Commentary: Calling Confederate sympathizers terrorists is a bad idea
Recently people on the radical left, in their never-ending war on American culture and our historical relevance, have resorted to calling Confederate soldiers terrorists and anarchists to justify the removal of Confederate monuments. This is beyond insulting, it is also dangerous.
Before we go any farther, as many of you can tell by my name, I am not a 100 percent White Anglo Saxon Protestant. To the contrary, I am half Afghan, and most of the other half is Scots Irish. There aren’t too many half Afghan half Scots Irishmen in the valley. Growing up in Northern Virginia in the Arlington/McLean area, I experienced and saw racism in a way that no person should ever have to experience or witness. Also, for the record, my ancestors fought for the North (24th Iowa and 32nd Ohio). One of them, Pfc. Cameron, 32nd Ohio A Company, was killed at the siege of Harpers Ferry in September 1862.
While everyone can and likely does agree that slavery was a horrible evil, the fact remains that it was the concept of states rights and the Morrill Tariff that caused the Civil War. And at the time, there was no legal precedent as to whether secession was legal or illegal. It wasn’t until after the Civil War that the U.S. Supreme Court decided that secession was illegal under the constitution. The 1869 decision of Texas vs. White determined once and for all that secession was illegal.
The men who fought for the Confederacy were for the most part not slave owners, but were small farmers or laborers who viewed their individual state as their own country And saw the U.S. as a loose group of individual countries united under a single flag and ruling body, but with the right to exit if they chose.
The Morrill Tariff of 1860 was opposed by pretty much all the Southern states, as they knew protectionism would harm their economy. The Northern Republicans and Northern Democrats supported the tariff because it would help their industry, and would force the plantation owners to have to sell directly to them, and less to Europe. The British were fighting mad over the tariff, and that was why the British were sympathetic to the Confederate cause.
So, to call these people who were fighting for their homelands traitors and terrorists is factually inaccurate. One must also remind our friends on the left that California is gathering petitions to secede from the U.S. Does that make the supporters of a United Republic of California traitors and terrorists also?
The Confederate soldiers, who the radical left calls traitors and terrorists, were our fathers, our uncles, our cousins. One of them, probably an artilleryman, shot and killed my great-great-great-grandfather at Maryland Heights at Harpers Ferry. I am sorry that my ancestor was killed. The letters among my ancestors about his death are quite touching. But the soldier who killed my ancestor was not a terrorist, he was a man, probably just as scared as my ancestor, who was trying to protect his homeland from what they would have seen as a foreign invasion force. Trying to kill another soldier before that soldier killed him first. Something soldiers are supposed to do.
Condoleezza Rice stated earlier this month that “sanitizing your history to make you feel better, it’s a bad thing.” Given that Ms. Rice’s ancestors were slaves, and that she marched with patriots to be sure she and her race had equal rights as Americans, we should take her words very seriously. And for those whose ancestors fought for the Confederacy, I salute you in honoring your patriot ancestor. I hope that you will honor my ancestors in the same way. And to you who think that the Confederate soldiers were terrorists, please go to University of California, Berkeley, and tell the radicals trying to leave the U.S. that they are terrorists, and see what they do to you.
John Massoud is a Shenandoah County GOP district chair, and the regional field director for Ed Gillespie for governor for Shenandoah County.