White Southerners Still Reckoning With Their Heritage

Southerners of a certain age were taught civil war history with reverence for the myths of the “lost cause”; Reconstruction as a betrayal of democracy; and that Confederate General Robert E. Lee was a great man. A progressive friend in his sixties writes that he deeply admired both Lee and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

“Lee deserves to be admired and respected today. He worked very hard after the war as a college president for reconciliation and a return to full participation in the Union by Southerners. Lee was against slavery and opposed secession but when war came he felt that it was his duty to fight to defend his state from invasion by outsiders. People forget that it was not a settled constitutional question in 1861 whether the federal union was a voluntary confederation of states from which they were free to withdraw or a permanent and indissoluble union. The Constitution itself is silent on the question….My big brother rooted for the South in the Civil War because he was born in North Carolina but I rooted for the North because I was born in New Jersey.”

My 98-year-old mother-in-law at dinner recently recalled the song, “I’m A Good Ole Rebel,” she learned from her father. He was born in 1880 in Southern Maryland. Men of his generation taught their sons, and grandsons to sing this song with great relish and retro humor.

The lyrics are rather startling. They are brazenly treasonous, yet some of the lines might have been sung by Trump supporters who broke into the U.S. Capitol carrying a Confederate flag on January 6, 2021. Indeed, in 2011, a parody version was released by the band Junto as if sung by those opposed to Barack Obama’s presidency:

“Oh, I’m a good old Rebel
Now that’s just what I am
For this fair land of freedom
I do not care a damn.
I’m glad I fought against it
I only wish we’d won.
And I don’t want no pardon
For anything I’ve done.

I hates the Yankee nation
And everything they do,
I hates the Declaration
Of Independence, too;
I hates the glorious Union-
‘Tis dripping with our blood-
And I hates their striped banner,
I fought it all I could.

Three hundred thousand Yankees
Stiffen in Southern dust
We got three hundred thousand
Before they conquered us
They died of Southern fever
And Southern steel…”

My friend Ed Cone recently reviewed a book by Ty Seidule, retired brigadier general and former head of the history department at West Point, quoting him as saying ““I grew up with a lie, a series of lies.” Click for the review of Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause.

“In the book, Seidule goes into detail about his upbringing and about some ugly parts of history this country has endured.”

He says “telling the truth is a ruthless act.”

The video below by Seidule on the conservative Prager University Youtube channel has attracted more than 2.7 million views. Script.

More from Ty Seidule on Youtube.com.

Related:

The Myth of the Southern Lost Cause, and Kindly Civil War General Robert E. Lee

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