Every year on Independence Day, we celebrate the fact that the past is not past, coming together as a nation to celebrate the past, to revere the past, to honor the collective ideals upon which our nation was founded. We pay tribute to the ideals of freedom and liberty and remember that "all men are created equal."
If after 150 years we're finally going to consign the Confederate flag to the dustbin of history and to the exhibit cases of museums, we have to make sure we bury the entirety of what that flag stands for as well. It is too late to bring the traitors of 1861 to justice, but surely we can stop treating them as perverse heroes, and we can start calling the Confederacy what it really was.
In the aftermath of the racist murders of nine African Americans in a venerable church in Charleston, South Carolina, Americans are beginning to talk more openly about the issues of race and race relations in our nation. But a common denominator of much of this discussion is the absence of factual historical information about American slavery.