North Texas Daily

Southern history? There’s a month for that.

Southern history? There’s a month for that.

April 02
21:35 2013

Black History Month never comes quietly. Every February, its observance dredges up a surprising amount of controversy over whether dedicating a month to the history and accomplishments of a single race is necessary. One of the most oddly pervasive questions offered by its detractors: Why isn’t there a white history month?

We tend to believe that white history gets plenty of coverage during the other 11 months of the year, but if this problem keeps you up at night, you shouldn’t worry. A few Southern lawmakers have found an answer in Confederate History Month, which began in several states this week.

The observance, which ironically starts on April Fools’ Day, is recognized in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, our home state of Texas and Virginia.

We don’t mean to disrespect the great many soldiers who died for the Confederacy. The great cost of life in the Civil War is a fact, and it should always be remembered.

But it’s also a fact that perhaps the most prominent Southern cause for war was the preservation of the institution of slavery, chiefly for the economic benefit of free labor.

You may have heard that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, but was actually fought over “state’s rights.” In fact, this is absolutely correct—as long as you’re talking about the rights of states to own slaves.

Look, this is history, and it’s vital that we understand it—namely so we don’t let it happen again.

The celebration of Southern values associated with Confederate History Month is suspiciously prone to ignoring the less rosy aspects of this history, preferring to focus on the picturesque landscapes and elegant plantations of the Old South with little consideration of the enslaved peoples working behind the scenes.

Sons of Confederate Veterans, a heritage association for descendants of soldiers who served in the Confederate Army is at the forefront of this whitewashed war narrative.

The organization sponsors a fair share of events and reenactments during the month, and works to raise awareness of the South’s alleged bad rap in popular culture. We’re guessing the group didn’t like “Django Unchained” all that much.

“So much is portrayed by Hollywood today that Georgia and the South were evil; when, in reality, the South was the most peaceful, rural, and Christian part of America before war

– SCA press release

“As the great-grandson of former slaves, I beg to differ. It was state of human bondage, and the only people that enjoyed it were the people in a place of privilege . . . It was not Christian, because it defiled the Bible.” 

–Georgia State Rep. Al Williams

In the pages of their newsletters, you’ll find lots of “honor,” “heritage” and “history,” but the word “slavery” is suspiciously absent. We’re not saying they have to harp on all day about the great evil of treating humans as a commodity, but maybe they should bring it up once or twice, huh?

Whether they’re celebrating Southern history this April or flying the Confederate flag all year, supporters insist that remembering the legacy of the Confederacy is about “heritage, not hate.” But whether you care to admit it or not, hate is an integral part of that heritage and to imply anything else is an act of willing deception.

If you feel compelled to observe Confederate History Month, be our guest—just make sure you’re not forgetting half the story.

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