Reenactment is fun, but it isn't history





The Hernando Historical Museum Association is supposed to teach people the truth about our past.

So how can it justify its signature event and primary fundraiser, the annual Brooksville Raid Re-enactment?...

Without context, the museum association's event, with its flags, gunfire and uniforms, is romanticism pure and simple — glossing over history, stirring people up about it, not teaching it. And this starts with the portrayal of the raid itself.

The re-enactors wear uniforms and advance in orderly lines like the troops at Gettysburg. There were about 1,500 of them this year, and, after a few hundred Confederate re-enactors agreed to switch sides, they were evenly divided between North and South....

...In fairness only one person I interviewed went so far as to say the United States would have been better off if the South had won the war. This was Chuck Allen, who like [Doug] Davis is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the group that recently erected that infamous slap in the face of racial harmony, the massive Confederate battle flag at the junction of Interstates 4 and 75....

First off, just discussing the possible upside of the South's victory ignores its rather dramatic downside: the continuation of slavery. Secondly, none of the historians I talked to had heard the life expectancy statistic Allen cited. And even if some owners did treat slaves well — the slaves were their property, after all — praising this ignores the system of terror that kept slavery in place.

"There's the threat of violence, the reality of violence and the huge threat of families being broken up,'' said Matt Gallman, a history professor at the University of Florida....

There's the timing — celebrating the Confederacy at about the same time each year as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is when we honor a man who died fighting the worst of the Confederacy's lingering injustices.


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