One of these things will not be like the other.
Such gallantry seems unthinkable today, when members of the Trump administration are hounded from restaurants and theatres, and Confederate officers like John Lea, if they are remembered at all, are considered precursors of the German National Socialists, and their once famous and respected commanders like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jeb Stuart have their statues toppled and banished from public squares, their names stripped from public schools, and their memories spat upon and disgraced.
The difference between the America of today and the America of what seems like just yesterday is that we once had a common culture. As recently as 1990, Ken Burns could make a Civil War documentary for PBS and let historian Shelby Foote wax eloquent on the martial prowess of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest — something that now would likely get them both tarred, feathered, and Twitter-banned.
Yes, there were big differences between North and South a century and a half ago. The South was a slave-holding, free-trading, libertarian-leaning, conservative Christian, agricultural, aristocratic Sparta, while the North was a commercial, industrial, protectionist, Transcendentalist, social gospel, democratic Athens. But they held far more in common than separated them — beginning with the fact that, as Lincoln observed, “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God.”
One need only compare the Confederate Constitution to the United States Constitution to see that the former bears a striking resemblance to the latter. And far from being a national socialist charter, the Confederate Constitution puts even more restraints on federal power and limits the president to one six-year term.
Thereby proving that the South wasn’t wrong about everything.
The great seal of the Confederacy bears the image of George Washington, many of whose relatives served with the Confederacy, including Lieutenant James B. Washington, a West Point classmate of Custer’s (the two had a famous picture taken together — Washington was a prisoner of war — a few weeks before Lea’s wedding).
North and South venerated the Founders. They shared the same language, the same religion, and, in large part, the same general stock. Most of all, they shared what Jeff Sessions was recently rebuked for calling an “Anglo-American heritage” of liberty under law, stretching from the mists of medieval England — even before Magna Carta — to our own Bill of Rights.
Today, however, our divisions are so deep and fundamental that Americans cannot even agree on what marriage is or what a man or a woman is (which is pretty darn fundamental).
The lunatic self-righteousness of the Left (and yes, I’m afraid one must point fingers here), where disagreement is bigotry to be prohibited by law or even condemned and prosecuted as treason, is a consuming, destructive fire that will not be easily quenched, and cannot be reached by cool waters of rational argument.
Crocker gamely—and yes, gallantly—offers a few suggestions for forestalling the coming conflagration. I wish I could say I still held out much hope for such a solution. But with every passing day yielding its outrageous insult to all decency from the Bughouse Left, each surpassing the last in vileness and provocation, that hope fades, to be replaced with the dismal realization that real tragedy is all but inevitable now.