A Slice of the Confederacy in Brazil

You know how weird the world is?  This weird – this is a cemetery in Brazil.

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A Slice of the Confederacy in the Interior of Brazil  tells the story of the annual celebration of the Confederacy held in Santa Barbara D’Oeste, Brazil. Why?

Because this is where a bunch of devoted slavers settled during the Civil War so that they could continue their peculiar institution in a place where it wasn’t considered so peculiar. Slavery was big in Brazil and continued there till 1888.

The commemoration reflected the resilience of what some historians call the lost colony of the Confederacy in this region of sugar cane fields and textile factories. Unencumbered by the debate raging in the United States over whether Confederate symbols promote racism, the Brazilian descendants of the American settlers, many of them clad in Civil War uniforms, mingled at food stands offering Southern fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits.

The motto of the organizers: To Live and Die in Dixie.

The presence of the Confederados in the interior of São Paulo State dates to an effort by Emperor Dom Pedro II, a staunch ally of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, to lure white immigrants to Brazil. Thousands of Southerners took him up on his offer, moving here in the 1860s and 1870s.

So for many today this is a harmless, but tacky, celebration of Southern culture.  A paean to hush puppies, grits and good old boys running from Boss Hogg or something.

Harmless.

Did you hear about the  Scottish guy who trained his girlfriend’s dog to salute when Hitler comes on his TV screen?

Harmless… Actually it was, the guy did it as a prank because the dog was so cute, he thought – let’s teach it to do the least cute thing you can imagine. Just a misunderstanding, the guy has apologized to the Jewish community of Scotland, all 3 of them.

So going back to the good old boys of Brazil, maybe it is harmless in this context because you have a country in Brazil that is 51% black or mixed race – that was caused by the slave trade.  The descendants of those white supremacists who came to Brazil to continue slaving are now the same color as the people their forefathers bought and sold.  To these people today there is no connection to slavery, the Confederate flag is disconnected from the owning of people. No one there is using it to assert the legacy of slavery as something to celebrate. Perhaps in a place that’s so black and brown where there is no active remnant of the KKK to reckon with, it is truly harmless to glorify the kitchification of the antebellum south when the context of torture and murder is expunged.

I’m here just because I just love America,” said Sergio Porto, 38, a worker at a truck parts factory in São Paulo who was wearing a Confederate bandanna and a T-shirt saying “Hillbilly Treasure.” Mr. Porto explained that he was part of a subculture in Brazil that exalts the rural culture of the Southern United States and listens to Brazilian bands that perform country music in English instead of Portuguese.

Yeah, that stuff still sucks in any language, but okay.  Maybe I can even applaud Sr. Porto when I think that his counterparts in the U.S. who would love what he’s wearing and listening to, would hate him wearing it and listening to it.

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