Terry Verigan’s ignorant and inflammatory letter concerning the “offensive Confederate flag” is so full of errors it’s hard to know where to start. The letter calls the Confederacy “treasonous,” “illegal” and “illegitimate.”

The Confederacy’s secession from the Union was exactly analogous to the 13 American colonies’ secession from England. So according to Verigan, George Washington and Tom Jefferson committed the same “treason” of which Verigan accuses the Confederacy (indeed the British did hang a few for this “treason”). And the American Revolution was exactly as illegitimate and illegal as was the Confederate secession.

In fact, the Confederacy was on much firmer legal ground than was the American Revolution. There was no question that the Americas belonged to England and, indeed, George Washington must have sworn allegiance to the king many times before committing his treason. But the ratifying conventions of several states, notably Virginia, clearly intended to retain the right to secede at their sole discretion.

So blind ignorance aside, whether you support the Confederate cause or not, the fact is that the secession was both legal and legitimate.

Verigan’s conflating of the Confederacy with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan is beneath contempt and I trust needs no refutation for any sentient individual. Ditto the irrational shrieks of “murderous” and “holocaust.”

The main issue in the South’s secession was self-determination. The main issue for the North was maintaining the union (Lincoln said so many times). Southerners fought mainly to repel invading armies from their homeland, not to keep slaves (the vast majority had none). Slavery was a peripheral issue that Lincoln used after the fact as a political tool to justify his invasion, much as George Bush used WMDs to justify invading Iraq.

Verigan’s support for tearing down our history may be rooted in a vast, willing ignorance of that history.

John Foster


Baton Rouge