Saturday, May 3, 2014

History Hangs In The Balance

Apathy is leading to erasure of Southern history

May 01, 2014 at 6:26 PM 
  • About the writer
    Jonathan Baggs is a community columnist from Decatur. He can be reached at
I cautioned then th
at allowing certain groups to misuse Southern symbols, along with apathy, together, eventually would lead to race-based organizations calling for their complete erasure from public discourse and a further rewriting of history through low-information campaigns designed to inflame public passions against them. That I have been proven correct does not give me comfort.

Having spent most of my life studying the conflicts known as the American Revolution and the Civil War, their complicated causes and the social effects during their aftermath, I've found that most people lack even a basic understanding of these events. I suppose if I only had the education of a combined few hours, if that, from a long-ago history class in high school, I would suffer as well the same result. These people are easily led to believe in simplistic.

c broad-brush clichéd answers provided to them by those who repeatedly violate Cicero's tenets.
And so I've waited patiently throughout this most recently past month of April to see where the local newspapers would cover the wreath laying ceremonies in honor of the more than half-million dead soldiers or the more than 50,000 women, children and other civilians who perished – their only crime being that they were born and lived in the South. Instead, I was treated to calls from race-based groups figuratively standing on these peoples' graves calling for their sacrifices to be erased from history.

A relative of mine is old enough that as a boy he knew a woman who had been a slave. She carried a large knife with which she used to cut sugarcane behind the house and was as proud a Southerner as any of the white folk.

In Athens, I once interviewed a woman whose husband was a slave and ran off to join the Union Army. She, too, was as proud a Southerner as anyone who had fought on either side -- the point being that we all are Southerners with a shared history that should be celebrated and remembered in the context of its time. That does not mean that it should be suppressed or erased as some are attempting to do through the folly of applying today's morals to yesterday's standards.

To give out-of-work writers a job during the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Federal Writers' Project was created where more than 2,000 ex-slaves were interviewed. Some of these remembrances are contained in a small book entitled "My Folks Don't Want Me To Talk About Slavery." That some of these narratives will surprise and no doubt enrage those who perpetuate false history is a given and they will explain it away based on their own prejudice.

My family has been a part of the South since the time of this nation's founding. We have lived here, fought here and bled into her soil. I am and forever will be a Southerner first and foremost, and an Alabamian second. There is no one that will cause me to ever, for any reason, hang my head in shame for being a part of what I consider to be the greatest multi-cultured people on Earth.

As I did so long ago, I give this caution to remember that the original "rebel" flag that fought for secession from its mother country and under which those in shackles were transported by northern interests to be sold in Southern markets still flies today. It has thirteen red and white stripes and was carried by the Ku Klux Klan during that organization's marches on Washington, D.C. when nary a St. Andrews Cross could be seen. If you don't defend a flag borne in battle by Southerners whose land was invaded by armed troops when peaceful solutions existed, then eventually those who defile that symbol will come after the national flag – for they are one and the same. Deo Vindice.