- - Thursday, June 25, 2020

I grew up in the era of the Civil War Centennial, when the fundamental view, as espoused in President Eisenhower’s Proclamation, was that everyone who fought in that most horrible war was an American. Eisenhower understood that an essential component to achieving reconciliation between Black and White America was achieving reconciliation between the North and the South.

It was that spirit of reconciliation that helped lead to the famous 1964 Civil Rights Act and many achievements to follow, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Great Society.

It has been over 150 years since the end of the Civil War and in the past decade or so we have been moving steadily away from reconciliation between North and South. By the same token, it has only been about 50 years since the end of the horror that was Jim Crow, a violent and horrible system whose effects are still felt in America. In those 50 years, America has made great progress toward achieving reconciliation between Black and White America, but I believe that progress plateaued about 10 years ago and is now receding.

A major component in that loss of progress is the current view that Jefferson Davis, Gen. Robert E. Lee and all who fought for the South were traitors and racists. This view has accompanied the recent violent and often illegal removal of Confederate statues.

Except for President Trump, both Democrats and Republicans alike either vocally or silently support these attacks on the memory that Southern soldiers were “Americans.” The result of this will be to push people into alliance with those who promote racism and White separatism.

Moreover, Black Lives Matter and other Black-Panther-like movements are promoting hatred of white America, as well as violence and Black separatism.

The last Civil War widow, Maudie Hopkins, died in 2008 and there are still people alive who lived through Jim Crow. Given our experience during the Civil War, reconciliation between Black and White American may take 100 years. Delaying reconciliation between North and South will only lengthen that process and make it more painful.


Havre de Grace, Md.

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