Read Uncle Tom's Cabin... Again.
This week Cade Logue wrote an informative piece in the on-line periodical The Blue State Conservative with the central tenet that Confederate soldiers of the US Civil War were not traitors.
I agree with his sentiment and am impressed with his research. Reasonable people may disagree, but the facts are facts. There are distinctions worthy of note.
What necessitates his strong article? I see a pile of related acts, mostly vandals, some hard-headed and hard-hearted, and an inability to discriminate between history for its own sake (as an arbiter of American values) and outright intimidation.
Most of this is about imagery. Is the Confederate dead worthy of memorializing? Any American soldier, yes, and attempts to destroy genuine remembrances, especially in cemeteries, is unreasonable and unnecessarily cruel. The enlisted Confederate was likely dirt poor, illiterate, and didn’t own slaves. His error in judgment in life before conscription was tempered by false church values and wanting to keep what little he had.
And once any soldier’s life is lost he deserves the dignity of a decent burial and an opportunity for his family to pay respects, for generations if possible. A statue of an unidentified soldier or an angel in a graveyard should be looked on with respect and reverence.
But it ends there.
I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin this week, after pretending to read the novel in high school. I don’t know anyone who admits to chewing through it, but most people think of the pejorative of Uncle Tom as an insult. He was, in fact, a modest hero, unashamed Christian, and
humble martyr. More on this later.
There are three huge elements of imagery in America which should be eliminated.
First, reverse dedicating Army posts for Confederate generals, which is long overdue. These flag officers likely were West Point graduates and fought for the wrong side. Whatever legislative mechanism of the past that worked up these native son names, most certainly a transactional end note to a larger congressional abuse, should be acknowledged and fixed forthwith.
One example particularly galls me: General Braxton Bragg of the CSA was a particularly brutal commander, and his vanity and incompetence caused the unnecessary additional carnage of both blue and gray men in the bloodiest battle of the Civil War – the Battle of Stones River in Tennessee. See The March of the Orphans and Battle of Stones River, a historical novel available on my website.
There are at least ten such named forts and posts and if the US Army can stand down for unnecessary Critical Race Theory witch hunts for 60 days it can certainly take a permanent step by getting rid of these asinine symbolic references.
Second are statues on public or federal land that venerate these Confederate military leaders. Again, except for cemeteries, these effigies have no place in America. These “leaders” of the CSA harbored the morally indefensible position that people could be bought and sold, separated from their family by the almighty dollar, and discarded after brutal use. States had the right then to allow it, but that did not make it right.
There are exceptions to doing the right thing that mar the community ability to correct an injustice. Toppling statues and spray-painting vulgarities, like the insanity of last summer, are acts of intimidation and aggression no different than erecting the statues in the first place. On one hand there are miscreants hiding behind masks and mobs and on the other there are politicians babbling about heritage. Both are terrorist acts and harden opposition.
Third and last, the Confederate flag. I am unsure that even a cemetery should allow it unfurled. It has no place in the public sphere except for museums, like the Nazi flag. Please save the free speech nonsense. I am a son of New Jersey. I grew up believing that the Confederate stars and bars were about a losing cause, and there was moral righteousness in its defeat and graciousness in the US government’s generosity after Lee’s surrender.
Now I see people brandish the flag and I think they are just plain losers, a judgment I cannot shake or apologize for. The idea that it is about heritage is senseless and cretinous, full-stop. That flag is about subjugating humans for a thin class of economically advantaged charlatans, the majority of whom were morally bankrupt and evil. That flag is about intimidation. It shows the possessor to be wholly ignorant or inherently evil.
I have a solution for those who think my words too harsh. Read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It is still powerful 170 years later. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel was a catalyst to force northern values to seek a military solution to the abomination of slavery.
What is evident is that the average citizen of the young nation, up until Stowe’s book, was accustomed to slavery “in the South” and saw it, slavery, in plain sight but shrugged and sighed and believed it was a part of the human condition and the misery of the universe. So, accept it. After the book’s publication, it was now everyone’s shared stain of inhumanity. Yes, worth fighting to defeat.
If you read Uncle Tom’s Cabin and still think the South should rise again, you, sir, have no soul. And may God have mercy on you.