Prior to the vote to make the Ballad of the 20th Maine Maine’s official state ballad, two Republican representatives expressed their concerns for the feelings of members of the Confederacy, even though they’re all dead. Just like the Confederacy.
OK, what really happened is they let everyone know that they sympathize with the treasonous slavery-defending losers of the Civil War, which has to be good for a few votes in many parts of the U.S. even those that are a long way north of the Mason-Dixon line.
The stirring anthem recorded and performed by the band The Ghost of Paul Revere tells the story of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which fought for the Union Army under General Joshua Chamberlain in the American Civil War. The regiment is best known for its brave defense of Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863.
The bill to enshrine the ballad was sponsored by Rep. Scott Cuddy (D-Winterport) and passed without objection in both chambers. It did see some initial opposition in the legislature’s State and Local Government Committee, however, where two Republicans raised objections that the song’s unabashedly pro-Union message may be unfair to the South.
“I find it a little bit, we are united states, we are not Union, we are united states. And I find it just a little bit – I won’t say offensive but that’s what I mean – to say that we’re any better than the South was,” said Rep. Frances Head (R-Bethel) during a May 1st public hearing on the bill.
Saying that you’re not going to say a word then saying that word is what you mean is more and at this point completely unnecessary evidence that being a republican means never having to engage your brain. Rep. Cuddy noted that we’re the United States thanks to people like the soldiers in the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment and despite the efforts of Confederacy.
As for who was better, I think it is pretty easy to look at the two sides of this dispute and say the ones who weren’t fighting for the right to keep other people as property were the good guys. And if there’s still any confusion, look at ‘oo beat ‘oo.
Another republican went full Fine People on Both Sides with his objections.
“I am a lover of history and especially a lover of the civil war period and regardless of what side people fought on, they were fighting for something they truly believed in,” said Rep. Roger Reed (R-Carmel), who specifically praised Confederate General Robert E. Lee. “Many of them were great Christian men on both sides. They fought hard and they were fighting for states’ rights as they saw them.”
He loves history, especially Civil War history, but he doesn’t see a problem with fighting to keep other people as slaves. At least it’s an ethos, right?
They may represent a minority position, but the statements of these Republicans show just how far the Myth of the Lost Cause, a systematic effort to rehabilitate the racist legacy of the Confederacy, has spread. These objections were raised in Maine, which contributed a largest number of Union soldiers in proportion to its population of any state.
The American Civil War was fought on the issue of slavery. That’s the “state right” that Confederates were seeking to defend. To ignore or elide that history doesn’t just denigrate the sacrifices of our ancestors, but bolsters the resurgent white supremacist movement we’re seeing across our union today.
Hopefully Maine’s new state ballad will help us to remember this truth.
Hopefully it will, but I doubt it. That white resentment won’t express itself you know.
I do wonder what other displays of incivility towards pro-confederacy citizens will cause Republicans to wrinkle their brows an wring their fingers. The right’s belief in the sanctity of Confederate memorials has been established. Are performances of The Battle Hymn of the Republic to be eschewed? Should Lincoln’s image be removed from the penny, the five dollar bill and Mount Rushmore? Or perhaps they’ll move on to other concerns, like the callous way people celebrate the Normandy Landings, without regards to the feelings of the Germans who were on the losing side of that particular dispute.