Ignoring our history doesn’t solve social injustice!
I’m sad about the destruction of our history. Some people within minorities might feel “uncomfortable” around so many statues of Confederate leaders in the South. I fully understand the need to remove those statues from the hallmark locations in city squares if the community, as a whole, wants that to happen. I disagree with local city administrators taking it upon themselves to remove those statues in the dead of night.
The statues were erected with broad citizen support and they should, be removed and or located in more appropriate settings with that same broad citizen support. The local citizens should have the right to debate the issue and vote the dictates of their conscience. Local administrators should have the common sense to realize that totally sanitizing our history does nothing to solve the problems of poverty and lack of education which are the two big perpetrators of bad race relations. Finding a spot for these statues in a more educational environment which shows America’s past more clearly might be a better option than their destruction.
These Civil War monuments bear testimony to a truly American disagreement about what should have more control over the destiny of the people. Should it be each state or should it be the federal government. This conflict came about at a time when State’s Rights, and loyalty to one’s state, was far greater than it is today.
It is why it took Robert E. Lee three days to make up his mind as to whether he would fight for his home state of Virginia, or for his country. Fighting beside his friends and neighbors rather than against them became more important. He wasn’t a slave owner, and Virginia, leading up to the Civil War, had been converting its economy to wheat and corn production and had been slowly divesting itself of its slave population. Slavery was the moral issue of the war, but the war was rooted in solving the issue of how strong the bond was to be between states in a federalist system of governance.
But what about Columbus? Washington? Jefferson? They owned slaves, black men, women and children sold into horrible bondage by other black warriors in Africa for money and trade goods. Had there been no black warrior conflicts in Africa where one sold one’s neighbors of a different tribe into slavery, the slave trade would have been impossible. If slavery had been rejected by wealthy white slave owners as improper or immoral, that would have been the end of it. Instead, they looked to create a wealthier privileged culture.
In the North slavery was over with by 1800 because it was not deeply imbedded in a culture supported entirely by slavery. The North through the federal government stopped importation of all slaves to America by 1803 and outlawed it in the last state (South Carolina) by 1810. This was a warning that southern culture was in danger and by 1865 America had killed 650,000 young men to decide the issue of slavery and state’s rights once and for all (at least I hope we did). The cultural issue of black racial prejudice continues to this day, but with great strides forward for all minority communities since World War II.
If it were not for Columbus we would not be here. If not for Washington we would not have won the Revolutionary War or had an effective Constitution and a precedence-setting first presidency with a peaceful transfer of power. Without Jefferson we would not have the words of the Declaration of Independence which Abraham Lincoln found so inspiring. Jefferson, as our third president, also doubled the size of our nation through the Louisiana Purchase.
They were all flawed men, more so by today’s standards. Without them there would have been no foundation on which to build our free society.