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Carol in Cal.

How Northerners Think Of The Civil War

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My family preferred not to talk in detail about their experiences during the war.

My grandfather was killed in Russia. My grandmother never spoke of it other than to curse Hitler.

My other grandmother was a refugee with three children, criss-crossing the country on trains. They lost everything in the bombings. My mom was little, but my aunt was a teenager; all that was mentioned was that she flirted with the officers so the family could find a place to sit. When she was four, my mom went begging for food claiming it was her birthday.

That is all that was ever mentioned. I think they wanted to move on. In many families where there were male soldiers who had survived and returned, they never spoke of their experiences.

 

In that light, I can actually understand the experience of a poster's mother who grew up in Germany during/after the war and did not study the war in school. All of my father's friends had widowed mothers. How can you discuss the war in a class where most children have lost a father? Too raw, too recent. 

 

 

I'm just kind of unclear as to how people of later generations talk about their family history if the first generations following the war didn't. Or maybe it's just that some did, and those are more likely to be vocal about what happened, making it seem like more people talk about their family history and the Civil War. 

 

As an aside, my family experience of WWII is of course not comparable to the a Southerner's experience of the CW - we were neutral, were invaded, and then in the end "won" on the allied side - we didn't "lose" the war (in quotes because everybody loses in war).  I also wonder if my grandparents maybe thought the stuff that happened to them was too minor, when you know what happened to the Jews etc (and my grandfather's (great?)grandfather was a Jew who'd moved from Germany to NL and converted to christianity in the 19th century, so he could probably imagine all too well how things could've gone differently... he hid for a few months near the end of the war to avoid being drafted, and as mentioned above on the other side of my family my grandmother seemed more ticked off by losing her father when she was 4 to a WWI-related sea mine... she told that story a number of times... though I think some things just weren't talked about... she had two miscarriages during WWII, related to stress and less-than-ideal nutrition (her husband was forced to work in Germany as a baker... like I said, minor stuff), but people just didn't talk about miscarriages (actually, for the most part, I think people still tend to not talk about them)... I think I was told about them only one time, never to be mentioned again, and only because I directly asked about what WWII was like for them).

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I'm just kind of unclear as to how people of later generations talk about their family history if the first generations following the war didn't. Or maybe it's just that some did, and those are more likely to be vocal about what happened, making it seem like more people talk about their family history and the Civil War. 

 

I think it is two-fold.  One, they said enough to various people that you can put together a few things from their experience and, two, yes, some people are very vocal and so, again, you can put together what happened to your own relative.

 

My grandfather fought in WW2.  He was drafted into the army as many were.  He was a machine gunner.  There is very little we know because he did not like to talk about the war.  I suspect today he'd have been diagnosed with PTSD.  After he died, my grandmother said he'd wake up with nightmares throughout the rest of his life.  My sister once found his bronze star.  She asked how he got it and he told her (he said he was "stupid" but it was for single-handedly neutralizing the enemy - he didn't hear the call to retreat because he was occupied by the machine guns getting jammed and kept moving to new ones until eventually he was the only one shooting and the Nazis retreated).  My brother asked if he ever saw a concentration camp.  He helped liberate one (they thought it was a pig farm as they came up to it because of the smell).  And that was pretty much all he'd say.

 

However, one of the guys in my grandfather's platoon wrote a book.  It chronicles what they did and saw.  Thanks to that guy and his willingness to talk about everything and write about it, we have a pretty clear picture of what my grandfather experienced.

 

As for the Civil War, we have records (both Union and Confederate - I've got both in my family history) and using those combined with the general history we know, we can "see" where my ancestors fought and what they did.  There are many contemporary sources for various wars that help complete the picture when looking for what ancestors did.

 

As for the original thought - that northerners don't really think about the Civil War - well, that kind of depends.  Much of my family is from southern Maryland.  Maryland was part of the Union, but also a slave state.  It's kind of an identity crisis state, part north, part south.  I grew up a mile down the road from the Dr. Mudd house - the guy who set John Wilkes Booth's leg after he shot President Lincoln.  The Civil War was kind of a big deal to a lot of people (though Confederate flags just aren't common there; I can't think of a single time I saw one being flown near my homes in my 35 years in southern MD or northern VA).  It's also a state where when they talk about brother against brother (one going with the Union, one going with the Confederacy), that's a place it literally played out.  I have at least one instance of that in my family tree in fact.

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Eh, it is a thing in Wisconsin. Usually on trucks. A couple of years ago, some kids argued they weren't racist and it just stands for hunting and fishing or "freedom." It's also usually paired with the Gadsden flag or the US flag.

 

I've lived near Madison and in other more rural parts of the state. It's absolutely here.

 

I'm in semi-rural WI near Milwaukee. I've honestly only seen it on one truck and one house. I am very sensitive to it & find it jarring to see. So I'm not saying it isn't here - it clearly is, but I'm sure it varies by community.  I would not consider it normal or commonplace. Surprisingly, I only saw those two incidents since the last election cycle. & I've lived here over 10 years.

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My family preferred not to talk in detail about their experiences during the war.

My grandfather was killed in Russia. My grandmother never spoke of it other than to curse Hitler.

My other grandmother was a refugee with three children, criss-crossing the country on trains. They lost everything in the bombings. My mom was little, but my aunt was a teenager; all that was mentioned was that she flirted with the officers so the family could find a place to sit. When she was four, my mom went begging for food claiming it was her birthday.

That is all that was ever mentioned. I think they wanted to move on. In many families where there were male soldiers who had survived and returned, they never spoke of their experiences.

 

In that light, I can actually understand the experience of a poster's mother who grew up in Germany during/after the war and did not study the war in school. All of my father's friends had widowed mothers. How can you discuss the war in a class where most children have lost a father? Too raw, too recent. 

 

My father was a child in Czechoslovakia during WWII - in the thick of the Eastern Front. Information only trickles out and very rarely. 

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I would love to see a sampling of history texts from different countries to see how they handle these things.  I know the US glosses over most things and also distorts the facts.  I just don't think we consider history an important thing for kids to learn in school.  I'd love to see how "doing it right" looks.

 

 

Good luck finding a country that "does it right". I don't think there is a country on this planet that offers an objective and balanced view of history. That said, some probably come closer than others. But anyway, I can help you with the "sampling of history texts from different countries" part with a current Dutch history textbook. It seems to mention some things that I wasn't taught. If you click on the ones that say TTO, they'll be in English. There's a textbook and a workbook... Year 1 of secondary school is 7th grade, year 2 is 8th grade, etc... the year 2 book's sample chapter happens to be the chapter on America 1600-1900, so you can read the entire *current* Dutch 8th grade coverage of the American CW etc (that said, I haven't looked at the Dutch language versions to see if they cover the same, and different publishers might cover slightly different stuff... this is a very major publisher though, and NL does have national curriculum guidelines or w/e): 

 

https://www.malmberg.nl/voortgezet-onderwijs/methodes/mens-maatschappij/geschiedenis/memo-onderbouw/lesmateriaal.htm

 

Unfortunately, for grades 9+, they only have books in Dutch (and I'm a little unclear on how it's supposed to be used... I remember my 10th grade history teacher picking and choosing which chapters to cover (not sure what publisher published my textbook)... I read the 9th grade history textbook cover-to-cover the summer I skipped 9th grade, and history was not a required subject in 11th and 12th grade, and I didn't have space in my schedule for it, so I didn't take it). One of the books is for HAVO, which is the middle stream, and one is for VWO, which is the pre-university stream (and one is exam prep). Anyhow, you can look at the pictures, and some Dutch words should be pretty recognizable to English speakers:

 

https://www.malmberg.nl/voortgezet-onderwijs/methodes/mens-maatschappij/geschiedenis/memo-havovwo-bovenbouw-1/lesmateriaal.htm

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My father's family has lived in this same county here in NC since well before the Civil War, and I never heard one bit of family history about it. Growing up there was always a lot of talk about life during the Depression, but nothing much at all before that except the building of the church in the early 1900's (for which my family donated the land, many of the supplies and did much of the work on). That was about as far back as was ever discussed. My grandparents were both born in the late 1800s, so they would have definitely heard their parents and grandparents discussing the Civil War. But I don't remember them (my grandparents) ever talking about it. As I said in another thread, I don't in general have a good long term memory. But I like history so I do usually remember at least the gist of what was discussed about that.

 

Since we live in the same county, I'll say that the same is true for me. We've been here since the American Revolution, but I never hear anyone discuss our family history in regards to major events like a war. There are some stories about my ancestors as people that I've heard, like my grandfather leaving home at 13 to escape his abusive father and older siblings and working his way up from dishwasher to restaurateur, but that's it.

 

OTOH, one of my good friends is from a Southern-transplant Midwestern family and they know EVERYTHING about their family's involvement in the Civil War, including which of their ancestors served, and when, and where. They have a family reunion every year where this seems to be a major topic of conversation.

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My alarm is set to an news station.  When it woke me this morning it was s story about a local Confederate memorial of Jefferson Davis placed in the 1960s by The Daughters of the Confederacy that was tarred and feathered over night.  This is more of that bizarre Old South thinking-why there was a memorial made and placed at all is beyond me. It seems to me the fact that it was done in the 1960s is a statement about racial politics in the 1960s. Sort of a "We long for the good old days when there were slaves."  This isn't The South, so culturally it's grossly out of place, but some women venerate their ancestors who lost a war and now that ridiculous memorial is here as an embarrassment to AZ. And no, if you were alive in 1960 you most certainly are not a daughter of the Confederacy, you're a descendant of people who participated in the evil of slavery. I honestly believe this reverent attitude toward ancestors who fought for The South is a form of idolatry. There.  I said it.

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I saw way more Confederate flag in Ohio than in the south where I grew up, and my hometown is *incredibly* racist.

 

As a rule though, I do not feel the compulsion to give the benefit of the doubt to people flying Confederate flag jic they're super into family history. Things change meaning, and now that thing is incredibly hurtful to a huge swath of the population.

 

Plus people who joined the Confederate army just because there was a war on and they were southerners', which was no doubt a ton of people, wouldn't be super proud of what the Confederacy stood for which was, in part, absolutely the right to own human beings.

I do feel the need to say I haven't seen one yet here, not even in the tiny towns we drove through. At least in this corner of the state I'm seeing a nice mix of people and not a ton of racial friction.

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My alarm is set to an news station.  When it woke me this morning it was s story about a local Confederate memorial of Jefferson Davis placed in the 1960s by The Daughters of the Confederacy that was tarred and feathered over night.  This is more of that bizarre Old South thinking-why there was a memorial made and placed at all is beyond me. It seems to me the fact that it was done in the 1960s is a statement about racial politics in the 1960s. Sort of a "We long for the good old days when there were slaves."  This isn't The South, so culturally it's grossly out of place, but some women venerate their ancestors who lost a war and now that ridiculous memorial is here as an embarrassment to AZ. And no, if you were alive in 1960 you most certainly are not a daughter of the Confederacy, you're a descendant of people who participated in the evil of slavery. I honestly believe this reverent attitude toward ancestors who fought for The South is a form of idolatry. There.  I said it.

 

I have been longing to say the bolded out loud for weeks now, but I'm too afraid to...

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I have been longing to say the bolded out loud for weeks now, but I'm too afraid to...

 

I'm so sorry you have to live in fear. No one should have to live like that.  I'm horrified churches haven't been saying it out loud either.

 

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O  the USSR was a communist dictatorship without civil liberties.

 

they also thought they were   . . what's the word . . . efficient.  that they were doing government the right way.

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they also thought they were   . . what's the word . . . efficient.  that they were doing government the right way.

 

Doesn't every form of government think theirs is "the right way"?

Edited by regentrude
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I moved from CA to VA and it was strange seeing confederate flags. Robert E. Lee holiday is very strange. And the fact that Martin Luther King Jr. day is a Friday and Robert E. Lee day is the following Monday is totally wrong.

 

 

Alley

It used to be the same day. I'm a Millenial, and I got a school holiday each year for Lee-Jackson-King Day.

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It's SO funny how different people can experience the same place VERY differently.

 

This was NOT my experience at all. I don't LIVE there (though I do live rural in Indiana) but have been there multiple times. I just haven't seen those things.

Indiana has the highest per capita membership in the KKK. I'm not sure how you missed the Rebel flag and etcetera there.

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I'm in a rural area in upstate NY, near the Canadian border.

 

There are a lot of Confederate Flags here, outside of town- it's definately a "thing".

 

There's a guy who rides a motorcycle I see often whose entire prosthetic leg is printed with a CF even. Pickup trucks fly full size CF around town ever since the local presidential rally. But a lot of them printed on hats, t shirts, bumper stickers, etc have always been around.

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My Dad is really into genealogy.  We have an ancestor who died in the Andersonville prison camp just days before the Civil War was over.  So he's really into the history of it.  As a child I visited Gettysburg and went to see a few reenactments. 

 

In High School I had a history teacher who was very interested in it.  We parked there for several weeks.  It got annoying after a while, I just wanted to move on.  But now that I teach my kids, I can see that he wanted to share his passion with his students. 

 

I live in Mid-Michigan and it's not entirely uncommon to see the Confederate flag displayed here or there on pick-up trucks, on wife-beater tee shirts, merchandise at county fairs or even on the occasional house.  It's not the norm and there's always a "type" of person involved.  But I probably see one or two a week. 

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Indiana has the highest per capita membership in the KKK. I'm not sure how you missed the Rebel flag and etcetera there.

 

Yes, I know Indiana has a lot of KKK history throughout it's history.  I have never denied it.  I have lived in Indiana since I was 12.  I am sure there are a lot of people in Indiana who fly the Confederate Flag, and/or are or were members of the KKK.  That doesn't mean I have personally seen that flag plastered over every single house, truck and camper parked in front of someone's house.  I currently live in a place that, within Indiana, has a particularly deep history with the KKK.  And yet, in my neighborhood, the only Confederate Flag I have seen is that one I mentioned earlier that the guy down the road puts on his truck for 4th of July.  That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of others in the neighborhood who are racist or might have the flag in their home, or might even have it on their vehicle or whatever.  It ONLY means I haven't SEEN it.

 

I also didn't notice that there are 18 US flags on the 6 mile route to the OT's office until we had a thread discussing how many folks in the US fly the flag.  The fact that a person hasn't taken notice of what flag someone flies out of their house (or even if they fly one period) doesn't mean they believe it doesn't happen. 

 

 

ETA: after I posted this, I had to go out and run a quick errand.   I specifically looked to see if I could see any Confederate Flags.  Bumper stickers, flags, shirts, anything.  I didn't see a single one.  I saw two Gadsden Flag license plate fronts.  A license plate front and a vehicle window sticker with a "thin blue line" reference.  A vehicle window sticker for the NRA.  But no Confederate Flags or references to them. 

Edited by happysmileylady
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Pretty much, we don't.

 

It doesn't resonate with us. What resonates with us is the Revolutionary War, and maybe WWII.

Funny, because I grew up in the Midwest and never gave the Civil War much thought. There was a movie about it that shed some light on how awful it was. I think I have never lived far enough east to be in a place that was involved in the Civil War.

 

I do think people shouldn't try to erase history or rewrite it or damage or remove historical monuments. I can see a monument being moved to a different spot, like a museum of sorts.

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My alarm is set to an news station. When it woke me this morning it was s story about a local Confederate memorial of Jefferson Davis placed in the 1960s by The Daughters of the Confederacy that was tarred and feathered over night. This is more of that bizarre Old South thinking-why there was a memorial made and placed at all is beyond me. It seems to me the fact that it was done in the 1960s is a statement about racial politics in the 1960s. Sort of a "We long for the good old days when there were slaves." This isn't The South, so culturally it's grossly out of place, but some women venerate their ancestors who lost a war and now that ridiculous memorial is here as an embarrassment to AZ. And no, if you were alive in 1960 you most certainly are not a daughter of the Confederacy, you're a descendant of people who participated in the evil of slavery. I honestly believe this reverent attitude toward ancestors who fought for The South is a form of idolatry. There. I said it.

My ancestors who had slaves lived in the north and had grandparents who were American Indian.

 

Nothing about the Civil has ever been as simple as the north were heros who road in to save blacks in the south from slavery. In fact, the north still wanted to keep slavery in states that were already a part of the union and only wanted to free slaves who would take up arms and fight the south. That means they didn't care about freeing the women, children, elderly, or even the people who refused to fight.

 

The Civil War was very complex. There were a lot of issues at hand. It was not the stupid simple racist thing people have tried to reduce it to. https://www.google.com/amp/amp.history.com/news/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-lincoln-slavery-and-emancipation

 

We can't erase history, although many have tried to pretend they can rewrite it. But we should learn from it.

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I'm in semi-rural WI near Milwaukee. I've honestly only seen it on one truck and one house. I am very sensitive to it & find it jarring to see. So I'm not saying it isn't here - it clearly is, but I'm sure it varies by community. I would not consider it normal or commonplace. Surprisingly, I only saw those two incidents since the last election cycle. & I've lived here over 10 years.

I don't know. I don't think I would ever find it jarring. A Swaskitka or that black ISIS flag would upset me though.

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yeah, somehow I don't think the mandatory visit to a concentration camp in 8th grade would fly with American parents.

I did take a trip to a concentration camp in 8th grade. My family went to Germany for 2 weeks. Definitely something I'll never forget.

 

Kelly

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I'm just kind of unclear as to how people of later generations talk about their family history if the first generations following the war didn't. Or maybe it's just that some did, and those are more likely to be vocal about what happened, making it seem like more people talk about their family history and the Civil War.

 

As an aside, my family experience of WWII is of course not comparable to the a Southerner's experience of the CW - we were neutral, were invaded, and then in the end "won" on the allied side - we didn't "lose" the war (in quotes because everybody loses in war). I also wonder if my grandparents maybe thought the stuff that happened to them was too minor, when you know what happened to the Jews etc (and my grandfather's (great?)grandfather was a Jew who'd moved from Germany to NL and converted to christianity in the 19th century, so he could probably imagine all too well how things could've gone differently... he hid for a few months near the end of the war to avoid being drafted, and as mentioned above on the other side of my family my grandmother seemed more ticked off by losing her father when she was 4 to a WWI-related sea mine... she told that story a number of times... though I think some things just weren't talked about... she had two miscarriages during WWII, related to stress and less-than-ideal nutrition (her husband was forced to work in Germany as a baker... like I said, minor stuff), but people just didn't talk about miscarriages (actually, for the most part, I think people still tend to not talk about them)... I think I was told about them only one time, never to be mentioned again, and only because I directly asked about what WWII was like for them).

My mom never talked about what it was like to grow up in the aftermath. She escaped Germany as soon as she finished school, only to be called a host of ugly names in the countries she worked in (England and France). She has told me she had NO IDEA why the other au pairs were so cruel to her; it took immigrating to the US to find out. Discrimination ran thick, despite the fact she too suffered as much as they.

 

She only very recently shared a few personal anecdotes with me, when we were together in her hometown. The corner where she and her brother would try to steal apples, the neighbourhood bomb shelter, being pushed to elementary school in a stroller because she was too weak and malnourished to walk the few blocks. It's no wonder she was loathe for so many decades to return.

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My ancestors who had slaves lived in the north and had grandparents who were American Indian.

 

Nothing about the Civil has ever been as simple as the north were heros who road in to save blacks in the south from slavery. In fact, the north still wanted to keep slavery in states that were already a part of the union and only wanted to free slaves who would take up arms and fight the south. That means they didn't care about freeing the women, children, elderly, or even the people who refused to fight.

 

The Civil War was very complex. There were a lot of issues at hand. It was not the stupid simple racist thing people have tried to reduce it to. https://www.google.com/amp/amp.history.com/news/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-lincoln-slavery-and-emancipation

 

We can't erase history, although many have tried to pretend they can rewrite it. But we should learn from it.

 

The bolded is a bit more complex than you imply.  It wasn't that "North" still wanted to keep slavery in the border states, but rather that  Lincoln was using his authority as commander-in-chief of the armed forces to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which meant it could only be applied in areas in open rebellion.  Ending slavery for the nation would have to be done via Congress/the Amendment process.

 

Part of your statement is just flat out false, as the Proclamation applied to over 3 million slaves in the Confederacy and had nothing to do with only freeing slaves who fought the Confederacy. 

 

Before you accuse others of rewriting history I suggest you get your facts correct.

Edited by ChocolateReign
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I don't know. I don't think I would ever find it jarring. A Swaskitka or that black ISIS flag would upset me though.

 

Just to clarify, you don't find seeing a flag representing white supremacy in public to be jarring?

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I've experienced more racism and confederate flags in Iowa and Indiana than anywhere else in my life and I was born and raised in small town Texas. We have to pass two homes daily that fly the confederate flag just to get to school. We also see trucks flying them often. This is most definitely not just a Southern thing. Dh was born and raised in California and he's often discussed how ridiculous his education was regarding confederate soldiers (meaning it was too much and they were way too revered). 

I've seen significantly more Confederate flags in my family's area of Southern Indiana then I have in Murfreesboro TN.  The difference is that where my family lives it is rural and the demographics break down like this= White Alone 93%, Black alone .7%, two or more races 1.2%.  Where as Murfreesboro is much more racially mixed (thankfully).  I promise in towns like Corydon (0.5% Black), Loogootee, (0.1% Black), Paoli (0.5% Black), and other small rural towns racism is alive and kicking.  I refuse to visit my mom's house during holidays because her husbands friends and relatives might visit and the things that come out of these people's mouths.... I don't want my children to ever hear those words spoken.  There is so much more to say on the subject but this is the Chat Board not the Political Board so I'll leave it at that if you haven't seen them (the flags) in S. Indiana then you must not be paying attention.

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My ancestors who had slaves lived in the north and had grandparents who were American Indian.

 

Nothing about the Civil has ever been as simple as the north were heros who road in to save blacks in the south from slavery. In fact, the north still wanted to keep slavery in states that were already a part of the union and only wanted to free slaves who would take up arms and fight the south. That means they didn't care about freeing the women, children, elderly, or even the people who refused to fight.

 

The Civil War was very complex. There were a lot of issues at hand. It was not the stupid simple racist thing people have tried to reduce it to. https://www.google.com/amp/amp.history.com/news/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-lincoln-slavery-and-emancipation

 

We can't erase history, although many have tried to pretend they can rewrite it. But we should learn from it.

 

No one said it wasn't complex.  The fact is Northern States managed to end slavery there but the Southern states didn't until they were defeated in a war and forced by someone else to end it-that comes from something.  Something really bad.  So does putting up a statue of Jefferson Davis in AZ in the 1960s.

 

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if you haven't seen them (the flags) in S. Indiana then you must not be paying attention.

Well, I don't have any problem saying that when I am driving down to French Lick, Holiday World, or Columbus or Nashville IN, or down I-65 into Louisville on my way to someplace else, I am not deliberately looking for Confederate Flags. 

 

And to be clear, I am of course not saying I have never seen it anywhere, of course not.  I think virtually every single American has seen it multiple times.  I am saying it's not "ALL OVER" on every single house or pick up truck or roadside vendor I see.  It's just that there's more than corn (or racism) in Indiana.  (paraphrasing a common in Indiana commercial)

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I'm in semi-rural WI near Milwaukee. I've honestly only seen it on one truck and one house. I am very sensitive to it & find it jarring to see. So I'm not saying it isn't here - it clearly is, but I'm sure it varies by community. I would not consider it normal or commonplace. Surprisingly, I only saw those two incidents since the last election cycle. & I've lived here over 10 years.

Aside from three years for college and a couple of years where dh and I live in MN, I've lived in WI my whole life. I've seen it and it hasn't just been over the last few years. I saw it when I was in high school 20 some years ago. It may be rare, it may not be as common as it may be elsewhere (to which I can't really attest because again, I've pretty much only lived in this one state), but to say it isn't a thing is inaccurate.

 

Which I'm sure means someone is going to argue that I'm mistaken. To which I say, I'm a Wisconsin native so :p

 

ETA: Just to be clear, I'm not saying that's what you were doing, but if we're arguing on number of years as resident of the state, then yeah, it's not unheard of and again it's not as if the fact that it is rare doesn't mean that we're somehow more virtuous than other states who have more visible ways to illustrate their racism. Wisconsin had it's share of sundown towns and they weren't all out in backwoods parts of the state either.

Edited by mamaraby

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I've filled in the gaps since then, but if you're a kid and not specifically taught these things, you don't know them.  You don't make leaps that "well atrocities always occur, so I'm sure the south had atrocities inflicted on them" if you aren't told the whole story.  You believe what your teachers tell you for the most part.

 

Oh come on. This totally depends on the kid.

 

Some kids read outside of their textbooks. Some kids watch PBS specials at home with their families. Some kids' families have stories to tell from their ancestors' experiences IN the wars. They know there's more to the story than what they hear in class. Some kids make the leaps AKA connections in all of their classes and in life. Some kids aren't told the whole story, but always wonder about the details that aren't included in their classes/textbooks (figuring that the world is too big to fit in a textbook where everything is "cut and dried"). Some kids question EVERYTHING and even argue with the teacher...

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Western NY. Less than 2 hours south of Rochester. Tons of Confederate flags, from here to Corning and Elmira, down across into PA. They're on home-made poles attached to the sides of pick-up trucks, car decals and bumper stickers, flying in front of homes, and painted on sides of farmhouses and barns. I used to think it was mainly crappy, old places, but we saw plenty in pretty, quaint towns in Pa.

 

This is a disturbing and relatively new trend (new = it wasn't this way when I was a kid). Meanwhile, the cemeteries are full of graves of people who volunteered for the Union Army. All the cemeteries in or near my hometown (except in small mining towns that barely existed or didn't exist during the war) have many, many Union Army markers. It seems like a giant step backwards with no real explanation.

 

IME, northerners are taught a lot of Civil War history as a thing that happened--it might be taught thoroughly as well. But it's not that personal in spite of high participation rates in the military. I have only recently really learned much of anything about my ancestors who fought in the war, and there were many of them (big family). 

 

I do have a whole branch of my family that was not present in the US at all during the time as well, so I can understand some people not having any kind of familial history if they are from an industrial town or a Polish (Welsh, etc.) mining town full of newly minted Americans.

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Aside from three years for college and a couple of years where dh and I live in MN, I've lived in WI my whole life. I've seen it and it hasn't just been over the last few years. I saw it when I was in high school 20 some years ago. It may be rare, it may not be as common as it may be elsewhere (to which I can't really attest because again, I've pretty much only lived in this one state), but to say it isn't a thing is inaccurate.

 

Which I'm sure means someone is going to argue that I'm mistaken. To which I say, I'm a Wisconsin native so :p

 

ETA: Just to be clear, I'm not saying that's what you were doing, but if we're arguing on number of years as resident of the state, then yeah, it's not unheard of and again it's not as if the fact that it is rare doesn't mean that we're somehow more virtuous than other states who have more visible ways to illustrate their racism. Wisconsin had it's share of sundown towns and they weren't all out in backwoods parts of the state either.

I'm not sure if you're disagreeing with what I've said or ? I shared my personal experience, which says nothing about yours. I don't need to win any longest-resident contest, promise. I'm good only having lived here 10-ish years.

 

I'm glad that you've shared your own personal experience of a state which we both live in.

 

Eta: I read your response to me again and I'm just not getting it. I never said anything about virtue or insinuated that racism wasn't here. Are you sure you're talking to me?

Edited by 8circles

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I read about half this thread before getting aggrevated enough to just go ahead and comment. I am a Southerner. My family has been here since before the Revolutionary War. We were poor and never owned slaves. In fact my grandfather risked his life and the lives of my grandmother, father, and uncle by standing up for the rights of African-Americans in Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement. I have spent a lot of time at Civil War battlegrounds, but I have never flown a Confederate flag.

 

What most people outside of the South DON'T get is that part of the problem is that even TODAY Southerns are often viewed as stupid, racist, slobs. People move into and out of my area all the time. I can't tell you how often people have assumed I wasn't from here because I am well educated and not racist, and then they proceed to tell me how they are so glad they found someone else not from the South. Some of the dumb remarks I have either heard or heard second hand are things like "Do people in Mississippi wear shoes?"

 

I love people in general. Doesn't matter who they are. But I do not appreciate people coming into my home and insulting my heritage! Even though my hubby is Jewish and his family came here to escape the pograms I am not about to visit Russia and tell a Russian "Wow, I am so glad I found someone intelligent enough to not be from racist Soviet Russia!" Russians today aren't responsible for past Russians actions, and Russians are who they are today and see things the way they do today BECAUSE of their own history. That history should be respected because it has made them who they are today. Maybe the loser's story isn't important to overall history, but it IS important to understanding each other and the different perspectives we have based on who and where we come from. (Though what we have learned from our other life experiences and reading should not be neglected because we do continue to grow and learn)

 

Anyways... Those are my experiences and thoughts... Probably a bad idea...

 

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I read about half this thread before getting aggrevated enough to just go ahead and comment. I am a Southerner. My family has been here since before the Revolutionary War. We were poor and never owned slaves. In fact my grandfather risked his life and the lives of my grandmother, father, and uncle by standing up for the rights of African-Americans in Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement. I have spent a lot of time at Civil War battlegrounds, but I have never flown a Confederate flag.

 

What most people outside of the South DON'T get is that part of the problem is that even TODAY Southerns are often viewed as stupid, racist, slobs. People move into and out of my area all the time. I can't tell you how often people have assumed I wasn't from here because I am well educated and not racist, and then they proceed to tell me how they are so glad they found someone else not from the South. Some of the dumb remarks I have either heard or heard second hand are things like "Do people in Mississippi wear shoes?"

 

I love people in general. Doesn't matter who they are. But I do not appreciate people coming into my home and insulting my heritage! Even though my hubby is Jewish and his family came here to escape the pograms I am not about to visit Russia and tell a Russian "Wow, I am so glad I found someone intelligent enough to not be from racist Soviet Russia!" Russians today aren't responsible for past Russians actions, and Russians are who they are today and see things the way they do today BECAUSE of their own history. That history should be respected because it has made them who they are today. Maybe the loser's story isn't important to overall history, but it IS important to understanding each other and the different perspectives we have based on who and where we come from. (Though what we have learned from our other life experiences and reading should not be neglected because we do continue to grow and learn)

 

Anyways... Those are my experiences and thoughts... Probably a bad idea...

 

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I think you've nailed a huge part of the problem.

 

By far the most racist, repugnant person I've ever met was a lady who was born and lived most of her life in Massachusetts, right outside Boston. She and her DH retired to our former neighborhood. Her attitudes were completely shocking and abhorrent to me, a lifelong Tarheel. I've met many other shockingly racist people from other parts of the country. And yet in discussions like this one so many people want to pretend those attitudes don't exist in their area and are endemic only in the south. Such is NOT my experience. In fact it's quite the reverse. (And yes, I fully understand that my experience is just that and not the same as what others may have experienced.) There was a fabulous op ed in the NYT awhile back. It was written by an African American lady about her experience with racism in the north and why she and many others she knew were moving back south to escape it. I've spent awhile this morning trying to find it but so far I'm coming up empty. I may try some more later if I have time.

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My Dad is really into genealogy. 

I live in Mid-Michigan and it's not entirely uncommon to see the Confederate flag displayed here or there on pick-up trucks, on wife-beater tee shirts, merchandise at county fairs or even on the occasional house.  It's not the norm and there's always a "type" of person involved.  But I probably see one or two a week. 

 

what is a "wife-beater tee shirt"?

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what is a "wife-beater tee shirt"?

Sleeveless tank top. What Marlon Brando wore in Streetcar when he beat Vivien Leigh.

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There was a fabulous op ed in the NYT awhile back. It was written by an African American lady about her experience with racism in the north and why she and many others she knew were moving back south to escape it.

 

 

Is it this one? https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/08/opinion/sunday/racism-is-everywhere-so-why-not-move-south.html?mcubz=0

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Sleeveless tank top. What Marlon Brando wore in Streetcar when he beat Vivien Leigh.

 

 

the undershirt?   also known around here as a "muscle" shirt. (those also could be a regular t-shirt with the sleeves cut off.)  for gym rats to show off their muscles . . . . 

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I think you've nailed a huge part of the problem.

 

By far the most racist, repugnant person I've ever met was a lady who was born and lived most of her life in Massachusetts, right outside Boston. She and her DH retired to our former neighborhood. Her attitudes were completely shocking and abhorrent to me, a lifelong Tarheel. I've met many other shockingly racist people from other parts of the country. And yet in discussions like this one so many people want to pretend those attitudes don't exist in their area and are endemic only in the south. Such is NOT my experience. In fact it's quite the reverse. (And yes, I fully understand that my experience is just that and not the same as what others may have experienced.) There was a fabulous op ed in the NYT awhile back. It was written by an African American lady about her experience with racism in the north and why she and many others she knew were moving back south to escape it. I've spent awhile this morning trying to find it but so far I'm coming up empty. I may try some more later if I have time.

Not to say racism doesn't exist everywhere... But, I do think one of the strengths we have in the South is that slavery and the Civil War IS covered in school, we have tons of monuments about the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement (and examples of what slavery was like). One of the most beautiful places in the southeast in my opinion is the National Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham. They did such a beautiful job of telling that story in a way that was honest, honored those who made sacrifices, didn't add hate towards the aggressors, and focused in on what we could learn from that moving forward.

 

Sometimes lessons learned through personal experience have the most lasting effects.

 

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My mom never talked about what it was like to grow up in the aftermath. She escaped Germany as soon as she finished school, only to be called a host of ugly names in the countries she worked in (England and France). She has told me she had NO IDEA why the other au pairs were so cruel to her; it took immigrating to the US to find out. Discrimination ran thick, despite the fact she too suffered as much as they.

 

She only very recently shared a few personal anecdotes with me, when we were together in her hometown. The corner where she and her brother would try to steal apples, the neighbourhood bomb shelter, being pushed to elementary school in a stroller because she was too weak and malnourished to walk the few blocks. It's no wonder she was loathe for so many decades to return.

 

My dad never, ever talks about WWII either. I literally found out that my uncle existed (and was drafted and disappeared when he was 16 - he probably died as a Red Army prisoner) when I was a teenager. I think it was just too painful to discuss, so he didn't.

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I have to wonder if people would see fewer confederate flags if people quit disrespecting Southern heritage by the way they view Southerns at large. We aren't proud of every decision made in the South, but we ARE proud of the grit shown by EVERY Southern to survive in this place. We've had difficult experiences to grow through (slavery, civil war, reconstruction, civil rights). A humid, buggy climate makes growing difficult...especially along the coast with no pesticides...not to mention disease. Our food TELLS our history from the slave trade to slavery, to reconstruction...and all of the cultural variations in between!!!! And it is a completely different thing to stand up against Jim Crow laws when you live HERE than when you travel in from outside the South. If you are from here, you are putting not only your own life on the line but also the lives of your spouse, children, etc. Yes, we have some cowards here just like everywhere else, but we also have some extremely strong and courageous men and women here...people who still stand up in their own way for what is right. My grandfather once told me that from his experiences racism didn't take on by family. Racism he said happened because some people were "content to just drink milk with people." He meant that some people weren't willing to stand up for what was right and that was what continued racism. He knew many many people who didn't grow up to share the views of their families, and he said it came down to the person's character...if that person was a person who was willing to do what was right no matter the cost. I AM proud of our story! Is it a beautiful story...no. But it is a powerful story that has helped shape the person I am today!

 

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Please remember no politics on the forums.  There are appropriate private groups for that type of discussion.  I've hidden a post this morning that crossed the line.  Thanks.

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I moved quite a bit as a kid, but mostly grew up in urban areas in southern Ohio. I wouldn't say any US war "resonates" with me through the War of American Independence and the US Civil War were both taught a lot, I personally felt the world wars were the ones most glossed over but really don't think of any of them much. 

 

There were certainly Confederate flags - many from those without much of a connection to former Confederate states. I know there were KKK rallies in the city I was living in in the early '00s, a lot of adults used the expression "I'm free, White, and over 21" to express frustration at being or feel like they were being told not to do something. I felt a lot that cities were far more of a hotbed of it than rural areas but there are likely a lot of factors to it. 

 

Even though the Civil War was covered a lot and I thought in-depth at various schools, it wasn't until well into adulthood I learned that Lee, Davis, and many other the other big Confederate names pretty much refused to have much to do with it after losing the war (Lee apparently said the flags shouldn't be flown again, refused to allow anyone wearing the uniform there) and that the revival of the Confederate flag as a "Southern heritage" symbol and most of the 'memorials' was around the 1950s-'60s as a backlash against civil rights activists. I always had a very different mental image but the more I read on it, the more I find their current portrayal to be, like many historical figures, twisted to fit. 

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I grew up in Texas, and there were lots of Confederate flags at that time, in pickup trucks, windows, etc.  I did not know anyone who had them historically.  The people that had them were not the type of people I would be friends with.

 

I live in Colorado now.  There is someone in our neighborhood with a flag pole who flies a rotation of Confederate flags. There is another house outside of town with a Confederate flag outside just attached to the house.  Those are the two I have seen here in Colorado. Plus a few on trucks now and then. But back in Texas, I never saw one given as much honor as the flagpole guy here in Colorado.  He has gone to a lot of trouble.  The rest of the neighborhood is filled with what I would consider an unusual number of American flags, that I have to wonder might partially be a response to Confederate guy.

 

I live in a very red, rural area of a swing state. We are not "the South".  The open racism here during Obama's presidency was off the charts.  There were billboards put up with awful offensive things, and a guy with a roadside stand of some kind with a mobile billboard related to Obama that was ridiculously racist and offensive. So no, I don't think racism is just a southern thing.  

 

My dad was born and raised in Texas, and I have never heard him say one positive word about the Civil War.  I agree with those who have said that in ANY war, - ANY- there will be atrocities on both sides.  And no, you are not likely to hear about it on the side of the winner.  That's just the way history works.  That's why I don't view the glorification or celebration of any war as a good thing.  Military actions may be necessary in some cases.  But that is always something to be grieved, not celebrated.  I would be happy to see ALL war remembered in context, as a warning, not as reverence or celebration.   

 

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Yes, thank you! LC was also kind enough to PM me the link, so thanks to her as well.

 

My dad never, ever talks about WWII either. I literally found out that my uncle existed (and was drafted and disappeared when he was 16 - he probably died as a Red Army prisoner) when I was a teenager. I think it was just too painful to discuss, so he didn't.

 

My father was a WWII vet and he never, ever talked about it either. I think I was around middle school before I figured it out and I remember being SO surprised

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My mother was a German child during WW2.  She went through horrible things, and her city was one that was bombed.  As an adult, she lays the blame solely on the Nazis, not on the Allies.  She lost brothers (including a 16 year old) who fought for Hitler in the war, and she blames that on the Hitler as well. The German people (at least in her area) had very limited information about what was going on.  Her brothers "thought they were doing the right thing", although they didn't have much choice in the matter anyway.   That doesn't matter to her.  She considers it horrible and blames Hitler for starting it all.

 

Her city was bombed by the Allies. Her sister was raped by an Allied soldier.  But as an adult, she spoke at commemoration for American WW2 vets, about how grateful she was to them that they stopped what Hitler had planned for her country. 

 

I hear what Southerners are saying when they honor their history, ancestors that fought in the war, etc.  But I don't really UNDERSTAND it. My mom loved her brothers and friends who fought for Hitler.  But she would never think a positive association with that war.  She thinks of them as being exploited and used and then killed because of it. 

 

Editing to add, it was my mom who taught me that all war, even necessary war, is to be grieved.  When we were bombing Iraq, she cried every day, for the civilians and children she knew would suffer.  That's what war is, even when it's "necessary".

Edited by goldberry
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My alarm is set to an news station. When it woke me this morning it was s story about a local Confederate memorial of Jefferson Davis placed in the 1960s by The Daughters of the Confederacy that was tarred and feathered over night. This is more of that bizarre Old South thinking-why there was a memorial made and placed at all is beyond me. It seems to me the fact that it was done in the 1960s is a statement about racial politics in the 1960s. Sort of a "We long for the good old days when there were slaves." This isn't The South, so culturally it's grossly out of place, but some women venerate their ancestors who lost a war and now that ridiculous memorial is here as an embarrassment to AZ. And no, if you were alive in 1960 you most certainly are not a daughter of the Confederacy, you're a descendant of people who participated in the evil of slavery. I honestly believe this reverent attitude toward ancestors who fought for The South is a form of idolatry. There. I said it.

 

Yup. Yup. Yup. Yup. Yup. As I said on FB and we discussed there. A thousand times, yes, this.

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I hear what Southerners are saying when they honor their history, ancestors that fought in the war, etc. But I don't really UNDERSTAND it. My mom loved her brothers and friends who fought for Hitler. But she would never think a positive association with that war. She thinks of them as being exploited and used and then killed because of it.

 

I suspect the difference is (and I don't know for certain as I am not German) that people don't look at the Germans and think "Man, those people are a bunch of stupid morons descended from a bunch of stupid morons!" Most people I have heard talking about Germans during World War 2 talk about how they were exploited. That is a very different attitude.

 

Children need to learn hero stories from their own local/personal history. It is when we know these stories and then begin to also recognize the mistakes that were made as well that we can truly learn to be compassionate towards the mistakes of other cultures different from our own without an angst. (I have read this in a couple different books on classical educational philosophy, but I can't put my finger on the quotes yet)

 

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 He said that "Northerners think Southerners are lazy and stupid" and as soon as they hear the accent, that's how they treat them.  

 

DH was born and raised in Georgia.  When we moved to Illinois he made the decision to lose his accent because so many people made stupid assumptions based on him being a southerner.  The LEAST offensive comments were based on assumptions that he must have a gun rack in his truck, that he drinks beer, and that we are cousins.  Of course none of those are true.  But the most  offensive assumptions.....awful. 

 

Generally he only allows his southern accent to come out when we're around close friends.  It's just easier that way. 

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