“The Civil War”

PBS was showing the Ken Burns uber-documentary “The Civil War” again yesterday for the umpteenth time. 

I watched it for the umpteenth time.  Or rather, couldn’t watch a lot of it.  But what I did watch tells me two things that I’m guessing are opposite of what a wingnut would get out of watching it: (1) we haven’t changed much, and this is not a good thing and (2) now you know how we got the way we are — we never changed.

Many people I know who watch this series marvel at the eloquence of the long-dead who participated in that war.  What they miss is that they are hearing only a few voices.  The rest, I imagine, were as strident and stupid as those we hear today at “tea bag protests” of nothing that has actually happened recently, or will in the future.

Maybe the difference is that our forebears were more lethal than we could ever be.  But maybe that’s only because our government at the time was nowhere near as strong as it is now.  (And no, that didn’t just happen with Obama.)

Anyway, here we are nearly 150 years later, with many of the same arguments still being hurled around like rusty knives.  The only difference is, this time the plantation owners are the corporations, and the slaves are us, and the slaves themselves are deeply divided over those who are more aggressively passive (wingnuts), and the rest of us who wish for change but are frustrated by the wingnuts’ stupidity and fear at every attempt.

Mostly I’m afraid that too many people who watch this documentary are getting the wrong message, that being something about the coolness of “the old days.”  They weren’t cool, folks.  Just look at the pictures.  And then look around you today.  Take a close look.  Aside from technology, you will not see much that is different.

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