Americans are currently in the midst of rehashing their feelings about the Civil War in a very public and heated manner.
That conflict goes by many names: The Civil War, obviously, the War Between the States, and the War of Northern Aggression. The disparate nomenclature belies the fact that there are still many different opinions on the rhyme and reason of this period of bloodshed as well.
For some, this was America cut in two, with the north and the south both fighting for the preservation of what America was at the time. For others, however, the secession of the south turned Dixie into an insurgency that was destined to be rooted out like a den of snakes or a tooth that’s gone bad.
And for others still, there is an even more visceral belief that the men and women who suffered in service to the confederacy were not even American anymore.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed such an opinion during an interview with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC this week.
Mitchell said, “On July 4, in his speech, the president actually gave a shoutout to the Confederacy, and he compared the people who fought for the Confederacy as fighting for freedom, comparing them to the Marines at Iwo Jima. When he speaks so fondly of the Confederacy and talks about not changing the names of Confederate soldiers — the bases named after confederate generals and all the rest, do you think that makes him a racist?”
Powell said, “I don’t like to use that word. Let me just say that he is intolerant. He doesn’t understand our history. He doesn’t understand our history at all. These folks that he’s talking about, they’re no longer in the American country. They are in the Confederate States of America. Robert E. Lee was a great tactician, but he was a leader of the Confederate Army, which succeeded in starting a war that killed 600,000 Americans. And so it is one thing to treat him as a tactical hero and put him off in the corner somewhere, but it’s not the right place to give him the presence he has in our society through statues or other discussions. They were not great Americans. They were great members, perhaps, tactically, of the Confederate States of America, but they were no longer Americans at that point.”
The Confederate battle flag has been under intense scrutiny as of late, thanks to the symbol being commandeered by white supremacist groups over the course of the last several decades. Both NASCAR and the Pentagon have now banned the display of the flag in response to renewed concerns over its possibly offensive nature.
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