Up on my soap box for a moment – feel free to scroll on past, or not. Just do me a favor, and don’t drop any ignorant, uneducated, and/or uninformed troll posts here.
I will cuss, have no doubts, but it will be in general conversation, and not aimed at any one person in particular so, keep that in mind and don’t take anything I say as a personal attack on YOU. Respectful discourse is, as always, welcome:
This is just a quick note to all the folks posting memes and comments claiming that the “Removal of confederate statues is the same thing as erasing history”:
No. It. Fucking. Isn’t.
Oh, and if you think arguing this point makes you appear smarter than the historians and teachers and museum curators who’re are telling you “Wrong!”…well, you’d be mistaken again. It really fucking doesn’t.
Now, stop already with that false equivalency. This has nothing to do with erasing any kind of history. It never has had anything to do with erasing history. And that’s the game that’s being played. Right now. Right under our noses. Open your eyes and see it, before it’s too late.
What’s it all about?
Here’s the deal: Confederate statues are monuments to those who tried to secede from the US. They were traitors to the Constitution of the United States of America and were hell bent on keeping people of color in chains, to keep them viewed as nothing more than a valuable commodity to be bought and sold. Nor more, no less. This is a point that no one. No. One. Can. Argue. If you say: “Robert E. Lee was a HERO!”, then you are raising a traitor, someone who fought a fucking WAR for the right to BREAK AWAY from the United States of America, to a “hero” status. You can’t call him a hero AND claim to be a proud American. No. Just stop. Shhh. It doesn’t work like that.
These statues that are being taken down are not being destroyed so, just quit with that noise, please. These statues are being moved to museums, where they belong. History is not being erased. Museums, books, and military parks such as Shiloh National Military Park in Shiloh, Tennessee (part of the U.S. National Parks Service) are still here to teach how the Civil War started. They’ve been doing it on a daily basis – some for decades and some for more than a century – and and they will continue to do so. It’s what they’re created for, and they do a damn good job at educating those who really want to know that history.
Welcome to class
These parks, and books, and museums teach the politics behind the decisions that led to the Civil War. They teach about the massive loss of life, the division, the financial upheaval on both the Union and Confederate sides. They teach about slavery, a major player in the decisions that led to the outbreak of war. They talk about the personal toll on African American slaves, they talk about the financial toll on plantation owners. They put it all out there for people to see. They shine a light on it so no one can ever claim ignorance.
You can’t get there from here
This is the kind of history that can only be learned in places that are set up to teach the intricacies of something so complicated as a war among a country’s people. This is the kind of history that SHOULD be relegated to memorial parks, and books, and museums. You will not find the history of this dark time in our country’s past hiding behind a statue of Robert E. Lee – a man who fought to KEEP people in chains, no better than cattle. It’s not mentioned anywhere on his statue. In fact, his statue simply states his name with his birth and death year. This is a memorial, it’s dedicated to the memory of Lee, not to the memory of the atrocities of the Civil War, not to the lessons we learned or, in this case, have failed to learn.
You keep talking about Lee, but he’s not the only memorial!
You’re correct. He’s not. There are memorials spread out all over the south, and some in the north, that celebrate Roger B. Taney, Stonewall Jackson, and other ambiguous “unsung confederate heroes.” They’re all a disgrace. Every last one of them. These monuments and memorials were placed during the era of Jim Crow, and Civil Rights. They were placed in areas where the population is predominantly African American. They were placed in response to the rise of Civil Rights in this country. They’re meant as reminders to the Black people in this country that, at one point in our history, they were considered “less than.” And then, as if this wasn’t enough, these memorials were lifted high and literally put on pedestals to look DOWN on those same people. To hell with that, if the shoe were on the other foot, I’m sure you, me, any other fair-skinned and thin-skinned American would be frothing at the mouth to “tear’em down.”
Make no mistake, these aren’t heroes
These are people who viewed fellow human beings as sub-human, as less than human, without rights to their own bodies, their own religion, their own families. These are the type of people who don’t DESERVE a monument.
Use logic. We don’t make “monuments” to the losers in any war, do we? No. We don’t.
We have a monument to the folks who died on the USS Arizona during Pearl Harbor, we do NOT have a statue dedicated to Yamamoto Isoroku, the man who planned and carried out the attack.
We have a monument to the people who died at the World Trade Center in NY, but we don’t see Osama Bin Laden’s likeness immortalized in bronze anywhere on the site.
There are hundreds of Holocaust memorials around the world that inspire thoughtful reflection, but you will never find a statue at one of those memorials with Hitler’s face on it.
We create monuments and memorials to remember those who showed great bravery in service TO our country, not AGAINST our country. We create monuments and memorials to those suffered – and died – at the hands of oppressors.
We create parks and museums dedicated to the history behind the Civil War. We identify the historic sites on which battles took place so, when we walk there among the silent hillsides, the gravity of what took place is not lost. These sacred places already exist – both Union and Confederate. THIS is where the statues belong, not in front of our courthouses, or in our downtown parks, or on the front of our middle schools.
So, what now?
We can’t allow this issue to be reduced to something as simple as someones “feelings” being hurt. This isn’t a left/right, liberal/conservative, Dem/GOP issue. This should never, ever be a partisan issue. To treat it as such is a slap in the face to every man, woman, child, and family destroyed by the Civil War – both black and white, both north and south. That war, and all it stood for, is a stain on our history as a country – one we must own fully. It deserves attention, it deserves respect, and it deserves to be documented as meticulously as any other historically significant military operation. Remembering and documenting, however, should not be confused with celebrating. There is nothing celebratory about a war.
Statues can have a place in the historical record, but when we put the value of a statue commemorating traitors above the value of an entire section of our population, we’ve failed as a country. We must never forget, or minimize, the lives destroyed by the distorted thinking and defective mindsets that insisted, to the point of war for Christ’s sake, that a particular group of humans was “less than.”
Removing these statues is one very small step in righting a wrong.
That’s what this is all about. Stop equating it with something as petty as a schoolyard taunt. It’s far more complicated than that – and if you stopped and thought about it from a different perspective, you’d see know it.
Born Southern Raised Boston