I explain why I think it’s reasonable to remove Confederate statues — but I also explain the strict limits I place on doing so.
In yesterday’s post about Charlottesville and Confederate statues, all the comments seemed to go to the latter issue. On that issue, I wrote that I agree with those blacks who find the statues offensive. Looking at the comments on the post, I’d like to clarify a few things and respond to a few more. Again, my points aren’t in any particular order.
1. My position is narrowly directed to statues and commemorative plaques honoring leading lights in the Confederacy — politicians and renowned military actors. Oh, and Woodrow Wilson. I’ve always loathed him and view him as the last Confederate president of the United Sttaes. I utterly oppose wiping out any other aspects of American history.
2. The States Rights argument is irrelevant. The fact is that, whatever else was at issue, the war was also about slavery and about the degradation and dehumanization of American blacks. The Union Army won that argument on the battlefield, and it’s therefore wrong that the defeated side gets to have the last word.
3. I understand that the disgusting, mostly white, radical Left is the entity carrying this torch. I also understand that this cohort Left has much larger goals, insofar as it wishes to deconstruct America entirely. Understanding that reality, though, doesn’t address — or weaken — my core point, which is that blacks are correct to find the memorials to Confederate “heroes” offensive. They should not have to live in a world in which they’re constantly confronted by statues and plaques honoring people who lost a war that revolved, in significant part, around an indecent practice. Doing so is the same as making Jews in Europe live surrounded by statues of Hitler and his crew. People in a specifically identifiable cohort should not have to see their mortal enemy — an enemy, moreover, who lost a war — get celebrated after the defeat.
4. Arguments about slavery before the Civil War or the slavery still going on in the Muslim world, are irrelevant to this discussion. We’re talking about this country, this war, and those monuments. I will note, however, that the Hebrew Bible was extremely progressive for its time. In a world in which slavery was normative and unquestioned, the Jews instead opted to treat it as indentured servitude, requiring devout Jews to free their slaves.
5. Regular readers know that, for years now, I have been decrying the Left’s habit of visiting the sins of past generations on the subsequent generations, whether it’s young Germans being forced forever to bear the stain of Nazism (a psychological harm that I believe partially accounts for the German’s willingness to welcome in the new barbarians) or current Americans being forced to pay reparations for an institution that ended more than 150 years ago and, moreover, that extracted the highest payment of all in the form of the Union Army’s blood. Current Southerners are not guilty of slavery. Indeed, as I noted when I traveled South a couple of years ago, the South is much better integrated than the North. We need to remember that specific fact in this debate, because you can be assured that the Left is trying to tar every Southerner as a Neo-Nazis. I understand people’s inclination to hang on to their past, especially when the past is aesthetically beautiful. That’s human nature, not malevolence. But sometimes we just have to let things go.