Another house of cards post. No real spoilers, and anybody interested in Virginia/Civil War history should have their attention held. I won’t go into the details of the show, but basically, Frank is in Spotsy, for a museum opening, and reinactment. He says, “I personally take no pride in the Confederacy. Avoid wars you can’t win and never raise your flag for an asinine cause like slavery.” One wonders if Frank thinks slavery was an asinine cause because of its moral implications, or simply how futile its defense was. One probably doesn’t wonder long, if Frank cared about the morality of the issue, he probably would have chose a word other than asinine.
This episode of HOC got me thinking about American culture and the romanticism of the Civil War. The episode foils those who fought, and in many cases died, for what they believed in (however misguided you may happen to believe them to be), with Frank’s more contemporary yet Machavellian FU style of politics. In the latter, one does whatever one must at whatever cost (including their beliefs) to gain more power.
Its easy to see how WWII is romanticized. We fought Evil Nazis, and ended a holocaust. Thats just about as close to black and white, good vs evil as it gets. Romanticizing a fight to maintain slavery is more challenging. If you frame it as being about State’s Rights, that helps. But what this HOC episode really got me thinking about is this: Despite what you’re righting for, if you sacrifice yourself for a cause, your state, land, way of life, family, the man next to you, etc., it is at least to some degree romantic. Its probably the same reason suicide bombers are revered by some people, in some parts of the world, despite how evil and horrific what they do really is. I think its difficult to argue that there is not something innately romantic about self sacrifice. The Machivellian pursuit of power is much less romantic, and its going to be harder and harder to cheer for Frank as the story continues.
Later in the episode, another character who lost a relative who fought for Mao Zedong, says to Frank, “Your ancestor fought for the losing side, there is no sacred ground for the conquered.” In the context of the episode, and despite coming from a man from China, it really speaks to the American (but I guess more generally capitalist) idea best stated by Ricky Bobby. If you ain’t first, you’re last.
I consider myself a proud Virginian, American, and Capitalist, but HOC is a very good thought-provoking show that will get you in a reflective philosophical mood. Check it out.
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