Recovering lost memories
0 comment Monday, July 21, 2014 |
David Yeagley over at has been writing something of a series on the South and the War Between the States. Recently he offered a piece, Home of the Patriots, in which he stresses the importance of the traditions of the South, and their distinctive place in the American story, and the American nation.
Those who are not of Southron origin may feel this is irrelevant to them, but I am increasingly convinced that this North-South issue is crucial to understanding how we got where we are today. The obvious area in which the history of the North-South division is relevant is that of the perennial race question. Race, whether people are willing to acknowledge it or not, is at the heart of much of what is threatening not only our country but the entire Western world. In essence, our great fear of addressing the race issue directly, and our guilt about it, and the strong taboos surrounding it, are paralyzing us at the very moment when we stand in danger of being displaced or replaced, blended out of existence as a people.
Most people, in our maleducated age, know little about the War Between the States, more commonly called the Civil War. The very name of the conflict is dependent on one's viewpoint; many unreconstructed Southerners call it the War of Northern Aggression, or, less pugnaciously, The War for Southern Independence. To Northerners, it's the Civil War, usually viewed as an act of treason by rebellious and disloyal Southerners who fought to retain possession of slaves.
But whatever the conflict is called, it is a terrible wound to our nation, which has never really healed, and possibly cannot be healed.
And without some knowledge and understanding of what really happened, and why, we cannot really resolve anything and come to terms with it.
The issue of race and slavery are issues that we never cease hearing about, in this liberal age in which we are expected to castigate ourselves because of our 'original sin', as Obama referred to it, or our 'birth defect', as Condoleezza Rice called it. Lately various states have issued apologies for slavery, even though no American today owns slaves or has been a slave. Next on the agenda: reparations. There will likely be a reparations payment in my lifetime, but count on it: reparations will not resolve the issue. Reparations would only create further demands.
But with a country populated mostly by people who have been fed only propaganda about the War Between the States and the 'peculiar institution' of slavery, we are destined to go on and on in the endless cycle of recriminations, apologies, demands, and conflicts.
It's time we were able to examine the history behind the Gordian knot of race in our country, and it would be helpful for most of us to go back and re-examine the War Between the States and Reconstruction, in order to give us some context and some background of how we got to the present impasse.
The South and her people are inevitably depicted as the caricatured villains in this piece. Most people, having been fed on Hollywood or other fictional depictions, have images in their minds of evil white slave-hunters as depicted in the fantasy "history" of Roots. We all know the stereotypes of Southern whites as evil and cruel and ignorant.
The real ignorance is exemplified by the persistent stereotypes of the South and of the Civil War era.
Dr. Yeagley, to his credit, examines the culture of the South with a sympathetic eye. I am not sure how much Dr. Yeagley, an Oklahoman, identifies as a Southerner; I surmise that his identity is as a Comanche and an American, but he is sympathetic to the South.
Here he describes the Southron culture, and American identity:
...The South was culture chiefly of gentlemen, men of honor. Men of bravery. Men of war.
And men of a homeland, and a way of life. Never before had America--any portion of America, had to fight for their homes and their way of life. The Southern came out of the war with an unforgettable image of home. And that's really what patriotism is about--the home. Love of home. To the Southerner, his own state was one giant, extended family. The unity and brotherhood they felt was akin to a nationhood. Their state was more important than any political theory or economic congolmerate pawned off as "nationhood." To the Southerner, home wasn't an idea. It was a place, a real place, with real houses and land, that grew real food and had real people--family, living on it. Those stars and bars stand for home. The "idea," or we should say, the reality, of home, is expressed in that Confederate battle flag. In a way, the Stars and Stripes were never the same. Home came with the victory. The South was held as part of the Union. The North bought a home, really. At least a sense of it, as never before.
The Union should remember the South for that mighty lovely cause. Home. Otherwise, the idea of the United States is little more than a giant business. Without the South, there is no sentiment of home in the United States. (I wouldn't expect most American people to understand how the Indians feel about the homeland, but, they should be able to grasp how Southerners feel. But, in a way, Southerners are like Indians. Indians still today enlist in the armed services from sheer intuition of valor, or warriorhood. Our home is still here, our land is still here, despite what has happened to us. The same is true for true Southerners. After the Civil War, their reservation was a bit larger, I must say, but, they were never trying to rule the world either. Like Indians, they just wanted to be left alone.)
[...] In a sense, the Civil War will never be over. It was the expression of an ever-occurring battle of ideas. Who shall rule, and to what extend. The nature of the country is under perpetual examination. With the trend toward globalism, the abolition of nationhood, and the delusion of global financial imperialism, we do well to raise the Confederate flag, and fly it high--above every other issue. The nature of our country, the meaning of our nationhood, the idenity of the United States of America is under seige--the enemy being Washington, DC. The challenge is from traitorous, avaricious failures who are unable to understand America, and behave like angry opportunists, like children fighting over the biggest piece of pie. At least the Confederate flag reminds us of something in the way of origins, something of how that pie came about. The Confederate flag calls our attention to the true identity of the United States. Obviously, we need to reconsider--when we see the kind of people running for the highest office in the country today.''
Dr. Yeagley has also written about the women of the South, who are often caricatured as vacuous and vain 'Southern belles', and he presents a much fairer picture, recommending some primary sources: the writings of Southern women themselves. I highly recommend reading some of these sources for another view of life in the Old South. He cites Mary Boykin Chesnut; she wrote A Diary from Dixie which is a very interesting account of her life during the War. She was the wife of a Confederate general, so she knew many of the principal figures in the Confederacy, and gives a good description of the times and the people. She was obviously very well-educated and articulate, and does not fit at all the shallow stereotype of the Hollywood Southern belle, who was always an empty-headed and manipulative creature. Mary Boykin Chesnut is nothing at all like Scarlett O'Hara or other such fictional creations.
Read some of the excerpts from her diary, describing daily life before,during, and after the War, and the interactions between the races, and between Southron and Yankee during that same era. We have heard one side of the story relentlessly in the years since the War, and the propaganda is the fiction on which our present politically correct house of lies is founded.
Are there not two sides to every story?
I think we need to go back to that era and read the whole story, from original sources as much as possible, not from some modern-day revisionist with a liberal agenda. Some perspective and some balance is desperately needed. The whole story of the War Between the States and Reconstruction is the background of our current situation. We can never really see our way out of this maze we are in until we get the whole truth and look at it through the eyes of those who were there, who participated in the events of the time.
There are still old sources to be found; read the old books and reference sources. As much as possible, avoid more recent sources, which are tainted with the PC agenda.
There are many sources to be found out there on the Internet; you can find Mary Boykin Chesnut's Diary from Dixie here.
The same collection has many works of Southern literature online.
It's vital to be able to understand and freely examine what happened in the past to have a correct and full perspective on what is besetting us now. As it is, we are crippled by a lack of knowledge and information; we are like amnesiacs, having only fragmentary or false memories of our past.
In our present presidential campaign, the issue of race will be front and center, and so far, the usual politically correct falsehoods go unchallenged and unquestioned. We need to be armed with real knowledge. The truth will set us free.

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