I was born and reared in Dixie. But I’m not a Confederate sympathizer. In 1862, three of my ancestors left Knoxville to join the Union army in Kentucky. They were later captured and sent to the Confederate prisons Belle Isle (Virginia) and Andersonville (Georgia), where two died. The third was paroled, hospitalized, and sent home. I don’t like Confederate culture and politics either – an insistence on rights instead of responsibilities, a medieval economy built on the serfdom called ‘slavery,’ and a powerless Christianity that either applauded or looked the other way.
Unfortunately, on a different branch of my family tree, two brothers joined the Confederate army in Kentucky. Both were captured and sent to a Union prison in Ohio, but the Union was too hasty in releasing them. They later joined the Confederate army in Virginia. Thanks to my grandparents’ marriage, I’m a product of Union and Confederate, North and South. Choosing sides would dishonor one set of ancestors. I don’t think I’m unique in this dilemma.
Some pain is too deep for words. Each time I read about Belle Isle or Andersonville, I cry. Images of these places are horrific. Still, although my ancestors saw and suffered terrible things, both in battle and in prison camps, I didn’t. Their pain isn’t mine, so I can’t pretend to understand it. The same is true for the descendants of slaves today. They themselves weren’t slaves, so they can’t pretend to understand what their ancestors saw and suffered. Jim Crow laws and the Civil Rights Movement are more recent, but people who suffered through these traumas are growing old and dying now. Anyone born after 1965 doesn’t truly understand their pain.
It’s time to bury the hatchet on both the Confederacy and its flag. The 1865 hanging of Mary Surratt and other alleged conspirators for President Lincoln’s assassination didn’t heal post-war America. Neither did the hanging of Captain Henry Wirz, commander of Andersonville Prison, that same year. Reconstruction was also a disaster. So what will heal this still-bleeding nation? Who will courageously say no to war and yes to peace?
Liberal politicians and the media don’t want peace. One hundred fifty years have passed since General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, so why do they hate the Confederate flag? The Civil War is long over, so why do they try to fight another one? Maybe they oppose what they think this flag stands for, namely racism and Christianity. If so, then these liberals need to take a good, long look in the mirror of history. The antebellum North tolerated slavery to stabilize the Union politically, and she was unwilling to integrate blacks (Van Cleve 270-71). Northern abolition “disadvantaged free blacks, who … faced continuing discrimination in competition with whites for jobs and land” (268). It didn’t produce civil equality either, since blacks were “denied critical civil rights” like voting and serving on juries (268). Frederick Douglass’ fight to integrate churches, schools, and transportation in New England predated the struggles of Rosa Parks and others by more than a century (Hendrick 44-72). “Jim Crow” laws flourished in the antebellum North, so her finger-pointing at the South – then and now – is hypocrisy.
Who wins the Christianity contest in antebellum America? I don’t know. Some Southern Christians owned slaves; some didn’t. Some Southern pastors preached against slavery; some didn’t. Some Northern abolitionists were Christians; some weren’t. None of these people were perfect. Maybe their understanding of Christianity was flawed. Maybe they weren’t truly born again. Or maybe they voted their pocketbook over their conscience. We’ll never know.
Here’s what I do know. The LGBT flag is more detrimental to America than the Confederate one has ever been. What it stands for – homosexual ‘rights’ and ‘marriage’ – is spiritual, political, economic, and cultural suicide. Is gay the new ‘black’? No. If the ungodly LGBT flag is reared over this nation, then devout Christians from North, South, East, and West won’t stand for it. Another bloody civil war is certain to take place, which is exactly what Marxist politicians want. Who will win this deadly contest? And what will America look like when it’s over, assuming that she survives? Only time will tell.
Hendrick, George, and Willene Hendrick. Why Not Every Man?: African Americans and Civil Disobedience in the Quest for the Dream. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2005.
Van Cleve, George William. A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2010.