Tuesday, June 23, 2015

If you travel to Germany...

...don't expect to find anything named after leaders of the Nazi era, because you won't.

So why is it that in the former Confederate states, there are so many roads named after Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Vice President John C. Calhoun (who said slavery "wasn't a necessary evil, but a positive good") and Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney, whose Dred Scott decision denied citizenship and constitutional protections to blacks before the Civil War?

Maybe the problem is that the North didn't drive home the point enough. What if Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and others had been tried for treason and imprisoned (or worse)?

In some ways the former Confederate states remind me more of Germany after World War I than Germany after World War II. After the First World War, many Germans thought they had surrendered too hastily and just got angrier and more resentful until the Nazis finally took control in 1933. After the Second World War, the survivors had no doubt that they had been thoroughly defeated and changed their behavior accordingly.

So maybe the problem is that we didn't defeat the South enough. Maybe if Reconstruction had lasted longer, or been more severe, the former Confederates may have gotten the message.

P. S. Here's a list of U.S. counties named after prominent Confederate historical figures. I kinda don't think you'll find too many counties in Germany named after Hitler, Himmler or Goring.

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