Should Civil War Southerners be compared to Nazis? Andy Whitman responds.

My favorite music reviewer/columnist Andy Whitman writes about other things too, with just as much passion and insight.

Today, at Good Letters, he offers a thoughtful perspective on recent media references to the Civil War and the people of the South:

I know, I know. It’s not the individuals who were necessarily evil. It’s the government with which they just happened to be affiliated by the accidents of geography and time. It’s political ideology. It’s selfishness and greed. It’s the ever-present tendency to exploit others. And while all of those statements are true, I still balk at the epithets being thrown around by the so-called experts. Somebody needs to remember those damn rats.

Painting the Confederacy as unmitigated villains ignores both the complexity and the simplicity of history. It ignores the complexity because the causes for war, and the reasons for individuals serving in a cause, even an evil cause, are never as straightforward as the historians would have us believe.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • Gaith

    A thoughtfully written piece… but the seemingly offhand comparison of a single cable news pundit hardly seems to justify the author’s charge of people “painting the Confederacy as unmitigated villains.” And an NYT columnist wrote a piece critical of a governor? That’s hardly relevant to the CSA question, nor is it in any way unusual. Let us also note that nowhere does the author consider that some if not many of the Muslims who commit morally reprehensible acts of terrorism are confused, scared boys who’ve been subjected to vile propaganda and cruel ideologies since the moment they were born.

    And let’s not forget that public celebrations of the Confederacy vastly outnumber denunciations of the same, at least on the level of events, gatherings and observances. Heck, shouldn’t the anniversary of Lee’s surrender be a national holiday, in spirit if not work-free observance? Such a day wouldn’t even necessarily “painting the Confederacy as unmitigated villains”, any more than July 4 celebration offend contemporary Brits. But my, how Southerners would tear their hair and howl at the very suggestion.

    Methinks Mr. Whitman may protest too much.