Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Civil War Meets 9/11

Recently I attended a Civil War re-enactment/living history in Tunnel Hill, GA. Usually these events are marked with their own oddities, colorful characters, and 'education.' This tremendous event set itself apart from the regular run of the mill reenactment by taking place on the immortal anniversary of September 11. As one might expect, there was a memorial service on the 11th, that was complete with a full Union and Confederate honor guard. This had the makings of a moment that could have been truly remarkable, but notice the use of the words 'could have.'
 I had uneasy feelings about the memorial service on the day before when the Commanding Confederate General (basically the guy that is running the event and thinks he commands armies) revealed to the battalion that there was going to be a memorial service and a prayer. This seemed ordinary, very much the thing one would expect. But it was his next couple of sentences that bothered me. He told us we were going to have a prayer, and that "if we didn't like what they were saying, bear with us, if you still don't like it, leave us." Now usually at such events I don't attend the church services due to different reasons but on this occasion, given that it was going to be the 11th, and after what the "General" had told his troops I felt compelled.

          The next morning we ccrutred up (re-enactor slang for putting on gear) and marched out to parade ground. It was a magnificent column of fours with bayonets fixed and flashing in the morning sun. We formed up after the parade march and stood at attention while our commanding officer gave the ceremonial speech.  The gist of his speech was acceptable. Remembrance of the tragic day and for the families that lost loved ones. What bothered me was when our "General" issued his own commentary. Apparently, according to him, the United States has enemies of freedom. That there are those in the world that want to attack us because the United States is a 'Christian nation.' This is an assertion I have heard before and I usually just take a deep breath and let said person continue, but then "General" crossed the line. He went on to state, that despite what people think, we are a Christian nation and that there were "Revisionist historians" attempting to undermine that. That was the basic summation, 9/11 happened because America is a Christian nation, that Muslims hate because were are Christians and have freedom. He was right, I didn't like it, and I wanted to leave but maintained enough composure, as did the rest of the people in my company.
There are a couple of things I would like to address here. The Civil War re-enactments/Living Histories are an opportunity to educate a mass amount of people that are there for entertainment and in some ways to learn. Re-enactors would do well to remember their place as living historians and not champions of opinion. Our so called "General" decided to use his position of power (event coordinator) to stand on his pedestal and deliver his personalized ideology. It would appear that our pseudo-leader spends too much time reading David Barton material on He then of course makes the personal attacks of "Revisionist Historian," which I must say has become my recent favorite insult. It is usually bestowed upon actual historians by those that have no formal training in history. The reason for that new title is because historians usually disagree with an ideology or apologetic position that others might have. Thus the conclusion by these faction groups is that the historians are wrong. I guess those that disagree with me can label me as a liberal revisionist historian because I have yet to see any proof that this nation is founded on Christianity or any other religion. I am basing this on James Madison's documentation of the Constitutional Convention, Letters of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Adams, and of course the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. Our "General" is also lacking in knowledge of foreign policy in the Middle East. Any study of our actions in that area indicate that our hostile imperialism in the area and continuous presence in foreign nations, foster harsh sentiments  towards America. After studying, continuously mind you, American foreign policy in the Middle East since 1900, I can state purely that the United States was not attacked because we are "Free" or a "Christian Nation," (which we are not), but because we are over there. Our policies overseas use systems of espionage that usually result in eventual blowback putting American citizens in harms way. For this analysis I recommend Chalmers Johnson, as his books use very accurate in detail and often cite CIA documentation.
Whatever the reasons for our "commanding officer" to use this time of remembrance as an opportunity to progress his own ideology and political agenda was unjustified. Not only did he insult an entire field of study, but he also insults the memory of those fallen by not telling the audience in attendance the reasons why. The crowd can go home, some in an ignorant bliss without the knowledge of why those that were attacked met their end. Meanwhile I guess the "Revisionist Liberal Historians" will have to sit on the side while "Generals" of the pseudo-confederacy dictate how history will be written.

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