Enough of That Old South Nostalgia!

The decision at Ole Miss to dump Colonel Reb, its controversial mascot, is long overdue. There's nothing to celebrate about slave ownership and rebellion.

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Saying that the Civil War was all about slavery is inaccurate and reductionist, to be sure. That said, it was enough about slavery that it is wholly offensive when modern Southerners latch onto outrageous totems like Colonel Reb and the Confederate flag. Say what you will about heritage, but a large part of the Confederacy was hate -- an unvarnished, unreasonable hate that was responsible for the death of millions.

If the South would like to draw on more positive aspects of its history to sentimentalize itself, it should look toward its rich cuisine or its cotillion culture. The Ole Miss beaus may not be as fearsome as a retired Confederate colonel who murdered black people for amusement, but is that old colonel a prototype worth celebrating anymore in a truly civilized and advanced society?

We shouldn't gloss over the fact that some antebellum Northerners owned slaves, or that modern citizens of Boston and New York can be as cruelly racist as any bigot you'll find in Mississippi or Alabama. But the simple fact is that nowhere else in America will you come across so many people who are openly wistful about things and people that represent our nation's most embarrassing, most violent and ugliest period of time.

In Wisconsin, for instance, Gov. Jim Doyle recently signed into law a ban on Indian mascots in public schools, and the Los Angeles Unified School District enacted a similar ban back in 1998. Yet in Oxford, Miss., thousands of Ole Miss students and alumni are uniting to pay homage to Colonel Reb and his grey Confederate Army uniform.

Colonel Reb is a stain on the American tapestry, as is the Confederate flag. Good riddance to both, but long live Ole Miss.

Cord Jefferson is The Root's Washington correspondent. Follow him on Twitter.

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