November 30, 2010

The Ignoble Cause of the Confederacy

After the American Century

We are on the eve of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and the Confederacy is about to be celebrated, strange as that may seem. The American South often presents itself as the victim in the Civil War. This is patent nonsense. The Southern states succeeded from the United States, and they attacked Fort Sumter. They were the aggressors, and they remain aggressive in promotion of themselves as hapless victims of the North. Pathetic nonsense.

This celebration of defeat would merely be sad and pathetic self-delusion if the same people who are gearing up for the 150th anniversary of the Confederacy did not insist on presenting the commemoration in political terms. They will spend millions of dollars in television advertisements that claim the war was about preserving their own freedom. It was  about slavery.

The rebellion of the Confederates was the worst crime ever committed against the United States. Those who fought against the North were traitors, and they got off all too lightly at the end of the war. More than 300,000 men from the North died in that war, and thousands of them were starved to death in the South's inhuman prisoner of war camps. The South committed war crimes against Northern soldiers, notably at Andersonville, where 13,000 men died of malnutrition, disease, and exposure in the 14 months it was open. There is absolutely nothing to celebrate. The Confederacy was an ignoble cause, a delusion.

The Confederacy represents nothing less than treason, torture, and slavery. It was and remains an abomination. There is no reason to celebrate the Confederacy, as many Southerners are about to do with a grand ball in Charleston. Succession was a crime. It should be remembered with memorial services for the dead. Its symbol should be a shroud.

When the South lost the war, some of its "patriots" conspired to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. Will the people of Charleston celebrate that, too? 

Abandoned plantation house, 1930s