History as a (Leftist) Weapon

There is a tendency for each generation to assume its opinions are the ultimate correct opinions. But each generation’s beliefs are typically modified by succeeding generations. Unfortunately, societal structures are sometimes altered based on contemporary notions that lose credence over time. This is the case with Social Justice Warriors in this generation. They demand that whatever doesn’t suit present-day social theories must be “eliminated.”

One of the justifications for this cultural cleansing is this generation’s historical interpretation of the War Between the States (WBTS). Some assume that this current version – moral opposition to slavery caused the North to fight the South – has a long-standing consensus among historians. But this is only one of countless interpretations historians have produced over the years. Various historians, writing at different times and places, have created diverse interpretations of the WBTS. These history reinterpretations are often influenced by major events occurring in later generations.

One of these major events was World War I. This war was broadly viewed as “futile” – not only unnecessary, but instigated by a “bungling generation.” Like the WBTS, historians put forth various causes for this fruitless World War. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars, but it created more problems than it solved. The severe measures that the Treaty of Versailles imposed on Germany soon led to WWII. Many historians were influenced by this problematic war which made them skeptical of the purposes and relevance of the WBTS. Some decided that, like WWI, the WBTS could have been avoided. They also minimized the importance of slavery as a cause of the War and maintained that the basic conflict was economics.

At the other extreme was WWII. This war was deemed necessary as the ruthless Nazi Party must be stopped. The immense destruction of European cites had to be halted. Also the inhumane treatment and mass executions of those incarcerated in concentration camps – Communists, Socialists, Jews, and other “enemies of the state” had to be ended. WWII caused many historians to rethink the WBTS. These historians again made slavery an essential cause of the WBTS . They also maintained that the War was necessary because it ended slavery and saved the Union.

In our generation, the principal influence on interpretations of historical versions of the WBTS has been the Civil Rights Movement. This Movement lasted longer than the two World Wars combined. The Civil Rights Movement was supposed to be temporary but it is ongoing because no matter how much is done, the Left contends “We still have a long way to go.” Unfortunately, in giving preferential treatment to certain groups, opportunities of other groups are restrained.

Backed by the power of the MSM, the Movement’s agenda has expanded from assuring civil rights for the current generation to eliminating reminders of slavery and vilifying historical figures involved with it. We eliminated slavery but we cannot eliminate anything that might remind us of it. Nor can we discredit every person from the past who had any association with it. That would be a never-ending task – Even some Leftists and members of the mainstream media admit this. Still, the cultural cleansing continues.

To reach the masses, this generation’s historical accounts of the WBTS avoid complex issues, and simply state that the North fought the War because it was morally opposed to slavery. Similarly, these histories hold that the North’s military forces had to occupy the defeated South to make that region as fair and equitable as the North.

Unlike the two World War eras, which were only covered by radio and newspapers, this generation has electronic media, which reaches a vaster audience. Also, electronic media viewpoints come from what is called the “ DC – New York City bubble” which only gives their side of the story. Not content with telling us what to think and how to vote, television journalists have decided they are as qualified to interpret history as professionally trained historians. But their versions of history, like their news reports, are one-dimensional and homogeneous. In journalistic versions of the WBTS, the North is absolved of any role in American slavery and the guilt of this institution is blamed solely on the South. Unfortunately, Social Justice Warriors have exploited the news media’s sanctioned version of history to justify eradicating Confederate monuments.

Actually, it was only in the last few years that symbols of Confederate culture, considered harmless for well over a century, were attacked for exemplifying racial bigotry and white supremacy. The Left’s anti-Southern campaign has had success because the majority of Americans weren’t even born until 1980 and later. So they came of age after Leftist ideology had infected public school textbooks, versions of history, and news reports. The Left’s coalition of politicians, news journalists, and television entertainers encourage the razing of monuments, insisting that they were erected solely to oppress minorities.

PBS went a little overboard: “I don’t think slavery ended in 1865. I think it just evolved. And the proof of that was the erection of these monuments – resistance to racial equality.” Consider this from the Washington Post : “The monuments were put up as explicit symbols of white supremacy.” And from CNN: “They were put up to send messages and create false narratives about what the war was about.” This is a partial quote from Slate Magazine: “…a figure like Robert E. Lee is transformed from the disgraced general of a brutal effort to expand an empire of bondage to a valiant leader…”

The following incident illustrates how extreme Confederate culture rationalizations have become. A black man accused of a crime in Louisiana’s East Feliciana Parish demanded a change of venue, claiming he couldn’t get a fair trial because there was a statue of a Confederate soldier on courthouse grounds. Although this lone statue had stood on courthouse grounds for over a 100 years, no one had previously claimed that it was influencing decisions by judges and juries.

The attorney for the accused Louisiana lawbreaker reiterated the currently fashionable monument disparagement: “The monument was erected at a time when Jim Crow became the legal way of life in East Feliciana Parish and all over the South and it symbolized a society that embraced racial intolerance.” There was a time when these kinds of racial aspersions would have been intimidating. But not any more. Adamantly rejecting this ludicrous ploy, the District Attorney defended the statue: “… our local governing authority … has determined it is not inflammatory but actually a part of history … filing a motion to change venue for this reason is insulting.”

Although Social Justice Warriors and their media accomplices continue to encourage the destruction of historical monuments, a majority wants the monuments left alone. And intimidation by Elites can no longer silence the American heartland. Their feelings are also shared by President Trump: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”

Hopefully, this resistance to monument pillaging represents a trend; one that is not too late in coming. Eliminating our history and heroes must be stopped. Such a resistance could be assisted if historical interpretations admitted that slavery was a national dilemma and didn’t place its blame solely on the South. Luckily, many scholars maintain that history accounts of the WBTS usually only survive for a generation before they are reinterpreted. So we may soon be seeing WBTS interpretations that are more impartial and less influenced by Leftist political agendas.

About Gail Jarvis

Gail Jarvis is a Georgia-based free-lance writer. He attended the University of Alabama and has a degree from Birmingham Southern College. As a CPA/financial consultant, he helped his clients cope with the detrimental effects of misguided governmental intrusiveness. This influenced his writing as did years of witnessing how versions of news and history were distorted for political reasons. Mr. Jarvis is a member of the Society of Independent Southern Historians and his articles have appeared on various websites, magazines, and publications for several organizations. He lives in Coastal Georgia with his wife. More from Gail Jarvis

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