Pride and Prejudice

posted May 15, 2017, 3:26 PM by Edward Georgen   [ updated May 15, 2017, 3:26 PM ]

I recently picked up a copy of the “Early Bird” paper and saw an article on the front page that at first warmed my heart.....until I began to read it. It concerned the recent decision by our state government to keep Jefferson Davis's statue in the Kentucky capital building. So far, so good. Then I read the details. It's said that the Devil's in the details, and I believe it.

I read that the statue is staying for now, but that decision may be revisited later. I thought “we the people,” myself being one of those, had spoken. Apparently not. Petitions have been signed, phone calls made, a board has sat, and yet, it seems we may have to fight the good fight again later. Do you ever get the feeling that your government officials are representing someone besides yourself?

The article also informed me that plans were in the works that some sort of notice be posted by the statue to give context. What concerns me about that is that it will possibly be of the politically correct variety rather that the historically correct variety.

I thought we already had some pretty good historical context on the statue's pedestal. It lists Jefferson Davis's many accomplishments in the U.S. Government as well as the Kentucky legislature. He had commissioned surveys for the transcontinental railroad and served in the U.S. Military as a West Point graduate in at least two wars prior to the Civil War. He was a statesman, something many of the politicians today know little about. In short, he was a good and honorable man, a true son of Kentucky that we should be proud to honor.

So why is Jefferson Davis so vilified by some? I think the answer is ignorance of historical facts, and a tendency of some to jump on a self-righteous, politically correct bandwagon to feel morally superior. The key word is “feel.”

Informed opinion should be based in facts, not feelings. It comes down to the prejudice of those who think they are fighting prejudice. How ironic! The word “prejudice” means to “pre-judge, to judge before the facts are known.” Prejudice comes from ignorance, which is defined as a lack of knowledge. Too many Americans don't know their history, and it's killing our country.

If you asked Americans why the Civil War was fought, many would say slavery was the cause, and they'd be wrong. Slavery was certainly an important part, particularly here in Kentucky, but there was a bigger issue at stake.

The Civil War happened because part of the nation believed in the primacy of local state government, and part of the nation believed in the primacy of a distant, out-of -touch, centralized federal government. There were two very different cultures in this nation at that time, trying to figure out how to peacefully co-exist. One was a well-mannered, slow-paced, heritage-based, agricultural society. The other was, in contrast, a somewhat impersonal, fast-paced, industrial-driven society. The two cultures failed to compromise and clashed in a bloody civil war that cost more American lives (600,000) than any other war we fought.

Today, we also have two very different cultures clashing. We, too, have some who think distant, out-of-touch, centralized federal government is the answer. They have basically made government their god and savior. I'm reminded of an old Steppenwolf song from the late 60's that spoke of big government as a “monster on the loose that's put our heads into the noose” and called “America, we need you now; we can't fight alone against a monster.” But sadly some don't see it for what it really is. Ronald Reagan did; He said, “A government big enough to give you everything is a government big enough to take it away.”

Then there is the culture that recognizes smaller, more localized, accountable, limited, servile government. Our nation started with that ideal, and it served us well...... until the monster grew out of control. Do you ever get the impression that you're here to serve the government rather than the government being here to serve the people?

So, will history repeat itself? Will it come to bloodshed and disaster one day? Not if the pride of an historically-informed opinion rises above the prejudice of ill-informed political correctness. My prayer is that America will not need to fight that same culture war again. I hope that is your prayer as well.