The Civil War According to Pat Buchanan

April 09, 2010

At this point, I’m sure even Va. Goobernator Bob McDonnell rues the day he decided to reinstate Confederate History Month. People still get a little cranky over the Civil War – especially when you gloss over a nasty little thing like slavery as “insignificant”. After having a new butthole chewed into his backside, he apologized – weakly and not very convincingly – and probably hoped the whole thing would blow over before the next Shad Planking.

Luck must love an imbecile though, because Pat Buchanan put on his Screaming Head hat and rode onto Chris Matthews’ Hardball and provided enough cover for Bob-O to slink off the hot seat and back to a pig-pickin’ around back of the Gov’s Mansion.

I grew up in Virginia and was force-fed state history from the womb until the age of majority. Still, I had something to learn from Pat – slavery didn’t drive Virginia out of the Union! In Pat’s alternative universe, they just didn’t want to take up arms against the real crackers down Mississippi way.

Just Some 1860-Vintage Tea Partiers

“What took them out of the Union was when Abraham Lincoln said, we want 75,000 volunteers, your militia and your soldiers in Virginia, to attack the deep South and bring them back into the union,” Pat lectured. “They said, we’re not going to kill our kinsmen.”

And slavery?

Nah, not such a big deal apparently.  According to Pat, Virginians were just some good-hearted, 1860-vintage tea partiers yearning to be free of their oppressive government. “They wanted to be free of the Union,” Pat said.

But which side was right?

Pat, drawing on his best King Solomon Magic 8 Ball – split the difference. “I think in a way both sides were right. Lincoln had a right to save the Union. I think they [the South] had a right to go free.”

Now Pat is correct…a little. The founding fathers did keep slaves – and some were conflicted by it – though not enough to free any while they were alive. There were some states’ rights and economic issues having nothing to do with slavery. However, I’d guess if you asked the average person what the Civil War was about they wouldn’t say, “Why, a conflict between the central governing principles of states’ rights and federalism, of course.”

Instead, you’d get a one-word answer, “Slavery.”

Saying the Civil War was about anything other than slavery, is about as disingenuous as saying the U.S. and Japan went to war because of tariffs and balance of trade issues.

Tone Deaf or Just Plain Evil?

No one, least of all these men themselves, is stupid enough to not know that. So that leaves one of two explanations. Either they’re displaying the sort of tone-deafness that made Pat a favorite of the Nixon, Ford, and St. Ronnie of Reagan abominations administrations or they intentionally say these stupid-assed things because they believe them.

Pat thinks we’ve lost a teaching moment about the Civil War, and as much as it pains me, I agree with him. There is a place for Confederate History Month, but it isn’t as a forum to racially cleanse a shameful, embarrassing event by minimizing its biggest cause. We could use a true teaching moment that includes all the reasons and all the actions – north, south, black, white, rich, or poor. The lesson could be a powerful way to demonstrate why slavery was not right and how we can learn to avoid such hatred and stupidity today.

But before we begin preparing lesson plans I suggest that Bob and Pat take some refresher history courses if they expect to be teachers. Or at the very least, rethink what they know – because there is no place in America for people who are so ill-informed.

© 2010 Gather Inc.

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