Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Gary Leva’s Southern Education

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on December 8, 2014

The Bitter Southerner is an online magazine focusing on contemporary southern culture. Occasionally it strays off into history, as in a recent article by filmmaker Gary Leva, on his experience traveling and shooting in the South while making a companion documentary to a new release of MGM’s Gone with the Wind. Leva grew up in Dallas and always considered himself a southerner, but was quickly corrected on that point by one of his first interviews with Kathryn Stockett, author of the best-selling novel, The Help.

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“Honey, that ain’t the South.”

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So begins Leva’s journey, literal and figurative, into the complex and contentious world of how southerners view — or in some cases, remain willfully blind to — their own history. Go read the whole thing.

Here’s a clip from the documentary:
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14 Responses

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  1. Andrew Raker said, on December 8, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    This is a really good read. Thanks for passing it along.

    The bit about Confederate symbols in government offices really resonated with me. I always felt a twinge of discomfort whenever I’d buy liquor in Virginia and see the state seal in the store, its motto reminding me of Ford’s Theatre (which, as someone who now has Indiana’s Lincoln speciality plates, is not a happy reminder). Having those kinds of interactions in a state with more overt symbolism could be challenging (though, you know, I’m a Northerner, so I’m not going to go around pushing people, as the article shows).

    The article does a good job of explaining why some Southerners don’t see problems in such symbols, and the stories at the end give me some hope that future generations won’t be the same. Hopefully they’re not so pervasive that the South can’t grow into its full potential.

    • Andy Hall said, on December 8, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      Michael Rodgers pointed out a while back an important way of looking at the CBF or, for that matter Confederate iconography in general. It’s not an original idea to Michael; I think he was sharing something that an NAACP leader in South Carolina had said, but it really did clarify things. The question to ask is, is this symbol displayed in a way that it shows sovereignty? Is it marking territory? If so, then it’s probably an inappropriate use.

      • Andrew Raker said, on December 9, 2014 at 9:34 am

        I think that’s a really helpful way of thinking about the flag’s use.

        I’ve also been mulling over the comment in an interview Leva did about leaving up monuments as a reminder of what Southerners have overcome. I was always struck with the big stone at the Alabama welcome center on I-65 that says “Alabama: We Dare Defend Our Rights”, which has always filled me with a shudder, since it makes me think of George Wallace in his first administrations. But yet there have been many Alabamians who were national leaders in the struggle for rights, and this kind of monument has kept me from thinking about them. I don’t have a final answer about what should be done about that kind of thing, but, the article has offered new thoughts about it.

  2. Leo said, on December 10, 2014 at 10:15 am

    I live in Mississippi and we had a dust up about our state flag a few years ago. My thought process going into the vote was very similar to the one you expressed. I feel that the CBF should not fly in a position of state authority, but should only be flown as part of a historical display in the proper context (First National for Mississippi since we were out the war when the other designs came along or the appropriate battle flag over historic battlefields). I voted for the new design although my personal preference was to go back to the original magnolia flag since it has the historical connection so many say they want without having been tainted by any hate groups. Maybe Mississippi will catch up with modern times at some point, but I don’t see any change coming in my lifetime given the political climate here.

  3. Jack said, on December 11, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    O.M.G… Seriously? As a child I spent summers at my grandparent’s home. They had cattle, and I remember that the cattle pooped a lot. Now I’ve stepped in cow pooped, tossed cow poop, and one time accidentally fell face first into cow poop while in the barn, but NEVER have I come across so much bullshit as was contained in this little gem of a anti-southern diatribe.

    I don’t have time to point out the biases, slants, and failed logic because there are examples in every paragraph. But we only have to scroll to the end to see the true message, “..to the blood-red block of states that said “hell no” to Barack Obama in two elections, the answer remains the same.” Just WOW.. So if you’re Republican, if you’re conservative, if you’re southern, then you are just another Confederate pulled right out of the CW milieu secretly wishing to return to the days of yore. Oh yeah and Hitler too because any good liberal argument has to frame any opposition as either slaveholder or concentration camp advocate.

    All of these sad liberal websites use the same lame divisive tactics of trying to guilt people into voting liberal / Democrat / progressive / socialist. The best response is to vote for candidates that support a region’s heritage, meritocracy, freedom of thought and expression rather than infantile, morally inept, government dependent representatives who have to bring in “undocumented” labor to shore up their voting base. I never thought I’d see this level in of ignorance on a history blog. Shame, shame..

    • Andy Hall said, on December 11, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    • Jimmy Dick said, on December 11, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      “The best response is to vote for candidates that support a region’s heritage, meritocracy, freedom of thought and expression rather than infantile, morally inept, government dependent representatives”

      Take out the word heritage and you just gave the best answer as to why never to vote for a Republican. The GOP and its supporters have no morality as they proudly support racism, bigotry, oppression and tyranny. Just look at their support for torture while cheerfully trampling all over the Constitution of the United States of America.

      I laugh at the GOP when they try to say they’re for a nation of laws while they break them left and right in their lust for power. That they dare call themselves the party of life is pure hypocrisy as they support totalitarian measures and governments that oppress democracies throughout the world. Then they have the unmitigated gall to call themselves Christian which is nauseating because you cannot be Christian and support the use of torture, the continuing support of racist and bigoted policies, and the oppression of the poor while in pursuit of money.

      • Jack said, on December 12, 2014 at 4:16 pm

        Jimmy are you a comedian? Because you are so funny man. Hey did you vote for Obama? Obama supports gay marriage. Since you voted for Obama, you must be gay. That explains a lot of your views.
        Jimmy explain how your Democrat party advocstes the execution of roughly 800k in unborn each year. How barbaric and embarrassing for you right? Maybe that’s why you ignore war crimes against southerners that is called the Civil War.

  4. Foxessa said, on December 11, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Prosperous southern carpetbaggers, and / or their sons, who got prosperous, did a great deal to fund these southern women’s projects, such as Bernard Baruch, the founder of Baruch college. Just one of the little bits of this and that we encountered in our research on some other matters in these last five years.

    • Andy Hall said, on December 11, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      Yes generally, although the Baruchs weren’t carpetbaggers. They were from South Carolina and Bernard’s father was a Confederate army surgeon.

      • Foxessa said, on December 14, 2014 at 11:49 am

        You misunderstood: the term “southern carpetbaggers” means the former CSA secessionists who went north to reestablish their fortunes after Appomattox. Many of them already had financial and mercantile interests — as well as relatives — in cities like NYC and Chicago, even before the war. Others, like many of the merchants in Charleston made sure to get them going via family members, such as the Lehman Bros. etc.

        Really, I do know the history of the Baruch family …. 🙂

        Love, C.

  5. John Betts said, on December 13, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Interesting video, I’d like to watch the whole thing. As I’m currently taking a graduate course on the American Revolution, the comments made in this particular clip make me wonder if the same “Lost Cause” mentality would have prevailed if we had of lost the war. The Patriots committed treason in the eyes of the British and Loyalists and their motives for doing so were considered to be highly suspect at best. Before anyone gets excited, I’m NOT saying that the Confederates = the Patriots but am just on a “What If?” scenario of the aftermath if we had lost the Revolution. Would it have been similar? Since I enjoy the alternate history genre of fiction I’d say that this would make a good book!


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