Why America should cut its confederate ties
More than one hundred and fifty years ago the Confederacy was broken up and the United States took a couple small steps toward destroying the systematic oppression of people of color. In an article entitled “Here are the Confederate memorials that will be removed after Charlottesville,” writer Jessica Suerth stated, that some Americans say “they mark history and honor heritage.” Although yes, the confederacy was a part of history, it also very much puts our dark legacy as a country, into the limelight.
Starting on August 14, two statues in Durham, North Carolina and Gainesville, Florida were both destroyed by protestors and later completely taken down by the cities’ governments. Specifically, a statue of Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate army, was taken down. In response, the president of Duke University stated, “[it is an] opportunity for us to learn and heal.” Monuments were also taken down in Brooklyn, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Los Angeles, California; Austin, Texas; and many other places.
On August 12th, the city of Charlottesville began their mourning for a woman who was killed while protesting a white nationalist rally. At 1:42pm on that Saturday a speeding car rammed into anti-racist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 others. Following the act of violence, two Confederate monuments were covered with a black tarp by city workers in Virginia. These monuments represent the inherent racism of the civil war, and the rise of these recent white supremacist rallies has only heightened the realization. Following Heyer’s death, the monuments were covered out of respect.
As an American, I recognize the history behind monuments, in honor of confederate soldiers who lost their lives fighting for what they believed in. But here’s the catch: It’s not about the history. Nazi Germany isn’t parading around statues of Hitler and we shouldn’t either.
The number of Confederate memorial installations was at its highest around 1910, fifty years after the Civil war ended and when Jim Crow Laws began. They also spiked in the 1950s and 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement. Clearly, there’s a connection between the confederacy and race.
So here’s the question — why do Americans all of a sudden care so much about these old pieces of metal and stone?
I think we all question the confederate symbols and don’t see a reason as to why we would want to cherish our frankly terrifying past. However, as stated in an article by Vox, many critics argue that “these monuments are really about Southern pride, not commemorating a pro-slavery rebellion movement. They argue that trying to take down the Confederate symbols works to erase part of American history.”
A white supremacist is a person who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races. There are numerous Americans who idolize the confederacy and the conservative ideals they represented. Some people even count the riot as a form of rebellion against the slowly progressing mindset of our nation. Many argue that it has nothing to do with the confederates values, and it’s purely about history, but that argument does not hold up to the uniform symbol of racism these monuments have taken on in recent years.
On NBC, Bob Fenwick, a City Council member who voted for the statue’s’ removal stepped forward to speak. He brought up the idea of putting them in a museum. Said Fenwick, “If people stop and think, we have no statues, that I know of, to George Washington in Charlottesville, and yet none of us have forgotten his history.”
If conservatives and white supremacists are so worried about forgetting history, then they can easily open up a textbook. Or we could put the past where it belongs, in a museum where people all over the world can learn how terrible racism is, and learn from that fact. Putting Confederate monuments where they belong would provide the opportunity not for idolization but for education.
Meredith Nash is a second year creative writing major who is a strong proponent of putting confederate statues where they belong, in a museum. They can be reached at [email protected].