Email to John Cox, The Washington Post, Column on the Confederacy

Dear Mr. Cox.

Professor Medford’s words should be heeded, and carefully. I recently wrote, “Removing an artifact does not change the facts.”

Having grown up on a small farm in rural Maryland, my family’s roots are in Lower Indiana and Kentucky. Years ago I worked with a contractor who displayed his “Dixie” flag on all of his trucks, his company named “Dixieland”. Until the Charleston massacre and the reverberations that have taken place since I had no real clue about the “hurt” and the oppression the Confederate flag represents for many.

Erasing or eradicating all references to the Confederacy will not erase the facts of history. It also will not erase the lingering racism that peppers much of the South and even parts of the Midwest. “Hate” is a learned emotion and behavior. Holy Scripture, Hebrew Bible, speaks about how “the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the sons unto the third and fourth generations.” Until families cease to perpetuate hate, their next generation(s) will simply mirror the offenses of the past.

This is a watershed moment in our nation’s history. Let us use this moment for healing and reconciling. In that same vein, more people should learn about the South during the Civil War and the roots of fear embedded in that war from the Southerner’s perspective. Their “industry” was coming to a climactic end. The North made the South pay dearly for their “tyranny” for several decades after.

I reflect on how our nation took an entirely different position after WWII, actually helping Germany and Japan rebuild their nations. Perhaps if the North had taken a similar tact with the South, the bitterness that still thrives in part of the South would have been abated.

While General Robert E. Lee stood on the wrong side of history, he still was an accomplished soldier. I want to believe that the 600,000 men who died during our worst internal conflict of all time died with honor; including those who died on the wrong side of history.

Best regards,

The Reverend M. Vincent Turner

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