This past Friday, February 18 marks the 150th anniversary of the swearing in of Jefferson Davis as the president of the Confederate states of America. All over the South there will be grand balls, commemorations and most importantly civil war battle reenactments. As a liberal Republican, I’ll pass on any of the festivities.
Let me first say that I have no doubt about the sincerity of the South and their justification for secession from the union which ultimately led to the great Civil War. There is no doubt that many young men gave their lives valiantly for what they believed in. However, they were on the wrong side of history. There is no reason in the world to justify killing other human beings to preserve the peculiar institution of slavery. As an Obama Republican, I can’t register my protest any stronger.
Reviewing Jefferson Davis’s inaugural speech there is no mention of slavery at all. For those who lionize, and deify the leaders of the old confederacy, they fail to recognize America’s” original sin.” To this day, the United States government refuses to apologize for the evil institution of slavery. Ironically, the overwhelming majority of Southerners today feel slavery was wrong and was a mistake.
What I find perplexing is, why would you want to reenact anything where you are the loser? Sure there is the historical value and appeal towards one’s curiosity about American history. Love it or hate it, this is American history. Lest we learn from the lessons of the past, we are bound to repeat them.
Until we’re willing to have recognition and reconciliation over the issue of slavery, we will always have racial issues to confront in the United States. To this day the way blacks and whites interact with one another is all predicated on a past that we wish to forget.
Race is the white elephant in the room all across America. It’s there but no one wants to recognize it, no one wants to talk about it and everyone refuses to confront it. Until we address this issue head on we will surely not make progress as Americans. Yes, Barack Obama is president, but it’s still there!
As the grandson of a former slave, there is no doubt which side of the issue I’m on. Sadly, we try to gloss over slavery, we try to sanitize slavery and the simple truth is, there’s no way you can do that. Slavery was cruel and inhumane. There is blood on all of our hands and there’s no other way to put it. The barbarism that was perpetuated on kidnapped Africans was unspeakable.
It’s particularly disheartening to hear historical revisionists portray slaves as “happy darkies” who actually didn’t mind their servitude. That’s an insult to one’s intelligence. The stories passed down to me by my father from his father speak of an institution so horrid it cannot be described here. So please spare me fond recollections of life down in Dixie. History is always subject to the interpretation of the victor and this ugly portion of American history is no exception. This Republican will not be fully recovered until we address this issue and make it right.