Romancing The War

War re-enactment is a popular way for us Americans to remember our history…..down here where I live it is Civil War re-enactment……every year we have the weekend of reliving the famous battle of the Mississippi Coast….the problem is it is all made up there was NO famous or otherwise battle of the Mississippi Coast…..but yet the locals romanticize the death and destruction of the Civil War.

My question is….WHY?

In his book The Red and the BlueSteve Kornacki offers an illuminating and concise history of the birth of contemporary political tribalism in the United States, tracing its origins back to the 1990s in the defining political contest between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and the Republican Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. In retrospect, cast in a Long Edwardian Summer nostalgia, followed by the attacks of September 11 and the ensuing war on terror, the 1990s were indeed a time of political turmoil in the U.S. that periodically discharged into acts of political violence and terrorism, culminating in the Centennial Olympic Park and Oklahoma City bombings. Although political tribalism was not the direct cause of these acts of domestic terrorism, commentators at the time noted the poisoned political climate made such violent manifestations at least more likely.

Curiously, the rise of political tribalism in the 1990s, similar to the 1960s, coincided with a general rise in interest in the U.S. Civil War, America’s bloodiest and most costly political conflict. Since its conclusion in April 1865, the Civil War, cloaked in Lost Cause mythology, has inspired anti-federal government and white supremacist ideology like that of William Luther Pierce, a fierce defender of the antebellum South and the author of the dystopian racist novel The Turner Diaries, which inspired the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh. The depiction of the Civil War in print and film in the late 1980s and early 1990s appealed much more to the broader masses than it had in prior times.

I wish I could give a good reason why adults want to play war……but I got nothing.

9 thoughts on “Romancing The War

  1. Over here, we have many keen reenactors. Everything from medieval knights in armour, to our own English Civil War, The Napoleonic Wars, and even the US Civil War. They don’t stop in the 1860s, as WW2 has its fans as well. Some are useful to show history, others merely income generation for special events at tourist sites.
    I once went all the way to Belgium, to watch a reconstruction of the Battle Of Waterloo staged on the real battlefield. But there were nowhere near enough ‘soldiers’, few artillery pieces, and a smattering of cavalry. It was rather sad.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Fighting to defend our group against predators and other groups/tribes is part of our DNA. That is why sports and favorite teams are so popular. I am still amazed at the animosity between college over their football rivalry. It gets to the point of being unwholesome or past that point.

      1. Now that you mention it I read something to that effect recently. Look forward to your summary and a reference or link. Not being in our DNA would be good news.

  3. I do have great difficulty with reenactment. Certainly with the ones that have WWII as their POI.
    It makes a war, a battle a sort of an experience without the cruelty, distraction, procecution, bombing etc. a war, a battle is.
    As my father was still 15 as WWII begun and my mother was just 17, brought to us, their children, all born after WWII, war and all what it is

    1. on a very personal level.
      I know they have known great fear, many hardships, great uncertainty, hunger destruction.

      Reenactments do make war a game.
      That’s why I don’t like games that take WWII, or wars in general, as something for a game.

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