Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Reading, Writing, and Teaching Southern History

Other Posts in my Southern History Series:
Ilario Pantano’s Grand Theft History

In Grand Theft History, Ilario Pantano addresses the culture war between progressives and conservatives for control of the Republic as well as the Marxists historians who are determined to dismantle the America of our Founders in support of the former. 

I maintain that the Founders’ Republic has been gone for a century and a half, no longer visible or viable with the desecration of Federalism that came with the so-called “ratification” of the 14th and 15th Amendments whereby the central government usurped civil rights and suffrage onto itself, both the sole domain of sovereign states; the 16th amendment which fed and continues to feed the insatiable monster the central government has become today; and the 17th amendment, by which the people of the states sold out state rights in return for pure democracy, thus damaging Federalism every bit as much as did the 14th and 15th amendments.  

In the fall elections of 1866, the people of the victorious North rejected our Founder’s Republic as surely as they’d rejected Southern rights. What was left has been whittled away at ever since. Trying to reconstitute our Founder’s Republic given what happened during the Civil War and Reconstruction is, in my mind, delusional. It’s gone, and I don’t think we’ll see its like again. What made us exceptional was lost, as odd as it may seem to some of you, with the Confederacy. What replaced it was the post-Civil War (and certainly post-founding) narrative on the virtues of civil rights and democracy, and we’ve been traveling that common path of democracies since, and we will meet their common fate, implosion under the social excesses and economic weight of the mob or empire under a dictator. We could hope for “imperial,” great, but not exceptional. Some folks, in fact, believe we are already there. What I haven’t lost is my unwavering conviction that the South was right, and the loss of our Founders’ Republic correlates directly to the unwarranted war waged against her. I do not want the basis for that belief lost, too, particularly to future Southerners. 

In his book, Pantano defines grand theft history as the “improper and intentional omission or distortion of historical fact to the significant detriment of one or more parties.” He begins his argument by establishing that Southerners had something of value that was taken away from them, that being their rightful place in American history by the omission and misstatement of historical facts. He further argues that these omissions and misstatements were/are intentional. Well, I maintain that the South had plenty of value taken from her long before now, but I won’t haggle over the point. This latest slight simply heaps insult on top of injury, but I'm digressing a bit...sorta.

If the reader (jury) agrees with Pantano’s argument, the miscreants are condemned to clean up their act, do their duty, and report the historical record accurately. 

It’s less that I disagree with Pantano on this last point than I believe it is a requirement that cannot and would not be enforced. Who would enforce it? The reader?  

I don’t think so. The powers that be are complicit with liberal historians’ marginalization of Southern history. In the minds of those geared to this agenda, they are doing their duty by twisting the history. Revisionism is as old as history itself.  

No, it’s time for partisan action. We Southerners need to be writing our own history. Of course, a quick perusal of the bibliography Pantano published with Grand Theft shows that we already are and always have been. But that doesn’t change the fact that the academic gatekeepers have left no room in academia for anything but negative reflection of the South. What we Southerners need to do is quit buying into it and start reading (and writing and teaching) our own history books and, for the love of Saint Peter, stop apologizing for something that was normal, accepted, and for which everyone in this nation and most of the world was complicit in, including black folk, and had been millennia before the white man ever set foot on this continent. You take away the bad things we all have done and we wouldn’t have survived as a people on this continent, much less built a nation, not to mention we, as a species, would still be living in caves—and still, no doubt, being bad to one another. Why the devil should the South carry the weight of guilt for all history—oh yeah, that’s right, I get it! Our refusal to reject the full promise of our Founder’s Republic (federalism/decentralization) renders us unrepentant on the issue of slavery—because that was the one and only issue, right? Bullshit. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Classic. Except we’re not suppose to note the baby. It’s the dirty bathwater the left has us focused on. But it’s not about the bathwater. It’s about the baby, and it always has been.

The left believes that the only way to achieve true freedom, as they perceive it to be, is by erasing everything the Republic once stood for and pretending it never was. On top of the ruins it will build its brave new Utopian world where civil rights, equality, and freedom for all is defined and enforced by a “benign” central government (the states relegated to satellites, equally benign, of course).

Ain’t it funny how that Utopian monster, no matter how often it defeats itself with its own stupidity, never ceases to raise its ugly head? Granted its appearance is periodic. I attribute that phenomenon to excess prosperity and esoteric minds, freed from the drudgery of honest labor (thanks to excess prosperity), focused on getting even more of other people’s money to fund/control the Utopian agenda. Ha! If they read more history books, they’d know it never works—oh, darn it, I forgot! That won’t work if they read the revised versions.
More—on the virtues of the South, that is—next time and thanks for reading, 





  1. I would like to learn more about how the educational system was imposed on the South. Was a federally-controlled education forced on all of the Southern States? How? Should I order Pantano's book or is it too mistaken in what happened historically to the South after the War?

    1. This should answer both posts--or did you do what I do and send a second because you didn't realize the first one went? LOL

      Karen, the theme of Pantano’s book is the marginalization of Southern history in mainstream America. He uses as the basis of his argument, the South’s role in the Revolution, then shows how the history has been downplayed or omitted altogether to the detriment of the South. He gives a whole series of examples to make his point and names names as to those he believes are guilty as well as the reasons he believes this wrong has come about. There is some information about the Civil War and Reconstruction, slavery, and leading up to the war—but marginalization actually began appearing as sectionalism evolved. People who love the South, will love the book and those ambivalent toward the subject, but love American history might find enough there to perk their interest, resulting in further research.Then there will be those who consider it a non-issue. As a Southerner, I do believe it's an issue and we need to fix it--us Southerners, I mean. No one else will.

      Regarding education in the South during Reconstruction—Congress forced it on the Southern states by ensuring the Radical Republicans had control of the state legislatures. They followed up when they saw themselves losing control by denying the last three states still out of the Union from entry unless it was included in their “new, progressive” constitutions. In Mississippi, resistance was primarily over its extravagant costs (infrastructure purchased in the North at top dollar). This was in tandem with the not unjustified belief the whole program was for the freedmen’s benefit. I wrote two long posts on the subject last fall. In the first I make reference to a book by McAfee on education during Reconstruction. Another book you might like, because there’s a chapter on the subject, is “Northern Methodism in the South.” I’m not home, but I think the author’s name is Morrow. It was written in 1950. It will get your blood boiling.

      Anyway, here are the links to my posts. I hope by the time you receive this, I’ve figured out how to make them live:

      Public Education the Great Unifier and Guarantee Clause

  2. Good article. I'd like to read his book if it isn't too far off on what the South was trying to do with secession. I'd also like to learn more about how the feds imposed their education on the South.

  3. I wonder if sometimes it's a mistake to speak of "the South" as a single thing. For example, I wonder whether the Cajuns or the Isleños considered themselves to be Southerners in the same way as (say) someone from west Texas or upstate South Carolina?

    Going a step further, this might affect their experience of both independence (or secession, depending on one's point of view) and Reconstruction. From memory, the Cajuns and Creoles found the post-Civil War order, with it's compulsory use of English and stern Protestantism, rather more oppressive than the (also Anglophonic and largely protestant) Confederate government because the latter was largely willing to leave them alone.

  4. Stephen,
    No more so than people consider the United States a single thing or Australia a single thing. We simply do. The South was/is no different. We've all got our ethnic groups and I imagine there's a lot of consideration as to what makes whom what when individuals sit down and put deep thought into it. I know what I consider a good American, which I'm pretty sure plenty of other Americans would consider incorrect. But here we are, all thrown into a general context.

    Regarding oppression during Reconstruction, did you read my post on the North's forcing public education on the South? I don't know much about the Cajun experience, but my gut tells me this superior New England, Protestant idea of loyalty and "Union" and making all Americans their kind of Americans through proper education (and they determined what was proper) is what drove the language requirement on the Catholic Cajuns. Northern Catholics were having problems with these awful people, too. Here's the link.


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