January 1, 2021
(Update: 01/08/2001 -The linked video is now showing as a private video. Here is a link to a playlist of some excerpts.)
This video from YouTube demonstrates several truth-hacking tactics related to how we understand the history of America's Civil War, and how we ended up building statues for traitors and rebels who dedicated their lives to killing United States soldiers.
If you control history, if you control the past, you can control the future.
This video is from 2017. It's a presentation by Jeffery Robinson of the ACLU. It's an hour and forty minutes. It's worth finding time and watching it through.
We often hear the argument that the Civil War wasn't about slavery, but about state's rights. But with a simple web search, it's easy to find the documents written by the states themselves explaining exactly why they intended to leave the union. The Georgia Secession proclamation, goes to great lengths about the concern that the "non-slave-holding States" were passing laws that interfered with their way of life and, in their words, their property.
The faithless conduct of our adversaries is not confined to such acts as might aggrandize themselves or their section of the Union. They are content if they can only injure us. The Constitution declares that persons charged with crimes in one State and fleeing to another shall be delivered up on the demand of the executive authority of the State from which they may flee, to be tried in the jurisdiction where the crime was committed. It would appear difficult to employ language freer from ambiguity, yet for above twenty years the non-slave-holding States generally have wholly refused to deliver up to us persons charged with crimes affecting slave property. Our confederates, with punic faith, shield and give sanctuary to all criminals who seek to deprive us of this property or who use it to destroy us. This clause of the Constitution has no other sanction than their good faith; that is withheld from us; we are remediless in the Union; out of it we are remitted to the laws of nations.
The declaration of Secession by Mississippi states:
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.
Utter subjugation awaits us in the Union, if we should consent longer to remain in it. It is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. We must either submit to degradation, and to the loss of property worth four billions of money, or we must secede from the Union framed by our fathers, to secure this as well as every other species of property. For far less cause than this, our fathers separated from the Crown of England.
And so, they decided to go to war, to leave the union, and to kill soldiers of the United States. For these military acts against our nation, they continue to be honored with statues, schools, and even United States Army Installations that bear their name.
The video makes the point that there are many facts about that our history that are easily available, but are not usually taught in our high school or college history courses.
Instead, we learn a more sanitized history, where the issue of slavery is incidental, a side issue, rather than being the central, essential reason for the secession.
The use of language and dog-whistles, the selection of textbook material, and how issues are covered in the news, are all intentional truth-hacking mechanisms intended to present a view of history that twists traitors into heros and slavery into a property rights narrative.
Mr. Robinson says: "Why isn't there a statue of Heinrich Himmler in Germany? Why isn't there a statue of a Nazi soldier in Germany? ... They have figured out something that we haven't and one of the reasons is, they have dealt honestly with their past."
Last year revealed several reasons for stepping back and reconsidering what we want to be true in America. Here is an example where the more informed we are the more evidence we find of the intentional reframing and retelling of the truth.
We are living through history and we have an opportunity to place our hands on the rudder of truth to turn it away from the channels that nearly tore our nation apart before and are shouting once again.
But now we know how reality is cast, and we see the mechanisms of the magic show.
Whatever our parts can be, we can play a role in deciding whether we return to this angry past, or deal with it and build a new reality that recognizes the evidence of our past, and the truths that are needed to take us to a new day.
Near the end of the video, Jeffery Robinson tells us:
There is a movement in America that has not been in existence in my lifetime...
The discussions about racial equality that were going on then are nowhere near as deep, as intense, and as revealing as the discussions that are going on today. As scared as I feel, and as frustrated as I feel with what's going on in this country there's a part of me that says we're on the cusp of something. This is a friking tipping point and it is going to go one way or the other. And I am saying that everybody sitting in this room, it is part of your responsibility which way this tip occurs.
Update: I also found this video, which shows additional details related to this issue: "How Southern societies rewrote Civil War history."