William Tecumseh Sherman and Philip Sheridan applied the same tactics of total warfare against Native Americans for two decades after the Civil War that they used in marches across Georgia and the Shenandoah Valley. But it was the election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 that ultimately set the wheels in motion. Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday compared Americans dismantling Confederate monuments with members of the Taliban who destroyed … Destroying Confederate Monuments Betrays History To erase a flag is to erase history. The new order enforces laws prohibiting the desecration of public monuments, the vandalism of government property, and recent acts of violence, … Adams saw the South’s secession as attempted revolution and Robert E. Lee as, legally, a traitor, just as George Washington, who led an earlier revolution, was “indisputably” a traitor in the same sense. https://www.foxnews.com/us/statue-monument-vandalized-torn-down-protest It also undercuts the argument of those who now claim they only want to preserve history. The Confederate flag, which Roof proudly displayed in the weeks leading up to his violent rampage, and the Confederate monument that neo-Nazis passionately defended all represent the failed Confederate States of America — a short-lived proslavery republic formed in 1861 on the cusp of the Civil War. It was not until decades later that something else emerged that prompted the country to pine for Confederate monuments and other symbols: black political progress. The whole point of Confederate monuments is to celebrate white supremacy. The creation of Confederate statues, the reappearance of Confederate flags and the Confederate naming of Army installations worked in tandem with the growth of the Ku Klux Klan to send a clear message that black people would never be accepted as full citizens of the United States. Indianapolis. In the debate over the Confederate flag, we have to dig deeper, and we have to find not political rhetoric, but compassion, and then perhaps we can find a healthier way to integrate this flag in American consciousness. The recent uprisings following the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Rayshard Brooks have reignited an old debate about the significance of Confederate monuments. The Confederate flag isn’t just offensive. So did participants of the Unite the Right rally. They grasped these symbols not because they misunderstood American history. As the title of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s book says, there is “No Future Without Forgiveness.”. Like most good myths, it had a greater purpose: to show the families of the defeated that they were once again as fully American as the victors. Removal of our Confederate memorials stands to cost our nation a great deal. Several major Army bases were named after Confederate soldiers then, too, including Fort Pickett, Va. (1942), named after Major General George E. Pickett, and Fort Rucker, Ala. (1942), named after Confederate officer Edmund Rucker. If so, history’s intrinsic and valuable lessons may be lost forever to the ages, and we will almost certainly emerge a lesser people for it. The other early monuments were Union monuments at Battle of Rowlett’s Station in Munfordville, Kentucky in January 1862 for … His statues can’t come down soon enough. The current debate so far has failed to note the implications of when these monuments were built and, more important, why. We must not remove them because some of their symbols may be hijacked by the evil that will always be with us. Each of them had earned his place in history, along with the men who fought for and against them at Gettysburg and Naseby. Today’s defenders adopt the same logic. County … These monuments, and the parallel Union solider monuments that dot the Northeast, advanced a conscious and ultimately successful program of national reconciliation. The new nation that emerged out of the Civil War in 1865 was no perfect union. To erase a flag is to erase history. NBC News reported Wednesday that Trump instructed Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to re-erect a statue of Gen. Albert Pike, the only Confederate monument in … William J. Cooper says removing Confederate monuments is a mistake. It should be respected, not sanitized. The AHA stated that most monuments were erected "without anything resembling a democratic process," and recommended that it was "time to reconsider these decisions." … I’m black. https://www.wsj.com/articles/destroying-confederate-monuments-betrays-history-1437337792. One More Confederate Monument to Destroy: The Electoral College. Honoring a revisionist history of the Confederacy is not only repugnant. Activists across the nation are calling for the removal of these monuments and the renaming of Army bases, emphasizing the role these symbols play in promoting white supremacist ideas. For all its ambition, the Confederate States of America crumbled as quickly as it began. Steve … By June 1861, four more states had seceded. Not long after Lincoln’s election, seven states seceded from the Union, anticipating the end of the slave regime in the United States. This was no mere coincidence. They could be used as … Most of the memorials to Confederate leaders and soldiers were placed from around 1895 to 1915, when surviving veterans of the Civil War were passing on, and the war itself was passing from living memory. Robert E. Lee is my relative. William C. Davis’s reflections about Confederate monuments and places named after Confederate leaders in “The Right Way to Remember the Confederacy” (Review, July 11) partly parallel those of Charles Francis Adams over 100 years ago (“Shall Cromwell Have a Statue?”). ... For anyone who still wonders why Confederate monuments need to come down, let me refer you to a famous line from the great bard of the white South, William Faulkner. They were created by white supremacists. The leaders often portrayed on them remind some of Americans’ capacity for hate. We know this because the woke mob isn’t just going after Confederate statues; it’s going after monuments and namesakes that span from Christopher … Like many Confederate military monuments, this one dates from long after the war, from 1924, and was made in New York, primarily by Henry Merwin Shrady, best known for his monument … The words "Black Lives Matter" spray painted on a monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va. June 25, 2015. This may be a myth, but it is what the Confederate leaders themselves believed. Confederate statues and statues of other historical figures, including slave traders and Christopher Columbus, are being toppled throughout the U.S. … Southern defenders of Gen. Robert E. Lee point to his pre-war condemnation of slavery as an evil institution and note that he freed his slaves in 1862 before the Emancipation Proclamation. Indeed, the period of Reconstruction, while brief, offered a glimpse of the political possibilities for black people in the United States. It’s learning from it. Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Amid a national uprising for racial justice and a deadly pandemic that’s disproportionately impacting Black, Latinx and Native communities, President Donald Trump is promising lengthy prison sentences for anyone who destroys or dismantles a monument to a slave-owning president or leader of the Confederacy. It represented everything white slaveholders desired — a nation where black people would forever be in chains, toiling day in and day out on the plantation to line the pockets of white southerners. Destroying Confederate monuments isn’t ‘erasing’ history. These symbols serve one primary purpose — to honor figures of the past who upheld an undemocratic vision of America. Every symbol of the Confederacy — flags, monuments and statues and the names of Confederate soldiers on military bases — upholds white supremacy. But on a national level, few Americans then wanted to commemorate those who lost the fight to maintain slavery. At the end of the Civil War, those who chose to remember Davis and his “lost cause” pushed for the creation of memorials. Gordon remains, but Confederate statues across the southeast are falling, including the court-ordered removal of a 112- year-old obelisk from the Decatur square June 12. In an August 2017 statement on the monuments controversy, the American Historical Association(AHA) said that to remove a monument "is not to erase history, but rather to alter or call attention to a previous interpretation of history." ", Discussion of news topics with a point of view, including narratives by individuals regarding their own experiences, undemocratic: It aimed to exclude black people from the body politic, A century later, the city’s historic Black Wall Street faces erasure by White developers, Examining systemic racism through the lens of his life, Understanding racism and inequality in America, Subscribe to About US to read the latest on race and identity. by Harold Meyerson. In effect, these monuments and symbols already do the work of erasing history — the very thing their defenders now accuse protesters of doing by demanding their removal. Roof knew this. The Confederate States of America was therefore a product of Southern slaveholders. Within only a matter of years, it was defeated. The monument to Confederate Colonel Francis S. Bartow was erected after First Manassas but was destroyed before or during Second Manassas. Defenders of the memorials are the ones trying to forget the past. These old Confederate monuments remind us that we are capable of both tremendous magnanimity and horrendous folly. The Coronavirus Is Mutating. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced his intention to remove his state’s most prominent statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which … A crowd gathers at the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis after it was pulled down off of its pedestal on Monument Avenue in Richmond, VA., on June 10, 2020. As the nation underwent even more significant political changes during the 1960s and 1970s, hundreds of new Confederate monuments, statues and symbols were erected. Is it possible going forward that this nation might respect history (with all of its inherent flaws, indignities and inequities) and forgo the tragic march toward political correctness? Relying on a logic that mirrored the thinking of Southern slaveholders, many defenders then pointed to Southern “pride,” “heritage” or “culture” and the need to “preserve history” in an attempt to explain away the attachment to these racist icons and historical figures. The rise of these monuments was a concerted effort among white supremacists to challenge black progress — and revise American history to do it. Two years later, images of the Confederate flag dominated the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which resulted in the killing of 32-year-old Heather Heyer and the injury of at least 19 others. The Confederate monument in downtown Huntsville was vandalized by protesters on June 9. A 35-foot-tall monument to Confederate soldiers in Garfield Park in Indianapolis was … The memorial landscape of our history is itself a history. Shouldn’t we consider purging all of their monuments from the public square? Nevertheless, Adams predicted that Robert E. Lee would someday rightly have a statue in Washington, as Oliver Cromwell, “the traitor, the usurper, the execrable murderer” of King Charles I, already had one in Westminster. “[Our new government’s] foundations are laid,” Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens explained in his 1861 Cornerstone speech, “its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”. They fail to acknowledge that Confederate monuments and symbols emerged in an effort to intimidate black Americans and uphold a revisionist — and racist — version of history. The Veterans Memorial Preservation Act, a federal law passed in 2003, already makes it a crime to destroy or attempt to destroy a plaque, monument or statue "commemorating the service" of … The building of the Confederacy — based on long-standing ideas of white supremacy — began long before the Civil War. It’s treasonous. The latest battle over the Confederate flag isn’t happening where you’d expect, The Tulsa Massacre: A century later, the city’s historic Black Wall Street faces erasure by White developers, Kamala Harris: The Black women who paved the way, George Floyd’s America: Examining systemic racism through the lens of his life, Resources: Understanding racism and inequality in America, Full coverage: Race & Reckoning | Newsletter: Subscribe to About US to read the latest on race and identity. To build these Confederate monuments isn ’ t we consider purging all of their monuments from the square... The period of Reconstruction, while brief, offered a glimpse of the Confederacy is only! Program of national reconciliation offered a glimpse of the political possibilities for people... Who codified slavery in the United States Right rally were instrumental in raising to! An undemocratic vision of America to what they have to tell us these symbols precisely because misunderstood... Along with the men who fought for and against them at Gettysburg and Naseby a path for freedom and for... To commemorate those who now claim they only want to preserve history monuments ’... Undercuts the argument of those who now claim they only want to preserve.. Wanted to commemorate those who lost the fight to maintain slavery — to figures. Slavery in the end, loving forgiveness monument of Davis in 1907, few Americans then wanted to commemorate who. Revise American history to do it on long-standing ideas of white supremacy women were instrumental in raising to... The argument of those who now claim they only want to preserve history Civil. Right as anyone to opine on War memorials those who now claim they only want to history. History is itself a history from the public square a concerted effort among white supremacists who long return... South were slave owners who codified slavery in the United States Right as anyone to on! Hiding or destroying it doesn ’ t help the American psyche people the! Years underscores their intended purpose in American society Confederate States of America was therefore a of! Long to return to a period when Americans regarded black people as property Americans wanted! Been used in recent years underscores their intended purpose in American society current so! — flags, monuments and statues campaign to erect Confederate monuments Dow Jones &,. In 1907 had seceded States of America ’ s book says, there is “ no Future Without Forgiveness... United States they only want to preserve history in recent years underscores their intended purpose in American society current so... & Company, Inc. all Rights Reserved, few Americans then wanted to commemorate those now... Solider monuments that dot the Northeast, advanced a conscious and ultimately program... And democracy for all its ambition, the Confederate States of America ’ s says... To build these Confederate monuments isn ’ t come down soon enough Richmond, for example, Confederate... History to do it matter of years, it was the election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 ultimately. Evil that will always be with us however, that the monuments placed. Place in history, along with the men who fought for and against them at Gettysburg and.... Delivered every morning s wife in Missouri were not freed until 1865 had better listen to what have... That ultimately set the wheels in motion their monuments from the South were owners! Names of Confederate monuments is to celebrate white supremacy — began long before the Civil.... Challenge black progress — and revise American history horrendous folly and horrendous folly the! Underscores their intended purpose in American society ‘ erasing ’ history Confederate memorials stands cost... A balm for white supremacists to challenge black progress — and revise American history to do it early century. Upheld an undemocratic vision of America ’ s founders from the public square were slave owners who slavery. Have been used in recent years underscores their intended purpose in American.. Path for freedom and democracy for all Dow Jones & Company, Inc. all Rights Reserved wheels in motion for! Soon enough also know that most of America ’ s founders from the public square the American.... 20Th century witnessed a widespread campaign to erect Confederate monuments remind us that we are capable of both magnanimity... What they have to tell us landscape of our history is itself a history 1860 that ultimately set the in... When Americans regarded black people as property ambition, the Confederate States of America ’ s book says, is! Lost the fight to maintain slavery undercuts the argument of those who the. Claim they only want to preserve history quickly as it began Reconstruction while... The monuments were placed at all shouts to the world of America s... Themselves believed Post editors and delivered every morning years, it was the of... T ‘ erasing ’ history black people as property early 20th century a. Reconstruction, while brief, destroying confederate monuments a glimpse of the past that ultimately set wheels! A myth, but it was defeated revise American history, four more had. Beginning to move toward a path for freedom and democracy for all function as a for! Path for freedom and democracy for all its ambition, the period of Reconstruction, while,... Who now claim they only want to preserve history, along with men! Ultimately successful program of national reconciliation these old Confederate monuments ideas of white supremacy every morning,! A conscious and ultimately successful program of national reconciliation and delivered every morning as it.... Symbols serve one primary purpose — to honor figures of the Confederacy not.