Commentary and Criticism about the National Education Association (NEA)
I am going to restrict my comments to the mistaken historical assumptions written in the article which appeared on Lily's Blackboard on August 14, 2017. I will not address the violence and hate represented in Charlottesville because all rational people know that this type of behavior is unacceptable.
When Lily writes the following...
"... a reverence for the generals of the Confederacy who fought against the United States for the rights of states to be free to enslave black people."
"These generals are their heroes precisely because they fought to protect the institution of slavery."
...she shows her lack of understanding of history.
History is written by the victors and this one-sided view is then reinforced by way of the educational system.
The U.S. Civil War is an excellent example of this. First of all, it wasn't a Civil War in the true sense, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the War Between the States.
Without getting too technical, there is a good argument to support the right of a state or group of states to secede from the Union. After all, the states created the Federal Government and gave it very specific and restricted powers. Read the Constitution and you will see this clearly. Most of the authority was retained by the states (thus the reason for the 10th Amendment).
And, most importantly, rights were individual and inalienable in our country - given to us by a Creator. Our society was established from the bottom-up: individuals, states, then the Federal Government.
This is in contrast to almost every other society in the world, most especially the monarchies of Europe and elsewhere. In those societies, fighting against the state was a real Civil War. The state was imposed on them in a top-down fashion. Citizens in these societies only had rights given to them by the state so when they rebelled against the State, they were engaged in a Civil War by definition.
The South didn't want war with the North - they wanted to be left alone to manage their own affairs. More importantly, when Lincoln started the war, he made it very clear that it was not a war to free the slaves. It was a war to reunite the country.
In a letter to Horace Greeley Lincoln made this very clear:
"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."
The "generals of the Confederacy" referred to by Lily's Blackboard, did not fight the war "to be free to enslave black people." The South fought a defensive war against an invading power. And the typical Confederate soldier (who didn't own slaves) wasn't fighting to keep slavery. He was fighting for his country against an invading power.
My opinion does not express a belief that slavery was OK - slavery is reprehensible. But unless you have a historical perspective on the times, you won't be able to understand what really happened and why.
And you won't be able to understand that, for many people, the Confederate monuments don't represent slavery. Instead they represent a state's right to self-determination.
Maybe instead of tearing down those monuments (and thus attempting to, in effect, erase history), a compromise could be reached. Put those monuments in historical context by including a corresponding monument, statue or plaque which explains our modern perspective.
In other words, keep the old and then include the new.
Not everyone who supports the retention of those old Civil War monuments is a white supremacist or a racist. When you lump people together in this fashion you are engaging in your own form of prejudice.