The Cult of the “Lost Cause”
It will take years to undo the lies invented by southern bigots. The starting point of the false history is called “The Lost Cause.” This propaganda of false history is being produced by neo-Confederate groups even today. When the South decided to leave the Union it was obvious that the reason for this decision was slavery. The slave owners wanted the freedom to maintain their system of slavery. One need only read the historical secession documents that were penned by some of the most insane bigot lunatics in American history.
There are at least seven lies that the “Lost Cause” myth makers invented. Edgar Pollard invented many of these falsehoods in his book titled, “The Lost Cause.” One of the bald-faced lies Pollard invented is that the slavery of blacks was beneficial, and that God Himself sanctioned it! According to Edward H. Bonekemper, the South relied upon racist preachers who used the Bible to convey falsehoods which would make up for the fact that the South was crushed. His book, “The Myth of the Lost Cause,” points to the second lie, which says the Civil War was about “states’ rights” and not about slavery. Neo-Confederates go out of their way spreading this lie even to this day.
The third lie invented was that the South fought a “noble”battle for “Moonlight and Magnolias,” with” chivalry,” against great odds. This was but another invention to make it appear that they were victims of “Northern Aggression.” The fourth lie involved the God-like image making of the Robert E. Lee. They tried to make him a God and even went so far as to claim he was one of the “Greatest generals of history.” This was ridiculous as he lost the war in part because he thought he didn’t have to do anything because it was all left up to divine will. He apparently cherry picked what he wanted out of the Bible, but the Bible talks about the importance of deeds. He made horrible mistakes because of this and by being too aggressive while favoring his state of Virginia over the others. According to researcher Bonekemper, all the South had to do was fight a defensive war, but instead Robert E. Lee doomed hundreds of thousands in fool hearty offensive operations.
The fourth “Lost Cause” lie involved Pollard blaming someone else for Lee’s mistakes. Instead of blaming Lee, they blamed a Confederate general named James Longstreet for what was clearly a Robert E. Lee fiasco at Gettysburg. The South only needed a stalemate to win, for as soon as Lincoln was gone they could get better conditions of surrender—eventually they did by destroying Reconstruction with Northern abandonment of black folks. The fifth lie was that Grant was a “butcher,” completely ignoring the butchering of black POWS by confederates. The sixth lie claimed that the North won by “total war, as if Lee’s foolish offensive moves were not aimed the same way.
Last, but not least, we often hear the cliché the “victors tell the story,” but in this case the losers found a way to save face—they wrote a false history that allowed for what they could not win on the battlefield to win by lynching, lies, white supremacy, and segregation. They did this with racist churchmen, with parades of veterans, and with confederate statues. The “Lost Cause” propaganda refuses to recognize the “southern Yankees” that fought against the Confederacy, and the fact that many whites refused to fight for the slave owners and deserted the confederate army in every southern state by the tens of thousands.