I cling to the indefatigable American spirit of fairness and faith. I'm a patriot and I love my country enough to criticize it when it strays from its better self, but also hold on to the belief that our greatest days are still ahead of us.
Change is coming. To bring it about we must be participants and not spectators in the pursuit of equality and unity. Together, we can make this country honor the sacrifices of our ancestors. Whether we came in on the Mayflower, through Ellis Island, or on slave ships, we are all in the same boat now.
Omarosa Manigault Newman, Unhinged: and insider's Account of the Trump White House
THE PARADOX OF WHITE AMERICAN PATRIOTISM & CREATING THE LOST CAUSE
Cecilia Elizabeth O'Leary in To Die For: The Paradox Of American Patriotism (1999) writes that by the era of the Spanish-American War, the memory of the Civil War and the tenets of patriotism had been sufficiently revised to allow confederates to be remembered as loyal sons rather than as traitors. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) laid the groundwork for tis cultural reunification at the turn of the century. In the process, each also attempted to define which rituals, symbols, and interpretations would be incorporated into the nation's great patriotic “traditions.”
After the death of Robert E. Lee in 1870, a small coalition of Virginia veterans had attempted to keep the Confederate tradition alive. Largely isolated from enlisted men, aristocratic Virginians led the first Confederate veteran organizations. They felt that defeat had called their manhood into question and, unable to reverse the war's outcome, sought to rehabilitate their honor through assertions of their superior valor. Virulently racist and unwilling to accept the terms of Reconstruction, these veterans invoked images of the prewar Confederacy in opposition to postwar change.
Exerting little influence beyond its own two hundred members, the Virginia coalition nonetheless constructed an interpretation of the Civil War that endured. Jubal Early, a central figure in the organization, warned his fellow veterans that it was up to them to determine whether Confederates would be remembered as rebels and traitors or as patriots who had followed the true principles of the nation's founding fathers. Adamant about the justness of the Lost Cause, Confederate veterans argued that the South had waged a legal war over Constitutional principles.
Loss they insisted resulted from overwhelming numbers on the Union side and a lack of resources on the side of the Confederacy, not from a lack of principle or honor. Unable to accept patriotism as defined by loyalty to the Union, the Virginia coalition revised the meaning of a war fought to defend slavery into a war about “honor.” The coalition made belief in the righteousness of their cause, self-sacrifice coupled with courage on the field of battle, and devotion to duty the defining characteristics of a patriot.
The importance of the Virginia coalition's legacy would not become fully evident until the 1890s, when a revitalized Confederate movement attracted a mass following. The new movement, led by a town-based middle class recognized the benefits of economic reintegration and mobilized veterans of all classes in affirming loyalty to the Southern past as they offered new visions of the future.
Confederate veterans worked toward reunification at the same time that they maneuvered to create autonomous traditions. Commercial concerns and patriotism easily coexisted as Southern cities in search of urban renewal saw that an active Confederate culture also meant added revenue. Ready to capitalize on the awakened spirit, real-estate interests promoted building Confederate statues on what was to become Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, when all that existed was empty farmland and real-estate maps of vacant lots promising a boon to the local economy. The intersection of commerce and the new confederate culture took the shape of a vast new assortment of products, including Robert E. Lee wood-burning stoves, featured in the pages of official souvenir pamphlets from the dedications of Confederate monuments.
The Union of Confederate Veterans (UCV) members believed that only by becoming legitimate members of the nation could they be left alone to manage race relations and preserve the memory of the Confederacy. Broad enough to accommodate a spectrum of viewpoints and interests, the membership swore allegiance to the Stars and Stripes without undermining a more visceral loyalty to the Lost Cause. Such flexible and opportunistic sentiments characterized much of the invention of the Confederate tradition. Across the South communities erected monuments to Southern generals and privates, thousands participated in confederate Memorial Days and cities enthusiastically embraced annual UCV reunions.
In cities such as Richmond Raleigh, Columbia, Atlanta, Tallahassee, Montgomery, Jackson, Little Rock, and Baton Rouge, statues dedicated to Confederate soldiers graced the grounds of statehouses. In the legislative halls hung portraits of confederate officers painted by leading artists, displayed in the most prominent places. Confederate swords and battle flags were also tenderly preserved in glass cases where everybody could see them. At the dedication of a monument to the Confederate dead in South Carolina, a military demonstration of twenty companies, more than a thousand men, and an audience of eight thousand attested to the vitality of Confederate culture.
In May 1890 a statue of Robert E. Lee was erected on Monument Avenue in Richmond. John Mitchell Jr., a leader in Richmond's black community and editor of the Richmond Planet, argued against appropriating city funds for the statue when money was desperately needed for social services. But his position was over-whelmed by white popular support, and the city council pledged ten thousand dollars from the city's strapped budget.
Parallel to the creation and consolidation of a national patriotism, Confederate symbols and rituals persisted as part of an autonomous regional culture. The Lost Cause, never just a concept, gained added substance from the stories, songs, paintings, monuments, and statues generated by the United Confederate Veterans. Although the confederacy lasted only four years, the relics of Confederate culture continued to be used and redefined by each succeeding generation. Typical of grass-roots organizing in the 1890s, Sumner A. Cunningham, founder of the Confederate Veteran magazine, organized fund-raising drives to raise money for memorials to Sam Davis, the “Boy Hero of the Confederacy.”
Today, memorials to the Lost Cause remain; hundreds of Confederate statues are still centrally located in town squares [and college campuses]. Although an increasing number of white Southerners realized that they had to work within the Union, reconciliation remained precarious, since many were opposed to being a section within, not outside, the nation.
The United Confederate Veterans played a critical role in negotiating cultural terms favorable to the white South. By the 1890s, many Northerners, influenced by anti-immigrant xenophobia, were more than prepared to turn society's “race problem” back to the South. Heartened by its pro-Southern sentiments, the largest Confederate journal, the Confederate Veteran, reprinted an article in 1895 from the Ladies' Home Journal that praised the South as “the heart of America.”
Between tyranny and anarchy, stated the article, the South remained a place where “men and women are guided in their action by wholesome sentiment, where people live righteously, where the best of our customs are perpetuated, and our own language is spoken by all.”
Writer Carol Anderson Says White Rage Is Dividing Us
A man walks with an upside down flag in a protest on Aug. 18, 2014 for Michael Brown, who was killed by police Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. The shooting sparked more than week of protests, riots and looting in the St. Louis suburb.
Ferguson, Missouri, became a flashpoint for nationwide protests after the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer. According to Anderson, the media reporting on Ferguson focused on black rage and clashes between the black community and police. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Anderson makes the case that this was, instead, "white rage at work."