OPINIONSrnThe Character of Stonewall Jacksonrnby Chilton Williamson, Jr.rn”Look, men, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall! Let us determine to diernhere, and we will conquer! Follow me!”rn—General Bernard E. Bee, C.F.A.,rnshortly before falling, mortally wounded,rnin First ManassasrnStonewall Jackson: The Man,rnthe Soldier, the Legendrnby James I. Robertson, Jr.rnNew York: Macmillan;rn950 pp., $40.00rnThe era of the War for Southern Independencernilluminates the presentrntime for what it is, and is not. As J.O.rnTate has said, “Everything in Americanrnhistory went into the Civil War, and everythingrnsince has come out of it.”rnAmericans who agree with a well-knownrnAmerican magazine editor, now retired,rnthat the crucial event in the national historyrnis as irrelevant as the Wars of thernRoses, probably ought not to be permittedrnto vote. It is just possible, however,rnthat of those Americans who know that arnwar was fought at all, or when it wasrnfought, a majority considers it worthrnknowing about. The publishers’ cataloguesrnfor the past several seasons list arnsubstantial number of big books (Mr.rnRobertson’s included) about the CivilrnWax, and Shelby Foote’s three-volumernmasterpiece, completed almost a quarter-rncentury ago, is prominently displayedrnin most bookstores. Interest in the LaternUnpleasantness shows no sign of diminishing;rnindeed it may well be increasing.rnIt is tempting to speculate on the reasonsrnfor this. Surely the Second Reconstructionrnthat leftists waged against the Southrnin the 1950’s and 60’s has something torndo with it. So does the current campaign,rnprosecuted by cynical politicians,rnChilton Williamson, Jr., is senior editorrnfor books at Chronicles.rnblack and white, to wipe every reminderrnof the Confederacy from the nationalrnconsciousness, and also from the memoryrnand awareness of Southern localitiesrnfor whom it remains the defining elementrnin their histories. With its legalrnand rhetorical onslaughts against thernCitadel and the Virginia Military Institutern(where Stonewall Jackson taught forrnten years), the Bonnie Blue Flag, thernStars and Bars, state flags, state songs,rnand Confederate license plates, the leftrnconsistently generates the moral indignationrnit ordinarily expends on victims.rnListening to it and watching it in action.rnone can almost believe that Grant hadrnbeen drinking at Appomattox.rnIf a renewed preoccupation with CivilrnWar history really is occurring, could itrnbe a natural reaction to our contemporaryrncivil barometer, which has beenrnfalling for decades and is now droppingrnlike a rock? Do we hear new firebells inrnthe night in response to judicial tyranny,rnintimidating acts by the FBI and terroristicrnones by the BATF, and the rise of thernmilitias? In the summer of 1860 MajorrnJackson and his wife spent some weeks atrnNorwood, Massachusetts, where the Virginiarncouple sensed “unhospitable elements”rnamong the New Englanders whornwere their fellow guests at a popular water-rncure establishment. This kind of socialrnuncomfortableness is somethingrnwith which contemporary Americans arernincreasingly familiar. Comparisons betweenrnthe antebellum conflict over slaveryrnand the late-20th century impasse regardingrnabortion, though the parallel isrnscarcely an exact one, have become trite.rnYet abortion is only part of the broaderrnpicture, as slavery was also. When thernReverend Richard John Neuhaus devotedrna recent issue of First Things to a symposiumrnon the moral legitimacy of thernAmerican government, manv readers, includingrncertain of the magazme’s contributingrneditors, reacted as if the editorrnhad touched off the first gun in SecondrnFort Sumter. The truth is, if the culturalrnand political divide in America todayrnwere drawn along regional or sectionalrnlines rather than on social and economicrnones, the Second American Civil Warrnwould have been declared long ago. Thisrnis a notion that certain people findrnterrifying—too terrifying, it seems, tornlULY 1997/33rnrnrn