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Further TIDOS Heritage Month Activities

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Loomis does some good work with Old Slow Trot, George Thomas. Thomas was, for all intents and purposes, written out of history because he didn’t conform to the post-reconstruction archetype of either a Union or Confederate general. A Southerner who decided to fight for the Union, Thomas’ career moreover demonstrates the absurdity of the “I did it for my state” defense of joining the Confederacy. Loomis further points us to some excellent TIDOS Heritage Month links from Old Hickory, a confirmed foe of Neo-Confederate revisionism.

Last, but not least, Erik gives an eloquent defense of the TIDOS History Month project. There seems to have been some confusion about the nature of this project in comments. We are not arguing that the South is inherently evil, or that the North has presented an admirable model of race relations. What we are arguing against is a particular historical interpretation that tries to create an equivalence between the United States and the Confederate States during the Civil War. This is not a dead or meaningless debate; nostalgia for the Confederate States of America continues to be widely held in the South and among certain presidential candidates. The mythology that has emerged around the Confederacy, and especially the “Lost Cause” is not simply a question of historical antiquarianism; such nostalgia invariably carries a racial component, and is deeply embedded within a narrative of hatred and oppression towards African-Americans. Confederate nostaligia has always included this racial component, and has never been about the “heritage” of the American South. The southern states have been part of the United States of America for 231 years, and were in rebellion for four; that leaves 227 years of potential heritage that don’t involve a brutal war fought in the service of human servitude. As others have noted, Confederate nostalgia is about the hate, not the heritage.

Undercutting every element of Confederate nostalgia, including the idea that men fought for their states and not their ideology, or that African-Americans fought in numbers for the Confederacy, or that the Confederate elite behaved with any honor, or that the Confederacy was even particularly popular among poor Southern whites, is a valuable project. As long as states see fit to have Confederate Heritage Month, it will be necessary to describe the essential perfidity of the Confederacy. In all honesty, I look forward to the day when Confederate nostalgia is every bit as respectable as fond remembrance for Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, or Imperial Japan.

A final bit on the treason aspect; it can hardly be ignored that the loudest cries of “Treason!” almost invariably come from those who would treat the Confederacy as an honorable cause. As such, emphazing that Jeff Davis, Bobby Lee, John C. Breckinridge, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and every other bastard who contributed to the death of nearly three quarters of a million Americans were guilty of the foulest treason imaginable against the United States of America. Against that example (as if it were necessary) criticizing the blundering ineptitude of the worst President since James Buchanan can only be understood as the most dedicate patriotism.

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