Does the Civil War Really Represent “Southern Culture”?

Bryan Woolston via ZUMA

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This weekend the Washington Post ran a story about a huge Confederate statue in Louisville that was dismantled and shipped off to the town of Brandenburg, which thought it might be a good tourist attraction. Apparently everyone was pretty happy about it except for Mildred Brown, an African-American seamstress who’s lived there for 50 years:

She recalled telling him [the judge executive in Meade County] that having the monument was a mistake. It was a symbol of dark times — dark enough that she no longer went to the riverfront. “It doesn’t unify us,” she said. “It separates us.”

He recalled telling her: “Don’t worry, we’re not going to let people come down there and throw a fit and have Confederate flags and call names.” He also said the monument was about preserving a part of history with a lot of nuance. “It had a whole lot more to it than slavery,” he said.

I don’t want to pretend to be naive, but when Southerners talk about these statues representing their heritage, or their history, or their culture, what heritage do they think it represents? Let’s assume they don’t buy the argument that these statues are mostly 20th century monuments to Jim Crow and white terror. Fine. They’re certainly monuments to the Civil War. I can understand why northern states would build monuments to the war, but why would Southern states do it? It was a war of treason. It was a war to protect slavery, even if there were other catalysts too. It was a war of white supremacy. It was a war of personal bravery in defense of the indefensible. It was a war they lost.

From the perspective of 2017, what exactly is there to honor about that? What’s the party line here?

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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