Attack on the Confederacy spurs readers' counterattack

July 14, 1996|By GREGORY KANE

My right arm is in a sling and the painful fracture at the elbow makes typing difficult. (For the inquisitive among you, I was injured wrestling my 3-year-old grandson, who turned out to be a tougher opponent than I figured. But I managed to take two of three falls from the tyke.)

What's a columnist to do? I've opted for the easy way out and have decided to continue with responses from readers. That way, I can simply type in readers' comments and not have to think of ideas of my own. I don't think well when I'm in pain. And according to some of these readers, I don't think very clearly when I'm not in pain, either.

John Holthaus, Baltimore, on my attack on the Confederacy: "It is very clear that [Kane] has no knowledge why the Civil War was fought and knows less about black history I suggest Kane attack his own ancestors. Mr. Cummings invite to Kane to attend the Confederate Memorial Day ceremony was out of line. You don't invite a no-nothing, nobody like Kane to such a fine event. God bless the Confederate States of America."

Uh, John, I know enough history to realize the Confederate States of America no longer exist. OK pal?

Mike Ford, Baltimore, same subject: "You failed to mention there were black slave owners!!!"

You didn't read my columns that ran with the Sudan series, did you Mike?

William Louis Leconte, Ellicott City, same subject: "I am a Georgian descended from those 'boorish, bilious, bellicose money grubbing baffoons' who actually held honor as being something of value. My family owned slaves and treated them with dignity and armed them with guns to keep away hostile Indians. Occasionally Indians would raid the plantation and steal the slaves for wives and servants. Life must not have been as horrible as you make it out to be since when slaves could get away they would return to my family's rice plantation in coastal Georgia.

My great-grandfather grew up at the knee of an old African who would fascinate him with tales of Africa. This same grandfather was a confederate soldier who fought 4 years to defend the Yankee invasion of the south."

How positively idyllic! Tell me, Bill, about that old African. Would he have been treated the same if he had taken some silly notion to run off to freedom and use his story telling skills to benefit himself and his family, as opposed to amusing your grandpa? ZTC Are you saying slavery is justified as long as the slaves are treated with dignity? If that's the case, those Africans who sold other Africans into slavery -- the ones you Confederate sympathizers love throwing up in my face -- couldn't have been too bad. In some African societies slaves were able to attain positions of power and influence, much more so than they would have on your grandpa's plantation, where, no matter what their entrepreneurial skill, they would never have been able to own it.

Charles J Bury, Jr. of Baltimore picked up on the honor theme Leconte started: "A factor that I think fed the pre-war tensions that we in modern times forget, is the tremendous pride and honor which existed all over the country During that time more honor was dedicated to each one's state than the country as a whole."

Excellent point, Chuck. But let's not use the word "honor." One of the main reasons for the Civil War was that old standby macho idiocy. "Honor" is a euphemism. It is macho idiocy that drives the homicide rate among black American men today and led the nation into civil strife 135 years. And yes, I stick to my claim that boorish, bilious, bellicose buffoons led the nation into conflict. Whenever war breaks out you can be sure that boorish, bilious, bellicose buffoons are behind it. And they're usually men. There guys, don't we all feel better now?

Larry L. Beane II of Ambler, Pennsylvania, took issue with my view that the Civil War was a punishment for the entire country: "I must also take issue with your 'karma' view of the war. This superstitious view of history is very appealing to the 'Star Wars' or 'Cowboys and Indians' approach to the topic, but leads to drastic oversimplification or even outright error in interpretation. Some people actually believe the Roman Empire crumbled because of homosexuality -- and not because of governmental corruption, high taxation, and other less 'spiritual' explanations. Of course, the 'wrath of God atoning for the abomination of deviant sexuality' is a more exciting explanation than simply bad government. Exciting or not, Mr. Kane, which explanation makes more sense?"

Well, Larry, my karma view of the war makes perfect sense. I guess it depends on what spiritual tradition you come from. But the average American has it. You've heard the saying "What goes around comes around." Black folks even have our own karmic proverb, one that is perfectly suitable in describing the national atonement that was the Civil War.

"Payback," our saying goes, "is a bitch."

Gregory P. Kane's column appears on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Pub Date: 7/14/96

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