Friday, August 18, 2017

Monuments of White Supremacy

According to President Trump:

"Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So, this week, it's Robert E. Lee. I notice that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself, 'where does it stop?' . . . George Washington was a slave owner. Are we gonna take down statues of George Washington? . . .  You're changing history.  You're changing culture."  

Nobody is "changing" history by removing these statues, because, quite frankly, these statues should have never been put up in the first place.  Yes, George Washington owned slaves, as did Jefferson. Our country was built by slaves. It's a fact we cannot escape no matter how badly we may want to. But there's an historically significant difference between two former Presidents of the United States and two Confederate generals who led a failed rebellion against the United States.   
And by the way, those generals led that failed rebellion against the United States specifically so that White men could continue to own slaves.  So not only were they losers, but they were losers on the wrong side of history and humanity.  Putting up a statue to honor them in the United States makes about as much sense as it would if Germany were to put up a statue of Adolf Hitler today.  Surely you can see how it would be inappropriate for a state or municipality to sanction the use of tax dollars to promote such an idea.  I'm pretty sure that no country on Earth is in the practice of building monuments to honor those who tried to destroy said country.  

Moreover, a state is bound by the Constitution to protect free speech and to not take sides. For a state to erect a statue in honor of the pro-slavery Confederacy, that is undeniably taking a side, and the wrong one to boot. If a private citizen wants to build a Robert E. Lee statue on their own private property, then that is their right. But a state or city government is held to a different standard. 

I realize certain segments of our country may feel compelled to spin the narrative of Trump's press conference as a legitimate attack on the leftist elites and their attempt to white out history with political correctness, but for the sake of our country can we please stop acting like the removal of these artifacts is some kind of attempt to "change history?"  It is not.  These statues have no place in the state-run public parks and civic spaces of the United States.  They were erected many years after the end of the civil war by Confederate sympathizers to signal to the country that the pro-slavery sentiment embodied by the Confederate South should not be forgotten.  It is true that these statues are a part of our nation's history, but that history, like all history, appropriately belongs in a museum.
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