Tag Archives: American History

Confederate = Terrorist?

12 Apr

I’ll admit it: I’m tired, easily annoyed, and when I stumbled across this headline today – “Were Confederate soldiers terrorists?” – all of that annoyance and exhaustion spilled over.

So naturally, I’ve decided to write about it.

What truly sucks in all of this is the fact that I like the writer of this piece. I like his perspective, his candor, his language and style. I happen to disagree with him in this case. And like I said before – I’m cranky. So take this with a grain of salt, I suppose.

Roland Martin, an occasional contributor to CNN.com, has crafted a masterpiece of doo-doo, the Sistine Chapel of flung poo. In a hackneyed opinion piece that is a response to the State of Virginia declaring a “Confederate History Month”, (a political brainfart if there ever was one) Martin does nothing more than stir up the blogosphere (and, yes, I know, I’m falling into the trap, spare me your emails) by asserting that the soldiers who fought on the side of the Confederacy were mid-nineteenth century terrorists, the 1860s version of the Taliban, enemies of all that the great and glorious United States stood for.

Please. Stop. 

The South lost the war. And as I’ve said on this blog before, we deserved to because we were undermanned, outgunned, and outclassed, but mainly because WE WERE WRONG.

States’ rights or slavery, or whichever theory of secession you subscribe to, we screwed up. And we got beat.

But that doesn’t make the men and women who supported the secessionist cause terrorists. They united themselves under one flag. They marched into battle wearing uniforms (such as they were). They participated in combat and aggression under the accepted codes of the time, engaging not in destructive actions targeted to malice an unsuspecting populace but in straight-ahead uniform combat.

And did I mention: they were beaten by the Union. 

Martin doesn’t offer anything new in his commentary; he barely offers anything that would seem to remotely resemble educated opinion, educated being the key word. He makes no attempt to understand the context of the war, or the tenor of the nation during that time in our history because for Martin, the issue isn’t what the men and women of the time understood or believed. It isn’t about understanding that the entire history of humanity is conflict – with self, with nature, with others. It’s not even about the tragedy of a nation torn apart by that most nasty of polemics: pride. 

It’s about slavery, and being wrong for supporting slavery. And those who support wrong causes must, by definition of the 21st century rhetorical rulebook, be terrorists. 

You know, like all Muslims. 

Oh, damn your insistence that we be civil and non-judgmental. Muslims are terrorists, we all know that. They believe wrongly, whether it’s theological or political in nature, and that wrong belief spurs them all on to acts of beady-eyed aggression in support of a cause/belief that in their heart they know is wrong. And they know this because we tell ‘em so. But they refuse to listen, they refuse to surrender their antiquated notions of belief and practice, and instead resort to violence and malfeasance across the globe, even the ones who don’t seem so extreme. 

Especially the ones that don’t seem so extreme. 

And if the preceding paragraphs sounded stupid to you as you read them, understand that they were as exceedingly stupid to type, because I know they are just muckraking, tabloid, pot-stirring journalism, and not true in any meaningful sense of the word. I know that extremist language does little to actually bridge divides and reconcile anyone. And chances are, you know it too. 

In fact, Martin himself makes a similar point, albeit from a different vantage: 

“The fundamental problem with extremism is that when you’re on the side that is fanatical, all of your actions make sense to you, and you are fluent in trying to justify every action. Every position of those you oppose is a personal affront that calls for you to do what you think is necessary to protect yourself and your family.” 

Too bad Roland Martin falls into the same trap he condemns.

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