Southern History Series: Review: Aftershock: Beyond the Civil War

Aftershock: Beyond the Civil War is a 2006 History Channel documentary that features Thomas and Debra Goodrich, the authors of The Day Dixie Died: Southern Occupation, 1865-1866, who narrate the South’s descent into the vortex of violence that was Reconstruction.

If there is one thing that virtually all non-Southerners know about the South aside from the Confederacy and the Civil War, it is the Klan. The original Klan wasn’t simply a group of White Southerners who went around lynching blacks for no reason though. It was a classic insurgency that waged war against an occupation government in the context of the disenfranchisment of ex-Confederates. The 14th Amendment passed by the Radical Republicans whose goal was to dominate, punish and exploit the South enfranchised blacks while disenfranchising ex-Confederates. It was a recipe for a disaster.

There are uncanny parallels between Reconstruction in the South and Reconstruction in Iraq. In the case of Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime was overthrown and the United States attempted to win the peace by creating a pro-American Iraq that empowered the Shia majority through installing a liberal democracy. We utterly destroyed Iraq’s economy and social order and set off a vicious sectarian war by radicalizing a generation of Sunni insurgents. Eventually, we washed our hands of the matter after getting tired of all the violence, but not before crushing the insurgency. Iraq has since stabilized into an impoverished country which will undoubtedly resent the Yankee invader for generations.

In Aftershock, you can see how the Klan got its start in the context of Gov. Bloody Bill “Parson” Brownlow’s Tennessee and spread from there mainly across Greater Appalachia. The original Klan was founded in Pulaski, TN which as everyone familiar with the area knows was hardly a stronghold of antebellum slavery. Middle Tennessee, however, was bitterly divided between Unionists and Confederates. The documentary also covers the Massachusetts Yankee carperbagger D.P. Upham and his war against the Klan in Reconstruction Arkansas, the race war between ex-Confederates and the Lowry Gang and Lumbee Indians in Robeson County, NC and the Lee-Peacock War in northeast Texas.

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  1. When 911 happened, many of my colleagues at work were angered and ready to fight Muslim insurgents.

    When the fertiliser plant exploded in the town of West, Texas, New Yorkers laughed about it and said that the people who lived there were dysgenic monsters who got what they deserved for being little better than animals.

    Sadly, modern Southrons feel a sense of loyalty and connectedness to hostile foreigners who hate them and want them dead, when they’re not demanding obedience and allegiance from them.

    • I’ve also seen comments from East Coasters about Midwestern flood victims this year….”let them drown, they deserve it.” This country needs to be separated into different parts.

  2. My first taste of the concept of the Klan, was the night scene in Gone With The Wind, when the ‘menfolk’ were all out, while Scarlett (kept in the dark) and the ladies ‘waited up’ for Rhett, Ashley and the rest to return. Reading Margaret Mitchell’s original novel gave a far greater (and fairer) construct with which to view the Klan… as a Yankee.

  3. There are parallels between Reconstruction and the De-nazification program in Germany after the war. The South will forever be reminded that it supported slavery whereas Germany will always be reminded it conducted the Holocaust.

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