April 25, 2017

Historical Ostriches

History is an ugly thing. Burying it will not make it go away. Tearing down Confederate monuments does not mean slavery never happened. Those half a million deaths from the Civil War are real. That bloody affair defined who we are as Americans; our government, our regional cultures, our unity as a people.

There is a reason Germany preserved Auschwitz. Not as a memorial, but so the future could never forget. It may be that the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy had a different motive when they erected the statues to the Lost Cause. So what? To me they are an object lesson in history. I once made a road trip just to piss on the Jefferson Davis memorial. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a brilliant general and a horrible man who held racist beliefs for most of his life. Does that mean we should desecrate his grave?

If we erase from history every despicable, power-hungry, hateful, despotic megalomaniac who ended up in power then our text books are going to be pretty thin.

Getting rid of a few statues won't make life in the inner city change one iota. Anyone who thinks it will is shallow and certainly bound to be disappointed.


Anonymous said...


James Old Guy

Anonymous said...

The history channel is running an update on the JFK assassination, I watched about 10 minutes before changing to Disney. Re-writing history must pay well.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Before I get a little off track, be aware that I agree with your conclusion.

I have to defend Forrest, though, a little bit, and not just because we share a name. Remember that Forrest's first and only order to the KKK as their Grand Wizard was to lose the hoods and robes and disband. Which they did.

That time, anyway.

Of course he was a bigot and a racist (in the original and correct meanings of both words). That's how he was brought up; he was a shitkicker private who made general because he was just that good of a leader. Lots of shitkickers still today in the back woods of the South who are just as racist and bigoted.

Notice he had a change of heart around 1874 when he offered to go kick the hell out of the white boys who were lynching blacks. In 1875 he said blacks should be admitted to law schools. In my book, that's a man who could learn and admit that he was wrong.

And that's more than Jeffy Davis ever did. I'd piss on his grave, too, given the chance. He should have had to live like R.E. Lee, with a national military cemetery in his front yard the rest of his life.

The one thing I disliked about the way Shelby Foote ended his Civil War trilogy was that he was far too reverential toward Davis.

Joe said...

Forrest is why we must study history in context. His attitudes were commonplace for he era - both North and South. Lincoln hated slavery, but had no problem using the n word we are forbidden from using 150 years later. In fact outside a few isolated pockets in New England the general attitude in the North was similar to modern views of illegal immigrants. They did not want the slaves coming North and taking away their jobs for less money. Most Northern soldiers, if we trust their diaries and letters, were fighting to preserve the union, not free the slaves.

Segregation was not limited to the south in the post-war years. The resurgence of the KKK n the 1920's was particularly strong in the Midwest.

Davis was a traitor and should have hung. Andrew Johnson's stand against the Radical Republicans probably helped heal the nation and might have prevented a second outbreak of succession.

Joe said...

In a further undeveloped thought, again we must keep in mind the context of 1860's society, the South's anger over arming former slaves cannot be ignored. It would be tantamount to the US arming illegal immigrants to bring a successionalist Texas or Midwest to heel.

What happened at Fort Pillow will forever stain Forrest's legacy. While no excuse, horrible stuff happens in War when men are asked to become killing machines. Even Sherman's path of destruction through Georgia and the Carolinas did not meet the accepted and expected levels of violence, rape, and destruction that occurred in the Naploeonic Wars just a few decades earlier.

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