Letter to the Editor: Student Rebutts Historical Argument

To whom it may concern,

I am writing in response to Mario Carter’s 4 February opinion piece, “Hollywood’s Confederate Obsession.” As a student of history, I feel compelled to rebut this article.

Carter’s assertion that it is ridiculous to attribute the start of a war to tariffs is laughable. The Revolutionary War, the very war Carter attributes to “casting off [our] metaphorical chains of British tyranny,” was largely motivated by British taxation (remember the Tea Party?). Additionally, Carter seems determined to paint the Union Army as a heroic force of liberators, but there were slaveholders on both sides, and many in the North were unhappy with Lincoln’s decision to emancipate (in fact, the proclamation itself ignored slave-holding states such as West Virginia, Delaware and Maryland!)

Confederates went to war for all sorts of reasons. It is deeply offensive to the causes many Southerners fought and died for, such as state rights, freedom from a sometimes heavy-handed central government, and, yes, lower taxes, to paint all of these misguided Americans as angry, racist slaveholders.

It is also horribly misguided to revile Robert E. Lee, who defeated superior armies on numerous occasions and against incredible odds, simply for some of his beliefs. Many great men and women from the early history of this country were also supporters of slavery, including this college’s namesake. Are we to ignore their contribution to this nation simply because we do not like one of their views?

Finally, Carter gives barely any evidence at all that Hollywood is Confederacy-obsessed. Of the four examples given, two are television shows, and therefore not Hollywood-produced, and the final two were produced in 1915 (Birth of a Nation) and 1939 (Gone With the Wind). Using movies from half a century ago to demonstrate current racism is spurious and wrong.

The next time Mr. Carter wishes to “make an effort in shattering the myths and spreading the truth on the Civil War,” maybe he should start with himself.


Christopher Cronin

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