by Charles Lemos,
I found this portion of the transcript Shirley Sherrod's interview on CNN in the wake of Andrew Breitbart's deceitful editing of the NAACP Freedom Dinner video rather interesting.
HARRIS: The reaction to your reaction to essentially being condemned by the NAACP?
SHERROD: That hurts, because if you look at my history, that's what I'm saying. I've done more to advance the causes of civil rights in this area than some of them who are sitting in those positions now with the NAACP.
They need to learn something about me. They need to know about my work. They need to know what I've contributed through the years.
HARRIS: What was the point of the story you were telling to the NAACP in March? What was the point?
SHERROD: The point was to get them to understand we need to look beyond race, to look at working together. I've said to audiences here, not just that one -- and, in fact, I spoke at a housing conference in a county just south of here, and I said, "Look, we need to get beyond the Civil War."
This November will mark the sesquicentennial of the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency and next year will mark the sesquicentennial of the start of the American Civil War. Six hundred thousand Americans would die during that conflict between North and South and it remains in my view to this day the defining moment in American history, setting in motion the basic pattern of interaction that still dominates American political life.
To many Southerners, it remains the War of the Northern Aggression and having lost it on the battlefield a segment of Southern society has spent the last 150 years trying to win that war in the history books, in the media, in the Congress, in the courts, and in the court of public opinion. Some of the questions those of us outside think the war settled, in the minds of many Southerners remain open questions.
For a large number of Southerners, the Civil War is an obsession but for most of us outside the South we are unaware of their obsession. How many non-Southerners know what the Morrill Tariff Act of 1861 is? I would hazard not many but to many Southerners it is a cause célèbre even if they wrongly believe that Morrill Tariff Act was the cause of the war. So, Mrs. Sherrod's plaintive exhortation resonates with me in part because I don't think the South as a whole has gotten beyond the Civil War and it is an issue that is both perplexing and troubling.
The war was a watershed. Before the war, Americans would say 'the United States are' implying that the United States was a collection of independent sovereign states but after the war, grammatically that changed to "the United States is" signifying a change in one's own self-awareness and self-perception. Certainly when Thomas Jefferson spoke of his country, he meant Virginia. There are, no doubt, those today who think themselves Texans, to pick the most flagrant case, before they think themselves Americans but before the Civil War that was a common sentiment no matter which part of the country you hailed from. Today, that sentiment is largely confined to Southerners, to a few in far-flung Hawaii or Alaska and perhaps a Vermonter or two.