Wednesday, April 7, 2010

On Confederate History Month

I am reading that some people are having a problem with various Southern states (and specifically Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell) proclaiming this month to be Confederate History Month. They seem to think that this is racism.

Aside from the obvious missteps by McDonnell and the lack of the politically-necessary, exceptionally-precise wording required to appease all listeners to such proclamations, my opinion is this: People are exposed to the truths of that era in school, and therein gain an appreciation of the bad aspects of the Confederacy, slavery, plantations, racism, et cetera. And that indeed is the principal and foremost of truths.

However, it has to be remembered that Confederates were Americans. Their history is our history. They may have thought wrongly, fought wrongly, killed and died wrongly, but their memory still needs to be honored because they were American — not forgotten because they were wrong or the losers in the Civil War.

It is a perfectly reasonable thing — as long as one can keep part of his or her memory trained on those truths learned in school — to take time to delve into the lost world of the life and culture of the antebellum South and appreciate it in some way.

Few things in this world are all bad... or all good. Harm is not done to our worldly perspective by examining all facets of the events of our world, but in ignoring certain facets of a thing because they fail to speak as loudly to our sense of decency and propriety as others.

Now: If there are people who are trying to take Confederate History Month and turn it into some dismissal of the evils of slavery, of justification of the Confederate positions of secession, or glorification of the war that pitted brother against brother, that is obviously wrong and shouldn't have any part in Confederate History Month. However, those efforts, should they be made, should not vitiate the entire effort to set aside time to explore the culture, honor the deaths, and appreciate the people of the Old South, their lives, and their part in American history.

1 comment:

Chetumaire said...

Good post, Jil. I would like to add that the Civil War was more about states' rights and an over-reaching central government than slavery. Something the clowns in DC need to remember...