I went to see "Gods and Generals" with some friends. I confess that even I was concerned at the length of it, what with a busy schedule and all. It shouldn't have been a surprise but it was: The movie was not nearly long enough. The thought was unanimous among us — even to the New York lady who had made some sarcastic comments about it here and there.
Later, I overhead her telling a colleague, "Yes, it was a very good film — very slanted toward the South but well done."
She raised a very real issue that ultimately would reduce the movie to a farce if true. Was this movie slanted towards the Southern perspective?
The answer is a resounding "No!" It was slanted toward an accurate retelling of American history. If that makes the Southern cause look good then maybe we ought to think about that!
Unfortunately the truth is not welcome in America these days. It hasn't been for a while and this is obvious — we do not even teach our children the fundamentals of American history and our system of government — lest they discover that things have gone dreadfully wrong or worse, question the authority of the state.
I've heard all too many mouth-breathing "conservatives" condemn the Southern secessionists as traitors and certainly, many of the Yankee radicals viewed us as that in 1861. Their supposed adversaries the liberals condemn the South by rote, like one of those dolls where you pull a string and they make predictable statements.
They vote for the same things too, but squabble at the polls over which flavor of socialist gets to be the figurehead.
These modern Yankees still worry about us a lot even though we are now hardly a threat to them on any but the cultural front. How can people call themselves conservatives, and pretend to reverence the constitution, yet still view those of us who were willing to fight to preserve it as traitors? That is cognitive dissonance on a massive scale; the spoiled fruit of a rotten school system.
What were these men fighting for; these wonderful men characterized so accurately in "Gods and Generals"? I'll let Colonel Henderson, an English officer and noted biographer of Stonewall Jackson answer that question:
"Every private in the ranks believed that he was fighting in the sacred cause of liberty, and the spirit which nerved the resolution of the Confederate soldier was the same which inspired the resistance of their revolutionary forefathers. His hatred of the Yankee, as he contemptuously styled the Northerner, was even more bitter than the wrath which Washington's soldiers felt towards England; and it was intensified by the fact that his detested foeman had not only dared to invade the South, but had proclaimed in no uncertain tones, of dealing with the Sovereign States exactly as he pleased…"
It should be noted that Colonel Henderson got his information first hand by talking to and corresponding with Confederate veterans. These sentiments are a hardly those of the wicked outlaws characterized by post-Christian America as fighting desperately to hold others in bondage.
We have lost much since the days when Generals honored the name of God. Our decline went into high gear on 9 April 1865.
Just what did we lose at Appomattox?
For the answer, let's go back to my favorite aspect of "Gods and Generals": the Christian element. Much criticized in the lackey press, this film showed exactly how it was in those days. Southern men included their Christian faith in their daily affairs at all levels. They sought God's will and favor, and looked to him for their personal salvation.
This is not the case today; we have lost that. Try opening a business meeting with prayer in Atlanta!
Importantly, and unlike most Yankees, those pesky rebels had no illusions of creating heaven on earth by their own efforts. They knew, and all true Christian believers do, that man is a sinful critter. At some levels, this was a war between traditional Christian belief and the new-fangled Universalism that had taken its place in universities like Yale and Harvard.
From those same Ivy League schools modern America draws its leadership cadre. Originally Christian colleges, they are apostate now, promulgating the religion of the state.
We may assume that had decency and honor triumphed in that War and the South established her independence, Heaven would not have descended upon the earth and all would not have been perfect. Men would have remained sinners and would still have tried to find ways to impose their will upon others.
There is no disputing that premise. What I believe we can say is that in the Confederacy, we would not have allowed the state to grow into the monster it has become here in the not so United States. We were not seeking diversity, empire, the "social gospel" or any other particular agenda. We simply wanted to be left alone.
That, folks, is a noble goal. It implies that we were of a mindset that tends to let others alone as well. We'd be a lot more popular in the world today, and it would be a considerably more peaceful planet if modern America were to adhere to that simple concept.
To say "Gods and Generals" is slanted toward the South, is to say that "Gods and Generals" was slanted towards the truth. Our cause was just and this film offers a close look at the people who embraced that lost cause.
Critics of "Gods and Generals" bemoaned the glorification of secessionists during time of war — when I saw it Seor Bush was oiling his guns and snarling at Iraq. Well? It's always time of war since the days of Father Abraham. In my lifetime America has simply been at war. Sometimes we admitted it; sometimes we just moved troops around and shot people and called it peace. But I know war when I see it. War, always, constantly.
And what about this national unity thing? Did "Gods and Generals" threaten our national unity while we braced ourselves for the threat of some imagined attack by Iraq? I wish it had; I truly do. Unity with infamy is not something to which I aspire.
After all, should there be unity without unanimity? Lincoln was right about one thing — a house divided against itself cannot stand. My answer to that is so what?
His successors strive to eliminate the last vestiges of Southern individuality and culture in the dreadful quest for "unity." Nowadays forced unity is referred to as "diversity." The watered down pap that passes for wisdom these days is the result of this country becoming too big to control.
Instead of truth, we have political correctness which is now the official party line of the two branches of the single ruling party. It requires a taste of the whip to keep us all in line. Since the Yankees are still in charge, getting rid of any memory of the South or indeed of the United States before the War is critical. They are re-making this country into an upscale North Korea.
Those people worship the State. We should worship God. A union of disparate cultures means that one must be subsumed. Societies sink to their lowest common cultural denominator in the name of equality. Consider how most of Germany's great achievements came before the forced unity imposed upon the German states by the Prussians. We know what happened subsequently. It's happening here now.
It's sad to say, but even in much of the South, the gallant fight of the Southern forces against the invader, and the obvious honor and integrity of our Confederate leaders, is simply ignored. It should be noted that this is a recent development.
Subsequent to the Second Secession War, Yankee and Confederate veterans got along quite well and honored each other when they met. There is a touching story of the kindness displayed by the Virginia renegade (and first-class Yankee general) George Henry Thomas. He ran into his old adversary, John Bell Hood. Desperately wounded in the war, and fallen on hard times since, Hood was hurting. He found a friend where once he had found an enemy.
Nathan Bedford Forest, hated today by folks whose grasp of history is ideological or nonexistent, was asked by the Freedmen's Bureau in Nashville to work with them. Could today's NAACP or either of the major political parties deal with that fact? Hardly. Yet it remains a fact.
Perhaps the primary reason for this surprising reservoir of good will was the acknowledged fact that the South had done nothing wrong. Only the very worst of the Yankee radicals truly hated us. Lincoln and his troops had acted for reasons they felt justified the use of horrific force, but made scant pretence to legality. Jefferson Davis never went on trial because they could find no charge to bring against him.
Several Northern states had threatened to secede on occasion before the War ended all that. It was obvious to men in those days, even Yankees, that a voluntary union of states was just that, voluntary.
The North chose to ignore that and use violence to impose their vision upon the South. Nothing has been the same since. In the convulsion of the War Between the States the issue of government was decided. The restraints on government were removed. Now we live under a despotic form of "democracy" that consists of brute force and a constant angling for spoils.
My point is this: we humans really are sinful; and to keep that in check it is important to deny ourselves the means to over-indulge in that arena where our wicked nature most comes into play: government.
A successful establishment of a Southern Confederacy would have had many excellent results in that government would have been denied the power and resources of what is now the United States of America. There would have been two and possibly as many as four Americas ultimately, and I submit that would have been to our advantage as human beings.
A little redundancy can be a good thing…Yankeedom could play the empire game without harming other Americans. Those who wanted open borders could have them — those of who didn't could retain their cultural identity. Those who wish to murder their unborn children could do so without bringing down judgment upon the rest of us!
Most importantly, if one of several Americas were to fall, as the one we now have may, there would still be Americans and the dream of the founders would not be totally lost.
It's obvious that we have entrusted our leaders with too much power. That is a Yankee thing and it is a bad thing. Yet it is not for us to tell the Yankees what to do or how to live. We may show them by example but not by force. This is Biblical and in line with Western thinking for several thousand years.
The concomitant of this is that we should be under no compulsion to live as they wish us too, either. It is sad to say that Yankeedom has not changed except for the worse. They now have aircraft carriers and nuclear bombs, and intend to take their concept of "freedom" wherever impulse leads them.
What happened? Where did we go wrong? Stonewall Jackson's young aides shielded him with their bodies when the Yankee artillery fell among the party evacuating the wounded leader. "Gods and Generals" showed this scene with great accuracy. Those men loved their general and they loved their cause; death was a small thing to them. They had a strong sense of personal honor. They were in God's hands and acted like it.
Today, all too many Southerners are in the government's hands. We fly their Yankee flag and cheer on the mostly Southern soldiers that Washington uses to subdue their enemies. We ignore the causes of their wars and confuse subservience with patriotism. We send our children to their schools and watch placidly as our history and our culture are eradicated.
Yet "Gods and Generals" will be seen by millions here in the South and it will be inspiring and yes, embarrassing. They were better men than us and that is shameful. They deserve better of us.
I must ask myself though, if there is not some hope for us, for Americans as a group and for Southerners in particular. After all, "Gods and Generals" did get made. The DVD will sell by the bushel basket. It's already being used in classrooms all over the country. The truth is a marvelous thing indeed — it can be denied but ultimately it will come out.
After seeing that wonderful movie I thought again of my favorite outlaw and rebel, and said to myself, "Whupped ’em again, Josie!"