Currently #1 at Politico is “Why the Confederacy Lives“.
The article rather straightforwardly depicts the philosophy behind neo-Confederatism, with the occasional howler thrown in, such as this one:
Confederate sympathy in 2015 is a well-funded and active political movement (which, in turn, supports a lucrative Confederate memorabilia industry).
A “lucrative” Confederate memorabilia industry? That’s about as salient to the issue of neo-Confederatism as would be mentioning the “lucrative” MLK memorabilia industry in February of each year.
Onto the article’s attempt to objectively depict neo-Confederatism:
For many, the initial attraction to the history of the Confederate States comes from an interest in ancestry and history, yet for others the lure is to a narrative that, replete with recognizable symbols and characters, offers (some) Americans the opportunity to understand themselves as historically distinctive. Add to this the attractive traits of heroism and an underdog struggle against numerical odds, plus a mantra that the Confederacy in the 19th Century fought to preserve all that was good and right about the America of the Founding Fathers, and a potent imaginary political world emerges.
Reading between the lines, we can neo-Confederatism as another manifestation and expression of implicit whiteness, with white identity being a sociological reality not allowed to actualize itself in polite society:
National surveys, as they aim for a representative sample of U.S. adults, likely under-represent the extent to which the Confederacy still resonates in the South and among whites. A 2011 opinion poll conducted for CNN, for example, found that 23 percent of people were still sympathetic to the Confederacy…
In the same year, the Pew Research Center found even less support for the understanding that the Civil War was “mainly about slavery” (38 percent, with a similar number of those polled stating that it was “appropriate for public officials today to praise Confederate leaders” (36 percent). The Pew survey further discovered that people who self identify as white and “southerners” were considerably more likely to hold pro-Confederate views: only 13 percent of that demographic saw the Confederate flag as negative, compared with 30 percent having a negative view of the flag in the overall survey. More recently, in 2014, the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald reported a poll that found 29 percent of Mississippians would support a new Confederacy if there was a Civil War today; 50 percent would stay loyal to the United States of America; and, 21 percent were undecided. This support for the Confederacy in Mississippi was primarily from whites, men, and Republicans, and the numbers had the Sun Herald’s political blogger “Crawdaddy,” concerned: “I know there is some anti-federal government sentiment out there, but I was surprised it was this strong. But, even more than that, I was surprised that question even has relevance in this day and age.”
The authors then get to the heart of the matter:
So what makes this Confederate politics so attractive? To adherents, today’s Confederate ideology exposes falsehoods in mainstream accounts of U.S. history and offers to reveal “the truth,” which has supposedly been suppressed by “East Coast elites” and “liberal academics” pandering to ethnic minority pressure. According to this narrative, the Civil War was not fought over slavery but rather because the Union and President Abraham Lincoln acted without regard for the Constitution to accumulate power. Confederate sympathy offers an ideology that explains why life in America is not what one expected it to be, why Spanish is increasingly heard in towns across the country, why despite working hard one never seems to get ahead, why African Americans have recently occupied highly visible leadership positions as attorney general, secretary of state and, of course, president. It is a politics of victimization, a sentiment that political correctness and anti-discrimination laws constrain right-thinking and hard-working people, and that for 150 years America has strayed from its preordained and righteous path…
Today’s Confederate texts are replete with arguments for reinstating a poll tax, property ownership, or other restriction on voting, and rage against democracy as a failed political experiment. Other contentions include a belief that multi-ethnic states are fundamentally flawed and the only plausible solutions to their existence are either fragmentation or acceptance of apparently “natural” divisions into superiors and inferiors. Within such logic, policies like affirmative action, social security, welfare, civil rights and anti-discrimination legislation all waste taxpayer money as they fruitlessly try to disrupt society’s “natural hierarchy” of “dominant” cultural groups and individuals.
Lastly are the parallels with resurgent nationalism and identitarianism across Europe:
If you believe that you are no longer represented by your representative government, one route to alternative governance is restructuring the state. In Europe, nationalism is on the upswing: in the United States, the model for nationalism and separatism is the Confederacy, and one way to demonstrate support for such beliefs is to wave the Confederate battle flag (or put it on your license plate).
In that case, I think I’ll wave it a bit right here and now.