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Old Times There Are Best Forgotten

Why government-funded agencies should display Confederate symbols only at historic sites or museums

LeeStatueCharlottesvilleCharlottesville.orgCHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—White supremacist provocateur Richard Spencer showed up in my town this past Saturday to roil the debate over the city council's planned removal of statues of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Spencer and a few score folks carrying flaming tiki torches gathered in Lee Park, a couple of blocks from my house, where they chanted, "What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced," and "Russia is our friend." Of course, Spencer and his associates have, as my Reason colleague Robby Soave points out, the constitutional right to their express their views in public.

Spencer and his supporters are, as usual, in the wrong. The time has come to remove from public land the monuments honoring the men who led the Confederacy to defeat. But doing so doesn't mean we must then move on to purging slave-owning Founders or even memorials for dead southern soldiers. Looking back requires us to balance the good and the bad, and—on balance—Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and other Confederate leaders simply don't make the cut.

Before delving more deeply into the Confederate memorial controversy, let me set out my Southern bona fides. I was born in Texas and reared on my family's dairy farm in the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia. Our county schools were racially integrated in 1963 when I was in the third grade. My third grade Virginia history book referred to the Civil War as the War Between the States and asserted that that conflict was chiefly over state's rights. Virginia Generals Lee, Jackson, and Stuart were portrayed as honorable and heroic defenders of Southern rights.

My high school's team name was the Rebels and our fight song was "Dixie." It was not uncommon to see the Stars and Bars being waved in stands during football games. It is, however, worth noting that in a school in which African Americans made up less than 10 percent of the student body, my class elected a black senior as our homecoming queen.

As a student at the University of Virginia in the early 1970s, I learned that many parts of the Commonwealth had not actually desegregated until 1971. At UVA I belonged to a literary and debating society whose members drank a great deal and often sang songs commemorating the Lost Cause, including "The Bonnie Blue Flag" and "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia," but also Yankee tunes like "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

I remained largely unconscious of how offensive Confederate symbols were to some people. That changed when my black roommate Dwayne Morris took a small Stars and Bars out of the coffee mug in which it was standing in our apartment, broke its staff in two and threw it in the trash. Several subsequent long, boozy conversations ended any residual sentimental attachment to the Lost Cause that I may have retained from my earlier schooling.

Still, as a young Virginian I never gave much thought to what the Confederate monuments and memorials that appear in nearly every southern town represented. After Reconstruction, Ladies Memorial Associations (LMAs) in the South sprang up to advocate for and oversee the repatriation the remains of Confederate soldiers and to commemorate their deaths by erecting generic war memorial statues. Ultimately, the LMAs joined together for United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1894.

It is, however, plain historical fact that most of those memorials to the Confederate dead and monuments to Confederate leaders were erected between 1890 and 1925, when Jim Crow racial apartheid was being established in the South. They were meant and served as powerful symbols of resurgent white supremacy. For example, the monument to Confederate President Jefferson Davis that was just taken down in New Orleans was dedicated in 1911 during a "Whites Only" ceremony featuring a living Stars and Bars formation that sang "Dixie." (The Louisiana House of Representatives just passed a bill that would block the removal of Confederate monuments without a referendum.) In Charlottesville, the Lee statue was erected in 1924 and the Jackson statue in 1921.

Frankly, I don't much worry about the generic memorials to the Confederate dead. They largely signify sorrow for the men who died in battle, an appropriate sentiment even if they died for a bad cause.

The monuments celebrating specific Confederate leaders are different. Here I turn to a perceptive distinction between monuments and memorials made by philosopher of art Arthur Danto. Cited by University of Richmond philosopher Gary Shapiro in a recent New York Times op-ed, Danto observed, "We erect monuments so that we shall always remember, and build memorials so that we shall never forget." Monuments, Danto wrote, "commemorate the memorable and embody the myths of beginnings. Memorials ritualize remembrance and mark the reality of ends." Obviously, monuments have multiple meanings, but the fame of Confederate leaders unavoidably implicates their tireless efforts to maintain millions in slavery.

Rather than remove the monuments to Confederate leaders like Lee, Davis, and Jackson, Shapiro would prefer to "contextualize" them, perhaps by including additional monuments celebrating those who resisted racism and Jim Crow. At the forefront of the crusade against Confederate monuments are many fierce proponents of political correctness. Given how much I loathe the shibboleths and moral grandstanding of contemporary purveyors of political correctness, Shapiro's suggestion is initially attractive proposal, but ultimately insufficient.

In his insightful 2001 essay, "Old Times There Are Best Forgotten: The Future of Confederate Symbolism in the South," in the literary journal Callaloo, Emory University English professor Lucas Carpenter notes, "Contemporary Confederate sympathizers want free use of Confederate symbolism because they say it represents their 'heritage.' It does, of course, but it is heritage chiefly characterized by its brutal oppression of slaves and their 'free' descendants. The most important thing to know about the South is that until recently it was a region ruled by slavery and apartheid." If you think that Carpenter is overstating his case, contemplate for just a moment what your life would have been like had you been subjugated under Jim Crow.

Carpenter, whose ancestors fought for the Confederacy, argues that "the only circumstances under which a government-funded agency or institution should display Confederate symbols is when their use is required to identify historic sites or otherwise convey historical information." Think Civil War battlefields, museums, and cemeteries. Carpenter, quite properly, asserts that the private display of Confederate symbols should not be suppressed by the state. After all, that would violate the free speech protections of the First Amendment. In the main, Carpenter, more or less, agrees with me that a Confederate memorial to the Civil War dead on a Southern town square can remain, but that "we must learn to see it as a reminder of what really used to be."

Since there is no end to what can offend the politically correct, where does the iconoclasm stop? After all, some faculty and students at the university that Thomas Jefferson founded as the first secular university in the world are offended that its current president quotes him in emails. Why? Because the author of the Declaration of Independence was a slaveowner. Slavery was a great moral evil, and one that Jefferson himself occasionally acknowledged. "Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism," he wrote. "Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free."

How should we deal with the fact that many of the Founders were slaveowners? Should the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument be torn down? Washington, D.C., and Washington state renamed? "The Founders deserve commemoration because the evil they did was outweighed by other, positive achievements, such as establishing the Constitution," argues George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin. Once established in this country by the Founders, the logic of equal liberty became ineluctably extended to all individuals, no matter their race, creed, or sex. The Founders are rightly honored for creating a political system that over time enlarged the rights of its citizens.

I do believe that the vast majority of the folks who oppose removing and relocating Confederate monuments from public land sincerely do mean it when they say that they are defending "heritage, not hatred." Nevertheless, Carpenter is right when he writes, "It is, quite simply, self-destructive for democratic governments to employ divisive symbolism." No one is trying to "erase" Confederate leaders and the cause for which they fought from the historical record, but as Somin argues, "We should certainly remember them, and continue to study their deeds. We just should not honor them."

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  • colorblindkid||

    Nobody is advocating for erecting new statues. The notion of spending money to remove these statues is just ridiculous, though, and sets a dangerous precedent.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    Once again, don't be fooled by the lie that Ron's buddies are content to leave Washington and Jefferson alone. They're absolutely the next group of men up on the Jacobin hit list to be purged from history.

  • Ron Bailey||

    DD: I will out in the streets with you defending their accomplishments while acknowledging their flaws.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    But you won't. The logic you are using to allow the removal of historical markers can easily be used to remove the Jefferson memorial or destroy a fort used by the South during the Civil war.

  • ||

    But you won't.

    Agreed.

    The people protesting that the statues remain will be hateful bigots until we're forcibly obliterating Woodrow Wilson's contributions to Princeton and then it will be much hand-wringing over "How did it come to this?!?" and "Surely it won't go any further?!?"

    An effective universal basic income (that, at this point, just can't be helped), equal protections for minorities (regardless of their minority status, because Christians), and open borders will still be the unequivocally rational and tolerant policies of the day.

  • AndreLinoge||

    Fanciful.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    This. Bailey is completely and totally full of shit. I'm glad I'm not the only one who realizes this.

  • Azathoth!!||

    If you do not understand that this--


    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    ---is what you're advocating---advocating, then you have given yourself over to imbecility with gusto.

    Because they will come for you, Ron.

  • BambiB||

    Let's hope they come for Ron sooner rather than later. Nothing converts a person to a rational view of reality faster than having that reality crash through their door with guns drawn.

    Lincoln's War of Northern Aggression was fought to keep the South in thrall to the manufacturers in the North - whom Lincoln owed a political debt. Fools who think Lincoln launched into the war to save the black man from slavery are determined to overlook Lincoln's own words:

    "I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race." - Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln-Douglass debate, Charleston, Illinois, September 18, 1858

    Now go read the "Emancipation" Proclamation - which DID NOT free any slaves in areas under Northern control!

    How about it Ron? Ready to tear down those Abraham Lincoln statutes?

  • Hunthjof||

    SInce probably about 85% of the people "Offended" by these monuments didn't know they existed until someone told them about them is how. Lets face it most people drive through even there home town and don't bother to even look at things like that.

  • Priscilla King||

    Dittos. Better uses for money; better uses for time; better uses for energy.

  • Ron Bailey||

    c: Actually, in the case of Charlottesville, the city intends to sell the statue.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    That's not a bad idea. I was going to comment that maybe some of these statues could be sold to private owners, who can then put them up on their own property if they want. Maybe then they can let others come and see them for a small fee...

  • jejones3141||

    Anyone who did that would be next on the crybullies' list.

  • JWatts||

    Somebody did exactly that and placed a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest on property fronting I-65, south of Nashville. Naturally, there's been outrage and demands for their removal.

    The Metro council has pushed to plant trees in front of it to block it from view, but the state department of transportation has said doing so is against it's own rules.

    http://www.tennessean.com/stor...../30412745/

  • Twiz123||

    I couldn't disagree more...I enjoy the parks and statues in my hometown in New Orleans. Why should they be sold to a private individual? I would much prefer to see them add plaques to clarify what these men did that was good and what these men did that was bad because as with many things rarely is it as simple as he was a "bad man." President/General Grant was a slave owner...or at the very least derived a benefid from the work of slaves, depending on your view of whether his wife owned her slaves or just had the use of her father's slaves. There are statues and monuments to him in New York, Chicago, DC....so where does it end? Sell Wahington's munments to a private individual?

  • Priscilla King||

    That'd be a *good* idea if the private owners would pay to move the statues.

  • WakaWaka||

    Why not let the local community decide whether or not to remove a memorial? Or are you just voicing your opinion that the memorials should be removed?

  • Ron Bailey||

    W: Don't you think that the vote of the city council might be an example of letting the local community decide? If so, what business is it of Spencer and his ilk?

  • WakaWaka||

    I never said that it wasn't. But, you seem to be suggesting that all confederate monuments should be taken down. Some communities are not as 'woke' as you Bailey.

    I have no problem with taking down the monument if that is what the community decides.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You are #1 on that list DanO troll.

  • Chipper Mourning Somali Roadz||

    Have you ever been to Charlottesville? It's one of the most blue part of Virginia.

  • Ron Bailey||

    CMSR: Sometimes referred to as the "Peoples Republic of Charlottesville" alas.

  • DJF||

    Now we just have to send an apology to the Taliban for objecting to their disposal of certain statues.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That was years ago. History is what we make it right now!

  • Rhywun||

    "Russia is our friend."

    I remain convinced that we're being trolled.

  • Longtobefree||

    "it is, quite simply, self-destructive for democratic governments to employ divisive symbolism."

    So the 1860's offend blacks, 13.3% of the population (2015 American Community Survey), and the symbols must go away.
    How about the "rainbow flag" when used as a symbol of homosexual advocacy? 73.4% of the population (Pew Research 2015) identify as Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, all of which condemn homosexuality as a mortal sin. Should that flag be suppressed as well? (it may also be condemned on the grounds of cultural appropriation, given the rainbow as the promise of God not to destroy the earth by flood again)

    Once you start to evaluate history by contemporary standards, the library of Alexandria goes away pretty quick.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    This is the exactly the place we find ourselves.

    Nothing will ever change that there was a Civil War in the USA. Louisiana was part of the Confederacy even though they are removing statues. North Carolina was part of the Confederacy.

    The minority through their elitist protectors are dictating what is and what should be. That is far more troubling than a statue of a general who fought for slavery, state's rights, and other grievances.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Oceania has always been part of a diverse, multi-cultural paradise with Eastasia.

  • CptNerd||

    Who controls the past controls the future.

  • LibertarianJRT||

    Who controls the present now, controls the past.

  • mortiscrum||

    It has nothing to do with judging history by modern standards, it has to do with America's history of slavery and treatment of black people generally. Historical figures like Lee and Davis are famous entirely because they were on the loosing side of conflict over whether it should be legal to own black people. This separates them from figures like Jefferson and Washington, who are primarily known for other things. There is absolutely no way to honor and commemorate men like Lee without implicitly condoning the Confederacy.

    Imagine if a large section of Germany prominently displayed statues of Rommel and other Nazi generals. That would be incredibly disturbing. But this exactly describes the American South and it's relation to America's shameful history.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Rommel's grave is prominently displayed and visited by thousands of people.
    Rommel's grave
    What else you got?

  • mortiscrum||

    A grave marker is often an item of historical interest - a much more apt comparison to a grave marker would be a battlefield marker, which no one is saying should be be removed.

    Neither of which are at all similar to making a large statue of a historical figure that is famous entirely for their ties to a horrible, immoral rebellion and displaying that statue prominently in front of government buildings.

    Nice try.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Nice try.
    monuments
    The statues have descriptions on them and are listed in the National register
    National Park Service
    Rommel was a Nazi and his grave was not destroyed and hidden from the public.

    Funny thing is if these statues are racist and as horrible as advertised by the left, the Democrats put them there.

  • mortiscrum||

    I don't understand what you're getting at here. You have a link to a list of confederate monuments? What does that prove? Are they mostly not in front of government buildings, is that your point?

    RE: Rommel was a Nazi and his grave was not destroyed and hidden from the public.

    Again, I'm not sure what you're getting at. I'm not advocating of some kind of erasure of history. What I'm saying, and what the article is saying, is that HONORING these people with monuments is tantamount to condoning what they are famous for. It's a complete slap in the face of every black American living here.

  • ||

    It's a complete slap in the face of every black American living here.

    All of them? Even the ones who immigrated later? What about the Cuban refugees? The free black men who brought black slaves with them when they fled the West Indies? Is the ghost of Robert E. Lee himself raping their children every night too? Is he more active in The Deep South where he's more revered or in the northern parts of the South where the overwhelming majority of free slaves *chose* to live until the War?

    Lincoln expected the slaves to self-deport and, along with the South conscripted/enslaved portions of the population to fight a war? Why isn't his ghost raping children in the night too?

    *If* African Americans have a history in this nation, then so do regular Americans and this is the history and it's being revised and erased for the vacuous purposes of Social Justice.

  • Ron Bailey||

    L: Whatever symbols people wish to display on their own property or display as expressions free speech is fine with me - just not with taxpayer support on public property.

  • WakaWaka||

    That's a nonsensical position. Some form of public art is going to offend someone. How many federal art grants have been used to defame religious figures?

    The only principled position is to completely oppose public dollars for art (which would be ideal, but unlikely to stop local governments from doing this) or recognizing that every local government can police their own art.

  • WakaWaka||

    By the way, I think your point about the fact that most confederate statues were put up during Jim Crow is the key point here. Confederate statue defenders don't want to admit it, but these monuments were originally put up by racist governments in a show of defiance. So, I don't oppose removing these monuments. I only oppose outsiders forcing local governments to remove these statues.

  • Ron Bailey||

    W: See unthreaded reply below. Grrr.

  • Rebel Scum||

    Old Times There Are Best Forgotten

    So obviously we should continue to erase our history instead of understanding it and learning from it. And we should definitely erase the parts of which we have the least knowledge of, like the Civil War. ///so woke

  • Ron Bailey||

    RS: I do note that the last line of my article reads: No one is trying to "erase" Confederate leaders and the cause for which they fought from the historical record, but as Somin argues, "We should certainly remember them, and continue to study their deeds. We just should not honor them."

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I guess we should put forts in the South next on the list to destroy?

    As someone who visits the forts in the South on a regular basis, these are part of history and no matter how much you want it to go away, history does not just go away. People fought and died in these areas and when people forget how horrible war is, people get ideas that war is anything but a last resort.

  • Tony||

    Statues, unlike archaeological sites, are not historical documents. They teach you little other than "we think this guy was awesome."

  • loveconstitution1789||

    They also mark battle sites that are in the middle of cities where large historical battle sites are not practical.

    NY City, New jersey and Philadelphia never cared much about the Revolutionary War battles fought there, so they now only have small statues and Independence Hall to show future generations what it was like.

    Let's just tear down the Crazy Horse memorial too. The Indians lost and their uppity attitude about it is offensive to me.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    As I am not born in the South and am not pro-slavery, I still find removing historical markers troubling.

    I am pro-history and trying to erase history has proven a mistake, historically and ironically.

    The Democratic Party is the party of slavery though, which makes sense that they want to remove the statues. Erase their past, so they can lie about what they stand for.

  • Tony||

    People living in the 21st century generally don't need to announce whether they're pro- or anti-slavery.

  • Curmudgeon44||

    Anti slavery means we are not owned by the federal government, and have the right to secede. Sit on that.

  • Ron Bailey||

    l: I did write: Carpenter, whose ancestors fought for the Confederacy, argues that "the only circumstances under which a government-funded agency or institution should display Confederate symbols is when their use is required to identify historic sites or otherwise convey historical information." Think Civil War battlefields, museums, and cemeteries. And now forts. FWIW, the most recent one I visited was Fort Jackson in Plaquemines Parish south of New Orleans. It did fall to the Union in April, 1862.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I saw that you wrote that but some small battlefields are only marked with statutes. Those statues are probably southern generals, so they have to go.

    My other question is why now? Why remove all these statues right now and at night? I would guess that TDS has sent the "nonracist Democratic Party" into a tantrum to do anything to hurt the "racists".

    If you like southern statues and military history you are a racist of course.

    Its like when you like WWII German military history and vehicles, you are a racist too.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I honor Jefferson who owned slaves. In your fantasy World that makes me a racist. Unfortunately, I am Cherokee so it makes your argument even more ridiculous.

    Luckily, you are are a racist Democrat posing as a Libertarian so you know exactly what racism is. Its keeping people of other races down. Its thinking black people cannot do things without government help. Its making slaves out of black prisoners for all the crimes on the books and then acting like you are coming to their aid.

  • Priscilla King||

    This writer seems to be struggling with the fact of Cherokee slave ownership, but here's the first online link a search engine pulled up to a bit of history I learned offline: https://www.thoughtco.com/ slavery-and-identity- among-the-cherokee-4082507 .

  • hello.||

    So you disavow Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood and would be fine with taking away their grants, yes?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Planned parenthood clinics are historical monuments and memorials?

    Wack-a-do.

  • damikesc||

    If you honor racists you are a racist, yes.

    To demand historical figures abide by cultural norms of today is idiocy.

    Literally nobody could hope to measure up, given that people alive now cannot do so.

    Washington was a racist by today's views. Ditto Lincoln. They did more to help more people than every single person bitching about this stuff will ever hope to do combined in their lifetimes.

    And the mob will, eventually, demand their removal. It's the way it is. Just like Title IX wouldn't lead to quotas in athletics in schools.

  • Bob K||

    Best tour I ever took was the Gettysburg battlefield tour. My mom took my brother and me and we had one of the tour guides jump in our car and drive us around the battlefield. I can't put into words the feeling I had leaving that day. I have done a few other battle sites but that one just really made a huge impression.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It was a huge battle and that can be awe inspiring.

    If you have ever seen a military cemetery with all the crosses and headstones that go on for acres, it can be humbling.

  • Ron Bailey||

    W: That's an easy one - I do oppose public dollars for public art. For example, as I explained here about the Chris Orfili's The Holy Virgin Mary painting that incorporate elephant dung: For what's it worth, I saw that particular exhibition and thought Ofili's painting was boring and ugly. Of course, if the government had not been in the business of spending taxpayer dollars on art exhibitions, much of the controversy could have been avoided. Heiner was fined $250 for his crime.

  • WakaWaka||

    But you ignored the part about how local governments are still going to fund public art and there is no way to stop it. So, the logical position is to allow local governments to decide what monuments they want to keep and which ones they want to remove. I can think of nothing less libertarian than having outsiders deciding what art should be funded and which shouldn't in local communities that they have no connection with.

  • Ron Bailey||

    W: Just curious - how local is local? Do states get to override/outlaw the decisions of municipalities? And so having outsider Spencer - who has no connection to Cville now - lead a protest March is OK by your lights? More broadly,I remind you that it took the federal government with troops and marhals to dismantle democratically voted upon Jim Crow apartheid of the South.

  • WakaWaka||

    Bailey, I'm more than sympathetic to your position. I too think these monuments should be removed. But, forcing local governments to remove these statues will only lead to further bitterness. And since these were constructed with the tax dollars of people in these community, they should be allowed to decide.

    Spencer and his merry band of ass-hats are just as much to blame for imposing their outsider opinion on the community, but they have no force of government to exert their will. States are free to do as they please (they are sovereign), but they would be wise to leave the decision about these monuments to the local governments where they reside.

    "More broadly,I remind you that it took the federal government with troops and marhals to dismantle democratically voted upon Jim Crow apartheid of the South."

    I'm not entirely sure what this point means. I hope you're not suggesting that these status of these monuments should be a federal concern

  • Ron Bailey||

    W: First, the Lee and Jackson statues in Charlottesville were not purchased at taxpayer expense - they and the public parks they stand in were donated by a local philanthropist. Briefly reviewing the history of many of the monuments, a pretty high number were paid for by private philanthropy and placed on public land.

    No. I am not suggesting that the statues should be a federal concern - just noting the possibility of unlovely local majoritarian tyranny that some citizens will interpret as support, albeit mild, for racist history if not current views.

    In re your point about bitterness: You do know that it goes both ways. Maintaining the status quo is obviously bitter to many of our fellow Americans now.

  • hello.||

    Leaving in place century old monuments if they do not displease the locals who live in their proximity = Jim Crow.

    It's really nice on the rare occasions when you manage to be honest about your stupidity.

  • GILMORE™||

    re: "the cut"

    One thing i find distasteful about this idea that we are suddenly now capable of passing final-judgement on history is that it pretends that some debate has been had, and that the conclusions have been made, and no further debate is necessary.

    The truth is that the desire to remove evidence of history from view is an attempt to avoid any debate altogether.

    Its a childish belief that 'out of sight means out of mind', and that if only we strip just enough of the detritus of the confederacy away, then perhaps we'll no longer have to deal with racist assholes like Richard Spencer and his ilk.

    I personally think it empowers those people by justifying their sense of victimhood.

    But even worse, i think it gives people the false impression that "all remembering is honoring"; this idea that any/every memorial is a one-dimensional sign of approval means that All History is Approved-History; that there is always an objective answer to who the bad guys and who the good guys are. And that any remembrance of the Bad Guys is offensive and 'problematic'. It pretends that there's some official-narrative which has been finalized, and anyone who happens to think that history isn't quite so black and white is guilty of some sort of apologia for The Enemy.

  • Tony||

    Building a statue of a guy is generally meant as an honor. Almost always, I'd say.

  • Ron Bailey||

    G: I don't know about you, but some symbols send a chill of revulsion down my spine, e.g., Che T-Shirts and the Nazi hakenkreuz. Back in 2003, I asked:

    Why aren't Nazi swastikas and Communist hammers and sickles equally offensive? My question is provoked by the fact that I saw a kid wearing a CCCP T-shirt while I was at the gym earlier today. Both regimes brutally killed millions in the service of their hideous ideologies. But it's socially acceptable to sport post-Soviet kitsch, and offensive to wear storm trooper drag. Why?

  • GILMORE™||

    : I don't know about you, but some symbols send a chill of revulsion down my spine

    And?

    Not sure what that has to do with my points about things like =

    - censoring public-spaces as a form of marginalizing certain subjects
    - the false claim that all memorials are "honoring" their subject, as though merely recognizing significant historical figures is tantamount to praising them
    etc.

    Nothing i said suggested no one should ever have feelings about history. I just don't think we need to actively censor evidence of it in order to cater to those feelings.

    Are you suggesting that its also time to ban the hammer and sickle from public display?

  • Ron Bailey||

    G: No bans. Anyone is free to display symbols that their fellow Americans think offensive, just not a taxpayer expense on public property.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I think the Holocaust Museum and MLK memorials are offensive.

    Any one of those on public property and public expense have to go at night.

  • GILMORE™||

    , just not a taxpayer expense on public property.

    If that's the concern, then isn't the argument (in the case of C-ville) to simply turn over the park and its gifted-statue to some private trust, rather than try and force its removal?

  • Ron Bailey||

    That could be a solution, but since the land is owned by the city now, the city council gets to decide. A much longer discussion is whether or not there should even be public parks.

  • Gracchus||

    Why aren't Nazi swastikas and Communist hammers and sickles equally offensive? My question is provoked by the fact that I saw a kid wearing a CCCP T-shirt while I was at the gym earlier today. Both regimes brutally killed millions in the service of their hideous ideologies. But it's socially acceptable to sport post-Soviet kitsch, and offensive to wear storm trooper drag. Why?

    Because people who sport "post-Soviet kitsch" are generally regarded as deluded fools, whereas people wearing storm trooper drag are generally regarded as demons. Pop culture tends to be inconsistent.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Once again, this decision to remove these historical markers is based on who won.

    The Nazis lost and the USSR won.

    Then the USSR lost and America won.

    The white man won and the Native Americans lost but the injuns get a Crazy Horse memorial.

    America loses is the goal for some who don't like it here, is all you need to remember.

  • Gracchus||

    The white man won and the Native Americans lost but the injuns get a Crazy Horse memorial.

    Except for the Cherokee (and the tribes that sided with the Confederacy), I don't recall any Injuns supporting slavery. Either way, mainstream consensus is that the white man was a little harsh when dealing with the Injuns.

    America loses is the goal for some who don't like it here, is all you need to remember.

    You don't have to be a member of the "Blame America First Party" to acknowledge that some people (Confederates especially) don't deserve taxpayer-funded statues and memorials. But it does help...

    Also, weren't most of these statues built in the 1960s as a middle finger to the civil rights movement? I mean, its not like ex-Confederates were all about "Southern Pride" after getting their asses whupped by a bunch of immigrant city-slickers.

    Also, considering how just about everybody to the right of J. V. Stalin applauded the so-called "decommunization laws" in Eastern Europe, I'd think that dismantling the statues of authoritarian tyrants would be kinda popular. As far as I'm concerned, the South is lucky that we execute the Confederate elite and sow salt in the earth...

    You'd think an ideology that prizes itself on opposing "tax slavery" would be up-to-speed when it comes to opposing supporters of, you know, actual slavery.

  • gaoxiaen||

    "the South is lucky that we execute the Confederate elite and sow salt in the earth..." Are you forgetting a "didn't"?

  • buybuydandavis||

    Why aren't Nazi swastikas and Communist hammers and sickles equally offensive?

    Because the Right are civil and the Left are not.

    In society, people have different values. If you want a functioning free society, you don't spend all day pointing and shrieking at your neighbor for his beliefs. You have a ceasefire. Since the Left doesn't care about having a functioning free society, they're free to point and shriek all day.

    What the Right has forgotten for a century is that when the other side withdraws from a ceasefire, maintaining it is not "being principled", it is being a chump. You're not defending your values, you're betraying them.

    The Left systematically defects on every cease fire of civilization, and the Right goes down to defeat self righteously chanting "muh principles", while betraying them.

    This is the essence of being a Cuck.

    One was ceasefire is suicide
    One way rule of law is subjection
    One way civility is subservience

  • Gracchus||

    Because the Right are civil and the Left are not.

    The history of the 20th century suggests otherwise.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Context: US.

  • Gracchus||

  • Azathoth!!||



    Because the Right are civil and the Left are not.


    The history of the 20th century suggests otherwise.

    Actually it is the history of the 20th century that makes this abundantly clear as shrieking leftists demanded that national socialism and fascism--two leftist ideologies-- be called 'right wing'.

    There has never been an anti-collectivist(i.e. 'rightwing) dictatorship. Never.

    Individual rights and responsibilities are the beginning of the 'right'. Collective commands and demands are the beginning of the left.

  • Gracchus||

    Actually it is the history of the 20th century that makes this abundantly clear as shrieking leftists demanded that national socialism and fascism--two leftist ideologies-- be called 'right wing'.

    First off, National Socialism and fascism are basically the same thing. Second, anyone who argues that "fascism" or "nationalism" is left wing ought to pick up a history book and educate themselves.

    There has never been an anti-collectivist(i.e. 'rightwing) dictatorship. Never.

    Historically the right hasn't had much of a problem with collectivism; they just prefer different groups (nationalism, religion, feudal aristocracy, the military, etc.) than the left (working class, oppressed ethnic groups, the poor, etc.). The middle class (i.e. non-aristocratic business owners) used to be a left-wing group; then they switched over to the right after the rise of working-class socialism.

    Individual rights and responsibilities are the beginning of the 'right'. Collective commands and demands are the beginning of the left.

    Historically, individual rights and responsibilities were championed by "left-wing" movements: the Jacobins, the Chartists, classical liberals, the SPD in Germany, the Radical Republicans, etc. Usually it was the "right" that stood opposed to individualism, equality, and other Enlightenment principles: European conservatives (the "blood and altar" kind), fascists, Strasserists (the "left-wing" of the Nazi Party), imperialists, etc.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    "It's my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of sumbitch or another."

  • Ron Bailey||

    CA: :-)

  • GILMORE™||

    Amen to that

  • CE||

    Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson don't make "the cut" because they fought to rebel from their national government, and the side they fought on allowed slavery? Isn't the same thing true of George Washington? Or do they just not make the cut because their side lost?

  • Ron Bailey||

    CE: For some relevant distinctions, see Confederate Leviathan.

  • GILMORE™||

    do they just not make the cut because their side lost?

    If it wasn't clear from my above post, I dislike the entire idea of 'cutting' entirely

    what concerns me the most, as i said above, is this notion that seems to be spreading that there is only one possible correct-perspective on certain historical issues, and that its not necessary to actual study or read about these issues, since the correct-answer has already been decided for you

    it sort of reminds me of the protesters against Charles Murray @ Dartmouth earlier this year. Not because there is some similar thread of 'racism' - but in how basically none of the protesting students had actually read Charles Murray's book before deciding his ideas were unacceptable. The fact he was unacceptable was simply received wisdom. "It is known". I have no doubt that many people protesting statues of Confederate figures are similarly comfortable in the utter ignorance of these same people's lives and words.

  • Ron Bailey||

    G: I did write: At the forefront of the crusade against Confederate monuments are many fierce proponents of political correctness. Given how much I loathe the shibboleths and moral grandstanding of contemporary purveyors of political correctness ....

    I totally agree with you about the utter stupidity of the folks who are protesting Charles Murray - what is amazing is that some leftists have finally after five years caught up to how correct his analysis is in Coming Apart.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You're trying to change historical markers to not exist. Then comes the new narrative.

    Its socialism 101

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That's Genius Ronald! Let's just rid of historical stuff because reasons....

    Many of those statues are for those who died for their cause. We still want that don't we? Or do we just want people to refuse to fight because they know someday they will be dug up because the winners don't like that those dead losers in the ground.

    Why can't people talk about why things happen and the reason for their happening, so can try and not relive the past. Hey, that's too much to ask. BTW: The Civil War was fought for state's rights along with slavery, property rights, and other grievances.

    Tear down the statutes and as much historical shit as you want. Civil War II is coming and we will need space for new statues.

  • Ron Bailey||

    l: One thing we can say for sure is that history teaches us that the Confederate leaders were not fighting for individual liberty.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Actually they were for Liberty. You don't agree that they should not have fought for their liberty because they did not fight for the slaves liberty. They were fighting for state's rights, slavery, economic reasons and other grievances. They were also fighting for their state. Some also fought to maintain slavery.
    reasons of secession
    You might find flags and military honor a punchline but they are not.

    We all agree that slavery was bad. If you think Lincoln initiated fighting to end slavery, you are mistaken. In fact, if the South had not attacked Fort Sumter or any federal troops, Lincoln was trying to figure out how to "preserve the Union". This plan included the Northern states attacking southern states.

  • Ron Bailey||

    l: You might want to read South Carolina's reasons for secession. Consider: The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

    We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Some also fought to maintain slavery.


    We all know about the reason given regarding slavery, Ron.

    What about the other reasons listed by South Carolina?

    People try and ignore the other reasons the Southern states seceded. King George III tried to ignore the reasons for colonial secession from England. Funny thing about history, it speaks the truth not matter what you want it to say.

  • stuartl||

    Finally!

  • Ron Bailey||

    s: Say what?

  • stuartl||

    Admitting that the primary aspect of states rights they cared about was the right to the hold slaves.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Reasons for secession do not say primary reason is slavery, but who cares if you rewrite history.

  • Seamus||

    That's South Carolina. Why not also tell us the reasons that Virginia (you know, the home state of Le and Jackson) gave for secession? (Hint: it wasn't to preserve slavery.)

  • Ron Bailey||

    S: Well, Virginia's Ordinance of Secession does read in part: The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression; and the Federal Government, having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern Slaveholding States.

    Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the Union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved ....

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You can clearly dismiss those reasons because they do "read in part"....

  • Seamus||

    I think the nature of that "oppression" was sending troops to conquer them (something that even Northerners like President Buchanan thought that the federal government had no authority to do), not such measures as Lincoln was proposing to take regarding slavery in states that were unambiguously in the Union.

  • stuartl||

    Seamus, it was just the primary reason.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Funny, it does not say primary reason. Hmmmm.

    Its like the 1st Amendment to the Constitution being "the best" because it was written first. Maybe it was just written first.

  • Seamus||

    No, the primary reason was that Virginia didn't want to be part of the Union effort to force the Southern states back into the Union by force. If it had been slavery, then Virginia would have seceded before Fort Sumter and Lincoln's call for 75,000 militiamen to suppress the seceding states.

  • Tony||

    Looking back requires us to balance the good and the bad, and—on balance—Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and other Confederate leaders simply don't make the cut.

    Nicely put!

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Nice post, Ron. Although of "Yankee" background, I grew up in the Old Dominion. My 7th-grade Va. history book, "Cavalier Commonwealth", featured a Confederate cavalry officer bearing the streaming Stars and Bars. One problem with southern "Heritage" is all that's left out--for example, that southern soldiers would shoot all captured black Union soldiers out of hand, rather like, yes, the Germans treated Jews, except worse. A friend of mine knew a Jewish doctor, a member of the French Army, who spent almost all of WWII in a German prison camp for officers. That would not have happened in our Civil War.

    When Gen. Lee, the most "revered", of course, of all southern soldiers, invaded Maryland, he captured free blacks and enslaved them, sending them south to work for the confederacy.

    Old times should not be forgotten. Rather, they should be remembered correctly.

  • creech||

    Some captured African Americans suffered a fate even worse then enslavement at the hands of their kidnappers. In his "Race and Retaliation" article, David Smith reports on the grisly discovery made by one Northern unit in the aftermath of the Gettysburg battle:

    "While pursuing Lee's army after Gettysburg, Union Lt. Chester Leach of the 2ndVermont reported finding a black man who had been tortured, mutilated, and murdered by Southern troops. The Vermont troops heard that he had refused to cross the Potomac with the retreating Confederate army."

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Is what we are going to do, cite the horrors of war?
    Nothern POW camp
    "In the aftermath of the war, Camp Douglas eventually came to be described as the North's "Andersonville" for its poor conditions and death rate of between 17 and 23 per cent"
    So after you survive combat and possible battlefield wounding 17-23% of you still die.

    I thing that enslavement is worse than death. But that is just me.

  • John C. Randolph||

    When Gen. Lee, the most "revered", of course, of all southern soldiers, invaded Maryland, he captured free blacks and enslaved them, sending them south to work for the confederacy.

    ...and at the same time, slaves who fled across Union lines weren't freed, they were captured and held as "contraband of war", and put to work building the US Capitol, among other things.

    -jcr

  • Ron Bailey||

    D: Excellent link. Thanks. I should hope that everyone understands that Neo-Confederates Are NOT Libertarians.

  • hello.||

    Awww, Ron and shreek make such a cute couple.

  • mpercy||

    "How should we deal with the fact that many of the Founders were slave owners? Should the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument be torn down? Washington, D.C. and Washington State renamed?

    Don't worry, that's coming...

  • stuartl||

    DanO, do you have a link to "...and many slaveholders were prohibited by law (see Jefferson and Virginia law) from unilaterally freeing their slaves?" Not arguing, I just couldn't find it and I'm curious. I found a law that a freed slave could be taken back into slavery after 1 year, but none on limits to freeing slaves.

  • The Divine Reactionoid||

    So you agree we should redact FDR policies because he was a unrepentant racist who put Japanese in camps? Because otherwise would be honoring racism from a racist. Glad we agree, goodbye welfare state!

    God damn, you fucking suck at debate, prog.

    Look out that evil statue's gunna get you and even hurt some feelings... FEELINGZ!!!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    This is the behavior that sets the precedent to contemporary dislike of historical markers.

    Its socialism 101: Incrementalism. See what you can get away with. After the historical markers are gone in the night, who will go and put them back, is the thinking.

  • Tak Kak||

    No one is trying to "erase" Confederate leaders and the cause for which they fought from the historical record, but as Somin argues, "We should certainly remember them, and continue to study their deeds. We just should not honor them."

    And Somin is completely wrong. We should do more to honor them. Those men amazingly defended Virginia, even with all their warts, that's more than enough.

  • SIV||

    If there's one thing I hate worse than a carpetbagger it's a Goddamned scalawag.

  • Ron Bailey||

    S: Scalawag? Not hardly.

  • Gracchus||

    Better a scalawag than a fire-eater.

  • buybuydandavis||

    The Founders deserve commemoration because the evil they did was outweighed by other, positive achievements, such as establishing the Constitution

    This is about right.

    The Founders fought to make the world better.
    The Confederacy fought to keep the world from getting better.

    Honor the former, and not the latter.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Funny you say that. If you have ever been to Washington DC, you will notice that one of the most visited Presidential memorials is the Lincoln memorial. The Jefferson memorial is off and you hardly see anyone visiting it.

    The Founders fought to make the better better.
    Lincoln was a known racist who used the civil war to oppress the media in the North and interned Northern opposition.
    Not until the Civil War was going badly did Lincoln change his tune and Emancipate slaves. I wonder why Lincoln did not declare all slaves emancipated in 1861?

    Historical fact has a way of weeding out what is actual history and what people want history to be.

  • CptNerd||

    Wrong, I live across the river from there and there are always as many people at the Jefferson Memorial as there are at all the others. I have photos to prove it, too.

  • Ron Bailey||

    b: Nicely summarized.

  • Steve-O||

    I just flat disagree with the blanket statement, "Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and other Confederate leaders simply don't make the cut." Who decides that?

    History is messy, but these were great men by any measure and deserve to be honored. And as for their cause, there is much to despise, slavery being the obvious example. But there is much to admire too in the resistance to centralized government. Meanwhile, Lincoln started an unnecessary war and killed more people than Saddam Hussein. The North freed the slaves, but in the process made the Federal government everybody's master; the war at once perfected the liberty envisioned by the founders and started the nation on the slow road to despotism. A tragedy all around, but full of larger-than-life characters whom we should all be able to admire for who they were, and not for who some limp-wristed SJW puss would feel comfortable allowing into his safe space.

    And these men all had the utmost respect for one another. As when Joseph Johnston refused to cover his head at Sherman's funeral, out of respect for his former foe, then caught pneumonia and died as a result. It's a shame we can't have the same sort of respect for him. He's a better man than anyone on the C-ville city council.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    When the left gets involved, its all illogical reasoning all the way down.

    FDR is a God for the left and has multiple things named after him but he interred Americans. FDR's administration also signed off on Tuskegee experiments.

  • Steve-O||

    There certainly is no principled consistency, but in the end, I think it's basically all about getting free shit. FDR was the king of free shit, and will thus ever be a god to the left. The confederates, on the other hand, were more or less small federal gov't guys, which = less free shit. But there might be a chance for reparations if you can hate on them hard enough.

  • JohnTheRevelator||

    "Frankly, I don't much worry about the generic memorials to the Confederate dead. They largely signify sorrow for the men who died in battle, an appropriate sentiment even if they died for a bad cause.

    The PC red guards don't share your sentiment, as demonstrated by the fact that exactly such a monument was one of the first to be removed, in Alexandria VA. If you weren't familiar, the statue formerly located at Prince Street and Washington St was an unarmed Confederate soldier, facing south and hanging his head in sorrow for his lost comrades.

    The statue-removal movement is absolutely trying to erase history and beat up on southern whites. You don't have to be a racist of any stripe to see that.

  • John C. Randolph||

    I propose the removal of the Lincoln memorial, and its replacement with a monument to John Brown, Nat Turner, and Harriet Tubman, the real heroes of emancipation. (Built at private expense, of course.)

    -jcr

  • Steve-O||

    The anti-slavery movement was the archetype of federal involvement in social issues, to wit the 20th century civil rights movement, gay rights, (and coming soon) marijuana reform: private citizens fight for these things for decades at great personal risk and in the face of federal resistance to change. Once they have finally won the public' hearts and minds, and it is clear where the issue is going, the politicians jump in front of the parade and pretend they were leading it all along.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    "But doing so doesn't mean we must then move on to purging slave-owning Founders or even memorials for dead southern soldiers. Looking back requires us to balance the good and the bad, and—on balance—Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and other Confederate leaders simply don't make the cut."

    In this one statement the author both contradicts himself and leaves nothing to chance; they will all be removed in the spirit of the times. And that will progress to all others who "don't make the cut": Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and other national leaders will simply not do.

    Can't have anyone being put off in the Offended States of America.

  • damikesc||

    I don't disagree with you, Ron.

    But I also SERIOUSLY doubt that they will stop with this. They will keep pushing. They will eventually target people who once owned slaves, even if they did a lot to try and end the practice.

    Then it will be guys like Lincoln, who was "Racist" but did manage to, you know, free the slaves of the South and all.

    If I thought it would end with this, I'd not care.

  • Twiz123||

    The Civil War was of course largely about slavery, it was also about economic sanctions levied against southern states, but mostly about slavery. That being said, and as was said by the author of this story, just because someone supports something related to the civil war does not (as the mass media would have you believe) make one a racist nor does it indicate that they want to hold on to the confederacy. Simply stated, most people like the history of the statues, not the history of what they represent. Just because your high school mascot was a rebel doesn't mean you want to take up arms...but it might very well mean that when you think of your high school you relate to that mascot and want to keep it. Similarly, when I think of my hometown (New Orleans) I think of Lee Circle...the place...not the man. I think of Jackson Square...the place...not the man. I would definitely protest the removal of these statues that I identify with my hometown...not because I am a racist nor because I secretly want to revive the confederacy...but because they remind me of my hometown. I erect new monuments, go for it. If you want to attach plaques stating the good and the bad that these men did...awsome. Removal? No thanks...

  • Jere Krischel||

    Censoring history eliminates the critical eye to the sins of the past.

    Keep the monuments up if only to make sure that people own their past, and don't try to pretend nothing happened.

    If in the year 2100, all vestiges of the Confederacy are hidden away in the far corners of museums, and all discussion of it is removed from the public square, we will have lost a valuable lesson from our past - especially if that valuable lesson is disputed.

  • BeamMeUp||

    In addition to the monuments for the Confederate general and politicians, there are some monuments that very explicitly honor the racial apartheid mindset of the Jim Crow era. This April, one of the monuments taken down in New Orleans honored the Crescent City White League in a battle against the Louisiana's Reconstruction government. It was erected in 1891 as a salute of course to "white supremacy," when Jim Crow was becoming the law of the South. In Fort Mills, South Carolina, there's a monument that's probably even more insulting to African Americans. It's called the "Faithful Slaves" monument. It was erected in 1895. But it's probably more obscure than the New Orleans monument. The Fort Mills monument is in a small road-side park with a few other Confederate monuments. The park is maintained but people probably drive by it and don't even know it's there. Fort Mills is a town off Interstate 77, about 30 minutes south of Charlotte, NC.

    I would favor keeping the monuments that are on the battlefields, and the generic monuments that honor the dead. There's one in Alexandria, VA, called "Appomattox." But let's get rid of the monuments that honor the politicians, like the ones of Jefferson Davis. They belong in museums, if anywhere. In the least, the local communities should decide what to keep, not have the far-away state legislators.

  • JohnTheRevelator||

    They took down the soldier in Alexandria. He was one of the first to go. If you or Ron were deciding which statues to take down, great. The people actually doing it in real life are more like ISIS in Palmyra.

  • BeamMeUp||

    John:
    The Appomattox statue in Alexandria is still there, at the intersection of Prince Street and South Washington Street, at least as of yesterday (May 17, 2017). There's been talk about moving it but nothing has happened.

  • Ron Bailey||

    J & B: I have driven and walked by that statue in Alexandria many times - it is basically a menace to traffic. The statue commemorating the Confederate dead in my home county was similarly situated in the middle of the main street in Abingdon. It was so frequently hit by cars that the town moved in the 1960s (I think) to stand out-of-way on the grounds of the courthouse where it is today. Just saying.

  • BeamMeUp||

    Great article, Ronald. The defenders of the Confederate monuments argue that history is being erased. Erasing history? The South did a good job of that for 100 years after the Civil War. Children were taught that the war was about states' rights, even though most of the articles of secession specify that preserving slavery was the goal. Abraham Lincoln was portrayed as a tyrant, while the fact that Jefferson Davis presided over a Confederacy that defended slavery was overlooked. Alexander Stevens, the vice president of the Confederacy, called slavery the foundation of civilization, but that was white-washed as well.

    Like you, Ronald, I grew up in the South. But by the 1970s, a little later than you, when I was learning about the Civil War in middle school and high school, the "lost cause" revisionism had disappeared, at least at the urban schools. We were taught the facts: the Confederate states wanted to preserve slavery. And this was in South Carolina public schools, no less. My Southern roots are deep, too. My ancestors settled in North Carolina in the 1700s, long before the Civil War. One of my great-great-grandfathers died at Chancellorsville, and a brother of another great-great-grandfather died in Pickett's charge at Gettysburg.

  • ||

    Abraham Lincoln was portrayed as a tyrant,

    He was unequivocally a racist and tyrant. Independently documented by historical fact and his own pen. Even a passing glance at the crimes and behaviors of Erdogan, Putin, al-Assad, Trump, Bush, Obama, Clinton, Reagan, and Washington(?) puts him more in league with the former 3-4 rather than the latter 3-4.

    You act like 'The South is and always has been racist' notion isn't both prevalent and patently false or that 'If Lincoln hadn't freed the slaves, black people would still be in chains.' is never advanced as the honest narrative. There were more freed black slaves in the South than the North prior to the war and it's a relatively undisputed fact that de jure racism was the policy of the South while de facto was the policy of the North. While the slaves weren't statues, The North was loathe to give them full equality (Plessy cited Roberts v. Boston specifically). Now imagine the context and nuance of Trump marching 0.5M Americans to their death and allowing 0.5M more to die in the aftermath over where the statues can stand freely. Lincoln is a tragic hero, at best.

  • Steve-O||

    It must be noted that Abraham Lincoln freed exactly 0 slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation purported to free the slaves only in the states in rebellion, and not in the border states. Thus, Lincoln purported to free all of the slaves that he had no actual power to free and freed none of the slaves that he did have actual power to free. What courage! Also, the south has come a long way in race relations during the ensuing 150 years, but the north has made no progress whatsoever in its self-righteous hypocrisy.

  • BeamMeUp||

    Not that I'm buying into Mad.Casual's revisionism, but here's a PBS article on free blacks in the antebellum South: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/africa.....rth-right/

    Many of them were immigrants or descendants of immigrants from the West Indies. To put it mildly, they weren't exactly treated as equals by the Southern white people, and there were many laws in the South to regulate or restrict their movement. In the North, while racial equality was still a long way off in the future, they had greater freedom.

    Most of the articles of secession specified the preservation of slavery as the reason for secession. The Southern elites had built their economy and high society on it, and had no intention of abandoning it. They wouldn't have been secure until it was legal nationwide.

    Mad.Casual is the classical easily-refuted revisionist who demonizes Lincoln and the North while turning a blind eye to the brutality of slavery and Jim Crow. What next? Slavery was beneficial since it brought Africans in touch with Christianity?

  • BeamMeUp||

    In Virginia, one of the GOP candidates for governor this year, Corey Stewart, is calling the drive to remove Confederate monuments a bow to political correctness. He grew up in Minnesota, not the South. He's quite the opportunist on the issue. Wouldn't he have been called carpetbagger at one time?

  • Lester224||

    If the local government wants to move the statues they can move them. Next.

  • TimothyLane||

    Divisive symbolism? You don't think every president has been a divisive figure? How many people are descended from those who were called "copperheads" and opposed Lincoln's war to subjugate the South? (I am not taking their side against Cousin Abe, but he was certainly a very divisive figure.) Should every monument to Woodrow Wilson or FDR be removed as well? How about renaming the Johnson Space Center? And meanwhile, every federal facility in West Virginia seems to be named for former Klansman Robert Byrd. And ask Georgians and South Carolinians about William T. Sherman, or Shenandoah Valley Virginians about Philip Sheridan. Where will it end?

  • NOMAGA||

    Mr Bailey has a lot to say about his "Southern bona fides," but nothing about what his ancestors were doing the war.

  • Ron Bailey||

    N: Actually, I don't know, but from what my wife (who is a superb genealogist) tells me - my Virginia/West Virginia ancestors most likely stayed out of the way in the mountains of Appalachia. As you may know, lots of Southern mountain folk were not Confederate enthusiasts.

    I really have no idea what my Texas ancestors did during the Late Unpleasantness of 1861-1865.

  • Ron Bailey||

    N: My wife tells me that one of my Bailey ancestors was a spy for George Washington during the American Revolution.

  • jomo||

    I'm not saying everyone in here does this at all. I'd just like to point out that there are a stunning number of folks who get super upset about people burning the (U.S.) flag, or bent all out of shape about Colin Kaepernick...while simultaneously flying a Confederate flag or arguing that it should be flown.

  • art guerrilla||

    1. don't give a shit about the confederacy, I give a shit about freedom/free speech... (mr bailey does not)
    2. tired of mr baileys sophistry: 'pwecious, pwecious ME doesn't believe in X, so you shouldn't either, or you are a bad person...' yeah, fuck you too, judgmental creep...
    3. have a black 'friend' do you ? stole your property and destroyed it because, um, because of bad feels... so, that's okay, then... (you might not like where that 'principle' gets you...)
    this honky has a black 'friend' too, he would hate that people are making much ado about nothing... so, do they cancel out, or what ? he has dreadies, so is he more blacker than thou black 'friend' ? ? ? just curious, you appear to be expert...
    4. you TOTALLY elide the point of numerous posters: IF we make societies judgments based on people's feels (which you CLAIM to 'hate', but then USE THAT as YOUR justification for why you went all jihad on the civil war stuff), then, is ALL THE SHIT which non-snowflakes are annoyed by going to be stopped ? ? ?
    NO, is the honest answer you will not give (merely sidestepped about how you wouldn't fund public art, etc, either... jerkoff), because that only works for ONE SIDE'S feels... the 'other' side is inhuman, so -of course- have no viable feels that have to be accounted for...
    gee, funny how that works...
    mr bailey is what a quisling to the libertarian cause looks like; another closet-authoritarian intent on being more PC than thou...

  • Ron Bailey||

    ag: (1) Free speech?: I did write: Of course, Spencer and his associates have, as my Reason colleague Robby Soave points out, the constitutional right to their express their views in public. AND Carpenter, quite properly, asserts that the private display of Confederate symbols should not be suppressed by the state. After all, that would violate the free speech protections of the First Amendment. So no.

    (2) Judgemental?: I did write: I do believe that the vast majority of the folks who oppose removing and relocating Confederate monuments from public land sincerely do mean it when they say that they are defending "heritage, not hatred." So?

    (3) Black friend?: My point was that that incident provoked numerous subsequent conversations with my friend that led me to understand what Confederate monuments symbolize for some black citizens. BTW, no dreadlocks.

  • Ron Bailey||

    ag: (4a) Feels: The monuments were erected in the first place on the basis of white supremacist "feels" during Jim Crow apartheid. I "elide" nothing - I try (and evidently fail to persuade in your case) to make distinctions about private/public displays and the differences between monuments meant to honor specific Confederate leaders and memorials to the dead.

    (4b) Calling someone inhuman: See (2).

    (5) Quisling?: I do have difficulty seeing how anyone who calls themselves a libertarian can defend the aims of the Confederacy.

    (6) If the monuments do not retain in some fashion the symbolism of white supremacy, why did Spencer and his associates choose to hold their torch light rally there?

  • Ron Bailey||

    ag: (1) Free speech: I did write: Of course, Spencer and his associates have, as my Reason colleague Robby Soave points out, the constitutional right to their express their views in public. AND Carpenter, quite properly, asserts that the private display of Confederate symbols should not be suppressed by the state. After all, that would violate the free speech protections of the First Amendment. So no.

    (2) Judgemental: I did write: I do believe that the vast majority of the folks who oppose removing and relocating Confederate monuments from public land sincerely do mean it when they say that they are defending "heritage, not hatred." So?

    (3) Black friend: My point was that that incident provoked numerous subsequent conversations with my friend that led me to understand what Confederate monuments symbolize for some black citizens. No dreadlocks.

  • Ginny Bain Allen||

    My 85 year old mother, who lived in Crozet, VA, her entire life until her death in April, and I talked to a homeless black man in Lee Park in Charlottesville in February. After calling us crackers, he told us it is preposterous that $300,000 is to be spent in the removal of Lee's statue when, instead, that money could be given to the new homeless shelter across Market Street. We told him we agreed. I ask you, why all this outrage over Confederate statues when a 16 foot statue of Lenin stands proudly in Seattle, WA, among much other convoluted public displays across our country???

  • Ron Bailey||

    GBA: First, my condolences on the loss of your mother. It's tough to lose a parent.

    Second, as I note in my reply to ag above, the monument still retains in some measure the symbolism of white supremacy, which is precisely why Spencer and his associates chose to hold their torch light rally there. It is a judgement call over whether or not it is worth the money to uphold the principle that defenders of slavery should not be honored on public property.

    Thirdly, the Lenin statue is privately owned and they are trying to find a buyer for it. At the moment it seems to be an (tasteless) effort at being a kitschy art installation. The Cville city council similarly is seeking a buyer for the Lee monument. If they do succeed that should address the money issue.

    Again, my condolences.

  • BeamMeUp||

    Ron:
    I noticed that the Lenin statue has a rather interesting history. It was erected in Poprad, Czechoslovakia in 1988. It's display there though was short-lived. It was removed several months after the Velvet Revolution (1989), and was found in a scrap yard by an Lewis Carpenter, English teacher from Washington state. After Carpenter died in 1994, his family tried to sell it to a Fremont, WA foundry to be melted down. Instead, the foundry's founder arranged to have the statue displayed in Fremont. It's still owned by the Carpenter family. The price, as of 2015, is $250,000. I doubt the Russians, Chinese or even Cubans are interested. The North Koreans maybe? It would be small compared to the Kim dynasty statues.

    In Hungary, after the fall of Communism, they moved many of their propaganda statues to a park outside Budapest.

    Of course, the removal of the Communist government-imposed propaganda statues was far easier than the removal of the Confederate monuments.

  • Ginny Bain Allen||

    I appreciate your condolences on the death of my beloved mother, Nancy Virginia Shroyer Bain, the grande dame of Crozet.

  • phandaal||

    Should the statue be removed because a racist agitator (who had to flee his home state of South Carolina because of criminal charges) decided to start trouble in Charlottesville?

    Because that's what it comes down to. Until Wes Bellamy came to town, the statue was just fine. You always talk like you know Charlottesville because you've been there for a little while, but you never seem to grasp what's actually happening there.

  • phandaal||

    Dang squirrels not letting me edit. Should read "home in the state of South Carolina."

  • BeamMeUp||

    In April 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a list of the Confederate symbols around the country: https://www.splcenter.org/resources (Do a search for Confederate. Under All Types, select Publications. The direct link is being read as a 50-letter word, too long for the Comments.)

    The list includes school and streets as well as statues and monuments. It's broken down by state, and indicates when the symbol was dedicated. There are over 718 monuments and statues. At least 109 public schools are names after Confederate icons like Lee and Davis.

    The list and analysis are quite thorough.

  • Ginny Bain Allen||

    The Southern Poverty Law Center is an unfortunate organization that spews forth vitriol towards anyone who dares harbor beliefs other than what they deem acceptable.

    The Obamas hung a Christmas ornament of Chairman Mao's face in the People's House! How is that acceptable? How is it acceptable that a statue of Baphomet is on public display in Detroit when crosses, creches, and the Ten Commandments are taboo? How is it acceptable for huge billboards leading men to establishments of ill repute to be on display for a mother and her two young daughters, driving through the beautiful mountains of WV, to view? And sooo much more!

  • NOLA-Mike||

    I live in Metairie, a suburb a few minutes by highway but a world away from New Orleans. I have no issue with moving the statues, I have an issue with the manner in which it was done. There are many more suitable locations for these statues (Chalmette Bttlefield or any number of historic cites in the area). Why not start a petition, and get a private foundation with funding from donors to make these moves? Of course that wouldn't fit Mitch Landrieu's timeline. Spending millions of public money in a city full of crime, drugs and potholes to move these statues is beyond assinine. I don't even have words for it.

  • BeamMeUp||

    Near Budapest, Hungary, is a private park with many Communist-era propaganda statues. They were moved there after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Confederate monument sympathizers could establish a private park to display all the statues of their heroes. Similarly, the current monuments could be privatized. Either way, their care would no longer be a burden to the taxpayer.

  • All Seeing Eye||

    Well, I am African American and I see all of this statue removing as part of the current wave of PC hysteria. I am not offended by these symbols of history and neither are most of my black friends. The only friends I have that are really outraged are exactly 1 black person and all of the white liberals I know, as they always seem to want to tell me what is best for me as if I don't know myself). I am proud to drive by these statues and see what we overcame as a country and I am content to have these historical symbols stand where they are because they are art, history, and politics regardless of the fact that they were associated with the Confederacy. Guess what? That is a part of our story and always will be! If only white liberals were concerned with freedom as much as they were with the destruction and rewriting of history.

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