilts and raised their own battle flags and simply fought each other over ancient disputes. They were technically rounded into the Confederate/fighting for the south corner, but were only battling out their own issues. Other reasons people fought for the south were because if they did not support the Confederacy, by either fighting in the war or by supporting the war effort, they would lose their jobs, which was something they could not afford to do.
As for the rebel flag, it too like the Civil War has many meanings behind it. Any of the Confederate Battle Flags being flown today in the south are not the original Confederate Battle Flag. Some are loosely based on one of the original designs or incorporate Confederate Navy with Confederate Army battle flags. Some are more closely connected in design.
Some people absolutely adore the battle flag and use it as an oppressive means for their supposed superiority as a white male. Some people see it as a simply a flag, with no ill connotations behind it and claim southern heritage as their reason for flying the colours. But this is a touchy matter. What southern heritage are you referring to exactly? You being poor and downtrodden and not wanting someone ruling your business? I do think that’s part of their reasoning… everyone’s reasoning actually. But I think these people mainly think of the romanticized antebellum era with its colonnade mansions, crinoline hoop skirts and some sort of chivalry. Which yes, by itself is nice, but it leaves out a huge glaring detail; that one needed enslaved people to actually make that lifestyle work. It’s like romaticizing any other former time in history, but simply neglecting that people went to the bathroom through slits in their clothing, rarely bathed, ate rotting food, died of contagious infections and diseases en mass, etc. Leaving a portion out of history doesn’t make history go away.
Most of the population of the south did and still does agree with the main point of the cause, which is freedom. If you are a younger sibling you will completely understand this analogy. On a basic level, the Union was the older sibling, while the Confederacy was the younger sibling. The younger sibling wants to stretch out on their own, make their own decisions, make their own mistakes and learn from them. Younger siblings do not understand older siblings telling them no or how to do things. Younger siblings do not understand when older siblings can do something and tell the younger one not to do it. Younger siblings do not like being defeated and having the older sibling rub it in, always bringing it up, never letting it go. It’s like pouring salt into an open wound. Younger siblings do not like being told they are included, when really they are just there to be the butt of the joke.
It sounds juvenile, but this is a pattern with humans. During the Revolutionary War, the Patriots (which means us as would become the United States) were the Confederacy and the British and Loyalists were the Union for that time period. The Patriots were seen as juvenile, while the British were the older sibling or the parent. The United States, generally speaking, is still seen as quite juvenile compared to the older nations in Europe. We’re seen as the bratty teenager. There is always a dominant and there is always one that wants to be their own person.
I’m not defending the Confederacy, but there’s also more to a story than simply the cover of the book. Assumptions are made, things are hidden. It’s messy and I don’t like it. While it is cruel and unreasonable to judge an entire nation or group on the actions of a few, so to is it cruel and unreasonable to judge the entirety of the Confederate men who fought and or died during the civil war, based on one item alone. It is also cruel and unreasonable to judge the entirely of the Union for the actions of a few.
Just as there were abolitionists in the north, there were abolitionists in the south. Just as there were wealthy slave owners in the south, there were wealthy slave owners in the north. Just as there were people who didn’t give a fuck about the lives of the enslaved in the south, there were those people in the north. Southerners don’t like to be judged, but I also find that they themselves judge. What they hate that is done to them, they do to others. Most southerners love to cite how the Yankees burned and pillaged cities in the south, raped the women and starved the previously enslaved. While it is true that some Union soldiers did this, it is also true that some Union soldiers did not burn, pillage, rape or treat previously enslaved people (or general people in the south) in a bad way. The same is true for the south; yes there were some who owned enslaved people, treated them as property, and fought to keep slavery intact, and there are southerners who did not own slaves, did not hate enslaved people, helped get them to freedom, and banded together with them to survive, as fellow humans, during and after the war.
To make general assumptions about an entire group of people is wrong. In every case, whether it is towards the north or the south or any other nation or group of people.
I will defend the south to a point. As there are always two sides to an event. The south is not the squeaky clean, never done nothing wrong, downtrodden area it claims to be. They have made mistakes since the Civil War. They have snarkily fought back against things. They are not blameless. But then most groups in history aren’t completely blameless either. Not that every Northerner (or the rest who are formerly “The Union” or Union territories, but are also not the south; The West) would be lumped into this, but a great many of them have nasty opinions about the south that they do not keep to themselves. How would you feel, if for the past 150 years, at just about every turn you were constantly berated and belittled for being ignorant, stupid, worthless, ridiculous, etc. That you shouldn’t be allowed to live, that people wished you were dead? I will equate it to child abuse. When children grow up in an environment where they are constantly ridiculed and berated with emotional and psychological abuse it is considered a cruelty for them. When a nation somewhere else in the world endures this same abuse it is also considered cruelty.
There is no such distinction for how the south is treated. We deserve it. I’m sorry, but I’ll have to disagree with that. I know that the robots among you will all agree that I’m a terrible person. But I use logic, reason and weighted reality as my guides. I think for myself, I find out the information. I do not believe everything that is force-fed to me through my life. If I had, I would probably hate everyone who wasn’t a southerner, believe everything most modern southerners say about history. I would not have done research on my own. You’d be reading a one-sided blog post here.
I have never been and will never be a slavery sympathizer. I detest when southerners use information their own way, like how England and France wanted to help the south win because they agreed with slavery. They wanted to help the south win, so they could re-claim the land they used to have. It had nothing to do with them agreeing with slavery. That’s ridiculous. Or southerners who cite that slavery has been around forever and tribes along Le Côte d’Azur owned slaves. Who cares. They were wrong for it. You’re wrong for using that as an explanation for the slave trade to the Americas; trying to find a way to untarnish the souths slave owning days. Sorry, you can’t do that. Or how southerners will cite that many enslaved peoples helped their masters during war, or were friends with them, and how wonderful it was. That has so many reasons to it that it’s ridiculous to exclude reasons. Reasons range from Stockholm Syndrome, to fear of not obeying or fear of life without what they’d always known, to promises of freedom after the war. While I do not deny the myth of wonderful masters, I do not believe that is the generalized case. I also do not believe that the majority were the cruel sadistics that one would have you believe, though I believe those too were out there.
While I hate to think about people being akin to work animals (or that animals are used horribly to work for humans), if slavery equals property equals work animal, then we must use that to flesh this out logically. Take horses for example. I’m using this as the prime example, considering that historic sources say that when the Africans were abducted from their homelands along Le Côte d’Azur, for the slave trade, they didn’t automatically get shipped off to the major ports of Europe or the Americas. No, first they were taken to the Caribbean to be seasoned. Much like a horse, they needed to first be broken in order to become a perfectly obedient working tool. (Which I can’t help but add is so disgustingly sad, for humans AND horses alike!)
So, let’s look at the horse owner. As in horses for working, in the times before electricity and cars and such. You had horse owners who gave every care to their horses, more than their own family. But these were not the normal routine for masters of work horses. But I do think that with horses, a master of the enslaved could be this type of person too, but I also believe that, as with the horses, this was not the norm for enslaved peoples. Because this would be akin to caring more for your tractor than your family. Most people are not this way.
Then you have the tyrannical, abusive, insane master. The one you always hear about regarding humans, but rarely hear about regarding animals. It is not in one’s best business interest to completely destroy their work instruments, whether it be mechanical, animal, or human. Most southerners that I have conversations with or read things by, do not believe in this master, while the rest of the US only believes in this type of master. Both are wrong. This master most certainly existed. Why wouldn’t they? There are insanely abusive people everywhere in the world. Just as there are overly nice, and exceedingly average people everywhere in the world. But just as this type of person does most certainly exist, he is also not the normal person anyone would encounter on a regular basis.
The normal person is the regular joe running a business. They don’t baby aspects of their business, nor do they run it into the ground for fun. It’s a business and as such things are kept predominantly professional. But there are also two types of normal business people. Most tend to make sure their operations are running smoothly and don’t leave their printing presses out in the rain or work an engine without oil. Some are sloppy in their business dealings and if the fax machine breaks they just toss it and get a new one instead of having it repaired. Which of course correlates to giving your human or animal property food, shelter, time off, and doctor visits. Or simply saying that this human property isn’t working fast enough, we’ll just sell him and get a new, faster one.
Business owners are not often out to sabotage themselves, their instruments, etc. They have a business to have a working business and strive to keep everything up to par. This also does not indicate that because enslaved people had visits from doctors, food, shelter, etc that it was humane. Living in a shanty shack with rotten food does not constitute civil or humane conditions, but it is also different from the nonsensical stories that go around that enslaved peoples had no shelter, clothes, food, or doctor visits.
For the most part I believe that the greatest suffering came not from the masters (business owners), but from the hired help. If you own a business, you do not neglect or abuse your business, steal from your own coffers, etc. The person you hire doesn’t think of your business as his baby. It’s a shitty job and they couldn’t care less about the overall performance our outcome of the business. Obviously not all people one would hire are asses, but to you it’s your life, your livelihood, to them it’s a job and it’s not personal.
To wrap the points of #’s 1 & 2 up, since I’m writing a lot. I don’t support or condone any slavery. That of Romans to their POW’s, that of Indigenous peoples of the America’s, or to the people’s of Africa that were taken from their homes or any other races and groups that have ever been enslaved. I also do not believe it should be forgotten. It infuriates me that the north (and by proxy the Union territories) had slavery since the inception of slavery in the New World, but everyone’s supposed to pretend that didn’t happen. It also infuriates me that the Indigenous peoples of the New World were enslaved and that no one wants to acknowledge that either. It’s history. It shouldn’t be honoured, but it shouldn’t be swept under the rug, so to speak.
I like the Civil War, as in I am interested in it, as I am with other historic and ancient wars. I do not have a problem with southerners re-enacting Civil War battles, nor do I have a problem with other people in the rest of the US reenacting Civil War battles (because yes, they do. And to my knowledge the southerners don’t change the outcome of the battles as has been suggested by non southerners – it’s like LARPing or Cosplay. The re-enactors are nerds, and as such try to get every detail accurate.). I like visiting Civil War memorials/museums the same as I like visiting other war memorials/museums.
As for the Confederate dead, I honour them. Because all Confederates fought for their own reasons during the war, these people were men, they were Americans, they were from the south where I am from. They may have participated in the war for a stupid reason (slavery, as some did), but the greater chance is that they participated for their own non-slavery reasons/issues. They are people, they should not be forgotten. I wouldn’t say they were ignorant or stupid either, besides it’s rude to talk badly about the dead. I like that on Memorial Day that Confederate flags are put on the graves of Confederate soldiers, because I like knowing right off what war they died in, but since other battle related flags aren’t really displayed for other veterans (War of 1812, Revolutionary), I’m OK if normal United States flags are used instead. Though I think it would be cool (though too expensive) if particular flags were used for particular veterans or wars, but that’s just my thought. But I don’t think that the Confederate dead should be forgotten or that they should not be included in Memorial Day services. It was a war, they were soldiers, they fought and died. It’s just cruel to not acknowledge them in some way, just as it is cruel to not acknowledge the indigenous peoples who were enslaved through out the New World or the Africans that were enslaved in the north.