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In “Conservatives can’t win the history wars,” Matt Yglesias claims that when his wife was a kid in Texas she learned about “the war of Northern Aggression.” Yglesias was born in 1981, so I will assume his wife is the same age and attended Texas public schools from roughly 1986-1998. I find it hard to believe that, even in Texas, students learned the “lost cause” version of the Civil War.
I grew up in Florida in the 70s and 80s. Maybe not the deep South, but definitely not a progressive utopia. I learned about the evils of slavery, the rapaciousness and violence of Southern slaveowners, the broken promises of Reconstruction, and the brutal unfairness of the Jim Crow era. Martin Luther King, Jr. was presented as a national hero equal to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, a liberator who forced a recalcitrant country to finally reckon with our national sins. I did hear the phrase “War of Northern Aggression” from teachers, but tongue-in-cheek, an absurd aside to point out how backward and delusional “some people” used to be in the South.