Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Fighting the Civil War all over again.

It's shocking to think this is 2010. I heard a comedian say "This is the most futuristic date in the history of all dates!" which is about spot on. Honestly, we have iPod touches, you can fly from Fairbanks to Germany without dying of scurvy along the way, and we have people living full-time in space. I'm a huge fan of the future, because it brings advancements that my grandparents wouldn't have even dreamt possible. Even if we don't get personal flying cars, I'm looking forward what Detroit invents 20 or 30 years from now. Maybe it'll be a hover-car, like Star Wars. I can live with a Hover Car.

Yet despite how neat the future is, there seems to be a group of people who are dead set on disparaging it by pointing to it and saying times are bad, and wrong, and we need to go back in time. This is topic on here frequently, since I do not like this rosy retrospective. It washes history, making it clean, palatable. An acquaintance of mine made the claim that there wasn't murder in the village before white people showed up. This is an insane claim that even half-way listening to stories would disprove. And even if we had no more stories ever again, the archaeological signs of conflict and strife are there for us to find. There's also Texas writing Jefferson out of the history books because he disagrees with their politics, and a general fetishization of the "Founding Fathers" to almost god-like figures. Goldman-Animation made a great short video about the so-called "Golden Age."

I say this, because nationally, there seems to be a form of this going on in the south. People are ignoring parts of the civil war which don't support their modern ethics, and only thinking about the parts that do. There's a revisionist attitude about that leads people to say that the Civil War wasn't about Slavery. You see this in the recent proclamation of Confederate History Month, and other things of that sort. I've heard people on call in shows on the Radio talk about how the new Tea Party movement is like the Confederates of old, fighting against large government. I have to keep from groaning and holding my head, when I hear this - I've cut back my radioshow diet because of these crazy statements.

In this great article in The Atlantic, they lay, flat out, that the Civil War was about Slavery. Full stop. But the urge to feel irrational shame over that is no better in having irrational joy about having a King or Queen as a great-great-grand-whatever. It's irrational. To be mindful of history is a good thing. To try and wrap ourselves in it, claiming it as our own, as if we'd somehow done something to earn events that happened long before we were born is a little arrogant. And if someone living in the south really, really wants to do that anyhow? Well, there's plenty of heroic figures from the ex-CSA that could be lionized for being generally good, moral, upstanding people without washing history clean of slavery and race. I'd strongly recommend that essay. But I'd add to the end of it that we carry on in the spirit of our ancestors, but without being our predecessors. After all, when we make our own try at life, we'll have iPods.


themadengineer said...

History was an endless parade of misery, blatant evil, ignorance, and abject craziness.
Now is better, and I'm hoping that the future will be better still.

harry said...

how about calling Treason History Month ?