by Al Benson Jr.
Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America
Many have naively thought for decades that the Smithsonian was a place where you could learn real history about events in this country and the rest of the world as well. A recent article in the Smithsonian Magazine for December of 2018 has given the lie to such foolishness.
The article can be viewed at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/costs-confederacy-special-report-180970731 If you want something to really upset your supper, this is it! It was written by Brian Palmer and Seth Freed Wessler, both of which writers have impeccable reputations with all the liberal journals in the country, the Washington Post, New York Times, Mother Jones, The Nation and others.
This article makes no pretense at objectivity. It is a thoroughgoing hit piece with Southern heritage, culture and history squarely in the crosshairs.
Their whole approach to the history of the South and of the War of Northern Aggression is that it was entirely all about slavery and white supremacy and nothing else. They visited Beauvoir, asked a lot of questions about slavery and when they were told the war was not all about slavery they rejected that information. In noting the actions of war re-enactors they saw while they were there, they noted: “Their cannons boomed, muskets cracked, men fell. The Confederates beat back the Federals. An honor guard in gray fired a deafening volley. It may have been a scripted victory for the Rebels, but it was a genuine triumph for the racist ideology known as the Lost Cause…”
From that searing commentary they go on to discuss Confederate monuments. If you understand the mysterious liberal mystique you already know where these two “gentlemen” are going. Regarding Confederate monuments, they say “First, far from simply being markers of historic events and people, as proponents argue, these memorials were created and funded by Jim Crow governments to pay homage to a slave-owning society and to serve as blunt assertions of dominance over African-Americans….A century and a half after the Civil War, American taxpayers are still helping to sustain the defeated Rebels’ racist doctrine, the Lost Cause. First advanced in 1866 by a Confederate partisan named Edward Pollard, it maintains that the Confederacy was based on a noble ideal, the Civil War was not about slavery, and slavery was benign…”
And then these two worthies show where they are really coming from. They quote Heidi Beirich, from the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama. Beirich said “Confederate sites play to the white-supremacist imagination. They are treated as sacred by white supremacists and represent what this country should be and what it would have been” if the Civil War had been lost. I hate to burst the racist bubble of these two men, but nowadays, anyone who quotes the Southern Poverty Law Center betrays their ignorance. That organization has such a checkered reputation that quotes coming from it are no longer considered credible, in fact the organization itself is hardly credible. Check them out on the internet sometime. You can really get an eyeful!
One thing I noted in this article, with all their blather about slaveowners all being “white supremacists” they don’t have a word to say about black slaveowners, of which there were a considerable number. or about Native American slaveowners, of which there were also a goodly number. That’s part of the history you are not supposed to be aware of.
They go on to complain about the amount of money spent by states to preserve Confederate monuments. No complaints about how much is spent to preserve Yankee monuments. I guess there is no problem with those expenditures, just the Confederate ones.
They visited several sites in the South where guides explained to them what the war was all about (not slavery) but the slavery issue was the one thing they continued to harp on no matter where they went. You could tell, that, for these two, whether it was true or no, this was the issue they were going to write about–no matter what. Their minds were made up before they even started–like so much of the liberal (socialist) media in our day.
They noted that W.E.B. DuBois, one of the movers and shakers in the early NAACP was quoted as saying: “The truth of the matter would be an inscription something like this: sacred to the memory of those who fought to Perpetuate Human Slavery.” Here they are quoting a man, a dedicated leftist, who, before he passed from this mortal coil, joined the Communist Party, that great Marxist organization we all know has promoted freedom and liberty for all, right?
About two thirds of the way thorough the article they note someone else that compares the Confederacy to Nazi Germany. I could have quoted lots more of this, but reading some of their diatribe, quite frankly, was making me sick to my stomach! If people like these two display the level of what has been taught for history in our high schools and universities in this country, then no wonder we have major problems. Some kind of major study needs to be done as to what our young people are being taught for history.
If this obvious propaganda piece is the best that the Smithsonian can do then they should hang their heads in shame!