Saturday, February 21, 2009

White Supremacy Made Jefferson Davis Stupid

There's never been much comment on the stupidity of white racism--how white supremacy leads racists to see nothing but stereotypes when they encounter African-Americans, how racists are willfully blind to the complex humanity of others.

One example of racist stupidity was Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy. Viewing his slave coachman, William Jackson, as "a piece of furniture," Davis apparently thought nothing of talking about Confederate plans in Jackson's presence.

"Because of his role as a menial servant, he simply was ignored . . . So Jefferson Davis would hold conversations with military and Confederate civilian officials in his presence.

[Ken] Dagler has written extensively on the issue for the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence .

In late 1861, Jackson fled across enemy lines and was immediately debriefed by Union soldiers. Dagler said Jackson provided information about supply routes and military strategy.

"In Jackson's case, what he did was ... present some of the current issues that were affecting the Confederacy that you could not read about in the local press that was being passed back and forth across local lines. He actually had some feel for the issues of supply problems," Dagler said.

Dagler goes on to comment on the often prodigious memories of the African-Americans who spied for the Union during the Civil War.

If they had been smart enough to recognize the intelligence of the black people around them, the Confederates might have done better.

Of course, if they had been smart enough not to be such determined racists, the Confederates wouldn't have seceded in the first place.


Gerald Ball said...

It might simply be that Jefferson Davis trusted his slave, which was not uncommon.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that he trusted his slave. Military leaders are characteristically distrustful of all people outside a very tight inner circle of military advisers and leaders. I would think that most military leaders even keep secrets from family members. As such, Davis probably thought the slave was just too ignorant to make use of the information.