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.