‘The distortion of the truth’

Published 1:51 pm Thursday, September 7, 2017

Study the Revolutionary War or the Civil War and by comparison, what’s brewing today really isn’t so bad.People still lose lives over philosophical differences now but … not by the tens of thousands like in our past.

In trying to rationalize the growing upheaval over Confederate monuments, it seems that most of America slept through their history classes. We see slavery (at present) through 21st-century eyes and find it so abhorrent. There is this crusade to set all those wrongs right by eradicating anything Confederate remotely validating the institution. Our governorship across America has become reactionary, lashing out in dictatorial fashion and (like thieves in the night) pulling down even the most benign of Confederate memorials.

Slavery has been around for thousands of years. The Bible even instructs masters how to properly treat slaves. Today’s mentality can’t comprehend any legitimacy of slavery … which demonstrates the positive evolution and maturing of humankind.   

Email newsletter signup

As 17th- and 18th-century America was hacking out its place in the world, there was no heavy equipment for the job. Like other beasts of burden, slaves were brought in who were of higher intellect than animals but not treated any better. This wasn’t considered especially cruel or inhumane (then) as we do all view it today. Difficult jobs needed to be done and slave labor (at that time) was the most expedient way to do it. We must try to put ourselves (as much as we can) into the mindset of those developing this new America, and slavery was their solution. 

It was inevitable that slavery would end with the advent of machinery, but the Civil War ushered in a more abrupt and violent conclusion to the institution. Many in the pre-Civil War South could not grasp that times had moved on and it was time to give up on slaves. Every slave owner was not intrinsically evil. Slave owners didn’t want to let go of their outdated tradition, viscerally preferring to fight rather than switch.

Along with other reasons, the Civil War was a battle over keeping the institution of slavery though rank and file.

For the Confederate soldier, it was a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight. What especially irks the sons and daughters of Confederate veterans today is blindly casting a blanket of evil over their ancestors, likening the (impoverished) Confederate soldier to some warped criminal bent on evil then … and now. This is the mindset that has been indoctrinated into so many today who don’t factually know history. The Civil War was to be a bloody conclusion (and a bloody birth) to a new way of thinking about slavery in America. There is no criminality behind it to warrant monument extermination.

Confederate memorials are hallowed grave markers to some but seen as cruel pro-slavery to others. The impatience to truly know and understand American history has given way now to setting emotions and teeth on edge. It’s a sad and appalling state of affairs to behold this “ISIS/Taliban-style” destruction of monuments (here in America) driven by abject ignorance of history. Racist behavior has also added to the distortion of truth. Confederate monuments are just reminders of the price that was paid to turn a page in the book of American history. Historical revisionists and impulsive politicians (aided by the media) desire to recreate an uglier picture of history. What they do is criminal.

Our slave-owning founding fathers (George Washington and Thomas Jefferson) have somehow avoided this sweeping condemnation. Slavery was certainly a cruel institution, but what was visited on the American Indian was real “savagery.” What monuments can we destroy next to atone for that?

Karl Schmidt lives in Prince Edward County. His email address is tenbears@centurylink.net.