Wrong. Most southern soldiers were racist, they just had no vested interest in slavery as an institution. But here’s the thing: most northern soldiers were racists and had no interest in abolition.
Hence, Lincoln’s famous fear of proclaiming emancipation. He knew it was politically safer to make the war about Union. Had he pushed for emancipation as a war goal, he would never have won a second term. It was, simply put, a racist time. Racism was normal and mainstream all over the country.
Blaming people for being of their time is ignorant and dangerous. Denying and erasing the past is a certain way of having it return to haunt you. This recent outburst of iconoclasm is pointless.
And why did it become an issue right now? Why not two years ago or ten years ago? Charlottesville seems almost… stage managed.