In The American Conservative, Bill Kauffman writes about the late Shelby Foote, a Civil War historian. Kauffman recalls in his piece an interview he had with Foote in 2000, and focuses in on Foote’s examination of the Stars and Bars flag of the Confederacy. Kauffman relates Foote’s view of the Stars and Bars then, with the current anti-Robert E. Lee statue furor of today. He writes (abridged):
Back in the summer of 2000, when men still said what was on their minds (sometimes) and before the hoary ideal of freedom of speech had collapsed under the accumulated weight of 9/11, the Patriot Act, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and the enshrinement of the hall monitor as the exemplary American undergraduate, I spent an afternoon chatting with Shelby Foote, whose magisterial three-volume history of the Civil War is one of the great achievements in modern American letters.
The subsequent article from that interview ran in the now-defunct American Enterprise, where acaption writer described our interview as a “spunky ramble,”
Foote was absolutely sui generis: a Southern literary man who defied categorization.
Foote had written of the Klansmen marching under Dixie’s banner: “I tell them to their faces that they are the scum who have degraded the Confederate flag,
I’m for the Confederate flag flying anywhere anybody wants to fly it at any time.
“There seems to be no understanding,” he continued, “that the Civil War was really an argument between one form of society and another form of society.”
In the current hysteria, with Robert E. Lee a goner and Thomas Jefferson on deck, the Shelby Footes are in short supply.
Read more here.
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