Confederate generals are traitors, full stop. The cause that they fought for is reprehensible. Remove any statues that honor them.
Not all Confederates owned slaves, however. And not all slave owners throughout history should be judged as harshly as those who defended the abhorrent practice in the Civil War.
(Please don’t hit me for #notallslaveowners.)
Symbols of the Confederacy have become equated with domestic terrorists and hate groups, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, the Confederacy did not *hate* black people.
In order for that to be true, slave owners would first have had to believe that slaves were *people*
In the eyes of their white masters, African men, women, and children were livestock. Profitable livestock.
No successful farmer hates his livestock.
A cattle rancher might even wax poetic about his herd, comparing them to “hamburgers on the hoof”, but will be no less pragmatic and indifferent to their fate when it comes time to slaughter.
Much, but not all, of 18th Century Western society viewed the enslavement of “lesser” races as an acceptable, if problematic, practice.
Even some of the storied Founding Fathers owned slaves. They were both slave-owners *and* traitors against the Crown. Why don’t we pull down the Washington Monument?
Again, we pull down the statues honoring the Confederacy, not because they owned slaves, but because rather than bow to the inevitable tide of moral justice, they took up arms to preserve their right to own other human beings.
Washington and the revolutionaries rebelled against their king, fighting for the cause of representative democracy in the face of hereditary monarchy.
The difference is not “Washington won, Lee lost.” but that Washington’s cause was a just one, Lee’s an attempt to preserve an unjust system.
And yet Washington owned slaves. He also died eight years before Lee was born. The attitude toward slavery in the mid-19th Century was a great deal different than the late 18th. Good Christians of the earlier time saw it as the “natural order”.
Why, the Old Testament Israelites enslaved their defeated enemies. Not to mention the Greeks and Romans, upon whose philosophy the Enlightenment was built.
Other nations of the world quietly abolished indentured servitude and even debt slavery. Early in the 19th Century, the country founded on the self-evident truth that all men are created equal eventually had its “Are we the baddies?” moment.
At some point, most northerners agreed to the ludicrous conclusion that the plantations’ man-shaped property somehow deserved legal recognition. Rights, free will, dignity.
Equality, of all the addle-brained notions. (For the men, anyway.)
To the slave-labor dependent economies of the South, secession was the only logical reaction.
So, no, Confederates weren’t fighting to preserve a heritage of hate. They were fighting to maintain their blind indifference to (and dependence upon) an entire race of human beings.
They raged at the audacity of the North, the tyranny of the Union, to rewrite the old societal definitions of “human” and “property”.
The hate and resentment seethed throughout Emancipation and Reconstruction, oozed into the legacy and legend of rebellion. Hate imprinted itself on the generations that grew up in the shadow of the failed insurrection.
They were taught their affluent white ancestors had once owned everything – vast estates, even people. The Yankee and the Black Man had taken everything from them, diminishing their inheritance, their heritage.
So now, all that’s left is a heritage of hate.
The Confederate flag is a symbol of hate, full stop. Remove it wherever it flies.