Friday, August 8, 2008

Newsweek And The Civil War

As we've continued our study of the Lost Cause and Civil War memory, I've tried to intermittently tie in current events and thinking to illustrate the importance of a sound understanding of Civil War history both as it happened and how it is remembered, with the point being the two are not always the same. From the Confederate flag (made in China, by the way) raising in Tampa to Sen. Jim Webb's statements about Robert E. Lee, there are still tangible ties between events today and how we think about and remember the past.
Today I got another stark reminder of this when I picked up the new issue of Newsweek magazine. On the cover is an antebellum plantation home with the title "The End of the South: How Obama vs. McCain is Unsettling the Old Confederacy". The piece is written by Christopher Dickey, who apparently grew up in Atlanta, and is a narrative of his canvassing across the South.
Of course everything is anecdotal only, but it is a tremendous eye-opener for this Norcal native and Socal dweller (though I did spend 4 years in Houston for graduate school). The rippling after-effects of the Civil War course through nearly every paragraph, be it in terms of race relations, battle reenactments, or thoughts about a liberal from Illinois running for President.
If you recall, I recently reviewed "Ghosts of the Confederacy" by Gaines Foster, which was his exploration of the rise of the New South in lockstep with the Lost Cause mythology. This article today is an, albeit short, discussion of how the two have moved apart over the past few decades.
We are all inundated with election year analysis and punditry, but I found this piece to be both cogent and unique; certainly a fascinating discussion both for the political scientist and the Civil War enthusiast.

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