It’s a puzzler to hear quotation after quotation like this in the article:
“We in the South, who have been kicked around for an awfully long time and are accused of being racist, we would just like the truth to be known,” said Michael Givens, commander-in-chief of the Sons, explaining the reason for the television ads. While there were many causes of the war, he said, “our people were only fighting to protect themselves from an invasion and for their independence.”
Yeah, for their independence for keeping slaves. It’s fairly amazing how common the belief that the Civil War was not fundamentally fought over slavery—I’d say practically every history class I’ve been in that’s touched on the Civil War has featured at least one contentious disquisition about how, yes, the Civil War was actually fought over slavery. Amazing because discouraging: it takes a certain willful blindness and lack of empathy to insist that the War was some sort of noble enterprise on the part of the South, and while it doesn’t directly cause discouraging attitudes towards black people, it’s of the same piece as those attitudes. They say war is written by the victors, but really it’s written by the powerful, and the persistence of this narrative confirms that Southern white narratives are more powerful and more truculent than their competition.