What are the main points of Horwitz’s conclusion that the “issues at stake in the Civil War – race in particular – remained raw and unresolved?”

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Horwitz's conclusion is built on the idea that the issues and intensity of focus that helped to bring about the Civil War is still percolating under the surface today.  Especially seen in the South, the issue of race and racial identity in the face of "the other" are as relevant today as they were in the Civil War times.  Faulkner's notion of "The past isn't dead, in fact it isn't even past" is highly relevant given Horwitz's findings.  Many White Southerners who revel in the Civil War find some level of nostalgia in it that obscures some of the horrific and anti- democratic elements of pre- Civil War South.  The clinging to such an identity is almost to a point where it is seen as a sanctuary from the forces of change and conflict that are present today.  Horwitz finds an extreme amount of apologies for the elements of the past influencing how many White Southerners act in the present.  For African- Americans, especially young people of color, Horwitz finds that the Civil War is an exercise in futility.  Racism has taken on a new form, a "new word for slavery" in the words of one of the young men.  The lessons of emancipation and fighting towards equality are not seen as immediate pearls of the Civil War experience.  For African- Americans, Horwitz finds that the relevance of the war today does not bring them any closer to their White counterparts.  In this configuration, where both sides are equally separated from the Civil War and unable to find common ground as a result ot it, the issues of race and racial reconciliation are raw, at best.


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