I’m not happy with this kind of speculation.
If South'd won Civil War? Slaves would've soon been freed anyway, South would now be banana republic, & North the greatest civilisation ever
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) June 29, 2015
If South’d won Civil War? Slaves would’ve soon been freed anyway, South would now be banana republic, & North the greatest civilisation ever
And it was intended as a compliment?
@nicebretly No, such a thought never entered my head. My tweet was intended as a compliment to all that is best in America.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) June 30, 2015
No, such a thought never entered my head. My tweet was intended as a compliment to all that is best in America.
No, it isn’t. It’s an ahistorical mess.
Americans fought a bloody war over slavery. To argue that it was pointless and that the South would have just obligingly abandoned an institution that they regarded both as an economic necessity and a moral virtue is absurd, especially when we would see such ferocious resistance to civil rights in the 1960s. If the Confederacy had won, given that their manifestos at the start of the war had been all about the importance of slavery to their way of life, there’s no way they would have done anything but further entrenched inequality in their laws.
There is an unfortunate tendency to simply write off everyone in the South — I’ve sometimes been exasperated enough to indulge in it myself — but it’s not right. About a third of all Americans live in the South. They include all races and ethnicities, they include urban and rural people, Democrats and Republicans. That some of them are proud racists does not mean we should cheerfully greet the prospect of casting out 100 million people from our nation — every one of them deserves opportunity.
Dawkins should know this. Hitchens was quite vocal about the importance of touring the South, and talked about how many people there welcomed his message. They’re not all rednecks with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks…and even if they were, rather than shunning them, educate them.
And let’s be realistic: the North is not and has never been the shining ideal of a civilization. The armies of the United States slaughtered the Indian population; we spent the years after the Civil War reveling in Manifest Destiny and tearing into the Philippines, Central America, Cuba, and meddling in Mexico. During the Civil War we had riots in major northern cities against the draft, with accompanying resentment about defending negroes. We’ve had sundown towns, predatory loan systems, white flight, a criminal justice system that discriminates against the black population. Bill O’Reilly is not from Alabama — he’s from New Jersey. Those “family” institutes that rage against homosexuals? They’re in every state.
We do not progress by scapegoating entire regions and placing the blame for our problems on them. We have to honestly look at our flaws and address them. E pluribus unum was a pretty good motto — these different parts of American culture belong to all of us, and it does not make us better or stronger to divide us into good and bad.