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Justin M. Stoddard


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A Confederacy of Imbeciles
May 26, 2009 — 5:53 pm

H.L. Mencken once wrote:

I do not object to being denounced, but I can’t abide being school-mastered, especially by men I regard as imbeciles.

Mencken can always be counted upon to provide pithy, worthwhile quotes but the above is certainly my favorite. Anytime I run across an imbecile who wishes to “school-master” (surprisingly, this happens quite a bit as there seems to be a high rate of co-morbidity between imbeciles and the need to inculcate via means of, well, imbecility), I think upon it and smile.

Such is the case concerning the recent Memorial Day row over the Confederate Memorial located at Arlington. If you have a moment, follow the preceding link and read the letter sent to President Obama asking him to break with the tradition of sending a Memorial Day wreath to said monument.

I actually agree with the overall thrust of this letter, in principle (though not really in action). America would probably be a much better place if it broke every tradition ever set by Woodrow Wilson. Here’s an assignment for all you radical high school students: Do not rest until every institution of learning in this country is eradicated of the name Woodrow Wilson. That these people are not protesting federal monuments made out to the very worst of our presidents is telling. Very educated, cogent and rational arguments can and have been made that Wilson is at least tangentially responsible for tens of millions of deaths. But, I digress. Onto the monumental flap.

I am not here to defend monuments to war. I simply have never been that riled up about them, either way. I like visiting old grave yards. I love looking at and touching old monuments. They are very interesting to me, regardless of political views. I’ve been to Arlington numerous times and have seen/touched the Confederate memorial. It’s a nice looking statue; Gothic and a bit foreboding, but very tangential. But, that’s the point of a monument, isn’t it?

My views on the Civil War have been hashed out before. It was a mistake. The North should have taken the high ground and seceded from the Union decades before that fateful day at Fort Sumter. But, these are all mental exercises in alternate histories. Surely we can all be good winners and allow one or two monuments without all the hullabaloo?

But, I find I’m straying further and further away from my original intent when I started this post an hour or so ago. Like I said, I don’t like being school-mastered, but if you are going to attempt it, please don’t be an idiot about it. The signers of the letter claim that giving credence to the memorial also gives credence to confederacy. We are left to infer that that would be a bad thing. But, shouldn’t every American warmly welcome confederacy? Weren’t the people we count as the greatest of Americans confederates? Benjamen Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, Martin Luther King, ad infinitum…?

And, really, claiming that Cato the Younger would have stood against the CSA during the war is simply astonishing. Cato, though a timeless and powerful voice for freedom, had slaves of his own. Despite this obvious inconsistency (think George Washington or Thomas Jefferson) it’s easy to imagine young Cato coming down on either side of the argument. The Confederacy, for all its blatant, evil faults, had just enough good arguments on their side of things that it’s still easy to this day to get caught in the trap of becoming their apologist.

And yet, that’s what we have done for the North every day since the war ended nearly 150 years ago. It’s time to stop apologizing for both sides. It was what it was and it is what it is.

Take some time, go visit an old grave yard. Find an old Confederate or Union tombstone/monument. Look at it, touch it, walk around it, study it, meditate on it. Just, you know…relax.

— Justin M. StoddardComments (1)

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1 Comment
  1. If you head over to Google and type in “Confederacy of Imbeciles”, your article pops up first sir, so nice job getting your word out! Secondly, Allen Park, MI shows up about 4-5 times (or more), with a blogger from Michigan based paper The News-Herald who goes by the name of “Allen Park 48101” posting negative (but nonetheless humourous) comments about his/her city council, calling them the “Allen Park Confederacy of Imbeciles.”

    Comment by John — August 17, 2011 @ 11:54 pm

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