Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War: Understanding History and the Cause of Freedom

My friend Donald Douglas has a post on the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, or as we Confederate sympathizers prefer to call it, the War for Southern Independence.  I generally like to steer clear of discussions about that war, because I fear some deep well of emotion will be tapped in my soul and I become filled with pure, unadulterated hatred for the North and for Yankees.  Well, not exactly; a pure and deep hatred for the Yankees and Northerners of the 19th century, all of whom are long dead.

I don't want to go there, because hatred is an ugly emotion and it is impossible to feel happy and feel hatred at the same time.  I would rather avoid such feelings whenever possible.  However, I do have my triggers and they are wired to strong emotions.

The Civil War was then and this is now.  No Yankee bummers still live who burned down the South, murdered civilians, destroyed private homes and farms, raped Southern women, starved Confederate POWs (or used them as human shields against artillery).  The current generation of Northerners are not responsible.  It would be stupid to hate the descendants of the Northern side, especially since many of them are now valued friends and allies in a new struggle for state sovereignty and individual freedom.

Instead of refighting old wars of 150 years ago, we need to focus on the current struggle against liberalism, socialism and big government tyranny.  The left would love to use the sesquicentennial of the Civil War to divide conservatives, make them hate each other, in a divide and conquer strategy.  We have to be smarter than that and not allow it.

However, there are very strong reasons why the true history of the Civil War be told, one without either Southern or Northern bias, if that is at all possible (it isn't, but we must try).  Modern politicians often rewrite history to justify political actions in the here and now.  History becomes a political tool for achieving modern political ends.  Carl Sandburg's celebrated volumes on Abraham Lincoln, or so I've read, were largely a disguised justification for Roosevelt's New Deal.  (Carl Sandburg was an avowed socialist.)

In George Orwell's 1984, the apparatchiks of some future tyranny are constantly rewriting history to justify current events.   The reason is simple:  "He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future."  It is for this reason that, though I wish to avoid unnecessary strife between myself and modern Northern allies in the cause of freedom, that I must sometimes publish articles about the Southern Confederacy and the cause for which my Confederate ancestors fought.

I am currently seeking reprint permission for the best article on the causes of the war that I have ever read.  It is "Why the War Was Not About Slavery," by Professor Donald W. Livingston of Emory University.  It appeared in the September/October issue of Confederate Veteran magazine, a publication of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, of which I am a member.  That article will put the history of the Civil War into a much more accurate context than now exists in popular culture.

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