You know, the good ole days when the darkies knew their place and a good, God-fearin’ Southern Gentleman could own a few of ’em. So, South Carolina, the home of a big sack of nutty politicians and religious leaders, is celebrating the December 20, 1860 secession from the United States. There will be huge costume balls and galas and re-enactments.
I know individuals have a right to do what they want as long at they’re not breaking laws, harming others or infringing on others’ rights. They can believe what they want, even if it’s not true. But it’s scary that folks can get this worked up about secession, bask in it, and then return to the real world where they work, shop and live with people whose ancestors were enslaved and treated as chattel during the period they just celebrated. When they remove the costumes, will they shed the mindset as well?
Nothing good can come of celebrating secession.
Should we note it? Yes. It changed the course of history and led to the deaths of more than 600,000 Americans. It eventually led to the emancipation of black slaves. It plunged South Carolina into poverty, which was in a way poetic justice, because the state had become the wealthiest in the union on the backs of slaves.
We should commemorate this past with solemn faces and heavy hearts. It’s a period that we ought to collectively remember, discuss and — to some degree — debate. But even then, we must not bury the truth. Pretending that slavery wasn’t the central reason South Carolina seceded is just plain wrong.
Members of the S.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans, a co-sponsor of the ball, argue that slavery was only one of several issues that caused the Civil War. Don’t take their or my word. Decide for yourself. We published the secession convention’s “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union,” along with an editorial, on Thursday; go read it. While there are many things that can be debated, the reason for secession, in the secessionists’ own words, is not only clear but limited to one issue: slavery. They even lamented “the election of a man (Abraham Lincoln) to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.”