For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
I was arguing with some left-wing woman about the nature of slavery in the South. I quoted sayings of slaves to her, which talked about how loving the white masters were, and how the slaves would have done anything for them, and about how well off the slaves considered themselves under white rule. Some of the slaves directly stated that the Northern folk had the wrong idea about slavery in the south, that it was beneficial.
Here’s Simon Phillips, a former slave from Alabama,
“People has the wrong idea of the slave days. We was treated good. My Massa never laid a hand on me the whole time I was wid him…Sometime we loaned the massa money when he was hard pushed.”
The white harpy I was arguing against insisted that the slave narratives (which relay these nostalgic sentiments of antebellum Dixie) were forced out of the authors by evil whites who were interested in distorting the actual account. Blacks were so terrified of the evil whites, apparently, that they lied about their narratives to save themselves from being beaten, lynched, or jailed.
This white harpy interpreted every negro quote I provided through her white-hating, anti-Southern lens, which colors antebellum Dixie in a far worse light than we Southerners suggest. She has what I call the “Uncle Tom” view of Dixie, where slaves were beaten, slaughtered, and raped in mass, and where they were routinely burned alive, lynched, and treated like animals.
In debating historical issues, this conflict of interpretive schemes will always arise. Not necessarily a conflict between these two particular schemes, Romanticized Dixie vs. the Uncle Tom view, but different ways of interpreting historical events in general, which crop up, and govern the biases of those debating about the event.
The question is – how should we interpret history, in this case particularly, history of the South?
If we take the word of the liberals, then the south is an ugly, pock-marked, drooling villain, whom no one wants near them and must be put away quietly. In the Southern view, we unreconstructed Southerners are the last heroes in Christendom. Which is the correct view of things?
No amount of historical data will answer this question – how we interpret the data is what’s in question. Which “paradigm” of history will we use, and how do we choose?
I think the situation is analogous to our personal lives. I read a book on “verbal abuse” once, and the author highlighted the destructive effects of prolonged verbal abuse. A strong-willed person “verbally abuses” another, day in and day out, until the negative image of the bully is implanted on the weaker person and is constantly reinforced, until the weaker person begins to think of himself (or herself) in the way that the bully sees him (or her).
This is something like what is happening to the South (in the aggregate) at the moment, but it still doesn’t answer the question: what if the bully is right?
I think the way we escape this dilemma is the same way a victim escapes a verbally abusive relationship: you look at yourself as God sees you; He is the only objective third-party whose opinion really matters.
What does God think of the old South?
When I think of the evil seeping in through the mindsets and attitudes of our Northern conquerors, I can’t help but be refreshed in the idea that we really are the last heroes of Christendom and that our ancestors really did believe they were fighting for God, and that they really did believe they were helping their slaves (by feeding them, teaching them to read, and teaching them the Gospel), and I am encouraged in the idea that the South really was unique, and deserves to continue existing. And not just the South, but the West in general.