In case you needed a reminder of how awesome literary journal n+1 is, their new issue has a good, hard look at the willfully ignorant racism in the Tea Party and how it has roots that stretch all the way back to the Civil War.
The present blooming fantasy of white victimization has roots in the peculiar violent institutions of the 19th-century American South. In the distant mirror of history, it’s easy to spot the irony and the guilt: even before the Civil War began, whites worried that their slaves would rise up and repay their masters in kind — filch the fruit of their labor, rape them, and beat them, sometimes to death. As soon as the balance of power shifted and news of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse circulated throughout the former slave states, those fears ran amok. Mark Summers, a historian of the disastrous “Reconstruction” that condemned recently freed blacks to another century of oppression, has observed that the South, unlike the North, had no truly independent newspapers or magazines. What fair and balanced organs then existed reported rumors and falsehoods, like the arrival of a “liberating” French army sent by Napoleon III the same week of Lee’s surrender, or the forced seizure of former plantations by mobs of roving blacks. In Summers’s telling phrase, “the white south saw with dreadful clarity things that did not exist.”
Topics discussed include Lee Atwater, the Confederate flag, Sarah Palin, and much, much more.
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