September 3, 2008
It always pains me to read about the "new" South. Reference Steve Szkotak’s article, "Museum shows other side of past," Aug. 26, on the Museum of the Confederacy, in which he explains the museum is planning on sending collections on the road in hope of reversing declining attendance.
Why the pain? Because nothing it does and nothing I can say will stop that decline.
A very great man once said "Surrender means that the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy, that our youths will be taught by Northern school teachers; learn from Northern school books their version of the war." One of the history teachers from Hampton Institute once argued with me that blacks did not fight in the war but ran away; then I quoted Frederick Douglass, "It is now pretty well established, that there are at the present moment many colored men in the Confederate army doing duty not only as cooks, servants and laborers, but as real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders, and bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down loyal troops, and do all that soldiers may to destroy the federal government."
Our Southern schools teach our children that their great-great-grandfathers were racists and murderers, so how can we expect the masses to want to visit the museum? It is too bad as the American Civil War is one of the most-read subjects in the world; the State Department estimates four out of every 10 tourists come to see Civil War sites.
But because we live in a world where both the government and society can eradicate one group’s heritage, we can never capitalize on that, or be proud of "our" forefathers.
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