The STARS and BARS: A "Civil" Debate
A five-part discussion by Michael Aubrecht and El Veasey

Quick Links: - INTRO - PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5
El Veasey (E.V.-BLUE) - Michael Aubrecht (M.A.-GRAY)

Once again, you bring up some very good points El. I guess what it really comes down to (and I am sure you can understand) is that it frustrates me that some people seem to paint an entire group of people with the same brush. IE. The vast majority of people, who speak out against things like the Confederate flag, do not take the time to learn anything about Civil War history and assume that it "as an entity" stands for the same thing to everybody. I do not include you in this group as your points are well written. Still, you can't make "global" statements and speak for everybody.

M.A. Please let me explain. The majority of soldiers (not officers or politicians) but the everyday "grunts" - the soldiers that volunteered, and fought, and died by the thousands, under the C.S.A. flag were not slave owners, but poor farmers who were not specifically fighting for a nation of slavery - but more for a nation that was built on slavery. I believe that many felt that they were fighting for state's rights and not for the black man (to be free or not free.) They had no vested interest in that matter.

E.V. True! And were they fully aware of that they were "fighting for a nation built on slavery" and the immorality of supporting that nation? Did they know they were fighting for their state's right to continue the profitable slave trade?

M.A. To them, the U.S. Government was ultimately acting as a foreign power themselves by preparing an army (to march against its own people) in order to enforce the Lincoln administration's new ideals. The formation of the first Confederate army was ONLY in direct response to what they felt was an impending invasion on their land. Slavery was absolutely an issue, but also the fear that the direction taken by this "new country" would be built on a new "Northern ideology" dominated by big corporations and industrial commerce - as opposed to the South's economy that was rooted in agriculture and small business. We can certainly see today how that has come true as corporate America has suffocated the small business and farmers. Therefore the memory of the "common" soldier and their heritage should not be tarnished by including them with the wealthy slave owners or today's "Neo-Nazis".

E.V. As well as the profitable slave trade, which was the free labor base supporting "the economy of agriculture and small business", so, they were inseparably intertwined. So much so that they were willing to become a separate nation and fight a war to preserve that profitable system, weren't they? Would the "small and local business owners and farmers" be better off if the slave labor system had been preserved? If they believed that whites were inherently superior to African Americans, no matter how great they're accomplishments, just because they were white, then I include them with the neo-Confederate, "Neo-Nazi" types. Are you suggesting that just because some soldiers didn't or couldn't afford to own slaves, they were against slavery? And therefore didn't think African-Americans were inherently inferior to whites? Does being one necessarily make you the other? Speaking of "painting people with a broad brush" can you say that each and every one of these average "grunts" weren't racists, bigots, or white supremacists because they didn't own or couldn't afford to own slaves? (I realize that some whites in the North were racist too, but that's not the bone of contention here.)

M.A. I like to think that I am as patriotic as anybody, but I can recognize secession from "their" perspective. For example, what if the U.S. Government today tried to institute an anti-Christian, secular, progressive agenda that went against the ideals of the country? I would hope its citizens would stand up a fight against them in order to preserve what they felt were core ideals. Especially if they attempted to turn our own people (troops) against us in order to enforce their ideology. The anti-United States would certainly be justified. In their minds (the C.S.A.) that was what was happening. The South was the "old" U.S. and the North represented the "new". Certainly war was an extreme response, but I understand why they felt it necessary (on both sides).

E.V. Christian ideals go along with the ideals of the country, but does enslaving others, selling and treating them like cattle, go along with Christian ideals? They did stand up and fight! One of those ideals was ending the practice of enslaving other human beings for profit or otherwise. "Our" ideologies were antagonistic to one another. The ideology of slavery was antagonistic to the ideal of individual rights. So those parts of "our own people" who didn't want to honor those rights for African-Americans, created their own troops to defend their ideology against those of "our own people" who supported the ideology of individual rights. So the U.S. wasn't fighting against its "own people" because those people gave up their citizenship and created their own country in protest against that ideal of the United States.

M.A. Also, let me add that we are all better off today that the North won...

E.V. Correction The U.S.A won.

M.A. I cannot disagree with that. I may be considered more of a "Southern" historian (being in VA), but I believe the right side won (in the end). I may write books that glorify Confederate troops and commanders - but NOT the ideal of slavery as practiced by the C.S.A government or administration. Still, in my own research I have found that the Lincoln administration wasn't much better either (initially). "Honest" Abe eventually did the right thing by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation - but ONLY AFTER they were able to boast a victory at Antietam.

M.A. Why did he wait? Because he was first and foremost, a politician. In retrospect, many historians have proven that he had no intention of freeing the slaves at the start of the war, and later did so with little help from his cabinet - who did not like him very much (which shows the lack of support he had to deal with.) In fact, he originally intended to colonize the freed slaves in Panama. It was, ONLY after he saw the brilliant and brave service of the Negro-regiments, that he understood that they should be EQUAL citizens who contributed to society and deserved civil and voting rights.

E.V. He was against slavery, but it was a risky political issue to come out politically against it at that time, that's why he was hesitant to do so. And even though he was against slavery, he said in one of his speeches, "he didn't want anyone to misconstrue that as meaning he thought a Black man was equal to a White man". But that's not the issue under discussion here. And what does whether his cabinet liked him or not have to do with the issue? (Others often dislike those who take an unpopular but morally righteous stand!) He was human and learned to change his view over time and did the right thing in the end, that's what counts! Do you agree with me that, regardless of his earlier stance, the fact that he eventually did the right thing, is what counts in the end?

M.A. Yes, he was a great president (perhaps one of the best), but not the "perfect" emancipator that we seem to remember today. Initially, Lincoln blamed the black man for coming in between white men and he saw no way to end the conflict, but to remove them from society. He later changed his views and eventually became the man that we see sitting in that chiseled chair in Washington, but not without leaving behind a few skeletons of his own.

M.A. Also, you repeatedly mention the Nazi flag in your argument. Much like the Confederacy, there were different troops who fought under that flag in Germany during WW2. Not all were fighting for the same reasons. You had the Third Reich, (or Nazis) such as the Gestapo, SS, Hitler Youth etc. and then the regular enlisted German army who were fighting under the Nazi's direction - but more against the Allied Troops and less (IMO) for the ideology of Adolph Hitler. Many of the German soldiers had no choice in the matter but to fulfill their duty - and in many cases they were probably too afraid of Hitler's madness to refuse.

M.A. For example, one of Hitler's greatest tank commanders, General Erwin Rommel later turned against him and was forced into committing suicide by the SS (in order to maintain his honor). Not all German soldiers or citizens should be cast in with the same swastika-wearing evildoers that persecuted the Jews. They should be remembered simply as German veterans who fulfilled their duty to their country. I imagine they have every right to memorialize their WW2 heroes just as we do. So those flags (strictly in terms of a banner) mean different things to different people today - just as it meant different things to the men who fought and died under it.

E.V. I imagine they do! But unfortunately, as I suggested about the Confederate troops, how can we know what the mentality of each and everyone of those troops were? There were probably some troops in support of and some troops not in support of the Nazi government fighting. Can you tell me how many supported the Nazi ideal of Aryan supremacy to those who didn't? Regardless of what it means to any individual, the Nazi flags stands for Aryan supremacy.

M.A. Obviously there are those who fought for less-than-commendable reasons, but many Confederate troops and German troops were simply fulfilling their duty. General William T. Sherman said "War is Hell" and it is a terrible plague that will last on this planet until the end times. Those that fight it are usually good people forced into doing morally bad things. Some do it for the right reasons and some do it for the wrong reasons - but their memories should not all be lumped in one big group. Stonewall Jackson said, "Duty is ours - the consequences are God's." I agree totally.

E.V. So it appears that the moral and Christian values issues involved with what one decides to fight for doesn't seem to carry much importance with you or Stonewall does it? Just the glory!





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