The American Civil War, it might be said, settled the question of slavery in the US, and raised, for years to come, questions of citizenship. Who should be a citizen? What does citizenship mean? Does it have a cultural, as well as legal, component? More concretely, the war and Reconstruction forced contemporaries and future generations of Americans to consider the place of African-Americans and other citizens of color in the conceptual landscape of a society that had hitherto identified citizenship with whiteness.
Not surprisingly then, those who romanticize the pre-war order, often tend to demonstrate some hostility to more racially, sexually, and religiously-inclusive notions of US citizenship. Many would quite sincerely object to being called racist, but would nevertheless identify as quintessentially American a number of characteristics typically associated with white Americans: particular ideas about faith, about family, about community, and about the economy.
Online, some of these pro-Confederate, Dixiephiles have time off from singing the virtues of the Old South and their embodiment in the CSA to dabble in current events. They have been among the most fervent (if not the most powerful) voices in debates concerning two contemporary issues of citizenship: the right of Muslim-Americans to build a mosque near the former World Trade Center cite, and the controversy surrounding the Arizona immigration law.
See, for example, this post from the Rebellion Blog. Responding to Nicholas Kristof's NT Times editorial praising Obama's support for the lower Manhattan Islamic center, the poster at Rebellion asks "is this a man who identifies with the way of life, the values, and beliefs of the people he supposedly represents?" Particularly galling to the poster is the fact that, according to Kristof, a US president could recite the opening lines of the Islamic call to prayer and referred it as "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset." The implication, of course, is that knowledge and apprecaition of Islam is not an 'American' value -- a pratical disqualification for citizenship.
The Old Rebel, as he calls himself, has also taken aim at immigrants, and has repeatedly indicated his support for the Arizona immigration law. See his two most recent posts on the subject here and here. His rationale for supporting the Arizona legislation became clear, however, when he posted the following reprehensible cartoon, advocating the elimination of birthright citizenship.
Note the Mexican flag tee-shirt and the stereotypical mustache on the boat's pilot. Apparently Latin American immigrants (and their native-born children) fail to meet the Old Rebel's exacting and exclusive criteria for US citizenship -- a disturbing reminder of the way Civil War memory continues to inform and inflect contemporary politics.