After having lived in the South and spending considerable time studying the Civil War, I have come to appreciate and respect the pride that Southerners have for their heritage. After all, everyone is celebrating their heritage these days, right? Illegal immigrants are marching through the streets waving Mexican flags, Black History Month has become a staple of American culture, and millions of us enjoy paying tribute to Ireland by wearing green and drinking green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, even if we’re not named Gallagher.
Yet when it comes to the South, some Americans are squeamish over the subject of the Confederacy. Black activists insist that the Confederate Flag is simply a symbol of slavery and Hollywood never runs out of ways to portray Southerners as a bunch of corn pone hayseeds who are incapable of the sophistication of, say, residents of New Jersey.
So when Chris the history teacher called my radio show, I expected him to present a fairly balanced perspective of the role the South played in our nation’s history. Boy, was I wrong.
“The South’s entire culture was completely wrapped around the concept of human bondage”, he insisted. “If it weren’t for forward-thinking Northerners who wanted to emancipate the slaves, Southerners would have gotten away with it!” I was incredulous at the suggestion that this guy was teaching history to 7th graders. “What about the Northerners who owned slaves?” I asked. “Well, they were probably an anomaly,” he replied.
As my blood pressure began to soar, I managed to ask Chris where he was born. Could this actually be a Southern history teacher who had this distorted, warped view of the South and the Confederacy? “I was born in Kansas”, he answered. I guess that explained it.