The New Lost Cause Rhetoric

Matthew Teutsch
5 min readJan 8, 2021
Photo Mike Theiler

Lillian Smith tells the story of her and one of her brothers playing in their house in Jasper, Florida. They ran around and in the attic they came across an old chest. Opening it, they stood aghast, staring at all of the money they had found. “We felt rich; richer than the Rockefeller children or any children,” Smith said in 1960, “We knew we could now buy anything we wanted.”

Smith and her brother went to the store asked the clerk for five pounds of candy. When her brother gave the clerk the money, he told them, “This money is worthless.” Smith and her brother pushed back, claiming the money had value because it was paper money. The clerk told them to burn the money, saying, “Don’t keep it around; it will mix you up; get you all mixed up about everything.”

The clerk gave the crying children some candy and told them to go home, but Smith continued, vehemently telling him that that he should accept their money because it was money. Finally, he told them, “Money is not money, sister, unless it is based on something real. This is Old Confederate money and there is not Confederacy. See? It has no value because there’s nothing back of it.”

On January 6, 2021, we saw the same thing, domestic terrorists trying to use a worthless currency when they attacked the Capitol. Whipped up by lies of a fraudulent election from the halls of government and the White House itself, they planned out their attack. What should have been a day of celebration for the election of the first Black Senator, Raphael Warnock, and the first Jewish Senator, John Ossoff, from Georgia and the ceremonial validating of the presidential election results, became a failed coup attempt that left five people dead.

Some adorned shirts emblazoned with “MAGA Civil War January 6, 2021” for the event, showing that the actions were not a spontaneous, spur of the moment romp around the nation’s capitol. Before the election, Trump constantly sold snake oil to his supporters, telling them lies about mail in and absentee voting. After November 3, he continued to sell a false bill of goods ratcheting up claims of election fraud, specifically in swing states that went for Joe Biden. However, no mention ever occurred regarding Republican officials who won elections in those same sates. Trump’s legal team filed 60 cases in court claiming fraud, they lost…

Matthew Teutsch

Here, you will find reflections on African American, American, and Southern Literature, American popular culture and politics, and pedagogy.