For those of you who remain, a Facebook friend told me (yesterday) about something trending on Twitter - a hashtag, #SecondCivilWarLetters.
I rarely blog about politics, and I didn't mean to today, when we are supposed to be celebrating our Independence Day and remembering what the price of freedom is. But I was intrigued and decided to read some of these tweet "letters", as I am an occasional student of the American Civil War.
During the 150th anniversary (2011-2015) I had a weekly Civil War Sunday feature - you are welcome to look it up and read my posts, if you are so inclined. I am not a "buff", nor a historian - just someone who enjoys history.
For those who haven't heard the story of how Second Civil War Letters came to be on Twitter yesterday, a brief summary: a man (I refuse to name or link to him) declared, on Monday, that the Democrats were going to start a Civil War today, the 4th of July, the day we in the United States celebrate as our Independence Day.
The Twitterverse quickly took revenge - people tweeting out "letters" in the style of letters written by soldiers of the first (and hopefully, only) American Civil War. Some were literate. Some, in fact, were pretty well done. Some poked fun of liberals, all poked fun at the "other side" and some were just plain mean.
OK, I get it. The Battle of Bowling Green (aka the "Bowling Green massacre"), the liberal's love of avocados and Starbucks, the dreaded covfefe.
I learned what "kek" meant. I had just heard about the Space Force and learned more about various memes than I ever wanted to.
But after a few too many "letters" especially one describing the (satirical) last words of a dying "alt right" soldier, I sobered up and stopped laughing, because, in fact, a second Civil War is no laughing matter.
My ancestors did not come to the United States until well after the Civil War ended. It is in my DNA, though, as a third generation American. I was born and raised in New York City, but I have lived parts of my life in the South - the former Confederacy - in Florida, Texas, and Arkansas, to be exact. And Kansas - once known as Bloody Kansas. The Civil War lives on in these places.
|A monument to Confederate soldiers, Charleston, South Carolina|
The death toll from the Civil War is hard to know, but estimates vary from 620,000 to 850,000 for military- possibly two percent of the then-population of the United States. The 620,000 figure comes from a study done around 1889 The higher figure is more recent.
The number of "casualties" at Gettysburg - a three day battle that concluded on July 3, 1863 - dead and injured - 51,000. That's more than the population of Binghamton, New York, where I work.
Let's not forget those taken prisoner in the war (I know someone descended from one of them). Andersonville (South Carolina). Elmira (New York) and many other prisoner of war camps, on both sides stand as monuments of horror today, as Americans descended to depths we would hope we would never descend to again.
One hundred fifty seven years later, we still can't even agree about the causes of that war.
I fear we are heading towards a second American Civil War, as we turn against our neighbor, against our relatives, against our co-workers. We can not seem to have any civil (no pun intended) conversation anymore. Fake news rules. People receive death threats on social media for expressing their opinions.
Neo-Nazis and their sympathizers can openly deny the Holocaust and be taken seriously. They were allowed to gather near a synagogue in Charlotteville, Virginia on the Jewish Sabbath one August Saturday (the Charlottesville police having turned away the synagogue's requests for protection) hours before one of their kind allegedly rammed a car into a crowd of counterprotestors.
On this, the 242nd anniversary of our Declaration of Independence, I implore you to think twice about a second American Civil War. Let us remember the toll of the first. Let us remember how the trauma still lives with us today.
It's good to laugh for a few minutes.
But then, there is work to be done to make sure the Second Civil War never happens. One of those opportunities may come soon to a community near you, and will certainly come in November.
Write your Congressperson or Senator. Subscribe to you local newspaper and read it. Become informed. Be respectful, always.
And then, VOTE.
Day four of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #BlogBoost