150 years ago the United States of America went to war with itself. An interesting article over at CNN explored four reasons why we’re still fighting that war.
It’s full of interesting ideas and rationales. I found two of them worth talking about here:
1) Power of the Federal Government
H.W. Crocker III, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War, says Southern secessionists were patriots reaffirming the Founding Fathers’ belief that the Colonies were free and independent states.
They were also reaffirming the Founding Fathers’ belief that black men only counted as two-thirds of a person and could be sold like cattle. But you know, details.
But I’ll give Crocker some credit, he does pose a fair question:
“If the Southern states pulled out of the union today after, say, the election of Barack Obama, or some other big political issue like abortion, how many of us would think the appropriate reaction from the federal government would be to blockade Southern ports and send armies into Virginia?”
Ouch. There’s a question for the pro-life crowd. If Roe vs. Wade is overturned and California says “We’re out,” is the appropriate response to go to war?
An over-simplified question for a way more complex issue. Of course Abraham Lincoln said yes and did go to war over a moral issue. Which brings me to the second interesting idea.
2) Christianity Poisons Politics
At the time of the Civil War the political center disappeared in the wake of the Second Great Awakening, according to David Goldfield, author of America Aflame, a new book that examines evangelical Christianity’s impact on the war.
Goldfield says evangelical Christianity “poisoned the political process” because the American system of government depends on compromise and moderation, and evangelical religion abhors both because “how do you compromise with sin.”
“By transforming political issues into moral causes, you raise the stakes of the conflict and you tend to demonize your opponents,” Goldfield says.
So Christianity is to blame for the Civil War? Ouch. I’m over-simplifying (again), but it’s an interesting idea.
Some might say that’s good. Eradicating slavery is a battle worth fighting and in the case of the Civil War that’s meant literally. It’s interesting to make comparisons and talk about whether that’s worth doing today, but that’s probably one of the few times in history when you can invade to enforce a moral issue. Who would the pro-life crowd propose we invade in order to stop abortion? Or perhaps less inflammatory, who could we invade today to stop human trafficking? There’s no country that legalizes and supports slavery today like the South did 150 years ago.
I don’t have any answers here, I’m just mulling ideas.