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Writing History – Trump and the Civil War

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This is an interesting hot news item of the day, just one example of the coverage in the clip above, about President Trump’s musings on whether the Civil War could have been avoided, perhaps if there had just been a better negotiator involved. It is interesting not so much because of his thoughts but because of the way he is being attacked for failing to hew the national PC line on how the history was written and has been interpreted, as always, by the winners of any conflict.

Another example is from a discussion I had yesterday about Christopher Columbus, the guy we were taught in school decades ago was a hero who sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred and ninety two and “discovered America.” The last few decades have been spent digging up the truth about Columbus and rewriting, or purging, the history.

So, Columbus discovered America, Lincoln freed the slaves, and Washington never told a lie, history in sound bite doses. That in spite of the fact that Lincoln is famously quoted as saying that his goal was not freedom of the slaves but rather preservation of the Union.

I was wondering where President Trump got such an idea. Maybe he read my blog post suggesting that Assad is simply trying to preserve the “union” in Syria as he slays thousands. Or, maybe he read the Libertarian slanted, non PC history that got me thinking about such issues (America’s Forgotten History by Mark David Ledbetter). But it seems that President Trump has famously said that he does not read!

Could it just be simple, uninformed, common sense based on a few decades of life in The Big Apple, making and breaking deals, getting rich and going broke, that would make Trump fail to follow the national line and ask provocative questions? Questions such as, “Why are we shipping all these jobs out of the country, why aren’t we protecting our borders, why are we letting our infrastructure crumble, why are we putting the coal miners out of business a decade or so before they would have been out of business anyway, why did we kill 600,000 or our own citizens to solve a problem that could have been solved peacefully if not painlessly?

I guess a President Trump might have allowed the southern states to secede,saying “To Hell with ’em,” and would have just opened the borders and repealed the Fugitive Slave Act with an Executive Order. Problem solved in a decade or so without all the lingering hate and resentment and defense of “Southern Heritage” and mourning of ancestors who died fighting. And maybe a couple of decades later the southern states would have come crawling back asking to be readmitted to the Union. And, even if they hadn’t, life would have gone on.

We, at least we are still comfortable with the idea that George Washington never told a lie, even if the cherry tree story may be a lie. And a fourth of us think we should attack Syria, a fourth think we should ignore Syria, and half don’t know anything about Syria. I wish President Trump and the rest of us would do more reading…and thinking, paying special attention to contrarian views just to make sure we aren’t missing something important.

More on the subject and the Ledbetter book, pre-Trump.