My friends this is the final section of my Gettysburg text chapter dealing with the religious, ideological and racial component of the American Civil War. My hope is that as you read it you will see that those parts of history which make us uncomfortable, and that some politicians, preachers and pundits say no longer exist, are still pervasive in our society.
I hate to admit this but it is far too true.
What many don’t realize is just how pervasive and insidious the myth of the Lost Cause was in the decades after the Civil War and its effect on the new medium of film as D.W. Griffith romanticized it in Birth of a Nation, Margaret Mitchell’s best selling novel which became the movie Gone with the Wind and even Walt Disney’s animated classic Song of the South. That was just in the popular media, a host of “histories” advanced the Lost Cause in academia. Many Civil War buffs get a lot of their history from the same sources, sources which “whitewash” the evils of Confederate Nationalism, Racism and the centrality of slavery to Southern culture, economic life and even religion.
Thus the Orwellian culture of denial continues to this day where, Senators, Congressmen, Governors, and state legislators claim that racism no longer exists and that those who say that it does are “racist.”
Trust me, if you read this and you have grown up sucking at the tit of the Lost Cause without even realizing it, these articles might stir up all sorts of uncomfortable feelings, and I hope that they do. Soul searching is a good thing, and the truth, however uncomfortable as it is will help set us all free.
As I mentioned in the first segment of this post, for me that journey has been at times uncomfortable. As I said, my family owned slaves and parts fought for the Confederacy, even as their neighbors in Cable County West Virginia fought for the Union. After the war the family patriarch, who had served as a junior officer in the Confederate Army, refused to sign the loyalty oath to the Union, and lost all of his family’s lands. If you ask me the truth, I think that history should make us uncomfortable. If it doesn’t I doubt that it is history.
The link to the article is here.
Have a great Weekend,