... April 9 is the 150th anniversary of the Union’s victory in the Civil War.... the federal government should make two modest changes: It should make April 9 a federal holiday; and it should commit to disavowing or renaming monuments to the Confederacy, and its leaders, that receive direct federal support.In a better country, I'd agree with this. In a better country, by now, a majority of Southerners would reject the Confederacy, some because they had no familial ties to it, others because they're descended from its victims, still others because they recognize the wrongness of the Cause.
... the Union’s victory, and the abolition of slavery, both merit celebration as exemplars of American improvement and renewal... These twin accomplishments are as worthy of a federal holiday as any holiday we already celebrate. So let's name April 9 New Birth of Freedom Day.
But that's not how things are. In the real America, Southern whites have persuaded themselves that the flag of the Confederacy is about "heritage" rather than slavery or treason, and the defense of "heritage" in the modern world is part of a noble resistance to anti-white racism, which manifests itself in affirmative action and excessive social spending on Those People. I'm not arguing that this a valid way of looking at America -- I'm just saying that a large percentage of Americans see the country this way, and not just in the South. They feel put upon. They feel victimized. And they dig in their heels in resistance to all kinds of reasonable change, some having nothing to do with race, out of this sense of self-righteous outrage.
To them, it's not about racism, or even about race. They see everything as a culture war in which their culture is not accorded respect, as Mike Huckabee puts it in his most recent book:
In Huckabee’s world, America’s political divide isn’t red versus blue. It’s “Bubba-ville” versus “Bubble-ville.” Huckabee makes it crystal clear that Bubble-ville’s inhabitants are America’s self-aggrandizing, out-of-touch coastal elitists who share President Obama’s notion that those who inhabit Bubba-ville are to be viewed as little more than “bitter clingers” for daring to enjoy their guns and their God as well as a down-home, family-oriented lifestyle that includes fried foods (gasp!) and the sharing of simple truths that more often than not elude the highly educated Ivy League types Huckabee takes exception with.To white Southerners, there's no clear point where this "Bubba" culture ends and Southern "heritage" begins -- it's all part of the same "traditional" worldview, which, they believe "elitists" hold in contempt.
According to Huckabee, the principal divide between the two groups is the difference between a secular and religion-based approach to the world. “But as much as there is a great divide in this country between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots,’ there is also a great chasm between the ‘believes and the believe- nots,’” Huckabee writes. “And increasingly the ‘believes’ in America have come to feel like cultural lepers --untouchable and undesirable -- and an embarrassment to their fellow Americans who equate the holding of traditional views on marriage, religion, family, patriotism, and even the rule of law and the Constitution with ignorance and superstition.” He further posits the “snobbery and bold bigotry” of the believe-nots is further amplified by their self-designation as ‘mainstream.’”
If there were a lot more of us than there were of them, I wouldn't care about this -- I'd say they have to suck it up and accept a world that needs to change, and that should have changed a lot faster. But their numbers are too big, and their level of resentment is too high already. This resentment already drives our politics -- what good will it do to inflame it even more?
So, yes, Beutler's idea is a good one -- but we're not ready for it. In the near term, it would only make things worse.