Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Changing course of History

Before continuing here, you may want to go over to Patrick's Place and read The Confederacy and Racism.

I myself am a transplanted southerner or what some may call a 'Damn Yankee', that is one that refused to go back home. I moved to Atlanta when my father was stationed to NAS Atlanta in late 1979. I spent my high school year's there and became a bog fan of the Old South. Georgia itself is rich with history. Even the town I call home, 'Powder Springs' was part of the battleground for the battle of Kennesaw Mountain. At the time I moved there, I had not lived anywhere for more than four years at a time, and spending the height of my school years there caused me to call the place home. I began to take pride in my surroundings.

In high school I took a semester long class in Civil War History. This amazed my mother, who having been raised and schooled in New Jersey didn't think there was enough material for a month long class let alone a semester. I enjoyed the class, but having taken the class has caused some very interesting comments in friends with whom I shared this fact.

One question, The state of Georgia recently changed it's flag owning to the idea that the design which had incorporated the confederate battle flag, somehow linked Georgia to it's slave state past. I believe it did link the state to it's confederate past, which is part of it's history. I have heard people say that reminders of the past only bring up bad feelings, that why the flag was changed. Will hiding the past ever remove it? History is not something to be hidden away with a 'Gee, I hope that never happens again!'. I myself take pride in where the great state of Georgia has come since then and would like to think no one looked at that flag and said 'It's just a matter of time before they try slavery again'. I think we are past that.

I live in the state of Washington now, in the Seattle area. For those who don't know, Seattle is in King County. King County was originally named after William Rufus DeVane King in 1852. The government of King County has changed it's mind in 1986 and re-decided that it was named after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , a noble act I agree, but when does it stop. The motion which states that it resets the historical precedence, claims that the change in due to the fact that William Rufus DeVane King was a slave owner and having made his money from the oppression of other human beings is not worthy of the honor of the county's namesake. His being a slave owner does not change why and how the county was named. How much history has been lost because, those now in the majority have rewritten it to become more palatable. George Washington was said to have owned over 300 hundred slaves at the time of his death and made all of his money from plantation farming of tobacco and wheat. When will the name of this state be up for renewal to something we all feel better about?

"Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it". I do not think we are about to repeat the mistake of slavery. But let's not confuse slavery and racism. Though one led to the other, the opposite is not true, Racism, unfortunately, abounds in every nation of this world in one way or another. It's said that in a country such as ours that the statement holds for us as well. No matter how much progress we make in the direction of correction, someone is holding on to hate and self-superiority. Although not as prevalent here in Washington as it may be in the southern states, it's still here. Not more than a couple of years ago we had a cross-burning in a minister's yard. It shocked a whole bunch of people, because the Northwest is such an enlightened area. Well enlightenment may not be enough.

I am proud to be a Georgian and an American. I treasure my history both good and bad. I hope to be a better person than some of my ancestors. God created all people equal, only Man changed that, and he did it for his own selfish purposes.