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Those Confederate Statues. Who and What Do They Represent?
The Answer is All of US. They Represent Who We Are as Americans.
What we are seeing in Charlottesville and elsewhere is emblematic of a far larger problem. The statues were not built by govt edict or taxpayer money, but instead by donations from groups representing the descendants of the Confederate soldiers themselves. They were built as a paean, an homage to those soldiers for defending a land from being controlled by an imperialist federal govt as they saw it. To them, the Civil War was a political war over the division of power between the federal govt and that of the individual states.
To the anti-fascist movement, that is a smokescreen for what they consider the real reason for that war: the enslavement of an entire race of people. Then I ask: why does Mount Rushmore exist?
It is a federal monument to our national pursuit of Manifest Destiny, of our systematic removal by force of land from its rightful owners, of our intended treaty signing and breaking at our convenience. If we are going to reconcile our heritage by removing Confederate statues because they have fallen out of favor with the liberal anti-fascist movement, why don't we remove Mt Rushmore for the same reason?
At what point do we stop and consider how we are going to view this country we have built? It could not have been built without the systematic enslavement of that imported labor or the violence we employed to subdue an innocent native population in the west that saw the Union troops exactly the same way the Confederate troops did.
Remember, two very important points in history. We are all taught that Jefferson doubled the size of the country with his Louisiana Purchase in 1803. What we are NEVER taught is that he BANKRUPTED the country with that purchase, and could ONLY pay for it through a 20-year bank loan from a foreign power. Now, how were we going to pay off that loan? How would we build a Navy to defend ourselves? If it hadn't been for our tobacco and later cotton trade to Europe, especially to England which was waging a war with Napoleon (and therefore desperately in need of cheap cotton--our slave labor made it VERY cheap), we would never have been able to build any Navy or repay any loan.
As it was, we needed Monroe to wage war against the Barbary pirates to open additional trade routes for our cotton to finish repaying that debt to France. So, the South had multiple issues with the later Federal tariffs the Union chose to impose without concern for Southern farmers. And slavery made that economy work.
Therefore, taking down statues to a system that is no longer appreciated is just refusing to reconcile with our own history. If we are going to disparage them, then disparage the others including the Roman Colosseum. After all, it held slave games filled with the brutality of early Christians and the employment of wild animals as tools of that trade. All of that would be illegal today, yet we still walk among those revered ruins and gawk.
And we wonder why Colin Kaepernick refuses to stand for the National Anthem. Is all that we have now as America worth all the decimation we created to get here? It is easy to select historical moments for your own point of view, but not so easy to reflect on that history as a whole. The simple solution is to place them in museums where they belong.