Civil War and Reconstruction history

NOTE: I’m directing a four-day seminar on the Civil War and Reconstruction from June 28 through July 1. If you know anyone who is a middle or secondary school teacher (or a graduate student in education or history), please have them contact me to register for the program.

James Loewen and Ed Sebesta are co-editors of “The Confederate and
Neo-Confederate Reader: The ‘Great Truth’ About the ‘Lost Cause.'” The
“Great Truth” is a phrase from Confederate Vice-President Alexander H.
Stephen’s speech where he explains the great trught that the Confederacy
is founded upon is white supremacy. The “Lost Cause” is the mythology of
the Civil War, slavery and the Confederacy promoted by neo-Confederates
after the Civil War.

We have primary documents from the Constitutional Convention to the 21st
century documenting that the Confederacy was about white supremacy and
slavery and neo-Confederacy is about white supremacy.

The University Press of Mississippi doesn’t have it on its web page but
it is available at and other book seller websites for

Additionally, we have a website in which
we are adding additional material that we didn’t have room for in the
book. It is in progress.

From the University Press of Mississippi catalog, page 4.

“Most Americans hold basic misconceptions about the Confederacy, the
Civil War, and the actions of subsequent neo-Confederates. For example,
two-thirds of Americans – including most history teachers – think the
Confederate States seceded for “states’ rights.” This error persists
because most have never read the key documents about the Confederacy.

The 150th anniversary of secession and civil war provides a moment for
all Americans to read these documents, properly set in context by
award-winning sociologist and historian James W. Loewen and coeditor
Edward H. Sebesta, to put in perspective the mythology of the Old South.

When South Carolina seceded, it published “Declaration of the Immediate
Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the
Federal Union.” The document actually opposes states’ rights. Its
authors argue that Northern states were ignoring the rights of slave
owners as identified by Congress and in the Constitution. Similarly,
Mississippi’s “Declaration of the Immediate Causes …” says, “Our
positon is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the
greatest material interest of the world.”

Later documents in this collection show how neo-Confederates obfuscated
this truth, starting around 1890. The evidence also points to the
centrality of race in neo-Confederate thought even today and to the
continuing importance of neo-Confederate ideas in American political life.”

Restoring the Common Good (Oregon)

Rethinking Schools, Volume 24 – Issue 3, Spring 2010**

*Action Education – Oregonians Vote to Tax the Rich*

By Adam Sanchez

In January, while right-wing pundits were crowing about Scott Brown’s
victory in Massachusetts, voters in Oregon sent a different message to
the nation: Tax the rich.

Oregon is dealing with one of the largest budget shortfalls in its
history—$4.4 billion. It’s a familiar story, occurring in state after
state: As the ranks of the unemployed rise, income taxes decline; as
foreclosures mount, property taxes plummet. During the last 35 years
state governments have cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and
put the majority of the tax burden on the middle and working classes.
Now most states find huge holes in their budgets.

States are required by law to balance their budgets. In Oregon last
year, the state legislature decided that the large shortfall should not
be filled entirely by budget cuts that would further endanger the
state’s most vulnerable residents.

They decided to raise $727 million, around one-sixth of the shortfall,
through increasing taxes on some of the wealthiest Oregonians and
corporations operating in the state. Originally big business was at the
table, helping the Democratic-run legislature craft new tax proposals.
But then the corporate lobbyists demanded a temporary tax proposal that
would have put more of the burden on small businesses rather than large
corporations, and would have raised taxes on all Oregonians rather than
just the top 3 percent.

Legislators held their ground and passed HB 2649 and HB 3405. HB 2649
slightly raises taxes on the top 3 percent of earners in Oregon and
exempts 270,000 unemployed Oregonians from taxes on some unemployment
benefits. HB 3405 increases the corporate minimum tax in Oregon, which
has been on the books since 1931, from $10 to $150, and slightly raises
tax rates on upper-level profits.

After the tax bills passed through the legislature, the chambers of
commerce and big business associations across the state banded together
with anti-tax teabaggers to get enough signatures to place the bills
onto a special election ballot. HB 2649 became Measure 66 and HB 3405
became Measure 67.

Calling themselves Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes, the “No on 66
and 67” campaign—coffers filled with donations from Nike billionaire
Phil Knight and Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle—poured millions of
dollars into misleading advertisements proclaiming the horrors of
raising taxes during a recession.

Oregon voters didn’t buy it. Thanks to hundreds of volunteers who spent
hours knocking on doors and making phone calls to urge a yes vote, both
measures passed by approximately 54 to 46 percent (about 100,000 votes).

According to some analysts, liberal Portland and surrounding Multnomah
County imposed a yes vote on the rest of the state—because they
represent about a third of the state’s overall population. While it is
true that turnout in Multnomah County, where voters approved the
measures by around 71 percent, was crucial to the victory, a close look
at county-by-county tallies tells a different story. Many rural and
traditionally conservative counties split down the middle on the vote.

Measures 66 and 67 represent the first time that Oregon voters have
approved an increase in income tax rates in over 80 years.

The passage of the tax measures in supposedly anti-tax Oregon is an
indication that people are sick of budget cuts, and are ready to make
the rich pay their fair share. According to Kevin Looper, the “Yes”
campaign manager, “When we started doing focus groups, it was amazing to
hear voters demanding to know where the banks were on these
measures—because they wanted to be on the opposite side.”

While Oregon’s tax system is still far from equitable, this tax increase
on some of the wealthiest Oregonians has prevented $285.5 million in
K-12 education cuts. This is enough to pay for 1,610 teachers and 1,057
hourly employees. In a state that ranks 49th in class size, the passage
of these tax measures has saved Oregon’s schools from falling into the

*Adam Sanchez* is a social justice activist based in Portland, Oregon.
He is currently in the teacher education program at Lewis and Clark College.

Top 10 Suburbs for Global Investment by 2020

Here are the ten best counties for global investment by 2020, ranked by population growth percentage since 2000; commercial real estate and transportation infrastructure; current and historical population diversity of race, ethnicity, religion, age, and national origin; financial, environmental, and cultural sustainability. If you are interested in working in any of these regions (or adding more nominees to the list), please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Douglas County, Colorado,_Colorado

Maricopa County, Arizona,_Arizona#Adjacent_counties

Montgomery County, Pennsylvania,_Pennsylvania

Will County, Illinois,_Texas#Demographics

Montgomery County, Texas,_Texas#Demographics

Monmouth County, New Jersey,_New_Jersey

Collin County, Texas,_Texas#Demographics

Santa Clara County, California,_California

Orange County, California,_California

DeKalb County, Georgia,_Georgia

Summer 2010

Young people ages 15 to 25 are the heart of the global society as the second decade of the twenty-first century begins. In an era where productive adult life spans nearly six decades on average, the importance of an early start in pursuit of human freedom, values, and rights is unprecedented. The power and influence of this demographic (in coalition with an array of moderate and progressive citizens of all ages) elected Barack Obama as President of the United States in November 2008. The enthusiasm that organized nearly 70 million voters in the United States revolved around a promise of hope and change from the fear and ineptitude of the previous administration. Recently, Bakari Kitwana emphasized the inability of the Obama presidency to move beyond the marketing of structural reform to the realization of institutional reconstruction. He stands in a long tradition that stretches back at least to William Monroe Trotter in terms of confronting executive authority to engage the democratic ideals of the nation’s founding. As the next round of Congressional elections approach, the answer to the criticisms Obama and the Democratic Party face lies in the rejuvenated engagement of the coalition that carried the progressive agenda into office.

We, as a nation, have allowed the cable news broadcasts and internet comment boards to serve as proxies for personal conversations about the most difficult choices we have to make. As Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow expose the ways CNN and Fox News confuse reporting for entertainment in pursuit of advertising dollars, no one has stepped forward to hold our journalists, editors, and publishers accountable for the information they produce. All of us rely on our individual resources to find accurate information, evaluate it, and then share it with our families and communities in productive ways. It is too large a job, given the mortgage and job crises devastating so much of the country. Too much of our time serves our lengthy commutes, increasing responsibilities to church and school activities, and finding ways to pay our bills. We have lost the time to talk with each other and build relationships that sustain communities. This isolation fuels our resentments and fears. It betrays the promise of hope and change we pursued in 2008. Donating our time and our money in support of more efficient government and long-term, sustainable job growth through small businesses can overcome the morass of polarizing rhetoric that filled political discussion over the last year. The energy among young Americans to build new structures of state government investment through smart tax policies is the next step in pursuit of a stronger nation, learning from the mistakes of privatization and revenue-slashing policies that older Americans made since 1981.

These conversations must occur at the passionate heart of our political disagreements. The Tea Party organizations spring from the booming suburbs of the Southwest where economic contractions have been especially sharp. They may have fewer than 100,000 supporters nationwide. The fear and anger they articulate remains the point of a spear designed to destroy the first national coalition dedicated to rebuilding the American middle class since the Truman administration. The broad, energized organizations that transformed American democracy in 2008 can and must engage our fellow citizens who refuse to acknowledge the unlimited power of a people united for freedom and democracy. Xenophobia and paranoia cannot dominate our public conversations about the future of humanity. The hatred of the movement symbolized by Obama’s electoral victory cannot resist the forces of love and faith when we organize in our neighborhoods, businesses, and community centers. As we enter summer 2010, let us spread the word about the strategies we have to start new businesses, the importance of regulating Wall Street into service to Main Street, the successes of the public works projects using the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the stability and security offered by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. We have a federal government that provided a framework for the American people to revitalize democracy in our states and in our towns. The only question that remains is whether or not we can change our Congress, state legislatures, and governors to respect our will this November.

Naughty: Finding Ways to Reject Infidelity

The continuing string of gossip reports on celebrity infidelity (and public fascination with it) raises troubling questions about American society’s understanding of romantic (and other forms of) commitment. The prevailing notions of male inability to invest and sustain a monogamous relationship dominate the internet, movies, television, and print media. On the day when Tiger Woods returns to golf and the web buzzes with euphemisms about his marriage, I thought I might share a resource on fidelity and stable relationships. We need to find better ways to resist being seduced by the temptation to be naughty.

The misunderstandings of these relationships do not stop with dating and marriage. Even friendships and professional associations can be fraught with miscommunication, isolation, and emotional distance. We need to find more effective ways of supporting and investing in each other with force and meaning over time than just clicking the ‘like’ button on our various statuses, links, and notes. The future of our society relies on our ability to re-connect in transformative ways with the people in our lives. We all face a world that demands more of us personally and professionally.

Can we find a few minutes to grow together more as couples, families, workplaces, and communities? It might not be exciting or sexy or taboo in any of the ways marketing executives try to lure us to their products. It probably will not be inappropriate in ways that lead evening news reports or titillate in late-night comedy routines. My upbringing as a child of a church mother and an Army staff sergeant taught me the tremendous value of discipline and restraint in the pursuit of making good choices. Love for humanity springs from the sacrifices we make to forgo the easy path to gratification. Let’s try to teach and affirm this valuable lesson for each other more often.

Beauty vs. Intellect

One of my students recently opened our “Ethics and Genetics” class with the assertion that if an athlete had Peyton Manning’s brain and LeBron James’ body, he (or she) would be ‘perfect.’ The idea of a ‘perfect human’ is very seductive. We have studied the evolution of natural philosophy, racial philosophy, racial pseudo-science, and eugenics over the last two months. Some of the most pervasive questions that shaped those fields were those that pursued my student’s line of thinking – what conditions produce the ‘best’ of human capacity and achievement? In many ways, my college emphasizes the pursuit of our best abilities by pushing students and faculty to always find a way to improve and produce a better result than we did yesterday. When I suggested that perhaps an alternative perfect athlete might have James’ mind and Manning’s body, the whole class greeted the idea with skepticism that reflected deep assumptions in Western civilization about the essential natures of Africans (physical) and Europeans (intellectual). In a subsequent conversation with my family, we considered the gendered aspects of these ideologies. Why are women (especially in the United States) measured so forcefully by their ‘beauty,’ while men are evaluated by their ‘intellect?’ Further, where did the assumption that being a singular intellect meant being less physically beautiful originate?

For now, I have settled on Albert Einstein. The popular image of this physicist is the embodiment of human intellect in the Western world. Yet his physical beauty never merits his inclusion as an Apollonian figure in the same way. (Some of my students recently crafted a digital image of Einstein’s head on Taylor Lautner’s body, reinforced with ironic commentary on this mythological ideal man.) In the ancient and medieval Western world, genius and beauty routinely coincided – though, I can’t recall Athena being confused with Aphrodite very often. The two categories were not assumed to be exclusive in the same ways many people appear to consider them today. Political figures play on these constructs. Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin often assert the stereotypes that “ugly, smart” women are Democrats, while “beautiful, passionate” women are Republicans. As I enter the second half of my semester in considering the ethical use of genetic information in the twenty-first century, I worry that our public discourse remains too crass to effectively use the knowledge that molecular biology offers us. When the epistemology of Cartesian binaries fails human reason, can the society effectively employ the surrealism of African fractals to craft an adaptive ethical framework?

The End of the Civil Rights Movement

Over the last two decades, the debate over school funding has reached a frenzied pitch across the United States. This process is a direct outcome of the battles surrounding the Brown v. Board of Education – Topeka, Kansas decision by the Supreme Court in 1954. When the Brown decision announced the first substantive challenge to the prevalence of racial segregation (and the underlying belief in African inferiority), the response from most white authorities in both the public and private sectors was unequivocal. “Stop”, or, at best, “slow down.” The movement of federal legislative to support the momentum towards racial integration and equality stumbled over obstacles and resistance ranging from George Wallace to Barry Goldwater to Richard Nixon. By 1972, the transformation of the United States by the Civil Rights Movement stagnated. By 1988, the obstructionists had turned the will of the federal legislative and executive branches against any efforts to dismantle racial segregation in neighborhoods, schools, or global conglomerates. Senator Orrin Hatch’s successful effort to amend the Fair Housing Act marked the end of a forty-year campaign to provide equal opportunity to all Americans.
The root of the educational funding disparities began a generation earlier in Milliken v. Bradley when the Court declared that students could not be bused into suburban school districts from neighboring cities. In the context of metropolitan growth and the development of a global service economy, the isolation of urban school districts decimated the revenue base in those areas and created an economic division of educational access on top of the existing racial barriers that had not fallen. By 1996, white resentment at the mechanisms designed to provide fair access manifested in a series of Supreme Court decisions from Hopwood v. University of Texas Law School to Gratz v. Bollinger. When Justice Sandra Day O’Connor suggested that racial disparities would disappear over the next generation, she opined with an optimism that did not recognize the steadfast efforts to maintain racial inequality under the guise of economic competitiveness. Thus, in 2010, communities, states, and the nation as a whole grapples with lower state revenues and virtually no will to make financial sacrifices for the common good. Racial divisions – maintained by a generation of segregationist instincts from 1972 to 1988, reinforced by suburban resentments about economic instability – prevent the conversations about saving our schools, calming our housing markets, or local corporate responsibility. Political fragmentation – the existence of multiple municipal services (fire, police, schools, planning) – is one of the most profound costs of this silence about race. Unless suburban communities can consolidate across racial lines, unless cities and suburbs work together to share resources and obligations, unemployment, poverty, and debt will continue to increase for all of us. We must re-design our municipal, county, state, and federal structures to minimize costs and to empower working Americans everywhere.

Nell Painter’s New Book – Buy it NOW!

This spectacular history of white Americans will transform the national understanding of race for this generation and those that follow. Every family should have a copy to discuss the nature of our society.


Liberalism is the dogged pursuit of free expression in the service of processes that advance human dignity. When Fernando Jones summoned the spirit of Frederick Douglass into the Lenfest Theater at the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center last Thursday night, I was reminded about the power of art to stimulate excellence. Ursinus College is a center for intellectual achievement that transforms the lives of its students, professors, and staff every day. If you have not been to campus recently or missed any of the events that have started the Spring semester, make an effort to connect with us soon. For educators, this message is especially important because the free, online application provides an opportunity for the best and brightest high school students to join this unique and extraordinary community. We need more paragons of colleges that changes lives, places that extend higher education beyond the standards of the Ivy League.