on much of the american left, a pernicious, conspiracy-minded view of the civil war and its outcome has taken hold. the ratification of the thirteenth amendment, which abolished slavery, is in particular held in low esteem by many on the identitarian left today. this view, as put forward in the much-praised netflix documentary 13th, holds that the amendment was phrased in such a way as to allow, sneakily, for the continued bondage of black americans through penal servitude. this means slavery continued after the war, some argue. and of course, confederate apologists likewise view the union’s abolition of slavery as a cynical ploy, as being more about the preservation of northern power than expanding liberty. while modern-day leftists may, rightfully, despise the confederacy, they show little reverence for the union and the men who ended slavery. the cause of defending the republic is not something that animates many on the anti-confederate left today. they do not see the promise of the declaration of independence, which was reiterated by lincoln at the battlefield of gettysburg, as, ‘an uncashed cheque’, in martin luther king’s memorable phrase; they are more likely to see it as an outright lie.as should be clear from the absence of pro-republic sentiment, this phoney civil war re-enactment isn’t about the civil war at all. indeed, many of the confederate apologists a...