In his quest for absolute “political correctness,” Brent Staples of The New York Times editorial staff makes a foray into revisionism.
His May 23 column, “White supremacists seek legitimacy in the Confederate flag,” alleges that “Nazism and the tradition of white supremacy that is memorialized in monuments throughout the South are the fruit of the same poisonous tree and the Confederate flag can legitimately be seen as an alternate version of the Nazi emblem.”
In other words, all individuals who are proud being Southerners and prize their Southern heritage — which is one of heritage and not of hate — are would-be Nazis, should be ashamed and have no right to their Southern heritage.
A German can be proud of his heritage without being a Nazi. Apparently, a Southerner isn’t afforded the same privilege or consideration. I suggest that no government official, or even a distinguished columnist, has neither the prerogative nor the right to decide whose heritage is acceptable and whose is not.
I think that it’s been decided that the philosophy of Nazism was wrong and that the majority of reasonable individuals accept that fact. One of the primary aims of the Nazi party was the complete and total eradication of the Jewish people. When one considers that fact alone, there’s no comparison between the Nazi era and the Confederacy.
However, the current attempts to deny what happened in American during the Civil War by the destruction of monuments and the outright denial of history is the most egregious form of revisionism and “political correctness.” For some reason, most of us have come to terms with the Nazis and the Holocaust, but we are still having difficulty resolving what happened during the Civil War.
Whether the editorialists like it or not, the Civil War is part of American history. It happened, and the removal of monuments or the rewriting of history will not change anything.
Michael G. Decker