To the Editor:
Regarding “Learn from History” [letter, July 9], the writer makes a case that, quite frankly, appalls me. Maybe he should take a little more time to seriously look at history in regards to the Civil War.
He states that a “small fringe” of flag adherents use it as a racist hate symbol while the “vast majority” regard it as a symbol of other things. Not sure where his support for this statement comes from. A significant problem I have with this interpretation is that he is suggesting that all of the factors he names, “family/ancestral heritage, rebellion against central authority, local anatomy, hierarchical rather than (Marsian) egalitarianism, social order, resistance to abuse of power, etc.” should deserve equal status.
The Civil War was about one thing, and one thing only, slavery.
Historian James McPherson wrote concerning states' rights and other non-slavery explanations: “While one or more of these interpretations remain popular among the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other Southern heritage groups, few professional historians now subscribe to them. Of all these interpretations, the states'-rights argument is perhaps the weakest. It fails to ask the question, states' rights for what purpose?
States' rights, or sovereignty, was always more a means than an end, an instrument to achieve a certain goal more than a principle.” To give these factors equal status to slavery, to put it charitably, is blindly missing the point.
The south’s economy was based upon slavery. Socially it was based on white supremacy. In their articles of succession, the (initially seven states) 11 southern states all included the right to retain slavery as the overwhelming reason for succession. Although President Jefferson Davis did not mention slavery in his speech, Vice President Alexander Stephens certainly did.
There is a difference between history and honoring. We certainly need to keep all the elements of the Civil War in history. But we should not honor what is clearly a painfully wrong and morally repugnant period of our history. Removing these symbols puts us closer “to the Islamic State”? Serious flaw in this analogy.
If your reference to “the proverb” is Proverbs 22:28, then you did not interpret it in the Hebrew meaning when it was written. Landmark meant “boundry mark.” In essence Proverbs 22:28 is saying, “Don’t steal your neighbor’s land.” This is not equivalent to removing symbols.
Is the fate of those who misrepresent history equivalent to those who forget it?