Skip to comments."Confederate States of America: The Movie"
Posted on 02/26/2006 1:56:28 PM PST by pabianice
Kevin Willmott's ersatz documentary "CSA: The Confederate States of America" is an act of provocation that's sheer genius in its conceptual simplicity. Fairly unoriginal, too. Writers and historians have been penning "what-if" scenarios predicated on the War Between the States going the other way for decades; I recall MacKinley Kantor's "If the South Had Won the Civil War" on my elementary school reading list years ago, and more recent authors such as Harry Turtledove and Roger L. Ransom have addressed the matter as well.
Willmott isn't interested in academic niceties. He wants to make you laugh and hurt at the same time, and then he wants you to think. So his film -- ostensibly a British documentary being aired on a local San Francisco station -- opens with an ad for Confederate Family Insurance, complete with a happy white family, soothing banjo music, and a smiling young African-American slave tending the garden. What follows is nothing less than a satiric takedown of our assumptions about racial progress.
Presented by Spike Lee and constructed as a finely tuned parody of the Ken Burns school of filmmaking (period music, old photos, talking-head experts), "CSA" sketches out a disquieting alternative history of the United States. It begins with the South winning Gettysburg thanks to the appearance of French and British troops alongside the Confederate Army, Europe's intervention having been won with the assistance of diplomat Judah Benjamin. (This prompts Jefferson Davis to later say, "Don't you evah forget, suh, that it was a blood-sucking Jew who saved this country.")
(Excerpt) Read more at boston.com ...
Well some of those "southern gentleman" in the Confederate Army had no problem refering to Catholics as "Papists" and "Romanists" (not to mention blacks being "coloreds" "darkies" and "negresses") so I don't see why a word like "Jew" would bother them. It's used in polite conversation all the time, including with people who practive Judiasm. I've never heard the word "Jew" itself being automatically offensive, though "blood-sucking Jew" would probably be.
Here's a classic quote from another eeeeeeeevil yankee president (conservative Vermont yankee Calvin Coolidge) that was overwhemingly rejected by the "conservative" southern electorate:
In a conversation with the president, secret service agent Edmund Starling referred to White House butler Arthur Brooks as "a fine, colored gentleman." Coolidge replied sharply, "Brooks is not a colored gentleman. He is a gentleman."
And I wait with baited breath and some indication that the southern leaders had a more enlightened view of Indians.
We know Lee's beliefs on slavery (against)...
"The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically, and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things. How long their servitude may be necessary is known and ordered by a merciful Providence." -- Robert Lee, 1856
"Considering the relation of master and slave, controlled by humane laws and influenced by Christianity and an enlightened public sentiment, as the best that can exist between the white and black races while intermingled as at present in this country, I would deprecate any sudden disturbance of that relation unless it be necessary to avert a greater calamity to both." -- Robert Lee, 1865
He was nothing if not consistent.
...we know Jackson's belief on relations with blacks (taught a Sunday school for blacks prior to the war)...
He also owned 9 or 10, and according to his wife believed that slavery was sanctioned by the Bible and it was not his place to question the instituion.
...and the loyalty his former slaves held for President Davis.
"We recognize the negro as God and God's Book and God's Law in nature tells us to recognize him - our inferior, fitted expressly for servitude. Freedom only injures the slave. The innate stamp of inferiority is beyond the reach of change. You cannot transform the negro into anything one-tenth as useful or as good as what slavery enables him to be." -- Jefferson Davis, March 1861
Davis opposed the sale of Brierfield to one of his brother's former slaves, saying that they were not suited to running a business.
Surely you don't want to compare racial attitudes of these men to Grant, Sherman, and the union president do you?
Any day of the week. An objective view would reveal that at best the views of the confederates were not different from Grant or Sherman or Lincoln. And at worst they were much less enlightened. And you know it.
The Southerners could be said to have attitudes of enlightened men of the day (while we disagree with them now), while the other three were just outright racists, then and now.
The southerners all believed that blacks were suited for slavery and nothing else. That blacks had no rights at all that a white man was bound to respect. How enlightened is that?
I've always blown hot and cold on Turtledove. I admit to reading his Civil War alternate history, more guilty pleasure than anything else, but I've always found his grasp of history to be surprisingly weak, especially on military matters, and his characters shallow and usually uninteresting. He seems to have a soft spot for Martin Luther King. He wrote an alternate history where the U.S. had lost the revolution, and King was the Governor General at the time. I'm waiting for him to pop up in the camps of Featherstone.
Gingrich did a better job on characters and his grasp of military fundamentals was sound, but I found a lot of his premise to be far featched.
I was thinking of the Days of Infamy books for my upcoming vacation. But I think I'll stick with my original selections "Team of Rivals" and Simon WInchester's new one "A Crack In The Edge Of The World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906".
Not bad, as alternate histories go. I think Gingrich and his partner are better writers that Turtledove, though I think Turtledove has the edge in imagination. The biggest problem is that in the first two books the confederates never make a mistake while in the third one they never do anything right. But worth the read, especially now that they're in paperback.
I said it was entertaining. I didn't say it was believable.
According to accounts at the time there were civilian structures right up to the walls of the fort. Sand dunes had been allowed to build up to the point where they were overlooking the walls. Anderson didn't have the time or men to correct those problems. Sumter was the only solution.
Hell would have frozen over before the British or French would send troops to Virginia in 1863.
First Bull Run (or First Manassas, take your pick) was in July 1861.
Lee did not take charge of the Confederate field army in Virginia (not named the Army of Northern Virginia until later in 1862) until the end of May, 1862, when Joe Johnston was wounded at Fair Oaks/Seven Pines.
Ultimately, it was Jeff Davis's decision to not push on into Washington.
That, if I recall correctly, is precisely the premise of Turtledove's 'How Few Remain'.
Bull. Slavery was on its way out, even if grudgingly. Over 70% of those who fought for the South owned no slaves.
I am amazed at two things about the Civil War:
1) The absolute ignorance of those who post on it (who will then accuse you of "wanting to refight the Civil War"-- watch for it in a posting near you!)
2) The assumption that the South as a whole did not recognize slavery as an evil. They did, but argued (wrongly, I think), that an evil which had so ingrained itself into the structure of a society had to be eradicated slowly, so as not to cause excessive societal disruption (which begs the question of disruption to WHO? Blacks did not fit in to the equation).
The fact is that it was a war "over" slavery, but "about" whether states or the federal government were sovereign. We decided both issues, one for good, but the other for the destruction of the republic, although it has taken almost 150 years for the decision to really fruit out.
The fact that Spike Lee is a race baiting idiot does not detract from the fact that he makes good flicks.
The Reader's Digest Condensed version of American History, perhaps?
Yeah, right. Satire. I get it.
What if we make a alternative history movie where the Communist win? The Kennedy family is to America what Kim Chung Il has been for NK. A laff riot. Hilarious gulags in the rockies. Silly escapees looking for food and a place to hide.
Yep. Satire. Like a broken drum. Ya just cant beat it.
No, the Reader's Digest Condensed Version (Southern edition) would have us believe that they were all noble men concerned with the welfare of their black bretheren. In fact every one of them considered blacks as inferiors and not suited for much else other than slavery. And while the Northern leadership wasn't a whole lot different in beliefs on the subject of equality, they didn't believe in buying and selling anyone and men like Lincoln actually took the outrageous view that blacks were entitled to the same rights that the Declaration of Independence called for, the same rights as a white man!!!! Something that put him at odds with the southern leadership of the time.
Are you in some kind of contest for how many historical inaccuracies you can cram into a post?
Slavery was an institution destined for extinction even before the Civil War began. It would have taken longer, but in the U.S., its fate was almost inevitable. It's highly unlikely it would have lasted to today even if the South had won its independence. Social and economic forces simply dictated against it.
National Sozialist Democrat Arbeit Partei (Nazi) propaganda should not be used to revise history to fullfil that ideological prejudice/hate as this movie appears to do.
There was far more anti-Catholicism in the prewar North than in the South. The Know Nothing Party garnered far more support in places like New York and Massachusetts than in the states that joined the Confederacy. The few non-Northern places where that party had some strength, notably Maryland and Kentucky, were border states. General Pierre Beauregard, a Catholic, was an important Confederate general. Jefferson Davis attended a Catholic boarding school before going to West Point, and though remaining Episcopalian, was regarded as very sympathetic to Catholicism. Robert E. Lee had a nephew who was a Catholic priest. The Vatican state sent an ambassador to Richmond; only a few German principalities did likewise. During Davis' imprisonment after the Civil War, Pope Pius IX sent him a crown of thorns that he himself had made.
While anti-Catholicism was strong in the South of the late 1800s and early 1900s, its growth was due to the decline of the old aristocracy, the rise of Populism, and the relative decline of Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches and the rise of revivalist Baptist, Holiness, and Campbellite churches, with more emotional worship and (except for the Campbellites) apocalyptic theology.
Assuming that the antebellum South was a hotbed of anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism is a hallmark of a liberal interpretation of history.