Of course I’d support monuments that celebrate actual history — what it was like to endure the middle passage, what it was like to see your husband/wife/children sold away to be raped, whipped, starved and overworked, with no hope of escape or redress. And I support these statues being moved to museums where they can be looked at and discussed in proper context.

What you are defending are monuments that tell a history that is sanitized for White comfort — not actual history. And beyond that, it’s affirmatively harmful to some people. To say that Whites get to have a different opinion about what those statues mean — in spite of the very blatant and overt meaning that was given to them at the time they were erected, is quite frankly absurd. Do some more reading on the Cult of the Lost Cause for more actual historical context.

They were weapons in a campaign of revisionism to erase from memory the reality of slavery as the cornerstone of the Confederacy, its expansion as the reason for secession, its enforcement as coercion, and its maintenance as the bedrock of white supremacy. The monuments were part of a successful campaign to promote the Confederate portrayal of history in the nation’s schoolbooks and to impose the Southern version as the true one. Thus, the War of the Rebellion, as it was known at the time, became the War Between the States, a conflict between two sovereign entities, such as Athens and Sparta, thereby removing the taint of treason. Most important, the strategy was used to impose and codify the Jim Crow laws that subjugated black Americans for another 75 years.

The cause of Southern revisionism was a political movement that manipulated the past to justify a present that deprived blacks of civil and political rights through terror and intimidation. It is ironic that the appeal to “preserve heritage” is now being used to justify memorials built to erase historical memory.

“Oh, burning a cross on your lawn is meant to glorify Jesus and the suffering he endured. It’s not meant to terrorize you and send you a distinct message about what’s what.” It’s the moral equivalent of that. To say, “I don’t care that it offends you,” is to say, the pain you have suffered is irrelevant and inconsequential, and that’s a pretty crappy thing to say to someone.

If you are actually interested in history, why not read some, because mostly what we learned in school was not the full story about anything by a long shot. The People’s History of the United States tells about more than the great White men in lofty places that makes up the bulk of school history lessons.


Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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