Sunday, July 19, 2015

From my essay "Confederate Madness Then and Now"

The essay explains recent events through the lens provided by Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South, to be published Tuesday, July 21:

The debate this last month about Confederate symbols—and about the whole damned history of the Confederacy, if truth be known—has raised questions that need to be asked, and not only about the Civil War: How do you honor brave men and women who fought to defend an evil institution? How do you dignify the memory of those who were killed, and who killed, in a war without a legitimate cause? Should they be honored at all? And if so, how?

If we’re going to answer that question—and as a Southerner, the father of a soldier, and a correspondent who has covered many wars, I think we should— then the first step toward honoring the fallen should be to tell the truth as best we can about the war in which they fell and the people who started it.

One of the most shameful aspects of the American Civil War is that hundreds of thousands of men and many women in the Confederacy gave their lives in a fight to defend the interests of a small slave-holding elite that had used its money, its control of politics and the press, the exploitation of racism and fear, and a shrewd if sickening appeal to status to mobilize the masses and then lead them to destruction. ... MORE

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