Courage in service of oppression isn't worth celebrating...


June 01, 2000

Courage in service of oppression isn't worth celebrating

Two recent letters argued we can honor Confederate soldiers without venerating slavery and racial oppression ("Honoring Southern soldiers need not venerate slavery," May 23). This despite the fact the Confederacy went to war in defense of slavery as the "Southern way of life."

Both writers seem to think that we can simply admire the courage of the soldiers without considering the ends which that courage served. This I find problematic.

Of course, courage is usually deemed a virtue. But virtue becomes vicious in the service of evil, and oppression is the greatest of evils.

Can a patriotic German rightly honor the soldiers of the Third Reich without honoring Nazism?

German troops certainly showed, in the words of one of the letters, "extraordinary military accomplishments under arduous conditions." They hardly lacked martial courage.

Neither did Franco's Falangists or the armies of imperial Japan. Yet this is hardly reason to admire them.

We may be saddened by the waste of such courage, but I see little to venerate.

Maybe we need to re-examine the meaning of courage. Too often it is deemed a martial virtue. More excellent is moral courage; this courage enables one to refuse to become an agent of injustice.

Such courage might have inclined Southern whites to refuse defend the barbarism of slavery.

Moral courage would have been more admirable than the misplaced martial valor by which innumerable men died in defense of the degradation of others.

Robert Birt, Baltimore

Aren't Confederates also owed a symbol of pride?

Apparently The Sun is trying to set a new record; it has managed to publish four anti-Confederate columns or editorials in less than a month.

The latest of these attacks on Confederate heritage, "A non-Confederate flag" (editorial, May 22), was an assault on the flag of the state of Mississippi, which includes the Confederate battle flag.

The Sun claims that "Mississippians, of all races ... the home of William Faulkner, Elvis Presley, Richard Wright and Muddy Waters ... deserve a symbol of pride."

I would suggest that Mississippi is also the home of President Jefferson Davis; Confederate Gen. William Barksdale, killed in service to his country at Gettysburg; and the thousands of brave defenders of Vicksburg, including women and children who hid in caves and were mercilessly bombarded by an invading army.

Don't they deserve a symbol of pride to honor their sacrifice?

It appears the drumbeat by the liberal media for so-called "multiculturalism" and diversity applies only to a select few, and not to Confederate-Americans.

G. Elliott Cummings, Baltimore

The writer is a former commander of the Maryland division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Maybe the Congress should just incorporate?

Now that Congress has voted for NAFTA, GATT and PNTR for China, it should finish the job and vote to change its name to "U. S. Congress Inc."

Terry McGuire, Davidsonville

Russia may be emulating our democracy after all

I couldn't help but be struck by the picture in The Sun on May 12 of a Russian agent armed with an automatic weapon standing guard outside the offices of Media Most Group in Moscow, a newspaper that has been critical of the Kremlin.

What struck me was the similarity in appearance between this Russian agent and the armed American agents who invaded the Gonzalez home in Miami to take custody of Elian Gonzalez.

The Russian newspaper said they were harassed by the government because of their articles critical of the Kremlin.

The Gonzalez family said they were attacked because they took a stand against President Clinton and Fidel Castro.

It looks like the Russians are learning our form of democracy very well.

Murray Spear, Baltimore

Outsized SUVs demonstrate advertising's outsized power

The Sun's editorial "Raising fuel economy a matter of public will" (May 25) notes that Americans say they want more fuel saving vehicles but continue to buy more gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles, vans and trucks.

The reason for this behavior, The Sun suggests, is that SUVs "are bigger, affording a greater sense of safety and larger carrying capacity."

I disagree. The vast majority of the SUVs I see on the streets carry only the driver, no cargo and a lot of empty space.

These vehicles sell in great numbers simply because American consumers have been mesmerized by the advertising industry into believing they must have them.

The schizoid-like dichotomy between what consumers believe in (fuel economy) and what they do (buy grossly inefficient SUVs) is testimony to the strong grip advertising has on American consumers.

They believe they're making free choices, while in truth they are sheep being led to a fleecing in the marketplace.

Herman M. Heyn, Baltimore

A recent article noted that Ford Motor Co. says it wants to be known as an environmental leader ("Ford says utility vehicles don't fit its corporate tenets," May 12).

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