Southern Cultural Genocide

By June 11, 2018Blog


The quote below indirectly warns about the implications of Confederate statue removals and the censorship of Southern interpretations regarding the Civil War and Reconstruction. Kundera is presently a French novelist born in Brno when the city was located in Czechoslovakia. He lived through both Nazi and Communist totalitarianism before fleeing to France in 1975. His books were banned in his native land until 1989. He maintains contact with Czech and Slovak friends, but rarely returns and only as incognito.

Until recently, I’ve assumed that modern America was immune to cultural genocide as Kundera experienced it in his homeland. But the increasingly hostile attitude toward Southern viewpoints among most Civil War historians combined with their intolerant attempts—evident at college campuses, academic conventions, national battlefield parks, most museums, mainstream media sources, or online discussion forums—to censor contrary interpretations suggest that it’s really happening, here and now. The removal of Confederate monuments, vandalism against those remaining, smearing of Confederate memory, and the hecklers veto of contrary opinions are unmistakable signs of an emerging totalitarianism increasingly supported by politicians. More often than not, the foes of Confederate memory are the perpetrators of hate speech and violence despite their false and sanctimonious presumption of moral superiority.

Below is a nice example of this problem and an open letter to James Lighthizer, President, Civil War Trust and American Battlefield Trust:

Dear Mr. Lighthizer:

The photo below is of a ruined Confederate monument at Virginia’s Wilderness National Battlefield Park. Notwithstanding that the overwhelming majority of subscribers to your Hallowed Ground magazine indicated in a survey earlier this year that they want such monuments preserved, your failure to support the readers with a vigorous statement of agreement has contributed to the attitudes that resulted in the shameful disfigurement.

Although you have explained that your objective is to preserve battlefields and not monuments, I wish you to know that I would rather see the battlefields returned to nature than become a place where Confederate monuments are merely a collection of mutilated stone memorials.

Sincerely yours,

Philip Leigh

Philip Leigh

Philip Leigh contributed twenty-four articles to The New York Times Disunion blog, which commemorated the Civil War Sesquicentennial. He is the author of U.S. Grant's Failed Presidency, Southern Reconstruction (2017), Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies (2015), and Trading With the Enemy (2014). Phil has lectured a various Civil War forums, including the 23rd Annual Sarasota Conference of the Civil War Education Association and various Civil War Roundtables. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology and an MBA from Northwestern University.

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