Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Confederacy Revisited

Well, here I am back again! I didn't stay away for long, did I? I am back only to remedy an omission, however. I feel I should mention that I received a HEAP of emails about my comments on America's North/South war. My comment was that from my perch in faraway Australia, it looked to me like the war was about power, not slaves. Cynical old me!

Only one of the emails I received disagreed with me. The rest were supportive and some were -- Ahem! -- decidedly robust -- suggesting that Lincoln differed from Hitler only in that Lincoln was the bigger hypocrite etc., etc. A lot of people really gagged on that "malice towards none" in the Second Inaugural address. So I feel that I should post here at least one of the emails I received. The one below seems short and sharp and to the point:

"Actually, "The War for Southern Independence" was started when the Southern Territories seceded from the Union over unfair taxation policies. Slavery was not really brought into play until Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves ONLY in the Southern regions he no longer had legal control over. This was done to gain the support of blacks both free and enslaved. Lincoln was the first President to never have owned slaves, only because his family was too poor, but he was openly segregationist. If you look into the history, not the basic BS taught in public schools, the Northern states received almost all of the slave ships. Also compare the dates that the Northern States abolished slavery".

I stress that I am NO expert on American history and you could fill a whole library with books that have been written about the war so I acknowledge that any generalization about it is bound to have its problems. I do however note that EVERY other country in the world (as far as I know) freed its slaves WITHOUT a war. So that suggests to me that the American war was about a lot more than slaves.

What I think that truly sensitive people (as distinct from pseudo-sensitive Leftists) might do well always to be aware of, however, is the depth of feeling that the war still evokes among many Southerners. And that feeling is not going to go away soon. Go to Yorkshire in England and ask the typical Yorkshireman what he thinks of Lancastrians. You will get an earful. And THAT goes back to the Wars of the Roses, which ended around 500 years ago. It almost helps you to understand the Irish! (And I have got a lot of Irish in me -- of which I am proud -- so I can say that!).

I am still getting lots of good-humored email from people who are proud to be called all sorts of names as grandparents and quite a few people have had fun with my suggestion that sporting teams might have to be named after flowers in the future. A couple of people have pointed out that "Gladioli" would be no good as a team name because the word is derived from "Gladius", the word for a sword in ancient Rome!