November 25, 2012

PUBLIC FORUM: Our best days still lie ahead

— By now I should know better then to read Joe Bowyer’s columns, but like a moth to a flame, I’m drawn, if only to see what it is this week he’s wrong about. One pattern I’ve picked up on is his ongoing lack of understanding about the Civil War.

It isn’t liberals who say the South fought to defend slavery, it was the leaders of the Confederacy. The South Carolina Declaration of Secession alone makes 18 references to slavery. It is impossible to read the Georgia declaration without understanding that their overriding concern was the continuation of slavery. In the words of the Mississippi Declaration of Succession, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world.”

While many soldiers of the South weren’t slave owners, it’s also true that many soldiers in the German Army during World War II weren’t Nazis. Would Joe argue that Hitler’s goals weren’t domination of Europe and the exterminations of Jews? Of course, he wouldn’t. Hitler was unambiguous about his intention, and so were the leaders of the Confederacy.

Why does any of this matter? Because school is about getting an education, not programming, Joe’s chief concern isn’t about the quality of education our children are receiving, only that they aren’t being molded into conservatives. He is willing to sacrifice knowledge for nostalgia.

He admits as much when he says he doesn’t fear foreign invasion but decay from within. Joe fundamentally fails to understand that American values are not set in time. No more than we continue to farm using wooden plows pulled by horses do we define equality as being exclusive to white men. America is constantly evolving, but not everyone equates that with moral decay. The proof of that is the recent election, which was, among other things, a referendum between change and a return to what Joe would call “real” American values. The people chose to continue forward.

Joe cannot change the reason for the Civil War nor can he change the march of modernity. I’m sure if I live as long as Joe I’ll look back on the America of my youth and reminisce, but I would hope that I would be wise enough to understand it wasn’t necessarily better, only different. America’s best days are always ahead of it, even if people like Joe can’t recognize that.

Matt Meagher, Logansport