Philip Kennicott, the Washington Post’s cultural critic, has written a terrific piece on Civil War memory and amnesia, sparked by Robert Redford’s new movie on the trial of Mary Surratt, who was executed for conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. The movie opens on the one hundred forty-sixth anniversary of Lincoln’s death.

Kennicott’s piece is an extended meditation on memory and reconciliation. Suffice it to say that the process of reconciliation the nation needed to undertake in the aftermath of the war was to heal the wounds of two hundred and fifty years of slavery.  Instead the mainstream ignored those wounds and perpetuated the racism that had made slavery possible.  For all its self-congratulation, the process of reconciliation between North and South was short on truth and short on justice.  As Kennicott reminds us, we are still living with this colossal lapse of memory.