A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Happy Confederate Day?

May 10 is the anniversary of the death of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. It is also the anniversary of the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

So in South Carolina it is Confederate Day, a state-mandated holiday. In 2000, it was created by state Senator Robert Ford, who is African American, in a compromise measure that established a permanent holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"We live in the South. Those people who died have descendants. For us to say to them they don't have a right to respect their descendants, that's just crazy," said Ford, who is black. "The whole thing's about history and understanding."

Ford hopes the two holidays will help South Carolinians learn about and respect each other more. But for Lonnie Randolph, president of the state branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Confederacy had nothing to do with respecting people.

"I don't need a holiday to respect people," he said. "I don't have any reason to get happy and say I'm overjoyed for this holiday because it has nothing to do positive in the lives of people who look like I do."

However, only one school district closed in observation of Confederate Day this year. Many blamed state-mandated testing and the requirement to have 180 days of instruction.

Read the entire article. I had kin who fought on both sides of the Civil War. Although they doubtless all fought valiantly, I don't need a day set aside to remember their contributions, and I do not condone the causes that the Confederacy supported.


At 5/17/06, 8:00 PM, Blogger elementaryhistoryteacher said...

It's amazing to me that so many years later a compromise measure had to be instituted in order to have a MLK holiday. I had relatives who fought during the Civil War. One great grandfather switched sides in the middle. They were all dirt poor and owned no slaves. Usually you are proud of relatives for standing up and fighting for their country, but with the Civil War the pride factor is vastly different. They took a stand, but for what? I have no primary sources to tell me why they fought. Was it slavery? Was it state's rights? Was it an objection to the economic disparity between the north and south? Could it just have been that the armies were paying, especially the north, and my great-great grandad was trying to make a buck? It's a real slippery-slope. If you revere Confederate soldiers you can be accused of being a racist. It's kind of a no win situation. I respect your opinion. What do you think?

At 5/18/06, 7:03 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

I don't think there should need to be a compromise to get a MLK holiday.

I feel uncomfortable with the Confederate Day holiday. Are we to take pride in the Confederate service of our ancestors? I am proud of my ancestry, but I do not think that the Confederate cause was right. No matter what other reasons were operant, the root cause of the war was protection of the rights of slaveholders. My ancestors, too, did not own any themselves, being also of the dirt-poor variety. I honor their memory, but I believe they took part in not just a lost cause, but an indefensible cause.

I am not sure that economic disparity caused the war, either, since both section had their wealthy classes, and the South was set up to reinforce the aristocracy. An aristocracy is only powerful if it is exclusive. Therefore, I have always understood the society of the Southern states to reinforce the tendency toward a large underclass and a very small group of economic elite. (Unfortunately, my subfield of study has been on the Civil War in the West.)

At 5/19/06, 4:54 PM, Blogger Laura(southernxyl) said...

My take on the issue here.

As to why Confederates fought - I think it comes down to Celtic stubbornness. "You are not the boss of me." Perseverence and independence are admirable traits, but not when carried to an extreme and place above other moral considerations.


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