Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Civil War 150 Years Old

With the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War this year, I notice strangely that there is very little ceremony in the North over this. I say "strangely" because the North won that war, unless perhaps Northerners regret not letting the South go when they had their chance and so they don't really think of it as "winning". By contrast, the South seems to still try and keep that history alive, what with Confederate battle flags being flown on state capitols and parades and Daughters of Confederacy cotillions.

Could it be that the entire war was an exercise of reverse psychology? That maybe the North was embarrassed by the slaveholding, cotton growing, unindustrialized South, and was all ready to say "hey, how about you guys go join Mexico or something?" and then the South was like "oh yeah? How about we just go ahead and split!" and then the North was like "wait a minute, you can't quit, you're fired!" Then four bloody years later, the North had beaten the South and forced them back in the Union, and was suddenly like "wait, now we gotta deal with these rebels?"

In the long run, things worked out--though it took a lot of pain (years of Reconstruction and many decades of Jim Crow) to get there. Air conditioning has made the South an agreeable place to live, we now have great football players and warm beaches and deep fried foods and BBQ and country music and blues and soul and oil and whiskey. Plus, an American border that cut off at the Mason Dixon line would have looked weird, and our nation's capital would have been right up against a foreign country. We'd have missed out on some Presidents due to their birthplaces (Wilson, Eisenhower, LBJ, Carter, Clinton). Elvis would have been a foreign musician, and the NFL would have had to have two national anthems at the start of their games (and the NHL would have had to have three).

Happy 150th, trial separation that went badly but ended well!

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