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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Carpetbaggers

I'm sure you've heard the term, "carpetbagger" but do you know where it came from and what it means?



Before "recycling" was cool, it was a necessity. Carpetbags were cheap luggage during the Reconstruction Era (after the War of Northern Aggression). It was recycled carpet made into bags. But the term, "carpetbaggers", came from Southerners who used the term to describe the opportunists from the North.

After the War of Northern Aggression, the devastated South was enemy occupied territory. Northern armies occupied the southern states and our state governments were forcibly changed. All of this was done, not for the betterment of former slaves or mankind, but for unscupulous people to take opportunity to make money off of us. Carpetbaggers saw money in the process and came down here to make their fortune off of us. It was used as a derogatory term, suggesting opportunism and exploitation by the outsiders. The relocated northerners often formed alliances with freed slaves and southern whites who were Republicans, who were nicknamed scalawags. Together they are said to have politically manipulated and controlled former Confederate states for varying periods for their own financial and power gains. The term carpetbaggers was also used to describe the white Northern Republican political appointees who came South, arriving with their travel carpetbags. They had no knowledge of, connections to or sympathy for the Southern area they were placed in charge of. And they had no intention of listening or cooperating. Southerners considered these Northern appointees ready to loot and plunder the defeated South and they generally did.

This term did not refer to abolitionists, reformers, missionaries and schoolteachers who really came South to try to help people. Most of the freed blacks had not had any education or experience in leadership so what could you expect but that they were led by the nose by the more sophisticated Northern carpetbaggers. But carpetbaggers were both white and black. The black carpetbaggers were, at the best, naive and easily led, and, at the worst, greedy as their white colleagues. To make money off of misery is the lowest of the low. Whether you make it off the backs of the poor slaves or you make it off the backs of the poor and defeated white Southerners. It shows that greed, selfishness, cruelty and evil are no respecter of persons.

The backlash of the Reconstruction Era corruption and carpetbagging politics came in the form of white supremacy groups like the infamous KKK. After the South somewhat stabilized then these groups began to form as the suppressed anger boiled to a boiling point. Wrath was taken out on those who were probably lowest on the totem pole... blacks. We had lost the Civil War and had no ability to start it up again so whites reached out against those they could get to... the blacks in their own communities.

A typical human response is misplaced anger. For instance, you get dumped on by your boss but you can't complain and yell at him so you come home and yell at your wife. If you yell at your boss, you get fired. The price is too high. But if you yell at your wife, she has to take it. So that's what you do. Whites couldn't retaliate against the U.S. government again so they jumped on the blacks who had no advocates or power.

All of it was so wrong, wrong, wrong. Slavery was wrong, mistreatment and abuse of slaves was wrong, trying to dominate the Southern states to the enrichment of Northerners was wrong, Abraham Lincoln starting the War of Northern Aggression was wrong, the politics and corruption of Reconstruction was wrong, the greed of carpetbaggers was wrong, white supremacy groups were wrong, civil rights abuses for whites or blacks are wrong. It just kept escalating like a snowball effect and so many have paid the price for it over several hundreds of years. Innocent people, whites and blacks, families, have paid dearly for these terrible injustices.

We are very blessed to live in a more enlightened time but don't ever think that we are more civilized today. Greed is still a great sin. Pride and power still drives. Selfishness runs rampant. Corruption is still practised. And we are doomed to repeat the vices of our forefathers unless we realize that all are sinners. We all sin and come short of the glory of God. None of us are good. We all have the potential for evil and we are born with an evil human nature.

What is the answer? Jesus Christ! He is the only way to be forgiven and saved. As long as we live we will have to contend with our human nature but once we are saved we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which works within us to grow our new spirit. If we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us then we can be better people. If we listen to God, we can do good things instead of bad. If we follow His Ways, we can do the right thing instead of the wrong thing.

Romans 8:6-13 (Contemporary English Version)
If our minds are ruled by our desires, we will die. But if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace.
Our desires fight against God, because they do not and cannot obey God's laws.
If we follow our desires, we cannot please God.
You are no longer ruled by your desires, but by God's Spirit, who lives in you. People who don't have the Spirit of Christ in them don't belong to him.
But Christ lives in you. So you are alive because God has accepted you, even though your bodies must die because of your sins.
Yet God raised Jesus to life! God's Spirit now lives in you, and he will raise you to life by his Spirit.
My dear friends, we must not live to satisfy our desires.
If you do, you will die. But you will live, if by the help of God's Spirit you say "No" to your desires.
Only those people who are led by God's Spirit are his children.

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