The Fine Line Between “Erasing History” And “No Longer Endorsing History”

There was an announcement made that a Virginia statue dedicated to Robert E. Lee would be taken down.

I usually ignore comments as much as possible, however the common theme that I notice among all of them is the argument they make for continuing the erection of the Confederate statues and symbols, which is to preserve history. Some of them had the gall to compare the taking down of these statues to ISIS destroying ancient artifacts; even though the Confederacy had far more in common with ISIS than people who are simply protesting them.

The Confederate symbols do not represent any ties to some noble “heritage,” rather they represent a fascist pigmentocracy that was built by slaves in a land with a decimated indigenous population. The only claim that the Southern slave owners could have had in justifying these symbols is for their own cynical purposes of lording over the land and their slaves.

As a descendant of Union soldiers, I will definitely say that the symbols are not just a detriment to African-Americans, but also poor, white Americans, specifically the 1/10 of all young, white men who died in such a short period of time so that a small, handful of rich, powerful men could keep their large scale plantations.

As for the ways in which “very fine people” “honored” the Confederate statues, it was very clearly about white supremacy to the point when the statues no longer became a major issue, rather about letting the alt-right show up in full force in that year of 2017. One of the major alt-right figures, Azzmador, even stated to VICE that their grievances were with the “Jewish communists and criminal (n-words)” that he claimed ran Charlottesville. In appearance, the rally would look like it had nothing to do with the statues, though they did pick this particular spot to begin with. The reason, of course, is that a figure like Robert E. Lee, the president of the Confederate States of America, would absolute personify white supremacy.

When Richard Spencer, in his leaked rant during the rally, yelled about how whenever non-white people look up, they see a similar face to his looking down upon them, it is not a coincidence that all of this started with the statues that would definitely be described as having the face like Spencer’s looking down upon minorities.

I have lived in the South for almost all of my early life and I have become used to seeing the Confederate flag and symbols everywhere, whether on a peer’s shirt or in a strawberry festival. The only alternative I can suggest in replacing the statues and symbols would be a group of Civil War soldiers. I could suggest mixed race groups, however there were segregated units, so that type of suggestion would appear tone-deaf because it would ignore the reality of the Civil War, in that there was racism in both the South and the North. Perhaps statues of black and white soldiers shaking hands, so as to represent the future of Reconstruction that would take place afterwards.

Maybe groups of Union and Confederate soldiers talking to each other, showing each other lockets with pictures of their loved ones, tending each other’s wounds, or crying in each other’s arms, and underneath them would be plaques that would detail the 1/10 figure that was mentioned above, including the fact the 22.6% of all young white men in the South who died, a number of all the African-Americans who were kept as slaves, among others; so as to remind people of the gravity of that brotherly war. So, the next time a Southerner would want to talk about secession, he need only have the plaque tell him “Is this the price you are willing to pay?”

This is not an issue of “erasing history,” but about “endorsing history,” specifically with tax money. In other words, will the Southern people continue to pay with their public money symbols that represented a war that went against their own best interest? I would hope that they have better answers than I do because they are the ones who will ultimately decide what to do with the statues and symbols.

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