Pharos-Tribune

December 23, 2012

PUBLIC FORUM: Nostalgia won’t address issues


— I was intrigued by Mr. Julian’s suggestion of a panel to hear arguments about the causes of the Civil War. I thought it would be interesting to see him defend his statement about the stagnation of cotton prices without mentioning that during that time period (1830-1850) production quadrupled to 2.85 million bales a year. Leaving out this important piece of information leads the reader to believe the cause of the price drop was a more nefarious reason then the most basic law of capitalism: supply and demand.

Or we could ask him why he cites The Panic of 1857 as having had a terrible impact on the South, when, in fact, the South weathered the panic far better than the Northern bankers or Midwestern farmers. So well that it gave rise to the King Cotton movement; a movement that viewed the South as the economic engine of America, and made famous by a speech in the U.S. Senate in which Sen. James Hammond declared that the South had saved the North from “destruction.”

Or we could ask him how he ignores that the foundation, the very bedrock, of the Southern economy was slavery. That is certainly what Sen. Hammond made clear in his King Cotton speech; the South was superior, and it was superior because of slavery.

Quite frankly though, what’s the point?

My letter that spurred this argument used the Civil War to illustrate that conservatives are willing to forgo knowledge for the comfort of nostalgia. They make that clear when they so willingly gloss over the fact that the economy of the South was built on and by slavery. Any economic issue the region faced had slavery at its core.

My point was and still is America wasn’t built by the nostalgic. We reinvented ourselves more in the 20th century alone than some countries will in a millennium. We are a country that is at its best when facing the future head on. As we face a new direction, do we really want to become bogged down pining for a time that never was?

Mr. Bowyer is concerned about the future. So am I. However, I’m reminded of President Clinton’s first inaugural address, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.” We can and will overcome the challenges that face us today, but only by continuing to move forward.

Matt Meagher

Logansport