We're Fighting the Civil War Again; but Actually We Never Stopped

We're Fighting the Civil War Again; but Actually We Never Stopped

The city mouse versus country mouse rivalry is an American tale as old as the founding fathers. If you’re a fan of “Hamilton: An American Musical,” you no doubt picked on that theme in the sixth number, “The Farmer Refuted” (based on an actual pre-Revolutionary Alexander Hamilton essay), and throughout much of the second act with the Hamilton versus Thomas Jefferson (urban versus rural) rivalry taking center stage.

The red state versus blue state narrative is a fiction, as it’s the counties electoral map which actually gives you a much clearer picture. Every state is magenta, and none are actually red or blue. However, the county map is also grossly inaccurate, as it shows Donald Trump winning an overwhelming majority of the “land,” even though he lost the popular vote by three million. 

The old Republican tactic of trying to divide and conquer with the moronic “city people aren’t real Americans” narrative has now reached new levels of hypocrisy with Trump.

This crowd, in the supposed “heartland,” has a cult like devotion to a man from a big city. Not just a big city, but the largest and most populated city, with his residence in the part of the city that is as densely populated as one could find.

 It’s such a laughable contradiction that these days the only well known figures still clinging to the idea are irrelevant buffoons like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee.

The bit really should have been retired after 2004, because Karl Rove was the last operative to use it effectively.

 There is real resentment and condescension in rural America for city-dwellers, but it’s not over what urbanites eat, drink, consume culturally or how much they wave the flag.

It’s actually race, the issue which has consistently divided us more than any other.

The white nationalists protesting the removal of a statute to Robert E. Lee were chanting “blood and soil,” a slogan expressing the nineteenth-century German idealization of a racially defined national body (“blood”) united with a settlement area (“soil”).

It’s a slogan heavily utilized by Nazis and it idealizes agrarian life as a counterweight to urban forms, but also contains racist and anti-Semitic ideas of a sedentary Germanic-Nordic peasantry as opposed to (specifically Jewish) nomadism. The slogan espouses the ideal of the peasantry being the foundation of the nation and its conservatism.

 It’s not surprising to see the Confederate flag and the swastika marching hand in hand with another.

NPR referenced an 1861 speech by Alexander Stephens, who would go on to become vice president of the Confederacy.

 “[Our new government’s] foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man,” Stevens said, in Savannah, Ga.

“That slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”

Remember these quotes the next time a “heritage not hate” advocate attempts to lecture you on how the Civil War was actually about “state’s rights,” and not slavery.

The Southern Poverty Law Center released a study showing that the two biggest surges in the number of Confederate monuments erected coincided with the 1890s, when Jim Crow Laws were being enacted, and the 1960s, when the Civil Rights movement was gathering momentum.

It’s an interesting question to ask, why are there confederate monuments in union states?

Simple, because the people who identify themselves with Pepe the Frog avatars, swastikas, wearing white hoods, waving Confederate flags and “make America great again” hats are in every state. Obviously this country was never as divided as during the Civil War from 1861-1865. Since then, the ’60s and today are probably as divisive as it’s ever been.

In both cases, as well as in the Civil War itself, the primary wedges originated along the lines of race.

 It seems logistically impossible to actually fight another war between the states because the divide is in counties, cities and towns, not states.

Usually, any place where there is a higher percentage of minority groups (cities) and higher educated people (university towns), they vote Democratic. Typically, whiter and lower educated communities vote Republican.

This reality has peacefully existed for decades, so an actual military civil war is almost certainly outside the realm of possibility.

sec map confederacy

The civil war will be staged in the marketplace of ideas instead. This weekend kicks off another season of college football, a sport that has morphed into a Civil War metaphor over the past couple decades. As you can see above, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) map is nearly identical to the Confederacy map. From 2006-2015, a SEC school won every national championship, but two, leading many SEC fans to believe that they are exceptionally distinct from the rest of the country.

This ethos is a football fan version of an old saying you commonly hear below the Mason-Dixon line: “American by birth, southern by the grace of god.” Just like with secession and rebellion, a lot of SEC fans believe that they have had a special, unique American experience. Thus, every college football season it’s the SEC versus the rest of the country, and the bowl system feeds into this by intentionally trying to pit a northern team against a southern program whenever possible.

It’s a much better and healthier way for us as a country to keep fighting the Civil War; better the battle waged in a recreational game than in the courts, or in violent protest.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

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Filed under: Current Events, History

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