To The Editor:
I would ask Vincent Ree (in his letter) to more accurately represent the claims of those whom he references.
He claims that I stated that “the Civil War was not over slavery” in my recent letter to the editor. I did no such thing.
As I tell my students when debating, we should recognize that there is gray area in most issues of debate, so we need to avoid representing arguments in “absolute” terms. That is why I was careful to note that the debate revolved around the primary and secondary causes of the war.
There is no denying that slavery had its role in igniting the war, but it is a matter of understanding degree, not making absurd claims that slavery was either entirely the cause or totally irrelevant.
We still get fired up about this issue because the debate is really about something else — what ideas our nation was founded upon, and which ideas should remain sacred to this day. Any reasonable person would argue that slavery needed to go. But that doesn’t mean that we must also condemn or deem irrelevant the other factors that were very much at the heart of the Confederate cause (and necessary for a peaceful society to this day): the right to secession, established by the Founding Fathers and written clearly into the Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Paris, in which the United states are defined as “free sovereign and independent states”; strict constitutional limitations on federal power, such as Article II, Section II of the Constitution, first violated by Lincoln and now by virtually every president when they go to war without congressional approval; and habeas corpus (yet another constitutional right suspended by Lincoln despite a lack of rebellion — 11 states seceded peacefully).
Rights like these were, in terms of human history, groundbreaking in the 19th century, and they were freeing humans of every color at an unprecedented rate.
Unfortunately, our society is divided today because false narratives glorifying a beneficent Fed and oversimplifying the Civil War (which wasn’t even a civil war, by definition) have eroded those necessary rights. Resultingly, our powerful Fed now often forces 49 percent of society to live as the oppressed (or the giver), with the other 51 percent acting as oppressor (or receiver).
So, Mr. Ree, thank you for your response, but please be sure in the future that you understand the idea you argue against before you reply.