Jewish World Review May 1, 2012/ 9 Iyar, 5772
The war goes on
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Dear Disputatious,
It was a pleasure, kind of, to hear from a reader plumping for the Confederate names of Civil War battles rather than the Union ones. You demand to know why
The same difference applies to the names, Confederate and Federal, for other battles: Manassas (Bull Run), Shiloh (
It's a tribute to the remarkable continuity of American history that you no longer hear much about the War of Northern Aggression or the War of the Rebellion. And when those opposite but equally partisan titles are deployed, it may be only for ironic effect. As with the euphemism, the late unpleasantness.
By now most of us, North and South, have settled on Civil War in an attempt to meet on neutral ground, though the name War Between the States was favored for a time in these latitudes.
What's in a name? A whole history sometimes. It can reopen old divisions or attempt to heal them. Or aspire to the sense of elevation, the mix of pity and sorrow, that tragedy should evoke (The Brothers' War).
Geography need not be destiny. Northerners, too, now speak of Shiloh rather than
But, you point out,
The secession convention of 1861 here in
This whole, arcane debate over whether there was still a Union circa 1861-64 and, if so, what states composed it, may have its fascination for some. The first and only president of the Confederacy,
His ideological descendants, though they seem to be growing fewer with each passing generation, are still heard from on occasion, as when our editorial page dares observe
How meaningless such debates can be in the real world of power and politics was demonstrated as soon as The War was concluded. The more zealous theorists of both persuasions immediately switched sides for their political benefit:
Northern abolitionists (aka Black Republicans) who had been arguing that the Union was indestructible now said it had been destroyed, therefore they were entitled to treat the former slave states as "conquered territory" with no right to representation in
At the same time, Southern leaders who had led their states out of the Union argued that they'd never really left and so were still entitled to their seats in
Ain't politics grand?
It was Mr.
Me, I tend to agree with a Union general and a president of
That saving sentiment was seconded by a Confederate general and icon,
Conclusion: G0d bless America -- North and South.
Yours for comity,
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