I have a piece of real Confederate battle flag. It was captured by my great-grandfather, Sergeant Alfred G. Sturgiss, 177th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, at an engagement at Town Creek, North Carolina in February of 1865. I also have his musket, some other pieces of his kit, and his Grand Army of the Republic veteran’s ring, which I wear. All of which is to say that I come of solid Union stock.
I also know that the cultural Marxists’ rabid assault on the Confederate flag and other Confederate symbols has nothing to do with the Civil War, slavery, or the massacre in Charleston. What it represents is an attempt by the Politically Correct to move to a higher level of ideological Gleichschaltung, forced conformity.
Not so long ago, thirty years certainly, probably twenty, Americans would have reacted with outrage to ideological attempts to rewrite history. Banning symbols important to previous generations, renaming public places to obliterate the past, disinterring historical heroes–as reportedly is to be done with Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, the best tactician on either side, who beat my uncle, General Samuel Sturgis, at Brice’s Crossroads–were things that happened in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, not here. Now, cowed by endless psychological conditioning, Americans are silent as these things do happen here.
While the assault on Dixie is motivated by the desire of ideologues to seize more power, it is justified by the demand that we all condemn slavery as the worst moral evil in the history of mankind. A few facts are in order.
First, slavery was an almost universal human institution, going back as far as history itself and no doubt deep into prehistory. It is unlikely there is a single human being alive today who did not, at one or probably many times, have an ancestor who was a slave. The ancient world ran on slave power, and slaves were as likely to be Germans or Britons as Africans. The Bible, which was written in the ancient world, does not make an issue of it.
Second, slaves were simply people who were captured in war but not killed. War, again through all of history and back into prehistory, was not fought in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. When you defeated someone, you took everything he had, including his person. If he or she could be ransomed (an escape only available to the rich) or sold as a slave, they were kept alive. Otherwise, they got their throat cut. Presumably, most people preferred to become a slave.
Third, turning specifically to American history, the captured Africans who were sent to this country as slaves were fortunate compared to others who were sent to places such as Haiti, where there were almost no slave women and a third of the slave population was worked to death every year. What was it like to be a slave in the American south? As with almost everything in a premodern society, reality was local. Some slaves were treated badly, and others were treated well. Sergeant Sturgiss, a fervent abolitionist (his father was a Methodist minister), married the daughter of a slave owner, William Wagner of Morgantown, my great-great-grandfather. After the war, his slaves stayed with the family. Why? As house slaves–Mr. Wagner was a townsman–they were part of the family. Attempts to look at the past through the present-day lens of wide uniformity of conditions, uniformity often forced by government, is to misrepresent history in a fundamental way.
Finally, American blacks whose ancestors were brought here as slaves should count their lucky stars. Had they not been brought here–few would have been able to come on their own–their decedents would be living not in the very comfortable United States but in west Africa, one of the worst hell-holes on Earth. The whole “African-American” business is nonsense. American blacks are Americans, period. Their lives have nothing in common with life in Africa, as those who go there quickly find out.
Again, none of this matters to the cultural Marxists. To them, the massacre in Charleston is simply a peg they can use to move this country one step closer to ideological conformity. But to people who prefer history to ideology, the history of slavery, and the history of the Confederacy, are not simply matters of black hats vs. white hats. As always, real history offers a more complex picture.
PS: The Okhrana has informed me that some readers of these columns were puzzled by my call to ban violent video games. I was not talking about real war games, e.g. Waterloo, Jutland, or playing squad leader on the Eastern Front. Nor did I mean games full of goblins and dwarves, i.e., a visit to Capitol Hill. Dave Grossman’s work clearly shows that some first-person-shooter games, including one where the player kills police officers, duplicate the methods the military developed after World War II to overcome men’s natural reluctance to kill other humans. Those games, I repeat, should be banned, especially for young people. How to ban them, given the ease with which electrons move, is another question. I do not want the federal government doing it; presumably, that would mean banning all games about the Civil War because someone would play as the Confederates (and maybe win). But no conservative can approve games that psychologically condition young people to kill, nor games where the “player” targets cops. Libertarians, maybe; conservatives, no. Go read Hobbes.