Opinion: It’s an Example of Indoctrination to Insist the Civil War Wasn’t About Slavery

Walter Rhein

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The word “indoctrination” has been making a lot of headlines lately. Radicals always try to come to power by misrepresenting threats against children. The result is that there is a movement in the United States that claims to stand for “education not indoctrination.”

But what if I were to tell you that indoctrination is already here?

Once a person has been indoctrinated, it’s really difficult to get them to change their mind. One example is the insistence of many Americans that the Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery.

People who are otherwise intelligent and capable human beings will repeat this misconception until they are blue in the face. The reason they are so certain about this historical falsehood is that many Americans were presented with that false narrative in their high school textbooks.

All you have to do to verify that the Civil War was fought over slavery is read the original letters of secession. Those were the letters the seceding states sent to declare their reasons for leaving. In almost all of those letters, slavery is mentioned within the first few paragraphs.

Another important piece of evidence is the ‘Cornerstone Speech’ by Confederate Vice-President Alexander H. Stephens. In the ‘Cornerstone Speech,’ Stephens goes into great detail about his white supremacist beliefs.

The words of Alexander H. Stephens are particularly chilling. It’s difficult to read the ‘Cornerstone Speech’ and not come away with the idea that the Civil War represented one of our nation’s earliest battles against fascism, oppression, and evil incarnate.

Many of the problems that our country faces today are a result of being too generous in victory. History has shown again and again that when a nation fails to adequately punish the aggressions of fascists, the whole population eventually has to pay.

Today, many Americans mistakenly believe that there is no institutionalized anti-black racism in the United States. In some cases, they even try to promote the lie of institutionalized anti-white racism. This is just one of many deceitful arguments that are meant to divide the country and make the population easy to control.

Another deliberate source of confusion is the ‘Lost Cause’ narrative that tries to present the Confederate South as “noble in defeat.”

The American public has to remember that the Confederate defeat was a humiliating moment. In more recent times, we’ve seen how men of little character have responded to a public defeat. The latest example is the traitorous attack on the Capitol on January 6th, which was based on the fabricated narrative of voter fraud.

Fabricated narratives make their way into the mainstream all the time. Few people have the maturity and the responsibility to take ownership of a mistake. Instead, they try to push the blame onto others. We’re seeing this impulse with the largely fraudulent attacks on critical race theory.

There is simply a large population of individuals in the United States that refuses to educate themselves. They refuse to read historical texts. They refuse to recognize the truth.

It’s not hard to see how this indoctrination is allowed to happen. Texas happens to be one of the largest markets for high school textbooks. Of course, Texas is more inclined to purchase textbooks that present the Confederate south as “noble” rather than traitorous.

Unfortunately, the result of this ego-stroking is that the whole nation is indoctrinated to believe a lie about our history.

It’s dangerous to democracy to have large groups of people steadfastly believe a lie that’s easy to disprove. It means that intelligent people “check out” from conversations the minute you mention a fact that they’ve been indoctrinated not to believe.

They’re under control.

The United States of America is far from a perfect nation. We have many problems that need to be solved. Unfortunately, individuals who insist on believing lies about history are ill-equipped to solve the very real problems our society has to face.

The problem is that when people insist on believing a lie, they train themselves to disregard evidence that contradicts that lie. Perhaps that’s the reason some activists try to ban historical documents from schools by mislabeling them as CRT. For some, it’s easier to deny a fact than it is to reassess their interpretation of history.

Denying that the Civil War was about slavery causes a chain reaction. To believe that, people have to deny the existence of historical documents, they have to deny the need for civil rights activism, they have to deny institutionalized racism.

Rather than accept the problems of our society, these people end up living in fantasyland. Their belief system that’s based on indoctrination leads them to make bad decisions that we all end up having to pay for.

The United States of America is not going to retain its position as the leading country in the world if the population continues to believe in fantasy over fact. The malicious indoctrination that was deployed to protect the “feelings” of the confederate states is impeding our ability to succeed as a society.

It’s time for the American public to throw off the control strategies of the “Lost Cause” indoctrination and take some responsibility for the mistakes of our forefathers.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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