On August 12, a protest by various white supremacist groups against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia turned deadly. That murder was part of yet another confrontation over how we as a nation ought to treat Confederate monuments and displays of the Confederate battle flag. And of course, these confrontations are really conversations about how we ought to remember the Civil War and the Confederacy itself. This particular on-going round of national debates began a little over two years ago when a white supremacist murdered nine African-American Christians in Charleston, South Carolina. It might surprise you to know, however, that questions about how to remember the Civil War and the Confederacy began right about the moment the last guns fell silent.
In short, the United States has never fully stopped fighting a war that ended 150 years ago. As Southern writer William Faulkner once penned, “The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.”