Letter: Confederate Memorial Day is insulting to civil rights

May 30, 2011

By Allan Marcil
St. Augustine

Editor: It is always astonishing to me when I see anyone celebrate the Confederate States of America. On a recent Saturday, a small group, a few in Confederate army drag and even one "southern lady," wearing what looked like Scarlett O’Hara widow’s weeds, gathered in front of a war memorial in the Plaza to commemorate — what? That’s the question. The irony is that these neo-confederates had gathered first, not in front of the actual Confederate Memorial and secondly, they were celebrating their history and the defenders of slavery only a few feet from the recently dedicated statue for the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement. That location couldn’t have been a coincidence.

In fact, the Confederate Memorial Day gathering was a blatant insult to everything that the Foot Soldiers accomplished. Slavery was the singular cause of the Civil War. Period. We will hear all the disingenuous dissembling about "states’ rights," "heritage not hate," etc., but the simple fact is that the South fired shots on Fort Sumter and launched the deadliest war in American history to protect an economic system based on the enslavement of other human beings. Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee were bigger traitors to the United States of America than Benedict Arnold and only President Andrew Johnson’s desire to heal the nation kept Lee from trial, prison or worse. Of course, the South used the Bible to justify slavery, citing the patriarch Abraham’s ownership of slaves and even the Ten Commandment’s admonition against coveting a neighbor’s man or maidservant. (Yet another reason why the Bible might be a dubious source for moral guidance.) Despite the eternal popularity of Gone with the Wind, perpetuating some noble and romantic vision of plantation life and the Confederacy is dishonest and regressively insidious. Never forget the following Jefferson Davis quote: "Nothing fills me with deeper sadness than to see a Southern man apologizing for the defense we made of our inheritance. Our cause was so just, so sacred, that had I known all that has come to pass, had I known what was to be inflicted upon me, all that my country was to suffer, all that our posterity was to endure, I would do it all over again." He (they?) would do it all again?