Re: U.S. Grant: not such a bad guy after all
Yet another Southern born academic rejoices in his alleged enlightenment. We should start an office pool to see how many of these born-again enlightened ones we can spot during the next 4 years. Am I the only one who’s growing sick of reading this type of thing?
I too grew up during the Civil War centennial – only I grew up in the North. My sympathies, like the sympathies of not a few in the North, actually lay with Lee and the South as opposed to Grant and the North.
However, in those days, no one, regardless of where their sympathies lay, saw either man or either side for that matter, as “the enemy.” Both sides did their duty as they saw fit – and from the carnage emerged America, the “nation” that we lived in. And for that, we honored their memory.
Today, thanks to memory manipulators like David Blight, who tell us that “the grand bargain” was a bad thing, America has taken some of its own, (the Confederates), and consigned them to the historical trash heap. You’ll pardon me if I don’t join in the fun?
No one “extensively and skillfully manipulated” history. From the time the war ended to the present, there have been those in the north, along with their self-deprecating, approval-seeking allies in the South, who have sought to pin the blame for the war on the South, to make it appear that the South fought for nothing more than the right to keep others in bondage, and to makes its leaders appear to have been the second coming of Satan himself. You’ll have to pardon the Southerners of the post-war period for defending themselves against this slander and calumny. Defending oneself is a basic human right after all. And if those Southerners who defended themselves so admirably influenced a sizeable part of the country in the process, I submit that it was more a matter of them being able to convincingly present some valid arguments than a result of any kind of “manipulation.”
And yes, many of us in the north were influenced by those arguments, much to the dismay, I think, of folks like you and Blight. There are many up here who still admire a scrappy underdog that gives as good as it gets. There are still today, many of us who are uninfluenced by the horse-hockey that passes for “scholarship” and who still attach importance to what is one of man’s most basic instincts, the instinct to defend one’s home. And there are still many of us who detest meddlers, busybodies and interlopers, who just cannot see their way to minding their own business and allowing other people to live their lives unmolested. In all of the so-called “scholarship” which seeks to pin the blame for the war on “slavery,” I see nothing about the oft-repeated plea of many prominent and not-so-prominent Southerners of the period – “all we ask is to be left alone.” I suspect that if the North had left them alone, that 620,000 would not have perished.
We who reject memory manipulators like Blight also do not subscribe to the “trampling out the vintage” school of thought, for the “vintage” that Ms. Howe was talking about was not a crop of grapes, it was, in fact, someone else’s home! No, the “Lost Cause,” as you mockingly call it, is alive and well and still living in us. And there is more truth in one small shred of it than in all the books written by the so-called modern day scholars combined.
Speaking of modern day scholars and the interpretation of history, maybe there is one question you can answer. Other than a tiny handful of entrenched, tenured (“tenured” = protected against professional repercussions) academics, why do today’s “historians” all seem to have the same opinion with regard to “The Lost Cause?” When I majored in history 40 years ago I seem to remember that when any historical event was discussed that historians usually had differing opinions and interpretations. In fact, studying those differing interpretations and arguing about them was what actually constituted the study of history. So what happened? I see no arguing today. What I see instead is peace – the peace of the hive. I wonder how much of this “peace” is a result of academics being fearful of holding any other opinion but the politically correct one? I wonder if you’d have “emeritus” after your name if you openly differed with Blight’s contention, which is, after all “the party line?” If you’re not up for reading my “Lost Cause” paper in its entirety, then at least read the last section – because the real “myth” in all this is not “the Lost Cause,” but academic freedom itself.
Sons of Confederate Veterans (Associate Member), Camps 3000, 1506, 1961, 2086