Several months ago, I announced my plans to make a video debunking the Lost Cause and responding to those who fail to consider it in their analysis of the debate over statues. That project, while delayed, also ran into snags. Namely, that my original plan for the video must change.
Instead of merely responding to a conservative take on the Lost Cause and the statues created by that movement, I must also respond to a misrepresentation of the past in the post-Civil War, more commonly known as Reconstruction.
I say this thanks to a recent article in The American Conservative by Helen Andrews, a member of the right-wing Claremont Institute, in which she impugns the entire enterprise that was rebuilding the South.
More specifically, she disregards contemporary historians and figures such as W.E.B. Du Bois for his work on Reconstruction, seemingly failing to realize that the state of historiography in the 19th Century was significantly weaker than it is now. She also engages in blatant red-baiting, which as I have explained before, is the bane of a healthy democratic society.
In her attempts to disregard the importance of Reconstruction, Andrews contributes to many of the old racist tropes that permeated among white segregationists in the South. Whatever her intentions, her approach can’t stand.
To that end, I plan to not only talk about the statue debate but also the importance of remembering the specter of white supremacist propaganda and how it worked to justify the subjugation of an entire group of Americans. History must not be forgotten for partisan points.