Letter to the Editor

   Written by on August 25, 2017 at 11:15 am

Remember Your History Classes

I want to thank you for being exceedingly generous in printing so many of my letters. I write as much as I do because I don’t read enough of what needs to be said. The bitter divide we have in America isn’t new. Study the Revolutionary war or the Civil war and by comparison, what’s brewing today really isn’t so bad! People still lose lives over philosophical differences now but, not by the tens of thousands like in our past.

As I try to rationalize the growing upheaval over Confederate monuments, it seems that most of America slept through their history classes. We see slavery (at present) through 21st century eyes and find it so abhorrent, there is this crusade to set all those wrongs right by eradicating anything that remotely validated the institution of slavery. Our governorship across America has become reactionary lashing out in dictatorial fashion (like thieves in the night) pulling down even the most benign Confederate memorials.

Slavery has been around for thousands of years. The Bible even instructs masters how to properly treat slaves. Today’s mentality can’t comprehend any legitimacy of slavery … which demonstrates the positive evolution and maturing of human kind. Different forms of slavery still go on but, not the open-air market as in the past.

17th – 18th century America was hacking out its place in the world and there was no heavy equipment for the job. Like other beasts of burden, slaves were brought in who were of higher intellect than animals but, not treated any better. This wasn’t considered especially cruel or inhumane (then) … as we do all view it today. Difficult jobs needed to be done and slave labor (at that time) was the most expedient way to do it. We must try to put ourselves (as much as can) into the mindset of those developing this new America and slavery was their solution!

It was inevitable that slavery would end with the advent of machinery but, the Civil War ushered in a more abrupt and violent conclusion to the institution. Many in the pre- Civil War south had a hard time grasping that times had moved on and it was time to give up on slaves. Slave owners were not intrinsically evil (as many want to liken them to sadists). Slave owners didn’t want let go of their outdated tradition viscerally preferring to fight than switch!

Along with other reasons, the Civil War was a battle over keeping the institution of slavery although the rank and file Confederate soldier owned no slaves. For the Confederacy, it was a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight! What especially irks the sons and daughters of Confederate veterans today is blindly casting a blanket of evil over their ancestors. To liken the (impoverished) Confederate soldier to some warped criminal bent on evil then ….. and now! This is the mindset that has been indoctrinated into so many today … who slept through history class! The Civil War was to be a bloody conclusion (and a bloody birth) to a new way of thinking about slavery in America. There is no criminality behind it to warrant monument eradication!

Confederate memorials are hallowed grave markers to some but, symbols of cruel pro-slavery to others. The impatience to truly know and understand American history has given way now setting emotions and teeth on edge instead! It’s a sad and appalling state of affairs to behold this, “Taliban style” destruction of monuments (here in America) driven by abject ignorance and fear. Racist behavior has also added to the distortion of truth! Confederate monuments are reminders of the price that was paid to turn a page in the book of America history. Historical revisionists, impulsive politicians (aided by the media) want to recreate an uglier picture of history! What they do is criminal! A media frenzy whipping up a lynch-mob mentality sweeping America demolishing memorials with righteous indignation casting shame (and insult) on those who gave their lives for their beliefs (or conscription)!

Slavery was certainly a cruel institution, but what was visited on the American Indian was real, “savagery” without mercy ! What monuments can we destroy next to atone for that?

Karl Schmidt

Farmville, Va. 23901

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