Political correctness wins

Published 12:55 pm Thursday, May 31, 2018


Over this past Memorial Day weekend, my girlfriend Serene and her daughter Logan and I went to visit the Antietam battlefield near Sharpsburg, Maryland spending several days touring several square miles of hallowed ground. On Sept. 17, 1862, the battle at Antietam proved to be the bloodiest single day of the Civil War exacting 23,000 casualties by day’s end. For anyone who hasn’t been there, it’s an ideal place to see monuments and no end of signs and information about what happened here without getting out of the car. Aside from being a place of profound history, it’s a very scenic area where it would be worth taking a picture at nearly every crest or turn in the road.

Even for a devoted historian as myself, it took hours of driving and much reading to get an idea just where the battles were and where the lines of conflict could be envisioned. As I thought how difficult this was for me, it would be so much the worse for non-historians to grasp this area and put it all into perspective. It occurred to me that flag poles should have been erected in given areas with the American or Confederate flags waving. Across these wide expanses, it would let visitors know at a glance where each side occupied the battlefield.

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In going over this vast area several times over several days, it began to dawn on me that when Gen. R.E. Lee left this area several days after the battle, he left it in Union hands … and nothing has changed since then. There were no end of statues to Union soldiers and stone monuments to Union officers and units from Northern states like Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont but, not a line from where the units of soldiers came out of Southern states. One would think an area like this would have statues or at least a stone pillar to Lee, Jackson or Longstreet who were principal players of the Confederacy but, there was nothing. At, “Bloody Lane,” where Confederate Gen. J.B. Gordon played a huge role being shot many times but still staying with his troops through the thick of it, would get some honorable mentioning, but there wasn’t anything obvious.  

Skeptic that I was from traveling the battleground feeling the South was a bit underrepresented, my doubt about that vanished away upon entering the gift shop/museum located near the Dunker Church. No place in this facility could one see or find a Confederate flag. There were no end of American flags for sale and easy to spot. For a school-age child with an appetite to learn or for those we saw and met from Canada and even Africa who came so far to this place, they would depart this epic place of history not having a clue of what a Confederate battle flag looked like. With this mindset, there would certainly be no flags flying on this battlefield to aid visitor understanding. Political correctness has certainly claimed the final victory at the battle of Antietam and is presently rewriting and sanitizing the entire Civil War to fulfill a desired narrative glorifying the North and demonizing the South.

Karl Schmidt