The South and its history are currently under assault, the most aggressive and far-reaching that we have ever seen, at least up to this point.  The monuments are gone in New Orleans and seem to be headed for extinction in Virginia and Maryland too.  And of course the flag is always under attack and that campaign is growing by the day.

The big question is why this is happening. Why are Leftist Democrats taking aim at the South? Why the Soviet-style erasing of history?

There are certainly explanations.  A recent one – “Why the Democrats Want You To Forget the Confederacy” – came from Joseph Farah at World Net Daily:

I have a theory. I don’t think it explains the phenomenon in its entirety. But I definitely think it’s part of the explanation for the scorched-earth policy against American history, the attempt to erase any historical vestige of the most costly war in our history.

First, you will notice that Democrats are nearly always at the forefront of this kind of activity.

Why would that be?

Could it be because they are embarrassed and ashamed of their party’s own history?

There is certainly some merit to Farah’s theory but it has a few flaws, not the least of which is his persistent quoting of Eric Foner, who is, in fact, so much of a radical Communist that students at Columbia University, of all places, call him “Eric the Red.”  The current Leftist attack, though, is not on American history but Southern, and not on the totality of the war, just on anyone who fought on the Southern side of it.

Farah, like many others, wants to use the latest controversy to smear the current Democratic Party, which is not to say that it doesn’t deserve a good pasting. But many on the Republican side of the spectrum want to show that it was Democrats who seceded (i.e. committed treason), perpetuated slavery, and started the war, then created the KKK to end Reconstitution, so they are responsible, not Republicans.  As Farah writes:

You see, Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederacy, was a Democrat. In fact, for 50 years after the War Between the States, the white South was dominated almost entirely by the Democratic Party. White Democrats ran the South during the war, through the Jim Crow days of segregation and right up until the early 1960s.

Not a single Democrat in that era ever suggested destroying statues of Confederate heroes, taking down Confederate flags or toppling monuments memorializing the Confederacy.

Aside from the fact that the parties were different in those days, it’s not historically accurate to say all supporters of the Confederacy were Democrats. Some were but many high officials had been Whigs, Unionists, and Constitutional Unionists.

Furthermore, within the Confederacy itself there were no political parties, for they sought an end to party factions and political strife. After the war, most white Southerners were most certainly Democrats, as it was the only real political game in town because very few were inclined to join the Party of Lincoln.

But, as Farah admits, his theory does not explain everything. So let me throw in my own two cents: The Left hates the Confederacy, and the South, because of what it represents. No, I’m not talking about slavery, and neither are they, but Southern principles of government – those hated Jeffersonian ideals the Leftists wish would wither on the vine.

The Jeffersonian South represented, and has always represented, decentralization, states’ rights and federalism, and an economic program not centered on favoritism and plunder. From Jefferson’s election in 1800, over the ensuing six decades the nation was governed, for the most part, by Jeffersonian values, seen by most Americans as the ideological carrier of the Revolution.

But by 1860-61, the more Hamiltonian-minded North, with a federal government led by Lincoln, was headed the other way and sought a transformation of the country into a National Union. Lincoln wanted to impose upon the entire country the vision first espoused by Hamilton and later by Clay – a system of high protective tariffs, federal programs for internal improvements, and a national bank, polices that would have plundered and bankrupted the South, along with a government in Washington that had no respect for the rights of the States or the Constitution as originally written.

Southerners decided they wanted no part of the new Lincolnian vision and sought to build a new republic based on policies that would have reflected their values and their beliefs.  Acting as their revolutionary forbears had nearly 100 years prior, they believed they had every right to do so. It was only after four long, anguishing years of bloody aggressive warfare on the part of the North that the states were forced back together by bayonet point and the old republic fell victim to nationalism.

So the truth should be plain to see: The Confederacy, symbolized by the Confederate Battle Flag, represents the greatest act of resistance to centralized authority in US history. That’s why they hate it. And that’s why it must go, lest we get any bright ideas about trying it again. American citizens must remain subjects of the State and no inspirational symbols of rebellion can be tolerated.

Ryan Walters

Ryan S. Walters is an independent historian who lives and writes in North Texas. He is the author of five books, including The Jazz Age President: Defending Warren G. Harding. He can be reached at

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