Inspired by this thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=538996
The Civil War has traditionally been one of the most heavily romanticized wars in American history. Even the defeated Confederates are referred to with respect, and there’s a Robert E. Lee memorial right in Arlington National Cemetery.
Why is this so? I mean, sure, not everyone who fought for the Confederacy was a slave owner, or necessarily keen on slavery. Nor were all German soldiers in WWII members of the Nazi party - but one would be hard pressed to find a German veteran of that war who feels any particular pride in his service, even if he never personally committed any war crimes. This is appropriate, to my way of thinking - the German cause in WWII was loathesome, the world is better off for Germany’s defeat, and for someone to view German military service in that war as a source of pride would be … odd. Distasteful.
By a similar token, the Confederate cause was so tightly entwined with slavery that - though the preservation of slavery was not the sole war aim of the rebels - it seems inappropriate to romanticize it, or somehow regard the Confederate soldiers as “good” guys. These were American citizens who took up arms against their countrymen in defense of one of the vilest institutions any human being ever imposed upon another - and they dragged the entire country through the meat-grinder for years.
Why don’t we view the Confederates with deep, profound disgust? Why do we honor the memories of men like Robert E. Lee, who did such grave injury to the Republic in a profoundly wicked cause?