Cheney Free Press -

By JOHN McCALLUM
Managing Editor 

Time to put the Old South in its proper place

Write to the Point

 

Last updated 6/11/2020 at 7:26pm



In several past columns I’ve written about the need to preserve history. I’ve editorialized to preserve history, it’s often necessary to maintain that which we find offensive so we may remember and learn from the experience, hopefully not repeating the errors of our ancestors.

As part of that, I’ve defended preserving symbols of the former Confederacy such as statues and flags. I’ve argued that, while painful, those elements remind us of periods of our national formation and psyche that we hope to not repeat.

I’ve changed my mind. I was advocating a wrong and hurtful approach, and it’s time to get rid of this baggage.

This change isn’t something that has come about because of recent events that have once again brought racism in this country to the forefront. No, I’ve changed my mind because of my own expansion of knowledge and world view through research — reading, watching and listening.

It’s time we get rid of symbols and vestiges of the old Confederacy. For starters, they lost, and since when has it been OK to allow the losers of any conflict to control the conversation and write the history of what took place.

We don’t go around erecting statues of Adolf Hitler, Herman Goering or Heinrich Himmler just to preserve the history of our struggle against Nazi Germany, and most of us take a dim view of those who would display the Nazi flag. These individuals advocated for subjugation and eventual extermination of whole groups of human beings — and yet it’s OK for some of us to build statues and display flags of Americans who at the very least practiced subjugating other human beings for economic purposes?

We don’t name streets or schools after Hideki Tojo or other leaders of Imperial Japan who similarly waged war to control and use groups of people for their own designs. We shouldn’t be naming streets and schools after our countrymen who sought to enslave and brutalize a people just because of their color.

For the past 140 years or so we have let a narrative known as “The Lost Cause” dictate how we remembered a war fought to preserve our union and free a people. Allowing that false narrative to guide us even to a small extent has got us to where we are today — still not following principles of freedom and equality we established as a standard defining who we are as a society and a country, and religious doctrine detailing exactly how we should treat each other.

The South didn’t fight a war for self-determination or states’ rights. That’s a fallacy at best and an outright lie at worst.

Their perceived right to determine their own destiny was cemented in owning another human being. Their economy, their social structure and their views on the order of life was all fashioned on slavery.

That is immoral, and it’s time we admit that; own our role in helping to keep that lost cause alive and end its advancement — today.

As a young Boy Scout, I owned a backpack that had the Confederate Stars and Bars on its top flap. Years ago I saw the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd at the old Washington State Convention Center in Spokane, and cheered loudly as they unfurled a huge Confederate flag behind them while playing “Sweet Home Alabama.”

I thought both were cool at the time. I didn’t know any better, but now I do.

We don’t have to re-write history to bury the past. It’s important to know where we’ve been, that way, we have a better idea and focus on where we want to go.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

Reader Comments
(0)

 
 

Our Family of Publications Includes:

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2020

Rendered 09/01/2020 00:28