Civil War Days Event Killed by Political Correctness

Civil War Days Event Killed by Political Correctness

Civil War Days Event Killed by Political Correctness

Political correctness is obliterating America’s Civil War history once again — this time in Lake County, Illinois, which is north of Chicago. That’s because the president of the Lake County Forest Preserve finds Confederate flags to be triggering, so next month’s Civil War Days may be the final hurrah.

President Angelo Kyle, who is black, says the presence of those flags is inappropriate. But that’s not all. Civil War Days presents only one side, he told board members:

“Our ancestors told us what really happened. Did you know that black soldiers were put on the front line in the North and Southern front lines so they would be killed first?”

“There should be some consideration taken for that.”

I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I also recall that Elizabeth Warren’s ancestors told her a load of hogwash. So there’s that.

But other board members were shocked and angered at the lack of transparency. They wanted a discussion with the full board, maybe even bring in a historian.

Forget it. “It’s definitely the last one,” Kyle declared. And he wants the Forest Preserve to now focus on. . . wait for it. . . climate change!

A Chicago activist also called Civil War Days “racist.” Then he added this:

“This has nothing we want, nor should celebrate, nor re-enact. When southern states are being made to tear down every statute representing this racist, murdering chapter of our history, I can’t believe here in Lake County our own forest preserve is preserving and celebrating it every year, and with our tax dollars.”

You know what this sounds like? The Cultural Revolution of 1960’s Communist China, which set out to destroy the “Four Olds” of Chinese tradition.

Never mind the fact that there’s so much wonderful history to learn which is not “racist.”

However, Civil War history is fading, and not just in a northern Illinois county. Last month the Wall Street Journal reported Americans aren’t visiting Civil War national battlefields either. Five major battlefield sites — Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, Chickamauga/Chattanooga, and Vicksburg — had a combined 3.1 million visitors last year. Now consider that over 10 million Americans visited these parks in 1970. What’s more, fewer Civil War re-enactors are taking the place of older men.

Why? As one 68-year-old re-enactor said:

“The younger generations are not taught to respect history, and they lose interest in it.”

Civil War battlefields aren’t the only places that are losing visitors. Colonial Williamsburg hosts only half the people it did 30 years ago. Its Foundation is in debt. And that’s not all — in 2012, only 24% of Americans over 18 had visited a historic site in the previous year. What’s even worse is that the biggest decline came from the 25-44 year-old demographic — the people who most likely have children.

Civil War

Lucky kids: Trace Adkins with students and teacher at Gettysburg, 2011. Credit: Ron Cogswell/flickr/CC BY 2.0.

Now it’s not just social justice warriors who are politicizing American history at public events. In schools students learn that their nation is a cesspool of racism, misogyny, genocide, and hate. It’s no wonder that large numbers of college graduates don’t know when the Civil War was fought, although they sure know that those Confederate monuments need to come down.

Maybe you live within driving distance of a Civil War battlefield, and maybe you don’t. But this summer please take in some of our history at a national historic site, or a battlefield, or a museum. And if you have children or grandchildren, be sure to take them along. Make sure they learn that America, despite all her warts, has a rich history that we should remember and pass down to new generations.


Featured image: Ron Cogswell/flickr/altered/CC BY 2.0.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

  • Sven says:

    The civil war was about freeing slaves. Maybe he didn’t get the memo.

    • Scott says:

      Sorry, it actually wasn’t. It was abouyt preserving the union, and President Lincoln said as much in the early part of the war. He only issued the Emancipation Proclamation (which only effected slaves in states that had seceded btw) when the war was going against the North, and he believed it would help the war effort.
      That’sm not to say that some people didn’t support the war, or join the Army with that goal in mind, just that it was not the aim of the Federal Govt.

      • GWB says:

        Then, more accurately, Secession was about slavery.

        Yes, it was about “state’s rights”, but the biggest one there was slavery and the desire of some in the South to extend that ignoble institution across the country.

        What that meant was that it reverted back to the same fight from 1787: would the states hang together or hang separately. The northern states decided they would take the step they couldn’t take in 1787, and force the southern states to remain in the compact.

        Yes, if Lincoln could have simply restored the status quo, he probably would have. But once a certain line was crossed in the war, that was simply impossible. Some unfortunate anti-federalist things flowed from that.

        But, let’s never forget that without slavery, the Civil War would have been unnecessary.

        • Scott says:

          No argument GWB, but i’d submit that the war being because of slavery is different from being “to free the slaves”.. might be semantics to some, but seems an important distinction to me.

        • Kessler says:

          Scott, Lincoln withheld the Emancipation Proclamation until there was positive news for the Union. He felt that the victory at Antietam was sufficient to avoid claims, similar to the one you made, that it was a desperate measure.

          Lincoln wanted slavery ended, but you are correct that early on he proclaimed – and believed – that the war was only about saving the Union. (Remember he had a couple of border states that he was attempting to keep from seceding which they would have done had the war at that time been thought to be about ending slavery.

          Lincoln’s position evolved as the war went on and the costs mounted. By the end of the war it was clear that it was being fought to end slavery as well as save the Union.

    • Quartermaster says:

      Hardly. Lincoln said it was to preserve the Union. He destroyed the union by destroying the founder’s republic. You’re an example of part of the problem.

  • GWB says:

    “The younger generations are not taught to respect history, and they lose interest in it.”
    There is also the fact that Civil War history is now further from our children in terms of the past than at any time in the past. And it will just get worse. The further past it is, the more immediate information that competes with it in terms of “relevance”. Thus will it ever be.

    But this summer please take in some of our history at a national historic site, or a battlefield, or a museum.
    Please remember. Forgetting what has gone before means we are blind going into the future. Those who do not understand history will be doomed to repeat it. Let’s not repeat the bloodier lessons in American history.
    (Sadly, I think it might be too late for that.)

  • Scott says:

    “Now it’s not just social justice warriors who are politicizing American history at public events.” Maybe not just at public events, but it it is Social Justice Zealots (a better term, stolen from GWB I believe) that the left has been working for decades to ensconce in our public “education” system. Anyone with children in school these days should be well aware that the purpose is not longer to educate, but to indoctrinate our children, and I think your comparison to the “4 olds” and communist “cultural revolutions” is very apt Kim.

  • Charles N. Steele says:

    Ultimately the Civil War *was* about ending slavery. Whether that’s different from “freeing the slaves” I’ll leave to others, but the pro-slavery Southerners hoped to expand slavery in the west while anti-slavery Northerners opposed and saw this as an attempt to prolong and expand Alavert, which they expected to die out otherwise. South Carolina’s declaration of secession, the Cornerstone Speech, and similar statements make it clear that the Confederacy was fundamentally about preserving slavery. As for the North, the Union could have been preserved without war by simply acquiescing to Southern demands on slavery.

    The fundamental issue was whether slavery would be preserved or not. Yes, the immediate issue was preserving the Union. And the flash point was South Carolina’s attack on Fort Sumter. But the Civil War really was about slavery.

    I make a big deal of this because too many of my fellow libertarians are history-ignorant and claim slavery had nothing to do with it, that the Civil War was purely about creating a massive central govt. That’s as ahistorical (anti-historical, really) as the leftist views of the Civil War.

    • Scott says:


      I don’t disagree, as I said above to GWB, I think it may be semantics, or point of view, so I’ll apologize if i’m going down the rabbit hole, but I’ll try to clarify what I meant.

      The South without question seceeded because of slavery (the fact that most southerners fought, not for slavery, but for their home states is an entirely different discussion, and contrary to what those who would rewrite history think, is not actually at odds with the idea that the secession was about slavery).
      The thing that, in my opinion, makes the war NOT about freeing the slaves, is that the North was not trying to end slavery prior to the war. As you point out, the prevailing opinion was that it would die out soon anyway. The main actions that the North had taken in relation to slavery were to prevent it’s expansion to new territories.
      So, just to make it more confusing, I believe that from the Southern perspective, the war was about PRESERVING slavery, and from the Northern perspective, it was about preserving the UNION, and the idea that we were one country, not just a collection of states..
      As GWB and others here often point out, rarely are politics, or our history simple and straight forward, they are much more often nuanced and complicated. Thanks for allowing be to expound..

      • Charles N. Steele says:

        Yes, I didn’t really mean to direct this to you and GWB. I know some otherwise sane and good people who go totally bonkers when it comes to the Civil War and spout all sorts of ahistorical nonsense. So this is a touchy subject with me; I probably need a trigger warning before reading Civil War duscussion.

      • Charles N. Steele says:

        Yes, your understanding of the fundamental motives is the same as mine,Scott.

    • Quartermaster says:

      Ultimately, the war was about forcing the south back into an involuntary union. Lincoln simply used emancipation as a ploy later in the war in an effort to cut off foreign support. The idea you support is actually the sort of thing leftists have pushed for years.

  • Charles N. Steele says:

    P.S. Autocorrect repeatedly changed “slavery” to “Alavert.” I caught most of them.

    I’m unsure how Northerners regarded the expansion of Alavert, but I know what I think of Auto”correct.”

  • baqus says:

    “Our ancestors told us what really happened. Did you know that black soldiers were put on the front line in the North and Southern front lines so they would be killed first?”

    And Elizabeth Warren is a Cherokee princess.

    President Kyle needs to do some research on his history. A few decade ago in history class (when they still taught history) I learned that black units initially were not allowed to fight in any kind of combat. Why? Because they were thought too undependable and undisciplined. What officer would send “inferior” troops into combat just to be defeated and/or destroyed? At the very least a waste of material and manpower. For the first part of the war black units were used behind the lines as support simply because they thought they couldn’t be trusted. Racist? You bet! But that’s was the way it was.

    in1863 the Union decided that non-white soldiers would be allowed in combat because Lincoln feared the Union was running out of white troops. Thus the first black combat regiment in the Union, the venerated 54th Massachusetts infantry, was formed. Sadly the 54th was all but wiped out in the attack on Fort Wagner. Granted the 54th was outgunned almost 2 to1 against a fortified positions the outcome was not surprising, but the bravery and tenacity to the 54th Mass. cannot be denied.

    No army is going to risk strategical or tactical defeat to use unwanted soldiers as “cannon fodder”

    • Kate says:

      Great point. I can never forget the work of the 54th Massachusetts infantry. Watching the movie “Glory” — the ending in particular — is burned in my memory.

    • Wfjag says:

      The Confederacy did not have black Soldiers. The closest it did was when the Union Navy anchored at New Orleans. The Freemen of Color (who had distinguished themselves in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815) were mustered to oppose the landing of Union troops. They saluted smartly, and disbanded. (After the Battle of New Orleans, the free blacks, many of whom were Creoles who had fled the 1806 Revolution in Haiti, had their rights increasing restricted. So, when called upon by those who had mistreated them to defend them, the Creoles provided an example which today’s SJWs and race hustlers could learn from, but the mistakes of which they are repeating).

      • Historian says:

        “The Confederacy did not have black Soldiers.”

        Not entirely correct. There are a few examples of “free blacks” fighting in Southern State militias in the Western theaters. However most Blacks involved in the Confederate war effort were either free blacks in support positions (teamsters, laborers) or rented slaves doing phisical labor like digging trenches, loading/unloading supplies, chopping wood, etc. Additionally, there is the peculiar case of the 1st and 2nd Louisiana Native Guard, regiments of free Creole Blacks from New Orleans, who formed these regiments in response to the LA Govornor’s call for troops immediately after secession. The had to provide their own arms and uniforms….yet never were used in any military purpose by the confederacy, being told to disband by the state…were reinstated in the panic of the Union navy entering the Mississippi….and then General John L. Lewis, of the Louisiana Militia, told them to disband *again* on April 25, 1862, as Federal ships arrived opposite the city.

        The eventually *did* serve in the war… But it was for the Union. Gen. Ben Butler reactivated the units (which later became the 73rd Regiment Infantry U.S. Colored Troops), and used them to garrison railway depots and river forts along the Mississippi.

        • Jody Hoffman says:

          In the south it was against the law to arm the blacks that’s one reason the south didn’t have black soldiers.

      • Quartermaster says:

        The south did have black soldiers. Ask Fredrick Douglass sometime.

  • cthulhu says:

    When you realize that both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War both started in Charleston Harbor, you start seeing weird historical currents…..

    • Judson says:

      The Revolutionary War started on Lexington Green in Massachusetts. There was certainly fierce fighting in Charleston Harbor later in 1776, but it was not the site of the first shots.

  • Judson says:

    Thank you! This blog post is “spot on” … kudos.

  • Jim says:

    Citizenship test guy: “All right, here’s your last question. What was the cause of the Civil War?”
    Apu: “Actually there were numerous causes, aside from the obvious schism between abolitionists and anti-abolitionists, economic factors, both domestic and international, played a significant…”
    “Just, just say ‘slavery’.”
    “Slavery it is, sir!”

  • SDN says:

    Just like our second civil war will not be fought to abolish abortion….. but the anti-abortion cause will be what gets people to shoot. In fact, it already has. John Brown started as a “terrorist”.

    • Quartermaster says:

      Lincoln’s War was not a Civil War. The south could not have cared less who ruled from the district of corruption. It was a war of imperial conquest.

  • Chris says:

    Why do we only celebrate the civil war? Why is no one worried about either of the gulf wars? Vietnam? Korea? The revolutionary war? WWI, WWII? Those seem to be important milestones. How is this the only war anyone wants to keep remembering?

    History is great. Why not celebrate our joint history? Let’s celebrate and recreate the civil rights marches. Important moments that changed our nation.

    If it has to be war, let’s celebrate D-Day! Let’s celebrate defeating Nazis, especially since they are making a comeback. If we are going to spend the time and energy, let’s talk about fighting for values we believe in against values that are despicable. Teach an important lesson to our kids.

    At the end of the day, the Civil War means different things to different people. Let’s remember and have a celebration we can all be proud of together as Americans: united we stand.

    • carb2 says:

      There are people that reenact all different periods, including all of those you mentioned. In 1994 for the 50th anniversary of D-Day there was a landing reenactment in Chicago. The congresswomen from that district was furious and wanted to shut it down because the reenactors had guns.

  • Dr. Todd says:

    As far as placing black troops on the front line is concerned, the actual truth is the opposite. Federal leaders were almost absolute in their own racism and did not trust the USCT to be anywhere near actual combat. For most of the time they were relegated to hard labor duties. Their commanders begged to be able to lead them into battle to prove their worth. Thus they accepted roles like the storming of Fort Wagner (depicted in Glory). The officers knew success was a long shot, but they needed the army commanders that the black man could fight and die just as bravely as the white man could. Their biggest chance for success was squandered at the Crater at Petersburg. Black units trained for weeks to carry out the assault. At the last minute Gen. Meade pulled them out and replaced them with new white units that had no idea what was expected of them. If the USCT had been allowed to go forward that day the war could have ended seven or eight months earlier. Because they got blamed for the failure anyway the default setting of the US Army would be “blacks can’t fight” up to the Korean War.

  • Ozymandias says:

    Bacqus is right. Initially black troops were relegated to secondary roles like guarding baggage and prisoners. They wanted to fight and prove themselves, which they eventually did. After the performance of the 54th Mass at ft. Wagner it was obvious that they were capable of fighting. They were NOT used as cannon fodder, but you’ll never convince people like Kyle of that.

    • Quartermaster says:

      The tactics of the day used everyone as cannon fodder. Napoleonic tactics in the face of rifles was foolish. Grants’ tactical murder of the Army of The Potomac in the overland campaign shows that Grant never understood that, and Lee came to it late in time for the Overland Campaign. Such blood letting was not seen again until WW1.

  • Dave47 says:

    I became enamored by the War Between the States after a visit to Fort Macon, near Morehead City, North Carolina, when I was eight years old. Over the following 4 years, there was a lot of promotion about all the events planned for the centennial of the War; First Manassas, Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, Appomattox Courthouse, etc. Most of the events would feature re-enactments by what was then called the North-South Skirmish Association. (Maybe it still is, I don’t know.)
    The observation at Manassas, Va (Bull Run for those of another persuasion) was held. None of the others were or, if held at all, were scaled down and received little media attention. Why?
    Because “Civil Rights.” The event in Illinois isn’t the first killed by political correctness. PC killed 4 years of educational opportunities in the 1960s and it didn’t even have a name yet!

  • tmavenger says:

    Those who believe that black troops were put in the front lines so they would be killed first would do well to review the final scene of the movie Glory. The black soldiers who bled and died to wipe out the scourge of slavery deserve every honor due their white brothers who gave their last measure of devotion for that same cause.

    In the Riverside cemetery in my home town of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, there’s a statue of a union soldier. Beneath it are the words, “Our loss was the world’s gain.” Try tearing that one down, assholes.

  • Richard R Brewer says:

    Lets see- 4% in the south owned slaves. So the other 96% were fighting for them? I don’t believe soldiers from Texas for example would leave their families alone on the world’s most dangerous frontier (Texas had included in its articles of secession that the federal government “had failed to protect its citizens from Indian depredations and banditti from Mexico”), walk most of 2000 miles and fight and die for 4 years for that 4%. Slavery certainly influenced secession because the North had inflicted serious tax levies against the south because they had voting majority in the congress.The war however was about the northern invasion. Monuments were later built by groups to honor those soldiers – almost always out manned and out gunned but seldom outfought

    • Quartermaster says:

      There is a scene in John Wayne’s “Undefeated” that gives the exact reason why Southrons fought. As the Major put is so simply, “This is our land, you’re on it.”

      It was that simple.

  • andy douglas says:

    What’s he want blank paper cutouts to represent the south side of the conflict? The re-enactments are usually a bunch of people who are interested in history..Not paid to do it. If the front line people had black face on would it make him happy? No that wouldn’t go either. Can’t please libs at all.

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