Like most of you, I was taught in school that the American Civil War ended in 1865. For years, I accepted this at face value. Only in the last few years, when retirement has afforded me the time to really study and think about the issue have I begun to realize that 1865 saw the end of organized military activity but not the real end of the war. Yes, the conflagration had been smothered down to a few glowing embers — but, those embers have continued to glow and are not yet past the point of re-igniting into a conflagration.
Most Americans think the Civil War was fought to preserve slavery. One some levels, this may even be true – even though fewer than 10% of the citizens of the Confederacy owned slaves at the time the war began. Others, myself included, think the war was actually the culmination of a contest between those who wanted to preserve the States Rights guaranteed by our Constitution and those who favored an all powerful federal government. The tragedy, for both the Confederacy and the Republic is that slavery was allowed to become the issue which brought the contest to the point of war. By allowing that to happen, the Confederacy guaranteed it would have little or no support from the civilized world because supporting the Confederacy became tantamount to supporting slavery.
Let us acknowledge several undisputed facts:
-Slavery did exist.
– Slavery is always wrong.
– Slavery does endless damage to both the slave and the master.
Let us also acknowledge that many of the slaveholders in the America of the mid 1800’s knew that slavery MUST end. The problem they had was that too much of what passed for “property” among these people was the supposed market value of salable human beings. And it is not the nature of most humans to voluntarily impoverish themselves.
Looking back, there were several approaches that might have ended slavery in a way that would let the country recover very quickly from its effects. The various levels of government might have set the slaves free by compensating the owners for their release. Or, once the Civil War was a certainty, the emancipation proclamation might have come from the president of the Confederacy rather than the president of the Union. Further, the Confederacy could have taken the advice of people like General Patrick Cleburne and armed the slaves in addition to merely freeing them, giving them a shared stake in the outcome of the war along with a chance to demonstrate their humanity. But, none of this happened and, at any rate, we can never really know what really lies down the path not taken.
So, we opted instead for a futile contest that did little more than cause endless damage and inflict wounds that, to this day, have not healed. And, we allowed that contest to end in a fashion that left most of the ex slaves in situations almost as bad as slavery itself. It is no wonder that racial animosity was one result of this bungled mess. Even so, things got better, albeit at a glacial rate of progress, until the 1960’s when many of the descendents of the freed slaves were cast back into a new kind of slavery. This time, they were not confined to plantations — instead, they were encouraged to migrate to inner-city ghettos, all over the country, and there placed in a state of dependence on the federal government that was (and still is) in its way, more viscous than plantation slavery. This time, rather than being used to produce cotton, sugar cane and rice, they are used to advance the power of the progressive movement. To help keep them “in their place”, they have been made to live in broken families in crime ridden neighborhoods and they have been intentionally convinced that there is little or nothing they personally can do to escape their plight. All they can do is take the handouts and cast the votes required to keep those handouts coming, somehow never seeming to realize that they are forever casting a “yes” vote for their own continued enslavement.
Fast forward to the current. Now we have what the Lie-Stream-Media never tires of telling us is the “first Black president”. Now we all know this is not really true. What we actually have is the first half Black/half White president who chooses to identify more with his Black half than his White half. OK, fine, that is his choice. The tragedy is that this president has turned out to be a severe disappointment to almost everyone in the nation — including me.
I am not so much disappointed in his policies. Appalled and alarmed, yes, but not disappointed because anyone who paid the slightest attention during the campaign knew what his policies would be. No, the major disappoint for me, and for myriad others, is the missed opportunity to begin the end of racism in America — to finally put out those glowing embers from the Civil War. But, to our collective dismay, exactly the opposite is happening. This administration is shaping up to be the most blatantly racist in the history of the Republic. What a tragedy for us all.
Worse yet, those near dead embers are being fanned back into life and, if we continue on our current path, could actually re-ignite into another round of Civil War.
Is this what we really want? If not, then why can’t “we the people” stand up for those things that we all know are right? Why can’t we focus on the many things that make us all the same rather than the few things that make us seem slightly different?
Whatever your political leanings, your race or your ethnicity, quit making excuses for what we all know are outright failure and incompetence coupled with criminal malfeasance. Demand better, before it is too late!
To my Black friends, I offer this final thought – you will know when you are truly free in America. That will be the day when you are as free to fail as any member of any other group and when the main reason for your failure is placed squarely in your own hands. If you find this offensive, I am sorry. I am not a racist. I actually want freedom and prosperity for everyone with no group being disadvantaged for the supposed benefit of another.
Troy L Robinson