The field of Gettysburg is perhaps the closest thing to a sacred place, a Mount Olympus, to be found in our secular-minded land. The battle itself contains enough epic material for the admiration, contemplation, and inspiration of a hundred generations of Americans, if there should be so many. This is all lost on the U.S. National Park Service, which is busy, under congressional mandate, converting Gettysburg and other battlefields into conduits of p.c. propaganda. The new visitors’ center at Gettysburg is an immense ugly barn with a very badly designed pattern of interior displays, but that is the least of its problems. The USNPS now deems it less important to explain the great events of that place than to impart a lesson about slavery, the alleged true and only cause of the battle, and the supposed supreme issue of our national existence.
Though currently fashionable among academics, this reduction of the greatest events of our history to a simplistic monocausal and emotion-laden portrayal is politically motivated and present-centered. It is designed to kill off any view of the rich complexity of human experience and instill a robotic adherence to a party line. The original source of such agitprop tactics is without doubt Marxist class-conflict dialectics, with the cultural Marxist race obsession overlaid.
It would certainly be a surprise to the Northern soldiers in that battle to learn that the significance of Gettysburg was only that it was “about” slavery. Interestingly, with all the emphasis on slavery, the displays, as far as I could find, do not refer at all to the few fugitive slaves that were allegedly seized by Confederates in Pennsylvania, though this is a hot topic among historians at the moment. No doubt the propagandists were afraid that if they mentioned that, hundreds of people would bring up the absence of any reference to the 5,000 or more black men, both slave and free, who were with the Confederate army on the way to, and the way from, Pennsylvania.
Curiously, the custodians of our national memory at Gettysburg anachronistically deem it appropriate to present Reconstruction, which is portrayed as a utopia of “biracial democracy” and black empowerment. This is the strict Marxist line. No mention is made of the evils of military government, the looting and stealing, the fraudulent elections, the broken promises of help to the freedmen, Northern motives other than altruism, or any violence that was not initiated by evil Southerners against innocent blacks and carpetbaggers.
The Gettysburg battlefield, sacred to our memory, is now a crime against us all. Like so many things these days in our “democracy,” this is the work of a powerful minority against the opinion of the majority. The new dispensation cheats the host of normal Americans who seek some true connection with their past. For a certain type of American it renews the phony and unearned sense of righteous benevolence that is a blot on our national character and a curse to mankind. It tells Southerners what we already well know—that we have no role in the American story except as Chief Villain. For African-Americans, their authentic history is converted into a cheap political tactic by self-appointed leaders building momentum for “reparations.”
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