I was eight years old, curled up on the naugahyde sofa in my grandmother’s basement, when I found my great-grandmother’s copy of Gone with the Wind, the commemorative movie edition. I read it literally to pieces and I can recite the entire first paragraph by heart.
In grade school I was taught that the Civil War, to my surprise at the time, was NOT inspired primarily by the desire to continue to enslave African-Americans, but by an argument over States’ Rights.
My great-great-great-grandfather was a Confederate brigadier general, and I was raised on family legends of his valor.
Up until my house burned down, I owned a small Confederate battle flag, which at one time I displayed along with the flags of the United States, Scotland, and Ireland, a small tribute to my ethnic heritage as I understood it at the time.
This is where I come from. I am proud to be a Southerner. In my blog bio, I describe myself first of all as “Catholic and Southern.” That’s at the core of who I am.
Like many Southerners, particularly those with ancestors who served in the Confederate army, I feel an attachment to statues like the one in Charlottesville. But the character of those who rallied on Saturday in protest prove that its removal is necessary. This confederacy of dunces would have been denounced by General Lee, who was not even in favor of secession, and by James Hagan, who was repatriated and worked for the U.S. government for the fifteen years prior to his death.
As his descendant, I disavow and repudiate the Unite the Right protesters and anyone who shares their hateful beliefs in the strongest of terms, and I call upon all descendants of Confederate soldiers to join me in condemning them. They don’t represent the South and we don’t need these modern-day Carpetbaggers to tell us how best to preserve our heritage.
We do no honor to the memory of the Confederate dead by supporting disgusting displays of racism. I do not judge my ancestors as harshly as some might– they were the product of a different time. But that time is long past. If you feel that Robert E. Lee deserves to be honored and remembered for valiantly fighting for what he believed in–his home state of Virginia–then do what he asked after the fighting ended: “Remember, we are all one country now. Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring [your children] up to be Americans.”