The Confederate Legacy


Ed Kilgore has a very interesting post on a new trend sweeping conservative politics in Dixie—“sovereignty resolutions” that appear to assert states’ rights to unilaterally invalidate federal action, a doctrine last seen in the hands of John C. Calhoun, the great antebellum theorist of white supremacy.

At any rate, while looking at Wikipedia for a Calhoun image, I saw this list of places named after John Calhoun. It’s a long list! And while I suppose I would hesitate to specifically place the blame for any current problems in American society on the fact that there are all these towns and counties and streets named after the guy, it is always striking for a historically informed northerner to see how thoroughly un-disavowed the legacy of white supremacy is in southern official culture. Get on 395 in DC and take the bridge across the Potomac, exiting onto Route 1, and you’ll find yourself on Jefferson Davis Highway. Yes. A highway named after the political leader of a rebellion against the duly constituted government of the United States of America, founded on the principle that democracy was less important than the right of white people to own black people. Right there on signs and everything.

It puts the fact that a guy like Jeff Sessions can be ranking member on an important committee in perspective.