Monday, January 24, 2011

History Can't Be Rewritten; But It Can Be Ignored

I have hanging onto this article for a while.

One of the things I hate about the way history is taught is that its taught monolithicly; we never hear about anything that doesn't fit the majority narrative.

Like during the Revolution; did you know that approximately 50% of the citizens of the Colonies did not want Independence form Britain? Did you know that after the war those folks were ruthlessly driven from their homes, and their lands and possessions were confiscated by the new Federal Government?

Did you know that during the Civil War there were slave owners in the North, who were pro-slavery and pro-Union? And that there were also anti-slavery secessionist in the South? facts like these don't fit the narrative, so they are conveniently forgotten.

Just like the black Confederate soldiers. Some of these soldiers were free blacks, some of whom owned black slaves. That just doesn't fit the narrative does it? We are taught to forget that slavery wasn't the evil institution we consider- and should consider- it today, but a legal way of using capital to control labor costs. Does that mean I advocate a return to slavery? Hell no. But if some of the facts aren't given, how can we put events into perspective?

History is always taught by the winners, and the one question constantly presented is why did poor whites, who didn't own slaves, fight for slavery? The answer is easy; and Dr. Williams answers it here; because they were Virginians, or Georgians, and their state was under attack from the damn Yankees.

Our modern country forgets- or is not taught- that as late as the Spanish American War military units were formed and deployed by state, not as an Army in general. Your State was your standard bearer, not your country.

One of the things I hear bandied about is that the country has become ungovernable. Well duh; it was never meant to be governable. The states were the unit where interior government takes place, and no state (okay; I'll except California) is ungovernable.

As usual I wandered a little farther than I should have. But the point is Black Confederate veterans existed. To deny that existence is not only a denial of historical fact, it cheapens the sacrifice made by these men a century and a half ago.

The constant argument on the Civil War is whether it was fought over Slavery or States Rights. Yes, the right the states were fighting to hold was the evil right to hold another person in eternal bondage, which immediately cheapens the argument, which is why the Federalist/Democrats usually fight with that as their weapon of choice.

It is a little disingenuous, and has a modern corollary: individual property rights, and the choice of property owners to allow smoking on their private property. Its hard to argue your right to your property when the response is the evils of smoking.

There is a reason some arguments become so contentious; there are very basic belief differences that have created the different stands, and you can't abandon your stand with out abandoning a core principle, no matter how much the facts fly in the face of your argument.

Kind of like facing an African-American in butternut gray. Its easier to ignore the fact than explain it.

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