… the clock is always ticking. Reconstructions are a race between change and reaction; they cannot last long before they seem another form of oppression. Because they are hard for both the occupying force and the place they occupy, reconstructions must make their changes quickly or they are not likely to make them at all even though the deep changed implied by the word “reconstruction” inevitably takes a long time to instill. In the American example, Andrew Johnson wasted the immediate post-war era in which the South was most pliable. By the time the Radicals took over the resistance had become entrenched, confident and determined … The righteous invocation of justice, history, and progress on behalf of a purpose that is also a struggle for power is dangerous It can create a self-righteous terror in opposition that believes itself to be on the side of God, of race, of history … Ever since Woodrow Wilson white Southerners have been the most eager in America’s efforts to remake the world. Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, in widely varying ways, tried reconstruction …And then there are times when the weather won’t cooperate …
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Those Who Are Ignorant of History, Etc.
Today’s message is courtesy Edward L. Ayers, from “Exporting Reconstruction” in What Caused the Civil War? Reflections on the South and Southern History: