Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Of Torn Down Statues and Revisionist History

The objection to politically incorrect statues in the public square is that this is an inappropriate place to have statues of "w
orld leaders....., even enemies" according to my left-leaning friends.  I'm told it's okay to have them safely tucked away in history museums where docents can 'splain to heads full of mush how evil these people were, but to have them in public without proper interpretation is, in a word, "ridiculous". 

I beg to differ.

Jefferson Davis & Woodrow Wilson are
removed from the UT Austin campus as
Republicans join in the fun and include
Democrat icon Wilson in the purge.
During my two trips to Washington DC, I enjoyed all the statues scattered around the Capital. You can't throw a cat in DC without hitting something marble or bronze. When I visited , I did find statues of some of the guys memorialized, to be of less than honorable men. But unlike my critical friends on the left, I believe public spaces should be places to preserve history. I may find Democrats like Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson and Jefferson Davis to be men I do not admire, but they were a part of our history. Someone felt strongly enough about them to honor them in stone and metal. The statues scattered around New Orleans, for instance, are a part of the city's history. Without them, it's as though the city's darker history is being swept under the proverbial rug. And it is. Look, I have no problem if a neighborhood wants to erect a statue of, say, black communist activist W.E.B. DuBois. It's their business. Should I walk past such a statue, I would be reminded of what I know about him and what he did to set his people upon an unfortunate road and to negate the work of greater men like Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver.

I'm sorry, but the Robert E. Lee statues I do not disapprove of.
Lee abhorred slavery and believed the Confederacy should have abolished it before seceding. He felt it tarnished the cause of state's rights that was ostensibly the motivation behind secession. Stonewall Jackson feld the same way.  After the war, Lee did much to heal the rift in our nation and his example led many Southerners to reject slavery as the evil it was. Lee believed that God had abandoned the Southern cause largely because of slavery. Lee is a tragic figure and his story has much to teach us about making huge mistakes and finding redemption beyond them. 

Vladimir Lenin's statue in Seattle
Sadly, this crop of kids coming up probably don't get the lesson.  The millennial generation has spent little time even lightly perusing actual history, instead drinking in alternative (socialism-driven) history by osmosis - thinking they know the truth because Marxist professors like Howard Zinn confidently assure them that the history of the past supports the eventual rise and victory of the "progressive" socialist cause - an idea that sounds great in your head if you just don't read the actual history of socialism in the 20th century.

Everyone draws from these various monuments to men and women, great and flawed, something personal and that's not always bad. When I see Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and others, put up on pedestals by dying generations of Civil war survivors, I feel the tragedy of the Civil War in my bones. I remember how the Southern elite upper classes deceived millions as to the purpose of that war. They sold the whole "States Rights" narrative to farmers and shopkeepers who did not, nor never would own slaves and the folks Karl Marx would have called "the proletariat" fell for it hook, line and sinker. Even honorable men like Jackson and Lee who disapproved of the institution of slavery were swept along by the tide of secession against their better judgment because of a misplaced sense of loyalty and duty to their home states.

I don't think we should blot out that history lesson. Add one of those history markers to the pedestal that explains what a tragedy the whole thing was. But don't pretend the events they were a part of never happened. Don't hide the sins of the party of Nathan Bedford Forrest, James Keith, Silas Gordon, "Bloody" Bill Anderson, William Quantrill,
Henry Wirz, George Wallace, and Bull Connor.  Without such reminders, I'm afraid we're going to white-wash it all to the point where kids no longer remember how a political party and it's elite cadre of upper class Americans destroyed the lives of millions of their fellow citizens through deceit and manipulation. I WANT to be reminded of that every time I walk by one of those statues that hundreds of thousands of fools believed the lies and followed these men to their deaths and that every one believed they were doing the right thing.  Moreover, I want to remember that at one time enough people admired these men enough to build statues of them.

I need to be reminded. We all need to be reminded, because it is all happening again.

© 2018 by Tom King