One of the downsides in doing what I do for a living is when someone I’ve never met asks me what my career is. It’s not that I’m ashamed of fighting against Republican bullshit and for progressive policies, it’s that politics can sometimes be a volatile subject to start discussing with someone you’re not familiar with.
Inevitably there are instances such as last night where one of my buddy’s friends asked what I did, then immediately asked me the follow up question that really should never be asked: So, who’d you vote for?
Typically whenever somebody I don’t know asks me that question I’ll pause for a moment, then do my best to change the subject.
Unfortunately, this person didn’t pick up on me clearly trying to avoid getting into the topic, following up my attempt to change the subject by saying, “You didn’t vote for that bitch Hillary, did you?”
“You mean the candidate who received 3 million more votes than Trump? Proudly,” I replied.
Much to my surprise, that was the end of that discussion — at least so I thought.
About an hour or so later, when my friend got up to use the restroom inside (we were all hanging out on his patio), that seemed to be an opening this other person was waiting for to broach the subject of politics. They used my political background as a segue to ask me about history — in particular, my thoughts on the Civil War.
“So, since you follow politics I’ll assume you know some stuff about history. I’m curious, what are your thoughts on why the Civil War was fought?,” she asked.
Right away I knew her asking this question meant that she’s one of those conservatives who thinks the war was about states’ rights, not about slavery.
“Mostly slavery, but there were obviously other factors at play. However, no matter how you’re about to spin your response here in a second, make no mistake about it, the primary issue was slavery,” I stated.
What proceeded was this person going from fairly calm, to extremely hostile and agitated. They weren’t shouting, but their voice definitely became elevated as they called me ignorant, insisted several times that the war wasn’t about slavery, ranting on about how it was just about states’ rights.
For the most part, I sat there calmly as she went on rambling about this for a couple of minutes. She was clearly disgusted that I said the Civil War was mostly about slavery.
After her tirade ended, I simply asked, “Then why do so many of the declarations of secession, including Texas’ very own, specifically mention their belief that this country was created by, and for, white people and the role of the ‘African’ was as their slave?”
“That’s a lie! It was about states’ rights!,” she quickly shot back.
This is when I grabbed my phone, did a quick Google search, and pulled up the Declaration of Causes from February 2, 1861 outlining the reasons why Texas left the union. I went directly to the official Texas State Library and Archives Commission website. This wasn’t a random blog, or some unknown source that could be dismissed as inaccurate — it was an official website owned and operated by the state of Texas. This is a completely legitimate “.gov” website.
After I pulled the website up, and found a couple of passages that proved my point, I tried to show her what these documents said.
“I don’t believe it! That’s a lie!,” she said, refusing to look at the website.
After she refused to even look at what was written in this official document, I then proceeded to read a couple of the parts I felt proved my point that slavery and racism were the main driving forces behind the Civil War:
She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery–the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits–a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.
That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding States.
“It wasn’t about slavery! The Civil War was about states’ rights! I don’t believe what you’re saying. That’s not real,” she ranted.
I pointed out to her that I was reading an official document from an official state of Texas government website, but she continued to refuse to look at my phone, insisting that the Civil War wasn’t about racism or slavery.
“Okay, well then why did the KKK adopt the Confederate battle flag to represent them if the Confederacy wasn’t about slavery or racism? Why did the former Confederate states all adopt segregation laws to deny African Americans their rights?” I asked.
This is when things really went off the rails.
“That’s because the KKK are a bunch of racists,” she said.
“Exactly! And they adopted a flag from the Confederacy to represent their racist views,” I quickly pointed out.
“I’m not racist! My family isn’t racist! You’re ignorant and don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. It was about states’ right and northern aggression against the South,” she babbled on.
Once again I went back to the declaration of causes from the state of Texas clearly outlining their belief that a primary reason for joining the Confederacy was “protecting the institution known as negro slavery – the servitude of the African to the white race.”
“I don’t believe that’s real. You’re just ignorant,” she replied.
“So, I’m the ignorant one, yet you’re the person who doesn’t believe that a document published on an official website linked to the Texas state government is real — because it contradicts the lies and myths you want to believe?,” I sarcastically asked.
She stood up, called me a closed-minded prick, and left.
Without a doubt, this one was the most mind-numbing “debates” I’ve had with another individual — ever. I couldn’t stop myself from openly smirking, sometimes borderline laughing, when she repeatedly insisted that an official document from an official Texas government website wasn’t real. The fact that she refused to even look at the website proved to me that she’d rather continue to live her life completely ignorant about the truth than simply change her mind after being presented with indisputable facts that contradicted what she thought was true.
Her attitude epitomized the typical mindset of most Donald Trump supporters. Millions of people who don’t care about truth, facts, reality, history, or even common sense — just what they want to believe. Many of these people have determined that their ideology matters more than facts, and anything (or anybody) saying otherwise is simply being closed-minded or spreading “fake news.”
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