Wednesday, March 29, 2017
In April, five states will officially celebrate Confederate History Month (or Confederate Heritage Month): Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In Georgia, which stopped the celebrations after a neo-Confederate killed nine black churchgoers in neighboring South Carolina in 2015, a lawmaker is pushing to bring it back, citing Trump's election and the end of the era of "political correctness."
To be clear, Confederate History Month isn't about remembering our past and taking lessons from it. Key proponents of the month's continued existence are the Sons of Confederate Veterans, whose revisionist history of the Confederacy and the Civil War minimizes and even denies the role of slavery in southern secession.
On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered in Virginia. Yet 152 years later, many in our region are still fighting the lost war. Some of us do it by flying Confederate flags, complete with lofty slogans like, "The South Will Rise Again!" and "Heritage, Not Hate!" Some of us do it in more insidious ways. For no good reason, we work overtime to make sure those "Yankees" don't come in and wreck our perfectly dead-last economies. We definitely don't want those federal Yanks telling us how to run our education system. And despite the fact that we are the region that most needs health-care options that the Affordable Care Act offers, we did everything we could to thwart any effort from the Obama administration to help improve our miserable condition.
We rejected "Obamacare" because we don't need no federal government helping us. Of course, the funny thing about that is that we are the most dependent region on the federal government in the country. Mississippi, for example, gets around $3 in subsidies from the federal government for every $1 it pays the federal government in taxes. South Carolina gets $7.87 back for every $1 it sends in. Yes, this means that those evil, liberal, Yankee blue states subsidize us. But at least our citizens aren't getting decent health-care options—especially not thanks to a black president.
The Jackson Free Press revealed to the world in February 2016 that Gov. Bryant had declared April "Confederate Heritage Month," but with no mention of slavery.
Celebrating Confederate History Month without even attempting to put it in its proper context of human slavery and racism is just another one of the things we do to refuse to let go of our white supremacist past. It's a strange thing that some white southerners will tell black people to get over slavery and segregation in one breath, and then turn around and raise a Confederate flag and boast about "heritage" in the next. Then again, maybe it isn't so strange if you consider that both actions are premised on one motive: the upholding of white supremacy.
The South needs to get over itself. Why should our Confederate heritage be more important than our American heritage? Why do we commemorate the battles of great, great, great, great-grandfathers we never knew, but we don't give the same adoration and attention to the grandfathers and great-grandfathers—many still with us—who fought for our country in World War II and in Korea? Why isn't that heritage so cherished?
Not a single person who fought in the Civil War, who was born to a parent who fought in the Civil War, or who lived in the Old South, is still alive. It is a civilization, to quote Margaret Mitchell, that is "gone with the wind." It's been gone for a century and a half.
Instead of fighting on behalf of people you never knew and a nation that was never your home, fight for the South you inherited. Fight for the world you live in now. Fight for the people here now who desperately need health care and whose children need better educations. Instead of waiting for the Old South to rise again, rise up and help move her forward.
Ashton Pittman is the editor-in-chief and founder of Deep South Daily. Follow him on Twitter at @ashtonpittman.