Unlearning The History Of The American South: The Truth is easier to remember!

My mother lit a fire inside me to seek out the causes of human suffering and do something about it. Her battlefield was education and she hoped I would follow the same path, but the moral imperative clearly applied to any endeavor.

It was also true, however, that she was raised in a former slave state and descended on her father's side from Scots-Irish slave owners. While she actively opposed modern racism, she also taught me that Robert E Lee was a great man who was forced to choose between his state and his country.

If she were alive today, would my mother realize how the goal of reducing human suffering is utterly incompatible with such "lost cause" nonsense? If all Americans are equal, and if the suffering of any American is equally to be resisted, then defending the actions of Confederate Generals gets very complicated. Thus we hear about culture and the rapacious Northern capitalists, and state's rights and all sorts of confusing things. But start with a simple question:  What do you call a man who swears to defend America and then spend five years killing U.S. soldiers? You call him a traitor. Why did he violate his oath? As it turns out, every state in the South passed laws that contained the official reason for the war.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates says:

Henry Brown never saw his son or his wife again. In antebellum America, slavery was the enriching of white people through the legalized destruction of black families. And that is the cause of the men who raised the Confederate flag:
"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin."

"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery." Just some letter from a soldier? A random piece of primary evidence seized upon by a Northern historian with a PC agenda? No. They are the first words, after the introduction, of the official Statement of Secession adopted by Mississippi.  Let's review, looking at the exact same line--paragraph two, sentence one--in two different documents:

General Lee fought for a cause that described itself this way:

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. 

General Washington fought for a different cause:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

 Robert E Lee was a traitor who betrayed his country to defend the right of white men to own black people. We shouldn't name colleges, roads, and cars after him. Not unless you want to go to Piece of Shit University.