A post about the Ron Paul newsletter controversy over at Jason Pye’s blog somehow springboarded into a quickie discussion about the Civil War.
I have strong feelings about the Civil War. What Southerner doesn’t? I have a feeling that my feelings aren’t typically Southern. But before I get into that, I feel the need to establish my Southern cred.
My ancestors came to Virginia in the mid-1600’s. They quickly moved to Tennessee and then to Georgia. I have ancestors who were moon-shiners, bootleggers, chicken thieves, Revolutionary soldiers, Union soldiers, Confederate soldiers, farmers, hunters, and grist millers. I was born in Alabama and have lived in either Alabama or Georgia all of my life. (Frankly, I love this particular area of the US and see no reason to move anywhere else.) I have one hell of an accent. So believe me when I tell you that I am as Southern as it gets. I’m not a Yankee who has moved down South recently and is trying to tell all the rednecks how to live. Oh no, I have Southern cred.
But despite all that, I’m not the least bit sentimental about the Civil War. It was a brutal, ugly war that to this day mires the South. Don’t believe me? Our public school systems are the worst in the country. Our land is cheaper here. Wages are less here. We suffer from the most horrendous stereotyping, I would argue, in the entire world. (Seriously, to non-Southerners, even the French have a better image than we do.) And all of that, and more, can be blamed entirely upon the Civil War.
So I harbor no fond sentimentality for that war. That goes double for the Confederate flag. Unless it’s displayed at museums, monuments, battle reenactments, cemeteries, or other suitable displays of Civil War remembrance, contemporary use of the Confederate battle flag is a disgrace.
I’m tired to death of Southerners who view the Civil War as some great Southern event worthy of praise. Oh, I salute anyone who tries to stick it to the federal government when it is obviously overstepping its bounds. You flipped the Feds a finger? I love you. Really. But we can’t forget the issue that the Confederacy flipped the Feds a finger over: slavery. And that issue is not one that can be explained away or defended by protests of “States’ Rights” or “Overbearing Federal Government.”
The Confederacy had every right to try to leave the Union because the Federal government was trying to usurp states’ powers. They just chose the wrong reason to do it. And that reason is no reason to be celebrated.
So peel that damned Confederate flag sticker off the bumper of your truck, Bubba. And throw away that “I Ain’t Forgettin'” T-shirt into the trash. You did forget. You forgot the real issue for which the Confederacy fought. At least, I hope you forgot; if you didn’t forget and you still wear that Confederate flag on your hat, then perhaps all those nasty stereotypes about you are true after all.