A Not So Alternative American History

The 2004 mockumentary C.S.A.: Confederate States of America depicts an America in which the Confederacy had won the American Civil War. Presented as if it were a British documentary, the film details significant political, cultural, and military events of the CSA from the Civil War up until the earl 2000s. The movie satirizes issues and events that have happened and are still present in the United States to this day; the result is a revealing viewpoint on the discrimination that still exists today. As the author of “What If?” explains, just because the end of the Civil War resulted in the end of slavery as an institution in the United States, it by no means resulted in the end of racism. I believe this to be the main goal of the director of this movie.

One part of the mockumentary I found especially interesting was the Reconstruction segment. One contributor claims that in order to mend the divide between the victorious South and the defeated North, “the aims and causes of the war suddenly changed. Slavery was no longer mentioned as the cause of the war.” She continues, maintaining that “this was the key to reconciliation.” I found this so fascinating because it is in no way fictional. An accurate history of the United States reveals that the causes of the war suddenly changed after the war in order to strengthen the newly reformed United States. Davis writes in Inhuman Bondage that “while African Americans and a few white writers struggled to preserve the revolutionary or ‘emancipationist’ meaning of the Civil War, the compelling desire for reconciliation and healing… led to a national consensus that made ‘everyone right, and no one truly wrong, in the remembered Civil War.’” Additionally, when the same contributor observes that “the courage and sacrifice of whites on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line were romantically examined,” she is not too far off from what actually happened. The Civil War became more of a sectional war than an emancipationist war in the decades following the conflict. Therefore, the services of both Union and Confederate soldiers were both celebrated. As the contributor accurately mentions in reference to this romantic version of the war, “they struggled to survive, they protected their homes and families…”

Overall, I thought film did a fine job in examining the racism that still exists in contemporary society. I thought the fake commercials that divided the mockumentary did an especially good job of this as some of the products being advertised actually existed. It ultimately reveals an alternative history that in some ways is completely inaccurate and offensive, but in some ways is not too far off from what actually happened. It is extremely interesting to reflect on what would have happened if the Confederacy would have won the Civil War and C.S.A.: Confederate States of America hits the nail on the head.

 

Reconstruction/ memory

In Chapter 15 of Inhuman Bondage, Davis discusses the ultimate events of the civil war and what they meant, and also what the entire war itself meant for the Union, the Confederacy, and the United Sates as a whole. He talks about how “the Civil War was an apocalyptic success in the sense that it brought an end to nearly a century of struggle and broken hopes regarding the ultimate extinction of African America Slavery” (Davis 299). As well as the success, the war also represented a major conflict in America; it showed the weakness and inefficiency of the American political and economic system. It showed that the nation had to go through war and hardship, causing many deaths of soldiers and civilians on both sides, in order to come to a resolution. After the war, the US had to reconstruct its economic system due to the freeing of all the slaves and necessity for more jobs and positions to be filled.

Obviously everything wasn’t completely fixed after the war; the southern slave owners deeply feared that their former slaves would retaliate viciously. The reconstruction of The United States depended on the North establishing compatibility with the South again to make decisions as one nation, especially those decisions regarding race issues.

As Emily mentions in her blog post, this war was the most devastating war in American history, yet its hard to think it wasn’t necessary. This is quite the staggering question; was a war this devastating necessary to force an end to slavery and the conflicts between the North and the South? Especially in such a young nation, growing and changing so rapidly that it was still finding its identity. In my opinion, that is the most devastating part of the war, that such a tragic war was necessary in the continuance of a young nation.

This reading was very interesting in that it covered the aspects of each side’s reactions to the war, and how that would affect the near and distant future of the nation. I liked the way Davis represented the importance of America’s reconstruction, and how, even after the war was over, it was still very crucial that the North and South come together as one nation again.