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How a present day legatee of the Confederacy views its history
on November 28, 2008
In 1972, I was a freshman at Michigan State University (I am an almost life long Michigander). One night, sitting in a student lounge, I struck up a conversation with a fellow student who hailed from the South. As I asked him questions about his life we drifted into a discussion of history. When I said the words "The Civil War", he ignited. He declared that there was no Civil War, that it was a war of aggression by the North. The South had a clear right to self-determination and the right to leave the Union. The war was NOT over because it had not been legally concluded. He went on like this for quite awhile and I was bewildered because I had never heard thoughts like these before. While I did not agree with him them and do not agree with him or H. W. Croker III now, I think it is healthy for everyone to learn that these ideas remain alive in our nation and in parts of our culture.
The folks who hold these ideas see many things very differently and hold that certain issues that the Civil War seemed to settle are still unsettled. While parts of their arguments may seem attractive, when I view them as a whole, I think we have to give up too much to adopt them. If the United States were to fragment and refragment into smaller "nations", it would weaken us and invite predatory behavior from other and stronger nations. Plus, their history of certain issues in the Civil War, particularly around slavery and race seem strained, contrived, and often wrong to the point of being disturbed.
However, if you have not heard the flip side of the Civil War history before, this is a good and easy place to get that through the looking glass experience I had back in 1972. As you read through it, be sure to check the facts for yourself. It isn't that Crocker is lying, but rather that his priorities in telling his history of the war require him to view things differently. Seeing things from other perspectives, especially if you don't agree with them, is usually quite healthy. So it is here.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI