It would be safe to say that I am basically a Koyzisian in my views on political theory in the Reformed tradition. If you want to know what that means read his book Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies.
It is from this framework that I can say, with confidence, that many treat the “Old South,” the “Confederate South,” or whatever terms one chooses to use, in an idolatrous fashion in many Reformed circles in America–an idol that has existed without much challenge. The “Old South” is not to be honored as virtuous. There was no freedom for all blacks to be fully human. Instead, in humility, it would be best to simply consider that era as “rubbish” for the sake of gaining Christ (Phil 3:8) and his Kingdom.
Over the past few days it’s been interesting to watch people completely miss the point:
(1) I never alleged Doug Wilson to be anything (like a racist) but raised questions about those who embrace his teachings about the South. I had questions about their views not his. Rev. Wilson’s views have been clearly stated in the record for years. Rev. Wilson calls himself a “Paleo-Confederate.” I don’t mind that one bit. He’s free to do that. It’s a helpful clarification. If made additional accusations please quote me.
(2) Racism is not the core issue. The stumbling block is defending the cause of the Old South. Racism was a defense of the idol of the Confederate “Old South” by some. The fact that this discussion in the social media space in the past few days has focused on racism tells me how badly we’re missing the point. Many were encouraged to read Black and Tan to learn about Wilson’s views on race as if race was the central issue. I hope many people read it because many will expose a needed discussion about the history of the South and the Civil-War by historians. We all need to read more history for ourselves by experts in the field. The blind spot is the fallacy that just because someone denounces racism and oppression their historiography is exonerated.
(3) Many of the links I provided in previous posts were given for the sole purpose of introducing people to the very controversial views surrounding Rev. Wilson’s teachings about the South and concerns about his followers. They were not endorsements. They were simply links for information. And, again, to my to surprise, many of the YRR/new-Calvinist types were (are) ignorant of the on-going controversy since 1996. I don’t know how that happened. NO IDEA.
Defending the cause of the South attracts racists, Kinists, ethnonationalists, and others, even as those who defend the South teach against racism and oppression. Many of us are surprised that those who love Wilson on apologetics, marriage & family, masculinity etc. have never interrogated teachings on slavery and Civil-War. How did that happen? Doug Wilson is free to claim himself a “Paleo-Confederate” and there is no phone call or conference that will change that. That’s fine. I would rather have a country where people are free to hold whatever views they want than to have a country where the government dictates what must be believed.
Again, my chief concern is why it is that not many seem interested in teachings that seek to embrace Confederate values while rightly rejecting Confederate vices (and practices). From a black perspective, you’ll be hard pressed to find any black scholar who would make a case for any such thing as “virtuous” Southern Confederate values.
This brings us back to Koyzis. Why is there such interest in defending the South? (1) Perhaps, says Koyzis, “because conservatives regret nothing more than the loss of their own power and privilege. . .perhaps these are simply people who lament the erosion of a political and economic system from which they long benefited” (73). There is a “reverse utopianism” that “reconstructs an ideal past that never really existed in the sense imagined” like calling slavery “benign” (86).
(2) America is becoming less white. Many whites feel “their culture” slipping away and the Old South paradigm provides a portal for critiquing today’s culture in many ways–apologetics, marriage and family, education, limited government, economics, and so on. This is driven, in part, by a sense of real loss. A loss of cultural dominance. But the enduring question is simply this, “why is it necessary to embrace the complicated history of South as a means of cultural critique by seeking to defend it beyond the rubbish that it was?” For blacks, there are no “good ‘ol days” in America and reconstructing history to “honor” those in past does nothing but offend many blacks even more deeply.
The “Old South,” the Confederated South, is “rubbish” (beyond the “man stealing” and the racism) compared to gaining Christ and his Kingdom. Embracing the virtues, while rightly denouncing the vices reinserts division between the races. Some people simply can’t let the Old South go because it remains an idol. We’ll just have to leave it there, I guess. But if you’re not willing to expound on the Old, Confederate South as rubbish here’s a T-Shirt for you from Dixie Outfitters.