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The Nadir of Race Relations  "Confederate Veteran" blames Atlanta Race Riots on persons advocating for civil rights for African Americans Go back
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Confederate Veteran blames Atlanta Race Riots on persons advocating for civil rights for African Americans

 

Confederate Veteran

, Vol. 14 No. 12, December 1906, page 546-7. The Confederate Veteran was the official publication of the United Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Confederated Southern Memorial Association, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  

 

Racists in the South often liked to find validation by find someone outside the South to defend their views. The article is as follows:

 

NORTHERN VIEW OF RACE TROUBLES.

 

(From the Bellman, Minneapolis, Minn.)

 

The fearful occurrences in Atlanta, Ga., which have horrified the readers of the daily press, may well give us of the North a shock. We deserve it, and we need it to awaken us to a realization of our responsibilities to our brethren of the South. A race war undertaken on the part of the whites in sacred defense of their homes or an unlawful outbreak in which the innocent and guilty of one race were alike sacrificed to the maddened vengeance of another—consider it either way you will, denounce it or excuse it, find palliation in the greatest of provocations humanity can know, or condemn the perpetrators as outrageous lawbreakers—you cannot avoid the awful fact that the condition which is responsible for it exists and must be reckoned with.

 

This dreadful problem presses for a permanent solution. The conclusion of the of rebellion demonstrated, once and for all, that this was a nation. Being such, its component parts must share responsibility for the maintenance of order and justice within its borders. If the protection of woman is not the supreme duty of the American citizen, whether he lives north or south of Mason and Dixon’s line, then our country no longer deserves to rank among civilized nations. If it is, then it is time that the citizen of the North ceased to consider the problem of the South as an academic question to be discussed calmly and regretfully at a safe distance from the scene of horror and shame. It is his duty to come forward manfully and acknowledge his share of the blame and assume his part of the burden.

 

The North is even more responsible for this overshadowing horror than the South. Let it face the facts as they are and cease this sloppy, sensational talk about the elevation of the negro race and the need of self­-control on the part of the Southern Caucasian. Ethical considerations, fine­spun theories, philanthropical devices for a gradual evaluation of the negro are not entitled to a moment’s consideration when it is true that no white woman living in the South is safe for a moment unless guarded by the gun.

 

The North freed these negroes. It elevated them to citizenship and proclaimed them the possessors of equal rights with the whites. Previous to the war slavery, accursed though it was, held them in subjection and restrained the brutes among then—and they were many—from violence. Careless of consequences, the North let them loose and encouraged them to believe themselves equal in everything to their former masters. After a brief interregnum of carpetbag government, the conquerors retired to their safe, pure, protected homes, secure in the knowledge that the law was amply strong to protect them from assault and their women from dishonor. They washed their hands of responsibility; they left to the impoverished, defeated, disheartened South the task of making the newly freed worthy of citizenship.

 

Since then the North has contributed largely of money to educate the negro. It has sent Northern teachers, devoted, self­-sacrificing, well­-meaning persons, full of zeal, to lift the once oppressed race to a higher plane. It has sympathized with and supported every scheme devised to benefit the negro and has lauded to the highest skies every effort to create in him social, political, and financial aspirations. To the protests of the white men of the South who knew the negro and had to live with him that the methods chosen were wrong and mischievous and would surely result in disaster the people of the North turned a deaf ear.

 

The Southern white man’s exact knowledge of conditions was discredited, his advice scorned, his warnings unheeded. Although he had demonstrated repeatedly his fidelity to the restored Union and had shown his willingness to serve his country in the field when the emergency arose, he was deemed unworthy of confidence in questions affecting the negro. He was told to observe the law, when the law was unable to save him or, what was a thousand times more important, to save the dearest thing on earth to him—his women. He was told to contain himself, to be patient and wait the results of long distance Northern theorizing.

 

Meantime he was surrounded by a dense mass of ignorant negroes fast forgetting what little of self-­control had been inherited from a former generation which had been trained to respect the white man and honor the white woman and rapidly returning to a state of brutal savagery, every day degenerating, as a whole, morally and becoming an increasing menace to civilization. Upon this vicious, ignorant, debased horde the puny schemes of race elevation were as snowflakes falling into the seething ocean. Still the Southern whites protested, warned, and implored; but Northern sentimentality was proof against the natural appeals of race, the ties of kinship, and the dictates of nature.

 

Now it has at length come to pass that the deluge has broken, and this problem, long in the brewing of its malign factors, must be effectually settled not alone by the South, but by the North as well. We have had enough of theorizing, temporizing, philosophizing; it is time to act. Northern people are not generally aware of the fact, but it is nevertheless true that the state of the mass of negroes in the South is so debased, so utterly, hopelessly, fearfully lacking in moral conceptions, that there exists in many Southern States a condition which this or any other respectable journal would not dare describe except in the most general terms, so loathsome and shocking would the details be if truly and plainly stated.

 

White women and children are not safe; they cannot walk unguarded in the streets of the cities even in daytime. At night doors must be locked and windows barred, the revolver must be ready at hand if the black assailant is to be kept out. In many portions of the Black Belt the family of the white man lives in a constant state of siege; a fate worse than death awaits its members if they dare relax their vigilance for an hour. Northern people do not know the truth, and their journals are not enlightening them. The South, for very shame, is loath to let the facts be known; but a residence of even a few weeks in any portion of the country where the ignorant negro population is congested will convince the most skeptical that this hideous danger is always imminent and very real.

 

The crime of stealing is the very least of the negro’s offenses against Southern society. The whites of the South have long since ceased to expect that he will respect the rights of property. Larceny is looked upon as a joke. As well might one expect the leopard to change his spots as the Southern negro to refrain from stealing. It is possible to protect against this comparatively minor offense; it is the hideous crimes, the unspeakable horrors, that are the real menace. Against these the law is powerless, because it recognizes no punishment adequate to the offense; it can devise nothing that will prevent its recurrence, and the harm done is irreparable.

 

Ordinary punishment, adequate in the North to check crime, fails entirely in the South to restrain the negro even from the commission of minor misdemeanors. The disgrace of imprisonment does not touch him, as a rule. In many Southern towns, when cold weather approaches and the shiftless and improvident blacks feel its chill, numbers of them deliberately and openly commit theft in order to be arrested, convicted, and sentenced to the penitentiary during the winter months, there to be maintained in comparative comfort at the State’s expense until spring returns. When, once again at liberty, they come back, they are met at the train by their neighbors, relatives, and friends and escorted in triumph to their lurking places, as if they were heroes returning from an honorable undertaking instead of idle, vicious, debased criminals let loose from jail.

 

The fear of immediate and dreadful death is powerless to control the brutal, degenerated negro when his passions are aroused. His mind is too feeble and shallow to consider the consequences of his crime; and the brute in him, once awakened, reckons nothing whatever of future punishment. The force of example, even in its most terrifying form, when frenzied mobs wreak vengeance in burnings and sickening torture, does not impress itself upon this class for more than a very brief time. Its intellect is so inferior and its imagination so utterly diseased that the effect of such horrid spectacles soon wears off.

 

This national cancer is a revolting, hideous subject. One is loath to speak of it in clean type on unpolluted paper, lest its contemplation should breed pestilence; but if it is ever to be cut out, it must be realized and considered in all its horror, especially by Northern people who have too long shut their eyes to the truth. The South understands it, and the better classes of whites, to whom our sympathy and aid should be extended in the fullest measure, know further that, beside; the vicious negro, they have with them a large element of ignorant, violent, intemperate white people for whose crude and revolting execution of lynch law they are held responsible by the world.

 

It is time for the North to bear a hand in the solution of the problem it has liberally shared in creating. It can do so by ceasing to exploit the negro as the white man’s equal. It can do so by considering the mass of negroes in the South as they are, not as sentimentalists represent them to be. It can do so by discontinuing its senseless, fruitless attempt at higher cultivation of the negro. As long as the vast majority of the race in the South remains as it is, the strong arm of white control must be strengthened and encouraged.

 

The negro must be taught the rudimentary virtues he has forgotten before he can aspire to a higher education. He must be made to obey absolutely. He must be compelled to restrain himself. He must fear and respect the law, and he must be made to understand that if he dares so much as think wrongfully of a white woman he will deserve death, and at the slightest indication of an intent to commit wrong he wilt receive it. The North can do its duty by first understanding the condition as it is and then uniting with the Caucasian of the South in knowledge of and sympathy with his situation to devise proper, adequate, and permanent relief.

 

What is now needed is less sentiment and more common sense on the part of the North. All the money it has to devote to humanitarian purposes and all the sympathy and support it can summon should in this grave emergency which threatens North and South alike be placed unreservedly and in the fullest confidence back of the better class of white people in the South, who alone are possessed of a full comprehension of the true situation and who alone are competent to deal with it adequately and justly.

 

Reference : Confederate Truths: Documents of the Confederate & Neo-Confederate Tradition from 1787 to the Present.
http://www.confederatepastpresent.org