There’s an interesting post at Civil War Memory on the perils of engaging Confederate history. It’s an emotional topic that’s sometimes tied up with questions of modern identity, so things can get a little heated. That’s especially true on the web, where disgruntled readers can weigh in with as much vitriol as they can muster.
One of the advantages of being from East Tennessee–aside from getting such wonderful, aw-shucks manners–is the ability to enjoy these debates with absolute delight. Having a background that’s neither Yankee nor secessionist makes me feel like a guy at a cockfight who doesn’t place any bets. He can sit back and enjoy watching the blood fly, secure in the knowledge that his own backside isn’t on the line.
When I worked at a Lincoln/Civil War site, tourists used to ask about my sympathies with some frequency. On the one hand, I was employed at a Lincoln museum, so many visitors assumed that I was heartily anti-Confederate. On the other hand, I pronounced “get” as “git,” so they suspected that I had some repressed resentment over the way the whole late unpleasantness turned out. When I told them that I wasn’t rooting for anybody, and that I had nothing but respect for the participants on both sides, they were always a little disappointed. Who studies history just so they can understand it, anyway?