". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Eve Menu Coming Together -- + Jefferson Davis

I haven't decided how I will cook the pork butt, and won't decide until I see it, which will be sometime tomorrow. Will I do it in the slow cooker/crock pot (mine is huge)? Or brine it overnight and slow roast in the oven? Not sure what rub and what sauce either. It all depends on whether I decide on the crock pot or the brining and oven. In other words, not sure if I'm leaning more the Spanish Caribbean flavor or the South Carolina or even Louisiana flavoring. If the former, then Coconut cake for dessert, if the later, pecan pie.

Also -- shall I bake the cornbread myself (my oven, not adequate for many things, can handle cornbread OK) or get it from Whole Foods? There will be cornbread whichever side I lean, but if it goes Caribbean then there will be corn tortillas also. And lots of chopped cilantro and so on for toppings.

El V's looking at my menu and going, "That's a lot of food for 4 people."

Somehow I can't get him to understand that I don't expect us to eat it all, and that I want leftovers, for later in the week, and to make New Year's Eve posole. However, I'm certain that el V would heroically set himself to devour all of it all his own self, in order that my little feelings not be hurt by having uneaten portions lying around!

In the meantime I've been submerged in the life of Jefferson Davis -- yes, that fellow.  I can't figure out why we went to war at all, really, from the contents of this well-researched and written biography.  Even the White Houses in D.C. and Richmond were mirror reflections of each other: children running all over, the young presidential secretaries, even death of the presidents' children.  So clearly the one reason we went to war was abolition.  The South, including Jefferson, were convinced that the first thing a Republican president would do would be to abolish the interstate slave trade.  Which it most certainly would not have done -- except for the war ....

The further into the war years we descended the more I cannot figure out why the war went on so long.  The Union generals were generally incompetent, but so were the CSA's.  There was corruption, politiking, rivalries, selfishness and greed, as well as Copperheads in the north, but so were there the counterparts in the south.  Grant and company pretty well smashed the west very quickly, can what  Davis called the trans-west, meaning Texas, Arkansas and Texas was cut off, while also suffering the humiliating defeats in New Mexico in Texas's determination to drive to the Pacific and conquer California.  The CSA east, meaning Virginia stayed stable because of Lee.  Once Grant and Lee confronted each other before Richmond, then it took another year more or less to finish him off.  That's the weird thing.

Really, the Union should have taken out the CSA in the first year, if not the first six months.  Maybe there was too much money to be made up north from the war going on for a long time for that to be allowed to happen, as with Salmon P. Chase's son in law (and later, after the war, Salmon Chase as Chief Justice, just could not get around to trying Jefferson Davis for treason, and the whole affair was just allowed to ... peter out ....

But from what I can tell via the author of this biography of Grant (a history professor at LSU), who is very circumspect as to how he words matters, and even what matters he actually includes, the real sticking point was Davis himself.  He had entered a fantasy South,  and built a fantasy CSA, populated by fantasy southerners and a fantasy generals who possessed military acumen that they, in fact, did not -- and no more did he, though Jefferson Davis himself was ascribed all the same fantasy military skills as all of his generals.  Only Lee actually possessed those military qualities.  And Lee was willing to surrender long before he was forced to.  Grant was not about to.  Nor did he ever, thus remaining forever the first and loudest voice of Lost Causism, and that the CSA was never really defeated, nor did it embark on a war of aggression and expansion -- and also the first to say that slavery was not the cause of the war either.

Davis was pardoned.  It was a bit rocky for a time, but he concluded lauded, feted, worshipping, "Our First Confederate," living in luxury and loved by the south and his family, convinced until the end that if the CSA had had only a little bit more time the Southerners would have grasped that most sacred patriotic duty and sacrifice everything and drive the Union out of their sacred, sacrosanct lands.  Jefferson Davis, First and Always, the entire and perfect Southern Gentleman, forever aligned to white supremacy.

And you know what?  I say -- Pah!

No comments: