By very special request, I have sat down to talk about why Cinco de Mayo is the most American Holiday – on one of the most American days – there could be.
Our story begins with a simple question: Why exactly were the French fighting in Mexico in 1862?
When you understand how we got to that moment, when the French thought that they could use Mexico as a tool for international intrigue, the complicated relationship between the US, our “friends” the French and our neighbor Mexico one can begin to see that when the 5th of May rolls around, there’s more reason for Americans to celebrate than you might think.
So… let’s take a trip back in time and talk about the 5th of May, 1862…
Almost daily we are told by some pundit somewhere, that we “have never been more divided.” I think that intellectually we know that isn’t true. But history is past, not always prologue. And without any experiential relationship to it, we find it easy to disconnect from it. We don’t know what happened, except in the broadest of sense, and so it is easy to both ignore its lessons and – like a teenager after a first breakup – believe that nobody could possibly understand what we are going through right now.
When it comes to the American Civil War of 1861-1865, there are any number of passions, beliefs, arguments, nostalgic wanderings and even warmed over arguments that it’s hard sometimes to keep it all straight. If you want to really start an argument by dropping a grenade into a conversation, just bring up any of the controversial aspects of the Civil War (my personal favorite is, “Could the South have won?”). Then walk over and get your popcorn.
Here we are, one hundred and fifty-two years after the end of the War, and now we have decided that Confederate Monuments need to come down because, hurt feelings. I guess.
Look. I’ll be the second person to say it: Confederate Monuments are the ultimate Participation Trophy. Literally they say “2nd Place, American Civil War.” And while I will also argue that the Confederate States of America was an evil thing in its time, what exactly does tearing down monuments actually accomplish? Supporters of the monuments claim that we can “learn from them.” Fine. Conversely, What is the lesson a person takes away from a statue of Jefferson Davis?
If education and enlightenment are to be our focus, instead of “feelings” and emotions, when we tear down all of these monuments because, hurt feelings, with what do we replace them? More importantly, when we erase this history, regardless of its stench, what gets reinforced in our corporate minds? That we have never “been more divided?”