The great ruse of the Civil War was not President Lincoln’s using slavery as a wartime measure, as suggested by the writer of the March 27 letter “War propaganda.” It was, rather, the leaders of the South convincing the Confederate rank and file that “Southern independence and liberty,” rather than slavery, was the issue. The rank and file didn’t own slaves, and some issue other than slavery was clearly required if they were to agree to be sacrificed.
This seemingly honorable rationale, “independence and liberty,” has been used in different iterations throughout history; “protect our way of life” and “introduce freedom and democracy” and “death to the infidel” come to mind. Those with “no financial interest in fighting” become so engaged by such vapid slogans that they are willing to put their lives on the line for those who do. Understand that the agents who provide the impetus for engagement are not usually those who fight the battles.
It is reasonable and desirable that soldiers who have given their lives in battle be honored; however, that we should honor the reasons for why their lives were taken is not always so evident.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer