Tuesday, April 20, 2010

News From Home, Now With Extra Crazy

It's not that the news in Europe is better than in the United States. It's just harder for us to read.

Oh, apparently there's a resurgence of right-wing craziness sweeping across the Continent, not to mention a vast cloud of volcanic ash. But when the only newspapers available to you are in Romanian and Hungarian, you tend to miss these things. For that matter, you also miss the news from back home. And -- truth be told -- that by itself is often good news.

Because our wonderful nation is as weird a place as has ever existed on God's green earth.

As proof, we submit this little tidbit, surely familiar to many Egg readers, but new to us this very evening: Confederate Heritage Month.

Apparently, Virginia governor Robert McDonnell declared this curiosity, and in the course of his declaration set tongues a-wagging because he neglected to mention slavery. (And Mississippi governor Haley Barbour has since agreed that this oversight was basically okay, even after McDonnell amended his original declaration.) Not mentioning slavery, hmm? You do remember, surely, the Peculiar Institution which was, when you cut through everything else, the reason that the war was fought?

As Robert Mackey, a retired Army colonel, observes, the near-nonsense of "states' rights" often invoked by apologists for the Confederacy is just a smokescreen. The "right" in question was, bottom line, the right to hold human beings in perpetual bondage, thus depriving them of their fundamental rights as human beings. That's what the Confederacy was about: an enormous conspiracy of the governing and landed classes to oppress their fellow-beings. This fundamental evil led to all sorts of contingent ones, such as -- let's just say it -- treason against the United States.

So try to imagine what it would look like to outsiders if Russia declared an "Evil Empire Heritage Month." Or if Germany -- well, you get the idea.

All of which two questions. First, what politician, in his or her right mind, would introduce such a thing? What is to be gained here? The answer, sadly, is votes -- not by any means all from avowed neo-Confederate freakjobs like Baylor professor Bill Murchison. The truth is that generations of purposeful deceit have successfully confused decent people about the reasons their ancestors fought a war, and created a bogus "Southern identity" which they believe was at stake. And of which they would have every right to be proud, if it had been at issue in the war.

The second question, no doubt, is as painful to answer as it is easy to phrase. Why don't right thinking Americans -- the ones who think the Civil War ought never to have been necessary, but once necessary ended just as it should have -- rise up in their hundreds of thousands to crush the careers of politicians who imply otherwise?

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