Montgomery Advertiser, Thursday 23 July 2015, page 8A
Over time, telling of history can become distorted
There are a lot of smart people who read this newspaper and the smarter they get, the more opinionated they get. Don’t get me wrong, ignorant people have opinions, too. Opinions fascinate me. It can be most disconcerting trying to determine agendas from opinions.
Being a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat or Republican is difficult due to nuance or, in some cases, vast disagreement on few principles. I love to read the letters and op-eds. After reading them regularly, you get to know writers by name, ideology and philosophy. You learn whether to fasten your seatbelt or take a sedative before reading the letter.
As John Norris stated in a recent column, if a lie is repetitiously told to a conducive mind it will eventually be conceived as truth. Incidentally, I like John Norris’ opinions, which are primarily regarding financial advice and conditions. His positions may extend into other areas of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
We are continually subjected to those ill-conceived lies that become perceived as opinion or maybe propaganda by the purveyor but presented as truth. I would hope that they don’t actually believe some of this stuff they try to sell us. It would indeed take a conducive mind with very little else in it to buy it, but they exist.
Up until about 30 years ago I walked the Earth blissfully patriotic, not questioning much around me, until I noticed that I was hearing a different spin on critical issues and history contradictory to what I heard 25 years prior to that. I wanted to find out why a certain segment of our society was being programmed to dislike or hate me.
I was confronted with an intra-U.S. educational process similar to what we are told that the young Mideast Muslims are taught about us Westerners. U.S. history became a hobby.
I by no means profess to be a proficient historian, but in my studies I have absorbed a more thorough understanding of our history and, through that, what’s going on today. I read from the old history books written when the activity addressed was fresh in the minds of the writers. As time passes, the repetitious deviations obscure reality. I’m still a patriot, but it can be arduous when I witness my government participate in the obliteration of reality while advocating equal protection to all but abdicating it for some.
An intrinsic difficulty I have with complete patriotism today is witnessing federal propaganda in process. Take the sign in front of Riverwalk Stadium that says down the street is the location of one of the most hellacious prisons with the most despicable conditions for housing Union soldiers imaginable. Such historic markers lead one to believe that the Confederate prison was the worst place a human could be.
That’s not far from wrong until you visit the Northern prisons. The Confederate prison at Andersonville, Ga, was developed into a federal shrine themed to illustrate the dastardly character of Confederates.
No mention is ever made at such locations that the first step of the war by the Union was to set up blockades all around the Southern states to prevent them from receiving supplies of any sort from outside. At the same time the Union armies would destroy anything edible (crops and livestock) in their paths throughout the South that they didn’t eat themselves. The Confederate soldiers were basically barefoot and malnourished throughout the war.
It was not by choice at Confederate prisons that the prisoners were not adequately fed. For a while there were prisoner swaps between the North and the South that would lessen the population at places like Andersonville. Abraham Lincoln put a stop to the swaps because he drafted plenty of healthy, well-fed men and, besides, the Confederates who were swapped would return to the battlefield.
None of this is ever talked about at such places enshrined by the federal government. No shrine was built at Elmira, N.Y., where thousands of Confederates died in unsanitary conditions as starving and freezing were purposely imposed upon the prisoners. The warden at Elmira returned a large sum of money to the U.S. Treasury at the war’s end that should have been spent on the prisoners.
There was no money in Andersonville and the warden was hanged by the federal government after the war. This Confederate warden was also dismembered and his body parts were showcased at various functions. This fact is one that keeps disappearing from historical presentations.
Charlie Graham writes from Prattville. His column appears on alternate Thursdays. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.