Got a question this morning which set me off. If you have been following the news, there has been a series of protests at the University of Virginia featuring White Nationalists, Alt-Right and Nazi sympathizers. There are also hundreds of counter-protesters who have put their bodies and lives at risk letting people know, these men who don’t believe in the equality of women and minorities, don’t have the freedom to oppress others without conflict. This battle has already cost the life of at least one counter-protester and injured nineteen others.
The question was posed on Quora as so many questions are, with an underlying assumption of rightness built into the question: Is the forced removal of confederate monuments worth the violence it seems to have set off?
Normally, these kind of questions don’t cross my radar. They are built with false premises and assumptions which make me want to avoid them, but today, someone died protecting what they believed in and I could not let this question slide.
Not today. Here was my response:
This is not about Confederate monuments. It never was. It was never about heritage. Unless the heritage you hope to preserve was the degradation of a subset of humanity held in bondage. Can I make it any simpler? The Confederacy was about slavery and its perpetuation. Period.
If it were up to me, I would melt, break, destroy every single one of them into their component atoms. And never look back. The rallying cry of “What about our history?”
What about it? The Confederates were traitors. The Confederates were slavers. The Confederates wanted to continue to be slavers. Period. That means this argument is not about freedom, or liberty, or history, or heritage.
This is about the perpetuation of racism, pure and simple. This isn’t about heritage because as quiet as its been kept, the Confederacy lost and should have been banished to the hall of failed movements of dubious significance.
The Confederacy is steeped in a culture of failure, a limited mindset which sought to maintain a thing that should have never happened, the enslavement of fellow Humans for the continued economic betterment of a subset of the wealthy elite.
The Confederacy is not a thing to admire. It is a failure which should be shunned. It is a part of American history which should have no monuments. It is not something to be treasured, it is a shame we should have done our very best to extinguish any lingering ideas of its nobility.
I know. It’s been a difficult one hundred and fifty years. Having to be reminded of the South’s session, act of treason and conflict with the legitimate government of the United States is a challenging state of mind.
The reason losers still cling to the ideals of the Confederacy is not because it was noble, significant or in some way meaningful, because it wasn’t. They cling to it because it was the last time in American history Whites were able to say with complete authority: They were masters of the Earth, held the lives of slaves in their hands and enjoyed this power far more than anyone should have.
They were petty men craving the greatest power they could imagine: dominance over the lives of others.
The Confederacy fought to maintain the status quo: to keep Human beings as slaves. To maintain their economic hegemony gained through the oppression, subjugation, humiliation and murder of millions of Africans held in slavery for 246 years.
Period. This wasn’t about the noble south fighting a war against Northern Aggression. This wasn’t a rebellion trying to throw off the yoke of terrible oppression. There was nothing noble about enslavement of your fellow man.
Lincoln, in his limited wisdom, thought if he allowed the South to maintain its dignity after the war was won, allowed them to place monuments to their southern heroes, the loss would not continue to split the nation further.
But his kindness became the seed of a foolish notion which persists until this modern era: the idea that the South stood for something meaningful.
It did not.
They were put down in the bloodiest military conflict on American soil. Their rebellion crushed, their leaders were not put to death. Their armies were not destroyed. Their military efforts not laid waste to.
It was the kindest revolution being quashed in history. This is why its mythology persists. This is why later generations believe their ancestors fought for something meaningful, the passage of time and the lies associated with it.
Germany learned this lesson. They destroyed everything associated with the Nazis and don’t ever allow such nonsense to take root again. Hence their reappearance in the country which spawned their destruction.
Now white Nationalists have fused their need for the national supremacy of whites with the failed hegemony sought by the neo-Confederacy to create a fusion of mentalities based upon two forces which could not defend their inane worldview socially or militarily.
Why would anyone decide it was in their best interest to pick up the standards of two groups of socially ostracized groups and think fusing their losing standards would somehow bring legitimacy to lazy, specious and rhetoric-laden thinking?
This national argument about these monuments is not about the monuments, but the monstrous heritage associated with them. The idea that White pride (also called White Supremacy) is a legitimate perspective and that Black Lives Don’t Matter, White culture is best, and White men should have a manifest destiny to determine the next thousand years of culture across the face of the world.
Sorry, if I undermined the perspective of those monuments to failure and an inability to destroy a perspective that never should have survived the war meant to free men from bondage.
It appears while it freed the descendants of the enslaved Africans hoping for a better life, it psychologically imprisoned an entire generation of white men who rather than embrace the future, they sought refuge in the failures of the past; seeking a glory that they will NEVER find.
Nothing the Confederacy supported should have cost as many lives as it did, and as it continues to do. Anyone supporting its ideals should look to history and realize small ideals attract small men to dream them.
This is America. We can do better than to follow failed dreams and broken dreamers who haven’t figured out their dreams were flawed and died believing in the worst humanity had to offer.
Though this document did NOT free slaves it was the cornerstone of a nation whose beliefs we were supposed to consider the most significant words of a free nation.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
On the plaque at the foot of the most important monument in the world, lie the words for which men have fought and died around the world believing in. The ideal of freedom for everyone, no matter how great or humble.
Belief in the opportunity to grow beyond one’s humble station. To live to be happy free from the fear of subjugation, free from the fear of abuse, misuse, exploitation or petty bigotry. If there is a monument to fight for it is this one. She asks everyone who visits her to remember this pledge which once graced every immigrant to this great nation:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” she wrote. “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I have been a member of the United States military and was proud to fight and die to protect those ideals. In my mind, they were worth fighting for. Nothing the Confederacy stood for should have ever had anyone make this ultimate sacrifice.
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