Readers,I try very hard to keep political banter to a minimum. I would love to write zany, happy, funny, teacher stories all the time. This particular post is not an education anecdote. Events occur that end up becoming teachable moments. After watching the events unfold in Virginia, I felt compelled to write. It saddens me to see us fighting over the images from a war that has already been decided. As an American History teacher, seeing the ignorance of our own history degenerating into violence is equally sad. After all, understanding and listening to one another’s point of view can only makes us stronger not weaker. It seems we have forgotten how to disagree and still respect one another. You cannot claim to be intelligent or learned when you only listen to ideas that are the same as yours. Yet, we hide from dissenting opinions. We hide from our own history. We cannot do this anymore. Keep this in mind when you read.
Although history is never written by the losers, the facts do not change relative to our hopeful perspectives. The only thing I am clear on is that we have not learned the lessons of the Civil War. In fact, the true narrative of the Civil War was changed to make it more user friendly. By focusing on the gentler euphemisms of tradition and heritage, the reasons why that bloody war was fought are hidden in secret. My mother used to tell me that a family is only as sick as its secrets. I think the same can be said for a nation. Especially one that was founded on self evident truths of all men being equal–yet keeping human beings as slaves. Secrets are pretty horrible things. Trying to mask those secrets into kinder, friendlier, alternative facts is just plain wrong. Let me address a few of the ones I have heard since last week:
First, arguing Slavery as minor cause of the Civil War is the biggest load of revisionist crap that has ever been put to print. There are more holes in that theory than Swiss cheese. States Rights? States rights over what? Slavery! It was fought over tariffs? Taxes on imported goods to SLAVE STATES, dependent upon lower import prices in exchange for their non-taxed cash crops to be sold in London. Cash crops cultivated from…could it be….SLAVERY!! Sectionalism? The geographical differences of opinion in whether or not the newly acquired territories would be….FREE STATES OR SLAVE STATES? This crock-pot of overly romanticized crap is now sold as standards for teaching and learning in classrooms.
Secondly, anyone who flies the Battle Flag of the Confederacy chanting, “Heritage, not hate,” is living in denial. That “heritage”, is based on hate. Jefferson Davis, President of the C.S.A. envisioned a southern empire, built on the backs of slave labor stretching all the way to South America. His vice president, Alexander Stephens, argued that the foundation of the Confederacy is based on:
“The great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” -Alexander Stephens, March. 21st, 1861.
Is that the heritage not hate, you want to brag about? White Supremacy. Quit romanticizing the Confederacy to make them look like the rebel alliance of STAR WARS. Do you see Germans glorifying the Swastika? That symbol, originally one of peace, now stands for nothing other than the annihilation of Jews, and anyone else that didn’t want to look at Hitler’s ugly finger paintings. Just ask the drunken American idiot, hailing Hitler in Berlin, how the Germans feel about it.
Third, Robert E. Lee wanted nothing to do with monuments and statues in honor of him, that stupid flag, or their stupid cause. Those symbols belong in museums, and on the battlefields where they flew. Did anyone ever ask why the Stars and Bars flew atop government buildings? Why they erected those statues at places of learning and public parks? After reconstruction was abandoned, Southern Democrats began to reinstate their…traditions and heritage, if you will. The statues and monuments were a signal to African Americans about who was back in charge. The Confederate Battle Flag being placed on government buildings is a symbolic middle finger to African-Americans who found equality under the law, just to have it taken away again. This is where you also begin to hear the revisionist history of the Civil War being fought over states rights and more nobler sounding causes. This narrative is what is taught in many classrooms today. The result is a seriously misinformed, and in some cases, indoctrinated public.
As ferocious as they fought, the SOUTH LOST! Their narrative became null and void when Lee tapped out. Trump supporters are often fond of saying, “You lost, get over it!” You don’t see Hillary Clinton statues being erected in public parks, you don’t see the Swastika flying above the German Parliament, and you don’t see t-shirts and baseball caps honoring the Buffalo Bills four Super Bowl fails. (Unless you live in a third world country.) What benefit do we get from canonize an act of treason as polarizing as the Civil War. If we stop the idolatry of the Confederacy and teach the Civil War truthfully, we could achieve some much needed ground in race relations. Instead, we hold on to “heritage,” cite alternative facts, feign intellect, and skip out on the chance to understand one another. And all for what… the fear of being wrong? One hundred and fifty-two years later, and we still have not learned our lesson! Sad…so very sad.
As always thank you for reading. Comment all you want…I’m sure those of you on Facebook will. Share with friends! I look forward to sharing more uplifting stories next week. Until then I bid you…Adieu.