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Response to reconstruction comment

Once again I started writing a comment that went over the character limit so I’m just going to post it on here.  I was reading an article about the racist comments Scott Terry made during the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference and then I went to view the articles comment section.  There was a person suggesting that people who believed the North should have forced reconstruction down the south’s throats, even after Lincoln’s assassination, were correct.  His reasoning was that it may have helped the south reach a more civil position on racism than what it has today.  I didn’t feel as convinced that the North’s reconstruction efforts would have been championing a racial equality agenda even if it did continue.

I’m not so sure the North was as indiscriminate towards minorities in their thinking and policies as the country makes them out to be.  I need to research it more but your comment made me remember an exchange of dialogue in Gone with the Wind between Scarlett (southern plantation girl) and the newly settled carpetbaggers.  The carpetbaggers remarked that they were having trouble finding dependable nurses to look after the children to which Scarlett suggested they use a “darky” for the job.  She suggested it because prior to the civil war there was a different social hierarchy perceived by the plantation gentry than what most people today would think.  There was the southern gentry that put themselves on top, then black house hands like maids and nurses, followed by “crackers” which today might be called “white trash”, and then finally black plantation hands.  The book suggests that southern plantation owners held their indoor servants in higher esteem than “crackers” which was the term they used to describe white people with low social status.  Back to the nurse matter, Scarlett herself was raised almost exclusively by their houses head “darky” Mammy.  When Scarlett suggested a “darky” she also included her opinion that no other people were any more dependable to raise children well than black maids like her Mammy.  The carpetbaggers were shocked and asked how she could trust a (Insert extremely derogatory term for African-Americans) to be in close contact with a child.  Scarlett then thought to herself it funny that the people who fought for black freedom had such thoughts and she asked them that exactly.  Their reply was that they definitely thought blacks shouldn’t be enslaved, as per the “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” credo, but that they still thought blacks were repugnant and undeserving of being treated well.  They also let loose a chain of slurs towards her buggy driver, which was another black servant she held in high regard, and while they rode off Scarlett was very upset they would treat one of her family in such a way.

My line of thought was that maybe the kind of racial sensitivity that is prevalent in many northern states today was still in an infant stage during the Equal Rights movement and didn’t become more mainstream until after the fact. I’m theorizing that many northern inhabitants still only had a, comparatively, unrefined sentimentality towards racial equality even while approaching the mid-twentieth century and that the ERA was the catalyst that jumpstarted a magnitude of progress that has been less recognized in the minds of younger generations alive today.

And yes, I am aware my comments are a massive generalization of regions of people much more diverse and problems more intricate than my post leaves many to think I believe. I do not normally condone the usage of generalized labels to describe populations but I picked up and ran with the wording used in the comment I was responding to and it didn’t come out sounding as PC as it should be.


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