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The discussion we’ve been having about confederate symbols ever since Dylann Roof killed those nine churchgoers in Charleston is yet another example of why racial hatred seems to be exploding these days. Condemning the memorial as the “Uncle Tom Slave Monument,” black leaders and the black press followed her lead and launched blistering attacks. And while its inscription is at the very least misleading, its presence — along with the NPS plaque — offers valuable lessons about the contested nature of Civil War memory. After Being Attacked by Trump, Georgia’s Republican Governor Tries Balancing Act. Opinion: Don't Take Down Confederate Monuments. The UDC saw no need for a sign, while the NAACP saw no need for the memorial. Monuments should speak for themselves, they declared. We are now having a disagreement in this country about a different kind of symbol—historic monuments. New Orleans mayor on why Confederate monuments have to … The historian Carl Becker wrote that history is what the present chooses to remember about the past. Washington Monthly’s 2020 College Guide and Rankings, Photo by Adam Schultz / Biden for President, Advice to Team Biden: Delete Your Twitter Accounts, What the Founders Would Have Done with Trump, After Being Attacked by Trump, Georgia's Republican Governor Tries Balancing Act, On the Way Out, Melania Seeks Distance from the Rest of the Family. It’s not good for them, and it’s not good for democracy. The people making the argument for the removal of these confederate monuments are suggesting that we take into account what they symbolize to the group of Americans that are not included in the president’s “our.” We can only honor our history if we know it. Here's Why. Monuments should speak for themselves, they declared. New momentum has built to remove such monuments, after a violent white supremacist gathering in Virginia last weekend in support of a statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee. People across the ideological spectrum have supported the removal of Confederate monuments. But when the local black college dedicated a tablet to Brown in 1918, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) renewed their efforts to reclaim the commemorative landscape. Symbols are very powerful in American culture. Despite continued opposition, the original stone monument to Shepherd remained. If statues are dismantled , the country would lose an important educational tool about the Civil War and its effects, according to author Sophia A. Nelson . 16.07.2020 - As Confederate monuments and memorials are toppled across the United States, Stanford historian James T. Campbell says it is important to think historically not only about the past but also about our own time and what future generations might say about us. Without the need for words, they speak volumes for the person carrying them. It has to do with how people feel about what the flag has come to symbolize. Bitter debates over the placement and meaning of monuments emerged as early as 1865 in the North and the South. Historical monuments are, among other things, an expression of power — an indication of who has the power to choose how history is remembered in public places. This is an opinion column. A Civil War fought over the question of slavery and an era defined in the South by the backlash to a multiracial democracy is what these monuments symbolize. But in removing monuments, we not only eliminate memorials to the Confederacy, but also erase the history of those who fought against the values the monuments claim to represent. Please support this website by adding us to your whitelist in your ad blocker. A major reason that many cities and towns haven’t removed publicly sited Confederate monuments is that state laws prevent them. The following year, they dedicated another memorial to Brown — one that depicted him as a hero whose traits challenged acceptable black behavior in the Jim Crow South. As New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked in his May address on the removal of that city’s Confederate monuments, how should an African-American mother or father explain to their child who Robert E. Lee was and why he towered above the city’s landscape? Aside from burial sites and temples, some of the oldest structures in the world are memorials to the dead. When Mr. Trump identifies statues commemorating Confederate leaders as essential parts of “our” history and culture, he is honoring that dark period. Landrieu’s removal of the statues, however, does precisely what he rails against: It omits the past. That conflict is trivialized when we divorce the discussion from what the monuments to confederate war heroes symbolize. Doug Ducey to remove the monuments on public land that … It was an expression of the power to chose how history would be remembered in public places and white supremacy normalized. Contrary to contemporary claims that chants to “take it down” are a product of liberal campaigns for political correctness or a new target of the Black Lives Matter movement, contests over Civil War symbols and memorials have divided the country for more than 150 years. NAACP leaders hoped that the monument might be … But the war and its symbols have always held different meanings for different groups, and confronting that history is imperative. But these monuments reveal more about who built them and why they did so than the figure they propose to honor. To date, there are over 700 monuments to the Confederacy - most, but not all, located in the South. Of where we might yet go. Finally, it's important to recognize that the moral standards that condemn Confederate monuments should be applied to monuments to left-wing perpetrators of … One by one the Reconstruction governments were overthrown, and in the next generation white supremacy again took hold in the South. Mr. Trump may not know it, but he has entered a debate that goes back to the founding of the republic. An originalist case for trying, convicting and disqualifying a president after he or she leaves, Brian Kemp, the bane of #MAGA Republicans, uses his big, state-of-the-state speech to find a. As a reminder here is what Derrick Jensen wrote about that: Several times I have commented that hatred felt long and deeply enough no longer feels like hatred, but more like tradition, economics, religion, what have you. The waving of other flags in public recently also carries with it a lot of symbolic value. When a little black boy wondered if the president of the United States had hair like his, Obama invited him to check it out. In defiance of law and tradition and a resistance to change that has spanned generations. It is when those traditions are challenged, when the entitlement is threatened, when the masks of religion, economics, and so on are pulled away that hate transforms from its more seemingly sophisticated, “normal,” chronic state—where those exploited are looked down upon, or despised—to a more acute and obvious manifestation. What Will Happen to QAnon After Biden’s Inauguration? Since the horrific church shooting in Charleston, S.C., two years ago, calls to remove Confederate flags and monuments have swept the South from Virginia to Texas. An originalist case for trying, convicting and disqualifying a president after he or she leaves office. Empty pedestals are just that: void of meaning all together. Forty years later it sparked renewed conflict between Confederate groups and the NAACP. Neither side was any happier with this compromise than they had been with the proposal 14 years earlier. The most important news stories of the day, curated by Post editors and delivered every morning. And they offer us the opportunity — if we will only take it — to question why more than 150 years after the Civil War, so much divisiveness yet remains. I suspect that the data was intentionally manipulated by the SLPC on the Confederate monument timeline in order to buttress a false assumption/allegation – that the main motivation for the building of the Confederate monuments … In the center’s most recent report, it documented more than 1,700 Confederate symbols remaining across the country. You….. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017. Why such a discrepancy between the two charts? While some hoped that the monument might increase interracial harmony by stressing the fidelity of a black man, others expressed outrage with the UDC’s manipulation of history. But they did not settle for words alone. Why such a discrepancy between the two charts? Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. Our current president tweeted what they symbolized to him. After the removal of a statue honoring Robert E. Lee, a general in the Confederate Army considered by many to be a hero for the part he played in the American Civil War, a clear divide has formed over whether it was the right thing to do. The physical elements that make up these monuments are no more significant than the cloth from which flags are made or the texture of a president’s hair. Like all monuments, these statues say a lot more about the time they were erected than the historical era they evoke. Confederate monuments that are placed in museums and properly contextualized can be presented as an important relic of history or work of art without valorizing the Confederacy itself. That’s where Foner goes next. Removal of Confederate memorials: Why it is important - Phoenix, AZ - Arizona leaders, as well as historians, weigh in on the importance of removing Confederate memorials across the valley. With her husband facing a second impeachment and the Trump Organization under intense legal scrutiny, the First Lady hopes for a less tumultuous future. Confederate and racist monuments are coming down. And these debates revealed time after time that there has never been a single historical interpretation of what the Civil War meant — for Unionists or Confederates, for black or white. In fact, it would be easier to forget that the Civil War’s legacy has always been contentious. The stone sentinels that dot our landscape serve as artifacts of the past, as evidence of where we have been as a nation. That is why all presidents are now required to wear an American flag … Ads are what helps us bring you premium content! That is exactly what right wingers are doing when they post stuff like this on Facebook: So let’s explore the symbolic nature of these monuments a bit. In October 1931, descendants of Confederate veterans gathered in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., to unveil their memorial to Heyward Shepherd, a black man who died during the abolitionist John Brown’s 1859 raid. Today the Shepherd memorial still stands in its inconspicuous spot along Potomac Street. It is the fact that they symbolize the normalization of white supremacy that is being challenged. There's been a lot of discussion lately about whether Confederate monuments and memorials should remain in public spaces. With the rising prominence of civil rights groups like the NAACP speaking out against white supremacy, this narrative of Shepherd offered an alternative: a loyal black man who accepted his place in a segregated society. Removed by the National Park Service (NPS) for renovations in 1976, the memorial was tucked away in storage. Black leaders in Arizona are pushing Republican Gov. At the dedication, Pearl Tatten, the black music director and daughter of a Union soldier, unexpectedly rose and offered a different narrative. Beyond their romantic exaltation of the Lost Cause, Confederate Monuments also idealize the virtues of honor and bravery. Both the UDC and the NAACP vehemently disagreed with this compromise. Rather than framing John Brown as a radical abolitionist who killed a faithful slave, she heralded Brown as the valiant defender of freedom who “struck the first blow” against the tyranny of slavery for which her father and other Union soldiers fought. Not wanting to exacerbate tensions, the park elected instead to return the stone memorial to the street but cover it with plywood. Here's why. On one hand you have the Confederate monuments, which have a very checkered history as many of them were created as instruments of racial terror, instruments to support Jim Crow to oppress Black people in the south," Kimble said. If whites insisted upon “giving the Confederate point of view” in memorializing a so-called faithful slave, African Americans would counter with their own. But The Public Needs More Power Over Social Media. President Trump’s Thursday morning tweet lamenting that the removal of Confederate statues tears apart “the history and culture of our great country” raises numerous questions, among them: Who is encompassed in that “our”? Most Confederate monuments were, in short, the result of private groups colonizing public space. The monument divided the African American community and exposed different political philosophies on how to confront the pervasive economic and social system of white supremacy. Others argue that these monuments create a slippery slope which would lead to the eventual removal of all of America’s Founding Fathers who owned slaves. Similar veneration, of course, … In recent years, several monuments in the US that commemorate military and political leaders of the defeated southern Confederacy (which fought … Art historians Cynthia Mills and Pamela Simpson argued, in Monuments to the Lost Cause, that the majority of Confederate monuments, of the type they define, were "commissioned by white women, in hope of preserving a positive vision of antebellum life." The … It's not clear whether the cult will accept that they were conned—or whether more upheaval is ahead. I realize that this gets elemental, but it is important to recognize that the anger that kind of gesture incites doesn’t have anything to do with the actual cloth being burned. To understand, Brooks said, “it’s important to look at it through a historical lens and why these statues and monuments … For fourteen years, the memorial remained covered. Confederate Statues A recent hot-button subject in the media has been what to do with Confederate monuments in the South. I suspect that the data was intentionally manipulated by the SLPC on the Confederate monument timeline in order to buttress a false assumption/allegation—that the main motivation for the building of the Confederate monuments … We are now in an era where those not included in the president’s “our” have the power and wherewithal to challenge the way those monuments normalize racial hatred. Although they discovered that Shepherd was a free man accidentally killed in the raid, they chose to celebrate him as a loyal and faithful slave who had refused to participate in Brown’s abolitionist plot. A Confederate monument in Baltimore. The tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, have re-ignited debate about the place of Confederate monuments in public spaces, as well as related conversations about the role of Confederate, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist imagery in American political culture.The AHA has released the following statement about the role of history and historians in these public conversations. Confederate heritage groups derided the need for an interpretive sign. Confederate monuments of Civil War figures, who fought against the Union Army in an attempt to preserve slavery, have become central to the debate surrounding white supremacists and America's past. Eric Foner says that raises some questions. Workers prepare to take down a Jefferson Davis statue in New Orleans early on Thursday. But the advent of multiracial democracy in the Southern states inspired a wave of terrorist opposition by the Ku Klux Klan and kindred groups, antecedents of the Klansmen and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville. The great waves of Confederate monument building took place in the 1890s, as the Confederacy was coming to be idealized as the so-called Lost Cause and the Jim Crow system was being fastened upon the South, and in the 1920s, the height of black disenfranchisement, segregation and lynching. Brian Kemp, the bane of #MAGA Republicans, uses his big, state-of-the-state speech to find a way forward. Symbols are very powerful in American culture. For many, the memory of the war proved as polarizing as the war itself. That power is precisely why so many people point out that the erection of these monuments during the birth of the KKK and Jim Crow laws were a symbolic gesture meant to terrorize black people into submission. Advocates for preservation laws contend that Confederate monuments should not be removed because they express grief for fallen soldiers and honor the sacrifice of ancestors. In the period of Reconstruction that followed the war, this egalitarian vision was, for the first time, written into our laws and Constitution. This is why Confederate monuments appeared across the entire country, even in parts thousands of miles away from the Confederacy–intending to spread a false narrative of southern pride. For decades after the Civil War, Confederate monuments may, perhaps, have helped bridge two sides whose fissure led to the deaths of 620,000 American soldiers. Confederate Monuments Arizona A monument to Arizona Confederate soldiers stands amid other memorials at Wesley Bonin Memorial Plaza on the grounds of the Capitol complex in Phoenix Monday, June 5, 2017, presented by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1961. By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, Caroline E. Janney, the John L. Nau III professor in the history of American Civil War at the University of Virginia, is the author of “Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation.”, Interpretation of the news based on evidence, including data, as well as anticipating how events might unfold based on past events. In 1867, former Confederates began calling for a memorial to Shepherd as a victim of Brown’s misguided attempt to destroy the South and incite civil war. When another round of queries forced the park to remove the plywood in 1994, administrators agreed only with the provision that an interpretive sign be added giving the memorial’s history and a tribute to Brown written by civil rights activist W.E.B Du Bois. If the NPS had not returned the Shepherd monument and provided the interpretive sign, it would have overlooked the African American activists who fought to reclaim their history of the Civil War as part of their quest for equal citizenship. NAACP leaders hoped that the monument might be dumped in the Potomac River, castigating the Confederate heritage groups for implying that Shepherd and “thousands of other” African Americans supported the Confederacy. Hate becomes more perceptible when it is no longer normalized. Calls to “take it down” have been offered as a solution to modern race relations — a way to construct more inclusive communities. The statues were part of the legitimation of this racist regime and of an exclusionary definition of America. After an inquiry by the UDC, the NPS agreed to return it — if it was accompanied by interpretive plaque that explained its controversial history. For over 100 years, those monuments have stood as a symbol of the power of white supremacy. Recent monument controversies, in particular, have focused on the character of the people whom they depict, such as memorials to Robert E. Lee. For decades, nothing happened. Confederate monuments have always been symbols of white supremacy. Consider, for example, the controversy stirred over a memorial erected not in the former Confederacy to celebrate a military leader, but rather in a small Union town that honored a black man. Monuments are fundamental to the human experience—they allow us to remember our past, express the values of our culture, and sometimes to even oppress with a constant reminder of a difficult history or societal expectation. Thank you! But it is even more significant than that. That is why all presidents are now required to wear an American flag lapel pin at all times—it has come to symbolize that they are patriotic (something that seems to only be questionable when it comes to Democrats these days). Perhaps the most heated way that symbols have been elevated is when there is blowback to the burning of American flags. Nearly 700 of them are monuments. Gerald Herbert / AP. Slowly. Before the turn of the century, Confederate graves had for the most part not been cared for in federal cemeteries, and erecting a Confederate monument was considered treasonous. Should American nationality be based on shared values, regardless of race, ethnicity and national origin, or should it rest on “blood and soil,” to quote the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., whom Trump has at least partly embraced? Most, or at least many, Americans now understand the role that Confederate memorials and monuments played in the consolidation of ‘Lost Cause’ ideology, which was a concerted campaign to shift the memory and meaning of the Civil War away from themes of slavery and emancipation (which manifestly were the primary cause and consequence of the war) to things like “state’s rights” … The values these monuments stood for, he says, included a “glorification of the cause of the Civil War.” White women were instrumental in raising funds to build these Confederate monuments. 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