“…You said he’s a Confederate general. They’re the bad guys. And he’s probably racist… We’re going to raise our kids here. I don’t want some Confederate General ghost teaching them his racism…”[I]
Yep… a “bad guy”… a “racist”… a boogeyman…
That’s what Hollywood, mainstream media and a large part of American society and politics think of your Confederate ancestor. This little diatribe from the popular New York City based sitcom How I Met Your Mother fits somewhere along the spectrum of popular thought concerning the soldier of the South. At its most benign, he’s simply an unfortunate statistic, a number, a byproduct of that “dark little corner labeled ‘slavery and treason’.”[ii] Somewhere past that notion he is caricatured as an incompetent, illiterate, hayseed dupe who fought to keep his rich neighbor profiting from slavery. At the worst end of the spectrum is the idea that he was a subhuman monster with beliefs and conduct akin to Nazi Germany’s Waffen-SS.
While we know this is unequivocally false, far too many people hover around this end of the spectrum. Examples of this type of malignity include Jon Stewart of The Daily Show celebrating “Union Victory Appreciation Month” (a distasteful spoof of Virginia’s Confederate History Month) by “selling” a chess set complete with all of the Confederate pieces either covered in blood or on fire and with what appears to be crumbled buildings all over the board.[iii] One might get the impression that living, breathing Yankees with hopes, dreams and culture were fighting an abstract, dark evil that threatened to engulf everything pure in the world while attempting to destroy the greatest country on earth.
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