After the horrific and tragic murders in an historic black Charleston church last week, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has declared that the Confederate flag should be taken down from state Capitol grounds. The conversation is spreading to governments and the public in other states as well. The most common argument made against removing the flag is that it is a symbol of heritage and history, not racism and hate. Although that sentiment may seem illogical to many now, the on-going conversation around the issue tells us a lot about contemporary American culture.
We have multiple copies of a book that explores exactly these issues in a provocative and clear-eyed way. It’s a book familiar to many of us in the Moraine community, since it was our One Book, One College selection in 2012. Tony Horwitz’s Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War examines the sometimes romantic and nostalgic ways that the Civil War is remembered in the South. Horwitz, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, takes us on a tour and shows us all the ways that the war is ingrained in people’s lives. Although at times the book is very, very funny it definitely provides a no-nonsense look at serious political and social issues. A must-read for anyone who wants to think about how Americans remember the past and deal with the present.