The 150th Anniversary of 'Secession'

Confederacy fans gear up to celebrate the conflict's 150th anniversary in grand style. But what about slavery?

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We're coming upon the sesquicentennial (the 150th anniversary, that is) of the American Civil War. This means that a lot of folks who live below the Mason-Dixon Line are dusting off their their hoop skirts and Confederate uniforms and planning "secession balls." The New York Times has a story today about how Confederate enthusiasts (read: apologists) in places such as Charleston, S.C., and Atlanta are making big plans to celebrate the big 1-5-0 over the next four years. Of course, these people are careful to frame their celebrations around "secession" and not slavery. Because slavery was wrong! Michael Givens, commander in chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, told the Times: "We in the South, who have been kicked around for an awfully long time and are accused of being racist, we would just like the truth to be known ... our people were only fighting to protect themselves from an invasion and for their independence."

For someone so into the truth, Givens is leaving a bit of it out of his assessment of secession -- namely that Southern states wanted to self-govern precisely so that they could preserve slavery. In fact, the supposition that blacks are inferior to whites and belonged enslaved was what Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy, called the "cornerstone" of the Confederacy back in 1861. If these lovers of the Confederate flag want to spend the next four years glorifiying the deeds of a bunch of men who seceded from their own country in order to enslave human beings in perpetuity, the very least they can do is be honest about it.

Read more at the New York Times.