Time to tell the truth, the whole truth
Published 12:48 am Wednesday, November 29, 2017
For a century and more Neo-Confederates have woven webs of deception about the origins of the Confederate States of America. But with all the controversies over Confederate flags and monuments and what they represent, it’s time for some honesty. It is, as explained before, the only honorable position for us southerners to take. To correct those errors, though, we first need to deconstruct the Neo-Confederate method of trickery.
We all know that before testifying in court a witness is sworn to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” To “tell the truth,” in other words, the witness must not lie, but in addition, must not withhold relevant information known to be true. It is understood that telling only part of the truth is a way to avoid the truth. Half-truths, quarter-truths, one-tenth truths can be just as effective at deception as full blown lies. As a commonplace example, the information provided by the naked eye alone is “proof” that the earth is flat. However, if all other evidence is added, we discover that it is not. But what if we ignored that other evidence? Then we could easily convince ourselves of the untrue “truth” of our planet’s flatness.
Such is the Neo-Confederates’ aim. In their typical line of argument, the original premise is not necessarily an untruth, but rather a partial-truth. They cherry-pick the few facts that support their preferred conclusion while deliberately leaving out the more plentiful facts that demolish the same conclusion. Their public is then easily led astray.
Email newsletter signup
So over the next few months, we will take on a number of these misleading “analyses” in turn. Such as,…
- The truthful premise that southerners talked a lot about the issue of states-rights; and the faulty conclusion that it was the reason for secession and the formation of the Confederacy.
- The truthful premise that many of America’s Founding Fathers were slaveowners; and the faulty conclusion that, therefore, there is a moral equivalency between them and the Confederacy’s slaveowning Founding Fathers.
- The truthful premise that slavery as an institution was common around the globe and of ancient origin; and the faulty conclusion that slavery in the South was therefore “ordinary.”
- The truthful premise that Africans practiced slavery before the trans-Atlantic slave trade; and the faulty conclusion that African slavery was therefore just like southern slavery.
- The truthful premise that Africans participated in the trans-Atlantic slave trade; and the faulty conclusion that Africans “sold their own people” to the European enslavers.
- The truthful premise that man’s exploitation of man has taken many forms in addition to slavery; and the faulty conclusion that slavery was no different from, no worse than, these other forms of oppression.
- The truthful premise that most white southern households owned no slaves in 1860; and the faulty conclusion that, therefore, slavery could not have been the reason for secession and the Civil War since most southerners would not have fought to defend it.
- The truthful premise that most northerners in 1860 were racists and were not abolitionists; and the faulty conclusion that, therefore, the Civil War could not have been about slavery.
- The truthful premise that northerners benefited from slavery too; and the faulty conclusion that antebellum abolitionists and/or modern historians have tried to hide that fact.
- The truthful premise that Robert E. Lee said, “slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country;” and the faulty conclusion that Robert E. Lee favored the abolition of slavery.
And more. The dishonorable dishonesty of our historical “flat-earthers” has prevailed long enough. It’s time the tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about slavery, race and the Confederacy.
Jim Wiggins is a retired Copiah-Lincoln Community College history instructor.