“The most effective way to destroy a people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” George Orwell
For over a century, we have been able to honor Americans who fought each other in America’s most tragic and deadliest war. Now, Madison’s Mayor Soglin, using war rhetoric from a century and a half ago, said he didn’t want to give “reverence for the Confederate insurrection and treason against the United States,” while ordering the vandalism of markers for dead Confederate soldiers at a Madison cemetery.
Confederate soldiers were fighting for independence from what the Union had become, just as American revolutionaries fought for independence from Great Britain. In the South, the “Civil War” is known as the War for Southern Independence. It was not an “insurrection.” Confederates didn’t want to take over the Union; they wanted to leave it. That wasn’t “treason.” (The crime of attempting to overthrow the government.) The Union invaded the Confederacy, not the other way around.
[Note: Do those Confederate POWs look like slave owners?]
Perhaps this can be an opportunity to educate Mayor Soglin and others about the 19th century racists and war criminals leading the Union army who have been honored with parks and streets named after them in Wisconsin. (e.g., Sheridan and Sherman) Meanwhile, how about letting dead American soldiers rest in peace again?
Jim Maas is a curmudgeonly history buff from Weston, Wisconsin.
This blog represents his opinions alone and is not necessarily the position of the LPWI.