Facing South

VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors -- look away, look away

bulloch.jpgBy John F. Sugg, Executive Editor
Georgia Online News Service

A time trip I like to take about once a year spirits me back to Sept. 19-20, 1863, at a spot along the Tennessee-Georgia border where soldiers did what soldiers do. And that includes dying -- 3,969 of them -- and being maimed, blinded, shattered and a variety of other almost-but-not-quite-lethal events we describe as wounding -- another 24,430.

It was called the Battle of Chickamauga, and if you go to the visitor center at the battlefield, you'll be captured, as I am on my annual treks, by the photographs of common men in rough blue and gray uniforms. Many of the warriors were mere boys. This is not the fancy dress Civil War portrayed by Hollywood.

Among the larger photos is one of Col. Cyrus Sugg of the Confederate Army's 50th Tennessee Infantry, who commanded Gregg's Brigade after Brig. Gen. John Gregg was shot in the neck. One of the plaques scattered around the battlefield even notes where "Sugg took command," a phrase that appeals to me.

Unfortunately, Col. Sugg rated a calculation in one or both of the numbers above. He was wounded at Chickamauga, and then taken to a field hospital in Marietta, where he expired.

Cyrus Sugg was a relative, and one of many Suggs who fought in the Civil War, so this is personal for me, folks. John H. Sugg, another Tennessean, was a Confederate soldier who ended up as a Yankee prisoner of war. Then there was Joseph Sugg, who kept dodging service in one or the other of the competing armies in Missouri until captured by federal troops who made him join their band. There was even a Rebel steamboat named the Tom Sugg, which was captured by Union solders in Arkansas' Little Red River.

And, there are many African-Americans with the surname Sugg or Suggs, who likely are descended from slaves owned by my ancestors who originally settled in South Carolina. I've even attended a family reunion of one branch of the black Sugg family.

So, all things considered, I get this Southern heritage thing. But if I ever in some eternity get to ask Col. Cyrus Sugg a question, it would be: "Suh, jes' what were y'all thinkin'?"

And if I ever get a chance to ask the Georgia General Assembly, en masse, a question on the subject of history, it would be: "Gentlemen and ladies, if I may use those terms in their loosest application, what the hell were you thinking when you failed to pass urgent transportation funding but did find time to pass a silly law that would have the effect of elevating the fables of Gone With the Wind to sanctified history?"

Which is exactly what a bill that passed by overwhelming majorities in both houses (AKA asylums) of the General Assembly did. The law denoting April as Confederate Heritage and History Month will undoubtedly be signed by Gov. Sonny "Unreconstructed" Perdue.

Let's consider for a minute exactly what Georgia will be commemorating. A bunch of brigands, in order to preserve their own aristocratic way of life, connived and committed acts of mass terrorism to undermine and overthrow the U.S. government. If there had been a Pentagon in the 1860s, they surely would have bombed it.

They pursued their criminal conspiracy by convincing the most uneducated and unsophisticated citizens that the nation they thought they were part of really wasn't their nation, but that a mythological fairyland of cavaliers and damsels was their homeland. The treasonous leaders of this conspiracy, especially the military el jefes led by a turncoat named Robert E. Lee, violated their sacred oaths, including those made to God. They claimed to be honorable, but where the hell is honor in betraying one's country and vows?

The plebeians were largely duped into joining the 19th Century's version of Al Qaeda, but the law allows little room for those who are determinedly stupid. Just as many uneducated Muslims are conned by "leaders" into committing vile and unforgivable acts of terrorism, so too were the farmboys of the South deceived into believing in a "cause" that never really existed.

That's not quite the magnolia and Scarlett O'Hara version of Confederate history that the legislators envision. Without regard to the implications, their proposed law calls on all Georgians "to honor, observe, and celebrate the Confederate States of America, its history, those who served in its armed forces and government, and ... the cause which they held so dear from its founding on February 4, 1861, in Montgomery, Alabama, until the Confederate ship CSS Shenandoah sailed into Liverpool Harbor and surrendered to British authorities on November 6, 1865."

Indeed, it's worth noting that they did not pass a law endorsing the rich, fruitful "Southern history," only that part of the South's past as it relates to a band of usurpers, terrorists and traitors. But, of course, defining it as "Confederate" history means it's white history. Blacks, as we know from the Holy Gospel of Margaret Mitchell, had only supporting roles, mostly to be whipped or be treated with about the same paternalism as one shows to a good dog.

In part, this Confederate history law is a mean-spirited swipe at the idea of black history months. The legislation would equate the fantasy of a noble "lost cause" with the actual reality of the African-American narrative, a story that has been suppressed, often viciously so, by the South's Jim Crow mentality. Put another way, to follow the Georgia legislature's logic, the Aryan myth of Nazi Germany would be just as valid as the true history of the Holocaust.

Since this is Georgia, everything is about race. The Republican (AKA Neo-Confederate) dominated legislature didn't pass transportation funding or other critical legislation because the rural good ol' boys were playing racial politics, at least in part. They don't want to be perceived as doing something that would help all of those blacks, interloping white Yankees, gays and other minorities in Atlanta.

The Confederate history law is more of the same mindset. Indeed, its Senate sponsor, John Bulloch, hails from that part of the state 200 miles south and 200 years in the past from metropolitan Atlanta. It's a part of the state where more than a few folks have folded sheets and hoods in their attics. I'm sure Bulloch has no intention of teaching about the legacy of Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Ku Klux Klan, and the 5,000 or so incidents of terrorist lynchings by fans of Confederate history. That would be simply inconvenient and uncomfortable.

Racism has been a sure road to power for some Republicans. When former state Rep. Sue Burmeister (R-Augusta) introduced a requirement for photo voter registration in 2005, U.S. Justice Department lawyers reported that she said, "If there are fewer black voters because of this bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud," and "when black voters ... are not paid to vote they do not go to the polls."

Sadly for the GOP, being beholden to the "Old South" is about as viable a long-term political strategy as Germans who still believe a fellow named Adolf had some great ideas for running the world. Aunt Pittypat bemoaned: "Oh, dear. Yankees in Georgia. How did they ever get in?" Bad news for Pittypat (and Georgia legislators):

A lot of Yankees and a lot of Southerners (like me) who won't tolerate racial politics and who most definitely don't believe in honoring terrorists, whether named Osama bin Laden or Jefferson Davis, now live in Georgia.

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta) chided his colleagues on the Confederate history month law -- but his comments are equally applicable to much of what goes on at the Gold Dome. "These Southern states really still have not come back into the Union," Brooks told the Los Angeles Times. "That is why it's been so difficult over the years to get the states to recognize that flying the Confederate emblem on the flag, holding reenactments and pushing these calendar events as a matter of law is a reflection . . . of their Confederate mentality. ... The Confederacy lost, and the majority of the American people will not accept these ideas about a renegade group of folks who decided they would overthrow the U.S. government."

Put another way: Do un-American acts have a shelf-life? If certain acts were un-American less than 50 years ago, weren't they un-American 150 years ago? If so, who would expect us to honor those acts today? Are these people terrorist sympathizers? Are they un-American?

(Photo of Georgia state Sen. John Bulloch from the Georgia legislature's website)


People Referenced:


re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

Respectfully sir, you have completely missed the history, the actual events and the realization of what your ancestors went through 150 years ago.

Your commentary is exactly like any other liberal-minded, swayed by the years, diatribe that ignores all the facts and focuses squarely on emotion. It's nonsense.

Let me add something. I am not southern. My ancestors all fought for the Union, and I am not a neo-Confederate. I am a one of those who, just like many from my state were stuck stradling the fence between the rights and wrongs of both sides.

True American's understand their history and live by the words that their founding fathers penned.

Read these words: "Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable and most sacred right - a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize, and make their own, of so many of the territory as they inhabit."

That was Abraham Lincoln, January 12, 1848. Not quite what you expect from the great emancipator.

Tread carefully when you start pushing a liberal agenda on Americans who actually understand their history.

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

Surely Civil War Fan isn't advocating for the tyranny of the minority when it comes to secession, is he? Because the majority of people living below the Mason-Dixon line 150 years ago did not support the cause of Confederate secession. We are counting enslaved Blacks as people, aren't we? Or is the idea that Blacks are actually people also part of the "emotional" "liberal agenda" that must be resisted?

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

One word: Sad

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

Civil War Fan offers a cogent summary of what Confederate leaders said at the time. It sounds good, too...until you start wondering whether all that "stand up and throw off your shackles" rhetoric would ever have applied to 4 million black slaves. But I forget: it wasn't about slavery, was it?

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

The Negro was considered to be personal property which could be bought, sold, or traded when our constitution was written.

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

John Sugg's misunderstanding of Southern and Confederate history is shocking and sad at the same time. Southerners LEFT the United States and asked to be left alone. It was THEIR land invaded by terrorists who raped women, killed civilians, burned down private homes and entire cities and towns. When Lee invaded Pennsylvania, he told his men to leave private property alone. As to his throwing around the charge that Confederates were committing "treason," one only has to ask why Jefferson Davis, imprisoned for two years in a military prison, was not tried for treason. The reason, Mr. Sugg, was that the best lawyers in the nation realized that he was innocent and they challenged the U.S. to try him for treason. The U.S., realizing that Davis and all Southerners were innocent of such a ludicrous charge, finally set Davis free; afraid that the U.S. Supreme Court would prove that the U.S. - not the Confederacy - had started The War. Mr. Sugg, read some history (preferably my book PURSUIT - The Chase, Capture, Persecution and Surprising Release of Confederate President Jefferson Davis) and you will learn that your article is just plain wrong - even stupid.

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

Civil War Fan, thanks for the comment, but what part of the Civil War don't I understand. A bold statement on your part, short of facts. Lincoln was a prolific writer and speaker, and one quote proves little. He also made comments that can be construed as (and probably are) white supremacist. But just like many Southern politicians in recent history -- LeRoy Collins (Florida), William Winter (Miss.), Jimmy Carter (Ga.), who all began as segregationists but evolved to lead the South out of Jim Crow -- Lincoln grew. I'm sure there were many sincere people in the South who supported secession; my ancestor Col. Cyrus Sugg was likely one. But many sincere people are also terribly wrong about the object of their sincerity. To the extent that I gave a history lesson, it was that a bunch of elitists tried to hold onto their privilege (which was founded on the detestable concept of human bondage) by ginning up a "cause." Nothing so complex as a war can be reduced to such shorthand, but that's still a lot more accurate that sanctifying the idea of secession. Those who advocated secession then, just as those who advocate it now (Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, the slyly white supremacist groups such as the League of the South and the Council of Concerned Citizens, and the not so sly Klan and other hate groups) are just dead wrong about history. Lincoln understood the dynamics of history, and had he and the Union not prevailed, we'd now resemble the Balkan states.

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

I am a Southerner by birth and a liberal by nature. My ancestors in the same family fought on both sides of the Civil War. As near as I can tell, none of my ancestors who fought for the South owned slaves (although other ancestors did), and I was brought up by my grandfather in Louisiana to see the War Between the States as having been "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight". As near as can be told from our family's oral history, those who fought for the Confederacy did not do so particularly to uphold slavery, but they did so in effect to protect their homes and loved ones.

Similarly, my collateral ancestor who fought for the Union did so because local Southerners tried to "impress" him repeatedly, although he was only 14. His mother is known to have supported that decision, although she had a son then fighting for each side.

So, in my view, I can honor the courage and fortitude displayed in the Civil War by good men on both sides, without endorsing either the folly of seccession or the abhorrent cause of slavery. I am reminded of an ad for a veteran reunion that appeared in the local paper in 1885, that welcomed soldiers from both sides. If those men could get past it, how can we do less?

I think it's an ill-considered choice to have a month honoring only Confederate "heroes",rather than "the heroes of Georgia who served during the Civil War. It is easy to forget that there were persons, North and South, who served for various reasons with distinction in the other army.

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

the point being that Georgia is wasting time on window dressings when the front porch is on fire comes thru.

but what raises hackles, even for a born and raised redneck, is how quickly you fall into the fallicy that the war between the states was about slavery.

no more so slavery than bringing DEMOCRACY to Iraq.

Business, then as now, always seeks to force the government to protect it and its interest. One only has to look at textile and textile processing from these times, the location where said work was done, and the cost per unit as applied to each region and place.

Southerners had the cheapest workforce available. While the North had an ever growing workforce of Irish immigrants, who would work for next to nothing, btu could not live on $0.

So much like many of America's other mistakes it was not driven by the will of the people, but the message was instead formed so the people could be brought to the will of the corporations.

Simple greed.

Same type of greed that has imprisoned millions of Americans for drug laws in this land of the free to choose what to put in our bodys and not be forced to adhere to the religious morals of any one group.

Greed is the answer, not rascism. The message was only honed and perfected so as to allow and make legit in the peoples eyes a war on other Americans.

Good message by the way. People should not be slaves. But it was and always will be just that. A tool used to rouse the masses to the wishes of the elected or the goons controlling the pursestrings.


re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

I grew up in north GA, but my Civil War family history is a bit different from Mr. Sugg's. According to my grandmother, an ancestor hid from the Home Guard when they came to his farm to press him into fighting for the Confederacy. He wasn't duped into abandoning his farm and giving his life for the wealthy plantation owner's cause. I can't say the same for the relatives who, a few years ago, expressed great concern for the possibility of the Confederate stars and bars being removed from the state flag. I think they should be more concerned about lacking adequate health insurance and access to affordable dental care. All of this clamor over the dead past is a distraction from the real problems of the present. Or how about having to pay for the construction of privately-owned nuclear power plants through higher power bills now? The economic interests of ordinary folks have never been served by Confederate pride distractions.

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

I'd like to praise this decision and further offer up another. That would be White history month. Or I'll trade that for the taking away of Black history month. Why is their no White entertainment TV, but their is BET? Where is the National Association for the Advancement of Whit People?


I wish I was in the land of cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten;
Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixie's Land!
In Dixie's Land where I was born in,
Early on one frosty morning,
Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixie's Land!

Then I wish I was in Dixie! Hooray! Hooray!
In Dixie's Land I'll take my stand, to live and die in Dixie!
Away! Away! Away down South in Dixie!
Away! Away! Away down South in Dixie!

Old Missus married "Will the Weaver";
William was a gay deceiver!
Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixie's Land!
But when he put his arm around her,
Smiled as fierce as a forty-pounder!
Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixie's Land!

His face was sharp as a butcher's cleaver;
But that did not seem to grieve her!
Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixie's Land!
Old Missus acted the foolish part
And died for a man that broke her heart!
Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixie's Land

Now here's a health to the next old missus
And all the gals that want to kiss us!
Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixie's Land!
But if you want to drive away sorrow,
Come and hear this song tomorrow!
Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixie's Land!

There's buckwheat cakes and Injin batter,
Makes you fat or a little fatter!
Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixie's Land!
Then hoe it down and scratch your gravel,
To Dixie's Land I'm bound to travel!
Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixie's Land!

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

Thanks John!!
Keep the message out there no matter who keeps trying to dispute it with lies.
Anyone who thinks this is wrong needs to read a fully documented book on the same issue called "Lies My Teacher Told Me" by James Loewen.
Lincoln's goal was to preserve the union and was easy on the south, so instead of humbly accepting that gift, we have been given the neo-confederates of the under Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II.
It was treason the south committed simply because they were not in disagreement over the form of government, but simply to maintain their "state's right" to keep slaves.
I had to suffer with living in the south for 8 years. The southern pride thing is nauseating. For those southerners reading this, guess what, the food was lousy too!!!

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

I guess Oklahoma should honor T. McVeigh then. He was just enacting Lincoln's words.

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

@Civil War Fan;

It was "Treason in Defense of Slavery", period; the only "State's Right" in contention was slavery; and the fight wasn't even over changing the laws of states with slavery. it was over creating more slave states as new states were brought into the union.

Northern capitalists had every reason to keep the status quo; the enormous wealth of the NYC, Boston and Philly trading houses were built on the cotton trade. this influx of British gold provided the capital for northern industrialization.

And it was all going to collapse by 1870 anyway. The British figured out how to grow long fiber cotton in Egypt and India in the late 1850's to break the monopoly the South had. The driving force was to keep gold inside the Empire (look at the british run opium trade), but it was also a response to trading with slavers. The Abolition movement was far more influential in England than in the US., the Anglican and Presbyterian churches were unequivocal in their sanction.

And the India plantations were why the south remained poor after the War. Southern cotton never again brought in the foreign currency it use to.

Slavery was directly responsible for white poverty and the undeveloped economy of the South; There was no chance for a middle class to develop when the wealthy had no need to buy from blacksmiths, carpenters etc. All the income from cotton was spent on luxury goods made in industrialized areas. And a writer of the time noted that it took three N.H. yankees four days to build a barn whereas it took ten slaves over a week.

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

Thanks for some sanity.

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

Poor, poor Anonymous,

"I'd like to praise this decision and further offer up another. That would be White history month."


"Or I'll trade that for the taking away of Black history month."


"Why is their no White entertainment TV, but their is BET?"


"Where is the National Association for the Advancement of White People?"


re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

I may be a Canuck from north of the 49th, but I have immersed myself in the American Civil War for the last 30 years and one of the most interesting aspects, not often mentioned, was the duel between two economic systems. In the case of the South, their economy relied of chattel slavery, while in the North, it was wage slavery that drove the Union war effort.

When comparing the two systems, the inherent disadvantages become apparent. In the case of chattel slavery, the slave is the property of its owner who must bear the cost of caring for the slave from birth through death. However, the slave's actual productive years would be considerably shorter, so the owner is forced to pay for up keep of his property, even during those years when it is producing no economic benfit for him.

On the other hand, in the industrial North, the factory owner had no connection to his workers and his only responsibility to them was to pay them for a days labour. If a worker was injured on the job or became ill, he/she simply replaced from the large Northern labour pool that accumulated from the large number of immigrants to the Northern cities. Their were no unions to fight for workers rights, so the workers enjoyed no benefits or protection on the job from unsafe working conditions.
In many cases, the factory was in a "Company Town" where the employees were forced to spend their meager wages in company stores at artificially high prices.

In reflection, it is readily apparent how superior the Northern system was. A Southern slave had no incentive to work hard, other than the threat of the lash, and even the use of punishment had to be tempered by the owner with the knowledge that it was his own property that he was damaging.

In the North, the worker was the perfect definition of a wage slave. He was forced to work hard every day for fear of replacement. His meager wages ended up back in the pocket of his employer. He had no one to look after his or his family's medical needs, and absolutely no prospects of getting ahead in life.

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

Which textile companies were in The South prior to the Confederacy?
My info shows them coming along later in the century -
I don't dipute greed as a factor in the war - it always is - but the industrial revolution didn't hit The South 'til later. And
don't forget all slavery was greed on the part of slaveholders.

re: VOICES: Georgia passes law honoring terrorists and traitors

I noticed you did not indicate your support of the First Nations nor slave revolts. The reason the South seceded was that Lincoln was viewed as a clear and present danger to slavery, just as Obama is viewed today by nut cases as a threat to capitalism.
Were they morally correct to murder in defense of the particular institution?