Clyde Wilsons Idea
Clyde Wilson, historian and Professor at the University of South Carolina, has said the folks who point to slavery as the primary cause of the War for Southern Independence are building for themselves a “treasure of counterfeit virtue”. The idea is that these folks avoid any culpability for their Northern American icons by imposing on them a 21st century moral aversion to the institution of slavery when that is far from the truth. Lincoln, his government, almost all of the so-called abolitionists, and most of the citizens of the North had no qualms with the institution per se. They only wanted to prevent its spread to western states so that they (New England) could assume and hold onto the power of the general government. That’s all.
There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people to the idea of indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races … A separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation, but as an immediate separation is impossible, the next best thing is to keep them apart where they are not already together. If white and black people never get together in Kansas, they will never mix blood in Kansas …A Lincoln
In respect to any virtue superimposed upon them and their crusade against the seceded Southern States, it is counterfeit and neglects to deal with the racism that plagued the whole nation both then and now. The treasury they build is a diversionary narrative that exasperates the racial divide by exclusively condemning an entire culture and passing the buck if you will.
Pass the fig leaf please
Its human nature. People don’t like to be guilty. Folks don’t usually accept blame well. Its easier to pass the buck.
We do it all of the time. We justify our sin by pointing the finger at circumstances or people as the cause that necessitated our bad behavior. Sometimes we say the devil made us do it. Sometimes we blame God. Its rare that our initial reaction is immediate repentance.
But, it’s an old game. It’s been played from the beginning. Remember, Adam blamed Eve and God. There was blame to go around. God found them both hiding. Then Adam passed the buck.
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Genesis 3:12
Adam built a counterfeit treasure of virtue when he implied that it was necessary to eat the fruit because the woman who offered it was God given. Its bounty was short lived. That’s not always the case.
Passing it forward?
Many times we build these treasures and they last for generations until truth comes calling. Sometimes our posterity pays the price for counterfeit virtue we’ve collected . That was true for David and his family.
But like us, David was a mixed bag. He had used his righteousness as the bank to deposit his counterfeit virtue. When it came to repentance, David was blinded by his fools gold. He didn’t see his sin until the man of God said “you’re the man”!
Who paid for his overdraft? He and his family paid. That’s the way it often goes.
10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’ ” 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.”-2 Samuel 12:10-14
The Saga continues
It seems that this kind of generational suffering from treasuries of counterfeit virtue exists in the various “American” cultures today. We pay for the sins of our fathers and they are extended by the avoidance of culpability by those who carry no burden but a counterfeit cross in a crusade. Instead they write checks that the historical record won’t cash. It’s a shame that we can’t move past that.
Now, there are those who are so convinced that their treasure chest is rich with virtue that they intend to destroy any vestige of honor of Southern culture. It seems that the monuments and symbols of Southern people are too much of a reminder that their fortunes are fake. Their banks are built on half truths that depend on the destruction of the historical whole.
With that in mind I’d like to encourage Southerners to be themselves. Sure, we ought to own up to our mistakes. Slavery really existed here over 150 years ago. It was often abused and people were treated harshly.
But we should also promote what is true and valuable about our culture. Many of the men who are memorialized by the monuments being destroyed these days exemplify what is true and valuable in the South. Lee, Jackson, Davis and others were good men. They lived by standards that are foreign to the majority of many Southerners today. They were cavaliers, honorable and were truly Christian.
We shouldn’t allow their denegration. We ought to immulate them. Our children should see them as bigger than life. Why? If there is any group of people who have the opportunity to exemplify reconciliation its us. But not at the expense of truth, not the sacrifice of our identity.
Blacks and whites in the South have much more in common than the rest of the US would let us believe. These memorialized men are symbolic of that if nothing else.
Not all were slave owners. Most weren’t statesmen. Lots were farmers. Many were citizen soldiers. But each of them shared one thing that they believed was worth defending…Dixie.
We too have our home. We share a land, a distinct culture, a common history, and a Faith in Christ.
We’ve lived together (good or bad) longer than any other people in the country. Outsiders would divide us for their own treasuries. In reality, we can’t avoid our historical relationship and we should not allow it to be so. It informs how we ought to form our future.
Denying our past deposits fake money of righteousness in a bank that won’t tolerate a negative balance. Whitewashing history writes checks that won’t cash. All in all a ledger that exists without real deposits has bankruptcy in its future.
President Trump cashed a check that we’ve held for a long time just a few weeks ago when he spoke his mind. He was chastised by the historical accountants of the counterfeit bank when he suggested that the War Between the States could’ve and should’ve been avoided. Over 750,000 soldiers and probably 1 million slaves/freedmen died due to the decision to invade the South. No other culture ended slavery that way.
That’s a tragedy we share. Its our history, uniquely Southern.
There’s no denying it. Our future will be linked by that fact, like it or not. No amount of erasure will make that disappear. If every monument is destroyed and all flags furled history remains in tact and the future remains unwritten. The question is not how we can avoid it. The question is, what will we make of it?