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From the Confederacy to Trump’s election, we must defeat the Big Lie

As with Confederate revisionist “history” on slavery and the Civil War, Republican loyalty to Trump is more important than loyalty to our Constitution and the truth.

A Trump supporter carries a Confederate flag in the Capitol Rotunda, which was breached by a mob on January 6, 2021.
 A Trump supporter carries a Confederate flag in the Capitol Rotunda, which was breached by a mob on January 6, 2021.
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

On Jan. 6, 2021, one of the insurrectionist rioters who stormed the Capitol was carrying a large Confederate flag over his shoulder. The circle is now complete: the Confederate states seceded in order to preserve both slavery and white supremacy. Since then, the Confederate battle flag has been the most recognizable symbol of white supremacy, from the Ku Klux Klan through Gov. George Wallace to the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Today, Confederate apologists still are clinging to their original Big Lie: that the Civil War was not fought to preserve slavery. This is a direct contradiction of the statements of secession from the southern states. Louisiana’s statement exemplified all others: “The people of the slave-holding States are bound together by the same necessity and determination to preserve African slavery.”

As Clint Smith writes in The Atlantic: ”[Confederate] history isn’t the story of what actually happened; it is just the story they want to believe...Confederate history is family history, history as eulogy, in which loyalty takes precedence over truth.”

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Similarly, 70% of Republicans today are clinging to Trump’s Big Lie: the 2020 election was “rigged” and “stolen.” Sen. Mitch McConnell recently said that further investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection is unnecessary. Some GOP congressman have chosen to characterize the violent insurrectionists as merely being “tourists” and that the Capitol Police were actually “harassing peaceful patriots.” And, as with Confederate “history,” loyalty to Trump is more important than loyalty to our country and its Constitution, and to the truth.

The version of “history” as it is still told by Confederate apologists should show us how a Big Lie can be successfully perpetuated for over 150 years. We must correct the record on that Big Lie, as we must correct the record on Trump’s Big Lie, before it also lives for another 150 years.

Bob Chimis, Elmwood Park

Fathers can help stem violence

Maudlyne Ihejirika alluded to it in her article on “The Magic of Mentoring,” while community activists like Andrew Holmes and others have brought it up. But in the search for answers to the never-ending cycle of violence in our area, what can never be emphasized enough is the role more fathers need to take in bringing up their children.

While it’s not impossible for a boy in particular to become successful without the guidance, positive example and love a father can provide, it’s difficult for even the best-intentioned mother or grandmother alone to keep a boy from giving in to pressure by peers and young adults to head the wrong way once he reaches adolescence. You can imagine the reaction he would get if he said, “My grandma wouldn’t like it if I did that.”

What is probably even worse is becoming aware, at a young age, that his father actually lives in the area but doesn’t make an effort to be part of a boy’s life. How can society expect a boy growing up with that knowledge to think anything but, “If he doesn’t care about me, why should I care about anyone else?” Being handed a gun by an older male to take part in a crime could easily encourage him to think, if only subconsciously, that “Here is someone who thinks I am important and can be trusted to do something big.”

What did Michael Jordan, the Williams sisters and Tiger Woods have in common, besides being determined, talented and Black? They all had fathers who took a direct role in their upbringing and guided them into becoming the best they could be. Other fathers can do much the same in other ways just by showing their love and setting a worthy example.

J.L. Stern, Highland Park

Middle East conflict

I continue, as I have for decades, to wait for a persuasive argument for the premise that Palestinians being angry at Israel is in some way unreasonable.

Curt Fredrikson, Mokena