WARNING: The following information may be hazardous to incurious men, women, and children with little or no serious education, who are already being treated for general awareness, conscience, or independent thought with an anti-intellectual Fox News IV drip or suffer from Grand Old delusions of white supremacy, white primacy, and white benevolence.
At an appearance I did the other day, I faced a doozy of a final question. A woman asked me what my take was on the Confederate statues being taken down around Texas.
Prudence is not my strong suit, but I warned her, suggesting that I was probably the wrong guy to ask. The crowd waited for my response.
Here it is.
They say history is written by the victors. Evidently, they haven’t been through the South.
In the South, history was written by the Losers, and the Losers are still crying in their spittoons about the outcome of the Civil War, about desegregation (except on the football field), and about the debate over their Loser flags and Loser memorials.
Yeah, yeah. When I was growing up, I admit I enjoyed Clint Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josey Wales. But that was before Clint and I realized the author of the book on which Josey Wales was based was not (as originally stated) a Cherokee writer named Forrest Carter but actually Asa Earl Carter, a former Alabaman Ku Klux Klan leader and speechwriter for George Wallace who assumed a new identity when he moved to Abilene, Texas.
What’s that? You say members of your family fought bravely for the Confederacy? Fine. Great. Their heroism and fierceness may be unparalleled in the annals of American military history. But they risked their lives, lost their lives (or limbs, wholeness, sanity) for folks behind an institution and an ideology that presupposed a group of human beings who looked different than them were not human, not deserving of basic human rights (or dignity), and not worthy of being treated with any pretense of basic human consideration, decency, or conscience. Which simply puts your relatives in the company of all the Germans who fought bravely for the Nazis in WWII.
What’s that you say? Your forebears didn’t own slaves? Ah. Now we come full circle.
Your forebears were no different than American soldiers today. Most were patriotic rubes duped into a fool’s errand for rich white men. Contemporary U.S. soldiers sacrifice their lives, limbs, and psychological wholeness for corporate unscrupulousness and the perpetual United States slot machine that is the Military-Industrial-Complex. And that’s one of the reasons so many of them are committing suicide.
They’re not defending this country (or our freedom), fighting the good fight (if there is such a thing), fighting against legitimate enemies, or fighting for anything resembling jokingly noble intent. And when they get back on American soil, this lesson is increasingly hard to stomach.
There is no question that the men and women in our armed forces today are fighting fiercely and bravely, but they’re not fighting for causes or objectives that are worthy of their sacrifice. They’re fighting for lies — just like our ancestors who brandished weapons under the Stars and Bars.
At the end of the day (and this argument), that’s what Confederate monuments symbolize: a time when soldiers were duped into fighting for an ill-intentioned aristocracy with no concern for human justice or being on the right side of history.
We actually threw our own George Washington — Sam Houston — under the bus when he warned us that secession was a mistake and refused to sign on to our idiocy.
Like all the Texans who refused to fight for or support the Confederacy during the Civil War, Houston was a real rebel and a real hero. Not a fool, a dupe, or a Loser.
I say take down the Lost Cause theology. I say take down the Loser flags and the Loser memorials.
If you were whistling Dixie around these parts before, during or after the Civil War, you lost, and you plainly and inarguably deserved to lose. And the less we see of your inhuman cause and your Loser symbols, the better.
E.R. Bills is the author of Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional and Nefarious (The History Press, 2013), The 1910 Slocum Massacre: An Act of Genocide in East Texas (The History Press, 2014), Black Holocaust: The Paris Horror and a Legacy of Texas Terror (Eakin Press, 2015), and Texas Far & Wide (The History Press, 2017). He works as a freelance journalist and lives in North Texas with his wife, Stacie.