Reprinted from LewRockwell.com. Dr. DiLorenzo is a friend of the Confederate Society.
Should the Polish people memorialize fellow Poles who collaborated with the Soviets? This of course is a preposterous question to ask, yet the “logic” displayed in a recent National Review article suggests that the answer to the question would be an unequivocal “yes.”
The article in question is “The Romance of the Confederacy” by one Josh Gelernter (March 28 issue), who is identified as someone who “writes for National Review and The Weekly Standard.” In this article Gelernter points out that there were Southerners in the Union Army during the War to Prevent Southern Independence. In border states like Maryland, for instance, about half the men who fought were on the Union side. Rather than memorializing the ancestors of the vast majority of Southerners — the foot soldiers of the Confederate Army, almost none of whom owned slaves (as Gelernter admits) — it is this class of traitors who should be honored and memorialized instead, he writes. Southerners should “abandon the Confederacy” and embrace “the heritage of Southern Unionists.” To your average Southerner, this would be identical to the Polish people memorializing and honoring their fellow countrymen who collaborated with the Soviets.
Gelernter begins his preposterous proposal with quotations of some of Lincoln’s more outlandishly false and phony commentary. He quotes Lincoln as being opposed to men who “wrung their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces,” but omits the fact that in his first inaugural address Lincoln pledged his full support of the Corwin Amendment to the Constitution that would have prohibited the federal government from ever interfering in Southern slavery. In that speech Lincoln declared that, in his opinion, slavery was already constitutional (as opposed to the opinion of Lysander Spooner, author of The Unconstitutionality of Slavery), and that he had “no objection” to making it “express and irrevocable” in the text of the U.S. Constitution. Lincoln’s real position, based on his actions and not just his pretty words, was that it was fine and dandy for a man to wring his bread from another man’s brow as long as he kept paying federal taxes.
In the same sentence Gelernter also quotes another piece of nineteenth-century Republican Party propaganda – that the South seceded to “extend” slavery. The truth is that by seceding the South no longer had any chance of “extending” slavery into the new U.S. governmentterritories. It was equally absurd for Lincoln to argue that the South would somehow be able to bring slavery back to Massachusetts and other Northern states, yet Gelernter cites such words as though they were Sacred Truth.
Gelernter also quotes Dishonest Abe as accusing the South of wanting “to make war rather than let the nation survive.” But it was Lincoln who invaded the Southern states, committing a clear act of treason under Article 3, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, that defines treason as follows: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to theirEnemies, giving them Aid and Comfort (emphasis added).” The “United States” is always in the plural in all the founding documents, signifying that what is being referred to are the free and independent states, notsomething called “the United States government.” Levying war upon the Southern states is of course exactly what Lincoln did. The South seceded; it did not intend to invade and conquer the North. It was the “Yankees” who wanted to invade, conquer, plunder, and occupy the South, and they succeeded.
As to the comment by Lincoln, quoted by Gelernter, that Southerners would “make war rather than let the nation survive,” it is important to note that the founders did not create a consolidated “nation” but a confederacy or voluntary union of states. Lincoln’s war destroyed the voluntary union of states created by the founders. It was the South that fought for the principle of a voluntary union; the North fought to replace it with acoerced union held together by the mass murder of war and the perpetual threat thereof. If this sounds similar to the Soviet Union, that’s because it is. That is why, to this day, if someone asks the question, “What do you think the federal government would do if a state seceded?,” most Americans would probably immediately think of some form of mass violence and invasion as the answer.
Gelernter inadvertently illustrates just how unpopular the military invasion of the South was among Northerners. In addition to creating an army of slaves through military conscription, with the Union Army eventually shooting deserters on a daily basis, the Lincoln administration employed at least 1 million foreign mercenaries, as Gelernter admits. While hundreds of thousands of Northern men were evading the draft or leaving the battlefield by the tens of thousands on the eve of battle (seeDesertion in the Civil War by Ella Lonn), the Lincoln administration was bribing foreigners to join its army with promises of free land under the Homestead Act. Thus hordes of foreign mercenaries, many of who did not even speak English, were recruited to march South to supposedly teach (at gunpoint) the descendants of Southern-born Presidents Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Tyler, Taylor, Polk, and Jackson what it really meant to be an American.
The Southern men who sided with the enemy against their own families and neighbors participated in the waging of war on Southern civilians for four long years. This included the bombardment of entire cities like Charleston and Atlanta when there were no enemy soldiers there, massive looting, plundering, and destruction of private property, and the gang rape of Southern women, white and black, but especially black, by U.S. Army “soldiers.” (See Crystal Reimster, “Rape and Justice in the Civil War,” New York Times, April 25, 2013). According to James McPherson in his book, Battle Cry of Freedom, at least 50,000 Southern civilians perished during the war. Standardizing for today’s population, that would be the equivalent of roughly 500,000 American civilians murdered by the U.S. government for the “crime” of believing that the union of states was voluntary. But Southern men who assisted in the perpetration of these war crimes deserve to be honored by Southerners according to the New York neocons at National Review and The Weekly Standard.
Gelernter ends his preposterous proposal by invoking a song (!) written by one of General Sherman’s “bummers” (as his looting, plundering, and murdering-of-civilians “soldiers” were called) that includes lyrics implying that when Sherman’s Army showed up in South Carolina there supposedly many Southern men who “wept with joyful tears” and could hardly “be restrained from breaking forth in tears” upon seeing the U.S. flag. Only a mindless, flag-waving moron could believe such a thing.
Thomas J. DiLorenzo is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln; ;Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe, How Capitalism Saved America, Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today. His latest book is Organized Crime: The Unvarnished Truth About Government.