Â Â Â This article appeared on the front page of my local newspaper on Memorial Day.Â As I began reading it, I thought, Jeez, what a space-filler.Â But I kept reading, and when I got to the final paragraphs, I sat there in stunned amazement.Â I thought long and hard about whether I should comment on the piece, being it was purported to be just a personal anecdote, and not knowing what fragile state of mind the writer might have and not wanting to add to her angst.Â But in the end, I decided, no, she is a senior editor and she put herself out there.Â So far, I have not shared my thoughts with others locally, as I am apt to do when stirring the pot over an issue, because, to tell the truth, I am still a bit
flummoxed by the things the woman wrote.Â But I will share them with you, my fellow Patriots.Â Perhaps someone can tell me if the author’s state of mind, if not fraudulently presented, is very widespread and, if so, if there are antidotes available.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â First let me say that your Memorial Day piece in the Star Press was, candidly, quite boring, and I do not know why I followed it through to the end, but I did. You go through all the work-a-day genealogical exercises of tracing your great grandfather’s history, and the battles that his unit fought in and how he was conceived when his parents were much older than usual, and all the other tediums, having told us that you always assumed he fought on the confederate side in the Civil War, and then strangely tell us that if he hadn’t already had a headstone in the local cemetery, you wouldn’t have acknowledged his service to the confederacy.Â Â Which begs the question – Why did you write the article in the first place?
Â Â Â Â There are a few possible reasons why you wrote the article, but let us just take the part of it that I eventually got to towards the end, andÂ go from there. …….Â “I have to admit, as a born and bred Northerner and denizen of the 21st century with all of our modern attitudes, sensibilities and knowledge of history, having an ancestor who was a Confederate veteranÂ makes me uncomfortable.Â If Joseph Lawhorn had not already had a headstone, I wouldn’t have chosen to acknowledge his Confederate service.”…………..Â Kathleen, I cannot begin to fathom how, whatever you believe your ‘attitudes, sensibilities and knowledge of history’ to be,Â that having an ancestor that fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War would make you feel ‘uncomfortable’.Â Do you think you are unique, or special, or tarnished, or guilt-ridden or what?Â You talk about a ‘knowledge of history’.Â Does your knowledge of history tell you how many millions of people there are walking around who have ancestors who fought for the SouthÂ in the Civil War?Â Is there some kind of club for people, whether they were ‘born and bred’ Northerners, or ‘born and bred’ Southerners who are uncomfortable with having ancestors who fought in the Civil War?
Â Â Â Â Here is a suggestion as toÂ one of the reasons maybe you wrote the piece, Kathleen.Â It’s the old SLAVERY angle, isn’t it?Â You’ve got to cop to the white guilt thing, to give your life it’s uncomfortable comfortableness, don’t you?Â And, oh by the way, it hasn’t been that long ago that the inimitable Leonard Pitts was featured on your very op-ed pages with his piece titled “The Civil War Was About Slavery. Period.”Â Yes, that was it, in big bold letters.Â Well, Kathleen, on a historical note, Leonard Pitts was born in 1957 and is a former music critic.Â But aside from that, any person who would write such absolute one-track- minded uninformed babbleÂ is either sorely lacking in a brain, historical perspective or an objective pursuit of truth in journalism.Â Is that who you get your cues from, Kathleen?Â People like Leonard Pitts?Â Or is your inspiration just a kind of liberal mantra chant that America was, is and will be for the forseeable future, embroiled in slavery, dealing with slavery, subject to slavery, branded with slavery ….Slavery today, slavery tomorrow, slavery forever!Â In our consciousness, so we can continue to feel……uncomfortable.Â Must be a pathetic existence.
Â Â Â Â Do you have evidence that your great grandfather owned slaves?Â Or is his sin that he fought on the side of the secessionist states which maintained their slave-holding ways?Â Now, only a fool would deny that the slavery issue was part of, indeed a large part of, the issue in the War Between the States.Â However, and we are not going into a history exercise here, butÂ ‘modern sensibilities’ and being a ‘denizen’ of the North have nothing to do with historical accuracy.Â You could spend the rest of your life reading accounts of men, and women, who believed they were fighting against a tyranny and a
governance that was antithetical to the rights of the States as they were codified in the Constitution.Â Surely your ‘history’ if you have indeed read it, has told you thatÂ thousands and thousandsÂ of these men were considered gentlemen not only in the Confederacy, but by their Northern contemporaries.Â Surely you know that many of them had in fact served the national government in its legislative or executive or judicial branches and many Confederate soldiers, notably high ranking officers, had served in the United States Army.Â We do not know if your great grandfather was a gentleman or not.
Â Â Â Â Well, whether you know these, and other, things or not, the fact that you spent all those paragraphs talking about the minutiae of your grandfather’sÂ lineage and adventures, only to vent your mortification at the end, leads one to believe that your exercise on this hallowed day was nothing more than a contribution to the narrative that is to continue in not only your publication but throughout the mainstream press in this country – that the specter of slavery is still with us after all these many years, yea even after all the many civil rights victories, and that the only way to properly scourge ourselves of the taint is to vote to re-elect B.H. Obama, a black man, to the Presidency in 2012.Â Isn’t that the message that makes it around the JournOlists, and the TPM’s and the water cooler conversations, Kathleen?
Â Â Â Â Whether or not, one interesting tidbit from your piece is this – even though you would prefer to not honor your great grandfather’s military service, or even acknowledge it, you write that he has a government-issued headstone.Â If you had your way, he wouldn’t have any.Â Isn’t it a bit ironic that the US Government, which your great grandfather fought in opposition to, wouldÂ acknowledge his service to the Confederacy, and you just wish he had been a ‘born and bred’ Northerner like you?Â
Â Â Â Â When you reply to this letting me know whether your great grandfather owned slaves, I wish you would indicate whether you know whether his grandfather owned slaves.Â See, you let us know how bad you feel that your great grandfather was a Virginian fighting for Virginia, but you close out your piece with this – “On the other hand, genealogical research posted online by another branch of the Lawhorn family shows almost certainly that Joseph’s grandfather, my great-great-great grandfather, served in the Revolutionary War.”Â Proud of that, aren’t you?Â We’ll give you and him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he served on the American side in that war, but we will also assume that he was a Virginian like your great grandfather.Â Does your Northern bred modern historical knowledge and sensibility inform you that they owned slaves in Revolutionary War times as well as in Civil War times?Â Did your great-great-great grandfather, the Revolutionary War Man, own slaves?Â How ‘uncomfortable’ will you feel if you find out that he did?
Â Â Â Â If you truly feel uncomfortable knowing your great grandfather fought on the wrong side in the Civil War, Kathleen, and you are not just putting a banner out there so other people will read it and look deep into themselves to see if maybe they ought not feel ‘uncomfortable’ as well and join you in voting for Barack Obama, then we don’t know what to tell you.Â Except maybe this:Â think of how ‘uncomfortable’ people feel who had ancestors who……fought against the Indians …….in Revolutionary War times, in post-Revolutionary War times, in post-Civil War times , or on the other hand, if people don’t get to choose their wars or circumstances , maybe really bad guys , like……..ancestors who………committed heinous crimes like rape, murder, robbery ……ancestors who ……..served in Hitler’s SS………..ancestors who……….built gulags to hold political dissidents, or just shotÂ or hung them…….. ancestors who…….expropriated people’s private property for the good of The State.Â We could go on at some length here, Kathleen.Â The point is, just when you think you’ve got a corner on the guilt market…..you don’t.Â Feeling ‘uncomfortable’ is of course your business, but your ‘Northern bred sensibility and historical knowledge’ superiority complex is a bit much.Â For the record, my family also came from Virginia, and, not being the genealogical enthusiast I perhaps should be, I don’t have a clue as to whether they fought for the Confederacy, owned slaves, were abolitionists, were lacking inÂ sensibility or historical knowledge and other inbred qualities of ‘modern Northerners’, or were otherwise less than human, Â or better than the rest.Â But to not acknowledgeÂ whatever they might have been about, and to publicly go on record with my shameÂ for the world as it was 150 years ago would seem to beÂ a little melodramaticÂ in any event.Â Â Whatever ‘modern attitudes’Â you Â have about things,Â it is comforting to some of the less uncomfortable of us out here that your other ancestors,and the United States Government, thought enough of your great grandfather to give him a decent burial and acknowledge his service to the Confederate States of America.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Bob Montgomery
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Yorktown, Indiana