Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just ignore the “negative stuff” in life? That’s the wish of all children. Close your eyes and no one can see you. Unfortunately reality often intrudes. The sad fact is that those who believe in the Lost Cause of the south are grasping at any straw that will allow them to hold onto an idea that never really existed. This notion of a group of men fighting northern aggressors for states rights. If the Sons of the Confederacy can hold onto the idea that the Civil War was not about slavery then it makes them less culpable for the atrocities that were committed by their ancestors. It also means that they don’t have to change their behavior and adapt to a new world. It galls me that what is never mentioned is that EVERY state in the confederacy put slavery as the motive behind the Civil War in their declarations of secession and in their constitutions. The new south may be confused as to why the Civil War happened, but the old south was most definitely not. I guess that’s one of those negative parts of history that shouldn’t be discussed.
I find it ironic that the founding fathers are considered by many to be highly principled men who could do no wrong. For me it has always been their flaws that made them interesting. Ben Franklin was a womanizer who liked his comforts above all else, George Washington was an elitist who believed that only rich folks should have a say in government, Thomas Jefferson believed that Jesus was a philosopher, not the son of god, and John Adams was a cranky old coot who believed (rightly so) that folks didn’t like him much. None of them were perfect, thank goodness, and that is what should be taught. If those guys can do what they did, then imagine what the next average person with a dream and some guts can accomplish. What is truly scary to me is that the people who believe that the founding fathers were sent by god to anoint America as the new bastion of all that is good and holy are not wing nuts. They are definitely misguided, but they are not crazy-eyed-dirty-hair-torn-clothes-loony-toons. An educated man who uses that education to misguide others is far more terrifying to me than a wing nut. The average person is much more likely to take such a man seriously.
I don’t even know where to start with the volunteers at the Baron Von Munchhausen House. Museums need all the retired folks who give out of love of their past but something has to be done to make their interpretations a bit more realistic. In this case they need a strong leader whose prejudices don’t warp her ideas, which they apparently they don’t have. What they have is a bigot in curator’s clothing. Really, you think that the black kids need to be protected from the truth? How is that not paternalistic bull****? It seems like what she is trying to do is protect herself and other white people from owning up to the truth of slavery and the damage that it did to EVERYONE involved. It is uncomfortable for her to talk about slavery in the presence of black people so she uses protecting the kids as an excuse not to do it. Until we can have the conversation about race and slavery we will never be able to overcome our shared past and move on to a better future.
One last thought; as I read through these articles I kept thinking about how racism seems to be at the root of all of this. It makes me wonder just how much of the fear and ignorance were brought on by the election of our first black president.