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I read Mr. John P. “a proud Virginian” Williams’ response (The Mail, 8/7) to Dan Shea’s letter (The Mail, 7/31) in which Mr. Shea compares the Confederates and the German SS. While not wanting to get involved in a lengthy debate about an issue as complex as the Civil War, some inaccuracies in Mr. Williams’ letter must be addressed:

1) “[T]he Confederates were not [the aggressors].” Let us not forget who fired upon whom at Fort Sumter, 4:30 a.m., April 12, 1861. Additionally, the Confederate States of America issued a declaration of war against the United States of America May 6, 1861, whereas the United States never declared war at all.

2) “[T]he Confederates did not [help carry out mass genocide].” Forgetting for a moment the millions who perished in the slave trade, I seem to recall an Auschwitz-type “gated community” at Andersonville….

3) “The Confederacy is part of our national heritage and history; the SS is not.” True enough, but the Confederacy is as shameful a part of our heritage and history as the SS is of the Germans’. The difference is that (most) Germans seemed to have learned a lesson from past errors.

4) While I’ll take Mr. Williams’ word about his family history (despite his tenuous grasp on other factual matters), the proposition that Mr. Shea is “free to write such drivel” because of Mr. Williams’ forebears’ belligerence is questionable, especially if Mr. Shea happens to be black.

An even prouder non-Virginian,

Capitol Hill

via the Internet