White nationalist and Virginia GOP Senate nominee Corey Stewart has proclaimed himself to be a big fan of Confederate monuments, even though his lutefisk-loving ass was born in Minnesota.
With that in mind, it’s a little bewildering that Stewart apparently doesn’t know the first thing about the Civil War or what his Confederate heroes were fighting for.
In an interview for The Hill, Krystal Ball asked Stewart if the Confederate flag represented some of the “uglier parts of American history.”
“I don’t at all,” Stewart responded. “If you look at the history, that’s not what it meant at all, and I don’t believe that the Civil War was ultimately fought over the issue of slavery.”
“We have to put ourselves in the shoes of the people who were fighting at that time,” he added. “And from their perspective, they saw it as a federal intrusion of the state.”
This is total bullshit. Here’s a quote from Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy, about how important slavery was to formation of the Confederacy:
Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition. [Applause.] This, our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.
One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is, forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics: their conclusions are right if their premises are. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights, with the white man.
This is from Georgia’s declaration of secession:
For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic. This hostile policy of our confederates has been pursued with every circumstance of aggravation which could arouse the passions and excite the hatred of our people, and has placed the two sections of the Union for many years past in the condition of virtual civil war.
...A brief history of the rise, progress, and policy of anti-slavery and the political organization into whose hands the administration of the Federal Government has been committed will fully justify the pronounced verdict of the people of Georgia. The party of Lincoln, called the Republican party, under its present name and organization, is of recent origin. It is admitted to be an anti-slavery party. While it attracts to itself by its creed the scattered advocates of exploded political heresies, of condemned theories in political economy, the advocates of commercial restrictions, of protection, of special privileges, of waste and corruption in the administration of Government, anti-slavery is its mission and its purpose. By anti-slavery it is made a power in the state. The question of slavery was the great difficulty in the way of the formation of the Constitution.
This is from Virginia, where Stewart is currently running for Senate:
The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression; and the Federal Government, having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern Slaveholding States.
You get the idea. (And if you don’t, Ta-Nehisi Coates put together a collection of these statements and declarations a few years ago in a piece for The Atlantic.)
Stewart’s Civil War revisionism isn’t new or unique, but it is a complete myth that racists and white nationalists like Stewart believe in order to convince themselves that their love of the Lost Cause isn’t racist or white nationalist. Congressional Republicans, even if they don’t endorse Stewart and even if he doesn’t win, should be forced to reckon with the fact that Stewart is one of them and would be one of their esteemed Senate colleagues if he was somehow able to beat Tim Kaine. (Currently, he’s polling in the double-digits behind Kaine.)
It is not impolite to call attention to this fact, because the only reason we even know that Stewart exists is because one of the two major parties in this country has thrown its arms open to white supremacists. Stewart even has support from their president:
We emailed Stewart’s campaign to ask at which point in the last 150 years he believes it would have become necessary for the federal government to step in and end slavery in the southern states, and will update with any response we receive.