Letter: Erasing past deprives us of understanding

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The War Between the States was not in fact “fought over slavery.” The Southern states did not incite war “for the purpose of enslaving others.”

I know that this one-line summation of the events and circumstances of that war is a very popular meme, but that does not make it true. It is illogical, unreasonable, inhuman and unbelievable that there could be so simple an explanation. Indeed, this already stinks if we are to believe that there was a civil war here because of a federal mission to end slavery.

No war was ever fought to stop any human suffering or other highfalutin cause, really. Wars are waged to determine who will pay tribute and who will collect it. Meanwhile, the people must be sold this endeavor. Deception, deception, deception.

The can of worms of the War of Northern Aggression still should be examined. Mistakes were made. We may be making them again. It is very important not to forget this incident, and it is proactive and positive to maintain a dialogue about the events as they occurred. The communities which were impacted directly by the destruction brought about by this intranational conflict erected monuments for us.

If our response to a reminder of the past is to erase it, then we deprive ourselves and our children the understanding of how we got here. There are deep social problems here in America. One of them is racism. Southern soldiers did not create that. We should not be afraid to talk. And we should not cherry-pick Confederate monuments to tear down so that we may pat ourselves on the back and say, “Yay, I just ended white supremacy.”

― Tom Cook


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27 thoughts on “Letter: Erasing past deprives us of understanding

  1. bsummers

    The War Between the States was not in fact “fought over slavery.” The Southern states did not incite war “for the purpose of enslaving others.”

    See, that argument may have swayed some, over the years. But now we have the Internets. Nothing ever said goes away or is difficult to lay your hands on. Here are the words of the Confederacy’s Vice President, holding forth on the principle reason for secession, and thus, for fighting the North. After pointing out that the US Constitution laid the groundwork for the abolition of slavery…:

    “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition.”

    It was the “cornerstone” of the Confederacy that slavery of “the negro” was God’s will. And would they fight to protect that institution?

    “I care not who or how many they may be against us, when we stand upon the eternal principles of truth, if we are true to ourselves and the principles for which we contend, we are obliged to, and must triumph.”

    Continuing to say that slavery was not the central cause of The War of Unification for Which They’ll Thank Us Later is a disservice.

  2. NFB

    “The War Between the States was not in fact “fought over slavery.” The Southern states did not incite war “for the purpose of enslaving others.””

    I think there might be a point worth hearing somewhere in this letter, but unfortunately it totally gets lost in this absurd opening paragraph.

  3. luther blissett

    It was considerate of the letter-writer to make his position clear in his first five words. It’s a reminder of the motivation among many who slapped up memorials to ol’ dixie, not as a commemoration of the past but an assertion of a particular narrative in the present, with the intention of having it survive long into the future.

    • Lulz

      The irony of all ironies is that leftist are rabid supporters of Planned Parenthood who’s roots are in the culling of blacks.

      • luther blissett

        There are some who choose to learn from the past, and some who choose to live in it.

      • NFB

        The irony of all ironies is that rightists are rabid opponents of Planned Parenthood who’s roots are in the culling of blacks.

        • The Real World

          “The irony of all ironies is that rightists are rabid opponents of Planned Parenthood who’s roots are in the culling of blacks.” — now how is that statement not an accusation of racism to millions of people? And an insinuation that millions of Americans want to see other Americans dead?

          It’s utterly outrageous, fabricated and nasty (and I’m an Independent!) Moderators, how does NFB’s statement even remotely fit the definition of civility? What iota of value does it add to a “civilized” dialogue?

          • NFB

            And what did the comment by Lulz add to “civilized” dialogue?

          • Lulz

            Relax. I am an opponent of PP. And all they did is out themselves for what they truly are. This has nothing to do with the Civil War or Vance. It’s merely a political token to the blacks locally who as Dee Williams states, are being taxed out of the city. These people don’t care about black, slavery or anything else. What they do care about is keeping blacks in poverty and also on the voters rolls.

          • NFB

            I acknowledge that I should not have taken the bait that Lulz offered, but I do find it telling that Real World was outraged by my post and not by Lulz’s. Evidently an “accusation of racism to millions of people” isn’t so bad depending on which ox is being gorgued.

          • Lulz

            Because Sanger founded what is now PP not for women’s health. Her reasoning was squarely to keep blacks in check. But not a peep of that. Who’s killed more blacks? White slave owners or white doctors at Planned Parenthood?

          • Lulz

            Being against PP is a good thing. Because it kills irregardless of race. Period.

          • The Real World

            I didn’t see it til just now. It is also a despicable. These comments that assign beliefs or views to millions of people are ridiculous and only further divide people.

            And, the playground, “but, what about what that guy did” reaction is unbecoming, to put it nicely.

            Both is you know little about the mission and valuable work that Planned Parenthood does and have bought TV and hot-air politicians versions of things. Sad!

      • bsummers

        The irony of all iron is that ironing is the rightest rapidest plan for a white hood. Parent.

  4. Kirk Gipson

    As soon as you refer to it as the War of Northern Aggression, you kind of show your hand.

    • Lulz

      Such as? It was a war to prevent the south from seceding. The CSA would’ve been happy to be left alone.

  5. Peter Robbins

    When comes down the monument that inspired this letter-writer’s curious view of history, we won’t be patting ourselves on the back. We’ll be flicking away a tick.

  6. Dan Kowal

    I agree with Tom Cook in his letter supporting the continuation of Confederate monuments, with some additions.
    Racism indeed continues, and Southern soldiers were not the sole cause. Racism had been embedded in Europeans when they came to America, north and south.
    Racism developed differently, especially as northern slavery died out well before the Civil War, mostly due to the economic “inefficiency” of supporting enslaved families during the barren winter months.
    Wealthy families owned slaves, banks and newspapers, and also controlled political office. The vast majority of Southern whites did not, and actually competed with slave labor to support themselves.
    According to historical records, the US (Union/North) fought to keep itself together as most of the southern slave states vowed to leave as they feared that incoming President Lincoln would further limit slavery, or perhaps even outlaw it altogether (which he hadn’t stated nor had the power to achieve).
    As for the intentions of the Confederate States, their purpose in leaving included “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery” in South Carolina, to “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world,” stated Mississippi. Please read the actual Confederate States’ causes for secession if you want to know the facts, not the mythology.
    As for calling the Civil War the “War of Northern Aggression,” this is pure propaganda as the Confederacy initiated deadly force against US troops in Fort Sumter.
    Finally, if we are to remember our history as it actually happened, we need to place equally large monuments for those who suffered generations of brutal enslavement near every Confederate monument.
    We would like to forget about slavery, but this is exactly why racism still continues.
    Agreed, we need to talk, using historical facts.

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