A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Confederate War Memorial: First on our list of unwanted statues is this 60 foot monstrosity in Dallas, Texas. (photo: Wikimedia)
Kali Holloway is a Senior Director and Senior Writing Fellow at the Independent Media Institute.
All images are included in Vox Populi for educational use only.
Politically correct or incorrect are misnomers for this situation. I prefer “ethically proper” when considering actions. Waiting for authorities to act obviously does not work or the statues would have been gone long ago. One could start with, as we did in St Louis, graffiti. Removing plaques that are often attached is helpful and chipping little pieces off helps.
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I am do disgusted at modern day “activists” that do not comprehend that while slavery was an important means of living by some peoples thoughts, as they had known no other way of life, for others slavery was not an issue. They fought because they did not want others many hundreds of miles away telling them what to do. And we need to get rid of our black/white idea that it is only the whites that owned the blacks. Many a person of color owned another person as a slave. It was not based so much on just a color line. THE MAIN POINT IS THAT THE WAR AGAINST SLAVERY IS STILL GOING ON. For some people physical slavery has been replaced by economic slavery and in many cases the words of William Lloyd Garrison are as true today as they were prior to 1861.
Most of all, most southerners at that time, I believe, were just trying to protect the only way of life they knew. AND they had created an institution which they felt if all the enslaved people were set free, they would be outnumbered in a true democracy. They were right. And if you have lived a life of privilege the concept of not having that position could have been terrifying.
But many of the boys in the North signed up to fight because, in the words of my great grandfather “no man should have to work for another man just because of the color of his skin”. Andrew Jackson Knight lied about his age to get into the war. I think he was more like 12 than 16, if I remember the story my Dad told me.
The armies of the South surrendered. The Government never did surrender. I think that is important to note. So for many people the war really never ended.
Like NAZI Germany, it was a movement and whereas the principles for which someone signed onto this movement might vary from person to person because they identified with the movement they supported it even if they might not really like he idea of slavery as an institution.
We humans are a peculiar lot. We say something. We stand for something. And if we latter find out probably we should not have taken that position, we just sort of “fade into the background” instead of publicly saying “Gosh I have more information now and have changed my position. I no longer believe such and such is right and I do NOT support it now.”
I think somehow we still need to understand that it was honorable people that mostly erected these statues not so much for the person represented there but to feel a little better about the sons and nephews and cousins and brothers and friends that died for this cause. This was one of the bloodiest parts of our nation’s heritage and even though many could not come to grips with the fact that the overwhelming industrial capabilities turned the war in their favor and won the military victory in the end, the hearts and minds of the southern states did not change. The evil perceived as being embodied by a northern person seemed to be validated by the different ways of approaching things they had. The ‘manners’ of the south were not seen in the actions of the Union soldier who might have come from a rural farm.
The framers of our constitution felt that if slaves were no longer imported in the whole institution would die out.. They should have instead enacted some form of legislation to phase out slavery, but they were trying to just agree together to form a nation even if they could not agree on all things, in essence we were formed as a compromise, a confederacy.
But to negate the honor of folks great grandfathers might be something many people can not do.
I think we need to honor the good and quietly retire the monuments to the bad.
BUT how we do that, that is another question entirely.
I just get irritated at the people that use the current politically correct way of thinking to justify their demands of today. I dare say that if this was 1860 and these same people grew up in Richmond VA, their politically correct thinking would be in supporting slavery.
What I am saying is that for many it has nothing to do with the ideas or ideals of either the north or the south but rather in what their group or clique wants to do.
I am not certain all these monuments need to go first. I think what we need to do first is to have the people so educated that they do not want to have these pieces of stone glorifying something they no longer support.
Then it is not something forced upon them, but it truly is the “will of the people”.
Somehow the self identification of being ‘from the south’ needs to be re-aligned with values all can see as important.
At the end of the “war between the states’ some people committed suicide. They just felt they could not breath one more breath in a system they could not agree with. The same thing happened in NAZI Germany at the end of WWII.
I am saying that in both of these historic instances, the governments involved did not surrender. The cause did not change. American Indians did not have a national decision to join with our nation. Our military overwhelmed them into submission. BUT that submission was not of the soul and spirit, it was only to keep the tribal remanent alive.
So slavery needs to be abolished everywhere. Economic slavery and all forms of slavery.
Not just historically but actually in practice today.
That means you don’t pay the boy who mows your lawn less money than you should because you can get him to do it for less.
I dare say that in some other ways, those of us who want the statues of the confederacy removed are just as tied to our own benefits from un-earned privilege.
It is not so much a remove the statue or remove the flag issue. It is deeper. It is change the spirit. It is honor the other person as also a child made by God.
On so many things we agree.
I am just knee-jerk responding to the idea of the monuments coming down and feeling that if we do just that we drive sentiments more under ground.
It is a complex issue and maybe I should not have said a thing.
BUT what you have here is my thoughts as I write and as I WRITE also I see the complexity of the issue and how we need to really think and plan about these things so we can help a whole area honor the good of the past while letting the bad sort of fade away in the dust of history.
Also it is probably important to note that most of the Civil War was fought on southern soil.
How would we feel if Lee’s advance had succeeded and the confederacy had won and it was not acceptable to erect a statue to Grant, etc.
I am not the man to form a solution.
I started with a clear response and have ended up with knowledge this is probably to complex for me.
Thanks, Charlie. Your insights are always welcome.
For me, all Statutes related to the Confederacy are unwanted. But how to deal with these racist supporters of Trump that are leading the USA to a an authoritarian, fascistic regime.
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