Including the Confederacy

Some people are proud of their Confederate heritage. Personally I don’t see it.

Yes, it’s part of our heritage. Yes, those are our ancestors too. But they were traitors. And racists. Racist traitors.

It’s a complicated heritage. Mark Sumner (link below) provocatively argues it’s not our heritage; it’s our shame.

Ideally, we would want to be impartial observers as we research and write history. Albeit, admitting that it’s never possible to be entirely impartial about anything, and damn near impossible when it involves issues that still carry an emotional charge.

Recently, I was reading the probate record for Catherina (Helvey) Roberson (1781-1851), one of my ancestors. Some of the records involve her slaves, a woman and her three children. A casual division with all the thought given to their monetary value. My ancestor Rufus ended up with daughter Hannah, who was the same age as his daughter Rachel. Hannah died when she was 12 so he didn’t get the long-term value he expected.

It’s unbelievably distressing to read these things and have them personalized, not only the lives of particular slaves but also the lives of particular ancestors. This isn’t some distant, generalized history.

Mark Sumner brings it home in an unpleasant way, and that’s exactly what I like about this article. “It should be no more acceptable to wave a Confederate flag in the United States than it is to fly a swastika. No more acceptable to proclaim yourself sympathetic to the Confederate cause than to proclaim yourself a supporter of ISIS. There is no moral difference. None. These are the banners of the enemies of our nation and of our ideals”.

Heritage of Hate.

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