Heritage versus History

By now you’ve all heard the claim offered by a certain group that honors the Confederacy and the people who served it that what they celebrate is “heritage, not hate.”  Often this phrase is invoked in association with debates about the display of the Confederate Battle Flag/Second Navy Jack.  That sometimes this claim is followed by some rather hateful remarks is ironic, but let’s set that aside.  After all, there is another phrase worth considering…

It’s heritage, not history.

The extent to which defenders of “heritage” are actually interested in history is an interesting question.  We’ve recently seen someone who is an avowed defender of Confederate heritage declare that she has no interest in historical accuracy (and that claim extends beyond the image that has prompted some discussion on this blog).

So … what’s the difference between heritage and history?  Is there any difference?  How does defining both terms help us understand the relationship between them?  What purposes do each serve?