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Wednesday, 16 August 2017 14:58

Honor the dead, not the cause

Written by 

To the Editor:

In a recent spate of Confederacy hype, much has been racist and much has been misleading. However, we do need to correct our history books; and we especially need to end the senseless argument that slavery was not a cause for the civil war. Everything that preceded this terrible war was about an economy and a racist ideology based upon the buying and selling of people as property. Every opposing argument is tainted by the refusal to acknowledge the horrible conditions of slavery that flourished in our country, especially in the agrarian South.

An entire population was encouraged by a white aristocracy to promote hatred and violence, poor white against even poorer blacks (please read William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning”). More than 600,000 perished in this internal struggle, a war fought to justify slave labor or whatever name they use to deny the shame and evil of racism and inequity.

Grief and memory are reasonable expressions for the loss of so many, but giving this war another reason, another deception is wrong; and it is a slap in the face to both black and white who lost everything in this inhuman effort to make money. It was pure, unadulterated greed. Statues or memorials honoring those who died in the struggle are one thing (Andersonville is one of the most heartbreaking memorials to the soldiers who suffered); however, statues that celebrate and honor the cause of the Confederacy are a different thing.

Yes, we can find slavery in many cultures and we can find it still today throughout the world, unfortunately. However, that argument will never justify our own role in this practice. With so little reconstruction or reparations after the war, we released millions of impoverished, uneducated, devalued people to flee north to ghettos or to remain tortured and repressed among people who lynched, burned and inflicted endless other cruelties.

Like other wars of genocide, our country must end this prideful and shameful defense of a war that ripped our country apart. Yet it has been allowed to continue over the following 150-plus years via Jim Crow, vicious segregation, and a very prejudiced denial of rights that continue today. Michelle Alexander writes of the New Jim Crow that still kills and imprisons black men every day in America.

It seems an impossible task to undo the unspeakable wrongs, but I believe that until we right or at least take responsibility for this terrible legacy, we cannot end the misery, prejudice, and injustice that continue today. Let’s not forget the many who died in the Civil War, but let’s cease to celebrate the Confederacy.

Ruth Ballard

Hayesville

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