Heritage

300px-New_York_Draft_Riots_-_fighting.jpg

It seems that April is Confederate Heritage month. Why one would want to celebrate a heritage of violent rebellion against a democratically elected government in order to perpetuate a system of chattel slavery is a bit hard for me to say.

When I was growing up in New York City, for example, I don't remember any mass campaigns to celebrate the 1863 draft riots as the city's finest hour. The states of the Old Confederacy are hardly unique in that elements of their historical heritage involve discreditable treatment of African-Americans. But they do seem unusual in their insistence on celebrating these historical episodes and in insisting that portraying them in a positive light is integral to a proper understanding of their local identity. Even odder, as best I can tell these days (it was different in the past) most of the folks who like to wave the Confederate flag are perfectly genuine when they get offended that others see them as waving a banner of violent white supremacist ideology. But if that's not the ideology you mean to associate with, then why not drop the flag and adopt some less provocative emblem of Southern folkways?

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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