What are you wearing to the secession ball?

Across the South, people will soon celebrate the “glory days of secession” by  commemorating the US Civil War on its 150th anniversary.

This, from the New York Times:

The events include a “secession ball” in the former slave port of Charleston (“a joyous night of music, dancing, food and drink,” says the invitation), which will be replicated on a smaller scale in other cities. A parade is being planned in Montgomery, Ala., along with a mock swearing-in of Jefferson Davis as president of the Confederacy.

In addition, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and some of its local chapters are preparing various television commercials that they hope to show next year. “All we wanted was to be left
alone to govern ourselves,” says one ad from the group’s Georgia Division.

My mind reels. When I drive by the Civil War memorial in the town common today, I wonder how many descendants of those dead will be out celebrating “the glory days of secession.” 

Read all about it:

If you’re new to this blog, you might want to read earlier posts on the Civil War and its aftermath. 

The first Civil War veterans’ reunion:

Looking forward vs. looking backward:
Memorial Day, Wilmington, Vermont

In case you believe the bunk that Social Security is a bloated and bankrupt “entitlement” program that will destroy the US economy, read Saul Friedman’s succinct explainer on Time Goes By. Don’t jump on the bandwagon for privatization or dissolution of this important benefit before you’ve read this post or one of Saul's earlier stories on the same topic.  

You’ll find his recent piece at http://www.timegoesby.net/weblog/2010/11/gray-matters-social-security-the-anti-ponzi-scheme.html

This afternoon, as I was buying some winter clothes for two grandchildren at the Carter’s outlet store, I tried to imagine what life will be like for these two little guys, say, 25 years from now. Just the concept of life in 2035 was more than my little brain could handle! 

Then I read this piece on Mature Landscaping and came away feeling better, knowing Nance probably is right. Our grandchildren (if not our children) will be so far removed from the archaic conventions of the twentieth century, they should be able to benefit from our mistakes, just as we benefited from the follies of our parents and grandparents:


Last year on this date, I posted a seven-part series on the fall of the Berlin Wall, commemorating the 20th anniversary of that watershed event. Today, I reread the posts and was struck by what I wrote in the introduction, in light of recent events in the US. 

In spite of obvious physical and historical barriers between the two opposing political systems, one overran the other, almost overnight. The changeover was swift and bloodless.

I wrote:
As television viewers, we all know how easy it is to sway large groups of people, but still, it’s stunning how easily East German authorities convinced people that walls and borders were there to protect them from the immoral and dangerous influences of the West.

In spite of all the available firepower, attack dogs, machine guns, landmines, barbed wire, Stasi and whatever else they threatened people with, not one single shot was fired on the night of November 9, 1989. 

Not long after der Berliner Mauerfall, citizens of Leipzig, Dresden and other eastern cities tested the waters and got the same response. Guards were either ambivalent about what to do, overwhelmed by the crowds or unwilling to stop them. 

In the case of the Berlin Wall, we join most of the world in applauding the coup, but we should never assume progressive movements will always be the ones that prevail.

I repost these excerpts with some hesitation, but urge you to revisit the series as a reminder (and warning!) of how easily the tide can change, even when the odds are against it, even in a democracy, even in this day and age:

You heard it here first -- the campaign begins! Whatever.