Wednesday, April 7, 2010

You Know What's Fantastic?

When I realize that I don't have to address something because somebody already did it much, much better.

To wit: Robert R. Mackey at ObiWi on "Confederate History Month."

Secondly, it ignores the historical fact that a large portion of Virginia itself was so opposed to slavery and to rebellion that it broke away and formed its own loyal state--West Virginia.  Did such overwhelming love for Jefferson Davis fill the hearts of every white man in the Old Dominion? Not in the least; 376,688 white Virginians seceded instead of giving into the demands of the slaveholders for poor white hillbillies to honorably die to protect their 'property.'

Lastly, it ignores the historical fact that thousands of white Virginians fought for the UNION.  From Union General George H. Thomas, the "Rock of Chickamauga" and a great hero of the conflict, to loyalists who filled the ranks of West Virginian and Virginian Federal volunteer regiments to those who joined the volunteer regiments of other states; these men have all been systematically ignored and historically forgotten by the Lost Cause myth-makers that have occupied the Virginia state house since the end of Reconstruction.

He also deals with the ignoring of slavery, but the fact is that that error is so obvious, so glaring that everyone has pointed it out.  What keeps getting missed is the bits about the fact that "Virginia" didn't join the Confederacy.  Parts of it did.  Other parts engaged in their own secession.  And from the parts that did secede, not all agreed, either.

Robert E. Lee, that great Virginia general, joined the cause because of Virginia, not because he believed in the principle itself.  This fact doesn't get noticed quite enough, either.  There were many in the South who did not believe holding others as chattel was worth killing and dying for.  But they did believe in their states, in their brothers who were also taking arms.

The motivations of men and monsters are convoluted and often confusing.  That's what makes history so very confusing.

Turning it in to "The War of Northern Aggression," as the Lost Cause mythmakers did only oversimplifies and obfuscates.

We can't learn from history if we ignore it.  But it's better to ignore history than to only ignore the bits that might make our chosen narrative hard to swallow.  The best history is honest.  It's about learning from what has come before so that we can avoid its mistakes.

Somehow I don't get the impression that Robert McDonnell wants to create the best history...

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