Of Heritage and Hate.

As a native son of the South, a heretic who has argued endlessly against the lie of Confederate nobility and someone who lives only minutes from one of the largest Confederate flags in the world, budding Civil War historian Ta-Nehisi Coates did my heart some good this morning:

I imagine for a kid coming up in these times, in certain sectors of the South, it’s painful to face up to Nathan Forrest, to the notion that the pomp and glamour, all the talk of honor and independence was, at the end of the day, dependent on slavery. The Lost Cause isn’t just “lost,” it’s barely a cause.

The temptation to continue to lie, to see yourself as the victim in a grand play is formidable–consider Lindsay Graham chafing at the constraints of whiteness, while Sonia Sotamayor evidently swims in a free world of color. But I suspect that some manner of change is coming, that we are reaching point when witlessly honoring the founder of the greatest perpetrator of domestic terrorism in American history, when flying that sorry order’s battle flag, becomes embarrassing. Sooner or later, I think the South will understand that the ideology of “noble victimhood” is a luxury it too can ill-afford. Some will hold out, I am sure. But sooner or later, I think most of the South will be black like me.

As someone who also worries endlessly about the future of the country, particularly in our poor and perenially underperforming Southern states, I believe this sort of crushing honesty needs to acknowledged.

Denial has been too detrimental.

I really have more to say about this but I need to think it over some more this afternoon. My thoughts about this are all over the place. I’ll be revisiting this post.

One thought on “Of Heritage and Hate.

  1. Lisa J June 18, 2009 at 8:09 am Reply

    Thank you for this. I’ve alway found this pride of the South thing to be very problematic. As a black person, I find it troubling to to see and hear people reveling in a time when my people were in bondage and celebratring folks who fought to keep it that way. I’ve heard people say it is heritage not hate but I find that hard to reconcile. I have never once heard a German who had relatives who were Nazi’s or other kinds of war criminals reveling in their acts. To me slavery was a massive crime against humanity, a theft of human culture nd dignity that still lingers to this day.

    Then when you add in that many of their leaders held high positions in the government and military od the US and then rebelled, well that is treason! You get executed for that in a time of war, but that didn’t happen and many were treated too leniantly. A tragedy all around. Especially given that few in the north think about it but in many parts of the south, which still lag behind the rest of the nation, it is still made a big deal of. I live in DC and go to VA a lot and seeing so many roads and things named after Confederates angers and saddens me at times. I try not to think about it but it eats at me at times.

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