On his HBO program Real Time, Bill Maher took on the celebrations of the Confederacy like the one celebrating Jefferson Davis’s Inauguration in Alabama. Maher pointed out that people in the South now believe that slavery was wrong, but he asked them, “How could killing people to defend it be right?” Maher highlighted the psychological disconnect that Southerners have implemented between slavery and celebrating the Confederacy.
Here is the video:
After discussing the celebrations of the confederacy that are getting under way in the South, Maher said, “Oh I know, I know. They’re not celebrating slavery. They’re celebrating a way of life. Oh I wish I was in the land of cotton. Yes, because someone else was picking it. I tell ya. Southerners, and I love them, but they have more disconnects than AT&T, and it started with Jefferson Davis. In his inauguration speech, he didn’t once mention slavery. He just talked about “agriculture” and “resources,” and winked so much that his wife thought he was sexting her by Morse Code.”
He continued, “Now, I know you Southerners have had a tough go of it. You lost the Civil War to the North, Reese Witherspoon to Hollywood, and the Dixie Chicks to Satan, and I am not trying to offend my Southern friends, mostly because you’re on Meth and packing heat, but underneath that trucker hat there is a plantation sized mental split going on. Because even the Southerners who do the reenacting and lionize their slaveholding ancestors would tell you that they now think slavery was wrong, then how could killing people to defend have been right?”
Maher wondered why the losers of the Civil War want to reenact it, “If my ancestors had fought for the right to abduct teenagers and force them into prostitution, I probably wouldn’t reenact that on the weekends with the cast of Gossip Girl. And why is it that the people who want to reenact the war are the losers? That’s like sexual role playing and starting with hey, remember that time I couldn’t get it up? Let’s relive that. So, ok, I’m not saying that your great great grandpa Lucius Meriwether Cornbone didn’t fight bravely at the battle of Who Gives A Shit, but he was fighting on the wrong side. Just as I’m sure there were brave soldiers in Hitler’s army, but I wouldn’t start a restaurant called the Waffen Hut.”
Bill Maher concluded, “And all this talk about the Southern way of life. Please, I’ve been to the South. It’s the same way of life we have here. You watch TV. You go to the mall. You eat a soft pretzel, and you go home. You just do it slower, that’s all. Gone With The Wind was just a movie. A movie made in Culver City, by Jews.”
Maher is correct. There is an inconsistency between celebrating the Confederacy while ignoring the vital role that institution of slavery played in the fracturing of the Union. The biggest omen that the Alabama celebration is not quite on the cultural up and up is that politicians avoided the ceremony like the plague. Elected officials understood the unspoken message that their attendance of a ceremony celebrating the Confederacy would send.
Americans celebrate all kinds of moments in our history, but we don’t get together and reenact sending Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II, which is why it strikes such a bad note with many people when some in the South glorify the Confederacy. No matter how hard they try to, or what reasoning they use, you can’t separate slavery from the Confederacy. Other issues like economics, modernization, and nationalism played a role, but without slavery the Confederacy would never have come to be.
The Confederacy was born out of a states’ rights issue, the ability to own human beings as property. There are many great things about the South, and they are not the only region of this nation that has cross of shame to bear in our national history, but the collective psychological disconnection of slavery from the Confederacy is the one sure way to make sure that the past will always continue to haunt the present.